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This Month's Reader Comments
We just got back from Peru a couple days ago, and after getting here we got fantastic news about our lodge in Levanto, and how the government, and also the Catholic Church, are planning a major promotion and investment to make this the 2nd most visited area in our Chachapoyan zone.
The government is trying to position our zone as among the top 3 archaeological destinations of the Americas. It is next to Ecuador so its ecology equals that of the Americas' best ecological destination. At about 8000 to 9000 feet elevation, and in the tropical north closer to the equator than Panama, every day is from 65 F to 80 F degrees. Peru has budgeted five million USA dollars to make this newly accessible zone (new paved road less than 5 years ago) equal to Cuzco & Machu Picchu at the opposite end of Peru. For months there have been 4 dump trucks of grout, sand, gravel per day going to Fortress Kuelap. From there it takes 1000 horse loads per truck to take it the last mile to the fortress where huge numbers of workers at ($6 per day) are being paid this five million dollars (so you can imagine the huge project). Fortress Kuelap is twice as old as the Inca Empire, and the largest building structure of both Americas with 400 buildings inside. The entire zone was the heaviest fortified zone of the Andes, the world's 2nd highest mountains, and longest range that would extend as far as from L.A to London. Their structures were made of stone and exist today on almost every mountain top, surrounded by walls of stone. Just behind Fortress Kuelap, the main trunk Amazon River cuts its way out of the Andes to enter the basin. Thus this province's name is The Dept. of Amazonas, -- not because it is the lower basin, but rather as "The Birthplace of the Amazon"
Well the big news is that Levanto is included in this project, so this week the village will clean the ruins and then the government will send in their team of archaeologists and workers to start this huge task of restoring Yelape Fortress. This is the Dept. of Amazonas' 2nd largest fortress, and the most historic town of this zone. Today it has perhaps 1000 natives, but was the Colonial capitol of this zone, and before that was the 7th, and major city, of the mysterious Chachapoyan Cloud People when it was conquered 500 years ago by the Incas. Its most significant historical note was that when the Incas revolted against the Incas, they wanted to establish their capitol in Levanto because it was the best fortified zone of the Andes against the Spanish Calvary and artillery. However the Cloud People were only under Inca rule 30 years with several revolts against them. Not wanting to be under the Inca rule again, they destroyed the Inca advance guard on their 2000 km march from the jungles below Machu Picchu.
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Our proposed volunteer project is working with the villagers in building a 3rd building of rammed earth to enhance our existing lodge that we donated to the village of Levanto. At present we have 2 buildings built like the ancient ones that are round with a thick thatch roof. One contains a lounge, a kitchen, and 2 bathrooms, hot showers, fireplace, etc. The other building is divided into 4 bedrooms with up to 5 beds in each room. However we prefer not to put more than 2 - 3 people per bedroom, so we lack capacity for a 2 star high end group of 12 to 15 people. The lodge is located behind an ancient colonial church started in 1538 AD, with a huge carved altar with gold plating. It is older than any building in North America, and 5 years older than even Lima. Besides that we plan to house the archaeologists working on this restoration project. In addition we have donated a big ceramics kiln on our site that the Catholic Church will use in a major program of teaching artesian skills to the children to enhance tourism to this village.
Levanto is the nearest ruins to the town of Chachapoyas (population 35,000), the capitol of this zone - which is the size of West Virginia. There are 2 large modern hospitals in Chachapoyas that are just over an hour away. The zone also features funeral sarcophagus that look like Easter Island statues, but are perched high up in niches on sheer cliffs, some higher than a 20-story building. Our team just researched and made the first authentic restoration of 2 of these in front of our Levanto lodge. This restoration will be published in the next issue of The South American Explorers Club's magazine. These and other volunteer projects are under the direction of our team's archaeologist Araceli, and logistics provided by our team's anthropologist Alicia, (the most highly recommended graduates of Peru's best University of San Marcos).
This mysterious Dept. of Amazonas was only accessible by a month long walk only a few years ago, and contained 15,000 sq. km. of unexplored mountains, with the Amazon rainforest just below. even today. Our team is turning up many new discoveries even today in the unfolding of our mysterious zone. Volunteers can be the first to see some of the 15 newly discovered funeral statues, and perhaps some of the other ruins, like the mausoleum with 40 mummy bundles, or the 22 world class caverns that our team found and were the first to explore only 3 years ago.
We can promise this project and its treasure chest of America's best ecological and archaeological ruins will be on the cutting edge of the opening of this zone. Tourists are just beginning to discover this destination and each year has had a dramatic increase with 10,000 tourists last year, and this year will exceed that. It is Peru's friendliest zone, not yet used to tourists, and best fed, thus we have no beggars, pickpockets, and totally pristine.
Our organization, Los Tambos Chachapoyanos, started 19 years ago, just after an American expedition claimed discovery of over 20,000 stone structures in this valley (deeper than the Grand Canyon) where the main trunk Amazon is entering the Basin. Our mission is building and donating lodges to the villages so they will receive a sustainable tourist income as an incentive to protect their ruins and ecology. Our team also restored the Inca Military Garrison at Levanto that guarded this major intersection of Inca Roads. To the west was Americas' most advanced Indian culture, that built 260 pyramids in a valley almost identical to the Nile River that irrigated the world's driest desert. This Moche Culture passed through our zone to get their feathers and jaguar skins for their elaborate "Pharaoh", the Lord of Sipan. His tomb is in a pyramid and was the richest gold filled tomb of the Americas. Thus a volunteer trip will feature the world's most extreme geography and the plants, animals, and Indian cultures adapted to these thousands of mini-ecological zones:, -- the world's greatest rainforest, its 2nd highest mountains, and driest desert.
Hope we can get groups of volunteer adventurers for this most worthy project. The trip will offer an easy orientation tour of the zones best features, or an optional expedition of "The Inca Road to the Machu Picchu of Northern Peru" through the "Birthplace of the Amazon". We can supply all logistics, lodging & meals in our comfortable facilities, and arrange flights and ground travel if desired. Volunteers will work with the villagers and our archaeologist, and can assist in teaching ceramics and art skills to the students in a 2 room facility on the main plaza near our lodge. This is a genuine real experience with Los Tambos Chachapoyanos that you will see really has the best and most successful mission to create a sustainable tourist income. It is estimated that 85% of tourist income to the Cuzco zone flows out to Lima, but 100% of our income stays to improve this fabulous zone.
Los Tambos Chachapoyanos
It was a pleasure writing about Los Tambos Chachapoyanos in our first issue of The VolunTourist. It sounds like some great things are happening and I wish you continued success in your efforts.
I am sure that our readers will be interested in following the progress of your projects and will want to learn more on how they can connect with you and your team.
Keep up the great work!
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