Cultural Expeditions, inc.

Exquisite Tours since 1999

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

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.

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


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

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


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
Gastón Acurio.





A refined French restaurant.


A seafood restaurant on the Pacific Ocean.


restaurant that serves up cuisine from Peru's

Brujas de 


A Miraflores restaurant 

that serves up 


with an emphasis on 

northern coastal 


Machu Picchu: The City in the Clouds

Elvi Bjorkquist - Thursday, November 18, 2010

Machu Picchu:

The City in the Clouds

Machu Picchu stands in luxurious vegetation above the rushing waters of the Urubamba river in the valley below. Many different theories have been made to account for the magnificent city, its strange and imposing buildings, its temples and altars. Recent studies have led to new and interesting interpretations of function of the site, for instance that it was a place of worship linked to observation of the stars. The great Intihuatana, the fountains, altars and other enigmatic buildings demonstrate that rites and ceremonies were practiced here but their significance is still a mystery. 

Machu Picchu's architecture is skillfully adapted to the natural form of the mountain tops. There are around 200 buildings and are arranged on wide parallel terraces around a vast central square. The various kanchas or compounds are long and narrow and extensive terraces were used for agricultural purposes and sophisticated channelling systems provided irrigation for the fields.

One section of the city was residential, while the other, separated by the square, would have been for religious and ceremonial purposes. The ceremonial section contains the building called the Torreon, a massive semicircular tower with rounded walls, niches and windows. The windows in the center look towards the point where the sun rises on the summer solstice. The rocky wall below the tower has a cleft and cave it. The cave was carved out to form a small room which can be reached by a diagonal stairway. The ceremonial area also includes architecturally unusual and highly accomplished structures, such as the Principal Temple, the Temple of the Three Windows, the Temple of the Sun and the famous Intihuatana (the hitching place of the sun). Mysterious carvings are found almost everywhere on the walls of small caves or on natural rocks, but their meaning remains an enigma. There is a high level of craftsmanship involved in building these structures.  The stones are cut, smoothed and placed on one another with great precision.

Machu Picchu, with its magnificent ceremonial buildings, temples, houses and monuments, is surrounded by precipices and walls that were designed to make access difficult and have the appearance of a city-fortress. Machu Piccu never fails to amaze and intrigue and someday will yield the answers to its secrets.