The Joy of Fishing in Peru

Terra Explorer
December 1, 2021

There comes a time when one must visit Peru and live tailor-made experiences. It has become a ubiquitous item on most people’s bucket lists. “Peru has changed my life,” is not unheard of at dinner parties. Sure, the phrase often comes from the ones acquaintanced with hiking or museums (or both), not from regular anglers

When it comes to fishing conversations, the likes of Argentina, New Zealand, and, of course, Wyoming make regular appearances. But hear ye, hear ye: unexpectedly, the Peruvian Andes are a splendid locale for engaging in this patient-powered sport. 

sacred vallley incas terraexplorer

First off, the Sacred Valley of the Incas isn’t just an archaeology haven, but a place of bucolic and remote oozing landscapes flanked by the Andes Mountains—the largest and highest mountain range outside the Himalayas. 

And so, a myriad of snow-capped mountains and glaciers work in tandem to supply us, fishermen, with an outstanding and yet-to-be-heralded collection of lakes and tributaries. Perhaps now, after realizing that, you fishing aficionado can fully espouse the idea of going to Peru, too? 

Fun is variety but also in proximity. Most of the better fishing destinations are just a short drive from each other—and around an hour away from Cusco. 

So even if your party resolves on taking some city tour on the Cusco tourist attractions for the umpteenth time, you could forgo that and schedule a quick escapade for some much-needed fly fishing—lunch included.

Related: 3 treks every pro should take in Cusco

A Not-So-Usual Fly Fishing Day

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We pick you up at 7:00 am (in case “we” was unclear, “we” are luxury travel operators) at your hotel in Cusco. Then, we set off to Chumpe, a hamlet nestled on the green hills of the Sacred Valley. The ride is a splendidly wasted hour and a half taking in the Andean terrain.

Once there, at Chumpe, we meet the local populace to let them know we’re going fishing. Why, you ask? Well, because they act as a sort of protectors for the environs they have been inhabiting for generations. 

They make sure no one disturbs the pristine waters of the Pachar lagoon. Or, as the elders call it, Pacharcocha— “cocha” means “body of water” in Quechua, the native language of the Incas.

This lagoon boasts a robust population of rainbow trout. This fish happens to be equipped to inhabit the cold waters streaming down from the previously mentioned snow-capped mountains. 

There are trouts of up to 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) in the five-hectare lagoon. A lot of them roam around the algae-filled trenches near the shore. So donning a pair of waders could be of use in the absence of a boat. 

Although we’re here to fish—and not cultural tourism activities like to do landscape painting—not being awed by the mountains right off the shoreline is, unquestionably, impossible. The sky has this smog-free blue you only find in remote places. And the serene waters reflect it all. 

Out on the boat, casting starts (but before some of you give us a look —or worse, wag a proverbial finger— know that all of the fishing we do is catch and release.) A 5 or 6 fishing rod with a nymph or a streamer does the trick. 

healthy abundance trouts terraexplorer

There is a healthy abundance of trouts. Just cast away, enjoy the views, and feel free to pop a beer (or two). Full disclosure: Cuzqueña beer is the pride and joy of the locals—they even spun out of the more conventional barley to make a crowd-pleasing one from quinoa. 

Much has been made out of food tour Peru in recent years, and rightfully so. Although a lunch in the middle of nowhere usually consists of some kind of canned comestible, we often set a Picnic featuring real dishes with, yes, real food, cooked by real chefs.

As for drinks, besides the local beer, Pisco (the flagship spirit of Peru) has to be on the menu. Some people compare it to grappa—both strong brandies. 

With the sun no longer cresting over our heads, the end of the fishing day announces itself. At 4 in the afternoon, we head back to Cusco with the perfect souvenir: the joy of having cast in the Andes of Peru. 

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Recreational fishing is a nascent craft in Peru driven by a handful of fervent aficionados. Getting to know them, supporting their business, and the native communities which they, in turn, employ and work with is what makes this feel not so, um, half-hearted and touristy

There is a fraternal bond amongst fishermen in Peru—something nice to have while casting miles away from home. 

Thinking about coming to Peru? We blend fishing, adventure tourism, and more traditional cultural outings. Check our website Terra Explorer for some extra inspiration and contact us for a tailor-made trip to Peru.

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