Friday, April 30, 2010

Indigenous communities protecting their environment

World Wildlife Fund

Extremely rich in biological and cultural diversity, the Abanico del Pastaza Wetlands Complex and the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in northeastern Peru are priority areas for conservation efforts in the Amazon. Since 1999, WWF has helped more than 50 indigenous communities from the Candoshi, Achuar, Quechua, Urarina and Cocama peoples manage threats to the area and protect themselves from the negative effects of commercial oil development and overfishing.

Candoshi woman preparing fish caught in Lake Rimachi.

Decades of petroleum production polluted drinking water and commercial overfishing reduced fish populations - the main source of food and income for these communities. Through local partner organizations such as Racimos de Ungarahui and Fundación Amazonia, WWF has trained indigenous groups so that they can better defend their right to the sustainable use of natural resources in their territories by oil and commercial fishing companies. A crucial part of this work is strengthening their negotiation skills and teaching local communities to use their legal system more effectively.



Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Amazon River Dolphins

We include the following because it features superb photographs of Pink Dolphins made by an excellent wildlife photographer. The press release however, is breathy and riddled with the typical inaccuracies that always seem to accompany any news from the Amazon. The place where these dolphins frolic is on the Rio Negro and GreenTracks has made several trips there so that everyone can enjoy swimming and playing with these tame animals. They are free swimming but have long been accustomed to interacting with people. And nobody wears more than a simple bathing suit, unlike the protective suits discussed in the news release. Fun place! We can put together custom trips out of Manaus, Brazil, that could include swimming with these dolphins along with other rainforest activities.

From the Daily Mail, April 22, 2010

These never-before-seen pictures of bubblegum pink Amazon river dolphins are a fascinating glimpse into the behaviour of these elusive creatures. Unlike their playful cousin, 'Flipper', these dolphins live in the murky, sediment covered depths of the giant Amazon river 50 miles south of the city of Manaus and are in fact freshwater creatures.

Captured on film over a total of three weeks by Seattle based photographer Kevin Shafer, the dolphins distinctive pink colouring develops with age and is exaggerated by the red silty Amazonian water. Swimming with up to six of the nearly blind, seven foot long pink dolphins, Kevin braved the parasitic, piranha-infested waters of the world's largest river in search of that perfect shot.
Deciding to travel himself to photograph the dolphins, Kevin found a fishing village where the dolphins congregate because they feed off fishing scraps of the villagers.

Advised to wear a full body wet suit to prevent infection by the rivers parasites or even attack by the notorious piranha, Kevin decided to ignore the advice after a day or two. 'I wanted freedom of movement within the water to take my pictures and the suit was quite restrictive,' said Kevin. 'I was able to enjoy the experience more without the suit. The water is so dense with silt that has flowed down from the Andes that they evolved to not use their eyes. This also cause them to develop their distinctive pink skin, which begins as quite greyish when they are young, but develops over the years to the stark bubblegum pink colour that you can see.'

Pink River Dolphins (Inia geoffrensis), known in Brazil as Botos and in Peru as Bufeos, are members of a primitive family of toothed whales with only five species worldwide. They are nearly blind, possess sophisticated echo-location capabilities, and have flexible necks. This species is found in the Orinoco and Amazon river systems. Up to 8 feet in length, Bufeos feed primarily upon
fishes. Little is known about their population status but they are commonly seen by humans and sightings are frequent in the upper Amazon of Peru, especially around the mouths of tributaries. They are equally abundant in silty rivers as well as clear blackwaters.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saving El Dorado's freshwater giants

Text and photos by Walter M. Wust

Aiming to save the paiche, the biggest freshwater fish in the world, a small group of local fishermen from Loreto decided to work for their conservation. The result was a successful example of how resource management is beginning to bear fruit.

If Brazil has the Pantanal and Botswana the Okavango Delta, then Peru should feel proud to count Pacaya-Samiria among its protected natural areas. More than two million hectares of lakes, swamps and wetlands form this corner of the Amazon forest, creating a true magnet for wildlife.

It is, without doubt, the kingdom of aquatic species, among which the gigantic paiche stands out. Weighing in at up to 300 kilos and measuring some 3 meters, it is the biggest freshwater fish in the world. In the heart of Pacaya-Samiria lies El Dorado Lake, a remote place of incomparable beauty. Here, among the ancient forests and rivers that resemble mirrors, nature seems to have been protected since the beginning of time.



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Iquitos, Peru

Iquitos is a fascinating city both culturally and historically. Here we present links to two blogs that are filled with photos from Iquitos' Rubber Boom days as well as Iquitos as it is today.

The Pinasco building, 1910. Originally a warehouse for rubber.

The Pinasco building, 2010. Now a restaurant and ice cream shop.

A photographic record of Iquitos, Peru - Part 1.

A photographic record of Iquitos, Peru - Part 2


Friday, April 16, 2010


Throughout the southern Andean uplands, weaving is the coin of the realm. Using back-strap and stationary looms, weavers--mostly women--create mantas that are rich in colors and technically impressive. The designs are traditional and date from Huari to Inca cultures. In some communities it is possible to determine a persons age and marital status simply by interpreting the complex designs. When not weaving, people can be seen spinning and dyeing
wool and alpaca for later use. Mantas serve to provide warmth, and they make excellent baby carriers and backpacks. And their singular beauty is uniquely Andean.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lima Airport chosen as the best in South America

Living in Peru
12 April, 2010

by Isabel Guerra

President Alan Garcia said that the Lima International Airport Jorge Chávez has been chosen as the best in South America, according to the votes of 10 million travelers.

“Lima Airport Partners, the company that manages our airport, brings us this excellent news,” he said.

García said that the Jorge Chavez Airport obtained more votes than other Latin American Airports such as Sao Paulo and Ezeiza, and this is a source of pride for the Peruvians, and also shows the importance it has for the airlines.

In March, the Jorge Chavez's Airport Sumaq VIP Lounge & Business Center was chosen as the best in the world for the second year in a row.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Machu Picchu

The Legendary "Lost City of Machu Picchu" is without a doubt the most important attraction in Peru and one of the world's most impressive archaeological sites. Built by the Incas on the summit of Machu Picchu (Old Peak), over- looking the deep canyon of the Urubamba river in a semi-tropical area 120 Km. (75 miles) from the city of Cuzco at 7,000 feet above sea level.

Machu Picchu is also one of the Inca's best kept secrets. They did not leave written records and Spanish chronicles make no mention of the citadel. Discovered in 1911 by the American professor Hiram Bingham. The building style is "late imperial Inca". It is thought to have been a sanctuary or temple inhabited by high priests and the "Virgins of the Sun". Excavations revealed that of the 135 skeletons found, 109 were women. No signs of post-Conquest occupation were unearthed.

GreenTracks offers several options for experiencing Cuzco and Machu Picchu: tour the area for either three, four or six days lodging in picturesque hotels, hike the Inca Trail for two to five days. You can even tack one of these trips onto one of our Amazon tours for an incredible experience of the diverse nature and cultures of Peru.



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Guest video

1937 Glimpses of Peru
James A. Fitzpatrick's Traveltalks The Voice of the Globe.



Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Inca Trail

The Inca trailed formed an important communication and transportation link within the empire, connecting a large area including Cusco and Machu Picchu. Although steep in places, Inca engineers designed it for efficient travel with carefully constructed stone staircases and tunnels. The important archeological ruins we will visit in this adventure are Llactapata, Runkurakay, Phuyupatamarca, Winay Wayna and finally Inti Punco, all on the way to Machu Picchu.

GreenTracks’ years of expertise with the Inca Trail has allowed us to put together three options that will allow you to choose the one that most fits your desires.

Short Inca Trail - 2 days/1 night (no camping)
This trip allows a taste of the Inca Trail without days of hiking and camping.

Inca Trail Classic - 4 days/3 nights (all camping)
This is the classic four-day trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Inca Trail Discovery - 5 days/4 nights (3 nights camping, 1 night hotel)This is our best recommendation. Our five-day program allows the traveler time to explore and enjoy the amazing archaeological sites, landscapes and nature along the way. While most other programs force trekkers to speed through the stunning high-altitude Inca Trail, we take the time to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

On the above hikes you will share the trail services of a guide, camp staff and porters with a group of hikers. Hiking groups are kept small. Private Service hikes are also available. GreenTracks also offers alternative treks to Machu Picchu.

(Click on map to enlarge)

To follow the Inca's footsteps on the royal highway to Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience. Few other hikes in the world can offer the variety of breathtaking scenery: from high sierra to tropical jungle. GreenTracks is the Inca Trail expert.



Thursday, April 1, 2010

Machu Picchu reopened to visitors

Machu Picchu, the 15th Century Inca ruin and most visited site in Latin America, is set to open to the public again today after being closed since January when heavy rains and flooding damaged the rail line. The Citadel itself was not damaged.

Partial rail service has been restored and, for the time being, tourists will travel by bus from Cuzco to Piscacucho where they will board the train for the rest of the journey to Aguas Calientes. On Friday, Juan Carlos Zevallos, the president of Peruvian transport regulator Ositran, announced after inspecting the train line that it is “in perfect condition to begin operations between Piscacucho and Aguas Calientes.”

Peru’s National Institute of Culture (INC) said on Monday it will limit the number of entrance tickets to Machu Picchu to ensure the Inca citadel isn’t inundated by visitors. The INC also said that the Inca trail will only be open to hikers who have confirmed seat on the train from Machu Picchu to Piscacucho. Entrance tickets onto the Inca Trail are already sold out for April and May.

The re-opening of Machu Picchu will begin with a “Payment to the Earth” ceremony at the Explanade of the Koricancha Temple, located in Cuzco. Two large screens will be set up to show images of Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Following that a group dressed as Incas and accompanied by musicians and dancers will offer a tribute to Pachamama Raymi or Mother Earth. The ceremony will conclude with fireworks and music.

Hugo Gonzáles, regional president of Cuzco, said Tuesday he is interested in working with the National Institute of Culture to emphasize other attractions besides Machu Picchu. “This disaster should give us an opportunity to redesign the tourism activity, we can’t focus everything on Machu Picchu,” Gonzáles said. “Cuzco is there with all of its wonder, Moray, Tipón, Pikillacta, Sacsayhuamán, Pucapucara, Quenqo, Tambomachay.”

Tourism is one of Peru’s largest sources of revenue, and Machu Picchu is the main attraction. The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism reports that the Inca Citadel attracted more than 850,000 tourists in 2008.

NOTICE of NEW Carry-on Baggage Allowance for TRAIN to Machu Picchu:
Each passenger may take 1 bag or backpack, maximum weight of 11lb, and 62 inches (length + height + width combined). Extra luggage can be kept at your Cuzco hotel.