Our Inkaterra January 2014 Workshops

2014 has kicked off to a busy start here at Inkaterra with  several successful workshops for our local community, all with the aim of promoting sustainability and ecotourism here in Peru. So far, there have been events for our Inkaterra guides, the local children and for disabled people around the Machu Picchu area. You can read more about each of our events below.

Inkaterra Guide Birding Training

Birding at Inkaterra

Peru is renowned for its birdlife, and the area around Machu Picchu is particularly spectacular in birding terms. We are keen to promote the area as a birdwatching hotspot, and to really allow visitors to really test their binoculars, the Inkaterra Asociación organised a training course for local guides from both Cusco and Machu Picchu. The seminars were led by Manuel Bryce, Fernando Ángulo and Barry Walker, all experts on ecotourism, conservation and birdwatching. Held over four (very rainy) days, participants were taken on field excursions and attended lectures on guiding techniques, conservation ethics and virtual tools for birdwatching. The aim of the training course was to strengthen and empower the local guides to increase Machu Picchu’s presence on the global birdwatching stage, promoting it as the birdwatching destination.

Another session has already been arranged for March showing how committed the local guides are in these conservation projects.

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Finger-painting the Cloud Forest

As part of our commitment to social responsibility, the Inkaterra Asociación organised a creative finger painting workshop for disabled citizens from the region around Machu Picchu. In conjunction with OMAPED, the government office for the disabled, the workshop was held in the Ministry of Culture’s offices. Participants spent the day getting their hands dirty painting pictures of animals that live in and around the cloud forests of Machu Picchu.

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Ecotourism for Children

Our Inkaterra Asociación ran a series of children’s workshops during the summer vacations this January to educate children aged 5 to 12 on the importance of ecotourism and conservation. Through games, experiments and seminars the children were taught key messages on themes such as recycling, climate change and natural sciences, both locally in Peru and internationally. The workshops were run by our team of explorer guides, biologists, anthropologists and volunteers from the Inkaterra Asociación, and will help to raise awareness and respect to the local environment.

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We are proud to support local initiatives, and these are the first of many workshops and seminars that will take place for 2014. Stay tuned right here on our blog and on our social media channels for details on the other social initiatives that we will be running throughout the year.

OMAPED Christmas Chocolatadas

On 20th December, Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel was proud to host a very special event in collaboration with OMAPED, the Municipal Office for People with Disabilities in Peru.

More than 200 people in the area of Machu Picchu suffer with some form of disability, meaning that daily life can often be very difficult. As part of their Christmas celebrations, OMAPED organised a special event together with many organisations from across the district, throwing a traditional Chocolatadas for those individuals helped by OMAPED.

The event consisted of entertainment, and like the chocolatadas held throughout Peru at this time of year, hot chocolate and sweets were handed out to those attending. As a final surprise, Papanoel himself, Father Christmas took time out from his very busy December to hand out presents. As part of its ongoing commitment to local CSR initiatives, Inkaterra is proud to be involved with such initiatives as this, helping to spread the spirit of goodwill during the festive season.

¡Feliz Navidad!

Alpacas around the manger, turkey at midnight and a potential wait until January to receive your presents; Christmas in Peru has more than a few quirky traits. As a predominantly Christian nation, it is unsurprising that Christmas is celebrated widely in Peru. Thanks to influences from America and European colonialists, a Christmas in Peru is very similar to those in the UK and the West. However there are a few traditions that make a Peruvian Christmas just that little bit unusual…

Though the Scandinavian tradition of Christmas trees are becoming more popular, it is the nativity scene that dominates in almost every Peruvian home. Known locally as retablos, they have a rich history in Peru. These wooden carvings were traditionally used by Catholic priests in converting the indigenous population to Christianity. Largely resembling the traditional nativity scene recognised worldwide, retablos do retain a little Peruvian quirk. Look closely and you’ll spot llamas and alpacas surrounding the manger, rather than cows and donkeys.

A big difference between a Peruvian Christmas and one in the UK is that when most of us are tucked up in bed waiting for Father Christmas on the 24th December, in Peru, the party is already in full swing. Noche Buena or “Good Night” is the peak of Christmas in Peru, and it is far more lively and spirited than the 25th.  About 10pm on Christmas Eve, churches throughout the country hold the Misa de Gallo, akin to Midnight Mass. Outside the church; there are fireworks, music and revelry signalling the start of a very special period.

At midnight, Christmas dinner is served. As in the UK, turkey is traditionally the centrepiece, but like most Peruvian gastronomy, dishes are full of distinct, herbs and spices. One of the most traditional accompaniments to a Peruvian Christmas dinner is a spiced apple sauce, along with a huge variety of salads, home made tamales and of course, the Christmas cake.

Of course, Christmas isn’t complete without presents! In Peru, households exchange gifts before tucking into the spectacular feast, some give gifts afterwards, and in some Andean communities, gifts aren’t exchanged until January 6th during Epiphany, signifying the arrival of the Three Wise Men bringing their gifts to baby Jesus.

In Cusco especially, crowds flock to the city for Chocolatadas, an event that sees the true spirit of Christmas come alive. Communities group together to provide for those less fortunate than themselves. Often organised by churches, businesses or shops, they characteristically give hot chocolate, sweets, bread and even toys to poor children or pensioners. Many poorer families descend on Cusco for several days in order to attend Chocolatadas.

Whilst the build up to Christmas can last several weeks, with events that take place across towns and cities, right town to smaller close-knit communities, but it is on the 24th, after the meal and the gifts, in the dead of night, that Christmas truly comes alive in Peru.  Once the children are put to bed, the adults really let their hair down and enjoy the festive celebrations. As the parties are in full swing until the very early hours…it’s no wonder that Christmas day in Peru is rather quiet!

In any case – whether you are in Peru or not, we wish you a very Merry Christmas from everyone at Inkaterra.

 

Birding Rally Challenge 2013

Next week, from 3rd to 10th December, the third Birding Rally Challenge begins in Peru. Considered the world championships for birding, for those who aren’t in the know, this is the ultimate event in the ornithological world, bringing together the most renowned birding teams from all over the globe in a six-day contest to decide the best Birding Team in the world.

The challenge for the teams from the United States, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Colombia is to cover the greatest number of habitats within a certain area in a limited amount of time counting the number of bird species they can identify; and naturally, the winners are the team that has spotted the highest number of species.

Peru has been specially chosen to host the Birding Rally Challenge because of its expensive natural biodiversity. Peru is a true treasure in ornithological terms. It is home to 1836 species of bird – that is one fifth of all registered species in the world, Peru is the second leading country in the world for bird diversity, and the best in terms of bird observation. The unique habitats that Peru has, from lush wetlands to vibrant cloud forests means it is host to visiting species, as well as the 120 endemic bird species that call Peru home.

Organised by the Inkaterra Hotels, the Inkaterra Association and PromPerú, the teams will travel 840km through Peru, from Tambopata in southern Peru, to the bio diverse cloud forest of Machu Picchu, and the teams will stay at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica and Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.

The actual challenge won’t simply be a walk in the park for our teams. They will have to contend with the changing climates of Peru, from the tropics of the rainforest to the coolness of the Andes, not to mention the strict rules about bird sightings.

But this competition is not simply about birdwatching. The Birding Rally Challenge has some core principles behind it. Designed to develop ecotourism in Peru, the competition promotes conservation and sustainable tourism, especially regarding the local communities that are often overlooked by traditional tourism.

In December 2012, the first rally lasted five days, and a total of 692 species were sighted. The second rally, Nor Amazon, trumped this total, with the birding teams observing 864 separate species in Peru – that’s 10% of the world’s registered bird species.

The 9th December is deadline day for our five birding teams, with the closing ceremony and winners being announced at 19.00. Will it be another successful rally for the American team? Only time and a keen eye will tell.

Halloween: The Day of the Creole Song in Peru

Creole Day

Do you not do Halloween? Are all of those silly costumes, sickly sweets and chocolates too much? Well, the Peruvians have a an alternative solution: Creole Music Day. Sounds good doesn’t it? You don’t know the half of it.

So what is it?

To sum up, The Ministry of Culture hosts a meet-up and performance of Peruvian Creole music to celebrate the Día de la Canción Criolla on 31st October.

Cusco Square

Creole Music Day was created in 1944 to celebrate the rich tradition of Peruvian Creole music. The word Creole (pronounced criollo) generally refers to Spanish-influenced culture of the Americas. Creole music was born from a mixture of musical traditions from a variety of groups, including African peoples brought to Peru as slaves. Typical instruments include the Peruvian cajón and the guitar, among others.

Creole Day in Peru

For a taste of Peruvian Creole music, interested parties should head down to the III Encuentro de Centros Musicales (3rd Meeting of Musical Centres), where a number of musicians will demonstrate their skills in the Creole musical tradition. The event begins at 7.00pm and it’s free for anyone to attend.