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Beyond Machu Picchu Choquequirao, Lost City in the Clouds

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Author Topic: Beyond Machu Picchu Choquequirao, Lost City in the Clouds  (Read 198 times)
Cloud Warrior
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« Reply #30 on: January 09, 2015, 06:49:42 pm »

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« Reply #31 on: January 09, 2015, 06:49:58 pm »

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« Reply #32 on: January 09, 2015, 06:50:14 pm »

Anyway, the flora study completed, we are homeward bound. The day breaks bright and clear, despejado as we say in the equatorial Andes. After a brilliant Andean sunrise, our sunrise photographers return and camp is packed. All mount the rested, energized horses to trot cheerfully along good, near-level, trail traversing high above the roaring Apurimac River below. Later today, we must descend to the river and cross on a swaying cable-suspended box. Some seem to greet this expectation with limited enthusiasm.

Today’s journey is comparable to a crossing of the Grand Canyon but by now all are fit, and comfortable with long descents and slow, steady climbs. We ride what we can but like me, some walked much of the way, particularly on steep difficult trail. Anyway, it is good to have a trusty, calm mount to hop on to when the need moves you. More, we carry no burdensome day packs or gear, which is stashed in the saddle bags traveling nearby when needed.

On the oroya - 2
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« Reply #33 on: January 09, 2015, 06:50:36 pm »

I travel light, wearing running shoes with legs protected for riding by leather gaiters called in the riding trade, half chaps. These serve well for hiking through brush and snake country as well. Several hours’ travel downhill places us at the trail’s end, bridge abutments with forlornly sagging cables and alas, no flooring. The bridge is gone. An immense rock slide had dammed up the Apurimac just downriver, creating a dam that backed up water to the bridge, destroying planking and lower supports.

Choquequirao was effectively closed except for hardy travelers coming and going by the long arduous route in and out via Yanama or by the swinging cable car. This reflects a millennium of hard life in the Andes. It has never been easy and the natural environment is cruel to the careless or unfortunate. Civilizations have come and gone here, even for the privileged.
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« Reply #34 on: January 09, 2015, 06:50:55 pm »

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« Reply #35 on: January 09, 2015, 06:51:13 pm »

We are happy to just cross the river on whatever means available. That means is an oroya, a long cable and a small box like contraption attached on pulleys with a pull rope to haul one across above the raging rapids. Our trusted horses and pack stock are necessarily left behind. New mounts, sturdy mules and saddle horses await us on the far bank if we successfully survive the cable crossing, which I can happily report we do.
We face bonding with a new wrangler crew and unknown new equines but, this is the stuff of adventure. All rise admirably to the occasion. We are soon sharing tales in a comfortable camp some distance up from the buggy river bottom on an ancient, pre-Inca, breezy plateau with running water and bottled beer, recently developed as a tourist encampment. They even have a flush toilet marginally in operation although several of us opt for the nearby woods. In any case, the local mosquitoes relish the opportunity for exposed bottoms.

Enough time in the wilds — “the bright lights of Cusco are shining like diamonds, like ten thousand jewels in the sky.”

The next morning, we mount up or strike out walking. It is a mere four thousand feet uphill and ten miles to our awaiting transport near the village of Cachora. We get it done without mishap. Evening finds us enjoying a late meal in Cusco’s favorite pub, noted British ornithologist Barry Walker’s Cross Keys. It was a great, successful adventure…

Maybe I will have that second Pisco?

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« Reply #36 on: January 09, 2015, 06:51:39 pm »

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« Reply #37 on: January 09, 2015, 06:52:06 pm »

Gary Ziegler is a field archaeologist with a geology background, a mountaineer and explorer who has spent a lifetime finding and studying remote sites in the Vilcabamba range of Peru’s southern Andes. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and of the Explorers Club. He has featured in documentary films for the BBC, Discovery Channel, Science and History Channels. His work has been published in numerous professional journals, and he is co-author of “Machu Picchu’s Sacred Sisters: Choquequirao and Llactapata.” He has taught at Colorado College and Peru’s national university, San Marcos. He was awarded the title “Distinguished Lecturer” at NASA’s Marshal Space Center in 2013. His home base is the 4000-acre Bear Basin Ranch in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of southern Colorado. He can be contacted at: info@adventurespecialists.org and www.adventurespecialists.org

Photo credits: Thanks to Steve Bein, Ken Greenwood, Paolo Greer, Lillian Roberts and Hugh Thomson.
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« Reply #38 on: January 09, 2015, 06:52:16 pm »

http://www.peruviantimes.com/06/beyond-machu-picchu-choquequirao-lost-city-in-the-clouds/23519/
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