Making plans for new trips made me think back to a hike I made with a good friend to Machu Picchu in Peru nearly 5 years ago. This is before we started with Pure Kakaw, but cacao already played a role here giving us power to climb these mountains.
As we were visiting Cusco we decided we couldn’t leave without visiting Machu Picchu. As it’s quite touristic we thought there must be an alternative way to get there. Via via we learned about trails that were less familiar crossing the Salkantay mountain of 4630 m altitude. It would take us about five days. We decided to go by the two of us without a guide and find the way ourselves. It also meant we had to carry everything we needed for the coming week except for water that we could refill at natural mountain springs.
Carrying food for at least five days makes you think twice on what to bring. Cacao is the most energy dense food there is and keeps well for a long time. Perfect for this adventure. We found some really nice cacao not far from where we now source our Peruvian cacao from. This was actually one of the cacaos that we first brought back to NL for ourselves and to share with friends.
The trek was tough, with hiking up to 10 hours a day with altitude differences, chewing coca leaves against altitude sickness, 18kg backpacks, rain and mudslides that had destroyed parts of the trail. At the same time it is so incredibly rewarding being at these majestic mountains and it is still one of the highlights of our journey. When we started to reach Machu Picchu we were already so fulfilled that we didn’t care too much for it as the trek was already such an overwhelming adventure.
Preparing cacao on the road
Every morning we made a power breakfast with oats, fruits, cacao and honey. We had a thermos bottle that we filled with fresh ginger tea, coca leaves, cacao and honey. For me it is one of the first times that I experience the positive energy from cacao. And probably the time I needed it the most 😅. The cacao drink that we made we called our Inca Brew. Not that it had anything to do with a native recipe, but because it helped us hike these mountains where the Incas lived and build a crazily advanced civilization.
Reaching our final destination
When we arrived to Machu Picchu we climbed all the way to the top view point where we found out that it was covered in clouds. But somehow this was even better, it brought our attention to ourselves and the radiant energy of this place. Instead of looking at a stunning view we were more present at our direct surroundings. As we felt feather light without our backpacks, we climbed quite fast and we had the place all for ourselves for more than 15min before others reached it.
This was a good moment to celebrate. That morning we made our special ‘Inca Brew’ with hot water, crushed ginger pieces, coca leaves, a good amount of honey and our last cacao that was enough to make a full thermos become very thick. As a bonus we added a bit of rum too. Haha wow that was quite a potent drink. We loved it. Every sip was a journey in itself 😅.
There is much less known of cacao used by the Incas and natives of Peru compared to the Aztec and Maya cultures. But there was definitely cacao. The rare Chuncho variety was first cultivated by the Machiguenga people in these areas. We are very grateful that we can source cacao from these special lands. It is easy to imagine how cacao was used as a powerful and healthy food source.
We wish you many exciting outdoor adventures and that cacao may be an energizing support as it is for us. 💪