Photo: Central Restaurante
A few months ago, Central Restaurante clocked in at number 14 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.
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