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/# )

Introduction to the Peruvian Marketplace-A Few Interesting Fruits!

Because of the great variety of climates and micro-climates in the country (arid coastal desert, the high-altitude Andes, humid Amazon and everything in between), Peruvians have a great deal of options when it comes to selecting their fruits and vegetables. Today we are highlighting three fruits that are very popular throughout Peru; chiremoya, granadilla and maracuya!

Also known as custard apple in some English-speaking countries, the chiremoya has very soft,

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Cherimoya

sweet flesh, and is thought to be native to the Andes.  Its name originates from the Quechua word chirimuya, meaning “cold seeds”, due to the fact this fruit flourishes at high altitudes.

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Granadilla

Granadilla is a subtropical fruit belonging to the same family as passion fruit and maracuya (see below).  For anyone visiting lower-altitude parts of the Cusco area (such as Santa Teresa), it is likely you will spot this fruit and its flowers growing from long vines during your travels.

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Maracuya

Maracuya-While maracuya  is commonly grown on parts of the Peruvian coast and jungle, it is a popular fruit all over the country, particularly in juices and aguas.  It is more tart than granadilla, and makes an excellent substitute for lime in a Pisco Sour!

Fresh fruit and fruit juices are well-liked in Peru and can be found easily in most cities.  If you have time in Lima, La Lucha (lalucha.com.pe) has a large menu of juices, sandwiches and piscos to sample in convenient locations.  Here in Cusco we have Yahuu!, a local chain with a similar menu to La Lucha.  If you are interested in a fresh fruit cocktail, Limo is a great place to sample local juices and liquors.  Both Yahuu! and Limo are located in the Cusco Plaza de Armas.

New Feature-An Introduction to the Peruvian Marketplace!

In honor of the growing recognition and popularity of Peruvian cuisine around the world, we are beginning a new blog feature; Introduction to the Peruvian Marketplace.  These bi-monthly postings will highlight produce and dishes that you will likely see and taste while traveling in Peru.  If you are interested in a food-based tour or cooking class while in the country please let us know!ImageWe will start this feature with something many people associate with an Andean meal; potatoes!  The Andean region, and especially Peru, are well known for their diversity of potato varieties.  There are more than 3,000 potato varieties found in the region!  While different areas produce their own unique crops, here is Cusco three of the most popular are papa amarilla, papa huayro, and papa peruanita.  Each have their own specific use, but all are eaten as part of a soup or alone.

amarillo
Papa Amarilla (Yellow Potato)-Papa amarilla is used in dishes such as causa and puree de papas (mashed potatoes).
HuayraPapa Huayro-commonly used for baking and mashing.
PeruanaPapa Peruana-used in the popular Peruvian dish papa la huancaína, and for the tips of anticuchos you will most likely see cooking on the streets of Cusco.
Next time we will focus on a dish  one of these potatoes. Please comment here if you have any requests, including recipes!

Image                       Fruit Stands in San Pedro-Market Photos Michael Mossop

 
                                                                                                                                        

Apus Peru 2012 Chocolatada

Since 2008, Apus Peru and their partner organization Threads of Peru have hosted an annual chocolatada in the remote community of Chaullacocha, where many Apus Peru Inca Trail porters and their families live.  While Threads of Peru (and generous Apus Peru clients) host the event, Apus Peru staff  actually run it and it has a become a special “high” point in the annual calendar. While a long, wet, cold and challenging day, its also a fun day, when Apus staff member’s family and clients participate and join in.  Families from Chaullacocha and surrounding areas receive hot chocolate, sweet breads and a small gift while they participate in fun activities!

Apus Peru would like to give special thanks to Wangodo Travel this year, whose clients packed in and donated much-appreciated clothing.

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Apus Peru staff member Erika Tapia plays with local girls.

 

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Ever and Vladi get a soccer game going!

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Fely, Hilda, Erika and Apus Peru clients distribute chocolate and bread.

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Guide Jose, Vladi and porter Paulino enjoy the treats!

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Erika with a local family.

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Clients, staff and their families help to hand out clothing and school supplies.

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Showing us his new clothing!

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Local women give jump rope a shot with Jose.

 

 

Employee of the Month-ERIKA!!!

We are introducing a new feature on the blog; a monthly posting featuring a Apus Peru staff member with a photo and brief interview.  Some will be people you meet in the office, or plan your trip with, and others will be staff you probably will never meet, but play in important role in the operation of our treks and tours.  Erika is a great place to start because she is a bit of both!

Erika Tapia Saavedra

Coordinator of Client Services

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Erika Tapia Saavedra has been Apus Peru’s Coordinator of Client Services for the past three years.  She has over 12 year’s experience working in the tourism industry, a bachelors degree in tourism administration, and is a licensed guide.  In addition to her work with Apus, Erika enjoys reading, spending time with her children, and visiting the many archaeological and natural attractions in the region.  As a fluent English speaker, Erika is often the first Apus Peru employee´s our clients will meet upon their arrival in Cusco.  Here are the responses Erika gave to a few quick questions about Apus and your visit to Cusco…

1. What is your role at Apus Peru? 

Mi trabajo en Apus Peru es reservas y operaciones. ( I work in Apus Peru reservations and sales.)

2. What is your favorite thing about Cusco? Why? 

En realidad de Cusco me gusta todo,  los paisajes , las festividades , las costumbres,   la  gastronomía  y especialmente sus atractivos turísticos  es una ciudad que tiene mucha historia , cultura y es muy diversa. Es muy interesante , estoy orgullosa de ser cusqueña.

(The truth is that I like everything about Cusco; the landscapes, the festivals, the customs, the food, and especially the tourist attractions.  It is a city that has a lot of history, culture and is very diverse.  It is all very interesting, and I am proud to be Cusqueña.)

3. Besides Machu Picchu, what would you recommend people see when they visit? Why? 

Aparte de Machupicchu, recomendaría para visitar Choquequirao , Salkantay y Ausangate.

(Apart from Machu Picchu, I would recommend visiting Choquequirao, Salkantay and Ausangate.)

Thank you Erika, for all your hard work at Apus Peru!

2012 Apus Peru Pollada!

A bit over a month ago, Apus Peru held its annual pollada.  Our pollada is both a fundraiser for Apus Peru-sponsored community events around the holidays and a chance for staff, family and friends to get together and have fun! 

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Reservations staff members Erika and Hilda, along with guides Urbano, Julio, Domingo & Jose prepare to serve.

In Cusco, polladas are parties where chicken, sides and beverages are sold, and are popular as a means of raising funds for both planned and unanticipated costs.  The funds raised during our 2012 pollada are currently being used to purchase items for holiday gift baskets containing useful household goods, such as non-perishable food items and small amounts of money. 

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Erika and Domingo with a yummy pollada plate!

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 Muleteer Asterio and cooks Eugenio,  Joseph and Mauro were in charge of the chicha.

Gift baskets are now being distributed to the Inca Trail porters, muleteers, cooks and other staff members who Apus Peru works with throughout the year.

Everyone that works with or for Apus Peru cooperated to make the event a success, from shopping, cooking, and setting up the site, to helping collect money, serve food, and clean. This year, we prepared roast potatoes, salad, aji (a type of spicy sauce made with different chiles and ingredients in distinct areas of Peru), mote (a traditional corn dish), chicha (a Peruvian corn beverage), and other drinks.

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Guides Joel and Arturo enjoying their meal.

Our pollada lasted all day and into the night.  During this time, Apus staff took turns serving attendees, enjoying the food, playing soccer (football), dancing and generally having a good time.  Thank you to everyone who participated in this event!

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The  yearly soccer match: cooks vs. drivers and guides.