Posts Tagged ‘food’

The Jewel of Ayacucho

For those backpackers who have had enough of the hordes of tourists who swarm around Cusco, Ayacucho is a great place to head next. Ayacucho offers a high concentration of historic and cultural attractions, nearly on a par with Cusco itself, but because it is off the main coastal Cusco-Lima highway, many international tourists opt not to visit it.

foto 1For this reason, it is a popular destination for Peruvians on vacation. So make sure and bring your Spanish phrasebook with you: there is sure to be a party going on at any of Ayacucho´s downtown hostels, bars, and discotecas, but you might well be the only gringo in sight!
Walking down any one of the pedestrian streets that branch off of the Plaza de Armas it will quickly lead you past numerous restaurants and bars. The farther you walk, the cheaper and more “interesting” the establishments become. But don´t worry, Ayacucho is a very safe buy viagra city. For a quiet drink and a good pizza in a great atmosphere, try Magia Negra, which is full of (opened!) black umbrellas for ambience and a little privacy and witchcraft.
During the day, walk up and out of the city to the viewpoint on the hill to the east of Ayacucho. From there, you can see the entire city, whose appearance has changed very little since the 16th and 17th centuries when the Spanish built their palaces, churches, and grassy plazas.

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There are over thirty Renaissance and Baroque-era churches sprinkled around the oldest part of the city. From the Inca to the Conquistadors to the revolutionaries to the modern era, Ayacucho has been a prize jewel in the crown of territorial possessions, and once you are there you will easily see why so many have seen fit to fight over it.
In fact, one of the most decisive battles in South America´s war of independence from the Spanish occurred a few miles outside of town; take a bus until you can see the tip of the battlefield´s unmistakable monument, hike the rest of the way through canyons and forests of tranquil beauty, and snap plenty of photos to show your envious friends once you get back to Lima.

Camana in the Offseason

Camana is a popular tourist destination, but not for most international backpackers.  During the summer months of December through March Peruvians flock to this bustling south coast town, flooding downtown hotels and hostels, filling the beachfront accommodations and saturating the beachfront.  During the fall and winter months however, while the city center stays crowded with locals, the beach becomes practically deserted, and the temperate- not overwhelmingly hot months directly after tourist season ends, may actually be the best time visit.

As the beach clears of visitors from the highlands and the north, many of the beachfront hospedajes close for the season, but if you’re going during those off months, don’t despair, or worry about finding a place to stay.  While some of the larger, and more luxurious spots, close down as early as mid-march, a number of good options with private rooms and bathrooms, and varying qualities of amenities, stay open year round.  The hostels on the beachfront will often appear shuttered as well, but many, especially those with restaurants attached, will open up a room if stray guests appear at any time of the year.  And best of all, the great restaurants, offering standard Peruvian fare such as Lomo Saltado and Estafados, as well as some of the best ceviche outside of Lima, stay open all year around.


Visitors arriving to the beach front during the winter months will find the incredibly popular summer hotel and disoteca, The Titanic Club, closed for the off-season, but a few other nice options exist.  Hostal Patty, three sandy blocks from the water, is the cheapest option for private rooms, with habitcaiones sipmles con banos campartidos starting at just S/. 20 per night, the price increasing to S/. 35 for a private bathroom and television (the remote system works by shouting down the hall to ask them to change the channel) in the room.  Down the road, on the downtown-side of La Punta, is hotel Sulumar, also open year around, with televisions without signal, and cold water showers.  At S/. 50 a night, it’s probably not the way to go unless you want to be a block closer to the beach and restuarants.

For a truly cheap options, just walk up and down the waterfront and stop into restaurants with ‘hostal’ or ‘hospedaje’ signs out front.  Generally these very basic rooms, often actually located behind the restaurants and across the street, go for S/. 20-25 during tourist season and S/. 15 during the offseason, but be warned, the rooms may be private, with shared bathroom of course, but they can be very basic, with exposed stone walls with zinc roofs that are less than water tight, potentially problematic during the colder winter season.  Ask to see the rooms before you commit to your stay, and remember there are nicer, and still cheap options, just another few steps down the beach.

Getting there from Pariwana Hostels in Cusco or in Lima

From Pariwana Lima look for a bus to Arequipa; Flores, Suyoz, Viva, and Cial are all good bets.  Ask if the bus stops in Camana anyway, it’s on route to Arequipa, and if so, book your ticket for Camana and you’ll save a few dollars.  If you can’t find a bus that has cheaper tickets to Camana, get one to Arequipa and ask the driver or attendant to drop you in Camana, Route 1 South cuts right through the city and it shouldn’t be a problem, though it may be easier if you don’t have any bags under the bus.  Expect to pay S/. 100 or more for semi-cama and S/.150-200 for full-cama, and keep in mind the bus ride is about 15 hours, an overnight bus that you can actually get some sleep on could save you a night of lodgings money, and leave you a lot happier when you get off the bus.

From Cusco there are no direct buses, but a bus to Arequipa will put you the terminal terreste there, and a number of buses leave every two hours on weekdays, generally from 7am to 7pm.  Expect to pay S/. 100 for Cusco to Arequipa, about a ten hour ride, and S/.15-20 for the three hour ride to Camana.

The buses all let out in downtown Camana, and a taxi ride to the beachfront, known locally as La Punta, costs S/. 8-10, but the collectivos, which generally have ample space for backpacks cost S/. 1.50.  The ride takes about ten minutes and the car will drop you wherever along the beach you request.  Then walk along the Pacific Ocean, look for a good place to stay, and wonder why more backpackers haven’t yet discovered Camana.

What to Eat in the Jungle

As everywhere else in the diverse Peruvian landscape, the food changes with the geography. As different crops become limited and others more abundant, you’ll find a variety of culinary delights unmatched anywhere else in the world. Backpacking to and from is buy real viagra online of course the best way to go about it.

In the jungle, perhaps arriving to Pucallpa, or Puerto Maldonado, or even directly to Iquitos, you’ll find the food pickings to be quite similar. There are a few tasty treat that you simply can’t neglect while you’re staying in your hostel there.

First and foremost is the most present dish in the region, the juane. This is a mix of chicken and rice cooked with turmeric in a banana leaf. It might not have banana inside, but the banana leaf is a hint at the fact that most all jungle food comes with banana. The juane is quite expensive anywhere outside of the jungle, but there it costs around 3 sols. It’s a big leaf bag of goodness.

The gastronomic adventure continues as you make your way to the market to try some river fish. These fish will be grilled over natural coals, fresh from the big body that is the Amazon River. You might choose to try the paiche fish solo with a side of yucca, or you may opt to ingest it with some grilled vegetables as patarashca. They even prepare piranha in a soup called timbuche, if that sounds enticing!

You might find turtle soup, or even Black Caiman, but hunting both is illegal. The Inkicapi soup is another popular dish you should want to savor. Otherwise, the other more popular jungle food is called tacacho. This is a mash of beans and rice formed often into little balls. They’re usually served with cecina or pork. Often the pork pieces are unlikely candidates, like hooves, skin or ears-enjoy!

Among many other treats, you’ll appreciate jungle travel in terms of its cuisine. Not only that, you’ll also fall in love with the incredible variety of fruit that comes out of the Amazonian beast. Try the camu camu and star apple. The cherimoya is particularly sweet, and you can find ice cream in jungle fruit flavors as well (trust me, you’ll need it).

Peru's Andean Cuisine

You are backpacking around Peru to see it all; the ruins, the culture, and above all the food! You’ll have to read up before you set out in order not to miss the specialties. Your cheapest option is to visit restaurants that have ‘menus’ wherein you get a soup, a main dish and a drink, but to try some of the specialties you’ll have to dish out just a little bit more. Sure you can go to the design restaurants of Cusco, but it might befit your experience to find the holes in the wall.
In any case, traveling Peru to sample culinary delights will entail a meticulous palette that is open to new wondrous tastes. Andean food is particularly known for its unique meat ingredients, often coming from the highland animals alpaca and llama. Also, they use guinea pigs, sheep and pig. A typical Andean diet is based on corn, potatoes (Peru having the greatest variety of potatoes in the world, with over 4,000 kinds), yucca and maca.
You can find ostrich meat in Arequipa although it’s not very popular. What is popular, however, is the highland lake trout. In between Lima and Cusco, perhaps you can stop at Abancay for a traditional fried trout meal, which usually comes with steamed potatoes and white rice.

This article is meant to inspire you to explore the dishes of Andean gastronomy. As such, here is a short list of the meals that are absolutely necessary to try.
You might want to get your camera ready to capture the techniques in cooking the Andean favorite pachamanca. Pachamanca is pork or beef cooked with veggies and herbs underground over heated stones. They usually cook a lot at once, so you’ll want to snap some photos of the intricate process. Pachamanca is eaten with the hands, so make sure you wash up before.
Another Andean meal is the cuy chactado, which is fried guinea pig. It might be an interesting experiment to find the meal to go, take it back to Pariwana Cusco and eat in the bar in front of everyone; that’s right, give em some ideas!
Andean cultures have depended on various tubers for sustenance for millennia. Olluco is a yellow tuber that resembles the small sprout potatoes you can find nearby the hostel at the main market of Cusco. Olluquito con charqui is a meal of the cooked crunchy tuber with jerky. In fact, the salted, dehydrated charqui, which is a Quechua word, is where the English ‘jerky’ comes from. The only difference is that here in Peru, the jerky is usually llama or alpaca!
Rocoto relleno are stuffed spicy chilis. Ifyou can handle a bit of sizzle on your tongue, this is the meal for you. The chilis are generally stuffed with pork or beef, egg, onion and olive. They’re cooked with potatoes that are doused in milk and cheese.
Speaking of potatoes, another Andean dish is tocosh, which is fermented potato pulp. With so much dependence on potatoes, you were bound to find something different in terms of potato preparation! In Ayacucho, you can find puka pikanti, which is white potatoes, beets, mint, peanuts generic viagra and chili peppers all cooked up together.
Andean cuisine is reason in and of itself to travel Peru, partaking in each and every se dishes in Lima, it being the mega-hub of everything Peruvian, but you’ll save money and gain experiences by making your way to each town and city instead!

To Eat or Not to Eat Guinea Pig

Perhaps you’ll be walking down the street in Lima, after checking into your hostel, backpack load set down in your dorm room. Perhaps you’ll pass by a market and see the cute little furry guinea pigs in a cage trampling over one another. You’ll think, “oh, how cute!” However, here in Peru Guinea Pigs are not kept as pets-they’re eaten.

Now, I know what you’re thinking-that it’s a shame that such furry cuties are skewed up for the split. You might have had a guinea pig as a pet when you were younger, or perhaps you’ve seen one of those “cute animal wheels” videos, where they stick their soft pink noses into the camera. All of this previous history will make you aggressively anti-guinea pig cuisine, if you let it.

Though, none of your buy cialis in canada history with this animal has anything to do with the fact that here, guinea pig is a delicacy. You’ll find the meat on sticks, fried and chucked in with chifa rice chaufa, or marinated in some delicate sauce that’ll make your mouth water.

If you’ve eaten rabbit, guinea pig is not much different. You will be happy to know that the meat is high in protein, and low in fat and cholesterol. Indeed, part of the effort you’ll have to put forth to eat it might include tearing it off of the bony carcass.

Guinea pig comes from Peru in the first place, so it was a mark of cuisine before it was a pet. Of course, for you vegetarians out there, it might be neither. Unfortunately this is not the article for you, so it’s best to turn away now. And as for those who aren’t convinced, you should know that Peru exports a new breed of “super guinea pig” to Europe, the US and Japan. Yes, it’s for eating.

So, should you eat the guinea pig or not? As long as you’re in Peru, there’s nothing strange about the act. Guinea pigs have been cooked for centuries, and were once sacrificed to the Incan gods. In a morphological coincidence, you might see depictions of The Last Supper with the players eating roasted guinea pig!

If you’re someone who likes to try something new, then this is for you. Otherwise, just try not to look the guineas in their hollowed out eye sockets!