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.
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
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:
- Chocolate Bars, Sublime (I highly recommend you stock up on these to take home with you)
- Candies – think Jolly Ranchers
- Mandarin Oranges
- Granola Bars
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
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
- Freshly baked cookies
- Crackers with marmalade, honey and butter
- 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!)
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!