Peru


Welcome to our blog. We hope you enjoy our posts on Peruvian history, archaeology, cultural insights, events such as festivals, and travel tips.

First Unlooted Tomb Found In Peru

Elvi Bjorkquist - Sunday, July 21, 2013




El Castillo de Huarmey, the stepped pyramid 
mausoleum on the coast of southern Peru, 
has been dubbed the “Temple of the Dead.” 
Peru announced Thursday the discovery of 
an ancient tomb filled with golden treasure, 
three queens and the servants who 
accompanied them into the afterlife some 
1,200 years ago.

The Wari (Huari) were ancient rulers of 
southern Peru before 1000 A.D. and the 
advent of the Inca Empire. The 
archaeologists collected more than a thousand 
artifacts, including sophisticated gold and silver 
jewelry, bronze axes, and gold weaving tools, 
along with the bodies of three Wari queens 
and 60 other individuals. For archaeologists, 
the greatest treasure will be the tomb’s wealth 
of new information on the Wari (Huari) Empire. 
The construction of an imperial mausoleum at 
El Castillo shows that Wari lords conquered and 
politically controlled this part of the northern 
coast, and likely played a key role in the 
downfall of the northern Moche kingdom.

Explore our Cultures & Arts Timeline and 
Pre-Columbian Art Gallery, plus our timeline map.

We provide tours to these magical wonders.

Cusco Popular Destination for Families

Elvi Bjorkquist - Sunday, July 21, 2013


By María Elena Tord for El Comercio

Translated by Alix Farr

There are many activities in the Sacred Valley that are suitable 

for family members of all ages.

Cusco is becoming an ever more popular destination for families.

The charm of the city that so delights the adults can also be 

something to please the kids, though they may not immediately 

realize it. Once there, your family will see that the number of 

activities for children is on the rise. 

It is recommended that the first stop of your trip, after arriving in

Cusco, be Urubamba, because it is at a slightly lower altitude, 

which can help prevent altitude sickness. 

Children love walks to the river and through the valleys. A little 

bit of fresh air is always nourishing, especially for those who 

live in the city. 

One outing that the kids  always like is to the salt-evaporation 

ponds of Maras, where wells of salt create a sea of white 

surrounded by mountains. This is where salt is extracted and t

hen sent to the regional markets. Those who extract the salt 

come on foot or by car in the dry season.

Not far away are the circular terraces of Moray, which served as 

an agricultural laboratory during Inca times. Today it is a fun place 

to visit. The kids can run around, up and down, through the terraces.

Also near by, only 20 minutes by car from Moray, is Chinchero. 

When there, ask for the textile workshops, where local women 

do demonstrations of the weaving process. These textiles are known

as being the most beautiful of the region, and they preserve the 

ancestral techniques that you will be able to appreciate in a class.

In Chinchero, you can also visit the church and the archaeological 

complex located next to the main plaza.

An option for the afternoon is Wayra, which is part of the 

Sol y Luna Hotel. It offers a number of different experiences for 

those in the Sacred Valley, including many that would appeal to young

people. The concept of Wayra is to introduce the culture and art of 

the local people to children by way of workshops in ceramics, textiles 

and cooking.

In Wayra, as well as in other rural centers in the area, there are 

opportunities to go horseback riding, as well as go on mountain biking 

and kayaking expeditions. In Pachar, Natura Vive has alternative

adventures in scaling a 300-meter rock wall that are suitable for 

children, from 6 years old. 

In the valley, there is a chicken restaurant called Wallpa Wasi, 

which is a nice country-style restaurant, in the style of Lima’s famous 

Granja Azul. Kids will be able to enjoy pollo a la brasa and play 

on a playground. This is a great lunch option.

In the city of Cusco there are also many options for the youngest 

members of our families. Just outside the city is the archaeological 

complex of Sacsayhuaman, where there are a number of natural

rock formations that are used as slides.

If you would like some fresh-air activities, you can ride horses to 

“Zona x” where you can explore the mysterious caves.

In the city, you can also take tours that start at the Plaza de Armas.

In the afternoon, what could be better than something sweet in a 

place full of toys? In Cusco there exists such a place, called Yanapay, 

which has a “village” for children. There are tables and chairs

sized just write for the kids, as well as games, desserts, and storytime.

Another option is El Hada where Alessandra Pinasco, inspired by the 

culinary passion that she inherited from her grandfather, offers artisan 

ice cream in 40 flavors, which are 100 percent natural. Options include 

lavender, baked apple, Doña Pepa, vanilla and “suspiro.” And for the 

adults in the group, there is also coffee.

The Choco Museo is another great option. Visitors here can learn 

about the process of preparing cacao and chocolate. For kids, there 

is the workshop called “From the Tree,” which includes two very

fun hours where they will make their own chocolates and have a 

dozen flavors to choose from. This is recommended for children 8 years 

old and up, and the experience can be shared with parents. 

For the smaller children 4 years old an up, there is a mini-workshop 

that takes 45 minutes. Kids will mold their own chocolates with flavors 

of their choosing. And at night, what better than a pizza? In the San Blas 

neighborhood, you will find Pacha Papa, a great restaurant with a big patio. 

From the clay ovens come pizzas of a variety of flavors.

Contact Us for special tours with kids.


The Orchids of Machu Picchu

Elvi Bjorkquist - Sunday, February 20, 2011



The Orchids of Machu Picchu

The country of Peru has 84 of the 103 biodiversity zones found on earth, 
is home to more than 3,000 of the 30,000 known orchid species, but it is 
estimated that only about 50% of the Peruvian species have so far 
been discovered.

If you like orchids and adventure, and you are not afraid of heights and 
walking then I recommend you visit the Machu Picchu sanctuary. 
The starting point is the city of Cuzco, where you take a train to 
Aguas Calientes. In Aguas Calientes you can visit the Thermal Baths 
that are situated about 800 meters from the railway station, on the 
way you can find three different orchids in flower, Alstenstenia fimbriata, 
a pink Epidendrum secundum and a Lycaste trifoliata. 
At the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel you can admire their gardens where 
they claim to have over 140 species of orchids from the region although 
not all are from the sanctuary. The gardens consist of a native forest where 
a lot of orchid plants can be seen, the best months for floration are 
October and November, during the month of April you can see the 
following species: Phragmipedium caudatum, Hofmeisterella eumicroscopica, 
Oncidium scansor, Encyclia fusca, Oncidium pentadactilon, Pleurothalis 
ruberrima, Scaphiglotis leucantha, as well as various unidentified species. 
On Machu Picchu itself there is also an orchid garden that visitors can enjoy.

From Aguas Calientes if one walks 300 meters down the railway line there 
is a path that will take you to the "Mirador", recommended only for young 
adventurous people, since in three places along the path one has to climb 
150 feet of ladders that are stuck against the rock. Nevertheless, in the first 
half of this path, besides the good view of the river, one can see Sobralia 
dichotoma, which by itself makes the effort worthwhile. The Inca Trail is an 
exciting experience that takes on average four days, the highest point is 
the pass at Warmiwanuska at 4800 meters (14500 feet). There also exists 

the possibility of doing the Royal Inca Trail, and takes only two days, it 
starts at Km.104 and climbs from 6500 feet to 10000 feet at Winay Huayna 
(which means "always young" in the Quechua language) this is also the 
name given to Epidendrum secundum that grows throughout the year in 
this region. This is where they usually spend the night. The ruins at 
Winay Huayna are worthwhile visiting, they are surrounded by lush forest, 
and of special interest are the row of baths which still have water running 
between the stone masonry. For the orchid lover, the walk from Winay Huayna 
to Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience since it is full of bromeliads and
orchids, you can see Epidendrum secundum, a pink and a white variety, 
Lycaste longipetala, Masdevallia veitchiana, Pleurothalis stenophilla, two 
types of Elleanthus, one Odontoglossum, Maxillaria gigantea and the ever 
present Sobralia dichotoma. The distance from Winay Huayna to Machu Picchu 
is six kilometers that will take from three to six hours, depending on the amount 
of orchids you come across.  See orchids of Peru on our website

Peruvian Cooking Class

Elvi Bjorkquist - Sunday, February 13, 2011


Fabulous Causa Recipe is on our website

Last week I participated in a Peruvian cooking class at the
Kitchen Table Cooking School in Denver with Patricia Belaire.
What a fun and tasty experience with the interesting
combinations of ingredients used in Peru. I came away with
new ideas and great recipes which I will share with you on
our website. Fabulous Causa Peruana and Seco de Cordero
and a final dessert of Alfajores Rellenos con Dulce de Leche
provided by the Kitchen Table Cooking School.

Peruvian cuisine is nothing like Mexican food. Almost
unknown until recently, Peruvian Cuisine is steadily
conquering the taste and interest of the best chefs worldwide.
The wild choice of fresh ingredients and the gentle blend of
immigrant traditions -such as Spanish, African, Chinese, or
Japanese- have created one of the World's most unique and
delicious cuisines.
Go back in time through its millenary
cultures, smell the impressive biodiversity surrounding every
corner of the country, taste a bit of heaven with its huge and
world renowned gastronomy. Go beyond an ordinary tour to
Peru and indulge in your culinary interest. Attend classes with
chefs, trips to the markets, superb restaurants, wineries, and
fall in love with its people, their customs, arts and beliefs.

See recipes on our website

View our Cuisine Tour of Peru


Amazing Orchids of Peru

Elvi Bjorkquist - Sunday, February 13, 2011



Hey, you orchid lovers Peru is home of 3000 orchid species.
The greatest diversity of species is found in the High Amazon
Jungle located between 500 and 3,600 m.a.s.l. Peru surpasses
the number of native species found in Colombia and Ecuador,
countries that are known because of their orchid variety. 

Orchids were highly prized by the Inca and pre-Inca cultures as
is described in ancient records. Check out our orchid page for
all the locations and genera pictures in each area. 

http://culturalexpeditions.com/orchids.html

Machu Picchu Sanctuary

The estimates for diversity within the sanctuary reach 200 species.
Among the species that can be found (take a walk in the crossroad
Ollantaytambo Machu Picchu) are Aa, Epidendrum, Masdevallia,
Maxillaria, Oncidium, Odontoglossum, Phagminpedium and the Sobralia.

Tambopata Candamo Reserved Zone

Orchids studies do not show significant diversity but do include some
interesting species of the genera Cataseum, Mormodes, Psychopsis
Only by request:

Huascaran National Park

The National Park has High Andean species that have been studied
recently. One of the most representative species is the Masdevalia
amabilis, which grows in rocky mountain slopes. Other genera

are: Aa, Altenasteinia, Epidendrum, Stelis and Trichocerus.

Land of Orchids (also Chachapoyas is possible, beautiful, but remote)

The watershed of the Mayo river (Department of San Martin) is known
as the land of orchids. There are great numbers such as Anguloa,
Brassia, Cataseum, Cattleya, Bollea, Coryanthes, Lycaste, Masdevallia

and many more. The most representative is the Cattleya, locally
known as "Golondrina".

Loreto and Ucayali (beautiful, but remote)

Amazon lowlands have not much diversity. The great attractions are the
species of the genus: Caryanthes, Gongora, Maxillaria, Mormodes
and Cataseum. 

Podocarpus Forests in Cajamarca

The high Amazon jungle is known for the podocarpus forests, the forest
with the highest number of orchids. Many are quite exotic varieties such
as the Masdevalia setacea, Masdevalia glandulosa and Lycaste

denninginia.

The Valley of Orchids (beautiful, not far away from Lima)

The Valley of Chanchamayo (Department of Junin) is a fantastic place
for orchid funds, although nowadays highly depredated. The zone
requires immediate protected area status.The Masdevallia can reach
up to 30cm. The Pschopsis sanderae, known as the royal butterfly,
is a rare endemic species. The majority of genera in Peru are
found in this valley.

Peruvian Restaurant with Argentinian Flair

Elvi Bjorkquist - Thursday, January 27, 2011



A Peruvian Restaurant with Argentinean Flair

The Rincon Gaucho restaurant has obviously a lot of Argentinean flair with the red walls adorned with tango memorabilia, aged black and white photographs as well as colored ones of prize heifers. All this along with cow hides scattered on walls and floors. In the corner is a refrigerator full of meat and the large grill stocked and ready for the day’s orders. All the waiters at Rincon Gaucho wear matching blue pants, white shirts and blue neckerchiefs with leather belts. The owners plan to move to an area around Lima called Baranco. Baranco is an artsy type area full of folk art. So if you want to eat steak with a sea view make your way to Rincon Gaucho. 

On the terrace upstairs you can enjoy the view of the sea where you can order  provolone cheese and Argentinean empanadas. These empanadas are quite different from Peruvian ones in taste and texture, with more gravy than filling and a little messy to eat. I am a great fan of Peru’s empanadas so you would find it hard to win me over but these are delicious. If you have not tried Peruvian empanadas your really missing something.

Tips from the kitchen at Rincon Gaucho

Follow these at home for a tasty BBQ:

  • Make sure the grill is extremely hot before placing the meat on it.
  • Season the meat five minutes before placing it on the grill.
  • Do not overcook the meat!

Sauces to compliment the meat:

  • Aji Amarillo (you will find the recipe on our website www.culturalexpeditions/peruvian_recipes.html) 
  • Chimichurri: Made from chopped oregano, parsley, onion, garlic, salt and pepper all mixed with a little vegetable oil.

January Peruvian Festivals

Elvi Bjorkquist - Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The VI National Marinera Contest



There is no time when Peru's love for its official coastal dance is more spiritedly manifested than during The National Marinera Contest in Trujillo. For two weeks Local parades liven up the streets and several Marinera competitions are held in local stadiums and collseums in Trujillo.  This is the first year the contest will be considered a worldwide event after more than 100 contestants from different nationalities, from amateurs to national champions, signed up to compete.

When: Saturday, Jan. 15 through Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011

Where: Plaza de toros de Trujillo


El Niño Perdido Festival in Huancavelica




Huancavelica's El Niño Perdido (Lost Child) Festival is a four day celebration based on the story that one day Jesus got lost and a search party composed by a group of slaves from Chincha and their master looked for him until they found him in Huancavelica's  church of Santo Domingo and then they danced to celebrate finding him. This festival is most famous for the Danza de los negritos (dance by the black people) competition where locals dressed in bright costumes and black masks dance in the streets after a man dressed in a white mask cracks his whip to begin the festivity. There are also other dance shows, food fairs,

and rituals.

When: Saturday, Jan. 14 through Tuesday Jan 18, 2011

Where: Huancavelica

Free Admission


Cusco is Great for Family Vacations

Elvi Bjorkquist - Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cusco is a Great Destination for Family Trips.

However, it is time to start considering Cusco as an option
for a family vacation. The charm of Cusco that attracts adults
is also appealing to children. 

Cusco has many activities for kids. There are many
alternatives to have fun with your children in Cusco.

Just outside of Cusco there is an archaeological complex
called Sacsahuamán. There, you will find natural rock
formations that are used as slides in many different
sizes and shapes. You can also hire horses to go to the
Zona X to see mysterious caves. Have coffee in a place
filled with toys. In the city of Cusco there is a place called
Yanapay that has a children’s village made with money made
in the restaurant. Everywhere there are tiny tables and
chairs for the kids, as well as desserts, games and books.

Good cuisine for kids. While walking around Cusco, you will
come across a Bembos, which is located right across from
the Main Square. It offers children’s menus which include
surprises inside. In the town of San Blas, the Pacha Papa is
a cozy restaurant that serves pizza and has a big patio that
is always warmed by its stoves and ovens where all kinds
of delicious plates are cooked. Many times a harpist will
play while you eat.

The Sacred Valley is great for kids. The fresh air of
Urubamba Valley and its open spaces are wonderful for
children. The circular terraces of Moray are a great source
of fun for children where they can run around as much as
they please and climb up and down, all with a magnificent
view of the mountain range in the background. Nearby Moray,
only 20 minutes away by car, is Chinchero. There you can
participate in textile workshops, where the local women perform
interactive demonstrations of the process of spinning and dyeing
of the fabrics. Chinchero textiles are known for being the most
beautiful in the area and for maintaining their ancient techniques.
Check out our website
http://culturalexpeditions.com/history_peru_textiles.html

Another great place to bring kids are the salt mines of Maras
where kids will be fascinated by walking the slabs of natural salt.
For feeding your kids, Wallpa Wasi is a cozy countryside
restaurant that serves grilled chicken buffet-style and has a big

yard with trampolines and games for children. An additional
option is to spend the afternoon at Wayra, which is a countryside
center of the Sol y Luna hotel which offers different hands-on

experiences for the visitors of the valley, most of which are
dedicated exclusively to children. The concept of Wayra is to
teach young kids the art and culture of the place’s settlers
through ceramic and textile workshops. They also offer
horseback rides and mountain bicycle excursions of the valley.

Top Ten Restaurants in Lima Peru

Elvi Bjorkquist - Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Cerviche

Peru's Top 10 Restaurants, according to the

Summum's 2010 ranking.

Astrid & Gastón.

Summum's number three restaurant, by Peru's most

celebrated restaurateur-chef couple, Astrid Gutsche
and 
Gastón Acurio.


Malabar.


Perroquet.


Symposium.


Hervé.

A refined French restaurant.


Cala.

A seafood restaurant on the Pacific Ocean.


Fiesta.

restaurant that serves up cuisine from Peru's
northern 
coast.


Brujas de 

Cachiche.

A Miraflores restaurant 

that serves up 

traditional
dishes 

with an emphasis on 

northern coastal 

cuisine.










Christmas in Peru

Elvi Bjorkquist - Wednesday, December 22, 2010





Christmas Delights All Over Peru on December 24-25


The birth of the infant Christ allowed early Peruvians to identify immediately with the festivity, which gave rise to artisan creativity, a sense of aesthetics and the religious devotion of Andean peoples. Andean Christmas began taking on characteristics of its own by adding elements from each region. The highlanders put together Nativity scenes in churches and homes, perform dances and plays, cook typical dishes and produce a wide range of handicrafts such as Nativity scenes in Huamanga stone, retablos featuring images related to Christmas and pottery or carved gourds called mates burilados decorated with Yuletide scenes. In most Andean communities, the festival continues until la Bajada de los Reyes (the arrival of the three wise men), January 6, when traditionally people exchange gifts.


The market of Santuranticuy in Cusco is a wonderful crafts market on the main Square of Cuzco. The Plaza comes alive on the morning of Christmas eve with crafts people selling their crafts. Artisans sell a large variety of sacred representations, woodcarvings, pottery and nativity scenes.


Galas, Laicas o Tusuq – December 24th – 28th

Province of Huancavelica

An ancient dance is still performed today which is a classical dance with a magical/religious ritual and represents characters such as the Pachamama (Earth Mother), Hananpacha (realm of the gods), and Ucupacha (underworld) as well as aspects of Andean popular life. The presentation takes place at the Church of San Francisco. 




Cultural Expeditions, Inc.

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