Served! Food to Expect on the Inca Trail

Sean Russo April 23, 2012 23

Photo by Gillian Anne Lucas

I’ve been referred to as an unadventurous eater in the past. I am one to traditionally opt for familiar dishes when travelling both due to fear of the unknown and to avoid any issues that might arise from foreign dishes ravishing my stomach.

When I signed up on the Inca Discovery Plus, I was quite nervous of what they would be feeding me whilst I trekked through the mountains on my four-day, three-night hike toward Machu Picchu. To me, this “fear” was quite normal and I had dreams of being subjected to the same old porridge and stew dishes for each meal because that would be the easiest way to go.

The first indication of what my dining experiences were going to be came as we crossed the bridge at KM 82 to begin our journey in Ollantaytambo. Our team of 21 porters, who made our journey quite enjoyable and almost effortless (other than those giant Inca steps), came running by with backpacks filled with all sorts of goodies and I was reassured by our CEO that I was going to be eating like a King for the next few days.

Inca Trail breakfast wrap, photo by Gillian Anne Lucas

Each day we awoke the smell of something fantastic cooking in the chefs tents and it was this smell (and maybe the warm coca tea) that had me springing out of my tent in the wee hours of the morning. Our breakfast selection included:

  • Pancakes with caramel drizzle that represented a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in southern Peru.
  • Thick oatmeal with large fresh chunks of sweet apples.
  • Andean Chuta Bread (traditional bread baked in colonial ovens)
  • Omelets stuffed with peppers, celery, carrots, radishes and cheese

Morning pancakes, photo by Gillian Anne Lucas

Following our daily breakfast, our chefs prepared little care packages for us to take along our journey to snack on. These little packages came in handy when you just need a little pick me up before continuing on your journey. These snack packs included:

  • Bananas
  • Chocolate Bars, Sublime (I highly recommend you stock up on these to take home with you)
  • Cookies
  • Candies – think Jolly Ranchers
  • Mandarin Oranges
  • Granola Bars
  • Apples
  • Juice

Snacks for the trail, photo by Gillian Anne Lucas

After hiking for sometimes 4 hours before a full meal, our lunches always had a great balance of just enough protein and the quantity control (never wanted to be so full you just felt like sleeping). Our chefs came up with some excellent dishes including:

  • Asparagus Cream Soup
  • Quinoa Soup
  • Vegetable Soup
  • Peruvian Chicken Salad
  • Native Peruvian Potato Chili with Rice & Spinach Cake
  • Chicken Rolls
  • Vegetable Salads
  • Russian Salads

Delicious soup, photo by Gillian Anne Lucas

After lunches, we continued our hike along the trail for sometimes 4 more hours before reaching camp. After settling into our tents (and cleaning ourselves up), we enjoyed traditional teatime that happened at 5pm and instantly put us in a relaxing mood. These teatime sessions included:

  • An assortment of teas (Coca, Anis, Manzanilla, Te Puro)
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Freshly baked cookies
  • Crackers with marmalade, honey and butter
  • Popcorn
  • Crispy Wontons

Our final culinary experience of the day would come at dinnertime with various wonderful three-course meals. Nestled in their tent, our talented team of chefs would compile the following dishes with only an aid of a flashlight and a minimalist propane torch.

  • Potato Soup
  • Rice and Vegetable Soup
  • Andean Corn Soup – more like a chowder
  • Steamed trout in a mushroom sauce served with garden vegetables
  • Lightly fried chicken with fresh cut potato chips
  • Stir-fried noodles with mushrooms and steamed kale
  • Apple and Cinnamon Pudding
  • Chocolate Cake and Pudding
  • Gelatin (yes, Jello in the middle of the mountain range!)

A meal fit for a trekking king or queen, photo by Gillian Anne Lucas

It is also important to note that if you have any food allergies or happen to be a vegetarian or vegan, G Adventures will cater to you along the way.

Needless to say, my initial expectations of our culinary options were surpassed in every way – on the trail, I ate like a king and the food experience was only topped by the first sight of Machu Picchu from the Sungate.

I took two things away from this latest adventure – a deep appreciation for Inca innovations and to never doubt the creativity and ability of individuals even in remote and challenging areas like the mountains!

23 Comments »

  1. Arianwen April 23, 2012 at 10:02 am - Reply

    I’ve heard many people say the food they had on the Inca Trail was the best they had in the whole of Peru! I wondered whether it was just that they appreciated it more after all the effort they’d put in to the hike, but this post goes to show that it really is ‘that good’! Thanks for sharing – I’ll be hiking around Cusco in September :)

  2. Markus April 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    Lots of good memories of hiking the Inca Trail with G Adventures … and I agree, the food was fantastic!
    By the way – you can get similar great food by climbing Kilimanjaro :-)

  3. Patrick April 24, 2012 at 9:55 am - Reply

    Wow .. The fear of the unknown is always on your mind till you experience it , looking really forward to my hike in June, was wondering if I should stocking up on trail snacks, but now after looking at this , I think I will be well feed!now the only thing it looks like I will stock up on is Memory cards.Its stuff like this that only makes me MORE excited!!

  4. Rose Mullen May 9, 2012 at 6:21 am - Reply

    I am doing the Inca Trail in June and also thought the food would be basic. Now I have read your article I am really looking forward to the trek and the food.

  5. Doreen Pendgracs May 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    I found the food in Peru to be among the best I have ever had. We were fortunate to eat with farmers on a cacao plantation, and eat in some pretty high end restos in Lima and everything inbetween. ALL GOOD!

  6. Tom May 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    Sounds like the bill of faire was a vegetarians delight. The scarcity of meet on this trek would not be good for us carnivores. My brain would be starved for protein. Count
    me out.

  7. Lisa George May 16, 2012 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    would love to go to peru…please give me dates for this tour

  8. Lisa George May 16, 2012 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    would love to go to peru…please give me dates for this tour,

  9. Lisa George May 16, 2012 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    My comment is looking for a reply..help me I want to go to Preru or noethern africa

  10. Sara May 16, 2012 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    I did the Inca Trail with G a few years ago and I concur that the food was amazing. I’m still longing to recreate the quinoa soup and have been searching for a decent recipe since my return!

  11. Jeremy May 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    The chefs are awesome. All of the food was great, but to me the soups were amazing!

  12. Dawn May 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    We hiked the trail w G a few years back for Christmas w our four children. My youngest was 12. The food & experience will remain a favorite of all of ours!! We r from sea level Florida. Amazing trip!!!!

  13. Elaine May 18, 2012 at 11:30 am - Reply

    I will be hiking the Inca Trail in September with my 29 yr old son. I just turned 60 and feeling great, this is trip is on my bucket list. Knowing the food will be excellent makes the journey all the more enticing.

  14. Javier June 26, 2012 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    Thanks for these comments.I’m going there this July with some friends and this is one of the concerns I had as my stomach is a bit “delicate”.looking forward to the food now. Thanks/gracias

  15. Adena August 21, 2012 at 10:41 am - Reply

    That looks like a good deal! Thought you’d be starving ;)

  16. Judi Abbott January 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    Any chance of getting the recipe for:

    Native Peruvian Potato Chili with Rice & Spinach Cake

  17. Michelle January 14, 2013 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    I did the Inca Trail last year and the food was very good and varied. They cater for all diets and I was never hungry. I was really ill on the first day but the chefs made me something different to everyone else to help sort the problem. I want to go again – the porters are quite frankly, all amazing!

  18. Rebecca Bodok February 21, 2013 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    I hiked the Inca trail with G adventures a few years ago. The food was unbelievable on the trail. The chef made special meals for me (gluten free and no meat) and for 2 other travellers who are vegeterian. On the last day the chef brought this amazing checkered cake. Not sure how he baked it on the trail. The CEO and the porters were all unbelievably nice and courteous to all of us. pleasure and a very memorable trip for me..

  19. Cindy February 21, 2013 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    Did the trail this past fall…the food was great and always had some snack in my pocket. The porters are amazing people and what they do for the travellers is absolutely incredible.

  20. Brian S February 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    G Adventures food on Inca Trail was incredible! Porters rocked! It was an amazing trip.

  21. Bill May 7, 2013 at 11:02 am - Reply

    Thankyou for the info on the food,Its really important to eat well for mind and body. The food on Kiliminjaro was great ,But the food in the Himalaya not so good. Thanks again !!

  22. Garth September 8, 2013 at 9:15 am - Reply

    Impressed with the variety of food on the trail, looking forward to our trip in October.

  23. Kari January 22, 2014 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    I really appreciate this article and all the positive back up comments. I am hiking the trail in May and was wondering about snacks etc and am completely confident,now, that I need not worry about food!

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