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10 Amazing Facts About Peru You Probably Didn’t Know

1. There are over 55 varieties of corn produced in Peru

CornJenny Mealing/Flickr

2. Peru has not one but three official languages – Spanish, Quechua and Aymara

PeopleMaurizio Costanzo/Flickr

3. Peru is home to the oldest university in the Americas – The National University of San Marco founded in 1551

San_Marcos_UniversityOle Husby/Flickr

4. There are over 3000 varieties of potato

Potato_peruJagubal/Flickr

5. Peru has over 90 different micro climates

peru_climateanoldent/Flickr

6. Chicama has the world’s longest left hand wave at 4km long

Chicama_peruJordan Fischer/Flickr

7. Cotahuasi Canyon is twice the depth of the Grand Canyon

canyonalexanderjwatts/Flickr

8. The bowler hats that indigenous woman typically wear were introduced by British rail road workers in the 1920s

bowler_hatvil.sandi (away)/Flickr

9. 65 million guinea pigs are eaten every year in Peru

CuyNestor Lacle/Flickr

10. Peru is home to the world’s largest sand dune. Cerro Blanco measures in at 3,860 feet

cerro_blancoMedhus/Flickr

Drink Mate Like a Gaucho in Seven Steps

Mate is a traditional herbal tea commonly consumed in the southern cone of South America. Its named after the mate gourd from which it is drunk. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and has numerous health benefits. There is far more to the ritual of making mate tea than simply adding mate and water. Here’s how to make mate in the traditional style in 7 steps.

1. Get yourself the right kit

photo 2To make mate properly you’ll need three things. The cup part is traditionally made from hollowed calabash gourd, but is also available in metals or ceramics. Second you will need a bombilla, a metal straw. Of course, you also need the yerba mate.  Everything is available at Casa Argentina online shop.

2. Fill the cup

photo 4Fill the gourd with mate. Don’t fill the cup more than half full.

3. Remove the powder

photo6To stop the bombilla from getting blocked you’ll need to remove the powdery tea. Place hand over the top of the gourd, upturn it and shake gently. Do this two to three times.

4. Create space

photo 8Lift the gourd to an angle and tap to allow the mate tea to fall to one side and creating a space on the other.

5. Add the cold water

photo10Insert the bombilla into the gourd and pour cold water into the empty space into it reaches the top of the tea. Allow this to be soaked up by the mate.

6. Add the hot water

photo 11Add the hot water in the same way as the cold. Use water at 80 °C as boiling water will make the mate bitter. Try to resist stirring the mate as this will block the bombilla straw.

7. Share

Gauchos Sharing mateMGPanoramico/Flickr

Traditionally mate is shared. The server drinks first, consuming all the water before refilling with hot water and passing on. The same tea should last around 8-10 refills.

10 ancient South American wonders you absolutely need to visit

1. Machu Picchu
Machu PicchuPedro Szekely/Flickr

Where: Cuzco, Peru
What: Extremely well preserved (and restored) 15th century Inca settlement located in stunning mountainous surroundings.
How: In the Footsteps of Incas

2. Tiwanaku
TiwanakuFrançois Bianco/Flickr

Where: Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
What: Capital of a pre-Inca civilization which dominated a swathe of the southern Andes between 500 AD and 900 AD
How: Tiwanaku & Beyond

3. Kuelap Fortress
KuelapMihai/Flickr

Where: Chachapoyas, Peru
What: The remains of a vast walled complex that contained over 400 buildings dating back to the 6th century and occupied until the Spanish Invasion.
How: Warriors of the Clouds

4. Chan Chan
Chan ChanCarlos Adampol Galindo/Flickr

Where: Trujillo, Peru
What: Covering an area of over twenty 20 km², Chan Chan is biggest Pre-Columbian archaeological site in Latin America.
How: Warriors of the Clouds

5. Tierradentro
Tierradentroinyucho/Flickr

Where: Cauca, Colombia
What: Underground tombs and burial chambers decorated with motifs dating back to the 6th century.
How: In Search of El Dorado

6. Chavín de Huántar
Chavininyucho/Flickr

Where: Ancash Region, Peru
What: A place of worship and one of the oldest pre-Columbian sites dating back to 1500 BC located in the high Andes.
How: Contact us

7. Ingapirca
SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAJulia Rubini/Flickr

Where: Cañar Province, Ecuador
What: One of the only and largest Inca complexes built in southern Ecuador and used as a military outpost.
How: Cotopaxi & the Devil’s Nose

8. Ciudad Perdida
Ciudad PerdidaSarah Tz/Flickr

Where: Sierra Nevada, Colombia
What: The ‘Lost City’ founded around 800 AD and rediscovered in the early 70s by a group of local treasure looters.
How: Contact us

9. Nazca Lines
Nazca LinesVéronique Debord-Lazaro/Flickr

Where: Nasca, Peru
What: Gigantic geoglyphs etched into the desert between 500 BC and 500 AD and still a mystery to archaeologists.
How: Contact us

10. Moai Statues
MaoiArian Zwegers/Flickr

Where: Easter Island, Chile
What: Human statues created by the Rapa Nui people between the 13th and 16th century some of which weigh up to 82 tons.
How: Origins of Chile

try making this simple mouthwatering Cazuela Recipe

CazuelaArtangelo/Flickr

Cazuela is the name given to certain dishes in some countries of South America, where ingredients such as meat and vegetables are mixed and cooked in a casserole dish, resulting in a delicious hearty soup/stew. The dish has been named after the Spanish cooking pot cazuela in which is usually cooked.

In Chile, this tasty warming soup is the national dish and although the most usual types of cazuela are made of chicken and beef, it can also be prepared with lamb, pork or turkey. The cazuela is a home cooked inexpensive dish usually eaten in the rural areas during winter time, however, these days it has become part of an all-year-round menu for all Chilean families.

For Chilean people, it is more than just a dish, for them it means home. Making this tasty dish is very simple.

Serves 5

Ingredients
5 chicken drumsticks or thighs
1 squash, cut into small chunks
5 small potatoes, pealed
5 pieces of fresh corn
3 carrots, cut into small chunks
1 onion, cut into thin slices
5 cloves of garlic
½ cup of Rice
Pepper to taste
Salt to taste
1 handful coriander, roughly chopped

Method
Heat a medium casserole dish on a medium heat and fry the chicken for a few minutes until is golden brown. Add the sliced onions and garlic cloves and fry with the chicken for another minute. Add 1 ½ litres of water and cover until boiling. Add the carrots, potatoes, squash, corn and rice, and salt and pepper to taste and cover until it is boiling again. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve in a bowl with plenty of chopped coriander on top and enjoy.

Inca Trails gain UNESCO World Heritage status

Inca TrailEmmanuel DYAN/Flickr

In June the Inca trail system was officially declared a World Heritage Patrimony by the UNESCO. Its Quichuan name Qhapaq Ñan means ‘Great Road’ which seems apt as there are over 6,000km of Inca Trail extending into Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

These extensive trails were built during the era of the Tawuantinsuyu to connect this mighty empire from the Amazon through the Andes to the coast.

this is what it looks like to cycle down death road [vid]

Death RoadMarco Antonio/Flickr

For anyone who’s ever wondered what cycling down death road in Bolivia is like, here’s your chance. This POV video perfectly captures the ride. You’ll notice how the roads look well paved as the video starts and no doubt you’ll be asking yourself what all the fuss is about but as it progresses the road (if it can even be called that) gets much tougher and much narrower. Cycling death road isn’t for the faint-hearted but it is rewarding experience for those who dare.

Cycling tours in Bolivia can be arranged as part of a larger bespoke tour. To begin creating yours, please get in touch.

18 bird species you won’t find anywhere but the Galapagos

Galapagos is a bird-watchers paradise. From the misty slopes of the Andes, the tropical coast, mighty Amazon and Galapagos archipelago there are over 1,663 recorded species of bird, 44 of which are endemic. Here’s a list of just 18 of those endemic to the Galapagos.

1. Galapagos Penguin
Spheniscus mendiculus

Galapagos PenguinCharles Pence/Flickr

2. Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata

Waved Albatross Steven Bedard/Flickr

3. Galapagos Petrel Pterodroma phaeopygia

Dark-rumped PetrelVince Smith/Flickr

4. Flightless Cormorant Phalacrocorax harrisi

flightess cormorantBrian Gratwicke/Flickr

5. Lava Heron Butorides sundevalli

Lava heronDerek Keats/Flickr

6. Lava Gull Leucophaeus fuliginosus

lava gull 2alh1/Flickr

7. Swallow-tailed Gull Creagrus furcatus

Swallow Tailed Gullputneymark/Flickr

8. Galapagos Dove Zenaida galapagoensis

Galapagos DoveAnne Dirkse/Flickr

9. Galapagos Flycatcher Myiarchus magnirostris

Galapagos FlycatcherKathy Drouin/Flickr

10. Hood Mockingbird Nesomimus macdonaldi

Hood MockingbirdAnne Haase/Flickr

11. Large Ground Finch Geospiza magnirostris

Large Ground FinchA.Davey/Flickr

12. Medium Ground Finch Geospiza fortis

Medium Ground Finchputneymark/Flickr

13. Small Ground Finch Geospiza fuliginosa

Small Ground Finchputneymark/Flickr

14. Common Cactus Finch Geospiza scandens

Common Cactus FinchBen Tavener/Flickr

15. Large Cactus Finch Geospiza conirostris

Large Cactus Ground Finchputneymark/Flickr

16. Small Tree-Finch Camarhynchus parvulus

Small Ground FinchMike Comber/Flickr

17. Galapagos Hawk Buteo galapagoensis

Galapagos HawkPaul Krawczuk/Flickr

18. Galapagos Mockingbird Nesomimus parvulus

Galapagos Mockingbirdputneymark/Flickr

To begin your bird watching tour of Ecuador, get in touch with us.

Join us at the Birdfair

Toucan Barbet

We are pleased to announce Select Latin America will be having a stand at the Birdfair taking place at Rutland Water Nature Reserve Friday 15th – Sunday 17th August.  Described as the birdwatcher’s Glastonbury, Birdfair encompasses the whole spectrum of the bird-watching industry whilst at the same time supporting global bird conservation. There are lectures, events and celebrities and hundreds of stands selling the latest products for wildlife enthusiasts. This will be our 14th. year, find us at Marquee 1 Stand 36. Our experts will be on hand to help plan your next wildlife adventure and our new brochure will be hot off the press. The bird illustrated is a toucan barbet from Ecuador.

We have launched our new brochure. Get it hot off the press

Brochure Cover
We are pleased to announce the publication of new brochure. This beautiful 96 page full colour booklet is packed full of our favourite hotels, country information, tours and maps to give you itchy feet and help with the planning of your next adventure in Latin America. To order you free copy, please get in touch.

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