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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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    15 hours ago

    Old and New: 16 Photos of Santiago, Chile

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    The Great Inca Trail

    The journey continues! Day 63 – Value Creation Along Long-Distance Hiking Trails

    Day 63 – Value Creation Along Long-Distance Hiking Trails

    *Versión en español abajo*

    When I first envisioned trekking 2,000 miles in the Andes along #TheGreatIncaTrail, I had just walked a

    Sierra City is a small town of a few hundred people that was once dependent on mining during the California gold rush, although now relies on an economy of tourism, a big part of which is the hundreds of trekkers passing through on the Pacific Crest Trail. If this little town could extract value from such a trail, surely the monumental size and history of the Great Inca Trail could do the same for the towns of the Andes in Peru…It was a simple idea two years ago that began this journey.

    All the while the municipality of Huamachuco (where mining also plays a big role), that beholds one of the most impressive sections of the Great Inca trail known as “Escalerillas” understood this potential. They were just waiting for those intrepid explorers to arrive, give them a warm welcome and create value for their community through tourism. They succeeded in this goal and we are extremely grateful and blessed to collaborate with them on a vision of what The Great Inca Trail can become throughout the #Andes.

    On a day when the humans and llamas of our expedition team are resting, we leave you with an unforgettable day last week, made possible by the Inca’s 600 years ago and the municipality of Huamachuco in 2017.

    Nick Stanziano
    Chief Explorer
    SA Expeditions

    ___________________

    Dia 63 – Creación de valor a lo largo de importantes caminos para trekking

    La primera vez que vino a mi mente la idea de caminar 3,200 kilómetros por el #ElGranCaminoInca fue cuando terminé un tercer día de trayecto por el #SenderodelMacizodelPacífico – camino que se extiende por 4,300 kilómetros desde México hasta Canadá- llegando finalmente, en ese momento, a un pequeño pueblo llamado Sierra City en Sierra Nevada, en las montañas altas de California.

    Sierra City es una pequeña ciudad de pocos cientos de habitantes quienes dependieron únicamente de la minería, sobretodo en la época de la fiebredeloro en California. Sin embargo, en la actualidad el crecimiento económico se desarrolla gracias al turismo, en donde una gran parte de turistas atraviesan y siguen el rastro del Sendero del Macizo del Pacífico. Si esta pequeña ciudad pudo extraer gran valor de este sendero, seguramente y gracias al monumental tamaño e historia del Gran Camino Inca se podrían desarrollar los mismos beneficios en los pueblos de los Andes en Perú … Hace dos años esta fue la idea que inicio el proceso para esta gran expedición.

    Mientras tanto, la municipalidad de Huamachuco (en donde la minería también juega un papel importante) entiende el potencial que posee al contar con una de las secciones más impresionantes de El Gran Camino Inca, conocido como “Escalerillas”. El pueblo y las autoridades estaban esperando a aquellos intrépidos exploradores para darles una cordial bienvenida y poder generar valor en la comunidad a través del turismo. Ellos han tenido éxito en esta labor y nos encontramos extremadamente agradecidos y bendecidos de poder colaborar con ellos en la visión de lo que se puede conseguir en este gran camino ubicado a lo largo de los Andes.

    En un día en que nosotros junto a los animales de nuestro equipo de expedición nos encontramos descansando, les queremos dejar con lo que fue día inolvidable durante la semana pasada gracias al trabajo de los Incas -hace 600 años- y a la Municipalidad De Huamachuco -en la actualidad-.

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    Jefe Explorador
    SA Expeditions See more

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    *Versión en español abajo*

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    In 2017, forty-five days since beginning our long march from #Cuenca to #Cusco, we find ourselves in the town of #Huambos resupplying and reflecting on our adventure so far. In this spirit, we leave you with snapshots of this great road along our journey so far. Stay tuned to “The Great Inca Trail” on Facebook and Instagram as we explore one of mankind’s great public works for another hundred days in route to Cusco.

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    Chief Explorer
    SA Expeditions

    ________________

    Día 45 – Grandiosas imágenes del Gran Camino Inca

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    Este 2017, cuarenta y cinco días desde el inicio de esta larga expedición, partiendo de #Cuenca en dirección a #Cusco, nos encontramos en la ciudad de #Huambos reponiendo suministros y reflexionando sobre nuestra aventura.
    Con este espíritu, les dejamos imágenes de este gran camino por donde hemos avanzando hasta el momento.
    Manténganse atentos las redes sociales, Facebook e Instagram en “El Gran Camino Inca” mientras exploramos por otros cien días más una de las más grandes obras públicas de la humanidad.

    Nick Stanziano
    Jefe Explorador
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    Timeline Photos

    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

    1 month ago

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    1 month ago

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    1 month ago

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    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

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    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

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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.

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

    3 months ago

    6 women to thank every time you fly

    March 8th 2017 is International Women’s Day. Here are six women to thank every time you fly.
    #internationalwomensday #trendsetters #aviation #changemakers

    Thought aviation was a man’s world? Think again. These six women transformed the way you fly today

    3 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

    3 months ago

    ‘We are rewriting the textbooks’: first dives to Amazon coral reef stun scientists

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/17/we-are-rewriting-the-textbooks-first-dives-to-amazon-coral-reef-stun-scientists

    Scientists have discovered the river reef is far bigger, and more important, than first thought – a biodiversity hotspot on a par with the Great Barrier Reef. Now they face a race to protect it See more

    3 months ago

    Timeline Photos

    The Copacabana neighborhood is located in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and is known for its 2.5 miles Balneario Beach, one of the most famous in the world. During the 2016 Olympics in See more

    3 months ago

    Timeline Photos

    Ecuador, traditionally a prominant South American producer of cacao is stepping into a new light as its chocolateers are gaining noteriety on the world stage.
    #chocolate #ecuador #pacari See more

    3 months ago

    Friday February 24th marked the start of Carnival 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The lively celebration which includes live music, street performances, dancing, floats and costumes, attracts

    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.

    #Rio #Carnival #Samba #Brazil See more

    4 months ago

    The science behind why you should spend money on family holidays instead of toys

    #familyvacation #happychild #giveexperiences

    Parents have been wasting hundreds of pounds on toys, according to one of Britain’s leading child psychologists and should be spending their money on holidays instead.

    4 months ago

    CLIENT REVIEW:
    One of our favorite travel testimonial comes from Danielle Vogel of Virginia. Her trip to Argentina and Chile was planned by our destination expert Staci Steele.

    “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

    4 months ago

    Jaguar vs. Giant Anteater

    ‘Insane’ camera-trap video captures rare battle in the Amazon.
    Jaguar vs. Giant Anteater. Anteater wins!
    #amazon #jaguar #anteater #moveoverhoneybadger

    4 months ago

    Chilean dreams of rescuing box camera photography

    No need to pack the selfie stick if you’re headed for Santiago, Chile
    #santiago #chile #boxcamera

    Luis Maldonado is the last remaining photographer in the main square of the Chilean capital still using a wooden box camera.

    4 months ago

    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

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