Congratulations to Annie H. of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Grand Prize Winner of our Footsteps of The Incas sweepstakes.
The 28-year-old registered nurse, originally from San Francisco, is very comfortable with a backpack loaded on her back. She spent years trekking through the Rocky Mountains, first as a student at the University of Colorado in Bounder, then as a young professional living in Denver.
Photo: Mariano Mantel
If you’re in Peru for the holidays, while the lack of snow may not have it feeling like a magical winter wonderland (technically it’s summer there), Santuranticuy is one surefire way to get in the spirit. A Christmas market held in Cusco on December 24, the fair is the perfect hybrid of Andean culture and local traditions. Translating to “Saints for Sale,” artisans from all over the region gather to sell art, musical instruments, and food to eager customers looking to add some flair to their holiday celebrations. Come with me as we explore Santuranticuy and the Peruvian version of Christmas.
Photo: Christopher Kirk
As a traveler or expat, experiencing the holidays outside the U.S. can be an eye opening and life changing experience. As we usher in a new holiday season and begin to reflect upon the past year, on the surface, traditions around the globe may appear very different, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see that we’re all just searching for a cause to celebration. With each country having their own interpretation of food, family and fun, you may be surprised to learn at the core just how similar we actually are, despite personal beliefs and rituals.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to celebrate the Christmas season in South America.
Photo: Sergio Olivier
Holiday traditions vary wildly around the world from gift giving to elaborate festivals. But in South America, one tradition has stood the test of time no matter where you are—raising a glass of holiday cheer. Here’s a look at six of our favorite South American countries and their spirited holiday offerings.
Photo: Nine Peruvian Dishes You Need To Know
If you wanted to learn as much as you could about Peruvian cuisine in only nine dishes, what would they be? It’s okay if you don’t know the answer, the nice people at Thrillist have done the research for you. It’s a nice way to learn a bit before you plan your Peruvian vacation.
by Erika Schuler
Ceviche is getting a lot of attention right now, but for us Peruvians, it’s hardly new. In fact, it’s part of our prehispanic culture. Raw, fishy, spicy, light and delicious.
Mexico, Ecuador, Chile and some other countries have their own version, including some with tomato (yuck) but in Peru it’s pretty straight forward; it´s all about the fish.
Photo: Gallery Peru
Professional food photographer Matt Armendariz recently visited Peru with fellow foodies Gaby Dalkin and Adam Pearson. While Matt certainly captured the mouth-watering beauty of Peruvian cuisine, he didn’t limit his subjects to what was on the plate. Matt also snapped a cornucopia of Peruvian ingredients, where they’re grown and the breath-taking Peruvian landscape. We hope you enjoy Matt’s work, it’s clear he does.
Photo: Enjoy Peruvian Food
LAN Peru is giving travelers who have had Peru on their foodie destination radar another incentive to book that trip sooner than later. For a limited time, LAN Peru is helping travelers start their culinary experience the minute they step onboard by serving iconic, traditional Peruvian cuisine on the in-flight menu from Los Angeles, New York, Miami to Peru. Enjoy Peruvian Food
Photo: South America's Largest Food Festival
Last year, NPR was in Lima, enjoying the mouth-watering delights at Mistura, and filed this report.
The folks at Fodor’s know a bit about travel, so when they recently cited LAN as having one of the “6 Outstanding International Business-Class Experiences,” well, we felt pretty honored.
But then, our Premium Business Class has been getting rave reviews from our passengers for years. And given the myriad amenities we offer, including our flights to South America, it’s easy to understand why.
- Full-flat 180 degree reclining seats
- Menu of regional cuisine created by Head Chef Hugo Pantano
- Wine list curated by Hector Vergara, South America’s only Master Sommelier
- Individual, 15.4-inch, high-resolution screens for onboard entertainment
- Over 110 films, 40 TV programs, 1,300 CD’s and 20 games to choose from
- Data posts compatible with tablets, cell phones, digital cameras and USB devices
- Amenity kit with products from Salvatore Ferragamo
So when we heard Boeing was making a new 787, you know we had to get some. And now they’re here. The new 787-9 aircraft became a part of the LAN Airlines fleet back in April, and we’ll gradually roll them out across the fleet.
For you, this means some welcome advances in in-flight comfort:
• New air humidification techniques reduce feelings of dryness and fatigue by providing cleaner air
• Windows with up to 40% greater surface area
• Overhead luggage compartments 30% larger (!)
• LED illumination and aerodynamics that provide for a smoother flight
As old as Lima itself is Casa de Aliaga, a 480-year-old mansion located in the heart of El Centro, the capital city’s historic district. Casa de Aliaga’s story started when Spanish conquistador Don Francisco Pizarro established Lima as Peru’s capital city on Jan. 18, 1535. Because friends make the best neighbors, Pizarro gave the piece of land adjacent to the Plaza de Armas to his ally Jerónimo de Aliaga.
Photo: Jeff Cremer
The Amazon Jungle is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. In fact, it’s so expansive that if it were a country, it’d be the ninth largest. Ten percent of the life on this planet live within the confines of the Amazon Rainforest. When you think about it – that one in 10 of all of the world’s flora and fauna inhabit nine countries in South America – it’s pretty impressive.
The task of choosing some of my favorites was a difficult one, so I enlisted the help of Rainforest Expeditions wildlife photographer, Jeff Cremer to help me narrow down the list of thousands of potential candidates, to eight of the greats (in no particular order).
Photo: Lorena Flores Aguero
Lima can be a crazily hectic, incredibly busy city. When I want to reconnect with nature and have a few moments of peace, I head to the Pacific. For some reason, the sea always brings me solace.
One of my favorite times to head there is just before dusk, when the ocean and the sun meet briefly to steal away a goodnight kiss.
The way the sun sets the sky ablaze in fiery reds and oranges really is unparalleled. While you can catch this Pacific sunset anywhere along the 1,400 miles (2,250 km) of Peru’s pristine coastline, there’s something really special about Lima’s.
Photo: Theodore Scott
For our neighbors to the north (Northern Hemisphere, that is), spring break is here and summer is just around the corner. For those hoping to get away for a little vacay, now is the perfect time to start planning it.
One region that I recently discovered is Northern Peru. Its pristine beaches, endless outdoor activities and cuisine all its own make it a great getaway for the entire family. Plus, Northern Peru already serves as a playground for Peruvians, so the infrastructure for family-friendly activities and accommodations are already in place.
Perhaps the most developed city to visit in Northern Peru is Máncora. Called the “Hawaii of Peru,” Máncora is one of Peru’s most popular beach towns. Consistently warm weather and clear skies mean vacationers flock here year-round.
Between shuttling from the plane to your hotel suite to the boardroom, more often than not, business travel is anything but a vacation. No matter how exotic the location, for businessmen and women, trips abroad often consist of back-to-back meetings sandwiched in between long flights.
To break up the monotony and even get inspired, it’s important to stretch your legs, get a little fresh air and take in the culture of the places you are visiting.
If you are coming to Peru for a business trip, chances are you will be stationed in the capital, Lima. This sprawling metropolis of nine million inhabitants provides the perfect opportunity to experience the city a few hours at a time.
Peru Pro Tip: Check out our guide to the Peruvian Power Lunch for tips on how to have a successful and memorable business lunch.
Photo: Ken Bosma
In order to really take in everything Machu Picchu and the surrounding Cusco region have to offer – their Andean peaks, Inca ruins and seemingly endless adventure – you’d have to spend weeks in the area. While experiencing the ins and outs of the region is worth it, the truth is, most vacationers don’t have that kind of time. The good news is, a trip to Machu Picchu doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you are just passing through Peru on a business trip or a long layover, you can make it to Machu Picchu and back to Lima for your flight home in less time than it’ll take you to binge watch the first two seasons of “Friends.”
Note: LAN has flexible flight times that can suit even the tightest of vacation plans. This is a mock itinerary meant to show you that Machu Picchu is a possible feat even on the shortest of time budgets. Feel free to copy it and change the times and activities to suit your needs.
Walk down any street in Peru’s densely populated capital and you’re sure to become enveloped in this city of contrasts. Modern skyscrapers neighbour colonial mansions with Spanish tile roofs. Restaurants serving ancient Peruvian recipes like anticuchos also dish up new fusion-style cuisine. And museums abound, some with artifacts from another era, others with contemporary art from some of the 20th century’s most influential photographers.
Such examples of this can be found in Barranco’s two art museums where haute couture fashion photographers’ work is currently on display in both permanent and temporary exhibitions.
This may come across as a bit of a surprise, but I am not a camping kind of gal. While the idea of sleeping in a tent beneath the stars intrigues me, the idea of sleeping in a tent beneath the stars also terrifies me. You see, even though I’m an adventurer at heart – I like to surf and white water raft and mountain climb as much as the next adrenaline seeker – I much prefer to come home to running water, flushing toilets, and a plush mattress draped in luxurious linens when the adventure is over.
That’s why when I heard about glamping in Máncora, a beach town on Peru’s northern coast, I jumped at the opportunity.
On a hot summer day, few drinks replenish your body quite like an ice-cold limonada. Made from water, sugar and Peruvian limes, this tart beverage will quench your thirst and cool you off like none other. The best part about the limonada is that most restaurants make it to order, so you can get more or less sugar depending on your sweet tooth.
When I travel in my native U.S.A., I know exactly what to do to get from point A (usually the airport) to point B (usually my hotel). I always have a friend or family member pick me up, rent a car or take a cab. Little preparation needs to be made prior to my trip because the process is straightforward in the states. Plus, even if it isn’t, everyone speaks my language, so I can easily ask for help should I need it.
Traveling abroad, however, is a different story. It always gives me a bit of anxiety. Will there be cabs waiting for me? How will I know which one to take? How do I give the driver directions? How do I make sure they charge me the right amount?
It´s no secret: Peru is all the rage and Peruvian food, which is quite literally on the tip of everyone´s tongues, has taken center stage. What sets the nation´s dishes apart from the rest of the world is as much the preparation as it is the fresh ingredients. After all, without this special combination, lomo saltado is nothing more than steak and potatoes. One ingredient that really brings even the simplest foods to life is ají, a type of chili pepper endlessly used in everything from chifa to ceviche. It´s been used as long as people have been cooking in the country currently known as Peru (we´re talking about 7,000 years), so the trial by fire (pun intended) period is over. Peruvians have the ají, and how to use it, down to a science.
Photo: Troy Tolley, RPP and Toshiyuki IMAI (left to right)
Argentina and Chile are world-renowned for their wine. In Brazil cachaça, made from sugarcane, is king. For Colombia, the liquor of choice is an anise-flavored aguardiente. And in Peru, our national trago is a grape-derived brandy called pisco.
Peruvians often add a little local flair to traditional cocktails by holding the rum (in say a mojito) or forgoing the tequila (in a margarita), opting instead for a pour of pisco. And while this Peruvianizes just about any drink, it’s not nearly as authentic as one of Peru’s favorite cocktails, the chilcano.
Photo: Madeleine Holland
January — it’s a month of new beginnings, a time when people vow to better their lifestyles, kick a bad habit to the curb and become more productive. The problem with these New Year’s resolutions is that they rarely stick. Busy lives get in the way or people discover that their goals were a bit too lofty. Whatever the reason, many people fail at resolving their resolutions.
That’s why this year, I vowed to make my resolution one I can look forward to beforehand, enjoy while I’m actually doing it, and look back on with fond memories. My resolution is to see more of Peru and I am inviting you, dear Only in South America readers, to join me.
Photo: From top left to bottom right: Denis Dervisevic, G M, Kim Love, Katherine, and Meal Makeover Moms
There are few reasons I would ever post a photo of myself in a bikini … on the internet … for all the world to see. After all, the internet is forever and I’m not sure I want the anthropologists of 3014 seeing my bum. That said, I can name a few reasons and proof that I shredded waves in the Pacific Ocean is one of them.
Photo: Gisela Giardino
Traveling to the corners of the world has given me so much. Perspective, compassion, adventure, insight and knowledge are just a few of the traits I’ve brought home with me after exploring sights and places previously unknown. Journeying through Peru is no different.
This country, so full of rich treasures, provides travelers with an unparalleled experience: the Amazon, with its densely verdant landscape and diverse ecosystem; the Andes, which took millions of years to form and now wind through seven South American nations; and the coast, complete with butter-soft sand and breathtaking views. Pair Peru’s natural wonders with its complex history and booming future and you’ve got a nation that gives travelers more in one visit than they could have ever dreamed of.
Photo: Ryan Hyde
For the last 20 years, nearly 200 heads of state have met annually to discuss how climate change is impacting the world in which we live. This year, the Conference of the Parties (COP) joined together for 12 days in Lima, Peru to hash out how participating countries can reduce their greenhouse emissions.
The COP20 conference just came to an end and it got me thinking – what ways can each of us pitch in? While there are measures each of us can take at home, there are also steps we can take while we are on the road.
New Year’s Eve is quickly approaching, which means if you’re coming to Peru for the festivities, you should start making plans for how you’ll say goodbye to 2014 and ring in 2015 now.
The epicenters for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Peru are Lima and Cusco, though parties and festivals go down in every city throughout the Andean nation. For a no-frills celebration, reach out to your hostel or hotel to ask what it has planned. Depending on the property, you can expect everything from a simple champagne toast at midnight to a raging party that continues into the wee hours of the morning.
If hitting the bars and clubs is more your thing, keep reading.
Photo: Alihf Esparza
It’s that time of year again. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving (Nov. 27), Hanukkah (Dec. 16-24), Yule (Dec. 21), Nochebuena (Dec. 24), Christmas (Dec. 25), Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan.1) or something else entirely, chances are sometime within the next month, you, your family and your friends will gather ’round the dinner table to express your blessings and share a meal together. And while tradition – I’m talking foods like turkey to latkes and everything in between – is nice, sometimes it’s worth spicing up the holiday spread.
It’s been 50 years since Roald Dahl penned the story of the penniless Charlie Bucket getting his hands on the winning chocolate bar in his 1964 book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The golden ticket, which was tucked inside the chocolate bar, gave Charlie and four other kids access to a world most children can only dream of – chocolate rivers surrounded by “eatable marshmallow pillows, likable wallpaper […], hot ice creams for cold days, cows that give chocolate milk, fizzy lifting drinks [and] square sweets that look round.”
That book, which Hollywood later turned into two movies has inspired anyone with a sweet tooth to dream big. That’s why I decided I had to celebrate Dahl’s semi-centennial with a trip to Peru’s very own chocolate factory – the ChocoMuseo.
Photo: Linda Paul
Even before Peru became a nation, Cusco was an important city. Five centuries ago, it was the heart of the Incas. During its prime, the Incas used Cusco as the capital of their ever-growing empire and actually viewed it as more important than Machu Picchu. It is where the Spanish established their power which lead to the decline in the Inca empire and the rise of Spanish control over Peru. Nowadays, Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a place that nearly two million visitors embark on each year.
For these reasons Cusco, and the surrounding area known as el Valle Sagrado, contain a wealth of history, museums and archaeological sites.
Photo: Casa Cor Peru
The seashell-colored house sits on Calle Cajamarca in Barranco, one of Lima, Peru’s most fashionable locales. A neighborhood fixture since 1917, it’s not hard to look at the 12,000-square-foot mansion and imagine the roaring 20s. If these walls could talk, I’m sure they’d tell of elegant women clad in flapper dresses attending glamorous galas and puffing smoke in dimly lit hallways until the wee hours of the morning. Despite its regal appearance today, however, Palacete Sousa, as it is named, is the house that almost wasn’t. Enter Casa Cor.
Photo: Leonora Enking
Every day 2,500 people enter the gates of Machu Picchu and they are all there for one reason – to experience this beautiful, historical and magical place. But when there are that many people all on a common pilgrimage, problems can arise. To reduce potential issues and to maximize your enjoyment, it’s best to go with what I call the three Ps: a plan, propriety and lots of patience.
Alakazam, alakazoo, witches roam the streets of Lima, Peru.
With Halloween just around the corner, I decided to head to Lima’s Mercado de las Brujas, or Witches’ Market. While these witches don’t wear pointed hats or fly on broomsticks, they do cook up powerful potions and folk remedies said to cure everything from a hangover to a broken heart.
America’s love affair with watching grown men pummel each other as they outrun their opponents while carrying a prolate spheroid a few dozen yards is still an alien concept in much of the world. Peru is no different. Here fútbol is king; football, not so much. But for the sports fans to whom Sundays are sacred, their dedication to the football doesn’t go on vacation — even when they find themselves in a foreign country.
It all started in 1968 when U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed that he wanted to celebrate one of the fastest growing populations in America – Latinos. Thus, National Hispanic Heritage Week was born. Fast forward to 1989 and that week-long observance was turned into a full month of celebrating the culture and traditions of people who are from or trace their roots to Spain, Mexico or the Spanish-speaking nations from Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off each year on Sept. 15 and it’s for good reason – this day is Independence Day for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Additionally, Mexico and Chile celebrate their Independence from Spain on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.
While Peru commemorates its Fiestas Patrias – the day the nation broke away from Spain – on July 28, Peruvians by birth and by association (you know, those who just love all things Peru) can still celebrate the Andean nation through Oct. 15.
Here’s our three-step guide to celebrating this month-long American tradition with an air of Peruvian flair!
Photo: Alfredo Miguel Romero
People around the world are in the midst of celebrating my favorite pastime and ultimate passion – travel. Commemorated each year on Sept. 27, the United Nations created World Tourism Day back in 1980 as a way of recognizing the positive contributions travel makes to local economies, cultural preservation, environmental protection and personal growth and enrichment.
Our planet is a big place, full of majestic destinations to discover. While there are a heap of world wonders to uncover, this amazing Andean nation should be toward the top of your list. Here are the nine reasons you should visit Peru now!
Remember that one cartoon where the main character is stranded in the middle of a never-ending desert? He drags himself over the sizzling hot sand while the sun relentlessly beats down. In the distance, he sees palm tree that provides shade and a lake that has limitless cold drinking water. Re-energized at the thought of this oasis, he rushes over, prepared to dive into the swimming pool only to have it all dissipate into thin air. It was all a mirage stirred up by his thirst.
When I first set eyes on the desert oasis of Huacachina (wa-ka-CHEE-nah), I reverted back to my childhood for a moment. It was like that cartoon I had watched dozens of times had appeared right before my eyes. My six-year-old self was impressed.
Photo: Central Restaurante
A few months ago, Central Restaurante clocked in at number 15 on what is perhaps the planet’s most prestigious food awards, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants (it was the top restaurant in South America). Now, the renowned Lima eatery, which is owned by chef and restaurateur Virgilio Martínez has done it again, this time capturing the eye – and, one could say tantalizing the taste buds – of Latin America’s most important food awards, the San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants in Latin America (a spin-off of the World’s Best awards).
For the last seven years, food lovers have flocked to South America’s most grandiose food festival – Mistura – and this year is no different (save for a few details). With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Costa Verde on the other, Mistura stretches 37 acres in Lima’s Magdalena del Mar district. It is there that chefs and restaurants from every corner of Peru cook up their most-loved dishes. For 10 days each September locals and foreigners, travelers and foodies walk through Mistura’s gates and into a new world, or as 2014 would have it 12 new ‘worlds.’
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for – watching the clouds that hang low over Machu Picchu clear to reveal the former Inca citadel surrounded by a verdant landscape. But that lifelong dream quickly turns into a nightmare when you realize you didn’t buy your tickets in advance.
Fear not, curious explorers, we at Only in South America have you covered.
While Cusco has become a cosmopolitan hub – one that overflows with jet setting travelers, luxe hotels and restaurants owned by renowned chefs – the mountainside that surrounds the former Inca capital tells a completely different story. There, life has changed very little during the last several centuries. Villagers still live off of the land, growing and raising nearly everything they eat. And, men and women still shepherd their sheep, llama and alpaca through verdant fields, cook meals over an open flame and participate in a tradition as old as the civilizations that make up Peru – Andean weaving.
“Perdoname,” I said, interrupting a shopkeeper organizing miniature versions of Machu Picchu. “Tiene La Ultima Cena con el cuy.” He didn’t, so, I exited what must’ve been the twentieth store I asked, sighing, “Oh well. On to the 21st.”
I did finally hunt down the Cusqueñan version of the Last Supper painting my mother requested and now has framed in her living room, but it wasn’t without my fair share of begging, asking, demanding, searching and, of course, haggling.
With its towering trees and endless landscape, the Peruvian Amazon is quickly becoming a hot-spot for environmentally conscious travelers looking to experience one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. In an attempt to meet demand, ecolodges in the Amazon jungle are becoming more and more common. While each has an array of amenities, unique itineraries and different opportunities to see the plants and animals that inhabit the rainforest, Refugio Amazonas’ commitment to sustainable travel makes it stand out from the rest.
Photo: Mark Fischer
Between the expansive coastal desert, the snowcapped mountains that stretch towards the sky and the verdant forests that make up the Amazon jungle, Peru is one of the most visually interesting countries in Latin America. Alongside its diverse landscape and culture is an equally varied climate.
All of this can make packing for an adventure in Peru a bit tricky. But fear not; there is an art to making sure all the essentials make it in your suitcase, while still leaving space for the knickknacks you collect along your journey.
Photo: Frank_am_Main and Olaf
While it’s called “the poor man’s Galapagos,” las Islas Ballestas are full of rich natural treasures. The magnificent islands, comprised of jagged rocks that the sea has eroded away and turned into caves, caverns and arches, jut out of the Pacific Ocean. It is here that dozens of sea life species seek refuge.
Photo: Paul Silva
While it’s only recently received a nod from the international food community for its innovative dishes, creative ingredients and chefs who are committed to nothing less than perfection, Peru is (and has always been) a serious food country. Case in point – each September it hosts Mistura, South America’s largest and most popular food festival. This year half a million hungry food enthusiasts are expected to visit Costa Verde de Magdalena for the ten-day event which kicks off September 5.
Photo: D!amond Public Relations
If a picture is worth a thousand words, the photos travelers take on their adventures through Peru are enough to fill the pages of many a novel. While we will undoubtedly remember their four-day trek to Machu Picchu, over time the details – like how the scenery looked under the cloudless, bright blue sky – can be forgotten. Thankfully photos take us back to those moments in time that might otherwise be lost.
That’s why I recently sat with wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer of Rainforest Expeditions. He and his team not only take curious travelers to the Amazon, they also provide high-end equipment and training to travelers eager to learn how to snap shots like a pro. After all, pictures are one of the best souvenirs to bring home with you – why not have the best ones possible?
Peru may not have a spot in the world’s biggest soccer tournament, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a stake in the games. Sports fanatics from around the world – be they born and bred locals, relocated expats or travelers just passing through – are aligning themselves with countries like this is a no-holds barred game of Risk. Whether they’re gunning for the host country’s canary yellow and green or just in it because of bets on who will take a bite out of the competition, people in Peru are pledging allegiance and cheering their hearts out for El Mundial.
While it’s a developing country in many ways, Peru is still one of the most stable nations in Latin America. It’s economy has boomed over the last decade due in part to mining, produce exports and, of course, tourism. And, the middle class has grown from 25 percent of the total population to 60 percent during this time. This surge in the economy is attracting outside investors who want to build relationships with Andean corporations. For this reason, it’s beneficial for foreign business leaders to know the basics for a successful meal and a deal during their time in Peru.
Photo: Thomas Quine
Standing before Machu Picchu, overlooking the goliath Incan civilization built entirely by hand 600 years ago is breathtaking for most travelers lucky enough to set their eyes on it. It takes travelers’ breath away, not only because of it’s size, complexity, beauty and history, but also because it sits at about 8,000 feet (2,500m) above sea level. Here the air is thin, leaving visitors gasping for oxygen and worse.
A few weeks ago I found myself in between Internet service providers. In a past life, this is something I could have put up with thanks to uncapped amounts of internet on my phone and at my workplace. But in Peru, my phone plan doesn’t offer unlimited data and I work from the big red couch in my living room from which I am currently sitting. A few days in and I realized I wasn’t only missing out on social media, Netflix and cat videos, but also the important stuff like being able to contact family and friends via mobile messaging apps and doing the research and writing I needed to to bring home the bacon. Instead of toughing it out, I gave in, packed up and trekked to several of the Internet cafes dotting Lima’s zig-zagging streets.
National Vegetarian Week just ended, and what better way to commemorate eating green than with a vegetarian guide to Peru. I became a strict vegetarian two decades ago and when I moved to Peru, finding food to suit my lifestyle was among my concerns. Vegetarians fit in surprisingly well in a culture that loves all things beef, chicken and sea food.
Photo: Anthony Cordova Silva
The most many tourists will ever see of Callao (pronounced: cah:YOW), a city 30-minutes outside of Lima, is from the air as they are flying into the airport. Among Limeños, the city doesn’t have that much appeal, often seen as a dirty, overcrowded suburb where people live but outsiders rarely visit – with the exception of one well-preserved area.
Whether you’re traveling for business or for leisure, there’s something special about having access to emails as they come in, maps and GPS to get around town, search engines to find restaurant recommendations, messaging and social media apps to stay in touch with friends and family back home, and a phone to make calls. Smart phones, of course, make this possible, but if your mobile plan doesn’t include free-of-charge international roaming, your trip to Peru could get a whole lot more expensive.
But, making calls and surfing the web on your cell phone in Peru is easy and pretty cheap with a little planning and patience.
Photo: Thomas Hobbs
Peru is the “gastronomic mecca” of the world. That, according to The Economist, a current affairs magazine that covers culture, politics and news. The prestigious periodical just wrote an in-depth piece about the somewhat recent Peruvian food debut onto the world-side stage.
Perhaps it’s the eclectic blend of flavors from the sea, the sierra and the selva, or maybe it’s the fusion of multi-cultural flavors alongside native ingredients. Whatever it is, Peru is in the spotlight and now its haute cuisine is even being exported abroad and served up eateries across the globe.
While traveling throughout each region (the coast, the mountains and the jungle) is the ideal way to taste each distinct dish, there may be a faster, easier way to savor the extensive menu. Until recently, Lima was just a layover city, a place for tourists to lie their heads before heading to Cusco and the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu. But now some 75,000 visitors stop in the capital city each year just to tickle their taste buds. If you plan on being among them, you are in store for a treat.
A knickknack for grandma; a t-shirt for dad; a handful of key chains for the coworkers; and of course a bounty for yourself. Shopping is one of many vacation pastimes, but when in Lima there’s no reasoan to limit it solely to souvenir shops or the Inka Market. Sometimes, venturing beyond the obvious places can mean finding a unique treasure that has more meaning and a better back story than Peruvian-themed shot glasses or woven llama magnets.
While Peru is a family-oriented country, many of the activities, including Machu Picchu and the Amazon, can be geared towards teenagers and adults. Still, that doesn’t mean that little ones can’t tag along on a Peruvian adventure of a lifetime. All it takes is a little patience and planning and children can get as much out of Peru as their parents.
Three hours and 5,000 years from Peru’s capital is a land once lost, that has only recently been found. Archaeologists believe this city is the Americas’ oldest, rivaling the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt in its complexity, and the city of Troy and the prehistoric Stonehenge in age.
Photo: Alma de Viaje
Easter week is a big deal throughout the predominantly Catholic, Spanish-speaking world and Peru is no exception. The country really comes alive during Semana Santa, the week leading up to Easter. This year, revelers will start celebrating Holy Week on Palm Sunday, April 13. The celebrations will wrap up the following week on Easter Sunday, April 20.
Photo: Philippa Kikelly
“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world,” penned renowned travel writer Freya Stark in her 1932 book Baghdad Sketches.
I can attest to this. I just completed my very first solo adventure last month, though I will admit, it was less “pleasant sensation” and more terrifying fear that rattled my nerves; at least in the days leading up to the trip.
While I was nervous, the experience was one I can only call amazing. Going it alone meant not only seeing I wanted to see, when I wanted to see it but also getting to eat at this great hole-in-the-wall multiple times and going to bed at 7 p.m. one night after an exhausting day sightseeing.
With its sweeping vistas, rich history and diverse terrain Peru is the perfect place to explore on your own.
The Spanish may have been the first to emigrate to Peru, but they certainly weren’t the last. Perhaps it’s the eternal spring along the coast, or maybe its the rich history and culture that draw the international crowd. Whatever it is, people from all over the globe have been leaving their native lands and calling Peru home for more than half a millennium and with each group comes their traditions, their culture and, of course, their food.
Peru receives international acclaim for its man-made mysteries – primarily Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines – but perhaps one of its equally alluring destinations wasn’t manufactured by hand.
Peru’s beaches stretch more than 1,400 miles (2,250 km) down a sprawling coastline that kisses the Pacific Ocean. At nearly double the length of California’s famous seaside, Peru offers travelers a varied experience – from luxurious resorts to surfing Meccas to playful penguins.
Photo: Carlos Adampol Galindo
From Italy to the Caribbean and even the United States (Mardi Gras), Carnival is celebrated in practically every region of the world with Catholic roots. The celebration traditionally falls in the days preceding Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent, a period of 40 days where practicing Catholics typically abstain from parties and rich foods, while engaging in fasting and other activities viewed as pious. Historians believe this is where Carnival came into play.
In the days leading up to Lent, all those rich foods – including the stockpiles of alcohol – needed to be spent and what better way than throwing a huge block party to get rid of it all (it’s like eating a box of brownies smothered in ice cream before starting a new diet).
When thinking of Carnival in South America, the first vision that likely comes to mind is scantily clad women costumed in elaborately ornate headpieces Samba-ing their way through Rio de Janiero. While true for Brazil, the Portuguese-speaking nation isn’t the only place to get a piece of the Carnival action; Peru has a few parties all its own.
Photo: Diego Escalante Urrelo
Revelers around the world celebrating the Chinese New Year recently rang in the Year of the Horse and among them were Peruvians, many of whom have ties to the Asian nation. One might not think of the Chinese having an influence on a culture half a world away, but in Peru, Chinese traditions touch many parts of everyday life, with perhaps the most popular being food.
Certainly one of my favorite ecosystems, full of orchids, ferns, colorful birds, waterfalls and other amazing flora and fauna. From all the places I’ve been to, the Manu Road has always been the most challenging. From the highlands it takes you deep into the forest. But biking this one-way road full of cliffs is even more challenging. Are you brave enough to take on this adventure?
If you are in the country for business and don’t have enough time to visit Machu Picchu, you can explore many archaeological sites in Lima known as Huacas, a Quechua word which refers to any sacred object or place. The National Culture Institute registered 250 archeological sites across main districts of the city. These three are my favorite:
The Park of the Reserve, located in downtown Lima, became an important tourism attraction after the municipal government transformed it into a colorful experience of water and lights. There are 13 fountains in the park and the largest one is called Magic Fountain. With its 80 m in height it is also considered the “World’s largest fountain complex in a public park” by the Guinness Book Of World Records.
Photo: William Reed Business Media
The folks behind The World’s 50 Best Restaurants – an annual snapshot of the world’s best restaurants based on a taste buds of internationally recognized food experts – created a Latin American spin off which includes South America, Central America and the Caribbean region. This year, the ceremony took place in Lima. The excitement was even greater when they announced 1st place. The prestigious title went to the famous Peruvian restaurant Astrid & Gastón.
Bouldering, indoor, free rock, trad rock, solo and alpine climbing … I still get confused with all these names. I’ve only tried bouldering and indoor climbing, but they both were fun and physically demanding. I thought you need to be extremely strong but I was wrong. It is not all about the strength. Balance, creativity and control play a very important role as well.
Although this activity has been present in Perú, specially in the Andes, it has grown in popularity over the last years. Here I’ll share two places to practice this sport in Lima and the northern highlands.
Photo: Las Vecinas
People around the world are getting more conscious about their diet and are eating healthier. Lima is also part of this movement and over the last years more options for quality, healthy, organic and vegetarian food have emerged.
Here is a list of my favorite places in Lima with healthy options:
Photo: Bruce Tuten
The city of Puno, located at the shore of Lake Titicaca (the highest navigable lake in the world), is a gateway to fascinating cultures and breathtaking Altiplano landscapes. The city that boarders Bolivia is also a Ramsar Site (wetland of international importance) due to its large population of water birds.
Photo: Calle del Medio Restaurant
I recommend you start your night at Calle del Medio Restaurant located in front of the Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas (Main Square). From the moment this place opened its doors, it was destined to become one of the city’s favorites. This might be because of its colorful and cozy atmosphere, but also because of its signature cuisine made of Andean ingredients, such as Alpaca brochette and Tartare de trucha (Trout tartar).
I feel my city is getting more and more exciting each year. Now that winter has arrived and people can’t admit the summer party is over, bars start opening their doors, some for the very first time.
Check out the hottest new bars and some that have already become classics in the city of kings:
Photo: Asocación Mario Testino
As I said before, Lima is becoming a vibrant city with many things happening around.
Since last July a restored 19th century mansion located in Lima´s bohemian district of Barranco has hosted MATE – Asociación Mario Testino. MATE is a non-profit organization founded by the famous photographer Mario Testino, which promotes artistic and cultural exchange among local and international artists.
Once I heard that the best time to be had when traveling is when you wake up before anyone else to enjoy an unforgettable sunrise. When I did this in Chaparri, Moche Sacred Mountain, and I saw it reddened by the sun, hidden in the fog, I understood why shamans still invoke it in their sessions and why the pre-Incan civilization Moches did too.
Photo: Eric Schmuttenmaer
Getting a massage after six hours of walking, arriving at the campsite with an amazing view of the mountains, taking a hot shower followed by a delightful dinner made out of local ingredients and falling asleep on a comfortable feather pillow. Believe me, this is how you want to trek the Andes!
Coffee? Dark, no sugar and a little milk please. I just can’t begin my day without a cup of good and tasty coffee. What about you? And what if it’s organic, fair trade and grown on the slopes of the Andes?
Peru has become the main producer and exporter of organic coffee on the continent. Most of its beans (Arabica variety) grow in the Cloud Forest and on the small local farms.
Photo: Sascha Wenninger
Cusco surprises me each time I visit it. Although I’ve lived in this vibrant city, I still discover new things each time I go back – new streets, restaurants, people. But in the last year, I’ve been noticing colonial houses restored into luxury hotels. I’m inviting you to discover my favorite ones.
The coast, the mountains and the jungle make Peru one of Mother Nature’s most impressive playgrounds and for the extreme sports junkies of the world, this vast and varied landscape is the ideal launchpad for a range adrenaline inducing adventures.
Did you know that Lima hosts the largest gastronomy fair in South America called Mistura? Last September this iconic event attracted half a million visitors and this year they are expecting around one million!
This 10-day fiesta welcomes cooks, bakers, street food vendors, sweet vendors, restaurants, culinary institutes, patrons, and many more.
Photo: Astrid y Gastón
We usually provide our readers with inspiring travel tips in South America, but today, we are bringing Peru to your kitchen by giving you a gourmet recipe worth its cooking time.
And if you call yourself a real food lover, then surely you have heard of Gaston Acurio, celebrity chef and ambassador to Peruvian cuisine. This recipe of the pallar dish (lima bean) is courtesy of one Acurio’s top franchises, Astrid y Gaston, known for its sophisticated yet laid back dishes and atmosphere.
Photo: KaMpErƎ & Le-tticia
There are a few theories about the origin of ceviche and its name but it seems that it originated more than 2,000 years ago among the indigenous groups of northern Peru, where the Moche culture was situated (Chiclayo and Trujillo). Nowadays it is prepared in many Latin American countries in a multitude of ways. But if you want to know how it’s served at the best cevicherias in Peru, get your pencil, paper and fish ready for a great recipe!
Over the last years, Peruvian gastronomy has become known worldwide. Many Peruvian entrepreneurs have opened restaurants abroad that immediately became famous, like if they had a secret formula. But why do people from different countries and of different tastes love this food so much?