Archive for Peru travel guide

Inkaterra La Casona-Layered history meets 21st century luxury

Posted in Cultural Scenes, Events, News, Lifestyle, Green Hotels, Inkaterra, Luxury resorts, hotels, travel, Travel with tags , , , , , on May 22, 2011 by Sustainability Guru

Layered history meets luxury at La Casona

“Welcome to the summit of all things Inca – the opulent Cusco. Cusco has a better range of opulent accommodation than anywhere else in Peru”.

                                                       -The Independent Traveller, U.K.

 

Centrally located at an original Inca settlement in Cusco, former capital of the great Incan Empire, Inkaterra La Casona, the city’s first luxury boutique hotel rise discreetly on its prestigious surroundings. A meticulously restored 11-suite manor, this un-hotel reflects the Cusco’s unique mestizo grandeur, the inspiration for the renovation which preserved the blended essence of Spanish design and local folklore, contemporary fixtures integrated with the original structures, traditional colors, murals, and stones reflecting the patina of several epochs.

The land where the Inkaterra La Casona was built was originally part of the Warakos, the training ground of the elite Inka army. After the Spanish conquest in 1534, the property was given to Diego de Almagro, the Spanish cohort and later rival of Francisco Pizarro, conqueror of the Incan Empire, and founder of Lima, capital of Peru. Almagro participated in the Spanish conquest of Peru and is credited as the first European discoverer of Chile.

colonial furnishings and original murals blend with lavish contemporary comforts

The following years the casona was turned several times over to distinguished owners to include Spanish pioneers in Chile, the Amazon. The property even became a convent and much later on Simon Bolivar’s general headquarters, after his victory in the Battle of Ayacucho, where he liberated Peru from the three-century Spanish rule.

Relive the traditions of a priveleged past

Through the years, the house saw many owners until the late 60s, to include the De la Torre Urbina family and consequently Tierras Altas S.A.. In 1999, Inkaterra  acquired the property.

After two years of restoration and renovation, La Casona warmly welcomed its guests

In 2006, meticulous reconstruction works, renovation and upgrade of the manor started and in May 2008, Inkaterra La Casona opened its doors to guests. Fully equipped suites with open fireplaces are graced with down duvets, heated floors and extra large bathtubs. The amenities of the manor include dining area, outdoor patio and reading lounge. La Casona may be booked as individual suites, or as an entire Villa, offering a hub from which to discover the region.

Old World luxury meets cutting edge comforts of 21st century

Highly acclaimed by global travel magazines and travel news reviews, La Casona is a lavish luxury experience savvy travelers won’t want to miss!

“Cusco’s first boutique hotel, takes a few lessons from the conquistadores- the masters of Old World luxury in New World beauty. And while its rooms wraps around an original courtyard built more than 400 years ago, its iPod docks and heated floors are distinctly 21st century”. ~ Urban Daddy, “Mind your Manor  – Spanish Luxury in  Incan Capital”

Peru Dream Trip  2012 by Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco pioneer, Conservation Leader, 100% Carbon Neutral, authentic travel and luxury stay or Go Andean. For more info about green travel to Peru, visit our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. website or contact SSTDI to join the Dream Trip.

All photos courtesy of Inkaterra.

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Peruphernalia -your travel essentials to Peru

Posted in Cuisine & Dining, Cultural Scenes, Responsible Travel, Travel with tags , , , , on July 6, 2010 by Sustainability Guru
 

My personal compilation of useful information and guide before you travel to Peru…Travel tips and fast FAQs about Peru.

 
Hanging out with chismositas in Huascaran

Hanging out with chismositas in Huascaran

Peru is often called the quintessential South American destination evoking images of Andean mountains, fabled lost cities, panpipe players, llamas and, of course, the ever-fashionable and functional poncho.

-Blue List, Lonely Planet

Coastal Peru's version of the Poncho

Coastal Peru’s version of the Poncho

If Peru didn’t exist, travel guide books would have to invent it. It’s a land of lost cities and ancient ruins, brooding Andean peaks, dense jungles, quaint cities, festivals con-celebrating Roman Catholic masses with mysterious Incan rites. It’s like a whole world in a snow dome.- from the Travel Book.

 

 
 
Peruvian Marinera dancers

Peruvian Marinera dancers

 
 
Rich with majestic natural beauty, gracious people, and the legacy of a great ancient civilization, Peru is a country that touches the soul.
 
 
 
Mystical Machu Picchu Citadel at dusk

Mystical Machu Picchu Citadel at dusk

 
 

 

When planning to travel to Peru, in order to fully capture its magic and mystique, you need to understand what to expect. I have compiled important information for your visit to Peru and how to organize for your journey. Please read this as you get ready for what will be one of the most amazing trips of your life.

 
 

PERU Fast FAQs(Frequently Asked Questions)

 

Acclimatization

Acclimatization is the process of the body adjusting to the decreased availability of oxygen at high altitudes. Considering varying altitudes of destinations in Peru, travelers must try to go first to the lower ones before ascending to higher altitude cities. It is a slow process that could take place over a couple of days. Given enough time, your body will adapt to the decrease in oxygen at a specific altitude.

Lake Titicaca, Puno, World's highest navigable lake at 3,810 meters above sea level

Lake Titicaca, Puno, World’s highest navigable lake at 3,810 meters above sea level

Altitude Sickness Prevention  

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS) or soroche is a pathological condition that is caused by acute exposure to low air pressure usually above 2,400 meters (approximately 8,000 feet). The main cause of altitude sickness is going too high too quickly. Before your travel to a high altitude destination, avoid eating too much, and on the arrival day itself, eat less also to avoid altitude sickness. If you stay at a high altitude, rest. Limit any walking or activity. You can explore the area, but take it easy, especially on the first day. Drink plenty of water and avoid taking alcoholic beverages.

 

Communication/ Telephone/ Internet

Peru is well connected with telephone landlines and cellular phones lines in most major cities, as well as the Internet with connections in most hotels, numerous internet booths (cabinas de internet) in cities and towns and WiFi available in major hotels.

   

Currency/Credit Cards/ Foreign Exchange

Peru’s currency is the Nuevo Sol (S/.) or Nuevos Soles (in plural). Peru is typical of many South American countries in that it effectively operates a dual currency system where the US$ American Dollar has purchasing power.  Both the US$ (Dollar) and the Peruvian Nuevo Sol are in circulation and although the government prefers people to use soles, most sizeable purchases are made in dollars.  The Nuevo Sol is perfectly stable so you don’t have to worry about inflation problems during your stay. 

  

In the provinces, credit card facilities may be limited only to major establishments. Travelers’ cheques are not common, so have cash (in Soles) on hand as foreign currency exchange is limited. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are mostly available only in the main cities. To check currency conversion, go to

http://www.xe.com/ucc/ 

Arts and crafts market, Yucay, Sacred Valley

Health/ Medical/Travelers Common Illness

To keep from getting gastrointestinal infections or avoiding travelers’ diarrhea, we recommend you take care when eating raw or exotic foods. Drink bottled or boiled water and do not eat food/beverages from street vendors/ hawkers. Doctors or medical assistance may be contacted through hotel reception.Hospitals and clinics provide adequate services, especially in Lima and the other main cities and can contact health care insurance directly.

 
 
Cata de Pisco, Ica, Peru

Cata de Pisco, Ica, Peru

Language

The official languages are Spanish (80% of the population), Quechua (Andean and highland regions), and Aymara (in the Puno high plateau). It is possible to communicate in English with tourist service workers such as tour guides, travel agency employees and 3 to 5-star hotels staff.

 

Luggage/Baggage Limit

Please know the baggage limit, number of pieces and weight allowed by the airline to your destination. Most domestic airlines have lesser baggage allowance (usually max. 10 kilos) than the international airlines (usually max. 20 kilos). In case of multiple destinations, it is advisable to travel light and bring only the essentials.

 

If you are going to Machu Picchu, please take note that Peru Rail has imposed luggage limitation on the train to Aguas Calientes. Peru Rail Luggage Transport is a maximum hand-carried allowance of only 5 kilos/11 lbs. and measuring not more than 62 inches/157 cm (height, length & width) per passenger. Your heavier and bigger baggage may be transported in another train at an extra cost (US$1.80/kilo, one way, maximum 10 kilos) or may be left for storage at Peru Rail’s Luggage Storage only in Ollantaytambo Train Station at US$5.00/day.

 

Security  

It is important that you take common sense precautions when visiting Peru, just like in any major destination in the world, such as taking extra care with your belongings in public places or avoiding deserted places at night. The following are recommended as precautionary measures:

·       Get a copy of your passport, airplane tickets and credit cards. Leave all your travel documents (passport, tickets, hotel vouchers etc) in the hotel safety deposit box and take only photocopies with you.

·       Know the unsafe areas of the city/destination and avoid visiting them, especially at night. If you must exchange money, do so in banks, authorized money changers and exchange bureaus, or in your hotel. Avoid doing this in plain sight.It may not necessarily an immediate threat to you, but you should always be watching out for pick pockets and thieves especially in crowded places such as busy avenues, airports, markets and tourist sites.

·       Try to learn a few key phrases in Spanish before you go, if not to help yourself get by, then at least to make the locals think you can speak the language and thus make you a more conscientious traveler who is careful and prepared.

 

 
 
Lima, Peru Main Plaza

Lima, Peru Main Plaza

Travel Insurance

It is recommended to buy a travel insurance to provide you general coverage in case of emergency or medical expenses, trip cancellation/interruption, lost tickets, baggage or damage, etc. This way, for any unforeseen event or circumstances, you have an insurance to fall back on.

 

Vaccinations and/or Medications  

Yellow fever & malaria vaccination is required for traveling to jungle destinations and must be administered at least 10 days before your trip otherwise it will not be effective. It is recommended that you take the proper measures to protect yourself, specially from mosquito bites, in order to prevent infection from, among other diseases, yellow fever (vaccination) and malaria (repellant and medication). Consult your doctor before traveling.

 

Water

Potable water is limited in some areas. It is recommended to drink bottled water only and do not buy from street vendors or hawkers.

 

 
 
Lima's Costa Verde, Pacific coast

Lima’s Costa Verde, Pacific coast

Weather

The Peruvian Coast is hot and sunny (northern area) or very humid (raw or damp, in Lima).

At the Peruvian Andes, rainy season is between November and March. Temperatures drop dramatically at night, thus one should always prepare warm clothes or jackets. The Peruvian Jungle is hot, with a tropical climate, however certain times of the year, the jungle experiences “friaje” or cold front. It has daily temperatures averaging the 30°C and night temperatures could drop to cold 15°. For more accurate information, please advise check respective Peru destination weather forecast in: Peru’s local weather agency, http://www.senamhi.gob.pe and click on current forecast available in English. Otherwise, you may also check in: www.wunderground.com or www.intellicast.com

 

Take a PERU DREAM TRIP  by Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975; 100% Carbon Neutral travel and stay, any day departure. For more information and travel assistance about our Green Travel Exchange, or contact SSTDI.

Machu Picchu – A royal Inca retreat

Posted in Cuisine & Dining, Cultural Scenes, Environment, Responsible Travel, Sustainable Events, Sustainable Tourism, Travel with tags , , , , , on May 28, 2010 by Sustainability Guru

 

 Machu Picchu Historical Reserve is a magical place that fascinates through its vast archaeological remains, geological formations, unique flora and fauna, and spectacular cloud forest. The most remarkable part of the reserve is the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

The Incas built this citadel at the end of the fourteenth century. As centuries passed, the fortress became totally overgrown by vegetation, and virtually disappeared from sight. Hiram Bingham, Director of the Yale Peruvian Expedition, rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911. Recent research compiled by Yale University has revealed that the Machu Picchu Citadel was not, as Hiram Bingham believed, the traditional birthplace of the Inca people, nor was it the final stronghold of the Incas in their losing struggle against the Spanish. Instead, Machu Picchu, built by Pachacutec at the peak of the empire, was a favored retreat for the Inca nobility.

Machu Picchu Historical Reserve is situated above the town of Aguas Calientes at 2,450 meters (8,038 ft.) a.s.l. The site covers an area of 32,592 hectares (80,535 acres), located in a cloud forest between the Andes and the Amazon Basin, 112 km (70 miles) from the City of Cusco, in a green canyon on the Urubamba River.

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel is an 85-room boutique hotel built of stone,   adobe, stucco, and eucalyptus beams which creates a lovely Andean pueblo ambience constructed with indigenous materials, respecting environmental sensibilities, building on heritage with its regional themed architecture and design, decorated with local furniture and fixtures to promote native artifacts and crafts.

The hotel employs local people and conducts constant training in sustainable tourism. It uses clean technology and eco-friendly practices such as bio-degradable materials, handmade toiletries and amenities, the practice of re-cycling, proper waste disposal, water conservation and prohibits the use of aerosol sprays.

Inkaterra Machu Picchu hotel offers an authentic Peruvian travel experience involving guests with the Peruvian cultural and natural values. All activities offered within the hotel offer guests with the wealth of nature, flora and fauna, environment protection, conservation and interactive cultural exchanges. Eco- activities within Inkaterra Machu Picchu offered free for guests include Orchids, Birding, Tea Plantation, Nature Trail and Spectacled Bear project.

“Although celebrities such as Cameron Diaz, David Blaine, Demi Moore and Heidi Klum have all checked in en route to Machu Picchu, the real celebrities at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel are the birds. The Cloud Forest garden is home to 33 types of hummingbirds, as well as rare species….”  – Rory Ross,  “Peruvian Splendour”, Independent Traveller

 The hotel grounds include more than 5 km. (3.12 miles) of ecological paths; several spots of observation and contemplation, with indigenous fauna, the world’s largest concentration of wild hummingbird species (18) , birds (180 species), and butterflies (111 species), amongst a diversity of natural wonder.  Stays at Inkaterra Machu Picchu are 100% carbon neutral as Inkaterra has been contributing actively to global carbon fixing with its reforestation programs in the cloud forest of Machu Picchu. In 2007, Inkaterra was the first Peruvian organization to participate in a Carbon Neutral Program with Sustainable Travel International and is considered a 100% Carbon Neutral hotel. Guests are offered the possibility to offset their carbon emissions on their trips to Peru and join the effort against global warming.

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel through its NGO Inkaterra Association is managing Research, Conservation, Protection, Self-generating Resources Program and Community Development in Machu Picchu.  Projects conducted with local communities include reforestation, working with schools, students, volunteers, scientists and researchers. Conservation programs include monitoring & inventory of the local fauna and flora of the Machu Picchu Historical Reserve, the Spectacled (Andean) Bear Rescue Center and the hotel’s Orchid garden with 372 native species in its natural habitat –a world record according to American Orchid Society.

To support its projects, Inkaterra has published books about Flora, such as Orchids in Machu Picchu as well as Field Guides for Birds, Orchids and Butterflies.

“This may be the largest orchid collection in Peru that is open to the public. In all probability it is also the world’s largest orchid species collection set in a natural environment in a private facility.”  – American Orchid Society Magazine

Refugio de Santiago Huerto Andino Restaurante – A novo Andino refuge at one of Peru´s most fertile valley, Lunahuana

Posted in Cuisine & Dining, Cultural Scenes, Environment, Sustainable Events, Sustainable Tourism, Travel with tags , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by Sustainability Guru

One long weekend holiday to get to know more of Peru, we set off to a region along the Central Valley, known for its river rafting activities and Cray fish (camarones). With a little research and information from an officemate who had been there, we went to visit Lunahuana.  Located 112 miles, 2.15 hours by car from Lima, turning east at Cañete, along the road to the town of Imperial, we reach the verdant Lunahuana valley.

 

With pre-booked arrangements, we checked into Refugio de Santiago, a republican era restored house owned by affable and Andean produce innovator, Fernando Briceño. He moved to Lunahuana to start an honest-to-goodness rural tourism, and for which he is working to help rescue the archaeological, geographical, gastronomic and anthropological wealth of the region.

 

For this he developed the Huerto Andino (Andean orchard-farm) where he has 90 fruit varieties, 300 medicinal plants, 17 pre Hispanic vegetables, 12 “magical” plants, 50 aromatic culinary herbs, among other unusual plants and trees of the world.

 With his wife, Silvana, he manages the Restaurant with an exquisite Novo Andino cuisine, utilizing ancient Andean ingredients and names. 

Upon arrival, we were welcomed by the house refreshing drink, tuna (prickly pear) juice, one of the 12 other fantastic juices, as delicious as they are colorful. As it was way past lunch hour, we ordered our meal right away and in no time, served the first entrée, Sashimi Andino for me and Tiradito de Trucha Marinada al Hinojo, smoked trout salad in dill vinaigrette for Julio. The sashimi was a little bit salty for me as it was drenched in soy sauce and topped with pre-Hispanic Andean capers called Ticsauyuyus, already naturally briny. I told Fernando to go easy on the soy sauce as usually with sashimi, it is served on the side, not marinated, besides the delicious capers giving its flavor.

The smoked trout salad with lettuce, avocado and organic herbs was tantalizing and refreshing, truly opening your appetite with its lightness and flavor.  

For main course, I tried the Inchicuy Paullino, deep fried crunchy cuy (guinea pig) served with potato puree topped with crushed peanuts. It was perfect.

Julio ordered Ñuñuma de Granja en Salsa de Maiz Morado, sliced braised duck breast served with quinoa in creamy purple corn sauce. Another divine dish! We begged off dessert as we washed down the gratifying Andean degustation with a large jar of prickly pear juice! Later on, for dinner as we wished for something light, we settled for the Cray fish chowder, another Refugio specialty. Other house dishes which Lima loyal patrons keep coming back for are Tacu tacu de Pallares Relleno con Camarones, Cray fish filled mashed lima bean puree with rice, Fettuccini de Camarones al Estragon, fettuccini in Cray fish and tarragon sauce. Traditional Andean dishes are highlighted in its Ancestral Huatia del Pariaca marinated beef in herbs and chilies prepared a la Pachamanca (ancient Peruvian underground grill), but in their way, in clay pots, instead of buried in fired up stones; and the ubiquitous Cuy en Salsa de Olivo, marinated cuy, golden browned served with olive sauce and crowned with smoked olives stuffed with Andean capers.       

The next day, as dictated by tradition, we went around the valley and searched for the best cray fish restaurant but as it was Sunday, the town’s restaurants were full. We decided to try one near the plaza center and ordered their house specialty of Chicharron de camarones, deep fried Cray fish, which turned out to be over-rated. The portion was too little, the taste mediocre. Service was awful and it was nothing compared to Refugio’s exquisite experience, for just about the same price.

 I hope Fernando and Silvana will continue what they have started – a noble and authentic cause to recover and continue Peru’s thinning tradition of valuable plants and produce while showcasing to the world the creative culinary resources with crops long forgotten. Have you tried any Novo Andino cuisine? Share with us your experience!

Inkaterra – Sustainable Tourism and Conservation since 1975

Posted in Cultural Scenes, Ecotourism, Environment, Green Hotels, Inkaterra, Luxury resorts, hotels, travel, Responsible Travel, Sustainable Tourism, Travel with tags , , , , , on May 24, 2010 by Sustainability Guru

In 1975, a Peruvian company called Inkaterra opened a lodge for scientists who came to study Peru’s rainforest, long before eco-tourism was trendy. Inkaterra’s proud legacy of conservation, social responsibility and geo tourism has created an international model, recognized by the World Bank and the United Nations, by providing the sophisticated international traveler with a luxurious, gracious and authentic exposure coupled with social responsibility initiatives for over 30 years now.

Inkaterra through its NGO Inkaterra Foundation (Inka Terra Asociacion –ITA) carried out ecological endeavors at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, on the Tambopata National Reserve in Peru’s Southern Amazon rainforest and at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel, in the Machu Picchu National Reserve in the Southern Andes. ITA was founded to conserve the environment, ecosystems, cultural and archaeological natural resources, Peru’s cultural identity and apply sustainable development.

Through ITA, Inkaterra’s ongoing programs include Research, such as sponsoring international scientists and local experts who conduct ecosystem studies, biodiversity, flora and fauna inventory and conservation status, etc.  This has resulted in the identification of 372 species and the discovery of 8 new species in the Machu Picchu cloud forest, as well as several publications and field guides.

Inkaterra Conservation Projects include the Inkaterra Canopy & Anaconda Walk at Reserva Amazonica, with constant monitoring of wildlife assessments and endangered eco systems, as well as the Rolin Island Fauna Rescue Center and the Butterfly House in Puerto Maldonado. Likewise, the Spectacled Bear Rescue Project in Machu Picchu provides vital support for protection of the endangered Andean bear species. Natural corridors and carbon fixing along the Madre de Dios River of the Southern Amazon rainforest and the Andean cloud forest in Machu Picchu are carried out in a total of 17,000 hectares of reforestation projects.

Environmental and eco best practices include evaluating surrounding landscapes, flora, fauna, water, air, sounds and solid waste. Infrastructure was constructed in keeping with the local nature in both Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica’s Ese-Eja styled cabañas and Inkaterra Machu Picchu Andean casitas. Quality assurance along with ecological safety measures are ensured with the proper use of water resources, water waste management, air quality maintenance through proper utilization of gas stoves, non usage of aerosols and ground keeping in general. All Inkaterra eco-excursions such as Bird watching, Orchid Trail, Nature Walks, among others, are led by highly trained, knowledgeable and conscientious expert eco guides-interpreters.

Cooperative projects with the local community includes the Gamitana Farm, a comprehensive model farmhouse for self-generating eco-agro business. It also operates Concepcion, a community house restored for volunteers, local and international researchers and a national volunteer and education program.

In April 2007, Inkaterra became Peru’s first carbon-neutral travel organization in conjunction with Sustainable Travel International (STI) by integrating renewable energy onsite, and then offsetting emissions from all of its accommodation and tour related activities, including fuel use and electricity generation.  Inkaterra acknowledges that all travel generates unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions that affect global warming.  Inkaterra actively educates their clients and guests to do so as well with the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions of their flights through STI’s carbon calculator (online at the Inkaterra website).

Best of all, Inkaterra’s accommodations in the Andes and the Amazon, offer a wonder experience for the conscientious traveler.  For more information visit www.inkaterra.com or use contact form to join our responsible travel programs to Peru.

101 Reasons to visit Lima!

Posted in Cuisine & Dining, Cultural Scenes, Environment, Events, News, Lifestyle, Sustainable Events, Travel with tags , , , , , , on June 7, 2009 by Sustainability Guru

Culture, Crafts and Culinary Capital

Now that you have read the good, the bad and the ugly, at the end of the day, there are still 101 reasons to visit the City of Kings

 12 Huacas (Ancient Adobe Pyramids): Pachacamac, Pucllana, Huallamarca, Maranga Complex (8 pyramids), and a little further up north, Caral

Your window to Peru's history

Your window to Peru's history

 8 Museums: Larco, Museo de Oro, Poli, Amano, Arte Lima, Arte Italiano, National Archaeological, Anthropology and History, Pedro Osma

 9 Theaters: British Theater, Plaza Isil, Alliance Francais, Teatro Peruano Japones, Segura, PUCP Cultural Center, La Tarumba, Teatro Canout, Marsano

 12 Historical Buildings: Casa Aliaga, Palacio Torre Tagle,  Archbishop Palace, Presidential Palace, House of Congress, Lima Municipal Palace, Casa de Riva Agüero, Casa Larriva, Casa de Osambelo/Casa Oquendo, Casa de la Moneda, Casa Miguel Grau, Railway Station, Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes .

9 Churches: Lima Cathedral, San Franciso, Santa Rosa, Nazarenes, San Pedro, La Merced, San Sebastián, San Agustin, Convento de los Descalzos

Artesanias (Handicrafts) Market & Specialty Shops: Mercado Central Lima, La Paz Street, Miraflores antique shops, Mercado Indio, Miraflores, Dedalo, Camusso, Alpaca Shops in Larcomar.

43 Cuisine Specialties. Cafés: La Tiendecita Blanca, Café café, Mangos, San Antonio, La Baguette, Bohemia, Café del Museo; Cevicherias (seafood): Punta Arenas, La Rana Verde, La Red, La Mar, Pescados Capitales, Segundo Muelle, Punta Sal, Caplina; Comida Criolla (Peruvian/creole): Jose Antonio, El Senorio de Sulco, Huaca Pucllana, Brujas de Cachiche, El Rincón, Panchita, El Rocoto, Fiesta, Casa Hacienda Moreyra, Malabar, Astrid & Gaston; Chifas (Peruvian Chinese): O Mei, Lung Fung, Wa Lok, Royal, Salon Capon, El Jade; Fusion: Costanera 700, Chala, Donatello, Hanzo, Kintaro, La Miga, Matsuei, Rafael, La 73, Osaka, Toshiro, Edo.

Authentic Peruvian at its finest

Authentic Peruvian at its finest

Note: the latter just 43 restaurants, is just a tip of the iceberg, so to speak.  Hundreds more, old and new, big or small, are yet to be tried and tested,  explored, savored! Now, I am craving for comida Criolla… that´s next!

Lima, The Good… Top 5 Continued

Posted in Cuisine & Dining, Cultural Scenes, Lima, Peru, Travel with tags , , , , , , on May 10, 2009 by Sustainability Guru

Top 5: continued…

 2. Peaches and Herbs

Lucuma

Lucuma

Lima is the fruit basket of Peru with diversity so rich from the different regions. I just found out that the season is the reason why these are abundant all year: when products run out in one region, yet another harvests and sells them next!

Durazno blanquillo, white peaches

Durazno blanquillo, white peaches

I personally got to eat at least a dozen new fruits that I have never seen or tasted before, such as Blanquillo, a white variety of peaches, the granadilla –sweetest passion fruit, Tuna- the fruit, not the fish- a prickly pear fruit of cactus; Aguaymanto called Inca berries or cape goose berry; Pepino dulce or pear melon, yellow gold round cucumber-ish fruit like cantaloupe; Pacay (ice cream bean) which tastes like vanilla flavored cotton; Higo -figs, whose flavor I only ate from cookies before. Lucuma, commonly known as egg fruit which refers to its consistency (that of a hard boiled egg) is more popularly prepared and tastes divine as ice cream or pastry flavor.

Sacha Inchi

Sacha Inchi

There is a wide diversity of ancient curative root crops and herbal emollients now getting famous all over the world: Maca, the Andean version of ginseng; Uña de Gato (cat’s claw) recognized to fight radicals and stimulates immune system; Sacha Inchi, Inca peanut, source of Aceite de Sacha Inchi, the Peruvian Amazon version of olive oil. Other common herbs are Albahaca, basil, Culantro, or coriander used in Peru’s most popular dish, Arroz con pollo,

Huacatay, Andean black mint, Cedron, lemon verbena, Hierba buena, another mint variety and the most famous of all –Coca, commonly used as an energizing tea, Mate de Coca or otherwise concocted as a global illicit business, its final product distributed mostly from Colombia and Mexico. Yet this ancient herb is in fact widely used in cooking and as medicine as well as spa treatments.

 3. Crops galore

Olluco

Olluco

Peruvians relish the world’s most healthy and nutritious tubers, grains and crops such as Quinoa, now touted as the world´s healthiest grains, kiwicha, yacon, chuño and my favorite, olluco a tuber vegetable which is a cross between potato and chayote. Then there’s the great papa, potato, which the National Institute of Potato claim that Peru has 2,800 varieties at the very least. I have eaten and tried about a dozen varieties so far, 2,788 to go!

the healthy Purple Corn Drink, Chicha Morada

Peru has 55 corn varieties  – I saw the biggest one in Cusco, it’s ear as big as mine. Ever heard of purple corn? Here they prepare it as a healthy beverage, it lowers cholesterol level, a home made juice called chicha morada.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Culture vulture. Lima as Spain’s viceroyalty capital in Latin America is home to at least 20 museums, hundreds of ancestral homes (casonas), churches and buildings built from different periods and architectural styles – colonial, republican, renaissance, baroque, neo-gothic, French-, Italian- and Mestizo, the latter a quaint mix of the Inca and colonial. Practically half of the city still has some of the oldest, and I mean centuries-old, not just decades-old, decadent and history-rich manors. Sadly, these are now replaced by condominiums and high rises by the minute.  However, some casonas are still well preserved and converted to museums, some still continually inhabited by their descendants. You may visit these and you will witness first hand, living history.

Palacio Torre Tagle

Palacio Torre Tagle

5.  Theaters. Part of Lima’s culture and tradition is the variety and perpetuation of theater culture. When I first arrived in Lima, I was invited to go to the “theater”, and I ignorantly asked, which movie? To which my Lima friends laughed, and said, theater, NOT cinema! You see, from where I came from, it’s movie theaters – but here, folks still like to watch plays instead of movies! Don’t get me wrong – they also have their version of Hollywood they call Choliwood (from “cholo/a” meaning mestizo-indigenous mixed race), which is the majority of the population. However, the viceroyalty influence amongst the populace still persist with the culturally inclined buffs, they have theater for every interest or preference and even several for kids.

Teatro Segura Lima

Teatro Segura Lima