From the category archives:

Trip to Peru

New App for Peru Travelers

by admin on August 2, 2011

A new iPhone and iPad app has been designed specifically for travelers in Peru. “Do Peru” is a resource with information on over 100 of the top places and things to experience while visiting. Available in the iTunes store for $3.99, Do Peru includes color photos and descriptions in English. It can be the perfect substitute for a guide book while packing lightly. Just be sure to check with your cellular service provider to avoid unnecessary charges while traveling abroad. If you won’t be using your phone in Peru, you can still use the app as a way to prepare a list of things to do on your upcoming trip. There are many travel apps from companies like Trip Advisor that can help with planning, choosing hotels, and comparing prices, but this app in particular is a great way to educate yourself about all that Peru has to offer.

The L.A. Times is compiling a very interesting list of facts about Machu Picchu leading up to the 100th anniversary of its rediscovery on July 24th, 1911. Arguably the most well-known landmark in Peru, Machu Picchu is a breathtaking reminder of the Inca Empire. Sometimes called “The Hidden City,” “The Lost City,” and the “City of the Clouds,” Machu Picchu was left untouched until 1911 when Yale Professor Hiram Bingham stumbled upon it during his travels. It was built sometime during the 15th century, and abandoned sometime in the 16th century. No one knows for sure why. Many artifacts taken from the site in 1911 were  in Yale’s possession from that point on, and were only returned to Peru this year. Many people feel that the artifacts are now where they belong, and they will be displayed in a museum in Peru. We’ll be following the updates from the L.A. Times as their list of Machu Picchu facts grows. It is a fascinating place, and truly one of the great wonders of the world.

Dried Aji Amarillo and Aji Panca

by admin on May 27, 2011

Aji mirasol is the dried form of Aji Amarillo. It is usually soaked in water or dry sauteed before it is ground and used to add flavor and a yellow color to traditional Peruvian dishes. Another essential Peruvian pepper, aji panca, is also sold in a dried form. It has a deep purple color and is said to have a “woodsy” flavor. In the United States, these peppers are referred to as New Mexico or Colorado chiles. Use dried aji pancas to make the perfect marinade for Peruvian kebabs, or Anticuchos. These kebabs are popular street food in Peru, much like the kebabs sold by vendors in big cities like New York.

Pisco, Peru’s Drink of Choice

by admin on May 9, 2011

Peru is known for its culinary creations, but now the world is also recognizing its Pisco. Pisco is a strong, flavorful brandy that is distilled from grapes. There are a few different kinds of Pisco, and each is made with different grapes that are distilled for different amounts of time, similar to wines. Some pisco is described as aromatic, meaning it is made with the original grapes that were planted in Peru. Look for Quebranta, NegraCriolla, Mollar, and Uvina piscos if you’re interested in that subcategory. Other piscos are non-aromatic, which means they are made with grapes that have been introduced to Peru more recently. These include Muscatel, Italia, Torontel, Albilla. Some say they have a more impressive flavor and aroma, even though they are referred to as non-aromatic. Pisco acholado is a blending of both aromatic and non-aromatic grapes, and is nice to try as an introduction to pisco. Last there is pisco mosto verde, which is fermented for only seven days as opposed to the standard 14. This produces smaller quantities, and a smoother, more flavorful liquor. You’ll find a variety of piscos in Peru, and everyone has their favorite.

Researchers have discovered amber fossils in Chiclayo that date back to prehistoric times. Several different kinds of insects were found perfectly preserved in the stones, and are said to have walked the earth with dinosaurs long before the ice age. Along with the insects, scientists also found spores and pollen and even some blood from a mammal inside the amber. The samples were found in a 20 million year old reservoir. If you’ve ever wondered how insects and even small lizards are sometimes preserved in amber, it’s actually very simple. The insects become stuck in thick sap on trees, and are unable to escape. The more they try to get out, the further they sink. The sap eventually hardens into stone, and is occasionally unearthed millions of years later. Amber with fossils inside is very valuable, and can be used to make high end jewelry. Peru has been the location of many amazing fossil finds. Last year fossilized tobacco was found in the Amazon region, dating back 2.5 million years and proving that the plant originated there.

Volunteering in Lima

by admin on April 12, 2011

An organization called Un Techo Para Mi Pais, dedicated to helping those suffering from extreme poverty in Latin America, is holding sign-ups for a 4 day trip to the outskirts of Lima where they will build 78 houses. The cost for the 4 days (of course, excluding transportation to Lima) is 40 soles, and includes meals and accommodations. This is a great way for young people to volunteer their time and help in areas where many people cannot afford homes. Volunteer travel is becoming more and more common, and those who have participated in these programs have many positive things to say about them. If you’re looking to do some good while you travel to one of the most interesting places in the world, research how you might be able to volunteer during your visit.

Lima: The City of Kings

by admin on March 21, 2011

Lima's CoastThe Telegraph (the most popular newspaper in the UK) published an article today titled, “Lima, Peru: ‘The City of Kings’ Reigns Again.”  The article points out the changes that have occurred in Lima in recent years, including physical renovations and a renewed connection to Incan heritage and pride. Some of the best restaurants in Lima are mentioned, including Rosa Nautica, which is a must-see for tourists. The restaurant sits at the end of a pier that juts out into the sea, providing incomparable views of the waves and surfers just outside the tastefully-decorated dining room. Also mentioned is Museo Larco, a museum that gives visitors a great introduction to the ancient cultures of Peru with clear English translations. And of course, Larco Mar, the popular shopping mall perched on the cliffs of Lima’s coast, is listed as one of the most popular attractions for tourists. As the city of Lima focuses on continuing to take advantage of its beautiful coastline, more posh hotels, restaurants and attractions are sure to open there.

Andean Bears

by admin on February 26, 2011

This is a great video about Andean Bears, also called Spectacled Bears, the only bear species native to Peru. Their unique facial markings are where they get the “spectacled” name. They are endangered, but programs like the one at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. are being put in place to save them. Many rare, endangered species live in Peru, and unlike these bears which are native to the Andes in general, many are only native to Peru. These include the Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey, the Incan Little Mastiff Bat, and the Andean Night Monkey. With efforts to save them, hopefully the amazing array of rare Peruvian animals will remain strong.

New Potato Park in Cusco

by admin on December 7, 2010

If you love potatoes, you may want to take a trip to the new Potato Park on your next trip to Cusco. The area is known for potato farms, and the farmers are now leading hikes, driving tours and even 3-5 day treks through the countryside. Tourists have the opportunity to try a variety of baked potatoes, which all have different tastes, textures and colors. The guides talk about some of the thousands of different kinds of Peruvian potatoes, and the history and folklore of the area. You can try potato pudding at the local Papamanka restaurant, and view impressive textiles made by local artisans. Tourists are encouraged to interact with the farmers and other locals, and to ask questions about agriculture and village life. This sounds like a great new way to get a taste of authentic Peruvian food, history and culture.

Train from Lima to Huancayo

by admin on October 20, 2010

The train from Lima to Huancayo is a great option for travelers who want to see both the city and the countryside in Peru. It is an impressive ride through picturesque mountains, and is known for being the second highest railway in the world. Designed by Polish engineer Ernest Malinowski, the railroad was built between 1870 and 1908. Malinowski is famous for saying he “could build a railway anywhere a llama could climb.” The train’s original purpose was to transport copper and zinc from the mines, as well as farm produce from the Mantaro Valley, but now it is a passenger train and tourist attraction.

Passengers will see the mining towns and farming areas along the way, and the photo opportunities are endless. The modern and comfortable train is equipped with an open air bar car, as well as food and snack service for the twelve hour ride.