The Andean Mountains cover a large part of South America and are a reason for many to visit this continent. It is characterised by breathtaking landscapes and rich indigenous cultures. There are also a number of well-known products from this region. We have listed four of them.
1. Alpaca wool
More and more often we see them in the Netherlands; the llamas and alpacas. You see the images of those animals on cushions, bags, key rings and so on. You can even find farms where you can cuddle alpacas as a workshop. In South America these animals came before the indigenous people before the Spaniards came to the continent. The animals were used to transport goods, for wool and for meat. Today, the Alpaca, in particular, is an important wool supplier. The wool of the Alpaca is very soft and has a beautiful sheen. It is a good fabric for a nice warm jumper or a good scarf.
2. Coca leaves
We will not see this product so soon in the Netherlands. The leaves of this plant are used for the production of cocaine. However, this is not the reason why coca is so popular in the Andes. Here it has been used for various purposes for centuries. It is used daily by the local population who have to work hard on, for example, the land. The work is hard and long. By chewing the coca leaves you get more energy and you are less likely to be hungry. It also seems to help against medical discomforts and when you travel it can be offered to prevent altitude sickness. For example, you can get it as a herbal tea.
A superfood that has entered the western world in recent years. In South America it was already cultivated by the Incas 5000 years ago. Quinoa is a word from Quechua, the language of the Incas, and is translated as super cereal. It is full of good nutrients and because it is one of the few grains that can grow at high altitudes it is a very important product for the population.
As Dutch people, we are so proud of the potato. However, the potato does not originally come from the Netherlands at all. The potato has its origins in the Andes. And where we are mainly familiar with the yellow potato, there are more than 400 varieties in the Andes, varying from purple to blue, from bitter to sweet. Tip: In Arequipa you will find the restaurant Hatunpa which is completely dedicated to the potato. Here you can eat delicious dishes where you can choose the different types of potatoes and choose a suitable topping.