geocaching

Geocaching Peru

geo tourandes

Get ready to geocache Peru! This GeoTour will take you on a journey around a valley high in the Andes. Here in the Yanamarca Valley, you will be far off the tourist trail. You’ll see rural life as it is lived by everyday Peruvians. The valley offers a mix of the new, the old and the ancient. You can visit a technical school where scientific studies are being conducted to develop new strains of potatoes; visit neighborhoods where farmers plow their potato fields with mules, just as their grandparents did; and explore a pre-Incan archeological site to hunt the original wild potatoes that can still be found among the 600-year-old ruins.

The GeoTour was created by the members of the Yanamarca Valley Watershed Committee, a group working to fight environmental problems throughout the watershed of the Yanamarca River. This GeoTour will take you to reforestation projects, to a lovely wetland the committee is currently working to protect, and to springs, streams and rivers where you can observe the interaction between the population and the water system.

The 44 geocaches in this GeoTour cover a wide range of attractions in the valley. You’ll explore several archeological sites of the ancient Xauxa civilization, hike through a canyon with red towers of sandstone, meet an artisan who weaves fabric on traditional looms, take a walking tour of ten brightly-painted neighborhood chapels, view breath-taking vistas of the Andes, and much more.

The GeoTour offers more than a collection of geocaches in the same geographic area. You can download its passport, a scorecard on which you can track your finds. For each geocache you find and log, you earn a point. You can also earn points for frequenting businesses in the Yanamarca Valley. One of the objectives of this project is to bring income into this community where significant poverty exists. You can help by making a point to spend some of your tourist money right here in the valley by buying meals, employing a guide or driver or staying in a hostel here.  Accumulate 30 points and you will earn a special trackable Geocoin as a memento of your visit! We have 100 geocoins to give out to the first 100 players who complete the challenge.

Download your Passport here and get ready to cache the Andes!

Click the pic to book your geocaching tour!

chasqui running

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is a treasure-hunt game played on all seven continents. All you need is GPS-enabled device such as a smartphone or hand-held GPS receiver. Containers, known as caches (pronounced cash-ez), are hidden in all kinds of interesting places, waiting to be found. To look for caches in your area, visit www.geocaching.com and use the search function. Download the GPS coordinates, then go out and search for the cache. Once you find it, open the cache container, write a comment in the log book, and trade prizes if you like. Geocachers are not meant to remove caches. Once you have found the cache, return it to its original location for the next player to find.

After your adventure, return to www.geocaching.com to log your find. Geocaching is a fun and free activity that is great for people of all ages. It combines high technology with outdoor adventure and brings you to new places you would never have discovered without the sport of geocaching.

You can find more information here: http://www.geocaching.com/guide/

Logo_Geocaching_Horiz_MuddyBootBrown

How to Get Started on the GeoTour

Don’t worry about getting cash in country – book your geocache tour right here!

Download the “In the Andes of Peru” GeoTour Passport or pick one up at the Interpretive Center, located in the Tunan Marca Plaza. Coordinates at GC4T042

Create an account at Geocaching.com and find this tour right here.

Download or print out the GPS coordinates for the In the Andes of Peru GeoTour

Start exploring the Yanamarca Valley. When you find a cache, record the “secret word” located in the cache on your Passport, sign the log and record the find on geocaching.com. If you frequent a local restaurant or hostel, be sure to record those points, also.

When completed, return the passport to the Interpretive Center to receive your prize. (In case the museum is closed, alternative locations where geocoins can be claimed are listed on the Interpretive Center geocache page: GC4T042.)

Click the pic to book your geocaching tour!

Locals and Peace Corps volunteers place geocache at pre-Incan ruin

Suggested Circuits

Here are some ideas for how to plan your visit. There is more information on the individual cache pages—follow the links.

 

* If you don’t have a car and will be doing these caches on foot, the following caches are right on the valley floor (11,450 feet/3,500 meters), where the terrain is flat (they may include a short walk uphill). If the altitude is a problem for you, start out with these as you acclimatize:

Tunanmarca: Centro de Interpretación en Tunan Marca

Marco: Tour de Barrios: North, Tour de Barrios: South, La Iglesia de Marco, The Yanamarca River, Marco Technical College, Birdwatcher’s Challenge –Observación de Aves, Millpun Chapel –Capilla de Millpun, Muquillanqui, Living Fence – Cerco Vivo

Acolla: Chasqui Ñan – Chasqui Street, Acolla Plaza and the beyond, Acolla Music Conservatory

 

*These caches involve a hike of 2-4 hours, and involve climbing in altitude from the 11,450 feet/3,500 meters or so of the valley floor to 12,300 feet/3750 meters or so up and down the hillsides.

Acolla 1) The Bulls – Los Toros & Hacienda Abandonada

Acolla 2) Inca Staircase Well – Escalera Inca Pozo & Pichiluli Badlands

Marco: LanlaHuasua (this is the longest route of the three. However, you can do it by car.)

 

*This set of caches can be done on foot or by bike from the main valley floor if you are a very strong hiker/biker. Otherwise, get there by car and hike just the final approach up Tunan hill. You’ll be climbing up to 12,800 feet/3900 meters. This is a full day of geocaching:

Tunanmarca: Mirador de Tunanmarca – Tunanmarca Overlook, Huaca – Sacred Stone, Los Corrales – The Corrals, Un Descanso – Take a Rest, Tunan Marca Restos Arqueológicos, Native Potatoes – Papas Nativas and CITO, Xauxa Aqueduct – Acueducto Xauxa, Xauxa Reservoir – Reservorio Xauxa

 

*To get to these sets of caches, you need to drive. You can go in your own car, hire a driver, or travel by collectivo (a shared public taxi) although collectivo schedules are sporadic.  If you are a very strong mountain biker you could do them by bike, but a guide is recommended. An overnight stay is likely if you do these by bike.

Pomacancha 1) Pichjapukio Vista, Headwaters of the Molino River, Casa Blanca Forest, Cachi Cachi, La Cueva Walimalka– The Walimalka Cave, Chullpas, Aukimalca Summit – Cumbre Aukimalca (13,686 feet/4171 meters)

Pomacancha 2) Puente Rio Molino – Molino River Bridge, La Puma de Pomacancha, Mirador de Pomacancha – Pomacancha Overlook (12,960 feet/3950 meters), Corazon – Heart

Acolla: Sacas High Road – Sacas Camino Alto, Shutuy Marca Restos Arqueológicos (13,370 feet/4075 meters), Sacas Low Road – Sacas Camino Bajo, Vicuña Habitat, Lomo Verde Forest, Spanish Colonial Church – Iglesia española-Colonia

Click the pic to book your geocaching tour!

The wetlands from above

Travel Information

For directions and other information about travel to the Yanamarca Valley, or to arrange a package tour to the “In the Andes of Peru” GeoTour, visit http://www.keteka.com/yanamarca-valley/

Keteka Co-founder Jack Searches for the Inca Staircase Well

Credits

This project was supported financially by a Peace Corps Partnership Program grant called “Ecotourism in the Yanamarca Watershed”. Our sincerest thanks to the individual donors who gave money!

This GeoTour is also supported by the four districts where the geocaches are found: The District of Acolla, The District of Pomacancha, The District of Tunanmarca and the District of Marco.

The mastermind behind the GeoTour is Peace Corps Volunteer Alane Brown, known in Peru as “Elena”. You can read her bio here. She was assisted in setting up the GeoTour by Peace Corps Volunteer Kristi Schammel. The guides who brought the Volunteers to the locations where we set geocaches, and who provided rich information about the area were: Abel Simeon (Chasqui), Nicolas Martinez, Henoch Loayaza and Jesus Leon. The project was developed and is maintained by the Yanamarca Valley Watershed Committee, a technical team of the Mesa de Dialogo Ambiental de la Provincia de Jauja, which in turn is a member roundtable of the Mesa de Dialogo Ambiental del Región Junín.

 

Find us on facebook here!

Look at thePassport for the Andes of Peru GeoTour!

You can reach us by email at ValleDeYanamarca@yahoo.com.pe The email is replied to by volunteers, so please allow time for a response.

The Groundspeak Geocaching Logo is a registered trademark of Groundspeak, Inc. Used with permission.

Back to Alane’s blog.

Geocache #1: Inca Well

The first geocache is up online! You can check it out here. It’s ready for geocachers to hunt for it. Come cache the Andes!

Jack Finds his First Geocache in Yanamarca:

There are two of us from the Peace Corps environment program living here in the Yanamarca Valley:  myself (Alane) and my sitemate Kristi. We got here late in 2012 and met Chasqui, a local guide (and artist, athlete, museum docent, etc.) who took us under his wing and showed us around the valley.

first hike, K & A above valleyA chasqui was a message runner during the Inca era. They blew on a conch trumpet to announce their arrival. Our modern Chasqui loves to do the same. (If you want to hire Chasqui as a guide, his contact information is on Keteka’s Yanamarca page.)

chasqui near wellChasqui’s now a member of the GeoTour committee. But back in December of 2012, before we hatched the plan to create a GeoTour here, he took us to what is now the first of the geocaches that are part of the “In the Andes of Peru” GeoTour. It’s an Incan well, probably built around 1500. Here’s our picture of it from that first day. This is what it’s like in December, when the rainy season is just setting in.first view K cameraIf you walk down into the well, you can see alcoves on the left and right. These were probably for offerings to Yakumama, the goddess of water. Her symbol is the snake, and she is associated especially with the rivers that snake through Peru. The snake is also a symbol of the Ukhu Pacha, which in Andean cosmology is the underworld, the past and the unconscious. This well may have been used as a sacred site for connecting with the Ukhu Pacha. I’ve meditated there, and I found it to be a peaceful spot for it. Try it if you like.inside wellHere’s a picture from a day when we came here to take photos for an environmental calendar that Kristi and I made for her local government in Acolla. This was in March, at the height of rainy season, and you can see that when the water table is high, the alcoves are covered with water.Acolla 227By that time we had decided to create the GeoTour and I was busy writing a Peace Corps grant to help with the costs. I set up a cache close to the well. When Diego, our Peace Corps supervisor, came to visit us in April of 2013, we took him and his assistant Reilly to visit the cache. I gave them my GPS unit and they got the chance to learn how to geocache for the first time. Reilly spotted the cache box before long and was the first to sign the log. Our project was underway!

Later on, in May, we had a visit from a group of university student from Olivet College. They wanted to lend a hand with projects here, so they planted trees,planting treeshelped out with a project to preserve genetic diversity of potatoes by taste-testing different varieties,Olivet 152and visited the well

Olivet 157and tested out this geocache for us. In the future, the Yanamarca Watershed Committee and Peace Corps hope to work with Keteka.com to offer more of these kinds of voluntourism experiences here in our valley.

Olivet 161I guess I’ll always have a soft spot for this cache. It’s been a big help in demonstrating to people what geocaching is all about. Now that it has been published online on geocaching.com , it’s the first active cache here in the state of Junin in Peru: The Inca Staircase Well — Escalera Inca Pozo.

Back to Alane’s blog.

Welcome to the Yanamarca GeoTour

Hi there. My name is Alane Brown and I’m a Peace Corps volunteer posted in the Andes of Peru. This blog will follow our adventures as my community develops its first ecotourism project. It will be a GeoTour, meaning that it will use the GPS game of geocaching to guide visitors around the valley to discover our natural, archeological and cultural attractions.

First things first: we are raising money for our project through a Peace Corps Partnership Program grant. We’d be ever so grateful if you could share a few dollars with us. The donation page is here. Please help! Update, October 2013: Due to generous donors, the project was FULLY funded. Thank you!

The Yanamarca Valley ranges from 11,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level. It’s typical of the rural Andes, with little villages surrounded by farmland. For the most part, the way of life here is the same as it has been for hundreds of years.

campo view

The people raise crops that thrive at this altitude such as potatoes, corn, beans, quinoa, and wheat. The agricultural cycle is the driving force of daily life here. We plant in the rainy season of November through April and harvest during the dry season from May through October.

woman with choclo  

Animals are an important part of agriculture, too, especially chickens, sheep and cows. Not only are they vital to survival, they also are part of cultural traditions. Here’s a cow decorated for the Fiesta of Santiago.

decorated cow 

Earlier this year, we created an environment task force for the watershed. We decided to work on environmental education, water quality, and ecotourism. Tourism can diversify the economy so that if there’s a poor year agriculturally, tourism will can even things out. Our committee also reasons that if we develop tourism, it will help motivate better care of the environment here. We want to feature our natural resources, to help people value them more and care for them. The project might bring in more government resources, too, for environmental projects in trash management, potable water and sewage treatment, all of which are desperately needed here, both for the health of the populace and for the protection of nature.

environment committee

For example, we hope that the ecological tourism circuit will help bring attention to our wetland; Humedal Chocon. It’s in the center of a ring lake.

ring lake

And is the home to 17 species of birds, some of them rare. Part of our GeoTour will take visitors on a bird-watching adventure at the wetland.

birds at wetland

But the wetland is surrounded by farmland, and pollution from agricultural chemicals goes directly into the lake. Our ecotourism project will bring attention to this issue.

wetland and wheat

I’m really looking forward to setting up the caches all around the valley. There are so many points of interest, but only the people around here know about them. It’s perfect for geocaching. There are pre-Incan ruins, the remains of a Spanish colonial era hacienda and church, lots of pretty towns full of adobe houses, brightly-painted barrio chapels and even the site of a miracle. There’s a mysterious sinkhole that drains the watershed—no one knows where the water goes. There’s a road built by the Inca Empire as well as an ancient astronomical site and several sacred springs. In future posts, I’ll introduce you to these local wonders.

In the meantime, dear reader, I have a request.

If you are an experienced geocacher and would like to serve as an adviser to the project, please write to me. We need readers to go over the cache descriptions (English and/or Spanish) and beta testers to come to Peru to run the whole GeoTour. With 40 geocaches, there are sure to be waypoints to tighten up and errors to fix. If you want to be on the team, contact us by email at ValleDeYanamarca@yahoo.com.pe  The email is replied to by volunteers, so please allow time for a response.

Back to Alane’s blog.