Ollantaytambo, Peru at El Albergue
Part of our travels is to discover the culture and traditions of the country we are visiting. Recently we experienced a traditional Pachamanca Lunch 🥗 at El Albergue. It’s a hotel, restaurant, and farm that’s in Ollantaytambo, Peru. You can find this town a short drive away from Cusco, Peru.
A little bit about Ollantaytambo, El Albergue & the Farm
Ollantaytambo is a small village in the Sacred Valley. It’s next to the Urubamba River. Surrounding it are tall mountains making it a beautiful place to visit. It is also known for massive Inca fortresses, terraces and store houses which are situated on the cliffs. The village’s old town is made of cobblestone streets and old buildings. As you walk along your mind easily goes back in time. The main source of income for the people of the valley is farming. Driving through the valley you might notice terraced fields, granaries and the Urubamba River that meanders down the green valley.
El Albergue is located conveniently right by the train station in Ollantaytambo. Since 2010 they started a small farming project of their own which produces many vegetables, corn, quinoa and potatoes. They also have some animals that they keep for food. The owners work the farm is without the use of chemicals or fertilizers. They use traditional techniques such as plowing with oxen, rotating crops and using biological controllers to regulate pests and disease. Their restaurant is sustained by their growing farm.
Our tour around the farm
Our Pachamanca experience started at the farm. Where it all starts, right?! We admired the animals and all the vegetables and flowers that were growing this time of year. We walked through the farm and learned more about what is grown and how it’s used. Afterwards we continued towards a shelter where the Pachamanca lunch would be prepared. Our guide spoke great English and explained the whole process while two other men prepared the hot stones and the “earth oven”
Pachamanca Lunch Preparation
Pachamanca comes from the Quechua language pacha “earth”, manka “pot”. It’s a traditional Peruvian meal that is prepared with the aid of hot stones. The earth oven is prepared by heating stones. Here they used granite, since it’s very common. First, you dig out a wide hole in the ground and arrange the stones over them like a makeshift oven. Next you start a fire inside it. When the stones reach the proper temperature they are ready to be used in cooking food.
Step 1: This is the original BBQ & pressure cooker. First, you place the hot stones as a layer in the hole. Afterwards, you place the potatoes on top of them.
Step 2: After placing a second layer of stone you add the marinated meat. The meat we had was chicken, lamb, and pork.
Step 3: Next, you add third layer of stones and place the clay pots with stuffed peppers and soufflé over them.
Step 4: You place a last layer of stone on top and add different herbs over them. The herbs give flavor and the steam from them helps create pressure when they are covered.
Step 5: Next, you cover the oven with a few wet pieces of cloth to keep the heat and moisture in.
Step 6: Lastly, you place earth over it and leave it alone for 15-20 mins. During this time with the pressure that is building up from the steam and the hot stones, the food cooks something like a barbecue meets pressure cooker.
Step 7: After it’s cooked you take off the dirt and the cloth. One layer at a time you remove the stones along with the cooked potatoes, meat and clay pots filled with yummy goodness.
Step 8: Everything is taken to the outdoor kitchen to be cut, arranged and prepared to be served.
Enjoying the Pachamanca Lunch
We couldn’t wait to try all the delicious food! We gave thanks and indulged into the traditionally cooked Panchmanca Lunch.
We really enjoyed this activity. Walking around the farm we were able to see the dedication of the owners to creating something really amazing. Their commitment to sustainability, the environment, and a really great experience really blew us away!
The food here was absolutely delicious. We ate until almost bursting. There were three kinds of meat and a vegetarian option. Out of all the meals we have tried in South America this one was by far the absolute best.
If you are looking for a unique experience while in Peru we highly recommend this place! You will be inspired and transported to a different culture.
Please let us know down below if you have any questions or comments. Did you have a similar experience? What was your favorite traditional experience? We’d love to hear from you.
-Alex & Katie