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Published on August 14th, 2016 | by Nicholas Stanziano

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Qhapaq Ñan – Week 1 / Semana 1

 

Day 0 – August 7

Today we begin a series of expeditions that in the end will last over the next 12 months, covering nearly 3,000 miles by foot, exploring the great Inca Road system known as the Qhapaq Ñan. The journey will take us through some of the most remote stretches of the Andes mountains, tracing in the footsteps of the Inca kings of the 14th and 15th century, who united an empire by means of this communication and transportation network. At its peak, the Inca’s were the largest and most advanced, indigenous American civilization to grace the earth.

When the Spanish conquistadors first saw the Qhapaq Ñan in 1532, they remarked that they were as impressive as anything seen in Europe at its time. Later at the end of the 19th century, explorer and scientist Alexander von Humbolt hypothesized that it was amongst one of the largest works of mankind. In the 20th century, explorer, scientist Victor H. von Hagen in an exploration sponsored by the University of California made great strides in understanding its secrets. And most recently, “El caminante” Ricardo Espinosa Reyes brought the wonders of the Qhapaq Ñan in his famous expeditions that finished in 2002.

Today in 2016, we begin a new expedition that in its scale and ambition attempts to show the world the greatness and beauty of the Qhapaq Ñan, which we hope pays respect to the efforts of the Incas and relentless explorers before us. Using the most modern of technologies available, we’re going to bring the world along with us daily, sharing – through photo, video and the written word – the revealing of its lost cities and cultures, which are among some of the most remote swathes of the Andes in South America.

The expedition at its core is about preservation and awareness of a cultural resource that can be instrumental in creating a future for contemporary Andean communities that is one of dignity and self-reliance. Ourselves and our growing network of partners at the international, regional and local level will give a monumental effort in attempting to understand and layout a plan to develop sustainable, community-based tourism along the Qhapaq Ñan. It is an effort at an important crux in the protection of this patrimony of mankind that attempts to put to work this critical resource towards the development of Peru and the Andean people.

Día 0 – 7 de agosto

Hoy empezamos con una serie de expediciones que continuarán durante los siguientes doce meses, en donde cubriremos alrededor de 3,000 millas del Gran Camino Inca conocido como Qhapaq Ñan. Esta travesía nos llevará por uno de los más remotos caminos de los Andes, que unió a un Imperio por medio de redes de comunicación y transporte, siguiendo los pasos dados por los Incas durante los siglos XIV y XV.

Como se sabe, el Imperio Incaico fue una de las más grande y avanzadas civilizaciones que existieron en el mundo. En 1532, cuando los conquistadores españoles vieron por primera vez el Qhapaq Ñan, enfatizaron que esta majestuosa obra era tan impresionante como lo que se podía observar en Europa en esa época.

A finales del siglo XIX, el científico y explorador Alexander Von Humbolt proporcionó la hipótesis de que estaba frente a una de las mayores e increíbles obras realizadas por el ser humano. En el siglo XX y durante una exploración patrocinada por la universidad de California, un segundo y reconocido científico y explorador, Victor H. Von Hagen, realizó grandes avances en la comprensión de algunos de los secretos de este misterioso camino. De la misma manera, Ricardo Espinoza Reyes, “El Caminante”, mostró al mundo las maravillas del Qhapaq Ñan en una de sus famosas y recientes expediciones, la misma que finalizó en el 2002.

Ahora, en el 2016, empezamos con esta serie de expediciones a gran escala y que, de manera ambiciosa, intenta mostrar al mundo la grandeza y belleza del Qhapaq Ñan, con lo que esperamos se resguarden los esfuerzos y respeto tanto de los Incas como de los excepcionales exploradores anteriormente a nosotros.

Haciendo uso de la última tecnología disponible compartiremos diariamente con ustedes fotos, videos e historias, revelando ciudades y culturas perdidas que se encuentran entre algunas de las franjas más remotas de los Andes en América del Sur. El principal objetivo de estas expediciones es la preservación y reconocimiento de un recurso cultural que es decisivo en la formación de un próspero futuro, digno e independiente para las comunidades andinas contemporáneas.

Nuestro equipo junto a nuestra creciente red de socios a nivel internacional, regional y local, trabajaremos en el intento de comprender y diseñar un plan de desarrollo de turismo sostenible a lo largo de las comunidades del Qhapaq Ñan, un esfuerzo en un punto crucial en la protección de este patrimonio de la humanidad para el desarrollo de las comunidades andinas y el Perú.

Day 1 - 4 Day 1 - 2 Day 1 - 1 Day 1 - 3

Day 1 – August 8

The Qhapaq Ñan during its heyday spanned from southern Colombia to Northern Chile and Argentina, connecting the entire west coast of South America covering approximately 25,000 miles.

We’ll be starting our adventure though in Northern Peru at one of the largest and most important Inca cities along the Qhapaq Ñan at Huanuco Pampa in the region of Ancash. At its height, Huanuco Pampa played a central role in controlling the northern reaches of the empire, although today it’s been relatively forgotten besides a handful of local tourists and archeologists that specialize in the study of the Incas.

At 14,000 feet on a high clearing along the Andean altiplano, the citadel is at strategic position in which our team can begin our explorations towards the Pacific Ocean, eventually ending at the modern day town of Casma, 200 miles and 18 days later on August 24th…should everything goes as planned. If you imagine Huanuco Pampa is at an important crossroads where the Qhapaq NaNn runs north to south from Quito to Cusco and then east to west from the Amazon jungle to the Pacific Ocean…we’ll be taking the road west towards the coast.

We’ve been joined today at our camp outside the ruins by our team of 5 llamas, Blanquito, Maleado, Condor, Macho and Mascarone who will carry our camp for the duration, as well our llamero Alexandro (the llama handler). The rest of the team we’ll introduce further down the trail. Tomorrow we’ll be up at first sun, making our way to the community of Isko by tomorrow night, approximately 13 miles away.

I leave you with some photos of the great Inca citadel of Huanuco Pampa (among others), only 500 years since its demise following Spanish conquest.

Día 1 – 8 de agosto

El Qhapaq Ñan se extendió desde el sur de Colombia hasta el norte de Chile y Argentina, conectando toda la costa Oeste de Sudamérica a lo largo de 25,000 millas.

Nosotros empezaremos nuestra aventura en los Andes por el norte peruano, en una de las más grandes e importantes ciudadelas Incaicas a lo largo del Qhapaq Ñan, llamada Huánuco Pampa, ubicada en el departamento de Ancash.

Huánuco Pampa jugó un papel central en el control de los límites del norte del Imperio Incaico. En la actualidad, este importante eje del gran camino Inca está relativamente olvidado, sin embargo, cuenta con un profundo interés por parte de un grupo de turistas locales y arqueólogos que se especializan en el estudio de los Incas.

A 14,000 pies sobre el nivel del mar, en el altiplano peruano, Huánuco Pampa está ubicado en una posición estratégica desde donde nuestro equipo puede iniciar las exploraciones en dirección al Océano Pacífico, finalizando en la moderna ciudad de Casma, el 24 de Agosto, 200 millas y 18 días después, según lo previsto inicialmente.

Si observamos, Huánuco Pampa se encuentra a lo largo de un cruce de caminos, desde el norte hacia el sur, Quito a Cusco y luego del este al oeste, desde la selva hasta el Océano Pacífico, nosotros tomaremos el camino desde el oeste hacia la costa.

Hoy nos acompañan en nuestro campamento, ubicado afuera de las ruinas de Huánuco Pampa, nuestro equipo de cinco llamas de nombre Blanquito, Maleado, Cóndor, Macho y Mascarone, que se encargarán de llevar nuestros equipos durante toda nuestra exploración, así como nuestro cuidador de llamas, Alexandro “El llamero”. Estaré presentando al resto de nuestros socios y equipo durante el viaje.

Mañana, a primera hora, estaremos camino a la comunidad Isko, a unas 13 millas de distancia. Les dejo algunas fotos de la gran ciudad Inca de Huánuco Pampa, 500 años después desde la conquista española.

Qhapaq Nan between Huanuco Pampa and Isko

Qhapaq Ñan between Huanuco Pampa and Isko.

Rolando our cook

Rolando our cook.

Day 2 – August 9

Today’s walk brought us to our first intact section of the Inca Road, which exceeded 30 feet in width with stunning Inca stone steps; the same that had so impressed the Spanish conquistadors when they first laid their eyes on them in the 16th century. It was one of those incredible days in the Andes where the blue skies and equatorial sun mix with the golden grasses and high peaks of the Andean Cordillera. Again, the Andes have captured my imagination and reverence as they never fail to do.

As well, the Andes also never fail to challenge the idea of a set plan. Through a series of new information, misunderstood plans and other unexpected circumstances which are too long to explain, we’ve decided we will need to change our route. Essentially we realized three things today…One, the llamas have proven to walk too slowly considering the time it takes to breakdown camp by our assistants in the morning. Two, the route that was pre-planned turns out to not be the route we need to take to Chavin de Huantar. Instead of trekking through Pomachaca we will need to shift route by about 100 kilometers through Tamyacocha. Three, our llamas need additional support with carrying cargo so they can walk at a speed that allows all five of us on the expedition to stay together in one group as opposed to splitting the group with llamas and llameros behind and explorers ahead as we did today. This causes too much confusion on camp selection, among other important details that could become an issue later in the expedition. Nonetheless, after some minor persuading of our team, we have a plan in place until the next time we need to change it.

Speaking of our assistants, this would be an opportune time to introduce our cook Rolando. A man we can’t live without and has proven to be very good at what he does. In fact, Rolando accompanied “El caminante” Ricardo Espinosa Reyes during his famous 6-month expedition between Quito and Cusco in 2001, the last expedition on the Qhapaq Ñan of the scale we plan to undertake when we trek 2,000 miles from Cuenca to Cusco between April and September of next year. It’s extremely important to have the cook be as flexible as those doing the exploring, even if some convincing is necessary to get the team in the right direction.

Día 2 – 9 de agosto

La caminata de hoy nos mostró una primera sección casi intacta del Gran Camino Inca, una construcción de escaleras de piedra que superan los 30 pies de ancho, estas las mismas escaleras fueron las que impresionaron a los conquistadores españoles cuando las vieron por primera vez en el siglo XVI.

Fueron uno de esos increíbles y memorables días en los Andes, donde el cielo azul y el sol Ecuatorial se mezclaron con los pastizales dorados y las cúspides más altas de la cordillera de los Andes. Una vez más, los Andes han capturado mi imaginación y admiración.

De la misma manera, los Andes nunca dejan de desafiar los planes previamente elaborados y es por esto que, luego de contar con nueva información, desacertada planeación y circunstancias inesperadas las cuales son muy largas de explicar, hemos decidido que debemos modificar la ruta que habíamos decidido tomar en un inicio, por los siguientes tres factores. El primero, resulta que nuestro equipo de llamas camina más despacio de lo que habíamos imaginado, y además considerar el tiempo que le toma a nuestros asistentes empacar nuestro campamento. El segundo, la ruta que habíamos decidido tomar no es la correcta para llegar a Chavín de Huántar. En vez de caminar a través de Pomachaca debemos modificar la ruta unos cien kilómetros y desplazarnos a través de Tamyacocha. Tercero, y finalmente, nuestro equipo de llamas necesita apoyo adicional con la carga para que pueda mantener la velocidad que nos permita a todos los que estamos en esta expedición, caminar en grupo sin separarnos unos de otros como sucedió este último día, lo que genera bastante confusión en la selección del lugar de acampar junto a otros detalles de importancia que pueden convertirse en graves problemas más adelante. No obstante, después de una conversación con nuestro equipo, tenemos un plan definido, por lo menos hasta que necesite ser cambiado en un próximo momento.

Hablando de nuestro equipo, es el momento oportuno para presentar a nuestro cocinero Rolando, un hombre sin el que no podríamos sobrevivir estos dieciocho días de expediciones y el que además ha demostrado ser muy bueno en lo que hace. De hecho, Rolando acompañó a Ricardo Espinosa Reyes, “El caminante”, durante su famosa expedición en el Qhapaq Ñan entre Quito y Cusco en el 2001 y que duró seis meses, el cual será el mismo tipo de expedición que adoptaremos durante los próximos meses de abril y septiembre del 2017 entre Cuenca hacia Cusco por 2,000 millas.

Es de suma importancia que el cocinero sea tan flexible como aquellos que realizan la exploración, aunque a veces sea necesario un poco de convencimiento para lograr conservar al equipo en una misma dirección.

Qhapaq Nan going into Taparako. Northern Peru.

Qhapaq Ñan going into Taparako. Northern Peru.

The llamas on the Qhapaq Nan leaving Isko

The llamas on the Qhapaq Ñan leaving Isko.

Taparaco

Taparaco.

Day 3 – August 10

By noon we had made it to Tarapaco where we had lunch and visited the nearby Inca ruins, which has a preserved Inca bath among other Inca structures. From Tarapaco, we took a transversal Qhapaq Ñan that heads west to Chavín de Huántar that eventually will end at the pacific coast at Casma. This route, still had remanence of the great Inca road, although tougher to follow, compared to the central grand Qhapaq Ñan that goes north to south along the Central Cordillero. It is though, the ancient route from Huanuco Pampa, one of the great Inca cities in the 15th century to Chavín de Huántar, which was arguably the first large scale civilization in the Andes, preceding the Incas by 2000 years. Many indigenous population centers remained inhabited for millennia and remain connected by roads that were later integrated into the Qhapaq Ñan.

The afternoon found us summiting a path at 1600 feet before dropping down to look for a place to set camp, which took longer than expected. It turned out to be drier than anticipated and we eventually found a spring where we set camp just before night fall. By the end of the day, we covered 20 miles and were in route to Chavín de Huántar on a lost Qhapaq Ñan, camped in a sharp canyon of ichu grass next to a fresh spring.

We’ll be up an hour before sunlight tomorrow to have breakfast, breakdown camp and cross another series of 1600 foot summits that happen to go through Antamina, which will be our first encounter with one of the many mines in the region. I’m cold and tired and just want to retire to my tent saving any thought of tomorrow for when I wake.

Día 3 – 10 de agosto

Al medio día llegamos a la comunidad de Tarapaco en donde almorzamos y tuvimos la oportunidad de visitar unas ruinas cercanas a esta comunidad, las mismas que presentan un baño Inca y otras estructuras Incas que se encuentran en muy buen estado de conservación.

Desde Tarapaco tomamos una transversal del gran camino Inca que termina en la costa del Pacifico en Casma, en dirección al Oeste hacía Chavín de Huántar. Esta ruta todavía prevalece como parte del Qhapaq Ñan, sin embargo, es difícil de seguir, si la comparamos con la ruta central de este gran camino Inca que va de norte a sur a lo largo de la cordillera.

No obstante, es la antigua ruta hacia Huánuco Pampa, una de las grandes ciudades Incas que se dirige a Chavín de Huántar, la primera civilización a gran escala en los Andes, anterior a los Incas por 2000 años. Muchos centros poblados de la India permanecieron inhabitados durante miles de años y permanecieron conectados por caminos que más tarde se integraron al Qhapaq Ñan.

Esta tarde nos encontramos subiendo una cima de 1600 pies antes de poder concentrarnos en buscar un lugar para poder acampar. Esto nos tomó más tiempo de lo planeado ya que resultó que donde nos ubicábamos era una zona bastante árida. Justo antes del anochecer pudimos establecer nuestro campamento. Para el final del día y luego de cubrir veinte millas de la ruta hacia Chavín de Huántar en un sendero poco reconocible del Qhapaq Ñan, decidimos acampar en un cañón cubierto de ichu junto a un manantial.

Mañana, estaremos alistándonos una hora antes de que amanezca. Tomaremos desayuno, empacaremos nuestro equipo de campamento y superaremos otras cimas de 1600 pies, las mismas que pasan por Antamina, siendo este nuestro primer encuentro con una de las tantas minas en la región.

Siento frio y estoy cansado, solo deseo retirarme a descansar a mi carpa y no pensar en nada más hasta mañana.

Day 4 - 1 Day 4

 

Day 4 – August 11

Quite an eventful day having set out again following the lost Qhapaq Ñan towards Chavín, which leads right through the Antamina mine. The mine’s property is a massive area standing hundreds of miles, meaning our only option was to continue our course if we were to prove that the Qhapaq Ñan does connect Huanuco Pampa and Chavín de Huántar.

After our experience the day before, searching for water for most of the afternoon, we decided to play it conservatively and set up camp next to what was the only lake between Chavín and the spring from the day prior. It wasn’t long until two security officials from Antamina mine came upon us by horseback explaining that we were on their property and had to move. The situation became precarious very quickly with the security personnel communicating on their radios about our activities to some unknown superior. Were we to have to move on, we would have lost two hours on the day repacking camp and taking a chance that there would be another water source before nightfall. We quickly shifted into diplomacy and began to explain the reason for our passing, pulling out literally every card we had.

We were fortunate that our local guide Antonio happens to also be the dean of the association of guides in Huaraz, an institution that often has dealings in mining as tourism has increasingly overlapped in many geographies with mines. John Leivers, the expeditions main guide, and myself each presented a letter of introduction and business card respectively, explaining our investigations along the Qhapaq Ñan which had brought us to the lake. Eventually, two more security officials arrived on horseback and we went thru the routine all over again.

Finally, after an hour of wrangling, the mood turned and they allowed us to stay for the evening. In fact, not only did they give us permission to camp, but they also stayed for a round of hot tea and discussions of the importance of Peru pre-Columbian heritage that eventually culminated with them wanting to take pictures with the expedition team. It was an incredible shift in spirits for everyone involved. Antamina mine, and especially your security officials, get a thumbs up this time!

The day ended with our telecommunications connection being blocked within the property of the mine (hence the delay in my latest communication) and a snowstorm at our camp which sits at 1500 feet elevation. Overall, it was a good day though.

Día 4 – 11 de agosto

Hoy fue un largo día siguiendo nuevamente nuestra ruta hacia Chavín por el gran camino Inca Qhapaq Ñan, por el tramo que atraviesa el lado derecho de la mina Antamina, la que abarca un área muy amplia. La única opción para demostrar que el Qhapaq Ñan conecta Huánuco Pampa con Chavín de Huántar fue seguir nuestro rumbo por esta ruta.

Luego de nuestra experiencia de ayer, en donde estuvimos buscando agua la mayor parte de la tarde, decidimos manejar la situación de manera conservadora y establecer el campamento junto al único lago ubicado entre Chavín y el manantial en el que acampamos ayer.
No había pasado mucho tiempo antes de que dos hombres, cumpliendo su labor como vigilantes de la mina, se acercaron a nosotros montando a caballo y nos explicaron que estábamos en propiedad privada y debíamos retirarnos. La situación se volvió un poco difusa ya que ellos, por radio, seguían en comunicación con alguno de los superiores encargados de la seguridad de la minera. Si finalmente hubiéramos tenido que retirarnos del área, hubiéramos perdido aproximadamente dos horas re empacando todo nuestros equipos y campamento y no hubiéramos tenido la oportunidad de encontrar otra fuente de agua antes del anochecer. Rápidamente empezamos a explicar la razón del porque estábamos ahí, mostrando cada tarjeta de presentación y documentación que teníamos con nosotros.

Tuvimos la suerte de que nuestro guía local Antonio estuviera con nosotros, ya que él es decano de la asociación de guías en Huaraz, una institución que a menudo tiene tratos con las mineras ya que el turismo ha llegado, de manera creciente, a muchas geografías con presencias de estas. John Leivers, el guía principal en esta expedición, y yo tuvimos que presentarnos también y debimos explicar las investigaciones que estábamos realizando del Qhapaq Ñan y por la cual estábamos ahora a orillas del lago. Con el tiempo, dos vigilantes más de la mina llegaron también a caballo y tuvimos que volver a repetir el proceso de presentación cada uno.

Finalmente, y luego de una hora de conversaciones y tras haber recuperado el buen ánimo, ellos permitieron que nos quedáramos a pasar la noche ahi. De hecho, no solo nos dieron permiso de acampar si no también se quedaron a tomar una ronda de té caliente y conversar sobre la importancia de la herencia del Perú Pre Colombino. Ellos, además, se animaron a tomarse foto con todo el equipo. Fue un cambio increíble de espíritu para todos los involucrados. Antamina, y especialmente a sus agentes de seguridad, obtuvieron un pulgar hacia arriba!

El día terminó con una falla en la conexión en las telecomunicaciones con las que trabajamos, ya que fueron bloqueadas por estar dentro de la propiedad de la mina (este fue el motivo del retraso en mi última comunicación), además de una tormenta de nieve en nuestro campamento que se encuentra a 1500 pies de altura. A pesar de todo esto, fue un gran día.

Coming down into Chavin on the Qhapac Nan

Coming down into Chavín on the Qhapac Ñan.

John Leivers checking his GPS above an Inca Bath at Tarapaco

John Leivers checking his GPS above an Inca Bath at Tarapaco.

Leaving Antamina on the Qhapaq Nan towards Chavin

Leaving Antamina on the Qhapaq Ñan towards Chavín.

Llama with icles on ears

Llama with icicles on ears.

The Qhapaq Nan going down to Chavin

The Qhapaq Ñan going down to Chavín.

Day 5 – August 12

The morning began with a blanket of frozen snow over the entire camp. The tips of the llama’s ears had icicles as they sat resting in the snow in the early morning hours while Rolando fired up the tea kettle. After a hot meal of pancakes and coca tea, we broke camp and descended the Qhapaq Ñan to Chavín, 15 miles and 5000 feet down to the Challhuayaco River Valley below.

Upon arrival our luck continued as we were allowed to set up camp within the archaeological park of Chavín de Huántar which is within the small town of Chavín and has plentiful grass for the llamas. Tomorrow we will tour this pre-Columbian complex.

Dating back 2500 years, it was the first large scale civilization in the Andean mountains, as populations along the fertile coast of northern Peru began a civilizational march inland to more extreme ecosystems. Understanding the Qhapaq Ñan is to understand how societies evolved and intermingled over 5,000 years through the movement of people and ideas amongst western South America.

There are very few people in the world living today who have walked as many miles of these roads as John Leivers, our expedition guide. Australian by birth, John has been exploring the Qhapaq Ñan and other Andean roads continually since 1991. By his calculation he’s walked and recorded about 2000 miles of them. As testament to this, we’ve already observed random campesinos, in regions so remote they appear to not have received an outsider for a century, recognize John and comment on their surprise to see him pass through again. Therefore, to have John along for our expeditions is crucial and provides a level of expertise and intuition in the field that cannot be replaced.

When the hindsight of history takes its course, and hopefully when John takes a moment to synthesize his 25 years of explorations for others to read, the information and work that John has compiled over his lifetime about Andean roads and associated archaeological sites will be recognized as one of the great contemporary contributions to its awareness and understanding. We hope our expeditions over the next year will begin this process to share and disseminate John’s knowledge of this important transportation network to the world.

Día 5 – 12 de agosto

Este día nos recibió un manto de nieve que cubría todo nuestro campamento. Veía como las puntas de las orejas de las llamas tenían carámbano por haber estado sentadas en la nieve toda la mañanita mientras Rolando encendía la tetera para preparar algo caliente de tomar. Después de un desayuno con panqueques calientes y mate de coca, levantamos el campamento y bajamos por el Qhapaq Ñan a Chavín, quince millas y 5,000 pies abajo por el río Challhuayaco.

 

La suerte sigue de nuestro lado ya que nos aprobaron acampar dentro del parque arqueológico de Chavín de Huántar, que está dentro de la pequeña ciudad de Chavín y que cuenta con gran cantidad de pastizales para alimentar a las llamas. Mañana conoceremos un poco más este complejo Pre-colombiano.

 

Regresando 2500 años, Chavín fue la primera civilización a gran escala en las montañas de los Andes peruanos, creada por la marcha hacia el interior, donde los ecosistemas son más extremos, de las poblaciones que anteriormente solo habitaban por lo largo de la costa fértil del norte de Perú. Entender el Qhapaq Ñan es entender cómo las sociedades evolucionaron y se mezclaron más de 5,000 años a través del movimiento de personas e ideas entre el oeste de Sudamérica.

Son muy pocas las personas en el mundo que han recorrido las rutas de estos caminos y que las conocen tanto como John Leivers, el principal guía de la expedición. Australiano de nacimiento, John ha estado explorando el Qhapaq Ñan y otras rutas andinas desde 1991. Según los cálculos que hizo él ha recorrido cerca de 2,000 millas de estas rutas. Prueba de ello es que al habernos cruzado con campesinos en regiones tan remotas que parecen no haber recibido visitas durante un siglo, reconocen a John y nos comentan sobre la sorpresa de verlo nuevamente pasar a través de estas mismas rutas. Tener a John a lo largo de nuestras expediciones es crucial y proporciona un nivel de experiencia e intuición en el campo que no puede ser reemplazado.

La historia sigue su curso, y esperamos que John tome un momento para sintetizar sus veinticinco años de experiencia en exploraciones para que otros puedan aprovechar este conocimiento. La información y el trabajo que John ha recopilado durante toda su vida sobre estas rutas andinas y sitios arqueológicos asociados serán reconocidos como una de las grandes aportaciones contemporáneas. Esperamos que nuestras expediciones durante el próximo año vayan de la mano con el proceso de compartir y difundir el conocimiento de John sobre esta red de transporte importante para el mundo, este gran Camino Inca.

Chavin de Huantar - 2

Chavín de Huántar.

Chavin de Huantar

Chavín de Huántar.

Dig site at Chavin

Dig site at Chavín.

Going into the Canals with John Rick

Going into the Canals with John Rick.

In the underground chambers of Chavin de Huantar

In the underground chambers of Chavín de Huántar.

Day 6 – August 13

Chavín de Huántar was the first large scale civilization in the Andes going back more than 2,500 years. Before Cusco became the center of western South America when the Inca empire established its capital there in the 15th century, Chavín held this title. Smaller fiefdoms from the coast to the jungle would give their allegiance to the Chavín cult and its high priests. Chavín culture would exert power over populations by their ability to construct massive stone edifices and complex system of canals. The canals served for the control of water, but also as a tool to control their people. This was done by having visiting chiefs take a powerful mescaline substance from a cactus called “Huachuma,” and depriving them of light and sound until eventually they would come into contact with the cult’s principal deity, Señor de Lanzón, made from carved stone and with light exacted perfectly on its face. When we experienced this today, in the underground canals thousands of years later (without the cactus unfortunately), it’s no wonder how such chiefs would return home and share the message of the powerful Chavín cult to their people.

No one in the world knows more about the Chavín culture than Stanford professor John Rick. John has been leading the excavations at Chavín for the past 22 years and we were lucky enough to run into John upon our visit. This meant we got to spend a morning understanding Chavín culture and learning what exciting discoveries John and his international team are undertaking. In just one morning, we witnessed the discovery of a human skull, crawled through newly uncovered water canals five meters underground and listened to John’s comprehensive theories about how Chavín culture most likely went back a 1,000 years farther than previously thought.

Beyond John’s archeological work at Chavín, he has been involved in Peruvian society for most of the second half of his life and has a keen interest in how tourism can help local communities and fund critical research. Specifically, we shared our belief that bringing travelers in comfort to engage with leading archeologists and explorers to places like Chavín de Huántar and the Qhapaq Ñan is a thoughtful and impactful experience for visitors and communities alike.

We leave Chavín at first light tomorrow, more enlightened about early Andean societies and with more encouragement than ever about the potential for tourism along the Qhapaq Ñan with allies like John Rick.

Día 6 – 13 de agosto

Chavín de Huántar fue la primera civilización de gran tamaño ubicada en los andes peruanos. 2.500 años atrás, antes de que Cusco se convirtiera en el centro de América del Sur en donde se estableció la capital del Imperio Inca en el siglo XV, Chavín tenia este título ganado. Feudos más pequeños ubicados desde la costa hasta la selva mostraron lealtad y culto a Chavín y a los altos sacerdotes de esta cultura. Poderosas construcciones como complejos sistemas de canales y edificaciones de piedra maciza, demostraron el poder que ejerció la cultura Chavín sobre las otras poblaciones. Los canales controlaban la distribución del agua lo que les daba poder de control también sobre las personas. Cuando los líderes locales visitaban Chavín de Huántar, ingresaban a los canales y se encerraban ahí sin luz y en completo silencio, habiendo consumido previamente una bebida a base de un tipo de cactus llamado Huachuma. Ellos se quedaban ahí hasta que eventualmente se encontraban con el Señor del Lanzón, el dios principal del culto que estaba hecho a base de piedra perfectamente tallada. Hoy tenemos la oportunidad de experimentar esta misma sensación -desafortunadamente sin la bebida realizada a base del cactus- e imaginamos claramente como los lideres regresaban a sus casas para compartir el poderoso mensaje con su comunidad recibido luego del culto en Chavín de Huántar.

No sabemos de alguien que conozca más de la cultura Chavín que el profesor de la universidad de Stanford, John Rick. John ha estado liderando excavaciones realizadas en Chavín durante los últimos veintidós años, y para buena suerte nuestra pudimos encontrarlo mientras visitábamos esta comunidad.

Esto significó pasar una mañana completa entendiendo la cultura Chavín, aprendiendo y descubriendo junto a John y su equipo internacional. En esta memorable mañana, hemos sido testigos del descubrimiento de un cráneo humano el cual se arrastró a través de unos canales de agua recién descubiertas cinco metros bajo tierra y pudimos escuchar las complejas teorías de John acerca de cómo la cultura Chavín se desenvolvió 1.000 años antes de lo que se piensa actualmente.

Más allá del trabajo arqueológico que John realiza en Chavín, él ha estado involucrado en la cultura peruana durante la segunda mitad de su vida y tiene un gran interés en desarrollar turismo que pueda ayudar a las comunidades locales y a financiar las investigaciones de manera confiable y segura. Compartimos la idea de que desarrollar turismo con comodidades necesarias y comprometiéndonos con los principales arqueólogos y exploradores de lugares como Chavín de Huántar y el Qhapaq Ñan, es una experiencia reflexiva y positivamente impactante para los visitantes y las comunidades.

Dejaremos Chavín mañana a primera hora, creyendo mucho más sobre el potencial en turismo a lo largo del Qhapaq Ñan con aliados como John Rick.

Sincerely,

Nick Stanziano

Founder and Chief Explorer

SA Expeditions

—–

Sinceramente,

Nick Stanziano

Fundador y Director Explorador

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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    *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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    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

    4 months ago

    SA Qhapaq Ñan

    Follow founder Nick Stanziano as he hikes 2,000 miles.

    Get ready for more Qhapaq Ñan!

    4 months ago

    Timeline Photos

    The Galapagos giant tortoise is the largest living species of tortoise, weighing up to 900 lbs. Galapagos tortoises are native to seven of the Galápagos Islands, the volcanic archipelago 620 miles See more

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