INCA - International Nature & Cultural Adventures
HomeWhat's NewAbout INCAWhy INCA?Our AdventuresPrivate AdventuresVideo GalleryImage Gallery
AlaskaAntarcticaBaja-Sea of CortezGalapagos IslandsPatagoniaPeruTurkeyIntegrityReina Silvia

INCA news

Gastronomy—the new face of Peruvian tourism

9 Ways to get more from your visit to Turkey

9 Reasons to stay longer in Peru



highlights, news and special events from INCA


Gastronomy—the new face of Peruvian tourism

It's not just Machu Picchu any more

Ceviche, sweet potatoes, roasted corn and a Pisco Sour

Peruvian cuisine has been the hot new trend for the past two years and shows no sign of cooling. Lima now boasts two restaurants in the world's Top 50 list with more on the way. Tourists are now spending more time in Lima to enjoy the dynamic new restaurant scene.

In this edition, we look at some of the top trends, star chefs and their restaurants—and even throw in a recipe to whet your appetite.

Peruvian cuisine starts trending

Peruvian cuisine really came on strong starting in 2012, named the "it" cuisine by Forbes. International celebrity chefs like Graham Elliot and Éric Ripert were presenting Peruvian inspired cuisine in their respective Michelin-starred restaurants. The National Restaurant Association named Peruvian food and beverage the top trend to watch in 2013. Meanwhile, in Peru, classically trained chefs began to experiment by incorporating traditional Peruvian flavors into their haute cuisine. The rest is history. By 2014, the Economist magazine mentions Peru's gastronomic revolution as "good business". The UK's World Travel Awards named Peru "the best culinary destination" for both 2012 and 2013. 2014 winners will be announced in November.

Peruvian star chefs emerge

At the epicenter of Peru's gastronomical revolution sits Gastón Acurio. A Lima native, Acurio forsook a law career to pursue his passion for food, studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where he met his future wife, Astrid Gutsche. Returning to Peru in 1994, the couple opened Astrid y Gastón. Initially French haute cuisine, Acurio started experimenting with traditional Peruvian flavors, elevating them with the skills he acquired in France to help create what is now referred to as Cocina Novoandina. This year, Astrid y Gastón was named number 15 of the Top 50 best restaurants in the world. Acurio has since gone on to build a gastronomic empire of 33 restaurants in 12 countries.

Following in Acurio's footsteps, fellow Lima native Virgilio Martinez enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu in London, graduating in 1998. In the following 10 years, Martinez apprenticed in some of the finest restaurants in the world, including New York's Lutèce, before returning to Lima to take the helm of Astrid y Gastón. In 2010, Martinez opened his own restaurant, Central in the trendy Miraflores neighborhood. This year, Central was named number 18 of the World's Top 50 restaurant, giving Peru bragging rights to two restaurants in the world's top 20.

A taste of Peru at home

Other than Ceviche, Lomo Saltado is perhaps the most ubiquitous dish on the Peruvian menu. It is representative of Chifa cuisine—a fusion of traditional Peruvian and Cantonese cuisine, brought to Peru by Chinese immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

You can prepare Lomo Saltado at home using ingredients found in most supermarkets. If you do not have a Latin market nearby, a suitable substitute for aji peppers would be habañero or serrano peppers.


  • 1 lb sirloin steak cut in thin slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small red onion cut in thick slices
  • 2 plum tomatoes cut in thick slices
  • 1 seeded and ribbed aji amarillo chili pepper cut in thin slices
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups french fries
  • Fluffy white rice, as a side dish


  1. Season the beef with garlic, salt and pepper.
  2. Put a wok or a pan over very high heat. Stir in oil and cook the meat, a few slices at a time (so they do not steam the meat browns). Cook about 10 minutes, depending on how high the heat.
  3. Stir in the onion, tomato, chili pepper, and stir for about 2 to 3 minutes. The tomatoes and onions should be crunchy, not mushy. Stir in soy sauce and vinegar on sides of wok or pan. Mix everything. Add beef broth and boil. Taste for seasoning.
  4. Turn off the heat, add chopped cilantro and serve at once with french fries and white rice.

Make Peru your next destination

Select from 7 to 17 day distinctive journeys or combine Peru with our signature Galápagos voyages.

Lima's trendiest restaurants run fully-booked weeks ahead. For reservations to coincide with your INCA Peru journey, please email or call our expert sales team: (510) 420-1550

Nine ways to get more from your visit to Turkey

How to enhance your experience as a seasoned traveler

Welcome to Istanbul, your gateway to Turkey

Turkey is at once both cosmopolitain and steeped in history; a country that sits astride both east and west, and provides a wealth of experiences for the visitor willing to delve beyond the ordinary.

Eliza Tenza, our resident Turkey afficianado, suggests nine outstanding ways go get more from your visit to Turkey. "Turkey is so much more than the cliché of carpets and kabobs. In Istanbul, I love going to the Ortakoy neighborhood and having my fortune told by a rabbit; savoring my morning Turkish coffee in Cappadocia on the Argos Hotel's magnificent terrace, while balloons float overhead, and reflecting on the day's activities while watching the sun set over the Turquoise coast."

1. Exceptional exploration above Cappadocia with sunrise ballooning.

2. Sample Turkey's blossoming viniculture with wine tasting in a natural cave at Argos Hotel.

3. Hike Termessos, a mini Machu Picchu.

4. Sip sundowners aboard your private gulet on the Turquoise Coast

5. Swim through crystal clear water over Cleopatra's bath.

6. Marvel in the splendors of the ancient Greco-Roman world; Aspendus, Priene and Ephesus.

7. Consult the great oracle at Didyma in the Temple of Apollo.

8. Food, glorious food! Turkish cuisine is so much more than just kabobs.

9. Lock yourself away at a once infamous jail for five days at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet

Considering a trip to Turkey? Check out our 19 day Origins of Civilization tour. Be sure to email or call Eliza to get the most out of your Turkey trip: (510) 420-1550

Give Peru your time, not just your bucketlist

Nine reasons to spend as much time in Peru as possible

Lisa Baird, our Director of Operations, visited Peru this past April. We will be posting her travel journal over the coming weeks, starting with her nine reasons to do more than sprint to Machu Picchu.

1. Lima

Fine Inca goldwork at Lima's Larco Huerra Museum

Don't make the mistake of skipping over Lima, it is not just an international airport hub. Lima is a colorful, bustling city home to friendly and welcoming people, buildings defining the country's history and culture, museums bursting with artifacts, and some of the best restaurants in the world.

2. Peruvians

Peruvian man at Chincheros weaving market

Peruvians are proud of their country and eager to share it with visitors.

3. Sacred Valley

Town of Pisac in the valley among the very rare flat agricultural lands

The Sacred Valley is an incredible contrast to Lima, filled with old Incan temples and ruins that are breathtaking and help to build a basic knowledge of the Incan civilization before you visit the citadel of Machu Picchu.

4. Engineering

Terraces and niches of Ollayntaytambo

Many mysteries surround the sophisticated engineering work that was used to plan and execute the building of the Incan fortresses, terraces, and sacred sites. No matter how many examples of this architecture you visit, it is still unclear exactly how the Incans built the carefully designed walls, how they carved and placed stones (sometimes as tall as 20 feet) so perfectly together, and what tools they used for this building. Every day your appreciation for their advanced knowledge, design ideas and intensive labor increases and you are left wondering "how could they have possible done this?".

5. Coca Tea

Coca tea on arrival in Cuzco

Coca tea is delicious, but the real cure for altitude sickness is relaxation and giving yourself time. Don't rush from Lima through Cusco and the Sacred Valley up to Machu Picchu or you be on your back by the time you arrive. Spend three or four days in Cusco and the valley getting used to the altitude, drinking lots of water, and getting plenty of sleep.

6. Geography

Peru's cilmate zones

Peru has some of the most diverse geography in the world. Just in my two weeks I was able to see four different regions of Peru; the desert (Lima), the jungle (Iquitos), the Andean mountains & highlands (Cusco & Sacred Valley), and the cloud forest (Machu Picchu).

7. Food

Ceviche tasting

Peruvian food is phenomenal. You could easily spend weeks just trying different traditional dishes from each regions created with their local ingredients.

8. Cuy and Pisco

Pouring El Sarcay pisco

On that note, Guinea pig (cuy) tastes like pork and should be eaten with your fingers, and Pisco Sours are dangerously delicious.

9. Pink Dolphins

Inia geoffrensis sightings are a rare and exciting highlight of an Amazon river cruise aboard Delifin or Delfin II

Pink dolphins (Amazon river dolphins) are real and can be found in the rivers & streams of the Amazon.

“A lot of visitors just want to see Machu Picchu to cross it off their bucketlist, but Peru is so much more than just one world famous Incan ruin; it offers diverse beauty in the culture, geography and nature that can be found almost anywhere you look.”   – Lisa Baird

Join us for an unforgettable in-depth and luxurious exploration of the cultures, history and landscape of Peru:

Center of the Inca Universe - 11 Days

Lima, Cuzco, Urubamba Valley, Machu Picchu

Mysteries of Peru - 14 Days

Lima, Paracas, Pisco, Ica, Nazca, Cuzco, Urubamba Valley, Machu Picchu

Cultures of Peru - 17 Days

Lima, Sipán, north coast pyramids, Chan Chan, Paracas, Pisco, Ica, Nazca Cuzco, Urubamba Valley, Machu Picchu

Above trips may be followed by our Origins of Species Galapagos Islands adventure for a trip of a lifetime.

We have expertise in creating private departures and custom adventures for two to twenty travelers—we can help you realize your dream of Peru. Call or email today!