“It took several minutes before I realized that an entire squadron of baby spiders was repelling down from the thatched roof above me and into my cup of hot aba* punch”, relates David Knight, Intrepid’s Community Based Tourism researcher in Peru.
“My research assistant and Spanish-Quechua translator, Nilo, seemed all too amused. Together, we had been invited into the home of a kind local woman to shelter from the hail that had begun to fall in destructive force upon the high Andean town of Amaru, where we’d been conducting research for several weeks. As the tiny spiders descended upon me to escape the fury of the elements, I couldn’t help but laugh with my companion in contemplation of the unique challenges and experiences we’d had thus far in these remote and breathtakingly beautiful highlands.
Sure you can get a buzz on roller coasters, jet boats and hang gliders, but as Intrepid’s Ella Benjamin discovered, sometimes a simple piece of ply board can give you the most thrilling ride of your life…
“Flying face-first down a hundred foot mountain of sand is one of the most exhilarating and adrenaline pumping experiences of my life.
Huacachina, a tiny town in southwest Peru, has increasingly become an attraction for tourists drawn by the sport of sand boarding and taking dune buggy rides. The town is built around a small natural lake in the middle of the desert and is surrounded by enormous sand dunes.
Ceviche is a classic Peruvian dish with simple but decidedly delectable ingredients including raw fish, onion, salt, cilantro and garlic – tantalizingly tossed in lime juice. For David Knight, Intrepid’s Community Based Tourism researcher in Peru, his recent experiences examining local perspectives of tourism impacts in the Sacred Valley town of Chichubamba could well be compared to the preparation of a fine ceviche. David tells us why…
“Now, given the references to my pasty, peeling skin in previous blog posts, you might be inclined to see me as the raw fish in this citrus soup metaphor; and, until recently, I might have been inclined to agree with you. But I learned a new Peruvian phrase yesterday while talking with an Intrepid leader, and it seemed a truer analogy to my experiences thus far.
“There are many small non-government organisations which try to make a difference by their humanitarian efforts to help malnourished and disadvantaged children, especially in underdeveloped and developing countries. Yet this work is not considered ‘sustainable’, THE buzz word when applying for grants or donations”, writes Sonia Newhouse who works high in the Peruvian Andes. “But what could be more sustainable than children, for the future of their societies and countries!”
“Sustainability of projects is recognised by most large and small donors as ‘the’ qualification when receiving grant applications, as they are then considered to be self-sustaining and will therefore only need a one-off donation.
Some adrenaline junkies will go far and wide to find the next big thing. For David Knight, Intrepid’s Community Based Tourism researcher in Peru, an adrenaline rush came quite unexpectedly the other day during a mini-van ride from Cuzco to Urubamba in Peru’s Sacred Valley…
“Keep hands and feet inside the car at all times, ’cause this here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness. The final words of warning from the old cowboy on Disney’s Big Thunder Mountain kept running through my head as our driver took one harrowing turn after another. A woman walking beside the highway with her baby strapped to her back appeared entirely at ease as we sped by, the baby barely turning its head beneath a brilliantly-colored cloth.
American researcher, David Knight has just commenced his six month Community Based Tourism research project in Peru, with support from Intrepid.
In his first blog post, David spoke of the nickname he has gained – cala cunka (or hairy neck), a local term of endearment (or not?) in reference to his balding head David shares his latest observations…
“My roommate, Elvis, works at the Intrepid Travel office here in Cuzco and his kindness and generosity are part and parcel of both the Intrepid spirit and the local milieu. Fernando is the Operations Manager and is my primary point of contact, helping me with everything from initial meetings and housing in the communities to hiring a Quechua translator/research assistant from the university in Cuzco.
“Just over a week ago, I left the academic hub of Colorado State University in the U.S.A., to begin my dissertation research in Peru’s beautiful and mysterious Sacred Valley”, writes David Knight. “The study I am conducting is being funded by Intrepid Travel and will focus on tourism impacts and perceived poverty alleviation in several villages located between the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco and the renowned, runic ruins of magical Machu Picchu.
My initial plan was to blog about my experiences after spending time in each village, but I couldn’t resist sharing a few thoughts and observations about my first few days in Lima and Cuzco via this pre-project post. If you have ever passed this way before, I’d very much welcome your feedback on this or future posts, knowing that our collective attempts to describe the grandeur of this region will do it far more justice than my meager musings ever could on their own!
You’ve decided that Peru and its famous Inca Trail is at the top of your travel wish list, but how do you make it happen?
“One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.” Wise words from Gilbert K. Chesterton and the sentiment is echoed by Sean Kennaway after his visit to a very special part of Peru…
“I travelled with Intrepid to a small community called Chawaytire in the Sacred Valley, about 2 hours outside of Cuzco. Chawaytire sits at about 3300m (10,830 feet) and has a population of around 600, whose primary source of income comes from selling textiles.
Since ancient times communities living in the Sacred Valley of the Incas have worshipped nature and the universe. In Peru today many still subscribe to these strong beliefs and whether or not you consider there to be a logical explanation, Intrepid’s Julio Padilla had a heart-pumping encounter with the powers of Pachamama…
“One day my brother told me he had been given a kind of ancient weapon that came from an underground tomb in the coast of Peru, dating back to around 500AD. I told him this could be very bad luck for him, because where we come from in the Amazon we do not touch things that belong to the dead. The belief of our people in the mountains is that the item could either bring you good times or bad times. And when it is about bad times, the energy of the dead could suck up your soul.