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Pachamanca in the Peruvian Andes

I recently hiked the 14-day Huayhuash Circuit in the Peruvian Andes, a 120km trekking circuit which circumnavigates the Huayhuash mountain range, and is one of the most beautiful high altitude treks in the world. I’ll share more information and photos of the trek in one of my next posts!

On one of our rest days, the local cooks and horsemen prepared a celebratory feast for us, known as pachamanca. In Quechua, the language spoken in the area since the Incan Empire, pacha means land and manca means cooking pot. First, a structure which resembles a pizza oven was constructed by creating a hole in the ground and rocks were gathered to form the domed structure.

A local shrub known as taulish was burned to heat the rocks. This plant has fruit which resembles edamame pods and bright indigo flowers, a common sight along the trek.

In the meantime, others were busy preparing the marinade for the meat. Justa and Lucia, our llama handler and assistant guide, went to a local home and used a grinding stone known as batan to pound the herbs (yellow pepper, garlic and chinchu). This herb paste was then mixed with soya sauce, oil, salt and pepper before the meat was added.

Once the rocks were sufficiently heated (about 2 hours), the dome of the structure was dismantled. The cooks then laid a layer of Peruvian potatoes, followed by a layer of heated rocks, then foil-wrapped meat, another layer of rocks, a layer of highland grass known as ichu, beans, followed by a layer of damp cardboard and finally a layer of dirt. After 40 minutes, the food from the pachamanca was ready!

The pachamanca will be available as part of the Huayhuash Circuit for private groups of at least 4 trekkers, and is a great cultural complement to the Andean panoramas of snow-cappe mountains. Peru is a new destination available to Pudu Puda Travel’s guests in 2019! We offer various lengths of the Huayhuash Circuit, ranging from 9 to 14 days. For more information, get in touch with us at!

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