Guinea pig (cuy) is apparently a critical component of Andean cuisine. At the pre-Incan ruins of Kuelap, we were told that guinea pigs have been domesticated and bred as a source of protein for thousands of years.
And although the selection of meats throughout Peru and Ecuador has (thankfully) expanded substantially, guinea pig remains a prized meal. Continue Reading »
The Incan ruins of Machu Picchu outside Cusco, Peru grab the lion’s share of that country’s travel press. But before the Incas stormed through this region in the 15th century, there were actually some other clever people living in Peru. They built an impressive city and lived in circular houses on a mountaintop in the north, near the town of Chachapoyas (meaning “People of the Clouds”).
A shot of the ruins of Kuelap, the citadel they built in those clouds, can be seen in the panorama below.
We tend to carry a healthy dose of skepticism with us when visiting ruins, but this particular pile of rocks — and its stories — exceeded our expectations. Continue Reading »
Maybe you’ve seen the photos coming out of Peru over the last week or two: raging rivers, washed-out bridges, mud-buckled railroad lines, and tourists being airlifted from under the shadow of Machu Picchu in the town of Aguas Calientes.
What is a bucket list?
It’s a list of things you would like to do before you kick the bucket (i.e., die).
We’re here to suggest — despite it all — that you keep Peru on (or consider adding it to) your travel bucket list.
Continue Reading »
I feel sorry for the Colombians. They only have three types of peppers.
– A pepperista — surrounded by 40 different pepper varieties at the Mistura Peruvian food festival — sheds unintended humorous light on one of the many advantages of Peruvian cuisine.
Peruvian cuisine has attained a certain hipness over the last decade. So when we put out a call to our network for Peruvian food suggestions prior to our visit to Lima, we were surprised when the net response amounted to “ceviche and pisco sours.”
For sure those are requisite tastes, but the Peruvian food scene offers so much more. Continue Reading »
We began this piece by writing a narrative tracing the hiccups in our Salkantay to Machu Picchu trek, but soon realized that our lessons learned go beyond Peru’s tourist-laden Inca corridor.
So what happened? Our guide got drunk two nights in a row, tried to pinch us for more money with unplanned and overpriced transport, didn’t buy our Machu Picchu tickets in advance, missed our meeting on the day of Machu Picchu by two hours, and mismanaged our return train and bus tickets to Cusco.
Not bad, eh? Continue Reading »
Value: a topic of great debate, perhaps nowhere more so than in the world of travel. We’ve had friends rave about inns in Costa Rica that are a “great value” at $300 a night. At the same time, we’ve met travelers who do the “bad value” balk when accommodation anywhere runs more than $3.
Call one a spendthrift. Call the other cheap. Value is in the eye of the beholder.
The theme and concept of value reveals itself regularly on the road. What is something worth? How much are you willing to pay? What enjoyment or satisfaction have you attained for your money? And how much has the context — the location, the time of day, the feeling of insecurity, or the convenience – influenced your sense of value? Continue Reading »
“Oooh, Machu Picchu!” Even my mom caught the hype when I told her we were headed there last week. As excited as she’s been about our travels, I think that was the first “Oooh!” of our trip she ever uttered.
We kept our expectations low, however. Maybe it’s our reflex reaction to the prevailing travel wisdom: “Machu Picchu is the granddaddy of South American sights.”
But add to Machu Picchu a hike to the foot of a hulking 20,575 foot (6,271 meter) glacier, a walk through Andean valleys, and a skim of the Peruvian jungle. Throw in a diverse and upbeat group of travel companions to share the slog across switchbacks and up giant staircases, and the march to Machu Picchu becomes an event, a series of accomplishments and a trip well worth taking.
That was our Salkantay Trek. Continue Reading »
As much as anyone else, we enjoy visiting world-famous tourist sites and embarking on adventure trips. Peru has been no exception. In fact, in just a few hours we depart for a five-day trek to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu by way of a mountain pass at 4650 meters/15,500 feet.
But there’s almost always another side to the countries we visit. And sometimes we disappear into the hills for weeks to find it.
Continue Reading »
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