Coca tea and chewing coca will help you adjust to altitude sickness. For most, chewing coca will make you a little slap happy. I guess everyone reacts to it differently. I felt my heart racing like I drank too much coffee.
I read in some tour books that there has been quite a number of cases of food poisoning in this town. It is recommended that you stick with the recommended restuarants only. My son got a stomach virus in Machu Picchu. We didn't know where he got it. We all ate the same food. You should be a little bit more careful here. On the night we were here, there were a handful of resturants with good business, the amjority of them have no business at all. I think this town has over-developed itself.
Along the trail you will find several rivers and falls. That ater is not safe to drink, unless you take purifying pills.
Water is usually supplied (from boiled water) by the porters each morning in the campsite. But remember to take a at least 2 small plastic bottles to refill everyday. They are handy and very useful after several hours walking.
I bought 2 1/2 liter bottles of water in Ollantaytambo and refilled them daily at the campsite.
I know, I know...it sounds more like the name of your favorite pet chihuahua. But it's not!
Every country has its own kind of "moonshine"...Peru is no exception.
Chicha is a drink more closely associated with the lower socio-economic classes of Andean nations, although it dates back to pre-Inca times. I recall seeing some locals drinking chicha as we hiked along the trail. I was eager to taste their home-made chicha - only to find I didn't like it!
Chicha is usually made from fermented corn, and it has a yellowish, frothy, bubbly look to it. Very strong stuff.
If you want to eat fresh (raw) fruit or vegetables, you will have to peel off the skin first. The skin contains thousands of microbes that your stomach will not recognize - and against which your stomach will rebel. You don't want to be caught on the Inca Trail during a moment of crisis! Alternately, if the piece is cooked, it should be OK to eat.
Our porters some of whom doubled as the cooks for our group, were very hygienic and had been well trained in food preparation and even in menu selection. The food was specifically tailored to provide much needed energy for the daily hikes - and it was always simple, nutritious and usually really tasty.
I remember the first time I ate Quinoa grain - they prepared it as a side dish and, we also had it for breakfast. It was really good! I think I was most impressed with the food preparation during our hike - as a vegetarian, I expected limitations at meal time. The cooks were terrific about it - there was one other girl who was also a vegetarian, so the cooks made a point of preparing our meals separately, taking into account our non-meat-eating status. They humorously - and very respectfully - referred to us as the "anormales" (abnormals).
It was so funny to see them enter the small dining tent with the plates of food - followed by another person holding two plates and singling us out by announcing "Para las anormales!"
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