Great River Amazon Raft Race 2012

No time to write about this right now, as off on another adventure.  Here is  a short video thanking people who so kindly sponsored me.

All donations will go towards helping ACRES establish the first Wildlife Rescue and Education Centre in Lao PDR. The centre will mainly house bears rescued from bear farms. 

The race was tough! I knew it would be tough, but it was way tougher than I imagined! Would I do it again? YES!!

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When I get a bit more time I will write about the experience and provide some tips.  Suffice to say it was an experience of a lifetime!!

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Vallanaraju: mi primera montaña en la cordillera blanca

Fue difícil entender que en realidad había llegado hasta la cima. Definitivamente es una de las pruebas físicas más difíciles que he enfrentado. Tomando en cuenta que la temporada para escalar estaba por terminar, y después de haber estado a 4000 m. el fin de semana anterior en Huayhuash. decidí que si iba a escalar una montaña, tenía que ser en ese momento. Inclusive después de haber participado en la caminata (o senderismo) en Huayhuash y haber obtenido un poco de práctica, mis músculos y mi corazón hicieron un ejercicio maratónico.

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Vallanaraju………my first “white” mountain

The realization that I actually made it to the summit has still not quite sunk in. It was certainly one of the hardest physical challenges I have faced. With the climbing season nearing its end and with my having been at 4000m the previous weekend trekking in Huayhuash, if I was going to climb a mountain it had to be now.   Even with the preparation of trekking in Huayhuash, my heart and intercostal muscles endured a marathon workout —  my heart racing and my lungs heaving for hours and hours on end at every stage of the trek, ice training and glacier walking.

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Huayhuash: amazing trekking!

And now for a new adventure: The Silver Award trek: 12 students, 2 teachers & 1 guide.  Heading east again on the same journey as to Huaraz except this time in the moonlight. The full moon gave an eery effect to the striking scenery, making the mountains gleem silvery like tall ghosts on either side of the valley, towering above us. After an 8 hour bus ride we arrived in Chinqua at 1am at 3350m altitude. Despite the hour the town was alive with marching band, fireworks, crackers and general joviality in some kind or anniversary celebration that lasted through the night and continued to accompany our early breakfast in the Huayhash hotel.

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MACHU PICCHU

What can I say about Machu Picchu?

It is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and certainly lives up to this title. Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian 15th Century Inca site. “Pre-Columbian” meaning before the Spanish invaded! (actually the term commonly refers to time before any European influence).  It was an Incan estate for an emperor, built on a mountain ridge on the Urubamba Valley at 2430m altitude. It was abandoned during the Spanish conquest: decades of fighting that caused the collapse of the great Inca Empire. In the 12th Century, the Inca were originally a pastoral tribe in the Cuzco region of the Andes, who began expanding after victoriously defending themselves against an attempted overthrow by the Chankas, another Andean tribe. (This they did by mythically turning stones into soldiers – they dressed stones as soldiers to deceive the aggressive Chankas – but that is a whole other story)

The interesting thing about Machu Picchu is how long it remained hidden from the outside world, including the Spaniards! It was only in 1911 that the American Yale History professor: Hirram Bingham, discovered the site and bought it to the attention of the rest of the world.  He was actually seeking the last Incan refuge from the Spanish conquest, and after years of exploration in the region, an 11 year old Quechua* boy led him to Machu Picchu. He began excavation work as well as notoriously taking back many artifacts to Yale University, where they are still stored and being fought over to this day (Yale’s argument being they only they have the facilities to safely store said artifacts). Bingham called the site “The Lost City of the Incas” and the National Geographic devoted their entire April 1913 issue to the site, paving the way for its fame.

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Train ride to Machu Picchu

The train ride from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu is magnificent.  It descends along the Urubamba River and with its large windows one can enjoy amazing views of the valley, small villages and farms as well as glimpses of several mountains in the majestic Andes.  The waiters serve drinks and snacks and offer to sell a range of Machu Picchu related souvenirs. The journey passes in a heartbeat as you scramble from one side of the train in order not to miss the ever changing scenes of horses drinking in the river, farmers tending crops, children waving, hydro dams, Inca terraces and snow capped wonders.

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Ollyantaytambo

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL TOWN!   I could live here……  Ollyantaytambo is a picturesque town lying at 2800m above sea level, on the Patakancha River, near where it joins the Urumbamba River.  It is known for its:

  • magnificent archaeological Inca sites
  • extensive agricultural terraces on the mountains either side of the valley, all the way down to the river
  • the Inca storehouses for grain, with their unique ventilation systems
  • quarries of rose rhyolite used for the buildings
  • several chullpas: small stone towers used as burial sites in Pre-Hispanic times
  • some of the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America
  • the starting point for the Inca trail
  • the train to Machu Picchu

We only spent a couple of hours here but one could spend weeks exploring the various sites.

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