Who’s Minding the Archaeological Store? The Toro Muerto Petroglyphs

Julio Zuñiga Medina is troubled. Toro Muerto's archaeological treasures that are represented by roughly 5,000 ancient petroglyphs, presumed to be of the Wari people, are not being protected by the Peruvian authorities, it seems. It is possible to wander over 5 km in this desert area unsupervised and unwatched, even though vandals have defaced and removed... Continue Reading →

Did the Incas Build All of Machu Picchu?

To many, Machu Picchu is the poster child of the Incan civilization. Like an ancient lost city, the ruins lay hidden from the world for centuries, even the Spanish invaders, until they were 'revealed' to archaeologist Hiram Bingham in 1911. Yet, for all its majesty, Machu Picchu isn't the only impressive legacy of the Incas. I... Continue Reading →

How to Make the Perfect Pisco Sour

Pisco sours are an essential experience in Peru. No culinary trip would be complete without imbibing at least a gallon of the stuff (so I hear) in the land that learned how to distill the grape. Chile also produces pisco. Unlike cognac that is aged at least two years in oak barrels, Peruvian pisco must be... Continue Reading →

A Case for Peru’s Culinary Melting Pot: Sillao

Peru has many surprises. It contains 84 of the world's 103 biomes, has perhaps more archaeologically significant sites than any other country, and enjoys a food culture that is second to none in South America. The biggest surprise for me, despite its proximity to the equator, was the country's sometimes bone-chilling climate, due mainly to the Andean mountain range... Continue Reading →

The Astonishing Salt Ponds of the Incas: Las Salineras de Maras

A guided tour from the Sacred Valley to Chinchero or Cusco usually stops in the community of Maras. In one of the great hydraulic engineering projects of the world, the Incas built an intricate system of 5,000 salt ponds fed by small aqueducts of salt-laden spring water, a remnant of ancient seas that were trapped high and... Continue Reading →

Masters of the Loom: the Weavers of Chinchero

It was at an oxygen-starved altitude of 12,300 ft (3,800 m) that I got my first headaches. Higher than even nearby Cusco, the town of Chinchero in Urubamba province has nights so cold at this time of year that my home-stay host family of Paulino and Vilma Quillahuaman put seven woven blanket layers on the bed.... Continue Reading →

Getting High in Peru and Bolivia

One big caution for travel in Peru and Bolivia is altitude sickness. Symptoms include dizziness, headache, nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue. In more serious cases, weakness, confusion and other extreme symptoms can happen and need to be treated medically. I worried over being impaired in both countries because of hypobaropathy more than mosquito bites or... Continue Reading →

Cancha Gimme More? Peruvian Corn Nuts

Corn nuts in the U.S. are a popular snack. Trader Joe’s sells Giant Peruvian Inca Corn, which are noticeably bigger than regular store-bought kinds. Before the trip to Peru, I read about the giant white corn known as choclo and wondered if this is what Peruvians use to make these nibbles. That’s what I expected to... Continue Reading →

Would You Eat Your Pet Guinea Pig?

If you know anything about Peruvian cuisine, you'll know that guinea pig (called cuy; pronounced coo-ey) is considered a delicacy. Peruvians don't eat it regularly, but consider it a rare treat. My wife and I saw it on many restaurant menus and we knew that no culinary adventure in Peru would be complete without feasting on one. It's remarkable... Continue Reading →

Beauty and Mystery All In One: Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is arguably the world's most famous ancient archaeological site, a celebrated World Heritage Site that draws millions of visitors annually. My wife and I have had it on our list of destinations for a long time. When we finally made the decision to go to Peru, in part prompted by rumors (since proven to be... Continue Reading →

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