Saturday, March 10, 2012

Advise on what to eat, drink, and see in Peru

Photo: Nevado Huandoy by Claquitecto
My friend John has lived in Peru. He wrote a mail to me recently, giving me useful advise on what to experience when visiting this South American country. Here is what he wrote. 
I've put together a few thoughts of relevance for Peru travel.  As you have limited time, take much of it with a pinch of salt.

A few peruvian dishes (some you probably already know about)
Photo: Chupe de Camarones as served in Cuzco by Ma Greg
  • Ceviche: Raw white fish (usually a sea bass or flounder) marinated / cooked in pure lime juice with thinly cut red onions, some peruvian hot / medium hot peppers and coriander 
  • Chupe de Camarones: Peru’s version of a shrimp soup / shellfish soup – usually with a large shrimp (scampi)
  • Anticuchos: Beef heart marinated with garlic, vinaigre, cumin and more grilled over open fire on bamboo stickes.  (Ask your driver where to get a good anticucho or three!)
  • Lomo saltado: Fried beef with tomatoes, chilli and fried potatoes – a good lunch choice
  • Ají de Gallina (pronounced “Ahí de Gayina”): If well made, this can be very good.  A chicken sauce (a distant cousin of the Indian Chicken Tikka) served usually with rice.  Ask for “Aji amarillo” (pronounced “Ahí amariyo”) sauce which is a yellow/orange chilli sause made with the wonderful Peruvian mild yellow chilli (“aji amarillo”).
Photo: Peruvian Inca Kola by Leuo
As you probably know, Peru is the homeland of the potatoe.  The “papa amarillo” (yellow potatoe) is probably my favorite.   Peru has quite a variety of local “chillies” known as  “ají” (pronounced “ahí”)
You should try the soft drink "Inca Kola" at least once (if you drink soft drinks that is).  I saw it a Deli de Luca recently.

Chocolate:  Try the Sublime

Lima has a good supply of local olives - both green and dark.  If you find the green kind filled with "rocoto" (a type of ají) give it a try.
Restaurants  in Lima (which I remember and hope I can re-visit):
Buffet, Jose Antonio - see company website
José Antonio (a good place to check out authentic Limeñan cuisine – albiet perhaps a little pricey)

Rosa Nautica (I like this one better for lunch as you can enjoy looking at the waves and the cliffs of Lima).
Sights in Lima:  (I noticed Trip Advisor has an extensive list)

Plaza de Armas (and the Cathedral) and the Plaza San Martin

The catecombes of the the Church of San Francisco church (alá Capuchino)

The Gold Museum and the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology.

Photo: Catacombs at San Francisco by AxelBoldt
Or just a stroll along the cliffs of Miraflores overlooking the ocean … or yet again (a must IMO) a stroll along the marine drive at the bottom of the cliffs (where you’ll find the restaurant Rosa Nautica).  

In many ways, at least for me, it’s the Pacific Ocean that makes Lima what it is.

Lima has changed since I was there in the early 90’s  Trip Advisor was showing a lot of the “new stuff”.  There are some new water fountain parks the the Museo Larco sounds worth visiting….

South of Lima (Beaches!)
Photo: Santa Maria del Mar south of Lima by Manuel González Olaechea y Franco
The beach area (about 40 km south) known as “Señoritas & Caballeros”.  This has changed a lot since I was there in the mid 80s but it was our favorite place to go surfing.

If you’re in this area there are some inca ruins known as Pachacamac Further south are some small seaside towns (which have probably changed significantly since I was there last): San Bartolo & Pucusana.

Even further south there is Paracas and the islands – it would really be great if you could fit that in.
North of Lima
Photo: Mount Alpamayo is found at Cordillera Blanca by RedWolf
Callejón de Huaylas (Pronounced “Kayehón de Waylas”)  This is the valley where you’ll see Peru’s highest mountains known as the ‘Cordillera Blanca’ (The White Mountain Range).  It is really a beautiful area scenically!

The major town in this valley is Huaraz.  Huaraz is about 3050 meters above sea level (Cuzco is 3400) so you won’t notice the altitude as much in Huaraz.
Cuzco and the Sacred Valley
Photo: Inca site of Ollantaytambo, Peru by Bernard Gagnon
Be sure to see Sachsaihuaman (Cuzco) and Ollantaytambo (Sacred Valley) and Pisac (Sacred Valley) if you have time.  The ruins at Ollantaytambo and Pisac are well worth seeing.

In case you haven’t already, you must book your tickets to Machu Picchu and the train trip online before you go! Trip Advisor explains how. I booked mine for the April 12th.  Will be using Inca Rail for the train trip as it leaves from Ollantaytambo 6:40 in the morning.

Vis Peru April 2012 i et større kart

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