It’s your first night in Lima. You’re all checked into the Kokopelli hostel in the bohemian district of Barranco – easily one of the coolest areas in town. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) has just taken you and your colleague Roamies through the jam-packed itinerary you’re about to complete over the next 11 days. You’ll race dune buggies and sandboard in Huacachina, sail to the Ballestas Islands AKA Lima’s Little Galápagos, and explore the ancient Inca temples and incredible views at Machu Picchu! But first it’s time to eat. Let me take you through some of my most memorable food and drink experiences Roamie’s Total Peru Package: Cities, Deserts and Inca Ruins fairy tale.
Get comfortable at Isolina on your first night in Barranco
Barranco is full of incredible bars and restaurants so it’s hard to go wrong. I highly recommend checking out Isolina, where our CEO Nilo Revilla took us for our first meal together. It’s a cozy taverna-style restaurant that serves old-school Peruvian cuisine. We dove into a feast of classic comfort food, including potatoes and corn with a cheese sauce called huancaina, pork with noodles and a roast beef dish that melted in your mouth. Isolina is a must if you want a real taste of traditional Peruvian cuisine.
Indulge in the famous fish ceviche in Paracas
On day two we hit Paracas, a couple of hours drive from Lima, for a tasty lunch together near the beach. I of course went for ceviche, as I don’t think you’re allowed to visit Peru without trying it. I followed that up with delicious fried sea bass and plantain. We also had to toast the trip with a Pisco Sour, it was a must! Pisco is a famous Peruvian spirit and is delicious in cocktails.
It wasn’t long before we were racing around the desert in Paracas on a dune buggy on our way to Laguna Costa Rica. Our group decided it would be wrong not to take the opportunity to say we were swimming in the desert, so we took a quick dip in the warm lagoon, followed by a glass of bubbles before watching the sunset. Not a bad way to spend a Thursday night!
See how the Pisco is made at Ica
Just a short drive from the desert oasis of Huacachina is the birthplace of Pisco brandy, Ica City. Before an afternoon spent on the vast dunes surrounding Huacachina, our group tasted at several artisanal wineries and pisco distilleries.
We learned the special methods of creating the distinct Peruvian drink, which is made from grapes fermented for 15 days, then bottled and ready to drink six months later. The distilleries have plenty of Pisco to go around and group participation is actively encouraged for some of the traditional dances on display.
Work up an appetite for porpoises in the Sacred Valley
Look, we all had a pet guinea pig named Rosie as kids, didn’t we? Okay, with that in mind, it may be necessary to displace those precious childhood memories like guinea pigs or cuy is a Peruvian delicacy and it is really delicious.
On day 7 we arrived at the beautiful village of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. A good feed was needed after hiking to one of my favorite sights, Perolniyoc Falls, and learning about Inca rituals at Killarumiyuq, a sacred moon temple for the Incas.
Apu Veronica Restaurant is known for its hearty portions and fantastic Peruvian cuisine. According to CEO Nilo, this was the place to order cuy and alpaca steak. All I can tell you is that both alpaca and guinea pig are as adorable as they are delicious. Try them!
Stop for empanadas on the trip to Mandor Falls
If you haven’t opted for the 1-Day Inca Trail Hike to the Sun Gate Viewpoint Machu Picchu, there are still plenty of wonderful walks around the town of Aquas Calientes. My guy Roamies and I went on a hike from town to the spectacular Mandor Falls. You follow train tracks before entering a rainforest full of orchids, fruit trees and exotic birds and finally the sight and sound of rushing water.
On the way there, you pass a Quinoa empanada stand owned by Victor. A little unassuming from the outside, but trust me, you will have the best empanadas of your life here. Thanks to our CEO Nilo (to the right below), we stopped and indulged in beef, chicken and veggie empanadas, fresh mango juice and coconut treats for dessert.
Cheers to adventure in Cusco’s Plaza de Armas
Alas, all good things must come to an end. We shared some incredible experiences together, including choosing to use our last full day to reach the summit of Rainbow Mountain at 5,200 meters / 17,060 feet above sea level. It was one of the most extraordinarily beautiful places I’ve ever been and reason enough to celebrate with a farewell meal together in Cusco.
Cusco is truly something else and a perfect place to end your trip, especially if you plan to continue your Peruvian adventures elsewhere. It is a haven for backpackers. We went to Hanz Craft Beer to taste planes, delicious food and an incredible view of the Plaza de Armas. Hi for an unforgettable adventure.
On the way
Looking to get a real taste of Peru like Claire on her Roamie’s Total Peru Package: Cities, Deserts and Inca Ruins trip? Our Roamies by Hostelworld & G Adventures tours are just the ticket. And the price (especially for younger travelers on a budget) is just right too!