Travel (Turismo)


The volunteers will help archaeologists and workers to restore and clean the walls, making bricks respecting the ancestral procedure.

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A total of 13 national and international volunteers from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization are carrying out conservation and restorations works at the archaeological zone of Chan Chan, in Peru’s northern region of La Libertad.

Volunteer Program “Supporting conservation of the archaeological zone of Chan Chan” began last Friday with a special ceremony which was attended by local authorities and representatives of the National Institute of Culture and public education officials, according to Henry Gayoso, head of the Special Project for the Chan Chan Archaeological Complex (PECHAC).

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The young volunteers will perform three specific actions: Conservation, Protection and Defense, and Educational. The volunteers will help archaeologists and workers to restore and clean the walls, making bricks respecting the ancestral procedure. They will also clean and remove garbage dumps and wooded places.

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Awareness raising activities about the protection of heritage will be also run by the volunteers to reach the local communities with a special focus on pupils and students. There will be schools visits to talk about the protection of heritage. Students will visit the archaeological site.

According to Gayoso, most of these volunteers come from Korea, Mexico, Germany, Italy, Poland, United States, France, and Peru, and will stay in the area for 20 days.

Aerial View of Chan Chan

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According to UNESCO, 54 projects at 53 World Heritage sites in 33 countries have been selected to be part of “World Heritage Volunteers (WHV) 2014 – Action for Sustainability”.

Chan Chan Archaeological Complex, one of the largest and most important prehispanic monuments built in America, is a city of mud-brick built by the Chimú culture in the 9th Century. It covers an area of approximately 20 km² and was constructed by the Chimor, the kingdom of the Chimú and lasted until its conquest by the Inca Empire in the year 1470.

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At its height, estimates place the population at 30,000. Chan Chan was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. Currently, there are several efforts from governmental and civil society groups trying to preserve the archaeological site, as well as the history of this culture.

Farewell!

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The conversation fluctuates between a legendary Tunki coffee and a brand new pisco, Larroca, served up cold, in accordance with the tastes of its creator: Bernardo Roca Rey, architect of the Novoandino cuisine, exquisite epicure, president of the Peruvian Society of Gastronomy (APEGA), and the current promoter of the rescue and rehabilitation of Peru’s millions of acres of agricultural terraces.

How was this project born?
In the Ministry of Culture, during my time as Viceminster for Cultural Heritage, I had the the opportunity to be close to the issue of the terraces. Conserving the walls of the terraces is what the ministry must do with its archaeologists, and it works, but it is expensive. The other way is that the farms work them, and in so doing, they will also provide maintenance. If there are a million hectares of terraces, 700,000 of those are abandoned.

Up until 1999, there were programs to map the Andean terraces, but they have been abandoned. Days ago, in Mistura, we managed to gather together seven ministers to talk about the Andean diet, and one of them was Trivelli (Minister of Development), who has done studies of the terraces. APEGA goes hand-in-hand with two ideas: nutrition and social inclusion. In both cases, the Andean terraces are important to recuperate. If there are a million hectares, that’s a little bit more than 10% of all the arable land used for cultivation in Peru, and it’s a shame that that land isn’t being used.

What is the Ministry of Culture doing about it?
They have abandoned all of the projects that existed. There isn’t even a complete map of the terraces in Peru, where they are and which they are. They’ve identified barely 50% of them.

Is mapping the first step for their recuperation?
The first step is a pilot project: take 500 hectares and adopt them. The objective is that these lands, which are the most productive in Peru, offer the Peruvian restaurants of the world the Andean grains that are so fashionable. For years, I have been promoting the Novoandina cuisine, and among those crops are quinoa, oca, mashua, products which will soon be fashionable. We started with quinoa twenty years ago, and it’s a success today.

What is the idea? To give value added through the denomination of origin; having products that are introduced with the gastronomic boom and also grown on Andean terraces, some of which are three thousand years old. That a restaurant in Paris, for example, adopts a terrace and once a year offers roasted, glazed mashua. What you will have then is a cultural phenomenon which will allow for value to be added to the product, and the farmer will be well-paid.

Additionally, if they are crops from the VRAE, where there are many terraces, it can be another type of assistance. For example, the U.S. government and restaurants in the U.S. could receive those crops, which are also organic. Everything goes hand-in-hand: biodiversity, ancestral crops, new cuisine, boutique agriculture, all of those go together and break the inertia. And that the state puts in $500 million to save a certain number of terraces.


Where will you realize the pilot project?

The closer to Lima, the easier. In APEGA, we have a project with the Interamerican Development Bank, which has given us $3 million as a nonrefundable amount for supply chains, and with part of that we could begin to work on this subject.

I firmly believe that the Andean diet is related to the terraces, so that all of the ministry portfolios are related to this: Tourism, Agriculture, Social Inclusion and Health. The issue is in the hands of the state. I have calculated that it takes an average of $5,800 to recover one hectare. In APEGA, we can recover 100, but with the state or help from abroad, we could recover thousands. Some villagers in Ayacucho are already willing, and the corn that they haven’t grown for a while could be cultivated there. There is a fungus, which in Mexico they eat and call huitlacoche, which contaminates the corn crops, and in Cusco, the infected corn are just tossed out. It would be interesting to grow the infected corn, in order to sell the fungus, which elsewhere is worth much more than the corn itself. The same monks cress plant that I am growing in my garden can be used to produce “Incapers,” in place of regular capers.

Going back in time, what was your first contact with the Peruvian terraces?
I was a boy, because my family led me to this and traveled a lot. I remember being very young and lying down on a terrace in Machu Picchu and looking at the stars, thinking that this was the best thing you could ever do. Who would have guessed that I would end up having to care for them myself…

If we develop them, Peru, instead of having 1.2 million kilometers, would have 2 million. That is, we would be as big as a flat country like Mexico.

 

By Maribel de Paz  (“Caretas” magazine from PERU). 

Translated and adapted by Nick Rosen, October 4, 2012

 

The Huacachina oasis is hot, day and night

The Huacachina oasis (Photo: Carlos Salas/PromPerú)

It is a bit like a dream, standing on the shores of the beautiful Huacachina oasis, contemplating the blue-green water and the immense sand mountains surrounding it all. There is no doubt that it is beautiful, and for that reason it attracts young crowds of both tourists and locals for prolonged weekend stays.

I did not enjoy the 5 hour bus ride with Cruz del Sur from Lima to Ica very much, however. It seems to me that Cruz del Sur doesn’t represent the good deal which it once did. The comfort just is not there, partly due to seat comfort- if the person in front of you leans back his seat, you will virtually get crushed- but in particular because of the never-ending show of videos with high volume thundering from the central speakers. This simply destroys the amazing scenery traveling along the southern Peruvian coast from Lima to Ica. On the way back, I traveled on Soyuz; it wasn’t any better, but at least it was cheaper.

When you arrive to Ica, the change of transportation to a taxi is very smooth, allowing you to arrive to Huacachina within 15 minutes for around S/. 6. Huacachina has an abundance of hostels and guest houses, and they practically all offer the same traditional sand buggy rides and sandboarding. I stayed at Carola del Sur, a sister hostel to Casa de Arena with the same owner, without the lush swimming pool and nightclub of Casa de Arena, but also without the noise.

The Carola del Sur. Photo by author.

Carola del Sur also offers great, spacious and clean rooms at very reasonable prices. The staff is very friendly and easy-going, and is at the same time well organized and secure. 
Before going out on the sand dune tours, I went on a classic city tour to Ica, visiting the main square of Ica and a pisco bodega, which gave a nice impression of this colonial town as well as some basic knowledge of the pisco distillation process. And of course, I got to taste some different piscos, with the opportunity to buy special and original Ica pisco, a good way of ensuring quality.

Sandboarding. Photo by author.

In the afternoon, I went on an awesome roller coaster ride in the buggies, bumping up and down in incredible sand dunes for a couple of hours. It is a thrilling and fun experience, which is a must do, as is the sandboarding which is a very cool and unique activity in Peru. However, it takes some practice to get the most of out it, and be careful – even though sand sounds like a soft surface, it is not so soft when you fall of a board in high speed descending a tall sand dune. But these buggies are just amazing, and it is absolute mandatory to go for such a thrilling ride.

A dune buggy. Photo by author.

I spent the entire evening at Casa de Arena, where I joined a barbecue buffet and free drinks for only S/. 50, a heck of a bargain, which you won’t find at many places. The food was great, and there was plenty of it. Later the nightclub opened, and this remodeled meeting place, combining rustic and modern design, is a spectacular spot for everybody (but in particular young people) in and around Ica.

The grounds of the Casa de Arena. Photo by author.

The place is huge, and there is room for many hundreds of people, and in fact it almost fills up on the weekends. The ground floor is an impressive large dance floor with two bars, and a big stage separates this floor from the VIP zone on the second floor.

The nightclub at Casa de Arena. Photo by author.

You can choose to sit down and talk, to go dancing to reggaeton rhythms, or simply hang around enjoying the environment from a distance – each level has the feeling of an exciting meeting place, as the place to be on a Saturday night. The place opens around 11pm, and fills in around 1am, and continues until the early morning, around 5am. This is indeed the place to be on a Saturday evening in Huacachina.

I had a fantastic prolonged weekend stay in Ica and Huacachina, and 3 days is just exactly enough to get something out of the trip, considering the almost 5 hour bus drive back and forth.
By Morten Bruun Jensen , January 2, 2012

 Morten Bruun is the co-founder and Chief Operations Manager for the Peru Experience travel agency.