Boots, Birds, and Binocs... Peru 2011
 
Picture
So its the last full day here at Pantiacolla, and what better way to spend the morning than a "little stroll"? We hiked up to a point called El Mirador, aptly named indeed. From the end of the trail here, we could see out into a sea of green, the Amazon basin spreading out to the horizon, punctuated by the meandering Alto Madre de Dios river. Quite the vista, being perched on the last high point overlooking the basin. After spending so much time in the Andes, from Cuzco to San Pedro, the sheer flatness of it all was what impressed me. How ironic, that after being in dagger like mountains for so long, something as mundane as flatness is what captures my attention.


Picture
When we got back, the length of our "little stroll"became a matter of debate at lunch. The Jefe said that the entire hike was about 3-4 km, whereas Alex said each way was about that. The Profe chuckled at my exasperation, as I mused of it being a bit more than a short romp through the woods. I suppose much like our discussions on the nature of wilderness, classifications and labels are rather relative things. Especially when it comes to the Jefe's time and distance estimates.

~Mateo

 
Picture
Reaction to Machu Picchu:
Machu Picchu was incredible!  Everyone I talked to before I left for Peru wanted to know if we were going to Machu Picchu and they were all jealous I was going to knock it off my bucket list.  However, Machu Picchu just blew my expectations away.
It was amazing to see such stunning and elaborate ruins against the background of the Andes.  I have hiked trails that have ended at scenic overlooks or historic landmarks, but I cannot remember another place that combined them both.  Every turn we made in the park was truly breath taking.  Even though I know the Incas constructed the terraced landscape, something about the ruins seems superhuman.  
The hike up to Waynapicchu was also unforgettable.  I always enjoy a challenging hike especially when it has an incredible view.  The hike was very steep and to about 9000 ft.  The tallest mountain in North Carolina is less than 7000 ft tall.  Watching local men who work in the park jog a sick man down the mountain , was shocking and a reality check.  Its amazing that the human body can adapt to an environment that way.  I wonder if people are born with the ability to live in high altitudes or if that develops over time.
-Audrey Hite