IN THIS ISSUE:
1) New Trip: Ancient Civilizations of Northern Peru
2) Update on Cusco/Machu Picchu floods and Chile earthquake
3) Spotlight: The Fortress of Kuelap and Royal Tombs of Sipan
Please contact us at:
1525 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94709
New Trip: Ancient Civilizations of Northern Peru
Many travelers focus on the Incas when they think of ancient Peru, but numerous other remarkable civilizations rose and fell in the thousands of years of Peruvian history prior to the Incas. Our newest trip, Ancient Civilizations of Northern Peru, explores some of the most impressive archeological sites of these cultures, including the spectacular, remote, and rarely visited fortress of Kuelap (photo at right, Chachapoya culture) and the Royal Tombs of Sipan (Moche culture) (see the Spotlight below for more information on these sites). This itinerary can be done on its own or as an extension to other areas of Peru, such as Machu Picchu or the Amazon, and excellent day hikes can be incorporated into the program. We can also include extensions to see the Temples of the Sun and Moon near Trujillo (Moche culture), and the enormous adobe pyramids at Chan Chan (Chimu culture). Please reply to this email or give us a call at (800) 342-1796 if you have any questions or would like any additional information!
Floods near Machu Picchu; Earthquake in Chile
Many people have asked us about the situation for travel in Peru and Chile in the wake of the recent flooding near Machu Picchu and the devastating earthquake in Chile. The floods in the Cusco region resulted in Machu Picchu being temporarily inaccessible, but the site is now back open and receiving visitors. In Chile, while certain areas of the country suffered tremendous damage, most of the major tourist areas were unaffected, including Patagonia, the Lake District, and all of northern Chile including Atacama. The Santiago airport was closed for several days but is now nearly back to running on a full schedule. If you have any questions about the situation in either country, please let us know.
Spotlight: The Fortress of Kuelap and Royal Tombs of Sipan
Among the many fascinating sites to be visited on our Ancient Civilizations of Northern Peru itinerary, two of the most spectacular are the sprawling hilltop fortress at Kuelap and the Royal Tombs at Sipan.
Kuelap, 600 meters long and 110 meters wide, with walls over 20 meters in height, was built up over a period of 200 years between 900 and 1100 AD. The Chachapoya (or "People of the Clouds") who built the fortress dominated this highland area for hundreds of years before the Incas took control of it in the 15th century during their expansion northward. Though it sits at almost 10,000 feet above sea level, the area is considered part of the province of Amazonas, as it lies on the eastern flanks of the Andes as they drop away to the Amazon rainforest. The fortress complex consisted of over 400 buildings, with only three narrow passageways leading into the interior. The passageways narrow to the width of just one person as they reach the interior. Archeologists speculate that Kuelap was built to defend the Chachapoyan territory from the Wari, an early imperial society that occupied large sections of the Andes prior to the expansion of the Incas in the 14th century.
The Royal Tombs at Sipan were first discovered in 1987, when the police called archeologist Dr. Walter Alva to the scene of an attempted grave looting. Fortunately, nothing had yet been taken from what turned out to be one of the most important archeological finds of the late 20th century. The Sipan site is one of the very few pre-Columbian royal tombs to have been discovered fully intact, and has revealed a great deal about the culture and rituals of the Moche people. The Moche culture in which the Lord of Sipan lived was active from about 100 BC up until about 800 AD, and is known for the vast scale of its monumental architecture as well as its highly refined ceramics. Living in an extremely dry and unforgiving climate, the Moche harnessed rivers flowing out of the Andes into an extensive system of irrigation canals, allowing them to cultivate a variety of crops and maintain a large population for centuries. The Royal Tombs contained a vast array of artifacts, including elaborate gold and silver ornamental jewelry, scepters, metal breastplates, and ceramics. You can view this extensive collection of artifacts at the nearby Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum, as well as view the ongoing excavations at the site itself.
If you have any questions about this or any of our other trips, please reply to this email or call us at (800) 342-1796!