Descending to the Sacred Valley – a rewarding route, suitable for most levels of hikers!

As I have the opportunity to do some of the treks that Apus Peru offer, I can only be inspired every time I go on one. Every day hike that is available offers something different, new views of the surrounding mountains of the Cusco region and always an experience to be shared.

Photos and words tell only half of the story – you have to go there to really understand!

Last week I had the pleasure to accompany a group of keen and able trekkers on a stunning route through to the Sacred Valley.  It took approximately 4 hours to cover the 7kms (about 4.5 miles) of traverse down into a lush valley of trees and farms from the Inca market town of Chinchero to Urquillos in the Sacred Valley. We started from 3600m and ended down by the Urubamba river by the small town of Urquillos at 2900m.

We started by descending from some awesome Inca terraces at Chincheros.

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We then headed on down an ancient Inca trail that skirted some small streams and miniature waterfalls

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About 30 minutes in, the valley opened out and we were left with jaw-dropping views of the way down to the Sacred Valley

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On the way down we encountered a little forest and took shelter for a bit of a picnic

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At the bottom where we ended our trek we found the quaint town of Urquillos. I think most gave it a mark of 10/10

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Simply put, this is a great little intro to the Andes and an adequate warm up hike for those going on to do the 4 day Inca Trail, Salkantay or similar.

To book this trek or similar 1 day hikes within close reach of Cusco, please see our link at -http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/descending_sacred_valley.htm

La Veronica –the mightiest mountain of the Cordillera Urubamba in the Andes

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Veronica is the mightiest mountain in Urubamba Mountain range and here she stands at a height of 5860m/16830ft overlooking all of the Cusco region. She is coated in a horn of snow most of the year round and named Wakay Willca, or Sacred Tears in Quechua. This is taken in the valley of Urubamba and not far from Ollantaytambo, a famous town of the Inca’s. This is part of the trail to the Inca Quarries of Cachiccata, a good days warm up hike on the way to Machu Picchu if you happen to be staying the night in Ollantaytambo or the close-by in the Sacred Valley.

For more information on our Sacred Valley tours and 1 day hikes please see other options at our links: http://www.apus-peru.com/tours/sacred_valley.htm and http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/one_day.html

Thanks to Matt Waugh, Apus Peru Travel Consultant, for his local insights!

Curry in Cusco!! Foodie review – a continuation. Megan Malley

Last year Megan Malley, Threads of Peru intern, had the delightful task of sampling a variety of Cusco’s restaurants for our Blog. A continuation from her earlier posts, here is another to wet your appetite for a cuisine other than that you may have expected in Cusco!

As surprising as it may sound to find Indian food in Peru, make sure not to skip over Korma Sutra in the artsy and quaint San Blas hillside neighborhood.   With a completely open kitchen, this small candlelit restaurant allows the mouth-watering scent of curry to waft out onto Tandapata street to lure in passersby.

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Although the curry bowls aren’t cheap, they are sometimes discounted for occasions such as the restaurant’s anniversary. If you order the “very spicy” level of chicken, lamb, or tofu curry, make sure to accompany it with a mango or banana lassi to cool off your mouth!  Run by the owners of the former innovative Sumaq Misky, they bring the same Andean pizzaz to Indian food.

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Alpaca Curry anyone? https://www.facebook.com/KormaSutraCusco For alterntaive suggestions see our restaurant link: http://www.apus-peru.com/trip-planning/restaurants.html

A special thank you!

Apus Peru has always been interested in being a responsible business that treads lightly and ‘gives back’ to the communities where it travels.

This desire eventually grew to be a not for profit organisation, Threads of Peru. $15 from every Apus Peru client is donated to Threads of Peru as a way of directly supporting these high Andean communities.

coin purses - a selection

coin purses – a selection

Now, as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for your support, Apus Peru has ordered coin purses from Huaran, a weaving community at the beginning of the Lares trek. Every Apus Peru traveller will receive one of these gorgeous coin purses, perfect to stash your stuff or even carry your USB.
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“These coin purses provide Apus Peru clients with a reminder of their Peru visit while also providing a tangible investment in local communities,” said Ariana Svenson, Apus Peru Co-Founder.

Here we have two of the wonderful weavers, Bacelia and Juana.

Bacelia Condori Quispe

Bacelia Condori Quispe

For more information about Threads of Peru, go to http://www.threadsofperu.com
Or, should you love the coin purses and want more please check them out here

http://threadsofperu.com/alpaca-clothing/accessories/wool-bags/

Juana Paola Siccus

Juana Paola Siccus

Family trekking in the Andes.

My name is Matt, I work as a Travel Consultant for Apus Peru. I’d like to introduce myself as a new and regular blogger to report first-hand information on some of the Apus Peru treks and to obtain up-to-date relative trip information and experiences of the treks associated with Apus Peru. I am absolutely mad for the mountains and since I am in the middle of the Andes why not take the chance to explore what’s just a stones-throw from our office.

So here goes the first blog! This week I had the pleasure to accompany 2 families with children aged between 8 and 10 walking 16 miles (just under 26 kilometres) over 2 days across the high Andes to the ruins of Huchuy Qosqo in the Sacred Valley.

This would be a tough test for all!

6 Walking through Pongobamba village1 hour in and I caught the first, “are we nearly there yet?” from one of the kids. This did not become a habit I am pleased to announce. The reason for this may well have been the opportunities of interaction with animals, the locals, ever-changing scenery and great weather that we had ensuring that the younger trekkers did not become bored in any way.

One of the children could speak some Spanish, which was a blessing as at one point several children from a local school caught our eye whilst picnicking. She was gently encouraged to go over and make introductions and soon followed a little bit of banter and exchange of conversation.

Local children during the trekA little later, as we made our way onwards we were accompanied on our journey by some more locals who asked us where we were going – easy to answer that  “Huchuy Qosqo” – understood in Quechua as ‘Old Cusco’ – the language of which most people of these parts speak.

17 Chatting with the locals

Our climb to the top was hard-going but we made it to our camp spot.

The following day we passed through a very remote village called Pucamarca, which still uses thatched roofs that are rarely seen amongst the modernization of Andean villages these days!

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Then we ran into some problems. We were stopped in our tracks. We could not go any further for at least 30 minutes. Our trail was blocked!!! Landslides no, llamas were the issue here!

They had our route guarded and were not moving – that was that!

27 Llamas!!! 50 of them

We met a local trader who offered to sell some handicrafts. We liked buying from her and giving some income to someone who probably doesn’t see tourists coming through her village often.

Did we pass any other tourists along the way of the entire trip?  No, not one!

31 Maybe a little more than the first price given though

The next section on from the village was rather ‘cool’ as we proceeded through a canyon where there were some waterfalls and wooden bridges – could well have been a set off an Indiana Jones movie!

33 Bridge 1

We arrived at the Sacred Valley in dramatic form. There were some amazing panoramic vistas and all the way to the site of Huchuy Qosqo itself. It is claimed these ruins were built under the orders of Viracocha –  the 8th reigning Inca and were constructed to house Stone Masons working in the area while they were constructing the surrounding villages and temples.

A 2 hour, steep descent on switch-backs to the valley floor got us to our final stop of the journey, Lamay. This town was definitely not like that of Pisac or Ollantaytambo and full of tour groups.

41 making our way down some seriously steep switch-backs to our final goal, the village of Lamay

A nice shaded spot with a cold soda and beer was just the right touch to mark the end; flake down on to the grass with weary legs but contented trekkers, before heading back to Cusco.

42 Happy ending, although tired

We asked the kids at the end of the trek, to count how many kinds of animals they had seen on the way and they got to 11 – Pigs, sheep, llamas, Condors, Ducks, Chickens, Cows, Donkeys, horses, Guinea Pigs, Alpacas – this took a while, but then they started on the bugs….!

Are you an adventurous family with children that would like to trek in the Cusco region?  Missed out on the Inca trail, then why not contact our family oriented sales consultants who can offer honest and helpful advice about trekking with kids? We run many private treks for families all over the Andes and our guides are experienced in making your trek a family adventure work for you and your children!

Huchuy Qosqo trek http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/huchuy_qosqo_adv.htm, being “easy” by Andean standards (that is, with not too many climbs) and also short with just 1 nights camping, is the perfect way for a family to test their trekking abilities as a group, while also having an adventure right on the doorstep of Cusco!

Matt Waugh, 3rd of June 2014

 

Cooking Classes with a Cusqueña view by Suzanne van Ommeren

To set the scene.. In the hills around Cusco, a walking distance of 10 minutes from Sacsayhuaman, there is a small village of no more than 50 houses. From the main square in Cusco it is around 20 minutes by car.

Thanks to Micheal Mosspop for this fabulous view over Cusco

Thanks to Michael Mosspop for this fabulous view over Cusco

In this beautiful location the owner of famous restaurants and hotels like the hotel Rupa Wasi and the restaurant Tree House in Aguas Calientes has started his own cooking school. In Aguas Calientes in the restaurant Tree House he already worked with a cooking school, but now you also can enjoy the intricacies of Peruvian cuisine in this peaceful and beautiful location in the middle of nature just outside the city of Cusco.

At 10am we were picked up from the Plaza de Armas in the center of Cusco by a little bus. After a ride of 20 minutes with spectacular views over Cusco and Sacsayhuaman we arrived at the cooking school.The Rupa Wasi Kitchen table. Ready...

We encountered a spacious kitchen with a big table in the middle where groups of up to 10 people can gather. Outside on the terrace is a dining table with a separate building for the bathroom facilities. We were welcomed with two delicious pisco sours; pisco with hierba buena and pisco with sauco. With the pisco warming our body we started to cook. The menu this day was trout ceviché in maracuya sauce and a quinoa risotto. This promised to be a good morning!

Suzanne and Erika welcomed with a Pisco Sour with Sauco.. mmmmmm

Erika and Suzanne welcomed with a Pisco Sour with Sauco.. mmmmmm

Cooking up a storm

Cooking up a storm

The juice of the maracuya needs to boil for 45 minutes, this already been prepared to save a little time. After boiling the Maracuya, sugar is added for the taste and mayonnaise to make the sauce a little thicker. It is our honor to cut the trout and to put it in a bed of lemon, salt and pepper. Over the trout again add the lime, salt and pepper, topped off with delicious maracuya sauce. Those who like a little heat can cut a rocoto pepper and put it on top.

Risotto, Chicken

Quinoa risotto, aji and chicken, simple yet effective!

For the risotto we fried sliced ​​bacon, onion and yellow aji. Added the cooked quinoa and let it simmer in cream. An ideal combination was the fried chicken strips placed on top!

On the terrace with the plate and the pisco. Well done ladies!

On the terrace with the plate and the pisco. Well done ladies!

We enjoyed our self-cooked entrée and main course outside in the sun on the terrace.

We were honoured guests who had tried out the kitchen for the first time at the new location just a little bit outside of Cusco. It was a well organized, smoothly run morning without any setbacks, the result of a professional team with years of experience in the field. Definitely recommended!

Thank you to Erika our Head of Reservas and Suzanne van Ommeren Sales and Travel Consultant for their time and energy! For more information or to book a class see this address:  http://www.rupawasi.net/ingles/cookingclasses.html

The terrace.

The terrace.

Staff team profiles: Urbano Huayna Arredondo, GUIDE

Hi and welcome the new year! We thought it might be nice to kick off 2014 by beginning an introduction to the team here at Apus Peru. Over the coming months we will post various staff profiles from members of our internal logistics and operations team, our guides and our cooks. To get us started here is Urbano, to tell us a little of himself and why he does the job he does..

Urbano at Sibinacocha

Urbano at Sibinacocha

was born in Apurimac in 1979, spent the first years of my life in the field, keeping animals, plowing the land. I remember the years between 1986 to 1990, living in the center of terrorism, where weapon smuggling was common. During this time, I suffered the loss of my dear father largely a result of the insecurity prevailing in Peru at that time. In 1992 I came to the city, during these months I got to know and lived with my godmother who gave me huge support and education. I have now lived in Cusco for over 20 years.

When you did you come to work in Apus Peru and why?

I have now been working with Apus Peru for over five years. This came at the recommendation of another guide, Felix. We used to see each other on some routes and he saw my style of work. I went to the interview with Ariana and the rest as they say is history!

What is it about Apus Perú that you like?

From the moment I arrived at Apus I felt like family, it is a company that gives you confidence, and freedom without any pressure, for this reason I feel comfortable to work.

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Do you have a favorite trek route?

So many routes that Apus operate are striking! All are unique, but the ones I like most are the routes that do not have much foot fall, that are quieter. The route I like the most is Sibinaqocha, this is a unique route due to the geography presented to you.

Sibinachocha Lagoon

Sibinaqocha Lagoon

Tell us something about Cusco that not many people know.

Cusco is a magical city that has no description. There is so much to see and explore. I like mostly the traditions of rural communities, that fact that there is still a core of our ancient culture here represented throughout different months. http://www.apus-peru.com/trip-planning/cultural_events_calendar.htm

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

All of the earth is unique. I would like to know a little more of global modernity, for that reason I would travel to a modern country like Singapore.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Urbano! 

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Apus Peru offer a 6 day trek to the Apu Ausangate and Sibanaqocha Lagoon http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/ausangate_sibinacocha.htm. For more information contact reservas@apus-peru.com