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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

Into the Unknown, Out of Contact

Dear friends and family,

This is the announcement that we wait for eagerly as instructors. This is the part where our adventures become wilder.

We will be out of touch starting tomorrow.

We leave El Alto early in the morning and head into the mountains of the Cordillera Real. From this point until near the end of April, we will be traveling in the remote Andes and Amazon, with very limited access to phone and internet.

When will we be back in range?

In the next 4 weeks, then only time we expect to have reliable internet and phone service is during our 2.5 days in Cusco.

March 23 – March 30: Trek in the Cordillera Real

For eight days, we will circumnavigate the 6,000-meter glacier-draped Cerro Illampu at the northeastern end of the Cordillera Real. We begin from the jungle town of Sorata, climbing onto the barren slopes of the peak as we make our way around it. Students will face the challenges of high altitude, rough terrain, and snowy/rainy weather at the tail end of the rainy season.

March 30 – April 3: Santiago de Okola

We descend from the mountain slopes to the Aymara village of Santiago de Okola on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Students will live in homestays, focusing on agriculture, sustainable tourism, and the Aymara worldview. The village consumes only the food that it produces using traditional organic agricultural methods.

April 3: Peru!

We leave by boat from Santiago de Okola, crossing the border into Peru at Copacabana. Students will have the opportunity to begin seeing a different side of Andean culture in Peru, along with a radically different economic and political sphere.

April 3 – April 5: Cusco, Heart of the Incan Empire

We rest after our long day of travel in the high-altitude city of Cusco. For centuries, this place has been the seat of power, first for the Incas, then for the Spanish colonial government. A European city built on Incan stonework foundations, the history here runs deep. We will leave excess personal items with our friends in Cusco as we prepare for 4 weeks of travel around Southern Peru.

April 5 – April 10: Nacion Q’eros

Hidden in the mountains above the Sacred Valley is the last outpost of the Incas: Nacion Q’eros. For 6 days, we will trek from village to village in the cold Andes, guided by Q’eros spiritual leader and longtime Dragons friend Siwar Kenti. He will introduce us to the culture, history, and modern struggle of maintaining a remote mountain culture among the influence of mining, globalization, and urban migration. Here in Q’eros, we stay with families in different villages each night, eating the standard diet of potatoes and occasional llama or alpaca.

April 10: Into the Amazon

We descend from the peaks of Q’eros directly into the Manu region of the Amazon Basin, avoiding major urban centers along the way. While we don’t have our plans completely finalized this far out, we expect to stay with an Amazonian community and visit one or two research outposts.

All the best,

The instructors: Itzá, Parker, and Jeff