Wiracochan Archeological Project 2016, Day 1: Wednesday, July 13

(Note: this entry was written by Leo Duncan, Peter´s son and assistant. He was originally supposed to go on the expedition but was prevented by injury. He came for the first day of the expedition to take notes and photos.)
Our arrival time at Peter´s house was the undignified hour of 5:30am. Leo, Chet and Kevin arrived, at least physically if not mentally, focused on the basics: coffee. With the nectar of the Gods inside us, we began the remarkably quick process of loading all the expedition gear into Peter´s car, the trailer, and our hired truck. Several hundred pounds of expedition gear being logically sorted out and disappearing into limited space is a sight to behold.

Chet, Amerigo and Pancho in the rented truck were the first to leave, with Kevin, Peter and Leo still trying to cram the last of the supplies into Peter´s car. Once the last strap was cinched down, the tardy 3 took off to rendezvous with the others in Ollantaytambo. Along the way, Leo conducted interviews and struggled heroically to get Kevin´s fancy camera to work, managing to take three worthless overexposed shots in the process. Shortly before arriving in Ollantaytambo, we received an ominous message from Chet: his house was in the process of gradually flooding. We arrived to find that a pipe had broken in front of his house and water was slowly seeping along his gravel walkway towards his front door. Chet could do no more than leave this slow-motion disaster in the hands of a friend and hope that his things won´t have floated away by the time he gets back in 3 weeks.

After the remaining things were loaded into the cars, Peter got to practice his 1,000 point turns while backing up with a trailer into Ollanta´s main plaza. We somehow stayed upright and started the long, winding ascent up to the Malaga High Pass. The long, twisty descent from the pass was cluttered with cyclists doing the first stage of their Inca Jungle Trek. It was also very scenic: Kevin hung out the window getting shots of valleys and the local big peak, Cerro Veronica. As we descended into the jungle, even momentary stops resulted in bug bites, leading Leo to joke about giving Kevin a prophylactic epinephrine shot for his notoriously bad reaction to the bites from the pumawacachi flies.

Around 1pm, the route took us past the town of Santa Maria, which is where Leo left the rest of the group to return to Cusco. The others were worried about reaching their destination of Yanama by nightfall, so said a quick goodbye and were off.

The expedition is underway! By the time you read this, Peter et al. will probably be arriving at basecamp. They´ll continue trying to make blog posts and keep you all updated, but internet connection out there is sketchy at best. To whet your appetites, I´ve unlocked all the blog posts from the 2013 expedition to the same place. To read an overview of the expedition, click here, and to read bios for each of the team members, here.


Cerro Veronica
The fruit of Kevin´s efforts to get a picture of Cerro Veronica


Early morning departure
Early morning packing


Salkantay view
An early morning view of Salkantay (on the right), with the Sacred Valley shrouded in fog below.


Ollanta packing 1
Packing in Ollantaytambo (Peter and Leo pictured in the foreground)


Abra Malaga cars 2
Both cars ready to descend from Abra Málaga


Abra Malaga 1
The descent from Abra Málaga


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2 thoughts on “Wiracochan Archeological Project 2016, Day 1: Wednesday, July 13

  1. Mary Anne Sheffield Reply

    After being mesmerized by Peter’s early morning lecture/presentation at Sonesta Posadas del Inca Sacred Valley Yucay with our National Geographic group in May, I am delighted to be able to follow the latest expedition, the Wiracochan Archaeological Project. Thanks for forwarding it to me!

  2. Sue Finley Reply

    I’ve been looking forward to this experience. Thanks so much for sharing.

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