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Cacao grows here

Pumaty chocolate

My personal favorite Peruvian export comes from the cacao tree. The journal Nature backs up what Peruvians claim, that the Theobroma cacao tree is “native to humid tropical regions of the northern part of South America,” i.e. Peru.

While there is evidence that the Maya of Mexico were the first to cultivate cacao and make something resembling today’s chocolate, Peruvians can probably claim the tree itself.

The cacao pod (below) is harvested in farms throughout lowland eastern Peru. The western coast on the Pacific Ocean is a desert, so any chocolate always comes from the eastern slope in or near the Peruvian Amazon.

Cacao pod

There is a Chocomuseo in Lima and another in Cusco, where you can learn about chocolate. Arequipa has something similar at Chaqchao, where you can take chocolate classes and learn about the bean to bar process.


Not all chocolate is created equally. Many brands that put Machu Picchu on the label have a grainy texture and are made with the cheaper (less flavorful) cacao beans. If you are serious about your chocolate, buy from a chocolate shop, rather than at the market.

Shops & Shopping

Text © Heather Jasper

Images by Heather Jasper