We spent about a week of our recent South American vacation visiting the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Cusco in Peru. It’s hard to say which part of Peru was the most beautiful. I feel pictures can’t even do the country justice, but here they are anyways… I hope you enjoy taking a glimpse…
Machu Picchu is awe-inspiring – the landscape around it is unlike anything I have ever seen before.
We had every kind of potato imaginable!
I drank lots of fresh coca tea – the cure for altitude sickness. I didn’t get sick, but was definitely feeling the change in my breathing patterns. Exercising while in this part of the country was SERIOUSLY difficult! It was worth it, but I was huffing and puffing my way through it…
We had back up oxygen in our mini bar – definitely a first.
I ate quinoa everyday – this is a risotto with mushrooms and olives. Do you see the foam? Another first – Gastronomique quinoa.
After a long day of activities in the town of Urubamba - we went to the cutest place to have homemade pizzas cooked in a wood burning oven.
More quinoa, this time with shrimp – it was a beautiful take on shrimp and grits…. It was so good I ordered twice over 2 days.
Staying at The Sanctuary Lodge was surreal! We were literally right next to Machu Picchu and had the opportunity to relax between hikes. Here, I am hanging out in my robe enjoying dessert waiting for some rain to subside and for my clothes to dry.
Horseback riding in Urubamba Valley
We rode through gorgeous farms – everything from agave to broccoli to cabbage and corn.
Quick travel tip – Since we were gone almost a month, we decided to take less stuff and do our laundry a few times during our trip. We found a full service laundromat (who did everything for us) and ended up paying only about $9 dollars for 1.5 week’s worth of clothing. If we had gotten it done at the hotel where we were staying in Urubamba – it would have been 20 times more expensive! This place was literally right across the street from our hotel – Tambo Del Inka. Incredible right?! The next long trip we take, I plan on emailing our hotel concierge to inquire about the closest laundromat and/or googling it in advance – I never want to pay hotel prices again!
Amaranth growing beautifully next to corn and quinoa… Many farmers diversify their crops by growing all three at the same time.
This is purple quinoa – BEAUTIFUL!
Guinea Pig is the local delicacy… I wasn’t brave enough to throw one of these cute little guys into the oven (which is unpictured and right next to them!)
This was one of my major splurges on several occasions – fried yucca with a turmeric based sauce. SO GOOD.
Climbing above the Urubamba River…
Zip-lining down after the long climb up…
A lot of people suggest not eating raw greens in foreign countries – but I alway ignore that advice and listen to my gut – which says to eat them till I drop! Ha.
Quinoa pasta filled with ricotta on top of pesto.
We took a fancy old school train called the Hiram Bingham to Cusco from Machu Picchu. They served us a full 4 course meal with live entertainment and dancing…SO MUCH FUN!
Fish on top of a quinoa cake… of course!
The view after a hike to the top of Cusco…
Having breakfast at the Hotel Monasterio was a delight…
Quinoa pancakes made to order – my husband’s favorite.
Amaranth = Kiwicha in Peruvian – I loved these biscuits with tea.
Lots of fresh juice was available all over Cusco.
I ordered the kidney juice…with carrots, celery and cucumber.
Fresh raw lucuma - an amazing super fruit. FYI – you can get it in powdered form in the U.S. – it’s a great low glycemic sugar substitute.
Lucuma chocolate – Mmmmm.
I could have spent days in the San Pedro Market in Cusco…
Fresh yucca… looks and tastes very much like a potato, but better.
Are you tried of seeing quinoa yet?
Black (Non – GMO) Corn… OH YEAH. Peru has banned GMOs.
In the market they had a lady mixing up all sorts of medicinal cocktails using the natural healing powers of food. I wanted to pick her brain – but her Spanish was way to fast for us!
Awaymanto Mermelada = Goldenberry Jam. YUM.
This is prickly pear fruit – also known as “atun.”
Another great salad… this one from one of our favorite restaurants we visited in Cusco – Greens Organic.
Green’s thai curry was OMG good.
The chef at Chi-Cha taught me about all the different kinds of mint available in Peru. My favorite andean mint makes the most DELICIOUS tea. I am going to try to find it here… I’ll let you know if I do – it has this natural kinda of sweetness to it that is so soothing!
THIS WAS A RIDICULOUS dessert served to us at Chi-Cha. Lucuma ice-cream with fresh golden berries and raw cacao. I’ve never had such a “SUPERFOOD” gourmet dessert like this before. I wanted to lick the plate after we were done.
Cusco the day before Christmas Eve….
Getting back to our hotel room, we found mistle toe on our door. It was like we never left home…
On Christmas Eve we traveled to Paracas to spend the holiday with some friends before heading to Ecuador. Those photos will have to be for another time.
P.S. If you are considering traveling to Peru (or have been) – please leave a comment and/or ask questions… Our itinerary played out so perfectly and wish everyone could experience this beautiful country the same!