The Pachamanca is a traditional Andean culinary event in which food is cooked in an earthen pit and then shared. The ceremony has existed since Incan times, and originally was performed to pay homage to the Pachamama (earth mother) and Apu Inti (sun god), central figures in the Incan belief system. There is much more to the ceremony, however. The emphasis is on celebrating life and community, fertility and the harvest, and on bringing people together to eat delicious food.
We can arrange a Pachamanca with one of the most renowned chefs in the region. The ceremony happens on the shore of Peru’s beautiful Lake Piuray, located between Machu Picchu and Cusco. It is an excellent family activity, where you can learn about traditional Peruvian cuisine and harvesting techniques, kayak on the lake, do some mountain biking, or simply relax and take in the lake scenery. Our travelers consistently describe this as a true highlight of their trip.
We recommend spending 2 nights at Machu Picchu, then taking an early train out the following morning back to Cusco and stopping at Lake Piuray along the way. When you arrive, you will observe and help with the preparation of the Pachamanca. Volcanic stones are heated with firewood and lowered carefully into a hole in the ground, followed by the food: first a variety of potatoes, an Andean staple; next marinated meats and poultry, followed by additional hot stones; and finally the top layer of vegetables, beans, humitas, and sweet cheese. Once the food is added, more hot stones are placed over the top, followed by damp cloths and several inches of soil, sealing the hole to keep in steam and smoke. After a couple hours relaxing at the lake, you’ll come together to watch as the steaming food is taken out of the ground, and eat together at comfortable shaded tables on the lake shore. Afterward, you will continue on to Cusco.