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April 2005 - Supply Chain

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Are you up for the City of the Cloud People?

The folks at Los Tambos Chachapoyanos, "The Lodges of the Cloud People," are making it possible for VolunTourists to see a relatively "new" part of Peru.

If you have considered visiting the land of the Chachapoyans, or “Cloud People,” one factor that may entice you to finally make that journey to the northeastern slopes of the Andes near Ecuador is the opportunity to give back.

VolunTourism has found a unique niche in this remote, and until recently, inaccessible, region of Peru through the work of Charles Motley and his team of Los Tambos Chachapoyanos – “The Lodges of the Cloud People.”

So what are some of the unique projects in which VolunTourists can participate?

"One project involves constructing another 4-bedroom ancient style circular lodge building," says Charles. "In the Andes our lodge walls are 14" to 16" thick and covered by an 8" thick thatch or straw roof that maintains constant temperatures. The lodge walls are made of rammed earth or adobe, and a thatch roof may go up to 3 stories high. In Levanto, our present lodge has a pubic building with kitchen, lounge/dinning room, 2 bathrooms, but only 4 bedrooms."

VolunTourists will learn how to make a "stand alone facility" (house, church, hospital, etc.) in remote areas utilizing local materials for fast beautiful and economical techniques of construction. In traveling up to Levanto from the Amazon, Charles and his team will introduce you to jungle-type construction and tropical products as well as a hydro-electric system that is more reliable, cheaper, yet out-produces wind turbines or solar systems. You will also be exposed to demonstrations of all sorts of domestic skills from making sugar and rum to spinning & weaving, rope making and cultivating a variety of foods, livestock, herbal medicines, etc.

A second project involves building a stone-columned gate to secure a remote site. The assembly process for the stone columns uses stones fitted with clay mortar in the truly Andean style/Inca construction. These would have either a thatch roof, but more likely, would use tile to ensure longevity. This project could be accomplished by one group in a few days, or extended as a project for multiple groups working a full day each.

The security gates have a very important purpose in generating a sustainable tourist income for the villagers and act as an incentive for them to defend their resources. Many backpacker and Peruvian tourists don't want to pay ANYTHING and are the worst in writing graffiti and trashing the ruins. With a gate and key the village municipal building sells a ticket and uses an approved village guide as security. These tickets may be for a single site or bundled package to all of their villages’ variety of sites offered at a discount. For example the village of Lamud needs many gates to protect newly discovered sarcophagus and world class caves, City of the Dead, etc., so can be sold on one ticket.

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Two other projects involve restoration. You will have the option of restoring an ancient Inca “Highway” that still serves the region. Or you may choose to participate in the construction of a sarcophagus. This project should be of particular interest to VolunTourists.

The South American Explorers club has commissioned Los Tambos Chachapoyanos (LTC) to do an in-depth academic study to recreate the sarcophagus (that appear as Easter Island statues 3 meters high, and on cliff ledges higher than almost any modern high rise building). The LTC team is the only group expert in the type of construction techniques of this ancient culture that built the largest building structure in the Americas.

"Under the tutelage of Araceli, our archaeologist, and the Levanto team that has done the only major restorations in our zone, you will join villagers in the construction and spend a portion of your time studying these original archaeological sites," adds Charles. "The research is extremely interesting and cutting edge and you will be exposed to things about which even archaeologists have a limited knowledge."

And then, of course, there are the tremendous tourism offerings of the region.

Located beside the equator and between 8,000' to 10,000' elevation, this zone has daily temperatures ranging from 65F to 80F - - every day of the year - - and is the more tropical half of Peru. The ruins and trees in the clouds of this "eyebrow of the Amazon" are covered with orchids and bromeliads. It includes a diverse mix of plants & animals, more ruins, and features the cultures of the nearby coast that were the highest level of civilization ever achieved in the Americas (like Egypt).

The region’s large ancient cities, pyramids and intricate irrigation systems existed near here. The Incas “borrowed” their engineers and artisans and techniques to make the Inca Empire spectacular. The Inca Empire appeared almost 500 years after perhaps the Andes most auspicious empire of the Wari. This “Golden City Building Empire” from Bolivia conquered the Andes until the tall fair skin Chachapoyans, with their stone walled mountain top citadels that still cover this zone, stopped them.

The Dept. of Amazonas is the size of West Virginia and was inaccessible until the mid 20th century (except for over a month's walk via Inca trails). This Department is the “Birthplace of the Amazon” and is where the forest leaves the Andes. An amazing aspect is the world's most extreme geographical conditions are located here close together: the world's driest desert (with 260 pyramids), world’s 2nd highest mountains (after the Himalayas), and the world's greatest rainforest. Even within the zone EVERYTHING changes only a couple miles apart with elevation and orientation - thus creating thousands of mini-ecological zones with plants, animals and humans adapted to each level.

If unique is what you are seeking for your VolunTourism clients, then Los Tambos Chachapoyanos may be one of the rarest finds in the business!

To learn more, please visit www.kuelap.org

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