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 the city. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) has just taken you and your fellow Roamies through the jam-packed itinerary you’re about to undertake over the next 11 days. You’ll race dune buggies and sandboard in Huacachina, sail to 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 the most memorable food and drink experiences from my Roamies Total Peru Package: Cities, Deserts & Inca Ruins adventure.
Get comfy 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 cosy tavern-style restaurant serving old-school Peruvian dishes. We dove into a feast of classic comfort foods including potatoes and corn with a cheese sauce called huancaina, pork with noodles, and a roast beef dish that was melt in your mouth. Isolina is a must if you want a real taste of traditional Peruvian cuisine.
Tuck into famed fish ceviche in Paracas
On day two we hit Paracas, a few hours drive from Lima, for a tasty lunch together near the beach. I went for ceviche, of course, 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 necessity! 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 seize the opportunity to say we swam in the desert so we took a quick dip in the warm lagoon, followed by a glass of bubbly before watching the sunset. Not a bad way to spend a Thursday evening!
See how the Pisco gets made in 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 great sand dunes surrounding Huacachina, our group taste-tested at several artisanal wineries and pisco distilleries.
We learned the special methods to create the distinct Peruvian drink that’s made of 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 dancing on display.
Work up an appetite for guinea pig in the Sacred Valley
Now look, we all had a pet guinea pig named Rosie as a kid, didn’t we? Okay, with that in mind, it might be necessary to repress those treasured childhood memories as guinea pig or cuy is a Peruvian delicacy and it’s truly delicious.
On Day 7, we arrived in the beautiful village of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. A good feed was needed after hiking to one of my favourite sights, Perolniyoc Waterfall, and learning about Inca rituals at Killarumiyuq, a sacred moon temple for the Inca people.
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 both alpaca and guinea pig are as adorable as they are delicious. Try them!
Stop for empanadas on the trek to Mandor waterfall
If you haven’t opted for the 1-day Inca Trail Hike to the Sun Gate viewing point of Machu Picchu, there are still plenty of wonderful walks around the town of Aquas Calientes. My fellow Roamies and I took off for a hike from town to the spectacular Mandor Waterfall. You follow train tracks before entering a rainforest filled with orchids, fruit trees and exotic birds and finally the sight and sounds of cascading water.
On your way there you’ll 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 (on 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 opting to use our last full day to reach the summit of Rainbow Mountain at 5,200 metres / 17,060 feet above sea level. It was one of the most extraordinarily beautiful places I have ever been to and reason enough to celebrate with a farewell meal together in Cusco.
Cusco is really something else and a perfect place to end your tour, particularly if you’re planning on continuing your Peruvian adventures elsewhere. It’s a backpacker’s haven. We headed to Hanz Craft Beer for tasting flights, yummy eats, and an incredible view of the Plaza de Armas to say salud to an unforgettable adventure.
Looking to get a true taste of Peru like Claire on her Roamies Total Peru Package: Cities, Deserts & Inca Ruins journey? Our Roamies by Hostelworld & G Adventures trips are just the ticket. And the price (especially for younger travellers on a budget) is just right too!