Since the beginning of history, the sky and its secrets have captivated humans’ attention. Besides, stargazing has been an important activity that connects people to the cosmos. As a result, many places worldwide are very famous for having wonderful night sky vistas for astronomy enjoyers. You can’t miss our top 10 best sites for stargazing in Peru!
Why stargazing in Peru?
Many places in Peru are far from artificial lightning and contamination. This is the main reason why many visitors enjoy stargazing here. On the other hand, Peru has a vast territory. Here, you will find diverse ecosystems, such as mountains, pristine forests, enormous bodywaters, and much more.
The geography of the country makes it an ideal destination for different types of travelers. Finally, Peru offers an outstanding opportunity to have a great stargazing experience thanks to the number of opencast areas surrounding the most important cities, such as Cusco, Arequipa, Ica, and Lima.
Where to Stargaze in Peru?
In recent years, the following tourist destinations become popular for astronomy tourism due to their beauty and accessibility. Peru is a wonderful country where you can spot the best views and capture amazing photographs. Please take a look at our top 10 places for stargazing in Peru!
1. Cusco Planetarium:
This is the main hub for astronomic tourism in Cusco. It is located in the Llaullipata forest, near Saqsayhuaman. It will take you 15 minutes by car from the center of the city. There, you can witness the Southern Cross Constellation and also learn about the importance of Inca astronomy while enjoying a virtual dome simulation and, depending on the weather conditions, your own sky observations.
2. Titicaca Lake:
It is the third deepest navigable lake in the world, located in Puno. A tour to Titicaca often offers experiences for different types of travelers. After a fun boat ride, you can stay on one of the many floatable islands made of cattails. At night, the lake turns into a beautiful mirror to watch the rotation cycles of the stars and some constellations. But the true highlights are Taquile and Amantani islands, two major spots for stargazing, which also offer the possibility to admire the sunrise and sunset from the lake.
3. Ausangate Mountain:
Ausangate is one of the highest snow-capped mountains in Peru. Here, you will experience one of the most beautiful starry night views in your life! Far from the cities, this wonderful location in the Andes offers a visit to lakes, mountains, and pristine nature. You can take an astrophotography tour or a camping trek through this beautiful scenery. Treks last from 2 to 5 days and include a visit to the Rainbow Mountain. You can also take the Sakantay Trek to Machu Picchu and enjoy the most important mountains and the Machu Picchu Wonder of the World.
4. Amazonas River:
Any location on the board of the rainforest in Peru is perfect for stargazing! We recommend you visit Pucallpa, a city near the Amazonas River shore. If you stay in an ecological lodge or decide to take a camping tour, you will have the chance to look at a beautiful clear sky. Moreover, you will also enjoy the sounds of nature and the river while you look at the stars. Note that many tours offer nocturnal walking along the rainforest.
5. Colca Canyon:
It is located in Arequipa. Since it is far from the city, there is no light contamination on the site, making it perfect for stargazing in Peru. A walk in the canyon at night offers wonderful sights and many astrophotography possibilities, especially at the Cruz del Condor viewpoint. To reach Colca Canyon, you can take an overnight tour from Arequipa and stay in the town of Chivay or in a lodge in the area. Ask your tourist agency for options to stargaze there.
6. Hatun Machay:
It is located in Ancash, a centered region in Peru. This place is famous for its beautiful stone forest, which is full of mega stones of over 60 meters that attract visitors. Therefore, it is considered an interesting geological destination. Hatun Machay means Big Cave in Quechua, and the place offers different activities, such as trekking, rock climbing, and stargazing.
The best way to get there is by taking a 7-hour bus from Lima to Huaraz and then a private car to Hatun Machay itself. You can also take a 7 km hike to admire the area's natural beauty. Once there, you can stay in the lodge on-site or take your own equipment for camping.
If you are in the capital of Peru and have a few days to spare, visit the beautiful Marcahuasi. You will find this amazing location 4 hours from Lima, in the mountains at more than 4000 masl. It is also known as the “Guard House” and is famous for its big stones with anthropomorphic and animal figures seen in the landscape, as well as the legends about the magnetic energy of the place.
If you want to live the complete experience, you should camp on the site and take all the necessary camping supplies, food, and water with you.
This relatively quiet destination was recently chosen as one of the 7 best in the world for astrotourism. Located in Huaral, this place offers beautiful ruins of an ancient civilization and the perfect landscape to observe the sky and the stars at night. It is located about 6 hours from Lima, 3 hours by car, and a 3-hour trekking. In addition, you can do many activities on the site, such as hiking, contemplating the cloud mattress, seeing it from above, and more. Rupac is the perfect destination to observe the sunset and then pitch a tent to see the stars. Consider that May is the perfect month to enjoy the best of Rupac.
9. Maras, Cusco:
In this privileged location, Mullakas Misminay is a beautiful Andean community in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This place has recently become popular for astronomy lovers because you can observe the constellation stars, learn about the Andean cosmovision, and understand the world. This destination is famous between April and September, which is the dry season. In fact, Mullakas Misminay is the only place in Peru that received the Starlight territory certification, which recognizes its international value as an astronomic destination.
10. Cordillera Blanca:
It is a mountain range covered with snow-capped peaks located in the Ancash region. In this beautiful snow landscape, you will find the highest snow peak in Peru, the Huascaran Mountain. It is recommended to get to Huaraz first, the closest city to the site. You can visit the glacier lakes and rivers, trek around the Cordillera, and camp. On the camping sites, you will enjoy the most beautiful views of the sky at night.
This is a lesser-known site located 5 hours from Cusco. Waqrapukara is gaining recent popularity because it was named a great place to visit by the BBC, and it is perfect for stargazing lovers! If you are planning to come to Cusco, you must take advantage of a visit to this hidden gem. Here, you will find a beautiful landscape, Inca ruins, and a campsite to stay and enjoy a beautiful stargazing night.
Stargazing tips in Peru
We know you would love to stargaze in Peru, and we have the perfect advice to help you have the best experience during your journey.
- Check the weather: Remember that weather is variable in Peru, and you must be prepared for that! In the first place, choose the appropriate season of the year depending on what you want to see and the stargazing location of your preference. Consider choosing low moonlight nights as well.
- Use stargazing apps: It is highly recommended that you download some of the best-rated astronomy apps on your phone. This will boost your experience. Our recommended apps are Stellarium and StarWalk, which are used to look for constellations and start pointing your phone up to the sky.
- Bring the right equipment: The basic things needed for stargazing are binoculars and a telescope. If you want to do astrophotography as well, you must bring a camera and tripod.
You can look for specialized stores, but remember that you can also buy that equipment in Peru or even rent them at some of the stargazing locations (planetariums and tourism agency tours)
- Dress appropriately: As you read, the best places to stargaze in Peru are located in the Andes. In that terrain, you must bring warm layers of clothes for the low temperatures. Bring different types of clothes, and be ready with special protection in case of rain. It is recommended to have a warm jacket, hat, gloves, a scarf, and a blanket if necessary. Likewise, remember to pack lightly to make your walking excursions more comfortable.
- Be respectful of each location: You must be aware of the culture and nature of any site. For example, some tours and places will show ancient astronomic artifacts or practices that the Inca and Pre-inca cultures used in the past. Moreover, most of the locations are very important ancient astronomy locations. For that reason, you must be responsible and make the least impact possible, take with you the waste, and try to avoid campfires.
Don’t doubt it anymore; stargazing in Peru must be on your bucket list!