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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 Great Inca Trail - Part II

The Great Inca Trail - Part II

April 22 – Day 11 The Great Inca Trail from Nabon to Oña is one of the more preserved sections we've seen thus far in Ecuador. We were accompanied by two local guides, Eugenio and Lauro, who helped us along from Nabon. Eugenio, who works with the United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on preservation and tourism development of the trail, pointed out a major section after Cochapata that was bulldozed over to make a crude vehicle road for no apparent reason. According to a horseman we passed in route, it was just bulldozed weeks before our arrival. Eugenio said it was the most preserved and beautiful section in the Nabon area. The animals and the expedition though, seem to be passing the first hump in getting accustomed to our new reality on the trail. Everyone including the horses were faster and less exhausted at the end of the day. Our local guides, while helpful for the first half of the day, understandably fell behind in the afternoon, not having …
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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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Meet the Qhapaq Ñan crew: Kevin Floerke

Meet the Qhapaq Ñan crew: Kevin Floerke

A bona fide archaeologist with a special interest in Inca roads who also just happens to be a drone pilot, rock climber and videographer...Kevin was made for our Qhapaq Ñan expedition. Born and raised in the wine country of Northern California, Kevin has always been pathologically curious about the world and its people. He majored in anthropology and archaeology at UCLA, but it was a chance encounter at the university rock climbing wall that nudged him in the direction of the Incas. There he met a professor who was in urgent need of an experienced climber for a project in the Peruvian highlands. The rest, as they say, is history... All roads lead to... Kevin has spent every summer since then hiking and working in the Andes. As one of his first archaeological projects, Kevin, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute, used GPS data, drone, aerial and satellite imagery, and the extensive knowledge of local collaborators to survey all of the Inca road remnants within a 75 mile …
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Meet the Qhapaq Ñan crew: John Leivers

Meet the Qhapaq Ñan crew: John Leivers

Veteran Australian adventurer John Leivers has spent more time walking in the Andes than most llamas. His vast knowledge and on-the-ground experience of the Qhapaq Ñan make him an irreplaceable member of the team. John, who is now 64, divides his time between coaching and ‘sweeping’ a women’s surf boat crew in Perth, Western Australia and being the “chief consultant” on SA Expeditions’ ground-breaking Qhapaq Ñan Expedition from Ingapirca in Ecuador to Cusco in Peru. He will hike every step of the way alongside, with Nick Stanziano, (Founder and Chief Explorer of SA Expeditions), providing invaluable insights into the route, history, politics and more. As Nick says ,“Since I first conceived this Qhapaq Ñan expedition until today, John’s stories, mentorship and expertise on the Qhapaq Ñan have been ever present.” John in action with the 'Senyoritas' women's surf boat crew in Perth. John has always been “one of those blokes who’s keen to see what’s over the next ridge and deal with …
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Climbing Huayna Picchu (the mountain in THAT photo)

Climbing Huayna Picchu (the mountain in THAT photo)

This short, sharp ascent on narrow paths and stairs is both hair-raising and exhausting. But this is all forgotten when you stand at the top and look down on the wonder that is Machu Picchu. What is Huayna Picchu? Day visitors to Machu Picchu can choose between a regular entry ticket or a ticket that includes hiking to either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. Huayna Picchu is the dramatic cone-shaped peak which towers above Machu Picchu in all the photos…you know the one. Machu Picchu means ‘old mountain’ in Quechua and Huayna Picchu means ‘young mountain’. At 8,920ft, it’s the second highest point in the ruins precinct (Machu Picchu Mountain is higher) but it still enjoys great views. This could be you... (Photo credit: Jipe7 on Flickr) Huayna Picchu versus Machu Picchu Mountain If your legs allow it, hiking up one of these two peaks is highly recommended. But which one will it be? Huayna Picchu is much more popular among visitors, and despite the fact that only 400 visitors …
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Qhapaq Ñan – Third Expedition

Qhapaq Ñan – Third Expedition

Qhapaq Ñan – Day 1. Third Expedition. The team departed this morning from Jauja with 12 llamas heading along a transversal Qhapaq Ñan towards Pachacamac, 200 miles west, near the Pacific coast in southern Peru. At the height of the Inca’s reign, 600 years ago, Jauja was a major administration center, serving the empire’s expansion northward from their capital, 480 miles to the south at Cusco. Pachacamac in its own right was an important religious center going back two millennia and influenced successive cultures leading up to the Incas. It makes sense that the road linking these two ancient centers would be an equal in its planning and grandeur. It’s an example, as impressive as any other large scale public work of the empire. 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 …
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Pariacaca in literature...Of gods, engineers and doctors

Pariacaca in literature...Of gods, engineers and doctors

The section of the Qhapaq Nhan which joins the highland outpost of Jauja (aka Xauxa) and Pachacamac on the coast traverses some of the continent’s most spectacular – and storied – landscapes. For centuries travelers have marveled at, and written about, the fabled mountain of Pariacaca – an 18,868 ft ‘apu’ or sacred mountain. For this month’s blog I read as many accounts of the region as I could find and have shared some of the best excerpts below. There are pieces on the beauty of the landscapes, descriptions of the incredible flight of 1,500 stone steps known as the Escalera de Pariacaca; and a fascinating treatise on Pariacaca’s unlikely and important place in the history of medicine. I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I did... On the natural beauty of the landscapes The Jauja Valley is commonly regarded as one of the most beautiful in Peru – something which clearly has not changed much since Pedro de Cieza de Leon, author of the definitive Crónicas del Perú, passed …
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Qhapaq Ñan: Not your average World Heritage Site

Qhapaq Ñan: Not your average World Heritage Site

Spanning six countries and 273 distinct sites, the Qhapaq Ñan’s nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site was a global first. We unpick the backstory. Not all UNESCO World Heritage Sites are created equal. Honoring and protecting a single cathedral or castle in a developed country with an established infrastructure is a relatively facile process, but doing the same for a road network which in its heyday spread across the length and breadth of the Andes is an entirely different prospect. El Caminante awakens the sleeping giant Were it not for the exploits of Peruvian author and adventurer Ricardo ‘El Caminante’ Espinosa, the Qhapaq Ñan may well have been forgotten by history. As recently as the 1990s the Qhapaq Ñan was – in the words of Espinosa – “just another legend, or in any event, a reality that time had snatched from us forever...which had lain hidden for centuries precisely because of its gigantic size.” Ricardo 'El Caminante' Espinosa enjoys a rare breather alongside the …
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