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Published on September 6th, 2016 | by Nicholas Stanziano

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Choquechaca: An Interlude to the Qhapaq Ñan

Day 1

I would have never come up with the crazy idea to hike 2,000 miles on the Qhapaq Ñan without Choquechaca. I first arrived to Choquechaca 12 years ago with just a backpack, exploring Inca trails above Ollantaytambo in route to Machu Picchu…I was just a few years out of university and had moved to the Peruvian Andes for one of life’s grand adventures. Since that time, the pristine valley of Choquechaca, it’s indigenous caretakers and its millennia culture has set me on a personal journey completely distinct from what came before. Now, years later, the extended kin network of the Sinchi and Laucauta family who call Choquechaca home will be my Andean partners during the whole Qhapaq Ñan expedition from this point forward. They will be managing the llama, camp equipment, and walking side by side with me, nearly every day for five months.

My relationship with Valentine, Adrian and Mario, the patriarchs of Choquechaca, as well as their growing brood, started with brief encounters usually with a greeting of warm potatoes when I passed in route to some new exploration in my very early years in Peru…After time, familiarity and consistency between us grew stronger, and we eventually began to build a vision of creating trekking experiences to Machu Picchu centered around them sharing their home, which was along a route that had seen little to no tourism prior -It was project that helped build SA Expeditions as well as provide sustainable and high value tourism income to a region with uneven opportunity. Read more about Nick’s ongoing relationship with Choquechaca here.

Four years later, the Choquechaca community and I have embarked on an adventure that takes us to new Inca roads along the Qhapaq Ñan through the whole of Peru. Our ambitions are to expand the model our collaboration has built, establishing world class trekking routes that highlight the local culture and populations – , as we have done in Choquechaca. Read Corey Watt’s fascinating account of an expedition to Choquechaca here.

So to begin this three-day series as an interlude to our Qhapaq Ñan expeditions, we will share real time our current expedition to Choquechaca. At the end of day 1, were camped on a stunning Pampa (high plane) at 15,000 feet. Tomorrow, we cross the pass at Halancoma dropping down into an ancient Quenoa forest, before arriving to Choquechaca. We’ve brought some friends along from Lima Tours and we will all be discussing preparations for our Grand Qhapaq Ñan expeditions to come and to be shared with all. Such important preparations require at least three days in the mountains, conferring with each other as well as with the Pachamama (Mother Earth) and Apus (mountain deities).

_____________________

Día 1

No habría concebido la loca idea de caminar 3,200 kilómetros en el Qhapaq Ñan sin Choquechaca. Hace 12 años llegué por primera vez a Choquechaca, solo, con una mochila, explorando los caminos Inca por encima de Ollantaytambo, en dirección hacia Machu Picchu.
Tenía apenas unos pocos años de haber terminado la universidad y me había mudado a los Andes del Perú para una de las grandes aventuras de mi vida. Desde ese momento, el valle virgen de Choquechaca, los cuidadores indígenas y la cultura milenaria me llevaron por un viaje personal completamente distinto.
Hoy, años más tarde, el extenso grupo de las familias Sinchi y Laucauta que llaman a Choquechaca su hogar se han convertido en mis socios andinos durante toda la expedición que realizaremos por el Qhapaq Ñan. Ellos se estarán encargando del grupo de llamas y equipo de campamento y además caminarán a mi lado casi todos los días durante cinco meses.

La relación que tengo con Valentino, Adrian y Mario, los patriarcas de Choquechaca, así como con sus hijos en crecimiento, se inició con breves encuentros acompañados de papas calientes cuando pasaba camino a una nueva exploración por la comunidad en mis primeros años en el Perú. Después de un tiempo, la confianza y la conexión entre nosotros se hizo más fuerte y comenzamos a construir una visión sobre crear experiencias de trekking a Machu Picchu compartiendo el calor de su hogar por una ruta que había visto poco o nada de turismo antes – . Fue este el proyecto que ayudó a construir SA Expeditions, así como proporcionó ingresos con turismo sostenible y de alto valor a una región con oportunidades desiguales.
www.saexpeditions.com/…/becoming-part-of-perus-andean-commu…

Cuatro años más tarde, yo y la comunidad Choquechaca nos hemos embarcado en una aventura que nos lleva a nuevos caminos incas a lo largo del Qhapaq Ñan a través de todo el Perú. Nuestras ambiciones son las de ampliar el modelo que SA Expeditions ha construido, establecer rutas de caminatas de clase mundial que engrandecen la cultura y las poblaciones locales – , como lo hemos hecho en Choquechaca.
www.saexpeditions.com/…/in-the-kingdom-of-clouds-by-corey-w…

Empezaremos esta serie de expediciones que durarán tres días como un alto a nuestras expediciones por el Qhapaq Ñan la misma que será compartida en tiempo real.

Al final del día 1 hemos acampado en una impresionante pampa a 4,600 m.s.n.m. Mañana, cruzaremos el paso a Halancoma bajando a un bosque antiguo llamado Queñoa antes de llegar a Choquechaca. Hemos traído a algunos amigos de Lima Tours, con quienes vamos a estar trabajando en los preparativos para nuestras expediciones en el gran Qhapaq Ñan que serán compartidas también con todos ustedes. Dichas preparaciones importantes requieren por lo menos tres días en las montañas, conectándose entre sí, tal y como con la Pachamama (Madre Tierra) y Apus (Dios de las montañas).

An indigenous home in Rumira

 

Day 2

Camping at 15,000 feet can be a very cold endeavor. Although in a bit of redemption, when perched at the top of the Andes, you get the first warm rays of the sun before the shaded valleys below. After today’s sunrise defrosting, we made our final ascent to the pass at Hallancoma by 8am, taking in our first views of the long and narrow Choquechaca valley below.

Our friends along for the trip from Lima Tours, and their team leader Diego (who will also be coming along for our two week Qhapaq Ñan expedition in October) are learning this route for the first time and providing important equipment and logistics locally. It has always been the goal to develop this alternative Inca trail to Machu Picchu as something sustainable, beyond the whims of just one organization. Therefore, we are passing on more than a decade of social and logistical work SA Expeditions and myself have reached in order to collaborate as an industry in the promotion of this important cultural and ecological resource. The long term vision has always been to create the economic conditions that allows for the community of Choquechaca to thrive and I believe the collaboration with an organization with the reach and influence of Lima Tours will go a long way towards this goal.

Back on the trail, Valentine Sinchi led the team down the Choquechaca valley from the high pass, explaining the local flora y fauna as we passed through virgin Quenua forests and what seems to be ancient water temples along the river. Valentine has spent his whole life farming potatoes, fava beans and other tubers in these high valleys and there in no one better to have along to unlock the areas secrets than him…He’s learned and evolved into a master facilitator that completely takes you into his magical Andean world. Valentine and I will head the front of the Qhapaq Ñan expeditions together, him serving as our Quechua speaking Andean diplomat as we pass through countless towns and villages during our two thousand mile walk.

After spending the entire late morning and early afternoon descending down the trail, we eventually arrived to the community of Choquechaca. Valentena and Gregoria of the Sinchi Laucauta brood greeted us with a familiar welcome before we settled into a warm lunch on the pampas next to their stone and thatched roof homes. The evening was spent with many from the community and expedition team huddled together in the cook tent reliving the splendor of the day, intermixed with discussion of the Qhapaq Ñan and our next adventures along this ancient road.

—————–

Día 2

Acampar a 4,500 m.s.n.m es una tarea muy difícil. Sin embargo, estar en el tope de los andes permite que lleguen los primeros rayos del sol a nuestra ubicación, incluso mucho antes de que toque la parte baja del valle. Después de que el calor del sol derrita el hielo, empezamos el ascenso final hasta el paso de Hallancoma llegando alrededor de las ocho de la mañana. Es aquí desde donde tuvimos nuestra primera vista del largo y estrecho valle de Choquechaca.

Nuestros amigos de Lima Tours y Diego, su jefe de equipo – quien también estará con nosotros a lo largo de las dos semanas de expedición Qhapaq Ñan que realizaremos en octubre – están realizando esta ruta por primera vez, aportando suministro de equipos y logística importante a nivel local. El objetivo siempre ha sido desarrollar este camino Inca alternativo hacia Machu Picchu como algo sostenible, más allá de los deseos de una sola organización. Hemos realizado por más de una década trabajo social y logístico. SA Expeditions y yo hemos llegado con el fin de colaborar con la industria en la promoción de este importante recurso cultural y ecológico. La visión a largo plazo siempre ha sido la creación de las condiciones económicas necesarias que permitan a la comunidad de Choquechaca prosperar. Es por esto que creo el trabajo y colaboración con una organización con el alcance y la influencia que tiene Lima Tours permitirá recorrer este largo camino para cumplir este objetivo.

Volviendo a la expedición, Valentino Sinchi dirigió al equipo hacia el valle de la Choquechaca desde el paso alto, explicando la flora y fauna que íbamos encontrando en el lugar. Pasamos a través de bosques vírgenes de Quenua y lo que parece ser templos antiguos de agua a lo largo del río. Valentino ha pasado toda su vida en estos altos valles cultivando papas, habas y otros tubérculos y nadie mejor que él para que nos acompañe a conocer los secretos de este valle. Ha aprendido y evolucionado hasta convertirse en un conocedor que te lleva por completo hacia el mundo mágico andino. Valentino estará al frente de las expediciones que realizaremos por el Qhapaq Ñan, él nos apoyará con su conocimiento en quechua a medida que pasamos por innumerables ciudades y pueblos durante nuestra caminata de 3,200 kilómetros.

Luego de casi media mañana y parte de la tarde descendiendo por el camino finalmente llegamos a la comunidad de Choquechaca. Valentina y Gregoria, miembros del clan Sinchi y Laucauta nos recibieron con una gran hospitalidad antes de que nos alistáramos para el almuerzo caliente, el mismo que tuvimos en la pampa al lado de sus casas de piedra y techos de paja. La velada transcurrió con el grupo de la comunidad y nuestro equipo de expedición juntos en la carpa de la cocina donde pudimos revivir el increíble día, con la discusión del Qhapaq Ñan y nuestras próximas aventuras a lo largo de este gran camino antiguo.

Diego taking in the energy of the Andes

Diego taking in the energy of the Andes.

 

Day 3

Our final morning of this trek was spent relaxing on the pampa at Choquechaca and visiting with Gregoria and Valentena, learning about the indigenous textiles of their home. One of the key pillars of value that visitors bring to the women of the community is through the purchase of these beautiful works of art made from the wool of alpaca and llama. The final morning of the trek is also a time when visitors learn about customs in Choquechaca and visit the home of Adrian and Dorotea, understanding the daily rhythms of life in the high Andes. Today, though, was busy with introductions of our friends from Lima Tours and dissecting the meaning of the textiles on display.

The trek down from Choquechaca to the Inca ruins at Pumamarka in the early afternoon only takes a few hours and passes by restored water canals going back centuries. After a walk that continues to amaze in its beauty and history, we were arriving to the end of the expedition, which this time finishes at the home of Valentine and Teofela Sinchi below the ruins for a lunch of Cuy (Guinea pig), potatoes and Chicha (corn beer). Flávio, our chef on the trek, combined kitchens with Teofela, cooking for a crowd that reached nearly twenty locals and visitors. Valentine busied himself setting up wooden seats with llama hide for cushions and I helped him get the radio set-up where we listened to traditional Huayno music and all sipped on local corn brew as the light faded.

On these final moments reflecting on the adventure of the days prior and the many journeys of years past with the Sinchi’s, I can’t help feel extremely grateful for the partnership that has developed here. My mind now is beginning to shift towards the long walk on the Qhapaq Ñan in more remote and distant lands to the north…And I’m again comforted that this next great journey will be traveled with my old friends from Choquechaca.
___________________

Día 3

En la ultima mañana de este viaje aprovechamos el tiempo y nos relajamos en la pampa de Choquechaca. Visitamos a Gregoria y Valentina quienes nos enseñaron sobre los textiles indígenas, hermosas obras de arte hechas por mujeres a base de lana de alpaca y llama, siendo uno de los pilares fundamentales que generan valor y que los visitantes a esta comunidad compran.
El final de la mañana es momento también para que los visitantes aprendan sobre las costumbres en Choquechaca visitando la casa de Adrián y Dorotea, pudiendo así comprender los ritmos diarios de la vida en las alturas de los Andes. Hoy, sin embargo, durante este tiempo, escuchamos la presentación personal de cada uno de nuestros amigos de Lima Tours y dialogamos sobre el significado de los tejidos expuestos.

Por la tarde dejamos Choquechaca, tomamos el camino hacia abajo, en dirección a las ruinas incas en Pumamarka, camino que sólo toma un par de horas y pasa por los canales de agua que se remonta a siglos atrás. Después de un paseo que continúa sorprendiendo por su belleza e historia, estábamos llegando al final de la expedición. Esta vez termina en la casa de Valentine y Teofila Sinchi con un almuerzo de cuy (conejillo de Indias), papas y chicha (cerveza de maíz). Flavio, el chef en la expedición, acompañado de Teofila, cocinan para una multitud que llegó -aproximadamente veinte locales y visitantes-. Valentino creó asientos de madera con piel de llama mientras le ayudo a conseguir la emisora de radio en donde se escucha música tradicional -huayno- mientras todos beben chicha de jora que se terminó en un dos por tres.

En estos momentos finales que reflejan la aventura de los últimos días y los viajes anteriores en los últimos años con la familia Sinchi, no puedo evitar sentirme muy agradecido por trabajo que se ha desarrollado en este lugar. Mi mente ahora comienza a pensar sobre el largo paseo por el Qhapaq Ñan en las tierras más remotas y lejanas al norte… Y nuevamente puedo decir que estoy feliz de que este próximo gran viaje será realizado también con mis viejos amigos de Choquechaca.

 

 

Valentine and Nick trading outfits for a moment

Nick Stanziano
Chief Explorer
SA Expeditions

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About the Author

Nicholas Stanziano

Co-founder and Chief Explorer at SA Expeditions. A San Francisco, California registered tour operator that specializes in cultural and nature based private expeditions to South America’s most renowned destinations.



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    Qhapaq Ñan – Day 8

    *Versión en español abajo*

    In the end, we made the 170 miles walk from Jauja to Antioquia in seven days, two day less than planned. The improved management and behavior of

    In parallel with sharing the historical, ecological and cultural marvels, we aim to place the Qhapaq Ñan alongside the great long distance walking trails on the planet . The 2000 miles path from Cuenca, Ecuador to Cusco, Peru can become a vein of economic activity through tourism. A feat that will require persistence and common vision from local and national governments alongside private industry. The Pacific Crest Trail going from Mexico to Canada along the spine of the Sierra Nevada’s and Cascade ranges was a vision began in 1932 by Clinton C. Clark, which took 60 years to be considered complete and with a network of “trail angels” overseeing its maintenance.

    Although the Qhapaq Ñan has already been a contiguous stone trail along the spine of the Andean since the 1400’s at the height of the Inca Empire and the traditional communal work structure of the Andes, which road maintenance was a part of, is a cultural practice already in place that can be organized and directed just like the “trail angels” of the Pacific Crest Trail. This is not even mentioning that the Qhapaq Ñan is one of the greatest public works of ancient man, with millennial cultures still along its route.
    It will become one of the great long distance hiking trails in the world, and our explorations and stories along the way we hope will serve for generations of walkers who come after us.

    Nick Stanziano
    Chief Explorer
    SA Expeditions

    ________________

    Qhapaq Ñan – Día 8

    Culminamos con la expedición de 320 kilómetros desde Jauja a Antioquia en solo siete días, dos días menos de lo planeado. El progreso en el manejo y control de nuestras llamas en esta caminata significó poder dedicar unas horas extras al día explorando en lugar de re-ordenar la carga o tener otros retrasos que se producen con un equipo menos entrenado. Durante siete días caminamos en promedio alrededor de 40 kilómetros por día, distancia que equivale a la caminata de cuatro días en el tradicional camino inca desde el Valle Sagrado hacia Machu Picchu – 41 kilómetros en total.
    Si buscamos un punto de comparación podemos decir que caminar estos 40 kilómetros cada día por el Pacific Crest Trail desde Sierra Nevada hasta los andes Cascade en Estados Unidos es la misma distancia que caminaremos por día en la expedición que realizaremos por el Qhapaq Ñan en nuestro gran proyecto durante cuatro meses en Abril del próximo año,

    No solo queremos compartir las maravillas históricas, ecológicas y culturales del Qhapaq Ñan, si no también queremos establecer a este gran camino inca a la par de grandes caminos de larga distancia en el mundo . El tramo de 3,200 kilómetros de Cuenca, Ecuador hacia Cusco, Perú puede convertirse en una principal actividad económica a través del turismo. Una hazaña que requerirá persistencia y trabajo de la mano de los gobiernos locales y nacionales junto con la industria privada. El Pacific Crest Trail que va de México a Canadá a lo largo de las cordilleras de Sierra Nevada y Cascade fue una visión que Clinton C. Clark tuvo en 1932, la misma que tomó 60 años para ser considerada completa y con una red de trabajo de personales responsables que se encargan del mantenimiento de la misma.

    Desde el año 1400, el Qhapaq Ñan fue un camino de piedra del Imperio Inca construido a lo largo de la cordillera, su tradicional estructura y el mantenimiento vial era realizada con trabajo en conjunto de las personas de los andes. Esta práctica cultural era organizada y dirigida por los “ángeles del rastro” del Pacific Crest Trail. El Qhapaq Ñan es una de las mayores obras públicas del hombre antiguo, con culturas milenarias que existen aún a lo largo de la ruta.

    Se convertirá en uno de los grandes senderos de larga distancia en el mundo, y esperamos que nuestras exploraciones e historias a lo largo del camino sirvan para las generaciones de caminantes que vienen después de nosotros.

    Nick Stanziano
    Jefe Explorador
    SA Expeditions See more

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    SA Qhapaq Ñan

    The journey continues…

    *Versión en español abajo*

    Qhapaq Ñan – Day 1

    The team departed this morning from Jauja with 12 llamas heading along a transversal Qhapaq Ñan towards Pachacamac, 200 miles west, near the

    In three days by foot west, we’ll arrive to the great Inca stairway in the shadows of the great Apu Pariacaca (mountain deity). The set of 1800 steps will be the entry to another three days on some of the most spectacular Qhapaq Ñan anywhere on the 25,000 mile network. Ten days from now, we should arrive to our finish point at Antioquia, where the Qhapaq Ñan starts to disappear closer to the coast. The terrain for most of our trek will float between 11,000 and 16,000 feet above sea level, perfect for the llamas with plenty of Ichu grass along the way.

    Our first day on the route covered 15 miles and with better behaved llamas and more efficient llameros (llama handlers). Our llameros, Flavio, Nicolas and Valentine are getting better at their craft. We also have two local llameros, Tito and Antonia, the latter being our first female llamero in 500 miles of Qhapaq Ñan we’ve trekked thus far and adds an interesting dose of female energy into the group. She’s probably the most able llamero of the group and it’s her animals were working with while in the region. The majority female team at SA Expeditions might find this amusing that even on the Qhapaq Ñan I find myself collaborating with strong and talented women.

    Nick Stanziano
    Chief Explorer
    SA Expeditions
    ___________________
    Qhapaq Ñan – Día 1

    Desde Jauja, esta mañana el equipo inició la expedición junto a doce llamas a lo largo de una transversal del Qhapaq Ñan en dirección hacia Pachacamac, 320 kilómetros al oeste, cerca de la costa sur peruana en el Océano Pacifico.

    Hace 600 años, en la cima del reinado del Inca, Jauja fue un importante centro de administración que apoyó la expansión del imperio hacia el norte desde su capital, a 770 kilómetros al sur, en Cusco.

    Pachacamac, fue un importante centro religioso que se remonta a dos milenios e influyó en las siguientes culturas incas. Tiene sentido que el camino que une estos dos centros antiguos haya contado con tal planificación y grandeza. Es un ejemplo que se suma a la lista de obras extraordinarias a gran escala del imperio.
    Luego de tres días de caminata en dirección al oeste, estaremos llegando a la gran escalera Inca localizada en las sombras del gran Apu Pariacaca. El conjunto de mil ochocientos escalones será la entrada durante tres días a uno de los lugares más espectaculares de todos los 40,200 kilómetros que conforman el Qhapaq Ñan. En estos diez días de expedición llegaremos finalmente a Antioquia, más cerca a la costa donde el Qhapaq Ñan comienza a desaparecer. La mayor parte de nuestra caminata se realizará en alturas que van desde los 3,350 y 4,900 m.s.n.m, lo que es perfecto para las llamas ya que encontraremos abundante hierba de Ichu a lo largo del camino.

    En el primer día de ruta se ha cubierto 25 kilómetros. Las llamas se han comportado mejor y los encargados de ellas, los “llameros”, están realizando su trabajo de manera más eficiente. Flavio, Nicolás y Valentín están mejorando en su labor. A ellos se han sumado dos llameros locales, Tito y Antonia, siendo esta última la primera mujer en acompañarnos luego de 800 kilómetros de expediciones por el Qhapaq Ñan. Ella añade una interesante dosis de energía femenina al grupo y debo mencionar que, probablemente, es la cuidadora con más capacidad dentro del grupo.

    La mayor parte del equipo de SA Expeditions, conformado por mujeres, encontrara divertido que incluso en el Qhapaq Ñan me halle trabajando de la mano con mujeres fuertes y con mucho talento.

    Nick Stanziano
    Jefe Explorador
    SA Expeditions See more

    3 months ago

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    Qhapaq Ñan – Day 8

    Today we’ve arrived to the town of Hospicio after the pass at Apacheta Chico, the highest point of this expedition at 16,000 feet. In the 12 years since I arrived to Peru with

    Getting to Hospicio took us 8 hours of walking through remote Andean puna on a Qhapaq Ñan preserved by cold dry air and almost no people. We passed dozens of native flocks of Vicuña, a rare and prized Andean camelid, and a stunning virgin landscape of Queñua forests. I had my doubts that in 2016 such an Andean world still exists, but I am now a believer and more humbled by my complete vulnerability to the mountains and the local inhabitants of this place.

    Also an important note for anyone interested in exploring the remote sections of the Qhapaq Ñan by foot…Do not take the venture lightly. Be absolutely sure that you are with native Quechua speakers and either yourself or someone else on your team has deep experience in the Andes. Had our team not spent many months planning for all eventualities, our arrival to Hospicio could have been a much more serious had things got lost in translation. We had maps of our route, letters of introduction, native Quechua speakers and a team with decades of experience in similar situations. This is the moment in the story when I say…Don’t try this at home! Unless of course your adventurous soul is accompanied by a strong sense of preparation.

    Nick Stanziano
    Chief Explorer
    SA Expeditions

    _________________

    Qhapaq Ñan – Día 8

    Hoy llegamos a la ciudad de Hospicio después de atravesar el pase de Apacheta Chico a una altura de casi 4,900 m.s.n.m., el punto más alto de esta expedición
    Hace doce años llegué a Perú con una mochila y después de haber explorado gran parte del país, puedo decir que Hospicio es el pueblo más desconectado del mundo exterior que conocí. Los locales solo hablan quechua y solo las personas que son autoridades del pueblo tienen un nivel de español muy básico. La explicación del por qué llegamos de entre las montañas con diez llamas escapa de toda lógica en este lugar. De alguna manera logramos convencer a la supersticiosa población de que no tenemos intensiones siniestras como un pishtaco (alguien que roba órganos humanos) o ladrones. Luego de esto, nos brindaron un pequeño espacio de tierra en donde pudimos acampar con un poco de pastizales decentes para nuestras llamas.

    Llegar a Hospicio nos tomó ocho horas, caminando a través de una remota puna andina sobre una parte del Qhapaq Ñan muy bien conservado por el frio aire seco y por la escasa presencia de personas. Pasamos junto a decenas de rebaños de vicuña, un camélido andino muy apreciado, además de poder contemplar un paisaje impresionante de los bosques vírgenes de queñua. Tenía mis dudas de que en este 2016 todavía existiera un mundo tan “andino”, pero puedo confirmar que ahora soy aún más creyente y además me siento vulnerable contra estas montañas y los locales de este lugar.

    Para cualquier persona interesada en la exploración de las secciones remotas del Qhapaq Ñan a pie, tengan en cuenta la siguiente nota… no tomen el riesgo a la ligera. Deben ser capaces de comunicarse con los locales de cada lugar, tener en cuenta que deben estar acompañados con quechua hablantes o nativos y expertos que tengan amplia experiencia en temas relacionados con los andes. Al no haber tenido muchos meses para planificar todas las posibles eventualidades que se podían presentar, nuestra llegada a Hospicio podría haber sido más grave si no hubiéramos sido capaces de conversar y poder explicar los motivos de nuestra presencia. Sin embargo, teníamos con nosotros mapas de la ruta que estábamos tomando, cartas de presentación, quechua hablantes nativos y un equipo con décadas de experiencia en situaciones similares. Este es el momento en la historia que digo… ¡no intenten esto en casa!, a menos que, por supuesto, su alma aventurera vaya acompañada de una fuerte preparación.

    Nick Stanziano
    Jefe Explorador
    SA Expeditions See more

    5 months ago

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    SA Qhapaq Ñan

    Tune in daily for captivating updates from SA Expeditions’ Chief Explorer, Nick Stanziano, and his team as they set out on their second ambitious expedition along the Great Inca Road, Qhapaq Ñan, See more

    Our Second Expedition Begins…

    Qhapaq Ñan – Day 1

    After 14 hours of traversing treacherous Andean roads, in route from Cusco towards Ayacucho, we arrived to Vilcashuamán. Vilcashuamán was a

    Being in the Andes, we will also be supported by our team of 12 llamas which arrived by truck after two days on the highway from Northern Peru. While llamas are an iconic Andean symbol, their use and familiarity has been declining since the Spanish introduced hooved animals as the principal beast of burden. Although the llama, in its elegance and native familiarity in the high Andes, give it certain advantages on long distance travel here. We want to understand and rely again, as the Inca’s did before us, on how to use of the llama as a pack animal.

    Today though, in our efforts just to get them loaded, we were reminded we were no Incas…The circus that ensued brought more than a 100 townsfolk and gawking tourists to watch us chase llamas around the archeological park in town that is the tallest ushnu (raised ceremonial platform) in the whole Inca empire. We had gangs of young children, in an amazing display of ability skipping across the terraced Andes, pursuing llamas that were on the loose escaping their load.

    Half the town must have been in some way part of the llamas’ presence and our ragtag team of 3 Cusqueños and two gringos, as we chased them down. In the end, we found one of the llamas so ornery and with a zeal to run, that we decided to sell it for 300 soles (90 dollars) to the man who also played dressed as the Inca king to take pictures with tourists. We declined his first offer, but soon found it a convenient way to find it a home that wasn’t part of our expedition. In the end, we decided to camp another night and think about things and find some more clarity on how this is all going to work out.

    I’ll close this first post with optimism and braced for the 200 miles of adventure ahead on the great Qhapaq Ñan.

    Nick Stanziano
    Chief Explorer
    SA Expeditions

    _________________

    Qhapaq Ñan – Día 1. Comenzando la segunda expedición..

    Luego de catorce horas de atravesar dificultosos caminos andinos, desde Cusco hacia Ayacucho, llegamos a Vilcashuamán. Vilcashuamán fue el centro del Imperio Inca durante el siglo XV, siendo el punto medio geográfico del mundo Inca que iba desde el norte de Argentina hasta el sur de Colombia a lo largo de la costa occidental de América del Sur. Se dice que Vilcashuamán fue la casa de retiro de Pachacutec, el gran inca rey que muchos creen construyó Machu Picchu. Vilcashuamán toma aproximadamente cuatro semanas a pie o en llama en el gran camino del Inca, el Qhapaq Ñan, trayecto que estaremos haciendo el año que viene. Pero esta visita comienza con otra expedición a lo largo del Qhapaq Ñan por una distancia de 320 kilómetros en ruta hacia el Pacífico a un oasis en el desierto cerca de la moderna ciudad de Ica, a donde llegaremos a finales de octubre.

    Estando en los Andes, también recibimos el apoyo de nuestro equipo de doce llamas que llegaron en camión después de dos días de viaje por la carretera desde el norte de Perú. Mientras que las llamas son un símbolo icono de los Andes, su uso y la familiaridad ha ido disminuyendo desde que los españoles introdujeron otros animales principales de carga. Sin embargo, la llama, con elegancia y familiaridad nativa de los Andes, tiene ciertas ventajas en viajes de larga distancia en este terreno. Queremos entender y confiar de nuevo, como lo hicieron los incas antes que nosotros, los contextos de uso de la llama como animal de carga.

    Sin embargo, hoy en nuestro esfuerzo de alistar a las llamas, recordamos que no somos Incas… lo que a continuación pasó fue un circo que logró que más de cien ciudadanos y turistas nos observen en una persecución de llamas por el parque arqueológico de la ciudad que es el más alto ushnu (elevada plataforma ceremonial) en todo el imperio Inca. Tuvimos bandas de niños pequeños, dándonos una impresionante muestra de la capacidad de saltar al otro lado de las terrazas andinas, persiguiendo llamas que estaban a punto de escapar de su carga.

    La mitad de la ciudad fue partícipe de la organización de las llamas, junto a nuestro equipo de tres Cusqueños y dos gringos. Al final, encontramos una de las llamas tan intratables y con un afán de correr, que decidimos venderla por 300 soles (90 dólares) al hombre que estando ahí vestido como un Inca aprovechó en tomarse unas fotos con los turistas. Inicialmente rechazamos una primera oferta, pero pronto pareció una manera conveniente de encontrarle una casa a esta llama. Al final, decidimos acampar otra noche y pensar en las cosas y encontrar algo más de claridad sobre cómo todo esto va a funcionar.

    Voy a cerrar este primer post con optimismo y preparándome para los 320 kilómetros de aventura por delante en el gran Qhapaq Ñan.

    Nick Stanziano
    Jefe explorador
    SA Expeditions See more

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