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Calendar of Festivities in Cusco

8 Apr

By Lisa McClendon Sims

One thing that Peruvians are really good at is celebrating! There are a dizzying number of festivities which combine the rituals of the predominantly Catholic population with colorful indigenous earth-based festivals, frequently interwoven throughout the symbology and celebrations and offer an absolute sensory symphony. Peruvians have roots which deeply connect them with their “Pachamama” (Mother Earth). So much of Peru is based on an agrarian culture, insuring good harvests and fertility of their herds is of paramount importance. The majority of the celebrations are joyous in nature and strengthen social bonds and hope for the future.

Aside from “Saint’s Days” which happen daily all over Peru, announced by the blasting of firecrackers in the early hours of the morning and frequently by parading a statue of the Patron Saint of the Day through the streets often followed by a brass band, there are many other festivals and holidays to navigate. It is estimated that there are as many as 3,000 folk festivals throughout the year in various parts of Peru, hundreds of which are celebrated in Cusco. So many opportunities to feast and dance!

Here are a few of the more popular ones based in Cusco:

CARNIVAL – Variable days in February – starts 40 days before Easter Sunday

One of the largest festivals in South America, made famous by the parades in Rio, Carnival is celebrated a bit differently in Peru. The biggest show is in Puno (an 8-hour bus ride south of Cusco) with dazzling costume competitions and parades honoring The Virgin of Candelaria, where they play music and dance in the streets until they quite literally drop! In Cusco, Carnival is celebrated more with water. If you are in the plazas, expect to get drenched with water blasters and balloons, and sprayed with silly string and foam. No one is immune, but if you are armed with any of the afore-mentioned items, you are considered fair game! Join in the fun – and bring a change of clothes!

SEMANA SANTA (Holy Week/Easter Week) all of Peru but most notably in Cusco and Ayacucho

This is the week before Easter, and in Cusco starts on Monday with “Señor de los Temblores” or Lord of the Earthquakes – also known in Cusco as The Black Christ.  In 1650 there was a terrible earthquake in Cusco with much damage and many aftershocks. Particularly interesting is this holiday’s fusion of Catholic and Inca beliefs. The Black Christ is housed inside of the Cusco Cathedral, built upon the ancient Inca foundations of the Wiracocha Temple (Wiracocha is the Inca Creator God). In 1650 the Black Christ statue was carried in procession through the streets, just as the Incas used to parade the mummies of their Incas and high priests before the Spanish outlawed this custom, and miraculously the earthquakes stopped. So many candles were burnt beneath the statue in gratitude that it is now permanently blackened. Today The Lord of the Earthquakes is still paraded through the streets while the onlookers throw bright red ñucchu flowers (salvia esplendes), as they did in ancient times as an offering to their Pre-Colombian god, Wiracocha, now symbolizing the blood of Christ. The Main Plaza in Cusco is jam-packed with people during Monday evening with barely room to move! Peruvians love to celebrate!

GOOD FRIDAY

In many cultures has traditional fasting as a ritual. In their truly festive style, the Peruvian people FEAST instead of fast! Good Friday is actually the most celebrated day in Semana Santa, much moreso than Easter Sunday. Most businesses are closed and the Peruvians are all at home with their families feasting upon their Doce Platos – 12 special traditional dishes (excluding red meats) representing the Twelve Apostles!

Q’OYLLURIT’I – The Snow Star Festival – coincides with the full moon at the end of May/beginning of June

The ancient Inca used the Southern Cross constellation, visible in the Southern Hemisphere, as a guide as to when to sow and reap their crops. In April, this constellation disappears under the horizon, and to the Inca this symbolized a time of chaos. With the full moon in May/June, the Southern Cross constellation reappears on the horizon and the Q’oyllurit’i festival was originally in honor of this, bringing order again to their world. However, in 1780 a miraculous image of Christ appeared on a huge rock in the Sinakara Valley (15-16,000 feet above sea level) where the festival is held. The rock has since been embellished and had a church built around it. Christ is now considered by many to be the “Lord of Q’oyllurit’i”, and this celebration is considered to be the largest pilgrimage of indigenous nations in the Americas, with tens of thousands of people (many estimate 70,000) making the pilgrimage during the 4 days that it takes place 8 kilometers outside of the town of Mawayani, at the foot of Ausangate Mountain (21,000 feet elevation). There is a fascinating ritual held by “ukukus” – the Quechua word for “bear”. He is a mythological creature deemed to be fathered by a bear and mothered by a human. The people who want to become Ukukus must climb the High Andes mountain to the glacier and survive the night to earn the right to be an Ukuku. They then wear special costumes and masks and are the policing body of this festival, using whips to call into line anyone who is seen to be acting in a disrespectful manner. Historically they cut blocks of ice from the glacier to bring back to Cusco, which when melted was used as holy water. There are virtually no facilities in this valley, so it is a camping event. There is non-stop dancing, music and firecrackers for the 4 days that this takes place – bring earplugs if you intend to sleep!

CORPUS CHRISTI – Body of Christ – 60 days after Easter Sunday

This festival has been celebrated all over Peru since Colonial times, but reaches its peak in Cusco. It takes place 60 days after Easter Sunday. The ornately dressed statues of 15 saints and virgins are all brought from their respective churches in Cusco and paraded around the Main Plaza. They enter the Cathedral one by one to spend the night in the Cathedral to greet the Body of Christ, embodied in the Sacred Host which is housed in an enormous gold goblet. The processions and the excitement and fervor of the citizens are an amazing show.

INTI RAYMI – The Celebration of the Winter Solstice – June 24th

Inti Raymi is the second largest festival in South America (after Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). It is the celebration of the winter days starting to become longer – the solar new year. In Cusco the celebrations begin on June 1st (no kidding – they celebrate ALL MONTH) with various dances in the plazas, art festivals and an endless list of performances and events. This is considered to be the most important expression of folklore in Cusco. The Spanish outlawed this celebration due to its “pagan” identifications and it was lost for 100s of years. In 1944 a group of scholars and artists in Cusco got together and it was decided to reintroduce it based on the historical record.  The peak of this weeks-long festival starts at 8AM on June 24th at the Q’oricancha, The Temple of the Sun (now a Dominican church – Iglesia de Santo Domingo). Hundreds and hundreds of people have roles in this theatrical performance on the green front lawn of what was the Temple of the Sun, which was sheathed in gold when the Spanish arrived into Cusco in 1532. They are all making various offerings of chichi (corn beer), potatoes, corn and flowers. Everyone in the Four Quarters of the Inca Empire, known as the Tawantinsuyo, is represented – from the Inca military to the jungle dancers. They make their way up Avenida El Sol around noon with a spectacular entry into the Main Plaza of Cusco. Actors representing the Inca (King) and Qoya (Queen) are carried on litters above the crowd who throw flower petals as they pass by in procession around the Plaza. The entire procession then ascends the steep mountain streets to Saqsaywaman, the famous Incan ruin overlooking Cusco for the final chapter of this most spectacular affair.

PACHAMAMA RAYMI / MOTHER EARTH DAY – August 1st

This is an Andean ritual which pays tribute to Mother Earth in honor of all she gives us. A key concept in the Andean culture is that of “ayni” or sacred reciprocity. This is a day set aside to symbolically give something back to Mother Earth. A beautiful mandala is created using many items from nature – seeds, coca leaves, dried fruits, flowers, rice, incenses, sweets and many other items. It is infused with the love that the people of Peru have, who are so closely connected to their Pachamama and it is offered to the spirits of the Andes Mountains and Mother Earth. This also marks the beginning of the Andean New Year. During the first 12 days of August is a period called “Las Cabañuelas”, brought over by the Spanish, where the weather is watched closely and a prediction is made for the weather for the upcoming year, to help the agricultural communities decide when to plant.

SANTURANTICUY – December 24th

This festival dates back to the Spanish Colonial period and is one of the largest handicrafts fairs in Peru. It takes place in the Main Plaza in Cusco and offers various religious images which are all handcrafted by local artisans, many things that are never seen anywhere else, or at any other time of the year. It is the custom of many Cusqueñans (people from Cusco) to have a nativity scene in their home during Christmas. December 24th, known as Noche Buena, is the big day in Peru, moreso than Christmas Day itself. On the 24th at midnight, a small figurine of Jesus is placed in the manger, and everyone goes to bed happy that Jesus has arrived! During Santuranticuy the campesinos, or country folk, come in from all over the region, selling various native plants, mosses and flowers to decorate the manger scenes. They have no place to stay in town, so they camp out in the Main Plaza and it is the custom of the city folk to bring them hot chocolate and snacks to tide them through the night, and you’ll see them standing in long lines waiting for a cocoa!

NEW YEARS EVE – Dec 31st

In the Main Plaza of Cusco New Year’s Eve is celebrated with festivities and bands playing! One thing that tourists notice with some amusement is that there is yellow underwear being sold on every street corner. The yellow represents gold and prosperity and you will even see people wearing their yellow underwear on top of their clothes to pronounce to the world that they are calling in abundance! There is absolutely no doubt when midnight hits as fireworks fill the sky! Everyone turns up in the Main Plaza with their own fireworks and they are going off in every direction! If you are lucky enough to be above the city on one of the mountainsides, looking down – it is a sight to behold! If you are in the Plaza itself – do be careful, as there doesn’t appear to be any supervision whatsoever! The bars and discos are open all night and you can party and dance until dawn!

 

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Eat Like a Local, Street Food in Cusco

17 Dec

By Julian Kircher

So you’re in a foreign country, everything looks and sounds and smells strange, nothing more so that the food. Fruit reminds you of the fruit back home but there is always some important difference: the colour is wrong, it’s too big or the wrong shape or smells funny. The good news however is that locals have been eating these things for a long time and most of them look almost alive and healthy. So we can assume the food here is safe and perhaps even delicious. Well let me try and convince you that with an open mind and empty stomach Cusco can be exceptionally rewarding. So I have compiled a sample menu that will rival any fancy French restaurant, except here you won’t find any snooty waiters floating around the place and you probably won’t be served swan lightly fried in unicorn tears and served on a bed of moonrock. Also the whole thing will cost you less than $10 and you will get to see and experience a handsome chunck of Cusco.

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Where to start? Well you will want a hearty meal to start out with. San Pedro is the place to go for this. A bustling hive of vendors that sell fabrics and trinkets and most importantly food. Food of every sort is found here. Hidden away at the back of the market there is a large space where dozens of tiny food stalls, with a small rickety bench in front of them, serve food of all description. Most of these places will have set menus and for around 4 – 6 Soles you can get a starter (usually soup) and a choice of mains. Served with a little fruit juice. This is the authentic experience. You you will set next to the local workforce, enveloped by the steam and the sumptuous smells from hundreds of bubbling pots. This experience will make you feel like a local. Everything is made fresh and personally this is the one place where I have never gotten sick.

Now that your stomach has stopped rumbling you will want dessert. Remember you are on holiday so don’t count those calories. As such I have collected several post-meal options here because let’s face it: that is all we really wanted anyway. But before we become too unhealthy let us make a quick and nutritious stop. Fruit juices!

At the opposite end of San Pedro a horde of waving ladies wait patiently behind unstable looking mountains of fruit and vegetables. Ready to shred and blend any combinations of fruit possible. They will assist you in picking out delicious combinations. So far the following combinations have proven to be the best: banana, mango, strawberry as a milkshake with honey (this is the rich, creamy sweet option) if you want something else (although I don’t know why you would) then a combinations of strawberry, apple and orange or a combinations of banana, mango and papaya will give you slightly fruitier tastes. Juices are approx. 6-8 Soles.

Now we have assuaged our inner Nutritionist it is time to move onto something more unhealthy. Take a stroll behind the San Pedro market. There you will find a street with an army of vendors shouting and crying, their wares displayed at their feet. Among this bee hive of activities and noises you will find one or perhaps several Picarones stands. 12395291_10153859257388258_577545405_nThis is what we have all been waiting for. Sweet dough made from sweet potatoes then quickly deep fried and covered in honey. Go on you’ve earned it. This deliciousness is made fresh in front of your eyes and the smell alone will remain with you for a long time. Around 2-4 Soles.

Now you are probably almost full, your stomach may be hurting since you left self-control behind at San Pedro. Well then the answer is to stop off at an12386752_10153859257773258_236457748_n Emolientes stand. These pop up around evening time and you want have to walk long to find them. A small cart containing a big pot of hot water and about half a dozen bottles, each filled with a different coloured liquid. This cart looks more like a mobile improvised chemistry lab. Don’t shy away! These are all herbal infusions which are mixed, all together, with hot water and a bit of gelatin. This creates a very thick and herby concoction which will act as an internal heating system for you as well as aid with digestion. This is the least you can do for your poor stomach. Usually around 1 or 2 Soles.

Well there you have it. My menu. Hopefully you are feeling as hungry as I am, luckily this is exactly what I will eat tonight, you will have to make the journey over here too in order to enjoy these culinary treats.

When to book your 2015 Inca Trail

8 Jul
KM 82

KM 82

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has become one of the most popular vacation adventures.  But do to this popularity, and some heavy regulations by the Peruvian government, getting your permit is not so easy.  In order to hike the Inca Trail you must have a permit to do so.  Only licensed tour operators, like Alpaca Expeditions, can obtain these permits on your behalf.  You can NOT enter the Inca Trail without a permit and you will enter through a checkpoint where the permit will be matched to your passport – must match perfectly.

The government limits the amount of permits for each day to 500.  Everyone needs a permit to enter the trail – even the crew that is hiking with you – so this limits the amount for travelers to about 200.  While this seems like a very small number, you will actually be thankful for this as you hike because it does limit the crowds along the way.  You only need a permit for your start day.

The government has a website, http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/, that shows how many permits are available for each day.  As I type this, they are all sold out until November 1st – today is July 8th, so you can see how quickly they sell out.  You can currently book a permit through the end of January and then the trail is closed for all of February for maintenance.

Inca Trail Map - Rusty

Map of the Trail

But what happens if you are looking to trek in March 2015 or sometime after?  These permits are not for sale from the government until January.  Around New Years, the Park office will tell us the exact date the permits are released, but for now we guess some time in the middle of January.  But this does not mean you should wait to book your 2015 Inca Trail trek until January.  Most companies like Alpaca are already taking reservations.  The day the permits are released is a bit hectic in Cusco and usually ends with a few days completely sold out of permits.  Last year several days in May sold out within just a few hours of the permits being released.  So its good to have your reservations secured early and have a company like Alpaca fight on your behalf for your perfect start date.

So start thinking of when you would like to visit us.  We ask for three possible start dates, in order of preference, and we will do everything we can to get your number 1 choice.  By getting all your information into us early you will be added to our list, helping us to keep organized and giving us a better chance to get that top choice of yours.

There is actually no risk to you to book early and lots of advantages.  While we do require a $200US deposit per person which is normally non-refundable, we will refund these deposits for 2015 until January.  If we were not able to get any of your 3 chosen start dates, we would refund your deposit 100% as well – but this will not happen.  And by securing your trek for 2015 this year, you are also locking in our current rate for the Inca Trail, which will be a savings.

So when should you book your Inca Trail trek for 2015 – why not now.  We would love to show you the Andes and be your guide and we promise, if you choose Alpaca, you will have the most amazing vacation adventure of your life.

Trek with Alpaca – you will remember this trip for a lifetime.

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http://www.alpacaexpeditions.com

 

Celebrating Inti Raymi tomorrow, June 24th

23 Jun

Inti-raymi-copiaTomorrow, the Green Machine of Alpaca along with all our fellow Peruvians and foreigners visiting our beautiful country will celebrate Inti Raymi.  During the Inca Empire, the Inti Raymi was the most important of four ceremonies celebrated in Cusco, as related by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. The celebration took place in the Haukaypata or the main plaza in the city.

The Inti Raymi (“Festival of the Sun”) was a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti, one of the most venerated deities in Inca religion. It was the celebration of the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year in terms of the time between sunrise and sunset and the Inca New Year. In territories south of the equator the gregorian months of June and July are winter months.

According to chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega, Sapa Inca Pachacuti created the Inti Raymi to celebrate the new year in the Andes of the Southern Hemisphere. The ceremony was also said to indicate the mythical origin of the Incas. It lasted for nine days and was filled with colorful dances and processions, as well as animal sacrifices to thank Pachamama and to ensure a good cropping season. The last Inti Raymi with the Inca Emperor’s presence was carried out in 1535, after which the Spanish and the Catholic priests banned it.

Today, it’s the second largest festival in South America. Hundreds of thousands of people converge on Cuzco from other parts of the nation, South America and the world for a week long celebration marking the beginning of a new year, the Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun.

Every day has its events, from daytime expositions, street fairs, and people milling and dancing in the streets. In the evenings, live music from the best of Peruvian musical groups draws the crowds to the Plaza de Armas for free concerts. During the preceding year, in preparation for Inti Raymi, hundreds of actors are chosen to represent historical figures. Being selected to portray the Sapa Inca or his wife, Mama Occla, is a great honor.

The centerpiece of the festival is the all-day celebrations tomorrow, June 24, the actual day of Inti Raymi. On this day, the ceremonial events begin with an invocation by the Sapa Inca in the Qorikancha, built over the ancient Temple of the Sun. Here, the Sapa Inca calls on the blessings from the sun. Following the oration, Sapa Inca is carried on a golden throne, a replica of the original which weighed about 60 kilos, in a procession to the ancient fortress of Sacsayhuamán, in the hills above Cuzco. With the Sapa Inca come the high priests, garbed in ceremonial robes, then officials of the court, nobles and others, all elaborately costumed according to their rank, with silver and gold ornaments.

They walk along flower-bedecked streets, to music and prayers and dancing. Women sweep the streets to clear them of evil spirits. At Sacsayhuamán , where huge crowds await the arrival of the procession, Sapa Inca climbs to the sacred altar where all can see him.

Once all the celebrants are in place in the grand square of the fortress, there are speeches by Sapa Inca, the priests and representatives of the Suyos: the Snake for the world below, the Puma for life on earth, and the Condor for the upper world of the gods.

A white llama is sacrificed (now in a very realistic stage act) and the high priest holds aloft the bloody heart in honor of Pachamama. This is done to ensure the fertility of the earth which in combination with light and warmth from the sun provides a bountiful crop. The priests read the blood stains to see the future for the Inca.

As the sun begins to set, stacks of straw are set on fire and the celebrants dance around them to honor Tawantinsuty or the Empire of the Four Wind Directions. In ancient times, no fire was allowed that day until the evening fires.

The ceremony of Inti Raymi ends with a procession back to Cuzco. Sapa Inca and Mama Occla are carried on their thrones, the high priests and representatives of the Supas pronounce blessings on the people. Once again, a new year has begun.

While Alpaca encourages our staff to celebrate this important holiday, we will still be around to answer any of your questions.  Just be patient as the office will be closed from 12 – 4PM tomorrow for us all to have a little celebration.

 

 

With May Comes Huge Crowds to Cusco

1 May

Alpaca Logo 2013

Welcome to May everyone! We have officially entered the heart of the busiest time for tourism in this area. Many of you have treks coming up shortly and we just wanted to remind you of some key preparation points.

Cusco will begin getting overwhelmed with tourists and places will be booked.  Make sure you have all your reservations set for your upcoming trek.  Confirm your flights coming into the city – airlines are often changing the times.  It’s good to do a double check on everything about 2 weeks before you plan on arriving to Cusco.

Most important is weather. While May is part of the dry season here in Cusco, weather is completely unpredictable and it can absolutely rain at any moment. Be prepared. I have reminded everyone to bring jackets, pants and waterproof gloves. Especially for those of you trekking, when you are using your walking sticks your hands are exposed. Being wet with frozen hands is not fun. Please bring everything and hopefully you will only enjoy sun and can return it when you get back home.

Passports.  Please remember that not only does the Inca Trail permit have your passport listed on it, but all train tickets and entrances to Machu Picchu also require your current passport number.  You must show this when you enter each of those placesISIC and your passport needs to match what is on the ticket.  If you have received a new passport number, please give us the number immediately.  Also for you STUDENTS – only green ISIC cards will reward you with a discount, but this card must be valid and with you to allow you onto the Inca Trail or into Machu Picchu.  They check and they will not grant you access if you have a student ticket and no student ISIC card.

Pack light.  No matter which tour you are doing – train or trek – the trains to and from Aguas Calientes limit the size of your luggage to nothing larger than 8kg.  If you are doing a tour by train and have no small bag, please let our office know and we will lend you a small duffel bag.  Every hotel in Cusco is used to this and will store your larger luggage safely.  If you are not comfortable with this, we can do so as well.

Checking in to our office is very important.  We need to know that you have arrived safely to the city and are aware of your start times, no matter which tour you are doing.  Our office is located very close to the main square at Calle Heladeros 157, Office 24 – 25 on the 2nd floor. I am sure your hotel can help you to find where we are located. Please note that we are not the blue door that says ALPACA, that is another company across the street from us – we have a small black plaque above the doorframe that says in gold writing – ALPACA EXPEDITIONS and we are on the second floor of that building.

The altitude effects everyone differently and there is no way to predict this.  Even those of you that are avid skiiers and have spent some time in the mountains can suffer and some people have no effects at all.  It’s good to be prepared.  I definitely recommend visiting your Primary Care Physician or a travel doctor and getting some DIAMOX.  This should be a small dosage – either 125 mg twice a day or 250 mg once a day.  Try to not get the 500mg dosage – it is a diuretic.  Also, drink lots of liquid – non-alcoholic guys – this also helps acclimate.

Travel insurance is a good idea for those of you trekking.  Just in case someone does get hit hard with the effects of altitude sickness.  We have recommended a great insurance agent that can help, but honestly you can find others right online.  And this is really inexpensive.  Our point of contact is Jill Roth and she can be contacted at jroth@afsinsurance.com.

If there is something you think we should address as far as other advice, please let us know and we will add.  Also check our website with some handy packing lists…www.alpacaexpeditions.com.

Journey is the Destination

 

 

 

Vaccinations and Travel Insurance

22 Apr

Many of you have asked about what vaccinations are needed for traveling to Peru. We think that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention really offers the best advice for this. Even your PCP will go to this site to make sure you are ready for travel. Below is the link and you will see some vaccinations are required and some are just suggested. If you are travelling the entire country I would do everything suggested, but if you are travelling to just Cusco you will have less worries. Malaria and Yellow Fever are not worries up in the mountains, but again, contact your physician to confirm. We are not doctors.

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/peru

Also, for you trekkers specifically, travel insurance is strongly recommended. While we plan to take very good care of you and make sure nothing happens while you hike the Andes, some things are just not predicted. Rarely we have someone suffer from extreme altitude sickness, but this does occur from time to time and you might want to visit the clinic or hospital to get your body right. I think being safe and having some sort of insurance to help pay for any strange occurrence is not a bad idea. And travel insurance is not expensive.

We have recommended a great insurance agent for those in the US – Jill Roth from Ahart, Frenzi and Smith agency, but you can find other companies right online pretty easily. If you are interested in contacting Jill, her email address is jroth@afsinsurance.com.

Just remember, we are here to help with any problem and will work for you to have an issue free vacation but its always better to be safe and covered.

Machu Picchu is a HOT SPOT in 2013

6 Mar

Machupicchu_hb102013 was a historic year for Machu Picchu, bringing the largest amount of visitors so far.  Nearly 1.2 million people explored the ancient Inca citadel and 2014 has already proved to try to surpass those numbers..

The record-breaking figure of 1,177,308 visitors is contained in the annual totals published by the Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Tourism (MINCETUR).

Built in the 15th century by the 9th Sapa Inca Pachacutec, Machu Picchu is considered by most who come to Peru a must see experience. Most travelers plan a trip to Machu Picchu without realizing the other treasures of Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Peru as a whole.  We plan on  continuing to showcase our country and all the beauty to all visitors making Peru the destination and not only our world wonder.

And Peruvian authorities are helping with that mission, working on developing Peru’s other amazing ancient archaeological sites to help take some of the pressure off Machu Picchu.

Come and visit Peru – it will be a vacation that you will never forget!  Especially when you see it with this guy!Raul and Machu Picchu

Are you from the Washington, DC Metro Area

27 Dec

Fly.com is currently running a special for anyone travelling from the Washington, DC area flying to Lima in February, March and April for flights as low as $500 roundtrip. If you are interested in one of these flights, go to the link below.

http://www.fly.com/Deal/?Id=WAS122713&utm_source=tzoo&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=WAS122713&v=1

Come visit us and we will bring you back in history to the Inca times and show you why this civilization is so important to remember.

Machupicchu_hb10

 

Trek With Alpaca!

 

 

Thank you!

27 Sep

So many of you have taken time out of your day to write amazing reviews about your experience with Alpaca on websites like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet.  This is something that is so appreciated by us.  It’s an honor to us just to be chosen as your tour operator.  We hope that each and every one of you falls in love with Cusco, Machu Picchu and everything Peru has to offer.  And we hope that your trip is truly enhanced by being part of the Alpaca team for just a little while.  We honestly strive to make amazing memories for everyone and always want to hear your honest feedback after the tour/trek.  Some times reviewers are able to articulate our ideology as a company better than we can, so we are highlighting the review we received today that just seemed to understand the motivation we have for every single trip.  Thank you so much everyone and thank you Sivia for this review…

As seen on TripAdvisor.com…

“Excellence in every extent of the word”
Reviewed September 26, 2013

The cWacawasiompany and tour team- Our close friends and us just completed the Lares Trek with Alpaca Expeditions and I am at a loss of words to describe the breath taking experience this was for us (no pun intended). If you’re planning to visit Machu Pichu, look no more. You have found the best company to guide you. There are many things to be said about them, but after having spent 4 days in their company, one stands out from the rest. They are a socially responsible organization. They CARE. Raul, its owner, has managed to build such ownership in each and everyone of his employees in a way that is quite tangible in the way they perform their jobs. You see passion in their eyes. They will make you fall in love with their country. The Green Machine as they call themselves will go the extra mile to make this a once in a lifetime experience for you. By the way, they truly live up to the green machine standards. Although the Lares Trek may quite possibly be the less traveled road, there are other companies who offer it and we were appalled by the litter they’d leave behind. Our guide carried a plastic bag with him and picked up any trash we’d run into on our trek. Respect and love for the environment is a value we hold dear to us and were glad to have shared it with the team.

The food- our expectations were exceeded! We were beyond spoiled. I’m quite certain I have never eaten so well before in my life! Our Chef Roger is a rockstar! He didn’t just feed us, he nourished us. The menu is well thought of to sustain the physical challenge it requires for this trek. I’m talking varied, fresh, delicious and well ballanced meals. The best food we had while in Perú, was cooked by him. He did so much in such limited space and very little tools. He’s an inspiration indeed. I mean, for our last day, he baked a cake! A freakin’ CAKE! Without an oven. That’s a rockstar if you ever saw one!

Equipment- They’ve invested on a port-a-potty which made it comfortable for us to use the restroom. I’m telling you, they think of everything! Their tents, poles and all around equipment, are state of the art, so worry not. They will see to your comfort 100%. They pay so much attention to detail.

The trek- everytime we thought we had seen the most beautiful landscape yet, another one came right around. This happened throughout the whole trek. We got to interact with local Andean habitants, got up close and personal with alpacas and llamas, got amazed by the beautiful rivers and glaciars. Don’t under estimate the beauty of the treks other then the incan trail. Although dissapointed at first, we are now glad the incan trail was booked and experienced the Lares Trek instead.

Our guide- last but not least, Sabino, our guide was hands down the highlight of our trip. He’s so passionate about his heritage, that you have no choice but to partake of his passion and submerge yourself in the incan history. He’s incredibly knowledgeable on the flora and fauna as well. At one point, I started to feel the symptoms of altitude sickness, and he was quick to let me inhale an herbal oil that quickly made me feel better. He encouraged us every step of the way and I will NEVER forget his words when we reached the highest and toughest part of our trek (Condor Pass) after thinking I wouldn’t make it. Even now, I tear up to think of that very emotional and happiest moment of our trip. Throughout the trip, he took the time to talk to the locals, give out coca leaves and tell us about the people and their culture. He’d say “I was like them. That’s where I come from” making it all the more maningful of an experience for us. We don’t think of him as our guide. He’s a friend now. He’s our Peruvian Compadre 🙂

Once we got to Machu Pichu we felt like it was the icing on the cake, it was beautiful and everything we had hoped for it to be, but nothing could have prepared us for the amazing experience of our trek, thanks to Alpaca Expeditions. The journey truly was our destination. THANK YOU!

Visited September 2013

Peruvian Cuisine Showcased in NY City

25 Sep

untitledFor all of you New Yorkers, or those planning a trip to visit Manhattan next week, the 8th Annual StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress will take place from September 29 – October 1, 2013 at Pier 57. And what makes it more special this year, Peru’s Export and Tourism Promotion Board (PromPeru) will attend this year’s showcase and display the international appeal and gastronomic innovation of the Andean country.

The aim is to promote Peru’s cuisine among American opinion leaders and the country as a dining destination in that market.

Likewise, the entity intends to promote agribusiness and fishery products for human consumption that are part of the Peruvian exportable offer and are typical of the food supplies.

This is just another step in establishing Peru as a world leader in culinary art.

Food