Celebrate Christmas at Machu Picchu 2013!

Maybe Machu Picchu has always been on your ‘bucket list’? Well why not fulfil that dream and tick it off your list this Christmas holiday?

Machu Picchu at first light as the clouds clear

Machu Picchu at first light as the clouds clear, foto courtesy of Megan Malley

Submerse yourself in the fabulous Peruvian culture that celebrates Christmas with a mix of Catholic and Andean beliefs.

Bustling Christmas Markets in the Plaza de Armas

Bustling Christmas Markets in the Plaza de Armas

Apus Peru have carefully designed special Christmas itineraries and tour packages that enable you to either visit Machu Picchu at Christmas, which many people say has a uniquely spiritual feeling, or participate in a special once a year trek that really centres on the ‘gift of giving’.

Hot Chocolate time at our Andean Community Christmas Chocolatada

Hot Chocolate time at our Andean Community Christmas Chocolatada

Other features of the Christmas itineraries highlight the mysterious city of Machu Picchu and cosmopolitan Cusco, where you can participate in a typical Peruvian event, like the Selling of the Saints market in Cusco.

Selling of the Saints a typical Cusqueño Yuletide festivity

Selling of the Saints a typical Cusqueño Yuletide festivity

Absorb the wonders of Incan archaeolgoical sites within the Sacred Valley like Moray, as well as participating in a local community project in Urubamba.

Get away this Christmas and make the most of your Christmas break, or vacation period by taking a holiday in Peru and experiencing a very different culture from your own!!

Apus Peru provide unique ‘sample’ itineraries which make a solid foundation for any visitor’s exploration to Peru. From these foundations you are able to create your own itinerary through the addition of:

  • Selecting one of four different travel styles, that offer the same itinerary but different accommodation and meal options.
  • Upgrading your culinary experience.
  • Adding in Lima, Nazca, Arequipa or Lake Titicaca extensions according to the time available.
  • Add a trek to non-trekking itineraries.

Here are our links to the varied and exciting packages that could make this Christmas a very special and memorable one for years to come: Happy Holidays!

http://www.apus-peru.com/tours/a-very-different-christmas.htm

http://www.apus-peru.com/tours/a-machu-picchu-christmas.htm

http://www.apus-peru.com/tours/cusco_christmas_packages.html

Apus Perú, Mosqoy & Marco!

It was International Youth Day on 12th August, so we thought we would post this to acknowledge the day and let you know a little of what we get up to ‘behind the scenes’

Amongst our other contributions to the local community and sustainability (see this link for details of our projects http://www.apus-peru.com/responsible-travel/community_projects.htm), Apus Perú are currently supporting a Mosqoy student here in Cusco to achieve his dream of becoming a professional in International Business Administration.

Here’s a little about the Mosqoy organisation… Mosqoy means dream in Quechua and was founded in the Peruvian Andes in 2006, by Canadian and Peruvian youth. Their mission in Peru is to “help break the cycle of poverty that impacts the indigenous Quechua people of the Andean mountains by providing post-secondary educational opportunities for the region’s promising youth”. Their mission links in very nicely with our approach of seeking out projects which recognize that insiders (Andean Peruvians) and outsiders (foreigners) all have strengths and weaknesses – and that by working collaboratively we can reach best practice. As Mosqoy appropriately quote ‘hand-up instead of a hand-out.’

For many of the higher Andean communities the cycle of poverty is escalating while their traditional way of life is increasingly threatened. Mosqoy´s aim is for this to be alleviated by providing students in Peru with opportunities for advanced education, enabling Andean youth to possess the tools necessary to be local leaders and role models! A philosophy that is core to our commitment to making a positive and sustainable contribution to the quality of life for rural Andean communities. Our donation is part of our contribution to education in the Andes.

A Mosqoy graduate working hand in hand with women of Rumira Sondormayo on a hygiene capacitacion in preparation for the arrival of international guests in August and September of this year.

A Mosqoy graduate working hand in hand with women of Rumira Sondormayo on a hygiene capacitacion in preparation for the arrival of international guests in August and September of this year.

Now for the ‘on the ground’ impact: Our student is called Marco. Marco’s family is from a village called Pallata, located 7km above Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. His father is a famer and his mother an “alma de la casa” or house mother. He has 4 brothers and sisters. This year, Marco has had one of the most difficult years of his life, as his family is struggling financially. Ever resilient, whilst studying, Marco continues supporting the family in whatever way he can, usually taking short term work contracts during school holidays.

As well as his educational commitments, Marco is an active member within Mosqoy’s volunteer service. He has hiked to several communities with their textile coordinator to translate between Quechua and Spanish. Most recently, he hiked up to Cancha Cancha (a small community above Huaran, reached on day 1 on the Traditional Lares trek http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/lares.htm) to translate for over 20 weavers. He also worked with his peer Rolando to create a beautiful presentation about the history, industry, and customs of his community of Pallata.

Cancha Cancha Community

Cancha Cancha Community

He is well on his way to achieving his goal and he expects to graduate in 2014.
Marco’s education will be sponsored by Apus Perú whilst he is studying with Mosqoy.
For more information on the Mosqoy organisation and how to get involved click here:

http://mosqoy.org/about-us/

Arequipa!

Arequipa, the White City or ‘la Cuidad Blanca’.

Founded on 15 August 1540 by Manuel Garcia de Carbajal, Arequipa is Peru’s second largest city and it is located at 2325 metres (8792 feet) above sea level. How did Arequipa get its name you may ask!? One story is that the Inca general Mayta Capac stopped in the valley and being so moved by its beauty said ‘Are quepay’ – ‘stay here’. Another story is that the Aymara Indians living in the valley called it ‘Ariquipa’ – the place behind the pointed mountain, meaning Misti.

Courtesy of Isaiah Brookshire

Courtesy of Isaiah Brookshire

Arequipa, Plaza de Armas clock tower. It isn’t possible, nor advisable, to visit Arequipa without whiling away at least a couple of hours soaking up the beautiful Plaza de Armas in the centre of the city. Its central clock tower, pictured here at night, palms and pigeons and the hustle bustle of cafes and restaurants within the old colonial archways are a lovely relaxing setting. On a good clear day, of which Arequipa famously has a lot, you can see the Mount Misti towering over this beautiful Plaza in the distance.

Courtesy of Isaiah Brookshire

Courtesy of Isaiah Brookshire

Courtesy of Isaiah Brookshire

Courtesy of Isaiah Brookshire

Here we have down town Arequipa, within easy wanderings on foot from the centre. You can see how Arequipa got its nick name ‘the white city’ built largely from the white volcanic stone, sillar, from the 3 surrounding volcanoes, of which Misti is one. Many old colonial houses have now been made into banks and shopping malls, admire a wholly ‘arequipeño’ architecturural style, a pleasure to walk around. 

Courtesy of Isaiah Brookshire

Courtesy of Isaiah Brookshire

Courtesy of Isaish Brookshire

Courtesy of Isaish Brookshire

Not far from the Plaza, this is Santa Catalina. A restored convent established in 1579 and now open to the public. It is totally surrounded by imposing high walls; somewhat of a city within a city. The nuns of the Dominican second order, who lived in the convent led a completed secluded life. There are currently around 20 nuns still in residence, confined to a small section, with the remaining space open to the public to explore. Characterised by vividly painted walls, an enchanting and fascinating part of living history to witness. A peaceful sanctum.

Courtesy of Isaiah Brookshire

Courtesy of Isaiah Brookshire

Happy Trekking!

Stop Press…! October Trek Discounts

In this month of Pachamama (August) we are offering a 5% discount on all new treks booked for October. Offer valid only until 31st August 2013.

So whether its the magnificent Ausangate 5 day trek,

Thank you to Michael Mossop for this Fantastic foto!

Thank you to Michael Mossop for this Fantastic foto!

our awesome Salkantay to Machu Picchu 5 day trek,

Apus Peru Salkantay treks feature breathtaking natural scenery

Apus Peru Salkantay treks feature breathtaking natural scenery

one of our cultural Lares Treks, with a visit to the amazing thermal pools in Lares,

Thank you to Lynn Dao for this beautiful foto along the Lares route

Thank you to Lynn Dao for this beautiful foto along the Lares route

or the Classic Choquequirao route, to name but a few,

Thank you to Mark Asbury for this amazing foto

Thank you to Mark Asbury for this amazing foto

start your trek planning and book before August 31st to trek in October for our 5% discount! For more information contact your sales consultant. Happy Trekking!

PERUVIAN CORN

Hi, continuing on from our “Introduction to the Traditional Peruvian Marketplace” posts, here is our very own introduction to corn and some of the many varieties and styles of use…

Corn is an important part of the Peruvian diet.  Different types of corn are used in drinks, such as chicha, breads, and a variety of popular plates.  It is very common to see toasted or fried corn kernels as a side or snack (cancha or ‘canchitas’ often served as snacks in bars to wet the appetite!).  When served freshly cooked on the cob, corn is referred to as choclo and is often eaten with fresh cheese, delicious.  Dried and rehydrated kernels of white or yellow corn is a popular side dish (mote).

Sprouted corn used to make chicha de jorra.

Sprouted corn used to make chicha de jorra.

A sample of corn grown in the Sacred Valley

A sample of corn grown in the Sacred Valley

Maiz Blanco- Maiz blanco (white corn) is grown throughout Peru, and can be in cultivation in the areas surrounding the city of Cusco.   Maiz blanco is used to make chicha de jorra, a fermented corn beer consumed by pre-Colombian Incas which is still very popular today.

Maiz Morado-While typically grown on the coast, maiz morado used in all areas of Peru to make the  unfermented beverage chicha morada and pudding-like desert mazamorra.

Maiz Chullpi-Maiz Chullpi has a softer shell and interior, and for this reason is most widely used as a toasted snack (cancha).

Happy market place exploring!

So what’s a Blue List?

As I’ve gotten older, and I’ve seen trends come and go, and one such fashion was Lonely Planet’s BlueList.

The BlueList was a concept Lonely Planet promoted around 2006…  To use their words, “We created this word because here is no word to describe what we set out to do with this new book, which is to ‘create an evolving selection of classic and current travel experiences and destinations selected by Lonely Planet staff, authors and travellers.’

Ariana Svenson enjoying Corpus Christi with her daughter.

Ariana Svenson enjoying Corpus Christi with her daughter.

At the time, I was a passionate traveller and even aspiring writer –  and set my pen to paper various times to write these ‘Blue Lists.’

Now long gone from the Lonely Planet website and even my memory,   I found them carefully saved on a dusty hard drive and to my surprise … they are still amazingly relevant to trekkers and people visiting the Cusco region!

Stay tuned for our next blog post – a Blue List about Different Angles of Machu Picchu!

Ariana Svenson, Apus Peru Co-Founder and one time Blue-Lister

Apus Peru Mountain Search and Rescue Training

November through February is wet season in Cusco, which means fewer visitors and the opportunity for Apus Peru staff to participate in in-depth training workshops!  This year training topics included first aid, search and rescue, cooking courses, sustainable tourism practices, and environmental care. The following photos are from our mountain search and rescue workshop, which was led by the local Red Cross (Cruz Roja).

ImageApus Peru staff listen as Cruz Roja representatives outline the day´s activities.

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Cruz Roja demonstrates proper procedures for rescuing injured trekkers.

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Apus Peru staff practice caring for injured trekkers.

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Beginning search & rescue simulation

DSC02086 (Copiar)A “rescued” trekker receives mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

DSC02101 (Copiar)Rescue complete! Apus staff relax after a long workshop

2013-International Year of Quinoa

2013 has been declared  International Year of the Quinoa by the United Nations! According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) office for Latin America and the Caribbean website, quinoa  has been selected for the purpose of “recognizing the Andean indigenous peoples, who have maintained, controlled, protected and preserved quinoa as food for present and future generations thanks to their traditional knowledge and practices of living well in harmony with mother earth and nature”

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Quinoa is an extremely nutritious grain, which thrives in a variety of environments.  It is rich in protein, iron and fiber, plus gluten free.  In fact, quinoa has a balanced set of amino acids, making it a complete protein.  The most common types of quinoa are white, black and red.  White is the mildest, with a nice nutty flavor.  Black and red are both stronger tasting and crunchier, black being the strongest.

ImageFAO Year of the Quinoa logo: “A future sewn for thousands of years” (possibly imperfect translation by yours truly).

Here in Cusco, you can find quinoa being cultivated throughout the Sacred Valley and many other locations.  It is commonly used in soups, and on Apus Peru treks our cooks prepare yummy quinoa stir fry and morning porridge.

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Red quinoa

Apus Peru Route Cleanup Treks!

Are you looking for a unique trek to Machu Picchu that benefits the land and communities you will be visiting? Please consider one of our two 2013 cleanup treks, which are being offered at greatly discounted  rates!

ImageApus clients with bags filled with trash removed while trekking.

Clean up treks include Machu Picchu entry, transportation, great food and experienced guides, plus a special T-shirt to remember your trip with.  Here are the departures we currently have planned:

Lares-Machu Picchu:  4D/3N (http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/lares_machu_picchu.htm ) departing April 9th and returning April 12th.  $585.00 per person, minimum of four to depart.

Choquequirao-Machu Picchu: 9D/8N (http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/choquequirao_machu_picchu.html ).  $855.00 per person, minimum of four to depart.th

For full details and inclusions, please follow this link:

http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/special_treks.html

Trash disposal and litter are serious environmental issues in Peru.  These cleanup treks are a great way to contribute positively through travel and enjoy a beautiful, remote route!

ImageGuide Julio Santos and an Apus client collecting litter

Introduction to The Peruvian Marketplace-Ceviche & Camote!

This week we are talking about camote, and one of the most famous Peruvian dishes it is part of, ceviche.  Camote is very similar to  sweet potato in the United States.  It is served in many dishes, but with ceviche it is served boiled and cold on the side of the fresh fish.

Image                         Camote, potatoes and rocoto in San Pedro Market, Cusco.

Peruvian ceviche is made with raw fish and seafood “cooked” in lime and mixed with onion & peppers (the rocoto in the image above).  It is normally served with cancha salada (fried & salted corn kernels) and camote,

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Traditional Peruvian ceviche, with sides of camote & cancha

Seafood is one of the highlights of a trip to Peru, particularly on the coast.  In Lima, traditionally prepared ceviche and tiradito plates are plentiful, as are more inventive or fusion restaurants.  If you have free time in Lima and are interested in trying ceviche or tiraditos (similarly “cooked” fish in different spicy sauces), here are a few suggestions:

For traditionally prepared plates: La Red ( http://www.lared.com.pe/ ) in business since 1981!

For delicious Japanese-Peruvian dishes: Maido ( http://www.maido.pe/web/# )