Trip Review – Custom Inca Trail

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We greatly appreciate those who write in with feedback about our trips!

Our trip was fantastic and there is nothing we would have changed.  We were fortunate to have Herbert as our guide.  As expected he was excellent throughout the hike, keeping us motivated when needed and educating us along the trail.  He literally knows every inch of the trail.  He seemed to quickly assess our strengths and patterns, or “rhythm” as he said which helps all of us to work together.  Very quickly we built a rapport and friendship with him and are grateful for the experience he gave us.  Apus is certainly fortunate to have Herbert.

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The porters and our cook were very hard working, professional and also fun and friendly.  The food was surprisingly really impressive – I never expected fresh fish and meet on a hiking trip.  Our only regret is that we couldn’t communicate with our porters – it’s something we should have better prepared better.  They worked very hard for us and it would have been nice for us to be able to thank them in their language.

The trip truly exceeded our expectations and we will highly recommend you to friends who consider the Inca Trail.  In fact, last week a friend inquired about our trip to pass to another friend.  The three day approach was also very manageable and I think it could become very attractive for other hikers.

Thank you for all of your support and service as we planned our hike.  Again, it was a fantastic time!

Best Regards,

Bridget

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Ausangate Trek « why should someone do this trek? why is it special »

 

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¨Ausangate¨ or ¨Auzangate¨ is a mountain, located in the region of Ocongate, at an altitude of 6384 meters (20,945 ft), this is one of the highest mountains in the Cusco region and in fact the whole of Peru. The hike around the base of the Ausangate mountain includes  spectacular mountain scenery and highland wildlife. The Ausangate trek is becoming an increasingly popular trek, that is usually 5 days long but can be done in even 4 days).

The mountain is highly significant in Incan mythology. Every year the QollorRiti festival (Quechua for “snow star”) attracts thousands of Quechua pilgrims as well as an increasing number of tourists. It takes place one week before the Corpus Christi feast.

The region is inhabited by llama and alpaca herds, and constitutes one of the few remaining farming communities of its kind, in the world. During this hike you have to walk between lakes (each is a different color) and snow capped peaks, you can actually hear the slabs of ice as they crack, crumble, and finally crash to the waters below.

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 On the First day, you start to walk from Tinqui (the biggest town near to the Ausangate Mountain) to arrive in Upis, which is the first campsite and where it is possible to enjoy some beautiful hot springs.  On the second day, you have to climb the first pass  at 5 000 metres  to get to the Ausangate Lake for the second campsite. On the third day, you have to go to Jampa after climbing another 5000 meters pass, and if you don’t have time you could stay for the night. If you have time to continue, you can go to Pacchanta (it is possible to enjoy a dinner and a beer at the hot springs). You need to ascend  another pass at 5000 meters for this. On the fourth day, you return to Tinqui, from where you will be transported back to Cusco.

 To be honest, it is one of the most beautiful treks around Cusco, having awesome scenery every day. Compared to the Salkantay trek, it is quiet and remote during the hike, and even though it is a famous trek, you don’t have lots of tourism. In addition, the scenery is more beautiful than Salkatay in my opinion. Of course this trek is difficult, but not impossible. It will be easier to enjoy this trek with an expert guide, and all the equipment from Apus Peru .
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Apus Peru offers a number of Ausangate options!

5 day traditional Ausangate trek:

http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/ausangate_5days.html

The All new in 2016 Ausangate and Vinicunca Trek:

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

Also mentioned in this story is the Qollor Riti Piligrimage:

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

 

5 Delish places to eat in Cusco that won’t bust your budget

 

Peruvian cuisine is one of the most diverse in the world. Peru is considered to have the most traditional dishes in the world with 491.

This affluence comes from three sources :

  • The geographical regions of the country
  • The mix of ethnicities and cultures
  • The adaptation of traditional cultures to modern cuisine

The four traditional staples of Peruvian cuisine are corn, potatoes and other tubers, the popular grains of the Amarinth family (Quinoa, Kañiwa and kiwicha) and legumes (beans and lentils).

In this article I would like to give you an example of the most delicious and traditional Peruvian dishes, and some tips where you could try these delights in Cusco.

 

Churros

Churros are one of the most famous desserts in Peru, especially in Cusco. A delicious treat introduced from Spain, made with a doughnut type batter, deep fried and typically served with powdered sugar, cinnamon and sugar or dipped in chocolate. You can find these easily on most street corners. They are normally eaten for breakfast or as a snack, dipped in chocolate, with a cup coffee, hot chocolate or tea.

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In our opinion, the best place to enjoy Churros is in a small store called  Muchaway, on Pardo Avenue, (Number 510) In this shop you can find many different types of Churros and even choose your preferred filling or topping !

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I have tried quite a few of them (fillings and toppings), and they were very tasty ! The aroma in the cafe is  incredible and they have great ambient music. The toffee filling is thick, rich and pudding-like, and the churros are light and crisp on the outside and very soft ‘melt in the mouth’ on the inside.

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Muchaway is open from 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM, and the prices vary between S/.2 and S/.5 (for the most gourmet churros).

Link for Churros recipe : http://allrecipes.com/recipe/24700/churros/

Link Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/churros.muchaway/?fref=ts

 

Picarones

This is another famous traditional dessert made in Peru made of fried dough and sometimes in the mix is the natural sweet potato ! Once again the origins of this dessert are from Spain. Picarones are always topped with an unprocessed sugar cane syrup, locally called «piloncillo or chancaca. This syrup mix usually has the added ingredients of cinnamon, cloves, and fig leaves.

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The best place to try Picarones is located on Ruinas Street (number 200), on the corner of Tullumayu Street. There is a river flowing, of the same name, underneath  this street,  which even to this day, defines Cuzco’s city limits.

This is the most famous place in Cusco to enjoy picarones. They are very large, rich and freshly prepared with a sweet honey based sauce. For five soles you receive four picarones, and to be honest it is difficult to finish ! I advise you to share with your friends and to combine that with a chicha morada (purple corn drink). You can enjoy this dish between 4:00PM and 10:00PM.

Link recipe : http://perudelights.com/picarones-peruvian-doughnuts-bunuelos-or-beignets-are-one-of-a-kind/

Link recipe in video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKtJJHsa478

 

Anticucho

 Anticucho’s are one of the most famous street foods in the highlands of Peru. Indeed, with the aroma that fills the streets when they are being prepared it is reminiscent of a barbecue, however Anticuchos vary in a couple of ways. At first glance they look like kebabs, as the meat is always on skewers and they always have a potato on then end of the stick. These kebabs tend to use the hearts of the cows, however occasionally you can find a chicken anticucho.

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The word Anticucho comes from Quechua, the main indigenous language of Peru. One of the oldest typical dishes in the Andes they can be made of any type of meat, the most popular being beef heart (Corazon).

Arguably the best place to eat Anticuchos is the « Condorito on Cultura avenue and you can certainly find anticuchos in many restaurants however this is traditionally a street food and that’s the best place to try them !
This delicious dish is surprisingly nice ! The only difference between this and beef is in the texture. They tend to be a little more fibrous, but is surprisingly tender, as is the marinated chicken option.  Tasting this popular Peruvian Street food is an experience and one you should try on your next trip to Peru.

Link recipe (beef heart) : http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anticuchos-grilled-beef-heart-recipe.html

Link recipe (chicken) : http://perudelights.com/chicken-anticuchos/

 

Cuy chactado

If you would like to enjoy an authentic Peruvian dish, you should not miss the Cuy Chactado which is a fried cuy (a guinea pig). This is a traditional dish from the Andes for over 5,000 years. Cuy chactado was consumed by the nobles and was used not only in sacrificial ceremonies but also to foretell the future. However, now you could find Cuy chactado in all the most restaurants, even though this kind of dish is usually reserved for special occasions – birthdays, fiestas, and holidays.

The main ingredients of this dish are very nutritious in minerals and proteins  it includes   guinea pig, vegetable oil, cornmeal, garlic, pepper, salt and lime.
Link recipe : http://gosouthamerica.about.com/od/cuisine/a/cuy.htm

Traditional video to cook the cuy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEFOt79lXaU

 

Chicharrones

 
Chicharrones are associated with a lot of events and traditional festivals throughout the year, for example Corpus Cristi, Inti Raymi ( fiesta  of the sun) and the  Qollor’iti pilgrimage in and around the Cusco region. It would be shameful not to try this very Cusqueñan dish, and would be an opportunity missed. The Chicharonnes (deep fried pork ) originated in Spain and spread to Latin American countries. This dish is generally served  on a bed of typical accompaniments such as corn, red onion, mint and fried potatoes.

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After trying several places to define which was the best restaurant to enjoy eating Chicharrones, I choose a small restaurant located on the Pulluchapata Street, 128 (Avenida El Sol), and every day it is full of local people. You could enjoy Chicharron for only S/.10, and also appreciate other Peruvian dishes such as Abodo (traditional soup with pork), or Escabeche de Gallina (chicken marinated in vinegar). The restaurant on San Andres is only open during  lunchtime,  11:30AM to 5:00PM.

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Link recipe in video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZVLe6dOqgI

2017 Peru Clean Up Trek departures

Peru Clean Up trek Departures scheduled…

Apus Peru is excited to announce the 2017 Clean Up trek Departures  have been scheduled…

We are announcing five ‘Clean Up in the Community’ treks to take place in March, April, May and June.  Please note that we offer a 25% off of our published prices for anyone wishing to participate in these scheduled group trips for up to 12 people.

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Choquequirao to Machu Picchu 9 day Trek:

(30 March – 7 April)

For Trek Details refer to this page http://www.apusperu.com/treks/choquequirao_machu_picchu.html

Places remaining:  12

 

Vinicunca the Rainbow Mountain Short Trek 2 days

(29 & 30 April)

For Trek Details refer to this page                                                                                           http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/vinicunca_rainbow_mountain2d.html

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Salkantay 5 days

(5 May – 9 May)

For trek details refer to this page                                                                                         http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/salkantay.html

3 people confirmed / 9 places remaining

 

Ausangate Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain Trek 4 days

(7 – 11 June)

A 4 day trek that includes the Rainbow mountain and then continues onto part of the Ausangate circuit and the Pacchanta hot springs – with the option to then join the QollorRiti Pilgrimage on Day5.

For trek details refer to this page                                                                              http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/ausangate_vinicunca_rainbowmountain.html

Note – The QollorRiti Pilgrimage would be subject to a 5% discount for doing a second trek, but not eligible for the Cleanup Trek Discount.

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Lares and Machu Picchu

(11 to 14 July)

For trek details refer to this page                                                                                 http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/lares_machu_picchu.html

This trek is designed to be 3 days of trekking, with a visit to Machu Picchu on the 4th day.  Then you return to Cusco to depart on the Virgen de Carmen Fiesta trip on the 15th July.

 

What is a Community Clean Up Trek/ How does it work?

In short – you do some cleaning up of the trail – and we give you a discounted trek.  All other aspects of the trek are the same! It’s a win-win – you get a discount in exchange for helping clean up the environment!

  • These tours will depart any day with 2 people, and will be according to our normal sliding scale which depends on the number of people in the group on the day of departure.
  • 25% discount across the board off the listed rates. The first four trekkers to book will be offered a free sleeping bag and walking stick!
  • No discounts, and no travel agents! ISIC discounts available.
  • You cannot combine any other discounts with this trek, eg, the trek combinations or SAE discount is not applicable.
  • Minimum 2, maximum 12.
  • BOOKINGS CLOSE 14 DAYS PRIOR TO DEPARTURE. No exceptions.

Have you got your own Group of 5 plus?

We are open to suggestions from ALREADY existing groups of 5 plus people to routes and dates.  We will not be able to accommodate Clean Up Treks on dates when we are are close to booking out (or have limited staff or equipment available) or if a Clean Up Trek was recently done on the trek of your choice.

FOR ENQUIRIES: Please Contact Us

Step back in time at Hotel San Agustin Monasterio, Urubamba

When the wrought iron gates part and you step into this distinctive hotel, be prepared to step back in time to Peruvian yesteryear.

The San Agustin Monasterio of Recoleta hotel offers the once in a lifetime opportunity to stay in 17th Century Franciscan Monastery and convent!    Such an opportunity is relatively rare in this price range and this is a wonderful chance to stay in an extremely atmospheric cloister, located alongside a beautifully renovated chapel.

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There are two parts to the hotel, in the original section there are small, and simply decorated rooms around the Cloister which includes tiles from the original building.  It is also decorated with artefacts from the church and other relics). The other part of the building is a newer wing done in keeping with the original building and includes very cute suites with two stories including a romantic loft for the bed.

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Rustic, old world and charming the Monasterio de Recoleta is run by the 3-4 star San Agustin hotel chain and has a cute personal restaurant, lovely gardens and places to connect.  They are extremely proud of their ‘Bio Huerto’ (organic orchard) and have numerous fruit trees around the property and their own fruits in season in their restaurant. They also offer a magnetic healing garden.

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For those considering an un-paralleled and unique Peruvian wedding or renewal of vows, the chapel has been restored with attention to detail and there is a beautiful atmosphere.   Weddings can be arranged at this hotel, please contact Apus Peru for more details.

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The Hotel San Agustin, Monasterio of Recoleta, is technically in Chichubamba (and the community apparently still use the church on festival days) but on the outskirts of Urubamba, but it feels very remote and isolated.   There are opportunities to walk around the hotel, or, if you wish, into Urubamba itself, though this would be a longer walk.

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A luxurious retreat at the Rio Sagrado…

Nestled into a hillside alongside the roaring Urubamba River and with the craggy mountains of the Sacred Valley as a backdrop, the Belmond Rio Sagrado property is beautifully placed for those looking for a serene getaway, located halfway between Machu Picchu and Cusco.

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Rio Sagrado means ‘Sacred River’ in Spanish and the connection with the river, mountains and earth are evident in many aspects of the hotel.  When you arrive you are seated in a cosy study, filled with books and with a huge telescope for viewing the night skies, which were so important in Incan times.

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Originally constructed as a family vacation spot, with the original villas now accommodating larger groups of up to 10 people,   the Rio Sagrado hotel has expanded out over a hillside, with a variety of different rooms and options. Natural materials are a feature, and the way that the rooms and casitas mould over the hill makes you feel that it’s grown organically.  With only 23 rooms in total, it’s a small, boutique hotel with a feel of exclusivity.

Food is a feature, and we were offered a delicious pachamanca picnic by the river.  El Huerto (the Orchard) restaurant is a delicious fusion of Urubamba’s best-kept culinary secrets and provides elegant dining by the river.

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A highlight is an outdoor heated pool, fantastic for year round relaxation, which sets this hotel apart from most other SV Hotels which only offer unheated (and therefore cold!) pools.   A beautifully appointed spa is located in a wooden and stone building and offers a luxurious range of treatments using local therapies.

As you would expect for a property of this standard, the Rio Sagrado rooms have been created with careful attention to detail.  Balconies are carefully concealed from their neighbours using plantings of indigenous trees, and you can shower looking out over the landscape –with your private parts modestly obscured by clouded glass! Large beds, pima cotton sheets – and heated wooden floors, as expected from a hotel like this, your stay will be extremely comfortable.     We also were pleased to see recycling options in the rooms.

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As the aim of the hotel is to getaway from the busy world, relax and connect with nature there are no televisons in the rooms, but wifi is accessible if you wish.

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Finally a word on access – the hotel does offer one disabled/easy access room at the top of the hill and provide a golf buggy to access all locations in the hotel, including the restaurant located near the river. Otherwise, access to the rooms is via a series of steep steps and may not be a wonderful option if you struggle with climbing or descending steps!

 

Hotel Sol Y Luna: Heaven on Earth

The name, Sol y Luna evokes a connection with the stars, sun and moon which in turn reminds us of the Incan connection with the heavens.  The Incas believed that the Sacred Valley was a reflection of the Milky Way and with warmer climes, lush vegetation and flowers; the Sacred Valley was literally heaven on earth.

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The 2013 Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Awards placed the Sol y Luna Hotel at Number 1 Hotel in South America, – and it was included in the list of top 25 hotels in the world  – no mean feat!

And yet, despite being located in ‘Heaven on Earth’ and such a prestigious accolade, these rammed earth, rustic bungalows, set in abundant, beautiful gardens are natural and not in any way overconfident or boastful.  They fit in with their surrounds, and are in harmony with the earth.

On the day of our visit, it rained and we ran from Casita (little house) to Casita, enjoying the space, winding paths and flowers.  Each room has its own unique touch, decorated in a simple, yet elegant manner and you can imagine enjoying the space with your family.

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The decoration in common areas (reception, library etc.) has been done by a Limeno artist…. and is very memorable, quirky and fun!  Contemporary pieces are found throughout the property, including in the restaurants and guest rooms. This really adds to the atmosphere of the site and sets this hotel apart from the other hotels in this price range in the Sacred Valley which belong to chains and are a little less personalised.

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Their spa is housed in a stunning building, surrounded by extensive stained glass walls, and named Yacu Wasi – “the house of water”.  It is a space that seems made for a peaceful, pure restoration, but possibly also an understated indulgence!

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Having grown organically since being first built in 1996, the Hotel Sol y Luna now offers a series of different standards of room, all of them bungalow style.  The Casitas are very nice, well decorated but a little older and simpler. The Deluxe Casitas are very large, luxurious and decorated with attention to detail – they are clearly Peruvian, yet with modern amenities to complement.

The property has two restaurants, both known for their great meals and high quality cuisine.

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And perhaps if we haven’t provided enough superlatives about this great experience, there is the fact that Sol Y Luna has a foundation that supports children’s education in the Sacred Valley.  This belief that tourism needs to give something back mirror’s Majestic Peru’s own beliefs.   Sol y Luna’s Association now supports not just local schools, but provide Vocational training and other initiatives that support a stronger local economy.

Sol y Luna is much more than a hotel – it is an experience.