The idea of hiking and camping often summons thoughts of tinned food and dried rations. Before you go loading up on snacks (it’s still advisable to take a few of your trekking favourites) you may be pleasantly surprised by the variety of food offered on Intrepid’s Inca Trail and Quarry Trail hiking and camping trips.
All cooking equipment is taken onto the trail and taken out again, carried by the amazing team of local porters. Meals are prepared by a trained ‘travelling chef’ for the duration of the hike. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included on all days spent on the trail before arriving at Machu Picchu.
What you’ll be eating
So, if it’s not all sandwiches and beef jerky, what should you expect? On a typical day, before setting off, you might start the morning with porridge or pancakes and toast, served with coffee and tea; or take up the option to try a cup of coca tea, a sacred plant Peruvians use to cope with the effects of altitude.
After hiking between 4-5 hours, you’ll need a nutritious meal to keep you powering through the afternoon. Lunch may consist of a hearty soup of chicken, vegetables and quinoa (a superfood for the Incas and one of Peru’s agricultural exports); vegetarian options can be arranged when booking the trip. Expect to see sweet potato or avocado in some of your dishes, with bread rolls for those carbohydrates. Many travellers report back saying they’re fed plenty.
For dinner, the chef may prepare a beef or chicken dish with vegetables, and – if you’re lucky – dessert! If you’re worried about dining outside during those cold nights on the trail, no need; there’s a large tent to keep you out of the elements where you eat your main meals with the group.
Aside from some of the substantial meals served during the trek, you’ll also be given snacks galore, like muesli bars, fruit and sweets to keep you energised.
Your trained team
Intrepid works closely with the team to ensure they’re prepared to look after the group on each trip. The guides, porters and cooks are all trained in best hygiene practices and food preparation, and are taught recipes by a trained chef that are suitable for vegetarians, vegans and gluten free travellers.
If you have any dietary requirements or food allergies, that’s okay too. Let Intrepid know when booking and you’ll likely be catered for. If you have a more restrictive dietary requirement (vegan, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, etc) you can be accommodated for – you just may not get a lot of variety. It’s recommended to take some of your own snacks to ensure you’ve got your favourites.
Don’t forget that after the hike you’ll find yourself back in Cusco, where you’ll find the cobbled streets dotted with restaurants serving a fusion of Peruvian and European cuisine. Recently, Peru was named the World’s Top Culinary Destination in the World Travel Awards. Ask your guide for good food recommendations – you’ll have plenty to choose from!
Traveller’s tip: Visit San Pedro Market in Cusco before departing on your hike to put together a delicious trail mix: nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts and macadamias) and dried fruits (apricot, cranberries and sultanas), and make sure you try the dried coconut – yum!
Want to know more about hiking in Peru? Check out Intrepid’s small group adventures.
Feature image by Patrick O’Neill.