Panpipes and llamas-Travels through south America
About this blog
As a Chef and a purveyor of leisure and travel I found Peru to be the most interesting and charming of all the countries I had experienced on this trip. The most diverse extremes of land with a fantastic smorgasbord of Nuevo Andean cuisine with the warmth of the Peruvian people thrown in, Peru rocks to a ancient Latin beat,a rhythm i have learnt to love. Peru does not reveal its charms until you get out of the drab concrete city of Lima, although it does possess some great long left handed breaks for surfing on its industrial wasteland coastline, It held little interest for us so with a quick plan formulated over a cafe con leche we jumped on a plane and headed to the Amazon. The flight to Iquitos(around 60 US) passes over dense rain forest and cafe con leche coloured rivers snaking through it like sinuous veins. Iquitos is completely closed in by rain forest and amazon tributaries so it feels like a island, and the people live like its one. Also being the place where 90% of the worlds cocaine is processed after being harvested in the coca fields of Peru, Iquitos used to have a international airport but so much coke was being moved through it that the FBI soon poked their nose in and stopped the flights. you can still fly internally though. We stayed in a little hotel,Maflo, cost us 38 soles a night. There are many restaurants abounding around in the town but the majority are shite. The pizza place comes highly recommended, but my favourite was: Nuevo Meson,153 Malecon Maldonaldo. We got taken here by a local guide we became friends with, he had just returned from a 8 day trek so in return for a few beers he told us tales of the amazon( talking about fish that swim up you when you pee, bugs that lay larvae in your skin and ants whose bite can knock you out amongst many other beasties was slightly discouraging for Nikki.) and then recommended this spot on place right by the river. The menu has a variety of jungle animals in various dishes, Maca(a huge rodent),Alligator,wild duck,Paralli(a Jurassic fish the size of a mini) and other more tame dishes like big gammon type pork steaks and roasted chicken, but the jungle food was more my thing. around 13 soles for a main this place is frequented by locals, becoming busy at the weekends. a great place to dine as along the malecon aside from the Amazon you get to be a voyeur of Peruvians going here and there and there's a couple of nice bars further down the road. There are several tour company's for Amazon treks, we used Carousel,Putamayo 263,on the main square, we paid 90 US for 2days 1 night, didn't exactly see everything we thought we would and was promised and most of the treks turned into a power walk,chasing our guide as he stormed through the rain forest but it was a good experience and the lodge was nice, you need to go longer and deeper(baby) to see the real funky stuff.. Met another guy. A American who's been going in the jungle for 15 years. Jim Lovins, a good character. check out: amazon_ecotours.com We had a few stories from our trek but from here we headed to Cuzco. Here we stayed in a couple of places: Hostal Teqsiqocha,Calle Teqsiqocha,no 474, tel 681240, this place was OK if you got a room with a balcony but the other rooms had mould up the walls and was VERY COLD. 40 soles a room. Hostal Posada del Corregidor,Plaza des Armas, tel 9748165. this place was very nice,carpet floor, TV but was very noisy in the morning as the floors are very thin, we had the maid singing very loudly to some shite R and B at 8 in the morning with us nursing heavy heads,apart from that it is a nice place ,cost 55 soles for a double. There are numerous restaurants around with the ones along calle Procuradores belching out spicy cooking aromas onto the cobbled streets enticing you in. Wasi Grill,calle procuradores no 347 has a very good menu with excellent alpaca steaks but their Mexican menu is also very good and the ceviche is devine. around 20 soles a main. Quinta Eulalia has e excellent range of cheap local cuisine, including whole fried guinea pig 23 soles, and juicy costilla Dorado(rack of lamb) for 12 soles. the Inca Grill, Plaza des Armas, Is a bit more up market and hence a bit more sole is needed here. But the chefs certainly cook up your moneys worth with some fantastic nuevo Peruvian cuisine,presented like fine designed art on your plate. try the trout ceviche with spicy sorbet and sweet yellow potato, or the chicken breast stuffed with black beans and drizzled with blackcurrants, around 30 soles for a main its worth it for the class of the joint. Papillion,Plaza des Armas is a good place for breakfast, sitting on the balcony overlooking the plaza you can get some good photos whilst sipping on mate de coca. 44 soles for evening 3 course tourist menu. 10 soles for breakfast. Fallen angel, 221 Plazoleta Nazarenas, tel 258184 has plenty of funky kitchy decorations and is a good place for a drink(but expensive) but the food is very overpriced for what is bog standard pub grub. you are better off going to its sister restaurant : Macondo, The chef here seems to have more inspirations in this funky little bar, and the foods far better priced. try the shredded alpaca starter with wild potato fritters, it rocks. Big blue martini,Tecsecocha 148 proved to be our best night out, a small little bar filled with funky young Peruvians they have lots of different bands or djs, we had a Peruvian tribal band rock our night before the carpets were rolled up dancing shoes were put on and banging hard house was pumped out onto the dance floor. Macchu Picchu proved to be expensive, Huacca Pichu, the towering hill just beyond the ruins has a amazing postcard view which is well worth the knackering walk up it, but the temple of the moon around the back is not really worth the couple of hours it takes to get to it and back.cost 68 US on train fare 40 US in entrance fees In Aguas callientes two good restaurants are Inka wasi, av Pachacutec 112, 084 974 7904, they do OK pizza, good trout,nice ceviche and other warming dinners. Yakumama grill 2,av Contisjyo 105 has good pizza deals, 23 soles for a large one with drink at lunch. The ruins of Saqsaywaman just outside Cuzco are a fine example of Inca architecture but they try to hit you with a 40US entrance fee, haggle and you can get them down. The market Central artesenal Cuzco, corner of Av Sol and Tullumayo is the place to head for inexpensive but good quality Peruvian crafts and clothes. you get a good massage at Inti massage,Plaza des Armas,Portal de panes,123. 40 soles from highly experienced masseuses. From this mountain enclave we headed to the verdant strip of green with its dusty dry rocky desert surrounding it of Nazca.Here we stayed at Estrella del sur,calle callao 568, tel 056522764 40 soles. adequate doubles but noisy in mornings. You can organise trips in small Cessna's directly at the airport but best to do it in town,Oro Andino travel EIRL Jr Lima 175,tel 523659, should cost 50US a person but does change.flight takes about 40 minutes banking sharply over the main symbols you get a good view and the plane ride is a good laugh unless you have just had breakfast. After checking out the mystical Nazca lines looking like children's playground etchings in the dirt we headed to Ica. Once in Ica we decided to head to Huacachina, a short taxi ride and we were at Cas de Arena,Huacachina, 056 215274. This proved to be one of the top 3 hostels we stayed in on our world trip. 20 soles for each person we got a big double, the whole place is set around the cool swimming pool with hammocks and chairs scattered around all under the ominous presence of the sand dunes towering over the background. At night they put on a 20 sole all you can eat bbq with all you can drink Cuba libres and pisco sours, i don't normally like all you can eat affairs but this was good value and we certainly drank our moneys worth, we met some other people scoffing the grub up and had a great night just drinking at the bar after with the staff. the dune buggy trip for 45 soles is also worth it, aside from the fantastic views and getting to sand board without having to walk the dunes(which is somewhat like snowboarding in thick gloop) the dune buggy ride itself is a intense roller coaster ride of steep drops and g force turns. From there to Pisco, staying at Lodge Madrid,Av Sanmartin 267, tel 056 533928 cost 12 us for a double, very clean rooms and bathrooms, TV, friendly staff and a roof top bar. La Catamaran,calle comercio no 162-166,tel 533547 has a balcony overlooking the street , good pizzas and excellent value tourist menus for between 10 to 20 soles, the 15 sole one has tangy ceviche and a good seafood rice.good place for dinner, for lunch La Cabana, calle comercio 211,tel 536052 is a bit more of a locals place with a nice price of 5 soles for a 3 course tourist menu. You can do trips on boats to the nearby islands of ballestas to see the sea lions and thousands of birds but it was a bit cold and windy so we headed back to Lima. A dinner in the exclusive restaurant Huacca Pucllana, General Borgona cdra 8,Miraflores. A very classy little number set amongst ruins of a Huaca temple its food is of more a french influence with peruvian ingrediants fused in, costs around 50 soles for a main, service is top notch and their argentinian steaks are some of the best i have eaten. This was the final night in our Peru chapter, a quick after dinner ciggarette and we were in the taxi, heading to the airport for our flight to Chile.