Southern Peruvian Andes

The Southern Peruvian Andes is a picturesque region known mostly to the outside world as the birthplace and center of operations of the Sendero Luminoso, or “Shining Path,” a communist guerrilla organization that terrorized Peru in the 1980s and 1990s. Today the Shining Path is barely visible, making it possible once again to visit the region and its beautiful colonial city, Ayacucho.

Arguably the best feature of the Southern Andes region is that the area has not decided to focus exclusively on tourism. Sure, there is a reliable tourism infrastructure, but the towns and villages are not overrun with options. The Southern Peruvian Highlands has gorgeous mountains dotted with enough lakes, scenic views and bumpy roads to last a lifetime. The villages scattered throughout the countryside are not often visited by tourists, and still exist and operate largely the same as they have for centuries.

Since locals often lead simple lives, visitors are afforded amenities that locals rarely enjoy. Despite this, the residents are still likely to invite tourists to participate in the various celebrations and festivals that continue to flourish. This is the best part of the Southern Peruvian Highlands: you can wind your way through the towns without feeling intrusive, but at the same time, you won’t feel like you’re just another tourist.