Qhapaq Ñan, the Inca heritage that has survived the test of time

Published in El Comercio
Translated and adapted by Agnes Rivera

The Incas are known worldwide for the citadel of Machu Picchu. Besides its beauty, the archaeological site is the best example of architectural knowledge had by the ancient Peruvians.

Like the citadel, Qhapaq Ñan is another important Inca vestige that just turned one year after having been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This is the road network which used to connect all the Tahuantinsuyo, from Colombia to Argentina, passing through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile.

But the importance of these roads lies not only in its history but what it represents for Peru, even to this day. “Some of the roads are still used even today by the surrounding communities. It is a heritage that is kept alive and allows us to connect these villages,” explains Giancarlo Marcone, general coordinator of the Qhapaq Ñan Project.

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Photo: Prom Peru

Photo: Prom Peru

The Cusco Project

Article courtesy of: peruthisweek.com

They have been making music in Peru since 1973, and just now Arcoiris de Cusco may be getting the chance to be heard by a greater audience. Thanks to director Kenneth O’Brien Llontop, born and raised in Cusco, the documentary aims to unveil “Arcoiris de Cusco in a way that rescues those important life events that molded them as human beings, as musicians, and as a group,” ultimately influencing their music.

Before the film can be showcased, the production team has launched a campaign using the international crowdfunding site, Indiegogo. On this website, donations can be made, many of which will be met with a complementary prize such as a t-shirt to the movie´s soundtrack. Those feeling especially generous can even earn themselves tickets to Cusco and entrance to the film´s screening.

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Peru's pastry carretillas

Article courtesy of: peruthisweek.com

For those with a sweet tooth, one of the best things about being in Peru is that you don’t necessarily have to go looking for your fix: it often comes wheeling over to you.

You can start find these carretilla bikes navigating the streets of any city or town in Peru around lunch time and until the end of evening rush hours. Seek them out at busy traffic intersections, in front of schools and universities, and around transportation stops – basically anywhere with a lot of foot traffic.

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  (Photo: Connie Lee/Living in Peru)

(Photo: Connie Lee/Living in Peru)

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The Nature in Peru

Because it has so many different ecosystems, Peru is home to a wider variety of plants and animals than most other countries on Earth. For many reasons, Peruvians have not had as much of an impact on their natural world as many other countries, and much of these ecosystems have been undisturbed.

A 250-acre (100-hectare) plot of Peruvian rain forest is home to more than 6,000 kinds of plants! There are hundreds of species that are only found in the Amazon. To protect these plants and animals, Peru has created special forest areas called reserves.

On the Pacific Coast, many interesting plant and animal species have adapted to the dry desert climate. And off the coast, the Peru Current nourishes huge numbers of small fish, which in turn support large populations of bigger fish and seabirds, including Humboldt penguins.

Peru's mountains support special types of grasses and plants, which provide food for mammals like llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas. One plant that grows in the Andes, the puya raimondi, grows for a hundred years before blooming.

Article courtesy of National Geo Kids
— http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/countries/peru/
 Photo by:  Martin St-Amant

Photo by: Martin St-Amant

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (also known as Camino Inca or Camino Inka) consists of three overlapping trails: Mollepata, Classic, and One Day. Mollepata is the longest of the three routes with the highest mountain pass and intersects with the Classic route before crossing Warmiwañusqa ("dead woman"). Located in the Andes mountain range, the trail passes through several types of Andean environments including cloud forest and alpine tundra. Settlements, tunnels, and many Incan ruins are located along the trail before ending the terminus at the Sun Gate on Machu Picchu mountain. The two longer routes require an ascent to beyond 4,200 metres (13,800 ft) above sea level, which can result in altitude sickness.

Image Courtesy: Steve Pastor at en.wikipedia,

Concern about overuse leading to erosion has led the Peruvian government to place a limit on the number of people who may hike this trail per season, and to sharply limit the companies that can provide guides. As a result, advance booking is mandatory. A maximum of 500 people are allowed on the trail each day, of which only 200 are trekkers, the rest being guides and porters. As a result, the high season books out very quickly.

The trail is closed every February for cleaning. This was originally done informally by organizations such as South American Explorers[2] but is now managed officially.

Trekkers normally take four or five days to complete the "Classic Inca Trail" but a two day trek from Km 104 is also possible.

It starts from one of two points: 88 km (55 miles) or 82 km (51 miles) from Cusco on the Urubamba River at approximately 2,800 metres (9,200 ft) or 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) altitude, respectively.

Both of these trail segments meet above the Inca ruins of Patallaqta (sometimes called Llaqtapata), a site used for religious and ceremonial functions, crop production, and housing for soldiers from the nearby hilltop site of Willkaraqay, an ancient pre-Inca site first inhabited around 500 BC. The trail undulates, but overall ascends along the Kusichaka River.

At the small village Wayllapampa ("grassy plain", Wayllabamba) the trail intersects with the "Mollepata Trail" at 3,000 metres (9,800 ft).

Small, permanent settlements are located adjacent to the trail, and Wayllapampa has approximately 400 inhabitants (130 families) spread along this portion of the trail.[3] Pack animals—horses, mules, donkeys, and llamas—are allowed.

At Wayllapampa the trail to Machu Picchu turns west and begins ascending along a tributary of the Kusichaka. Because of previous damage caused by hooves, pack animals are not allowed on the remainder of the trail. For the same reason, metal-tipped trekking poles are not allowed on the trail.

Image Courtesy: Steve Pastor at en.wikipedia

Machu Picchu - above the Sacred Valley

Machu Picchu (in hispanicized spelling, Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmatʃu ˈpiktʃu]) or Machu Pikchu (Quechua machu old, old person, pikchu peak; mountain or prominence with a broad base which ends in sharp peaks,"old peak", pronunciation [ˈmɑtʃu ˈpixtʃu]) is a 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. It is located in the Cusco Region, Urubamba Province, Machupicchu District in Peru. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cusco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often mistakenly referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas", it is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization.

Image Courtesy: Christophe Meneboeuf - XtoF

The Incas built the estate around 1450, but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was not known to the Spanish during the colonial period and remained unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Since then, Machu Picchu has become the largest tourist attraction in South America.[citation needed] Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of what the structures originally looked like. By 1976, thirty percent of Machu Picchu had been restored. The restoration work continues to this day.

Image Courtesy: Martin St-Amant (S23678)