While I spent the New Year´s Eve of 2019 at one of the Peruvian beaches in the real party mode, I have chosen something completely different for 2020 – an intimate, rustic and peaceful atmosphere of the organic boutique hotel and restaurant IntiRumi Inn in Caraz, Peru, flanked by the magnificent and highest pinnacles of the Cordilleras Blancas and Negras, forming the profound valley called the Callejon de Huaylas.
I thoroughly enjoyed the traditional festive dinner, the chamber-like bonfires in the garden under the starry sky and meditation in the surrounding fields.
IntiRumi Inn is a place with which one finds it hard not to fall in love. Quite righteously it enjoys excellent reviews on Tripadvisor and other travel ranking portals. It´s rustic, with a bit of artsy touch in the design details, offering varied artisanal food and cosmetic products on top.
The place is environmentally-friendly and waste conscious so instead of finding the terrible one use bar-soaps and shampoos in your bathroom there will be a purely natural hand-crafted herbal bar (made by Mariam, who forms the main personnel triangle together with the US-origin owner – Kelly and the chef Daniel) which can be used as a shampoo or a soap – and there is also a soap dispenser in the shower, just in case you prefer a certified, yet industrial product. What I also like is the fact that there are no paper napkins in the restaurant, but cute textile ones. The hotel would like to transition to entirely no-plastic-use in 2021!
The rooms offer comfy and warm beddings of great quality and all of them overlook the lovely garden which is formed in various symmetrical shapes and which is the main source of the fruits and veggies used in the restaurant kitchen. There are fields of corn in the surroundings and paths that lead you to forests, flower fields, streams (where you can bathe as it is pristine clear mountain water there), the pre-Inca archaeological site of Tumshukayko and the nearby river Llullán. I spent hours, daily, merely walking in the surroundings, without needing to go on any of the touristic trips, though we did go to my beloved Laguna Paron which I wrote about HERE and which became my ritual bathe (cleansing the old and welcoming the new) shrine on the last day of the 2020.
By the way, if you go to Paron by a private van, taxi or a personal car, so you have a chance to actually stop by the gate of the Huascarán National Park on the way back (on the way there you stop of course to pay the 5-sole entrance), buy yourself the corn and cheese for 3 soles from the kind woman there. Hot and tasty it will be perfect after your hike around the lagoon.
New Year´s Eve and Dinner
Daniel, the chef of the restaurant which includes the Sapo´s bar offering artisanal Sierra Andina beers from Huaraz and some amazing wine choices, opens to the eaters a real gastro adventure. If you are a foodie, each time a dish arrives in front of you, you will be taking avid snaps! The colours, tastes and aromas are brought to a renaissance pallet which combines some renowned Peruvian specialities with healthier and more cosmopolitan options, even vegetarian and vegan. Each dish is styled with genuine enthusiasm and creativity so no wonder if you get a pizza in a rectangular shape scattered with edible flowers or a piece of Peruvian high-quality lomo bathed in dark chocolate. Even the hamburgers will make you feel like you are still doing right by your diet as THAT food can simply bring no harm to your body, prepared with so much love.
The New Year´s dinner was a thrill, reminding me of the Peruvian Christmas dinner too as it included fine slices of roasted turkey, amazing stuffing, a rich apple-laced salad, integral rice and roasted potatoes as well as a delicious chocolate and fruit cake and a glass of champagne. To top it all up, I roasted several marshmallows in the bonfire later at night which made me nostalgic of my days spent in New Brunswick, Canada, where they roast them in between 2 graham’s cracker cookies and a square of chocolate and call them aptly S’mores.
After the midnight fireworks and some more champagne, with my partner and our friends we took to the fields for a moonlit walk in the fields which turned out to be a thoroughly romantic and memorable adventure.
New Year´s Day
After giving up on the trip to Punta Olímpica due to poor visibility (if you ever plan to go, go truly early in the morning, the trip from Caraz takes about two and a half hours in a car and you want to be there latest by 8 am) we paid a visit to some local cheese and wine producers as well as the artisanal ice cream shops which are to be found at the main square. I then spent some time meditating in the wood by the river of Llullán and later in the afternoon at the Tumshukayko pre-Inca ruins located just several minutes away by walk from the IntiRumi Inn. The fine stonework forms a circular structure, consisting of platforms, terraces and stairways. The most outstanding parts are the stone heads (cabezas clavas) and triangular stones, which prove that the artistic work falls into the period of early Chavin civilization.
The night gave space to some artisanal beers at Casa Pukayaku, now a routine every time I am in Caraz as I truly like their beers as well as hamburgers and their location right by the river and a eucalyptus forest.
What to Know Before Coming to IntiRumi Inn
The place is now taking in only those guests who book in 24 hours ahead of their arrival to ensure all the Covid regulations will be accomplished as far as room cleaning and disinfection is concerned. Upon a prior agreement, the restaurant also receives guests not going to be staying at the inn.
Caraz is generally warm during the day, but gets chilly at nighttime, so be prepared with warmer clothes and shoes.
Kelly, the owner, is amazingly helpful in giving her guests tips on the things one can do, she can arrange a car to take you for 30 soles to Paron (if there are at least 3 people who wish to go or if you do not mind joining in with others) and actually IntiRumi is located about 150 m away from the dirt road to Paron. She can also help you arrange a Paron or Pampacocha paddle board adventure (circa 150 per person including transport as well as equipment).
Don´t forget in the vicinity of Caraz there are also Laguna 69 and Llanganuco lakes. If you plan to trek to Laguna 69, know that the travel agencies in Caraz are still limited in operation due to the pandemics, so you might arrange your trip with a Huaraz agency, such as Grupo Alpamayo Peru (HERE) which is willing to take you in at Yungay, 20 mins away from Caraz by a taxi, 30 by a moto-taxi.
This short, two-minute video is a little presentation of the excellent boutiqe hotel and restaurant.