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The Great Inca Trail - Part IV

The Great Inca Trail - Part IV

Day 44 – A 21st-century vision of tourism for Peru With every step on #TheGreatIncaTrail we get closer to #Cusco, even though we still have 1,300 miles to go. It’s taken 700 miles of trekking from #Cuenca, Ecuador to arrive to the outskirts of #Cajamarca and the high altiplano of the #PeruvianAndes. Every day we wake up at first light for breakfast at 6:00am, getting camp loaded to start walking by 8am. It’s then 7-9 hours of trekking along the most important route of the Inca empire, which in 2017 requires a sharp eye and persistent search for a path that goes between original #Inca paving stones, car roads and even an old railway line. By arrival to each day’s stopping point, it’s then time to re-set camp, prepare food and send off correspondence like this before an early turn-in to bed only to repeat it all again the next day...And so has been our routine for almost all the last 44 days in our pursuit of history and a 21st-century vision of tourism for Peru. Why I'm Trekking 2,000 …
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The Great Inca Trail - Part III

The Great Inca Trail - Part III

Day 29 The Great Inca Trail that runs through Aypate connects south by a four-day foot path to an important, but now disappeared Inca Citadel named Caxas near an Inca bath. The walkable route (as the Inca road from Aypate has been covered over) drops in elevation 2,000 meters South from Aypate, weaving between river valleys and cloud forest, before climbing to Caxas. On the third of these four days, you go from the Aranza Valley to Bellavista, where were provided a roof from the hospital director of the local school, whose extra storage house worked as a great covered camp. We’re expecting a full day’s walk to Caxas tomorrow, on what we hope will be preserved sections of the original Inca Trail. Although, the rain has been relentless, coming down a significant part of the day for the last week, meaning we’ll also have a significant amount of mud to work through as well. The constant rain definitely saps the spirits of the team, as it dampens a lots of aspects of life on the trail. …
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The Journey on the Great Inca Trail Begins

The Journey on the Great Inca Trail Begins

April 12 - Day 1 We’ve arrived to Cuenca, Ecuador, our staging ground to prepare for our 2,000 mile expedition on the Great Inca Trail to Cusco, Peru. The team has settled into Hostal Maconda, a quaint colonial house which has become temporary headquarters for final preparations. It’s been two days of meetings with local explorers, officials and last minute equipment checks. Flavio, the team cook and our support team of Valentin and Alipio have been scouring the local markets, stocking up on supplies to make sure we have at least a week of nutritious food for the walk ahead. They have come from the heartland of the Inca empire in Cusco, Peru, traveling for the first time by airplane to the northern reaches of Inca domination in modern day Ecuador. When the Inca king Huayna Qhapaq established a Northern capital in nearby Tumebamba, it brought populations, architecture, religion and the Quechua language from the Inca spiritual capital of Cusco. Our Cusco team brings a Quechua (native …
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¿Por qué caminaré 3,200 kilómetros en los Andes a lo largo del Qhapaq Ñan?

¿Por qué caminaré 3,200 kilómetros en los Andes a lo largo del Qhapaq Ñan?

Nick Stanziano, el cofundador de SA Expeditions, explica el significado que tiene este Gran Camino Inca para él,  su empresa y para el Perú. La expedición El 14 de abril del 2017, un equipo de exploradores experimentados, profesionales del turismo y organizaciones privadas realizará una gran expedición a lo largo de 3,200 kilómetros en El Gran Camino Inca, que une las dos capitales del imperio inca: Tumebamba, cerca Cuenca, Ecuador y Cusco, Perú. La expedición que durará cinco meses será documentada y transmitida a través de nuestras redes sociales en tiempo real a los espectadores de todo el mundo. ¿Por qué este camino? El Gran Camino Inca es parte de una importante red de caminos andinos llamada Qhapaq Ñan, uno de los más grandiosos y recientes Patrimonios de la Humanidad declarado por la UNESCO. Está compuesto por miles de kilómetros de caminos de piedra que alguna vez unieron a la sociedad más avanzada de América del Sur, el Imperio Inca. Aunque se considera que los Incas solo …
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Why I’m trekking 2,000 miles in the remote Andes along the Qhapaq Ñan

Why I’m trekking 2,000 miles in the remote Andes along the Qhapaq Ñan

Our co-founder Nick Stanziano explains what the Great Inca Road means to him, our company and Peru as a whole. The Expedition On April 14, 2017, a team of hardened explorers, tourism professionals and private organizations will execute a major expedition along the greatest of all Inca roads that stretches 2,000 miles between what were two capitals of the Inca Empire: Tumebamba, near modern day Cuenca, Ecuador and Cusco, Peru, in the South. The continual five-month trek will be captured and transmitted through social networks in real-time to viewers all over the world. What’s in a Road? The Great Inca Trail is part of a larger Andean road network called the Qhapaq Ñan, the largest and one of the newest UNESCO World Heritage sites. It’s made up of thousands of miles of stone-paved roads that once linked the most advanced society in South America, the Inca Empire. While Incas could only be considered an empire for 100 years, they were the culmination of successive civilizations that …
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2015 Year in Review - Learning to Live in the Cloud

2015 Year in Review - Learning to Live in the Cloud

A story of a boutique South America tour operator SA Expeditions has had quite a year. We passed our fifth birthday. We had a record year over year in revenue growth. But most importantly of all, we re-conceptualized the structure of our company and learned how to grow as a 100% virtual organization after four initial years with our core team in an office. The shift to the cloud allowed us to conceptualize ourselves as a web, with the nodes of our network being guides, destination experts, communities, local ground operators and managers, naming just a few. It’s also required us to put more reliance on virtual platforms and new digital communication mediums to build cohesiveness and values between colleagues. We let go of the idea of a company with a geographic center, lunch hour and a copy room and stopped aspiring to the ideal of established travel brands created in the 20th century with office spaces in the world’s iconic cities. These ambitions in the early 2010’s only brought us …
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The Magic of Travel

The Magic of Travel

What is it to travel? Technically speaking it’s really just getting yourself from one place to another. Yet for those who have sacrificed the security of familiarity and embarked on a journey of enlightenment through exploration, travel can be magic…That incredible feeling when you arrive to a new place, a new culture and a new energy in which your senses have never delved. For those intrepid souls, bursting with wanderlust, arrival to a new place is an incredibly strong drug. Something that reminds them of the immensity of our planet and the beauty of the human condition. The last 48 hours has been one of these experiences for me. It has been 48 hours of new faces, incredible works of art, observance of man’s great ancient cultures and within the company of those who call this place home. The place I’m talking about is Mexico City. A city of almost 30 million people of all stripes, social economic classes and the living reminisce of the clash and later blending of Aztecan and Spanish …
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Peruvian Cuisine & National Pride

Peruvian Cuisine & National Pride

Today is a very important day for all those who love Peru. It was barely 20 years ago that the country was in a brutal hangover from one of the most destructive epochs in its history. Tens of thousands of Peruvians were murdered, its cities rocked by daily bombings and its economy in collapse, all in the name of political ideology on both the left and right. Well today, its capital of Lima, crowded with informal taxis, shanty towns on the hills, young surfers along its coastline,  an expanding middle class at its universities and the ever growing wealth of its elites, now has something to celebrate together, as one Peru. Today Peruvians delight in the crowning of three of their restaurants into the World’s Top 50 Restaurants on June 1st, 2015. For countries like France, Spain and the United States, this would be yet one more feather in the hat as evidence of their cultures influence and domination of recent centuries. Yet for Peru this is very different. This is a country that …
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An Experience Among Lost Cities and Lost Cultures in Peru

An Experience Among Lost Cities and Lost Cultures in Peru

The Rebellion of Manco Inca Yupanqui and Choquechaca  The Spanish arrival in 1532 to Peru under the direction of the Conquistador Francisco Pizarro was the beginning of the end for the Inca Empire, South America’s largest and one of its most sophisticated ancient civilizations. Through a protracted series of events in which a succession of Inca kings and nobles died from disease or were murdered, a young Inca noble by the name of Manco Inca Yupanqui was appointed Inca king by Francisco Pizarro in 1534.   However by the following year, Manco became aware of the widespread mistreatment and manipulation of the Inca people by the Conquistadors. By 1536, Manco decided to rebel and gather a native army of 200,000 farmer-soldiers to re-take the Inca Capital at the city of Cusco. Manco’s siege while lasting 10 months, eventually was unsuccessful and he retreated to the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo. In the ensuing battles, Manco Inca Yupanqui and his army had many successful campaigns …
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Peru Podcast - Featuring SA Luxury Expeditions

Peru Podcast - Featuring SA Luxury Expeditions

Anyone who has met Nick Stanziano, a co-founder of SA Luxury Expeditions, knows he is a talker. So when we had the opportunity to share some Peru travel insights and information with the Amateur Traveler podcast, we knew just who to send. The Amateur Traveler is an award winning blog featuring a weekly hour-long travel podcast. During his interview, Nick discusses the history of Peru, must-see destinations, and shares insights into Peruvian culture. You can visit the Peru podcast page here, or listen to the embedded audio below: [audio:http://media.amateurtraveler.com/amtravmp3/349AmateurTraveler.mp3] Here’s a cheat sheet for topics throughout the conversation. For further information on specific topics, the links take you to our relevant blog articles. 3:00 – What brought Nick to Peru 4:30 – Early Human Civilizations in Peru ““Mesopotamia of the Americas” 6:50 – Inca Trail discussion 7:30 – Must see locations during a week in Peru; focus on Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley 1 …
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Becoming Part of Peru’s Andean Community

Becoming Part of Peru’s Andean Community

This is a summary of Nick's experience in Choquechaca. To read his full article, click here.  A day’s hike from the Sacred Valley hamlet of Ollantaytambo, through lush agricultural valleys that quickly turn to steep shrub-covered slopes, sits the Choquechaca plane. This isolated clearing, surrounded by peaks scraping the sky at 20,000 feet, is the humble home of the Sincha family, several generations of indigenous locals who have survived in this rural part of Peru by living off the land just as their Incan ancestors did hundreds of years before. A bumpy dirt road comes close to connecting to the valley to the outside world, but still requires a 3-hour hike from the road to the clearing. The photo above shows the rugged and remote reality of the Sincha’s home, a small valley surrounded by Andean mountains, a situation similar to hundreds of highland Peruvian communities. SA Luxury Expedition’s co-founder, Nick Stanziano, stumbled upon this Andean outpost seven years ago when he lived …
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Chorrillos Fish Market and the Inza Family

Chorrillos Fish Market and the Inza Family

It began in the 1960s, as clusters of beachside kiosks sprung up along the Peruvian coast in Lima next to the Chorrillos beach selling ceviche. Ceviche is a local dish consisting of fresh seafood marinated in lime and is Peru’s national dish. The kiosks were sponsored by the Inka Cola Company, Peru’s most popular soft drink with its emblematic bright yellow and blue colors that adorned the walls of each kiosk. As years passed, the kiosks began to coalesce as a gastronomic hub in the capital city, serving up fresh ceviche for beachgoers, fisherman and Limenos of all social classes who flocked to eat. Traditionally, fish here was always purchased in large baskets (called balayas locally) alongside the beach, but by the early 1980s, the humble collection of fisherman and vendors established a formal fish market and fisherman’s union that eventually took control of administration and development of the Chorrillos fish market and cevicherias. The Inza family, headed by the late Mercedes …
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