Inca Trails to Inner Peace: Spiritual Exploration in Peru

From shamanic practices to the healing powers of Machu Picchu, Peru stands as a premier destination for spiritual travel

As one of the six cradles of civilization, Peru's history traces back to 1200 BC. Home to ancient cultures like the Inca, Chavín, and Huari, as well as revered sites such as Machu Picchu, the Nazca Lines, and Sacsayhuamán, Peru harbors a rich tapestry of civilizations.
The mystical landscapes and esoteric cultures of Peru make it a significant location for spiritual journeys. Brimming with symbols, rituals, and a profound connection with nature, it offers a path to inner peace and stillness.

Why Peru Is the Perfect Place for Spiritual Travel

Peru, a land abundantly blessed with nature – including a significant portion of the Amazon rainforest – and timeless cultures, intertwines its identity with spirituality. If you're seeking a transformational experience through spiritual travel, Peru offers an array of extraordinary opportunities. From pilgrimages that awaken new states of consciousness to participating in a divine Wachuma ceremony or entering the sacred Ayahuasca retreat, Peru provides enriching spiritual paths. Additionally, you can experience a traditional Andean Sawachikuy wedding ceremony.

Embark on a Spiritual Awakening Expedition

Journey through healing and self-discovery with guided pilgrimages across ancestral priests' routes, enclosures, and temples. These tours offer glimpses into ancient rituals and initiations of solar cultures. Connect with Pachamama – the 'Earth Mother' in Inca mythology – and absorb her unique energies in the Andes. These trips are available in destinations like Cusco, Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and Lake Titicaca.

Partake in the Revered Wachuma Ceremony

The Wachuma, which is the San Pedro Cactus, is a plant found in the Andean mountains. It is a medicinal cactus and has been inherent to the tradition and culture of the Andeans for centuries. Considered a ‘Father plant’, it is used by the natives to reach a primal state of being.
A Wachuma ceremony takes place at night and is conducted by a shaman. The process aims to take the participants on an inner journey to connect with their real selves and understand themselves better. It is a night of tranquil silence and prayers, where one is encouraged to open their heart and mind to receive nature’s blessings and bloom like a flower.

Access a higher realm of consciousness through an Ayahuasca retreat

Source: ©Terpsichore / Wikimedia Commons

A solemn and highly specialized custom – the Ayahuasca ceremony is for the chosen ones! The Ayahuasca – a psychoactive brew made of specific parts of certain plants like barks, roots, and leaves - has been an essential part of the indigenous settlers of the Amazon region. The Ayahuasca retreat involves drinking the Ayahuasca and going through a profoundly transformational experience.
Conducted strictly by a native shaman, the transformative experience lasts several hours. Said to open the portals to a greater dimension, it results in powerful physical and emotional responses. The experience is recommended to a seeker only after a thorough counseling session by a shaman, who can judge if a person is prepared to experience the process.
Ayahuasca retreats vary from a single day to over five days. The longer duration experience also includes practices like massages, volcanic mud baths, yoga classes, and prescribed diets.

Plan Your Wedding in the Inca Style

It’s one of the most important days of your life, so why not make it unique and unforgettable? Hold your wedding in the sacred Andean style called Sawachikuy. Practiced by the Pongobamba community, the marriage is consecrated to Mother Earth in a special ceremony conducted by an Andean priest.
The rituals include the use of flowers and incense to spiritually cleanse the couple, representing the start of a new life together. Offerings of colored wool, flowers, seeds, and sweets are made. In the absence of family and relatives of the couple, members of the Pongobamba community assume their roles.

Experience the Spiritual Powers of Machu Picchu

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Believed to radiate a strong sense of spiritual energy, Machu Picchu is one of the foremost places for spiritual travel in Peru. A 15th-century Inca structure, it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and for good reason.
It is composed of three main sites – the Intihuatana (a ritual stone structure used as an astronomical clock or calendar by the Incas), the Temple of the Sun, and the Temple of the Three Windows.
Suffused with Inca beliefs, the place is said to be brimming with natural energies that bring peace and healing to visitors. The location of Machu Picchu – lying between two geological faults – which results in frequent tremors and earthquakes, is also said to influence the mystical facet of the place.
While you can visit Machu Picchu any time of the year, three particular occasions can make your trip more special. The Fiesta del Sol celebrated during the summer solstice; the Pachamama Day, celebrated on August 1st; and the Day of the Dead – observed on November 2nd, are important events where you can witness their rites and rituals.
Timings: Daily 6 AM – 5:30 PM
Entrance fee: S/. 224
Nearest airport: Alejandro Velazco Astete, 76km

Take a Cleansing Bath at Lake Titicaca

Source: ©Alex Proimose / Wikimedia Commons

Not just the largest lake in South America, Lake Titicaca is also one of the most significant places for spiritual travel in Peru. Renowned for its peacefulness that lends a perfect backdrop for meditation and yoga, it is an ideal place for self-reflection.
Essential to the natives since their ancestors’ time, the lake was considered the spiritual center of the region. The waters of the lake are believed to have healing powers, so a purification bath in Lake Titicaca is one of the must-do things. Due to these divine elements of the lake, it is known as the birthplace of the gods and ancestors of the natives.
Nearest airport: Juliaca Airport, 89km

Be Amazed at the Incredible Stone Walls of Sacsayhuamán

Source: ©Diego Delso / Wikimedia Commons

An architectural marvel, Sacsayhuamán in Cusco, is a citadel built with huge stones that fit tightly together without the use of mortar. Constructed in the 15th century by the Incas as part of a Sun Temple, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site today.
According to Inca mythology, the Inca ruler Pachacuti had compared the city of Cusco to a lion, where Sacsayhuamán formed its head. The site is filled with well-preserved ruins which include altars, aqueducts, caves, doorways, steps, terraces, and towers. Being dedicated to the Sun God, the summer solstice is celebrated here with great aplomb.
Timings: Daily 7 AM – 5:30 PM
Entrance fee: S/.70
Nearest airport: Alejandro Velazco Astete, 7.2km

Get a ‘God's Eye View’ of the Enigmatic Nazca Lines

Source: ©Paul Williams / Wikimedia Commons

One of the greatest mysteries today - the Nazca lines, in the Nazca Desert, south of Peru – are a sight to behold. These gigantic lines and figures drawn upon the sides of mountains, stretching for several kilometers, are the stuff of wonder and amazement.
While the creators of the colossal designs are as yet unknown, they are believed to have been created as a form of obeisance to the gods and were meant to be seen by the deities in the sky. The spiritual theorists also speculate that they could be part of rituals to ‘summon’ water in the desert, and the figures of animals and plants may be fertility symbols. Other theories also state them to be astronomical mappings of stars and constellations.
The best way to view these enormous markings is by taking a 20-minute aircraft ride. You can also climb up the observation tower nearby.
Timings for flight ride: 7 AM onwards
Price for flight ride: S/. 300
Nearest airport: Coronel FAP Alfredo Mendívil Duarte Airport, 356km

Things to Know Before Embarking Upon a Spiritual Journey in Peru

Peruvians hold nature, their traditions, culture, and ancestors very sacredly in their lives. It is therefore of utmost importance to respect their beliefs and customs. Ceremonies like Wachuma and Ayahuasca need to be approached with extreme caution, after consultation with a native shaman. The rituals require strict observances such as dietary restrictions including no meat, alcohol, and drugs; and sexual abstinence.
Lastly, a spiritual journey to Peru should be a divine, internal experience; not a touristic need. Understanding the key concepts and requirements of spiritual travel makes it an authentic experience, and one that can transform your life.