The Andes Mountains & Alpaca Herders with Ann Binlot

What is your most unforgettable Escape?  Last November I traveled with designers from four rising American fashion labels — Harbison, Timo Weiland, Rachel Comey and Antonio Azzuolo — to Peru, where we met with Alpaca producers in Arequipa and Lima, and traveled to the country’s highlands in the Andes Mountains to see the alpaca herders.

What was the purpose of your travel? The purpose of the trip was for the designers to learn about the alpaca industry so that they could incorporate the fiber into their spring/summer 2014 collections. I was covering their experience for the Daily Beast.

With how many people did you travel? There were eight of us in total: two publicists, five designers and me.

Where did you stay? We stayed at a number of places, including the Costa del Sol Ramada Hotel at the airport in Lima, the Cabildo Hotel in Arequipa, rooms on the Pacomarca premesis, and the Delfines Hotel & Casino in Lima

What did (do) you most like about the trip? I got to see another part of the fashion industry that journalists usually don’t get to observe. It was interesting to see how the designers picked which fibers they were thinking about using. We also got to see every part of the process, from farming the alpaca, to shearing their wool, to processing it in factories, to weaving it into sweaters for luxury labels like Prada. I learned so much, especially how this luxurious fiber contributes to a country’s economy. I also made new friends who I still see regularly!

Could you share an unforgettable memory about the trip? The most unforgettable part was leaving Arequipa at dawn to head into a very remote part of the Andes Mountains. The scenery was breathtaking, unlike anything I’ve ever seen, but we all got altitude sickness because we were so high up. I also loved meeting and chatting with the alpaca herders.

Your most surprising find during the trip. We were lucky enough to see an alpaca give birth.

Favorite restaurant(s) or food you have tried during your trip. I tried guinea pig for the first time at Chicha by Gaston Acurio in Arequipa. Luckily it wasn’t a whole guinea pig, so I couldn’t tell what the meat was.

What are the must tries of the city? The Catedral de Arequipa is gorgeous. For Peruvian food in Arequipa, I would recommend Chicha by Gaston Acurio. Hotel B in Lima is a gorgeous place to dine or stay at for anyone who is into design. The Larco Museum in Lima is great for design inspiration. It has a lot of Pre-Colombian artifacts.

Any hidden gems you could whisper to us? Definitely go to Hotel B! Also check out alpaca goods made by Anntarah (http://www.anntarah.com/). The label is sustainable and stylish.

Would you go back? Yes!

Could you list a few of your favorite finds you came back with? These can be anything from traditional finds to airport finds to hotel creams! I brought back really cute alpaca hats for my friends’ kids, and blankets and scarves for myself and my friends.

Any tips that might be useful to know before going there? If you’re planning on going into the Andes, make sure to bring altitude sickness medicine.

Next stop you would like to visit? India.


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