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This compact Andean village is a collection of mud-brick and clapboard homes and shops where you can watch craftspeople and farmers at work on the highland plains. For many visitors, the town is a starting point for the three-hour, uphill hike to the unusual rock formations at Marcahuasi, 3 km (2 miles) from San Pedro, where winds have worn the earth into a menagerie of animal shapes.
Other hiking trails weave through the grasslands around San Pedro, but you'll need to spend at least one night to get used to the high altitude. Carry a water filtration kit to drink from the lakes. San Pedro is about 40 km (25 miles) north of Chosica, on the main highway between Lima and La Oroya. Most visit from Lima, but the trip can be made as a day trip from Tarma.
Tucked into the folds of the Andes, 2,740 meters (8,987 feet) up on the slopes, Ayacucho is a colorful, colonial-style town. Though its looks...