Qhapaq Ñan

Published on November 4th, 2016 | by Nicholas Stanziano

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Qhapaq Ñan–Second Expedition,Part 2

Qhapaq Ñan – Day 8.  Second Expedition (Part 2)

After a sleeping through a loud and boisterous night, we left Paras ascending towards the highest point of our journey at Apacheta Chico at 16,000 feet. However, after walking 10 hours yesterday, we decided to pace ourselves, trekking only three hours to Barrios Altos about halfway up from the Pampa River valley to the pass, which seems to be the last waystation before going up into the clouds. Were all in good spirits as the llamas are recharging with some of the best pasture yet and the team is napping and lounging around the camp which also happens to be the local school.

I know, camping at the local school seems to be a pattern…It always has water, fields for the lamas and, if needed, covering from rain and hail. Our early arrival today meant we had plenty of time to meet with the students and discuss the Qhapaq Ñan as their teacher had asked. The exchange of a campground for a class lesson is always a hell of a trade and the team and kids all have a kick. It’s a pretty powerful moment when you can introduce children and early teens to this great road that traverses through their remote village.

After walking 400 miles in two expeditions on the Qhapaq Ñan, I’m now realizing the sheer numbers of schools we can engage with during the 2,300 miles we have yet to hike next year. We can introduce the Qhapaq Ñan and the possibilities of tourism to thousands of students across a significant swath of the Andes.

For those in Peru’s ministry of culture, and especially the department of Qhapaq Ñan who we believe are reading this blog…There is an incredible opportunity with your support during all our expeditions to develop and distribute simple and easy to understand booklets about the Qhapaq Ñan to every school along the way, thus fostering the next generation of Peruvians who will be responsible for preserving and utilizing this living road.

We’ll leave this thought here with some pictures of the class today in Barrios Altos. Tomorrow we ascend into the snow covered peaks of the high Andes by way of the Inca corridor.

Nick Stanziano
Chief Explorer
SA Expeditions

 

Qhapaq Ñan – Día 8

Después de intentar dormir en una noche bastante bulliciosa, salimos de Paras ascendiendo hacia el punto más alto de nuestro viaje, Apacheta Chico, ubicado a 4,850 msnm.

Ayer, luego de haber caminado aproximadamente diez horas, decidimos manejar un nuevo ritmo, caminamos sólo tres horas hacia Barrios Altos, ubicado a mitad del camino entre el valle del río Pampa, lo que parece ser la última estación de paso antes de estar a la altura de las nubes. Todos nos encontramos de buen humor mientras las llamas se alimentan con algunos de los mejores pastizales mientras el equipo descansa en el campamento, que ubicamos en lo que es una escuela local.

Acampar en la escuela local parece ser un patrón… un buen patrón porque cuentan con agua, campos para las llamas y, si es necesario, lugares donde podemos protegernos de la lluvia y el granizo. La intención al llegar temprano hoy fue la de tener bastante tiempo libre para reunirnos con los estudiantes y discutir sobre el Qhapaq Ñan como su maestro nos lo pidió. El intercambio de una lección de clase por el espacio donde acampar es un súper trueque para el equipo y para los niños, una especie de ganar-ganar. Es muy poderoso cuando se puede emerger a los niños y adolescentes a esta gran carretera que atraviesa el remoto pueblo donde viven.

Después de caminar 650 kilómetros durante estas dos expediciones por el gran camino inca, el Qhapaq Ñan, me doy cuenta de la gran cantidad de escuelas con las que podemos trabajar durante los 3,700 kilómetros que todavía tenemos por delante en la excursión del próximo año. Podemos introducir el Qhapaq Ñan y las posibilidades de turismo a miles de estudiantes por una importante franja que cruza los Andes.

Dirigiéndonos a todos aquellos que forman parte del Ministerio de Cultura del Perú y especialmente al departamento del Qhapaq Ñan que creemos están leyendo este blog, no queremos dejar de mencionar que hay una gran oportunidad que con su apoyo durante todas nuestras expediciones podríamos desarrollar, distribuyendo a todas las escuelas de manera fácil y rápida a lo largo del camino inca folletos sobre el Qhapaq Ñan con el fin de fomentar en la próxima generación de peruanos la responsabilidad, conservación y la correcta utilización de este camino de vida.

Finalizamos este pensamiento junto con algunas fotos de las clases que hoy dimos en Barrios Altos. Mañana subiremos a los altos picos nevados de los Andes a través del corredor Inca.

Nick Stanziano
Jefe Explorador
SA Expeditions

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Qhapaq Ñan – Day 9.  Second Expedition (Part 2)

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 a backpack, having explored much of the country, I can say Hospicio is the town most disconnected from the outside world I’ve ever seen. Very basic Spanish is limited to a few of the town authorities and our explanation of why exactly we showed up with 10 llamas from the mountains above escapes all logic locally. We have somehow managed to convince the superstitious town that were not anything sinister like a Pishtaco (someone that steals human organs) or rustlers. We were therefore granted a small square of dirt to place our camp with some decent grass above for the llamas.

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 9

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

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Qhapaq Ñan – Day 10.  Second Expedition (Part 2)

We left Hospicio promptly at 7:00am, taking the wrong direction and losing all sight of the Qhapaq Ñan. It was two passes later that we realized our error, with Flavio convinced he knew the correct route from Hospicio all along. I wouldn’t be surprised as he’s learning fast the rhythms of the Qhapaq Ñan, and his native Quechua and Spanish catch small nuisances from locals that I can’t…John on the other hand relies on the practicalities of the compass and GPS, knowing that if we’re heading in the right direction, the road will appear…He’s convinced the morning detour he championed was only 45 minutes extra. I originally agreed with John on what was eventually the wrong route, but agreed with Flavio that the detour added closer to 2 hours to our hike.

Eventually, we caught the main Qhapaq Ñan going north west towards Licapa, which lies on a modern freeway called “Vía Libertadores” that goes from the coast to the Andes. From this point forward the Qhapaq Ñan will head west, overlapping at times with this contemporary thoroughfare, similar to many roads Peru built in the 20th century that followed along the Qhapaq Ñan.

Licapa, being a highway town is a complete contrast from Hospicio. We can use the word “tourism” with locals to explain our arrival and achieve a mutual understanding. This is in part because Licapa has SUV’s blasting through it at 60 miles per hour, and many inhabitants have personal and business ties to the regional cities of Ayacucho and Ica. The windblown town at 13,000 feet is cold, friendly and desolate…We’re glad to be here.

Nick Stanziano
Chief Explorer
SA Expeditions

 

Qhapaq Ñan – Día 10

 

A las 7:00 de la mañana dejamos Hospicio. Lastimosamente tomamos la dirección equivocada y perdimos de vista el Qhapaq Ñan. Luego de atravesar dos colinas nos dimos cuenta del error, a pesar de que Flavio estaba convencido de que conocía la ruta. No me sorprende que este aprendiendo el ritmo del Qhapaq Ñan rápidamente, y que su idioma nativo, quechua, y el español sean aspectos fundamentales que le permiten recoger los comentarios de los locales que para mí no son fáciles de captar. Por el contrario, John, se basa en los aspectos prácticos de la brújula y el GPS, sabiendo que, si vamos en la dirección establecida, aparecerá eventualmente el camino.  Él está convencido de que el desvío de la mañana solo sumó cuarenta y cinco minutos extras. Pero estoy de acuerdo con Flavio, que indica que el error inicial añadió cerca de dos horas más a la caminata.

Con el tiempo, logramos retomar la ruta principal del Qhapaq Ñan en dirección a Licapa, hacia el noroeste en donde se encuentra una autopista moderna llamada “Vía Libertadores”, la misma que va desde la costa hasta los Andes. A partir de este punto en adelante nos dirigiremos hacia el oeste por el Qhapaq Ñan, intercambiando en ocasiones con la carretera moderna, similar a muchos caminos en Perú construidos en el siglo XX que continuaron a lo largo del Qhapaq Ñan.

Licapa, siendo una ciudad sobre la carretera moderna es un completo contraste de Hospicio. Se puede utilizar la palabra “turismo” con los locales mientras explicamos el porqué de nuestra llegada y lograr un entendimiento mutuo. Esto es en parte debido a que por Licapa pasan muchos autos y un gran número de habitantes tienen vínculos personales y de negocios con las ciudades de la región de Ayacucho e Ica.

El viento a casi 4,000 m.s.n.m es frío y seco pero con un efecto amigable.. estamos contentos de estar aquí.

Nick Stanziano.
Jefe Explorador
SA Expeditions

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Qhapaq Ñan – Day 11.  Second Expedition (Part 2)

We began the part of the expedition that involves walking on a paved highway. An unfortunate reality of the Qhapaq Ñan as you get within a few hundred miles to the coast is that much of it is completely gone. In fact, from Licapa until our camp we walked 25 miles on pavement and only 5 on Inca roads. The road was nowhere to be found for the first half of the day until the town of Rumichaca where we crossed the rock bridge over the river (Rumi-Chaca means rock-bridge in Quechua) and began to climb the next pass. It was a frustrating day of questioning our map, questioning routes and questioning ourselves. As well, walking with llamas on a narrow, curvy highway with big rigs steamrolling around the corners is just not that fun.

We didn’t even leave sight of the highway until our last 45 minutes before camp, which considering how the day went, was a pretty decent way to finish. We’re camped at a high lagoon with pink flamingos and no campesinos or towns in sight. It’s absolutely frigid though being at 15,000 feet above sea level.

It’s been 10 straight days now of trekking in the high altitudes of the Andes. Besides the half day from Paras to Barrios Altos, we’ve been walking 7-9 hours a day. We’ve pushed the envelope on this particular expedition to understand the limits of the llamas and humans involved. Something we will do in future expeditions is to take a zero day (No miles walked) at least every week and be more generous on half days when a place deems extra time.

I’m cold, achy, tired and going to bed.

Nick Stanziano
Chief Explorer
SA Expeditions

 

Qhapaq Ñan – Día 11

En esta parte de la expedición tuvimos que caminar sobre la carretera pavimentada. A medida que vamos avanzando varios kilómetros hacia la costa podemos notar que gran parte del Qhapaq Ñan ha desaparecido por completo. De hecho, desde Licapa hasta nuestro campamento caminamos 40 kilómetros en el pavimento y sólo 8 fueron por este gran camino Inca. No pudimos encontrar señales del mismo si no hasta la primera mitad del día cuando llegamos a la localidad de Rumichaca, en donde cruzamos un puente de roca sobre el río (Rumi-Chaca significa roca-puente en quechua) para empezar a subir por el siguiente paso. Fue un día lleno de frustraciones en donde tuvimos que debatir con nuestro mapa sobre las rutas y la manera como las interpretamos. Al mismo tiempo, tener que caminar con llamas en una estrecha carretera con curvas, por donde pasan grandes camiones no es tan divertido.

Recién, cuarenta y cinco minutos antes de llegar al lugar donde decidimos acampar pudimos observar parte del Qhapaq Ñan, por lo que teniendo en cuenta cómo fue desarrollándose el día, fue una buena manera de terminar la caminata por hoy. Estamos acampando al lado de una laguna con flamencos rosas y sin campesinos o pueblos a la vista. Nos encontramos a 4,500 m.s.n.m, y hace muchísimo frio.

Hoy se cumple diez días seguidos de caminata en las alturas de los Andes. Además del medio día en Paras hacia Barrios Altos, hemos caminado entre siete y nueve horas al día, exigiéndonos en esta expedición de manera especial para poder comprender los límites de las llamas y de todas las personas involucrados.

Algo que haremos en futuras expediciones será tomar un día cero, sin caminar, al menos una vez a la semana y ser más generosos brindando medio día cuando algún lugar requiera tiempo extra.

Siento frío, estoy dolorido y cansado, me voy a la cama.

Nick Stanziano
Jefe Explorador
SA Expeditions

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Qhapaq Ñan – Day 12.  Second Expedition (Part 2)

The morning began with Valentine, Nicolas and Flavio scouring the mountains for an hour looking for the llamas. Sometime between midnight and 4am in minus 20-degree Fahrenheit weather, they went to graze strategically a few mountains over, where local female llamas lived. In our initial encounter with the females earlier in the day, they ran down the hill at our flock and then our llamas only briefly pursued them when they ran off. I guess there was some late night, unfinished llama love high in the Andes.

When we finally herded the llamas back to our lake camp, we departed on the Qhapaq Ñan to the tiny hamlet of Chaupi arriving by mid-morning. The only four people in town were very welcoming, offering us each a cup of oatmeal with extra sugar and conversation about local archeological sites. After Chaupi, it was on and off the Qhapaq Ñan and modern highway for another 20 miles till the town of Los Libertadores where we set camp.

We’ve entered the department of Huancavelica, which is distinct from department of Ayacucho at the very least by the type of hats women wear…I think you could classify the thousands of local cultures in Peru just by doing a study of women’s hats. Our handler in Los Libertadores is a local matriarch and restaurateur, wearing the local woven hat with blue ribbon. She manages to cook the food, run the adjoining store and watch her soap opera on the first TV we’ve seen in two weeks.

Tomorrow we begin to drop rapidly in elevation towards Incawasi (house of the Inca) and nearby Huaytara…We will camp two nights at the Inca site, resting the llamas before they head to their new home in the Choquechaca valley in Cusco by truck.

Nick Stanziano
Chief Explorer
SA Expeditions

 

Qhapaq Ñan – Día 12

El día comenzó con Valentín, Nicolas y Flavio recorriendo las montañas durante una hora en busca de las llamas. En algún momento entre la medianoche y las cuatro de la mañana, a menos de 25 grados centígrados, decidieron ir a pastar estratégicamente a una de las montañas alejadas, en donde se encontraban otras llamas, la mayoría hembras. Las llamas hembras, en el primer encuentro con nosotros, corrieron por la colina hacia nuestro rebaño, al que siguieron brevemente. Fue un final de amor en los Andes peruanos.

Finalmente, condujimos a las llamas de nuevo hacia nuestro campamento en el lago y caminamos por el Qhapaq Ñan hacia la pequeña aldea de Chaupi, arribando a media mañana. Las únicas cuatro personas en este pueblo fueron muy acogedoras, nos ofrecieron una taza de avena con bastante azúcar, y conversamos acerca de los sitios arqueológicos de la zona. Después de Chaupi, caminamos hasta la ciudad de Los Libertadores entre el Qhapaq Ñan y la moderna autopista durante otros 32 kilómetros, donde instauramos el campamento.

Hemos ingresado al departamento de Huancavelica, que es distinto al departamento de Ayacucho. Uno de las características notables que diferencian a estas ciudades es el tipo de sombreros que visten las mujeres…Los miles de culturas locales pueden ser clasificadas en Perú sólo haciendo un estudio de los sombreros que llevan puestos las mujeres. La mujer responsable de cuidarnos en esta parte del trayecto, Los Libertadores, es una matriarca local que usa un sombrero tejido de la localidad con una cinta azul. Se las arregla para cocinar el almuerzo, atender en la tienda de al lado y ver una telenovela en el primer televisor que hemos visto en dos semanas.

Mañana empezaremos a caminar hacia Incawasi (casa del Inca) y cerca de Huaytará. Acamparemos en el sitio Inca dos noches y permitiremos que las llamas descansen un poco antes de ser llevadas en camión a su nuevo hogar en el valle de Choquechaca en Cusco.

Nick Stanziano
Chief Explorer
SA Expeditions

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Qhapaq Ñan – Day 13.  Second Expedition (Part 2)

The Qhapaq Ñan dropping from Los Libertadores towards the provincial capital of Huaytará was some of the best we’ve seen in days. It took us only three hours of walking down to get to Incahuasi, an important stop on an important Inca road…We were greeted by two leery, armed vigilantes from the local community that were on watch against vicuña poachers. After getting through the formalities of identification, purpose and extended conversation, our new contacts came back with the president and community officials of Huaytará. It turns out they wanted to put us up tomorrow in the town hotel and give us a formal welcome Huaytará style, parading the llamas down main street and everything. It will be interesting to see how this all goes.

After our night in Huaytará, the llamas and Valentine will go to Cusco by truck and the other four on the team will travel by vehicle to Tambo Colorado and finish the expedition. After Huaytará, the Qhapaq Ñan disappears under the highway…designed not for llamas, but for wheels connected to a metal chassis.

For now, were enjoying Incahuasi as one of the best camps we’ve had in 500 miles of Qhapaq Ñan in two expeditions. It has many similarities like that of Intihuatana on day 2 of this trip, whose quality of stonework is of the finest anywhere in the Inca empire. It’s still serving its purpose of shelter and rejuvenation for us now as it did 500 years ago for Inca traveler.

Nick Stanziano
Chief Explorer
SA Expeditions

 

Qhapaq Ñan – Día 13

En la ruta desde Los Libertadores hacia la capital de la provincia de Huaytará, pudimos encontrar los mejores tramos del Qhapaq Ñan que hemos visto en estos últimos días de expediciones. Nos tomó solo tres horas caminando llegar a Incahuasi, una importante parada en una carretera de Inca. Aquí nos recibieron dos vigilantes que estaban de guardia, armados y recelosos de la comunidad, cuidando a las vicuñas de cazadores furtivos. Después de presentarnos entregando identificaciones y comentándoles el motivo de nuestra presencia tuvimos una conversación larga. Estas dos personas se ausentaron un momento y regresaron acompañados del presidente de la comunidad y funcionarios de Huaytará. Ellos indicaron que querían que nos hospedemos en el hotel de la ciudad, dándonos de esta manera la bienvenida a Huaytará de manera formal. Además, nos pidieron que las llamas desfilen por la calle principal. Será interesante ver cómo van sucediendo las cosas.

Después de la noche en Huaytará, las llamas y Valentín viajaran a Cusco en camión, y los otros cuatro que quedamos viajaremos en un vehículo a Tambo Colorado y terminaremos la expedición. Después de Huaytará, el Qhapaq Ñan desaparece debajo de la autopista la cual no está diseñada para las llamas, pero sí para todos aquellos autos o vehículos.

Por ahora, estamos disfrutando de Incahuasi, uno de los mejores lugares a través 800 kilómetros que incluyen a las dos expediciones, en donde hemos acampado. Es muy similar al Intihuatana, lugar al que llegamos en el segundo día de esta excursión, cuya calidad de mampostería es una de las mejores del imperio Inca. El propósito de refugio y descanso que nos brinda en la actualidad es el mismo que brindó hace 500 años al viajero Inca.

Nick Stanziano
Jefe Explorador
SA Expeditions

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Qhapaq Ñan – Day 14.  Second Expedition (Part 2)

Huaytará, being a provincial capital, is the largest settlement we’ve been to in 14 days of trekking on the Qhapaq Ñan. It’s essentially an Inca town at its foundation, with Spanish and contemporary edifices above. There is no better example of this than the catholic church which is half Inca temple and half Spanish architecture (see picture). The quality of the stonework and the Inca terraces that still serve as property divisions here give a glimpse into the beauty and grandeur of what was an important Inca city, situated between the two major ancient administration centers of Vilcashuamán and Chincha, which are connected by the Qhapaq Ñan (see map).

When the Spanish conquest began in 1532, and after the capturing and killing of the Inca king Atahuapa, the conquistadors expanded along the corridors of the great Inca roads where the most important native settlements were…It provided gold, fertile land and native labor to build prized haciendas. Huaytará was one of these places…Sacked, diminished and converted into a European worldview.

After hearing the promises of community officials who had come to our camp the day before at Incahuasi…I admit I had brief visions of arriving to Huaytará with offerings of gold, platters of exotic food, and maybe even a royal title myself…Although like most foolish explorers chasing their imagination of a world long gone, the promises of a grand welcome did not come about. We found ourselves paying 15 dollars for a bed in one of the only hotels in town while Flavio, Nicolas and Valentine set up the camp tent in the garden with the llamas. We shared the local accommodations with a hodgepodge of out of town workers and a few policemen who patrol the local highway. I guess I’ll have to be content with my imagination and the simple pleasures of a bed for first time in two weeks.

Nick Stanziano
Chief Explorer
SA Expeditions

 

Qhapaq Ñan – Día 14

Huaytará es una de las siete provincias que conforman el departamento de Huancavelica y es el asentamiento más grande en el que hemos estado en estos catorce días de expediciones sobre el Qhapaq Ñan. Básicamente, se trata de una ciudad fundada en la época Inca, con edificaciones españolas y contemporáneas. Un gran ejemplo de esto es que la iglesia católica es mitad arquitectura Inca y mitad española (véase la foto). La calidad de la mampostería y las terrazas incas hacen posible que, en la actualidad, se usen como divisiones de las propiedades que dan una visión de la belleza y grandeza de lo que fue esta ciudad Inca, situada entre los dos centros principales administrativos de Vilcashuamán y Chincha, conectados por el Qhapaq Ñan (véase el mapa).

La conquista española inició en 1532, y después de la captura y asesinato del gran Inca Atahualpa, los españoles expandieron su colonia a lo largo de los tramos de los caminos Inca, donde estaban ubicados los asentamientos indígenas más importantes teniendo oro, tierras fértiles y mano de obra nativa para construir grandes haciendas. Huaytará fue uno de estos lugares… destituidos, degradados y convertidos en una visión del mundo europeo.

Después de escuchar las promesas de los funcionarios de la comunidad en Incahuasi quienes habían venido a nuestro campamento el día anterior, debo admitir que tenía breves visiones sobre como seria llegar a Huaytará. Ser recibido con ofrendas de oro, bandejas de comida exótica, y tal vez incluso un título real a mi nombre… Aunque, como la mayoría de los exploradores persiguiendo con imaginación un mundo que ya no existe, la promesa de una gran bienvenida no se concretó. Tuvimos que pagar quince dólares por una cama en uno de los pocos hoteles en la ciudad, mientras que Flavio, Nicolás y Valentín establecieron el campamento en el jardín con las llamas. Compartimos el alojamiento con locales, trabajadores de la ciudad y unos cuantos pocos policías que se encargan de patrullar en la carretera local. Creo que voy a tener que contentarme con lo que imagino y con el placer de poder dormir en una cama por primera vez en dos semanas.

Nick Stanziano
Jefe Explorador
SA Expeditions

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modern-day-huaytara

_______________

Qhapaq Ñan – Day 15.  Second Expedition (Part 2)

The llamas headed to their new home in the Choquechaca valley by truck, while John, Flavio, Nicolas and myself headed west towards Humay by vehicle on the Qhapaq Ñan, which was now only a paved highway. We first stopped at Tambo Colorado, a unique Inca site with significant coastal influence of adobe constructions and Inca trapezoidal design throughout. Just a few miles past Tambo Colorado, we enquired locally to arrive at the location of a mysterious band of thousands of holes in the ground in which this link to a recent article on the subject further explains.

Flavio and Nicolas though were more excited about getting close to the Ocean, which they had never seen before with their own eyes. We were so close and their interest so palpable, we decided to head to the nearby coastal bay of Paracas to catch a glimpse and enjoy a Peruvian ceviche. Platters of fish…raw, fried, sautéed in rice with spices and peppers…The seemingly exotic flavor profiles compared to the stoic tastes of the high Andes, and seeing the wonder of Flavio and Nicolas gazing at the mighty Pacific was a satisfying way to finish this journey…

But before we end, it’s important to mention those behind the scenes that helped us pull this expedition off and share it with you all real time…Rodrigo Cabrera and his team at KMcero (kmcero.pe) who’s active consultation and contacts for the project have been indispensable. It’s also their team that built the beautiful maps you see daily and the video production of this exploration you will see soon…Karhen Flores and Gabriela Montero at Lima Tours have been tireless as our logistical backbone in the office. All the details from equipment, transportation, llamas and moral support have been so appreciated…As always, Alicia Moreno with SA Expeditions graces us with her beautiful translation of my California English into Peruvian Spanish…Riva Bacquet, for her leadership of SA Expeditions while I’m away and making sure nothing falls through the cracks…The communities of Choquechaca and Huilloq in the Sacred Valley of Cusco of which our trusted llameros and Andean team of Valentine, Flavio and Nicolas come from. Without the support of their largest families and their constant teachings of the Andes, I would have never felt prepared to embark on such a project. And, last but not least, John Leviers who came back this time around and walked every mile of the route. His expeditionary philosophy and technical understanding of the physiological and mental challenges of such an undertaking has been critical. Not to mention his firsthand knowledge of thousands of miles of Qapaq Ñan and his studies of the Inca for over 25 years.

Stay tuned for our next Qhapaq Ñan journey in December where we will travel from the Peruvian Andes at Jauja to the coast at Pachacamac. It will be our last exploration of the transversal routes (from the Andes to the Coast) before embarking on the great 2000 mile longitudinal route (south along the crest of the Andes) next year from Cuenca, Ecuador to Cusco, Peru.

Nick Stanziano
Chief Explorer
SA Expeditions

 

Qhapaq Ñan – Día 15

 

Las llamas fueron llevadas en camión a su nuevo hogar en el valle de Choquechaca, mientras que John, Flavio, Nicolás y yo nos dirigimos en vehículo por el Qhapaq Ñan en dirección oeste hacia Humay, carretera que ahora solo es pavimentada. Primero nos detuvimos en Tambo Colorado, un sitio Inca, único y con gran influencia costera, que cuenta con construcciones de adobe y diseños trapezoidales Inca. Unos pocos kilómetros más allá preguntamos a los locales como podíamos llegar al misterioso lugar de miles de agujeros en el suelo.

Flavio y Nicolas pensaron que estaríamos muy emocionados al tener el Océano tan cerca de nosotros, por que ellos nunca antes habían tenido la oportunidad de verlo con sus propios ojos. Estábamos tan cerca y el interés que tenían era muy evidente. Es por esto que decidimos ir a la bahía de Paracas para echar un vistazo y aprovechar la oportunidad de disfrutar un ceviche peruano. Platos de pescado en diversas presentaciones, crudos, fritos, salteados, con arroz, especias y pimientos, todos estos sabores exóticos que podían ser comparados con aquellos sabores de los Andes, y poder ver la maravillosa reacción de Flavio y Nicolás contemplando el majestuoso Pacífico fue una manera satisfactoria de terminar este viaje.

Antes de terminar es importante mencionar a todos aquellos quienes están detrás del escenario, aquellos que nos ayudaron a sacar esta expedición adelante, la misma que pudo ser compartida con todos ustedes en tiempo real. Rodrigo Cabrera y su equipo de KMcero (kmcero.pe) quienes con su activa consultoría e importantes contactos hicieron posible este gran proyecto. Es también quien junto a su equipo construyeron los bellos mapas que se pueden observar en las publicaciones diarias, así como la producción del vídeo de esta exploración, el mismo que pronto podremos relevar. Karhen Flores y Gabriela Montero de Lima Tours, quienes desde sus oficinas, han sido la columna vertebral de la logística usada en la expedición. Todos los detalles de equipamiento, transporte, llamas y el apoyo moral fueron necesarios y muy apreciados. Como siempre, gracias a Alicia Moreno de SA Expeditions quien nos deleita con su bella traducción a un español peruano desde mi inglés californiano. Riva Bacquet, de SA Expeditions, por el gran liderazgo mostrado y por asegurarse de que todo salga bien mientras estuve realizando la expedicion. Muchas gracias también a las comunidades de Choquechaca y Huilloq en el Valle Sagrado del Cusco de donde son nuestros cuidadores de llamas en quienes confiamos, y a nuestro equipo Valentín, Flavio y Nicolas. Sin el apoyo y constantes enseñanzas que les brindan sus familias sobre los Andes yo nunca me hubiera sentido seguro y preparado para embarcarme en un proyecto de este tipo. Y, por último, pero no menos importante, John Leviers, quien hizo cada kilómetro de esta segunda ruta con nosotros. Su filosofía expedicionaria y la comprensión técnica de los retos fisiológicos y mentales de un proyecto de esta magnitud ha sido crítica así como toda la experiencia y conocimiento de primera mano y los estudios que realizó sobre este gran camino durante más de 25 años.

Manténgase en sintonía y no se pierdan nuestra próxima expedición por el Qhapaq Ñan, la cual realizaremos en diciembre desde Jauja, Andes peruanos en dirección a la costa, Pachacamac. Será nuestra última exploración de las rutas transversales antes de embarcarnos en el gran recorrido longitudinal por 3,200 kilómetros. (desde el sur por los picos de los Andes) Cuenca, Ecuador a Cusco, Perú.

Nick Stanziano
Jefe Explorador
SA Expeditions

Mapa Vilcashuamán-Chincha Alta

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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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    1 day ago

    Mashpi Lodge – A sanctuary for your senses in Ecuador

    During your visit to the Galapagos or Ecuadorian Mainland, the Cloud Forest is a wonderful off the beaten path add-on. One of our favorite Luxury lodges is Mashpi Lodge, included as one ‘National See more

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    CLIENT REVIEW:
    Dear Kim, We returned home early this morning from an absolutely fabulous trip to Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu that you prepared for my wife and me and our grandson Liam. From the

    Every hotel that you selected for us in Lima, Cusco, and Aguas Calientes was superb. Every tour that you arranged for us in each of those areas was interesting to Liam, as well as Grandma and Popa. You made certain that interspersed with Inka history there were adequate activities that you knew would fascinate a 13-year old boy. A really big hit was the chocolate tour were we learned about the process of making chocolate, from the harvesting of the cocoa bean to making our own chocolate candy, which we were able to bring home with us.

    Percy, our tour guide in Lima, was quite knowledgeable, and gave us a very good overview of the history of Lima in the short time we were there. The tour of the Museo Larco, where Percy was able to distill the 45,000 Inka artifacts into a visit that all 3 of us enjoyed, was the highlight of our Lima visit. Lima is definitely a city we wished we would have had more time to explore further.

    Of course, the highlight of our trip was the visit to Cusco and Machu Picchu, and we could not have asked for a better guide than Johan Sueros and our very skillful driver, Abel. Shortly prior to leaving on our journey when you sent us our final itinerary, you told me that we were going to have the absolute best guide, Johan. You could not have been more accurate. He is bright, articulate, totally fluent in English, kind and just an altogether sweet person. On the drive from Cusco to Aguas Calientes we stopped by a small town, Maras, where we visited an acquaintance of Johan’s, a 92-year old man who has been hand-making hats for more than 40 years. What an absolutely delightful man and very fun visit, where we tried on some of the typical hats of Maras.

    Johan is passionate about his Incan heritage, and he brought Machu Picchu and the Incan culture alive for us. He was totally flexible, and gave us options when he realized that perhaps the long climb up the nearly 1000 steps of the very steep mountain for the best view of Machu Picchu might be difficult for us. He wanted us to be happy and to enjoy our visit. I realize that he has been doing this for a number of years, but Johan has an uncanny ability to time things so perfectly, that there is very little down time, where you are waiting for a bus or a train. When he says you’ll be at a restaurant at a specific time or back in Cusco at a specific time, you can count on it. He tried and succeeded in satisfying all of our needs.

    As you know, on our last day in Cusco, Liam was ill, and we needed to cancel horseback riding that we had scheduled for that morning. Even though we had already said our good-byes to Johan the night before, I contacted him around 8:30AM to cancel the tour. He immediately got in touch with you, at 5:45AM PST. Within in minutes you had everything under control, inquiring if we needed a physician to see Liam. Fortunately, I think he was just exhausted, and by the afternoon he was back to himself. However, mid-morning I received a phone call from your local representative in Peru inquiring about Liam’s health, again offering a physician if needed, and offering to contact the hotel in Cusco to extend our check-out time.

    Kim, as you remember, we had some very specific issues that you had to address before we even left for our trip. You had to be certain that any provided meal, be it box lunch (which was excellent), or lunch on the road, or dinner in Aguas Calientes, had to be vegetarian. You had to make certain that we returned from zip lining by a specific time on Friday afternoon. Several days before we were scheduled to arrive, I changed our itinerary to add an additional day in Lima. You handled each and every request expertly.

    I found SA Expeditions in July, 2016, just by searching the internet for companies that provided tours in Peru. I read the reviews on the company, and was impressed, but also a bit skeptical. After all, I was trusting a company in California that I didn’t personally know to plan and execute a trip to Peru that wasn’t going to take place until February, 2017. Well, now I am a believer! You, SA Expeditions, the guides, the drivers, the hotels, the tours, etc. have all exceeded our expectations. Thank you!

    With sincere appreciation,

    – Eddie & Shelley S (Connecticut)
    Photographed at Machu Picchu See more

    2 weeks ago

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    2 weeks ago

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    2 weeks ago

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    3 weeks ago

    The Great Inca Trail

    The Journey Continues! Follow the adventure day-by-day on the treks facebook page, ‘The Great Inca Trail.’

    *Versión en español abajo*

    April 30 – Day 19

    Our local guide, Shanta, also happens to have one of the best restaurants in Vilcabamba, named after him. It was a natural place to go and meet one

    They also have a mountain of information, at their home in Vilcabamba, which they graciously invited us over to review. Eventually, sending us on our way, with the most detailed maps I’ve ever seen of Peru. The ESCALE maps, published by Peru’s Ministry of Education, will be of great help and supplement the maps that Ricardo Espinosa published in “La Gran Ruta Inca”, a bible of sorts, for our expedition. Espinosa’s maps focus on the location and remanence of the The Great Inca Trail from Quito, Ecuador to La Paz, Bolivia, which he walked for 7 months in the early 2000’s.

    After all the analysis and conversation at Shanta and the Kunstaetter’s home, we found ourselves reconnecting with The Great Inca Trail today after 15 miles and over 6,000 feet of ascent, over two mountains. It was a tough, steep day, with our new local guide, Tuco, who has a ranch, at the only suitable camp within the entire day’s walk. Tomorrow, we continue on The Great Inca Trail through a non-native, out of control pine forest, hopefully making it through, to the road towards Amaluza.

    Nick Stanziano
    Chief Supervisor
    SA Expeditions

    __________________

    30 de Abril – Día 19

    Shanta, el guía de la localidad, no sólo conoce muy bien esta parte del territorio sino que también tiene uno de los mejores restaurantes en Vilcabamba bajo su nombre. Este lugar fue ideal para conocer a una pareja experta en expediciones conformada por Robert y Daisy Kunstaetter quienes juntos, han caminado miles de kilómetros en Ecuador, Perú y Bolivia, y desarrollaron una de las guías más completas que convirtieron luego en un libro llamado “Trekking in Ecuador”. En Junio de este año un segundo libro llamado “Trekking in Peru” saldrá a la venta y considero tendrá el mismo impacto que la primera mencionada.

    Esta pareja de esposos cuenta con una cantidad enorme de información. Ellos nos invitaron a su casa en Vilcabamba para poder conversar y observar lo que tienen. Luego de una productiva reunión retomamos nuestra caminata llevando a la mano los mapas más detallados que he visto del Perú. Los mapas ESCALE, publicados por el Ministerio de Educación del Perú, serán de gran ayuda y complementarán los mapas que Ricardo Espinosa publicó en “La Gran Ruta Inca” – una especie de Biblia en nuestra expedición -. Los mapas de Espinosa se centran en la localización y remanencia del Gran Camino Inca desde Quito, Ecuador a La Paz, Bolivia, por donde él caminó durante siete meses a principios del año 2000.

    Después de la reunión y todo el análisis en Shanta y en la casa de los Kunstaetter, volvimos a encontrar la ruta del Gran Camino Inca después de 24 kilómetros y ascender 1,800 metros cruzando dos montañas. Fue un día muy difícil con muchas zonas empinadas.
    Esta vez nos acompaña un nuevo guía de la localidad, Tuco, quien es propietario de una finca. Este fue el único lugar adecuado que encontramos para acampar en todo el trayecto de la caminata de hoy. Mañana continuaremos por el Gran Camino Inca a través de un bosque con gran presencia de pinos que esperamos poder atravesar y continuar la marcha en dirección a Amaluza.

    Nick Stanziano
    Jefe Explorador
    SA Expeditions. See more

    1 month ago

    Introducing Mendoza, Argentina’s wine capital

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    1 month ago

    The Great Inca Trail

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    1 month ago

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    1 month ago

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    Nick Dall is next in our #sauniverse series that introduces all the people around the world that allow us to build life changing experiences.

    Nick is a man of letters and words, someone who

    As editor of the SA Expeditions travel blog, he has curated hundreds of pieces that give insight into the culture and history of South America. And he’s no armchair blog manager either: he will be joining us on our great Qhapaq Ñan expedition in 2017 to paint a vivid textual picture of the trek for your eyes only. Nick’s work as a journalist has seen him fishing for trout in Patagonia, attending baroque recitals in Chiquitania and interviewing the pioneer of eco-tourism in Peru.

    SA Expeditions has a voice…It’s the voice of our clients talking about their experiences, it’s the voice of its explorers on the Qhapaq Ñan, it’s the voice of Nick presenting the wonders of South America in words and pictures. Come and be inspired by our blog, curated and cared for by Nick. We promise it’ll make you want to pack your bags!

    Cheers to Nick! The #sauniverse looks forward to continuing our journey of enlightenment through travel with you. See more

    1 month ago

    Easter Island: Separating Fact From Fiction

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    2 months ago

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    2 months ago

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    2 months ago

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    Nick Stanziano is next in our #saexpeditionsuniverse series that introduces all the people around the world that allow us to build life changing experiences.

    Nick began life in a small town, on a

    Nick sees himself as part of a wave of human endeavor that accelerated 600 years ago, in renaissance Europe, as artists, scientists and merchants began to utilize reason to understand the physical and psychological frontiers of humanity. By the 17th century, traveling purely for curiosity arose when Englishman Richard Lassel gave advice that all “young lords” take “the Grand Tour” to better understand their world and prepare for their role in it. It was later in the 21st century that one could not only travel for curiosity, but also build a business around it and name it SA Expeditions.

    Nick is a dreamer, a thinker, someone that will always wonder at what lies beyond. It’s why he conceptualizes his position as Chief Explorer, a role that feeds the soul of our organization with adventure and curiosity. His most recent and most ambitious exploration yet will bring the world on a 2,000 walk across the Andes along the great Inca Road, known as the Qhapaq Nan. He will be taking his grand tour of that faraway place, to better understand our world and how our clients can play a role in it.

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    2 months ago

    6 women to thank every time you fly

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    2 months ago

    CLIENT REVIEW: Trip planned by destination expert Staci Steele.

    “My husband and I just returned from an absolutely spectacular trip to Chile and Argentina planned by SA Luxury Expeditions. Not only

    The thing that really blew me away, though, was the crescendo of the trip. While everything we did and everywhere we stayed was top-notch, each successive stop and activity just got a little more wonderful than the last. The result was a truly fantastic week and a half that we’ll always cherish. I highly recommend SA Luxury Expeditions to anyone looking to travel in South America, whether you’re looking for a low-key trip or an action-packed adventure. We got a wonderful mix of both and enjoyed every second of it!”
    #chile #argentina #patagonia See more

    2 months ago

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    2 months ago

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    2 months ago

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    The word Carnival originates from the Portuguese ‘Carne Vale’, interpreted as ‘Farewell to meat’. The phrase refers to the Carnival as being the ultimate celebration before a period of abstinence from alcohol, meat and pleasure during Lent. Brazil’s Carnival began in the 1830s as a continuation of the Portuguese tradition, though, Rio’s Carnival has a unique style, which is mainly attributed to the influence of African immigrant slaves, famous for their spectacular musical abilities which gave life to the first samba rhythms.

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    3 months ago

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    3 months ago

    CLIENT REVIEW:
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    “My husband and I

    The thing that really blew me away, though, was the crescendo of the trip. While everything we did and everywhere we stayed was top-notch, each successive stop and activity just got a little more wonderful than the last. The result was a truly fantastic week and a half that we’ll always cherish. I highly recommend SA Luxury Expeditions to anyone looking to travel in South America, whether you’re looking for a low-key trip or an action-packed adventure. We got a wonderful mix of both and enjoyed every second of it!”
    – Danielle V
    #chile #argentina See more

    3 months ago

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    Timeline Photos

    CLIENT REVIEW:
    “Jeanie: Our trip was absolutely magical thanks to all the great organization, preparation, wonderful suggestions and impeccable professional services we received from SA…starting

    Our hotels were fantastic… the food was fantastic…. even though there were unforeseen circumstances such as a protest that shut down all tourist roads throughout the Sacred Valley, SA Expeditions reacted with quickly. I cannot say enough about the drivers (Louis especially) and all the guides who were with us. They were knowledgeable, gracious, always willing to go the extra distance and warm lovely friends. We loved them all. The horse back/hiking trip to Choquechaca was an experience we will never forget. It was Peter’s 65th birthday in Cusco and SA even arranged to have the meal paid for by our thoughtful children.

    In short, it was the best trip we have experienced and we look forward to many more!

    Thanks so much for creating a truly memorable experience…we only regret we did not get to meet you in Lima!

    Thanks again,
    Pam and Peter”

    #peru #peruvianfood #machupicchu #sacredvalley #choquechaca #cicciolina #birthdaytrip See more

    3 months ago

    Timeline Photos

    Laguna Colorada is a 15,000-acre shallow (less than 3 feet deep) salt lake located in southwest Bolivia. The lake is is tinted dark red due to a variety of algae which thrive in the salt water. The See more

    3 months ago

    Quinoa genome unveiled in search for hardy crop to feed world

    Have scientists found the answer to global food security in the Andes? #Quinoa #Peru

    Some strains can tolerate 38-degree days, salty soils and high altitudes, say researchers

    3 months ago

    Timeline Photos

    Sara Hensel is next in our #saexpeditionsuniverse series that introduces all the people around the world that allow us to build life changing experiences.

    Sara’s emerged from small town America,

    Sara does not dwell on what has already come though. She’s a roll-up your sleeves and bring on tomorrow type. Her path has taken her through corporate America, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and many other projects far from the homogeny of McDonough. Her generation has learned that change is the only constant and that adversity is not bad, but instead a necessary path towards true achievement. Progress for Sara is not about conquering, it’s about pliability and knowledge. As our latest and greatest Destination Expert, she designs experiences that stay true to her senses that travel can bring wisdom.

    Cheers to Sara! The #saexpeditionsuniverse looks forward to continuing our journey of enlightenment through travel with you See more

    3 months ago

    Timeline Photos

    In Peru it’s very common to see ceramic bulls on roof ridges. These are known as ‘Torito de Pucara.’ It’s believed that they keep the house safe with a blessing to the “Apus” (the Inca See more

    3 months ago

    Best Trips 2017 — National Geographic Travel

    National Geographic listed the Ecuadorian Cloud forest as one of the best trips of 2017. These mountain rainforests receive a high percentage of their moisture directly from cloud cover, resulting See more

    National Geographic Travel has selected 2017’s top travel destinations. From Kauai’s stunning cliffs to Malta’s rich culture, these 21 must-see places will inspire you to book your next See more

    3 months ago

    Timeline Photos

    Aaron Welch is next in our #saexpeditionsuniverse series that introduces all the people around the world that allow us to build life changing experiences.

    Being an accountant for small and medium

    Nerds and their ability to manage data rules in the digital age. Considering this and the fact that Aaron plays Ringo Starr in a Beatles cover band, he begins to define what is cool. We’re just lucky that he decided to be cool with us!

    Cheers to Aaron! The #saexpeditionsuniverse looks forward to continuing our journey of enlightenment through travel with you. See more

    4 months ago

    VIDEO: The jawdropping beauty of Uyuni in the rainy season

    The Salar de Uyuni in Southern Bolivia is the world’s largest salt pan. In the rainy season it is transformed into an enormous natural mirror which is every photographer’s dream. Watch and enjoy

    4 months ago

    Timeline Photos

    Collin McNew is next in our #saexpeditionsuniverse series that introduces all the people around the world that allow us to build life changing experiences.

    Collin came barreling into the SA Universe

    This was how travel began with Collin. It started as a pursuit of sport that evolved into a pursuit of experience and learning. It was soccer that brought him to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014, where he stayed in the Amazon for four months, which he wrote a book about. Since, he’s lived in Ecuador and explored across Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina. He now turns his passions for travel into developing trips for his clients as a Destination Expert for SA Expeditions where his unique energy and experiences greatly strengthens our mission to share South America with the world.

    Cheers to Collin! The #saexpeditionsuniverse looks forward to continuing our journey of enlightenment through travel with you. See more

    4 months ago

    All you need to know about Argentina’s Cueva de las Manos

    The enigmatic Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands) in Argentine Patagonia is one of the finest examples of ancient rock art on the planet.

    4 months ago

    Timeline Photos

    “The Chincha chiefdom emerged in the Southern Valleys. The Chincha were mariners and traders and skilled weavers. Their most characteristic pottery form was the bowl. With their beautiful See more

    4 months ago

    Best of Brazil street food

    Is a trip to Brazil in your future? Here are some traditional Brazilian foods you shouldn’t miss!

    Almost more so than any other country, the food scene in Brazil is a culinary melting pot merging influences from all over the world. Ingredients and traditions from as far afield as Africa, Japan See more

    4 months ago

    Old and New: 16 Photos of Santiago, Chile

    The metropolitan city of Santiago is Chiles largest and has been its capital since it was founded in 1541. Santiago’s cityscape is shaped by its 19th century neoclassical architecture, Mapocho River

    Santiago is a great starting point to explore the colorful ocean city of Valparaiso, dry arid Atacama Desert, world famous Chilean wine regions, wild and rugged Patagonia and the mysterious Easter Island.

    #Chile #Southamerica See more

    Home to modern skyscrapers and historic colonial architecture, Santiago offers visitors the chance to step between past and present just by crossing the street.

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