Tag Archive for Machu Picchu

Trekking the old Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with Charity Challenge

Photographer and blogger extraordinaire, Philipp Ammon, recently completed the Trek to Machu Picchu challenge. He joined the first Charity Challenge expedition to trek the Ancascocha Trail. Read on to find out about this off-the-beaten-track hike through the incredible Andes mountains, on parts of the original Inca trail.   

Imagination is a funny thing – It can take us to the highest heights and wildest places; but if we really put our minds to it, we are also exceptionally creative at forming reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t live our dreams. The excuses become boundless.

Trekking Ancascocha trail to Machu Picchu Peru for Charity Challenge

You certainly don’t have to twist my arm to get me on an adventure trek. Add a far-away destination into the mix and I’ll practically be rearing to go. I love the feel of the trail under my feet; the humbling size of mountains all around; the wonder of zipping open my tent door to crisp morning air and another day of adventure. We all have our demons, however, and for me one of those is planning trips… Let’s just say that logistics aren’t my strong hand, and often, the daunting prospect of organisation can put my dreams on hold indefinitely. Coordinating an adventure trek on another continent, away from it all takes a lot of time and energy. Along with trying to run a photography business, those are ingredients that seem to be all too scarce these days.

When Charity Challenge approached me with an offer to partner up on one of their adventure treks to Peru as a photographer, I was immediately on board. Catching the last evening rays illuminating the old ruins of Machu Picchu has long been on my bucket list, and I was being offered the opportunity to make that dream a reality. The best part: every last bit of the trek was already organised. All I had to do was show up (and carry lots of heavy camera equipment across some pretty demanding terrain – no big deal…).

The Ancascocha Trail

Trekking Ancascocha trail to Machu Picchu Peru for Charity Challenge

I’m not one for mass-tourism. Show me where the crowds are, and I will walk well out of my way to avoid them. I get enough of that living in London… I’d heard that the Inca trail to Machu Picchu could be quite crowded in April and May with many eager tourists making the trip to experience the beauty of the Andes. I can’t blame them really, but that doesn’t exactly go along with the peaceful mountain experience in a small group I had in mind. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

In response to the sharp increase in tourism on the Inca trail, Charity Challenge recently changed their Machu Picchu trek itinerary to take you down a road-less-traveled. So much so, in fact, that the only other people we saw throughout our trip were local farmers, and even they were far and few between. Sheep on the other hand? Well, they were countless.

Trekking on the Ancascocha Trail

Trek leader George on Ancascocha trail to Machu Picchu Peru for Charity Challenge

There is something special about knowing the road you are hiking on was once used by Incan messengers some six-hundred years ago. Not much indicates their rich history, sunken in the river of time, but ever so often, you will spot the old cut stones that marked their way. Our guides, George and Wilson were incredibly knowledgable about the geography and history of the region. I might also add that I admire their patience: I must have asked a hundred questions a day about what we were seeing and experiencing.

Not a single day offers the same views. Lush and colourful flora sweep the lower-laying terrain, with fresh streams and rushing rivers running alongside your route throughout. For those of you into learning more about local herbs, the guides are very knowledgeable and will even help you use some of the plants to remedy the less pleasant effects of high altitude. From higher up, we spotted the jagged and snow capped mountains, believed by the Incas to be Earth’s connection with the Gods.

Trekking Ancascocha trail to Machu Picchu Peru for Charity Challenge

The hiking itself will be extremely challenging at times. The highest point along the trail reaches the Pampaqasa mountain pass at an oxygen-depriving 4550m. Fret not – we had people from all different ability levels in our group, and we paced ourselves accordingly. Nobody was ever left behind, and to my own relief, I was able to keep up, even with a backpack full of lenses and a tripod… We were constantly rewarded for our efforts by what we saw. As we ascended, it was as if the top of the mountain pass dropped like a curtain, revealing an incredibly beautiful view into the lush green valley below.

Medical Staff

I’d arrived in Peru a few days after the rest of the Charity Challenge group, which meant I didn’t have enough time to acclimatise in Cusco. After reaching the pass, I began to feel a sharp headache and nausea that would linger for the rest of the day. Thankfully, we had Dr. Carlos with us, who was appointed to join us for the duration of the trek. He kept a close eye on me, and made sure I was looked after throughout our well-earned descent back into the valley. I was really grateful for his professionalism. It helps to know somebody’s got your back when things aren’t going well. After a few minutes on oxygen and a good night’s sleep, I was back up and running by the next morning. All part of the adventure…right?

Camping in the Andes

Camping in Andes on Trek to Machu Picchu with Charity Challenge

Once the sun sets in the Andes, you really begin to realise how far away from it all you are. The dark night sky is perforated with the undiluted light of a million stars, opening up to views of southern constellations. Every evening, after everybody else had gone to bed, I would wrap up in my warmest clothes, and watch the Milkyway slowly drift over our tents, the jagged black silhouettes of mountain ridges lining the foreground.

I’ve never found it particularly comfortable sleeping in a tent, but after a long and strenuous day of hiking, any bed feels like a godsend. It’s a really nice touch that by the time you arrive at your campsite every evening, the porters have already pitched your tent. All you have to do is roll out your sleeping bag and crawl in. When your legs are tired and your belly rumbling, it’s a delightful sight to spot them neatly lined up beyond the next ridge, like a welcoming finish line for the day’s challenge.

Camping Andes on Trek to Machu Picchu with Charity Challenge

Not only is your “bed” ready to go, but the team will have set up a dining tent equipped with hot drinks and a snack to tide you over until supper time. The enticing smells of a hot meal fill the campsite and there usually will be a little time to enjoy whats left of daylight, reflect on a hard day, catch up with everybody or to take a quick nap. Three hot meals a day keep you going on even the most difficult of days, and I couldn’t believe the quality of delicious meals we were receiving. One might even say it upgraded this trek from a mere camping trip to a superior glamping trip.

Machu Picchu

Trek to Machu Picchu with Charity Challenge

After several days of hiking, hopping on an old, glass roofed train from Ollantaytambo towards Aguas Calientes feels like a downright luxury. The tracks run through yet another stunning valley and offer a couple hours of jaw-dropping views alongside a hot meal. But it’s definitely not time to get too comfortable yet. The train makes what seems to be a random stop at kilometre 106, dropping you off in the middle of the Peruvian jungle.

Inca Trail on Trek to Machu Picchu with Charity Challenge

The climb towards the sun gate is long and hot, but the reward is well worth the effort. Every time we looked back on our progress through a clearing in the underbrush, we seemed to have climbed impossibly higher. The river we started at was but a thin silver vein in the jungle below. Our guide, George knew exactly how to time our arrival, because we reached the sun gate just as the last of the low, warm rays divinely shone down upon the ruins of Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu

Beautiful stone walls shape the side of the mountain, and all around, the iconic Peruvian llamas snack on vibrantly green grass. The sheer beauty of this place feels like a solid reward for the several days of intense work you will have behind you. You will return the following morning for a fascinating history lesson on the lost city, but not before a well deserved dinner, a cold beer and (hopefully) a good nights sleep in a real bed.

A Journey Well Worth It

Camp fire on Trek to Machu Picchu with Charity Challenge

I particularly enjoyed celebrating our effort with my new found friends from the Charity Challenge group. You find a sense of camaraderie with the people you overcome a big hurdle with, and celebrating your achievement is an experience best shared with others who lived through it with you. I can look back with pride on an extremely memorable adventure trekking to Machu Picchu. To know I was able to raise funds for a charity I truly believe in as I struck another major item from my bucket list made it all the more worthwhile. Who’s to say you can’t do good for others while doing good for yourself?

Book your place on Trek to Machu Picchu today. 


Philipp is a London-based travel, documentary and commercial photographer. His career started as an international school teacher working in Canada, England and Japan before he moved back to the UK to make his passion for photography official with a masters in photojournalism. He loves writing about his adventures and  is always looking for new experiences he can use to help other people learn to live theirs. You can follow Philipp’s adventures via his blog or Instagram

Meet the team – Sarah Fairhead

Sarah Fairhead joined the Charity Challenge team in early 2018 as a Charity and Corporate Account Manager. She plays a vital role in the team, looking after all the wonderful charities and corporates that Charity Challenge is honoured to partner with. Her day to day involves working with key clients to ensure the smooth delivery of their events. We borrowed five minutes of Sarah’s time to find out what she’s enjoyed from her time at Charity Challenge so far.

Sarah Fairhead, Charity Challenge Charity and Corporate Account Manager, at Machu Picchu in Peru

Name: Sarah Fairhead

Location: London, UK

How long have you been working at Charity Challenge?
9 months and loving it!

Tell us a little bit about your background and what you did before joining Charity Challenge? Sarah Fairhead, Charity Challenge Charity and Corporate Account Manager, at Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
I grew up in Hertfordshire and have always been into the great outdoors, I would much rather be camped under the stars than in a 5 star hotel! After many trips hiking UK and European mountains decided to take on my next challenge – Kilimanjaro. Raising money for a local charity and seeing how much hard work they do I decided Charity Challenge was where I needed to be.

What’s your favourite Charity Challenge expedition?
Too many… I would love to experience them all. Patagonia, Trek Transylvania and the Dalai Lama Himalayan Trek would be up there though! The great thing about the challenges are that there is such a wide range that not only challenge and reward you physically but also mentally and emotionally.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Doing something that I love and working with a product I believe in. I remember the overwhelming sense of achievement I felt on my Kilimanjaro journey and to now be part of a team helping others to reach their goals while raising money for charity is just as incredible.
A highlight of my time with Charity Challenge would be trekking in Peru last October on our Trek to Machu Picchu. We didn’t see any other trekkers for 3 days so felt totally remote. Arriving at Sun Gate as a team felt amazing, the views were also incredible every step of the way (all 3,000 of them!)

Sarah Fairhead, Charity Challenge Charity and Corporate Account Manager, at Machu Picchu in Peru

What advice would you give someone who is looking to do a Charity Challenge?
Train, fundraise and enjoy yourself! This isn’t going to be a holiday, but it will be a truly amazing experience. Think of some quirky fundraising ideas and start these early on to raise as much for your chosen charity as possible. Also make sure to wear any new boots in before your challenge!

How many countries have you visited?
Around 20… Not nearly enough! I am very lucky to have friends in the French Alps so have enjoyed many years in the mountains hiking, climbing and swimming in freezing cold lakes!

What’s your favourite cuisine?
Mexican – The hotter the better!

What three things can’t you live without?
Music, a book, laughing

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself…
When I was quite young I was in a marching band – I played the Glockenspiel!

Oliver Proudlock swaps Chelsea for Peru…

Fashion designer and Made In Chelsea star, Oliver Proudlock, is currently in Peru and about to trek to Machu Picchu in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

Oliver Proudlock, and his girlfriend, model Emma Louise-Connolly, will trek at altitude for five days, following the ancient paths of the Incas, climbing beautiful mountains and experiencing the remote villages and breathtaking scenery before reaching the world-famous Machu Picchu.

Oliver Proudlock & Emma Louise Connolly

Oliver will be joining the fight for every heartbeat once again in honour of his family, who have been plagued by cardiovascular disease. His grandmother died from a ruptured aorta, his uncle has had heart bypass surgery, and his dad was diagnosed with a weak heart muscle in 2006.

Oliver said: “I am incredibly excited about the BHF’s Machu Picchu trek – I’ve never been to this part of the world and Machu Picchu is one of the most beautiful sights. And knowing that for every mile we walk, we’ll be helping fund the BHF’s life saving research, is an absolute privilege.

“The BHF is such an important cause to me as there is a long history of cardiovascular disease in my family. My dad and uncle are just two out of seven million people living with these conditions in the UK today, which is why the BHF’s research is so important. I would urge anyone to sign up to support the BHF by taking on this incredible trek or one of the BHF’s other overseas challenges.”

Oliver and the BHF trekking team in Peru

Krystyna Grant, Events Lead at the BHF, added: “We are delighted that Oliver and Emma have chosen to become Heart Trekkers and take on the trip of a lifetime in aid of the BHF. They will be helping us to make real strides in our research.”

Oliver and Emma are hoping to raise an incredible £4,000 for our life saving research. To donate, visit their JustGiving page.

10 Reasons to Trek to Machu Picchu for the BHF!

British Heart Foundation is inviting you to join them on their adventurous challenge to Trek to Machu Picchu.

We’ve put together 10 nuggets of inspiration that might just persuade you to sign up, get your boots on and grab those trekking poles, and raise money in the fight against heart disease:

 

1. It will be one of the most memorable things you do this year… in fact perhaps in your lifetime!

2. Meeting new people who also have a close connection to the British Heart Foundation, some of which will stay friends for life.

3. Seeing Machu Picchu for the first time is a magical experience.

4. You’ll visit remote Peruvian villages you can only access by foot.

5. Waking up among the breathtaking beauty of the Andes is exceptional!

6. To have a goal to get fit and active, this challenge is no walk in the park.

7. You’ll learn the fascinating history of the Inca Empire.

8. You’ll push your boundaries and test your comfort zone – making the entire expedition an empowering experience.

9. Seeing the amusing llamas and colourful ponchos along the remote Lares trail.

10. And of course, to save lives by raising money for The British Heart Foundation’s life saving research.

British Heart Foundation Machu Picchu

To find out more about our amazing Trek to Machu Picchu, visit our website and you could be admiring these incredible Incan ruins too!

 

10 Reasons You Absolutely Have To Visit Peru!

The South American nation of Peru is one of bewilderment and beauty. Here are ten weird and wonderful reasons that you should visit this incredible country, that are sure to amaze and leave you with the desire to visit and explore this culturally and historically rich and marvellous nation.

 

1) Many people are unaware that the potato in fact originates from Peru, and there are over 3,000 varieties within the country. Those proud Peruvians who wish to exclaim their patriotism even use the phrase “I am more Peruvian than the potato” (‘Soy mas Peruano que la papa”).

potatoes 3

 

2) Peru is a surfer’s paradise, with beautiful beaches and truly majestic waves. One beach in particular, Chicama can boast the world’s longest ridable wave, measuring an incredible 1.5 miles along!

Peru Beach

 

3) Whilst we may think of them as being adorable household pets, the guinea pig is a traditional dish eaten in Peru, with about 65 million being consumed annually. The consumption of the guinea pig, or cuy as Peruvian call them, dates back to Incan times.

guinea pig 1

 

4) The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs and biomorphs that can be found in the Nazca desert plains. They were first found in 1927 and remains one of the world’s greatest archaeological mysteries, with over 70 figures of animals and human figures.

nazca lines

 

5) Peru’s food has in recent years has earned international recognition as being one of the world’s finest. Although, while quinoa and pisco sour cocktails have become favourites worldwide, the best Peruvian specialities are found in the country itself.

corn

6) Quite remarkably nearly 60% of Peru is covered by rainforest, and hosts the second largest segment of the Amazon rainforest.

rainforest 1

7) In Peru one can find the world’s highest sand dune. Cerro Blanco is located in the Sechura Desert, and measures approximately 3,860 feet from the base to the summit.

sand dune 1

 

8)Thanks to the country’s abundance in rainforests and the 90 distinct microclimates, Peru counts among the 10 most biologically diverse countries in the world. It is home to 25,000 plant species – 10% of the world’s total. – and close to 5,000 species of fish and animals.

plant 2

Peru also ranks first in terms of distinct fish species globally, with over 2,000 species, or 10% of world total. It also ranks second in bird species with 1,736 species and third place for both amphibians and mammals.

fish 2

9) The Cotahuasi Canyon is one of the world’s deepest canyons at 3,535 meters (11,597 feet) deep – twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.

canyon 1

And last but not least…

10)  Machu Picchu is the breathtaking 15th century Inca site. Having been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in recent years voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World is just a mere testament of the absolute wonder of the renowned ancient relics and mountain.

machu picchu 2

There you have it! If that has not whet your appetite, then we are not sure what will. If you wish to experience some of what Peru has to offer then check our Trek to Machu Picchu trip where you will be able to witness and explore Peru’s astounding culture and history.

 

Why Machu Picchu?

When groups travel to South America to see and experience a continent rich with culture, tradition and colour, it is often centred and planned around one essential activity. This location, Machu Picchu, is totally captivating in every fashion; more than living up to the overabundance of praise and adoration it receives.

The history around the site is genuinely fascinating. Built in the 15th century at the height of the Inca Empire, it was constructed almost 8,000 feet above sea level in what was believed to have been a royal estate. Built in typical Inca style with beautiful, polished dry-stone walls of quarried granite stone, the site was then abandoned just over a century later upon the arrival of the Spanish in Peru.

For over 400 years Machu Picchu remained largely untouched, its beauty and splendour hidden from the world. It was not until as recent as 1911 that Machu Picchu was rediscovered. Reaching the site is no walk in the park, but rather an incredible trek through the seldom visited Lares Valley, a region unscathed by the wrath of time, with awe-inspiring scenery and full with alpacas, llamas as well as the colourful native Quechua people.

Machu Picchu

Since being found again, Machu Picchu has become renowned worldwide for all its extraordinary and noteworthy qualities, becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in recent years being voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

This historic site has become so popular for trekking, not least because of its history but also because of the testing and exhilarating journey one has to undertake in order to conquer this magical challenge.

Book your place on Trek to Machu Picchu.

The return of the Classic Inca Trail!

Jose llama

Set your faces to excited, because after almost 10 years, our Classic Inca Trail Challenge is making a much awaited return – September 2016!

Without doubt the most famous trek in South America, The Inca trail, consists of an incredible 4 days trekking 26 miles in the footsteps of the Incas, along the route traditionally used to travel from Cusco city to Machu Picchu.
This amazing trek is coming back to our wide portfolio of challenges in September 2016!

Machu Picchu

So why did we stop trekking the Inca trail?

Up until a couple of years ago, the Inca trail had gained a very bad reputation, it was overcrowded, dirty, with unprofessional tour operators mistreating porters! Charity Challenge, did not want to be part of this, hence the decision to stop operating the Classic Inca Trail challenge for an alternative, more responsible route.

Over the past few years, the Peruvian Government has realized the importance of protecting this world cultural and historical heritage site and consequently decided to implement strict measures in order to preserve this important route:
• Limiting the number of people entering the Inca trail to 500 a day including guides, cooks, porters, etc. with Inca passes issued under the clients name using full passport details. Passes are non-refundable and non transferable.
• Group sizes should not exceed 16 participants, and they should have at least 22 porters and 2 guides.

RT4
• Tour operators, who want to send their clients on the Inca trail, need to undertake a tough application process in which inspectors will go unannounced to the company’s premises to check the equipment (tents, tables, sleeping bags, etc.) are in a suitable condition and that they provide all their porters with all the necessary equipment to do their job. After this checking process they will be issued with a license.
• Guides need to undertake a one week course (additional to the 5 years they have already spent in university) where they learn more about evacuation techniques, how to identify symptoms of hypothermia and AMS and immediate treatment.

Copy of Inca Trail - Clouds in Haze (Sonya Bell)

• The Peruvian government also carries out unannounced audits where they ensure porters are not being forced to carry any weight above the limit imposed by them (20kgs+ 5kgs personal belongings).
• The rubbish should be recycled and carried all the back to the city for proper disposal. Only biodegradable detergents can be used on the Inca trail.
• If a tour operator is found to not comply with any of the above rules, they get fined and their license could get cancelled.
On top of these regulations, responsible tour operators are taking a step forward, doing a bit extra for their porter’s welfare and responsible operation of the Inca trail.

RT2
So why are we re-introducing the Inca Trail?
During the time we were not operating the Classic Inca trail, we put together a beautiful alternative trek through the Lares valley, which still includes one day walking through the last section of the Inca trail, where it is not necessary to have a full team of cooks and porters to go in as you only walk for a few hours. This trek is as demanding as the Inca trail if not a bit more as it goes higher, you have the beautiful scenery of the Andes surrounding you and get to trek through local villages.

Sylvana, our operations manager for our entire South America portfolio, was born and bred in Peru and has done both treks herself on various occasions during her tour leading days! She thought it would be good to offer our participants both options as she believes each trek has “its own charm.”

 

Sylvana

Sylvana – Operations Manager in her beautiful homeland – Peru!

“Some people love the remoteness of the Lares trek, the fact that they are trekking with hardly any one else apart from their support team, and the fact that they go through local villages while trekking. For others, the fact that they are walking the actual route the Inca’s did while visiting the various archaeological sites on the route, understanding the way they lived and thought at the time, seems a little bit like travelling back in time! People also have the chance to interact with their porters during the Inca trail. I strongly believe both treks are amazingly challenging and they both have enough highlights to attract different kinds of travelers.”

Denise and Fearne's Charity Trek for Breast Cancer - Day 2

What are we doing to operate this trek responsibly and minimise the impact?
As part of our ground handler’s selection process, we always look to work with trusted, reputable and responsible local operators. Amazonas Explorer, our ground handler for the Classic Inca Trail challenge in 2016, is a company who have been working in Peru for over 30 years. They currently run our Cycle Machu Picchu to the Amazon challenge, and they currently have a clean Inca Trail license.

As part of their Responsible Tourism policy they:

  • Joined the 1% for the Planet Program and currently are the only Peruvian Tour Operator who is a member.
  • They donate 1% of their turnover each year to help reforest the Lares area with native trees, where most of their porter’s villages are.
  • Pay porters more than the wage stipulated by the authorities. We pay them at the end of the trek. They do not have to come to Cusco, or wait to collect their money.

RT3

  • Provide a large communal tent with carry mat floor for porters to sleep in, it is not the clients’ dining tent.
  • Provide their porters with plenty of good food. This is not the same menu given to the passengers, but it is nutritious, abundant and what they are used to eating. They have their own cooking facilities so do not have to wait for the clients to finish eating before they get their food.
  • Only use registered Inca trail porters (as Inca trail rules stipulate) – these have to pass several forms of ID, character reference and a letter of good health and to have attended an Inca Trail Porter Awareness course.
  • Provide accident insurance and work contracts for each period of work porters do for us. They are all freelance.
  • Amazonas Explorer holds an annual, end-of-season, and porters’ party and football tournament, amongst other good things!!
  • Our groups will only be of a maximum of 15 participants, the doctor will take place number 16.

Machu Picchu

We will only run this challenge twice in 2016, once in September and once in October and will evaluate the feedback and review for 2017!

If you want to take part in this awesome challenge, just click here!

Attend one of our free information evenings in January and find out what a Charity Challenge is all about!

Come and find out what our challenges are all about and hear how you can take part in a ‘once in a life time opportunity’. This is your opportunity to find out about our challenges, the way we work and why we are different to other companies in the market and meet some of the Charity Challenge team before you book on a challenge.

The information evening will be held on the following days:

•    Wed 22 January 2014 at 7.30pm – “High altitude challenges” at The Altitude Centre (Kilimanjaro, Machu Picchu, Everest Base Camp, Avenue of the Volcanoes, Dalai Lama Himalayan Trek, High Atlas Trek and Atlas Mountain Bike)

•    Thu 23 January 2014 at 7.30pm  – “Other challenges” at a London venue at The Altitude Centre. (Great Wall of China Trek, Sahara Desert Trek, Icelandic Lava Trek, Sumatran Jungle Trek, Trek/Cycle Burma, Dog Sledding, Rajasthan Cycle Challenge, Cuba Trek / Bike)

The following information will be covered:

•    Information on our portfolio of challenges
•    Support you will receive from Charity Challenge
•    Fundraising
•    Fitness training
•    Other pre-expedition preparation
•    Buy/hiring kit for the challenge
•    How to book and why to book with Charity Challenge
•    Discounts on the night
•    Q&A session

Places are limited on both evenings, so if this sounds like something you’re interested in, then book your place now! Please email Firdous@charitychallenge.com with the date of the evening you would like to attend, the number of people attending (anyone interested in booking a challenge is most welcome) with their name and email address and also the name of the challenge you are interested in.

We look forward to meeting you in the New Year and hopefully helping you to achieve your personal goal and raise vital funds for a charity close to your heart.

Responsible Tourism – Update from the Cycle Machu Picchu to the Amazon Team about their work on behalf of the Planet Organisation

A fantastic update from our Cycle Machu Picchu to the Amazon Ground handler in Peru! Amazonas Explorer are well known for their support of the 1% for the Planet Organisation, whose mission is to build and support an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet, particularly in the area’s that we cycle on our challenge.

On the 10th and 11th  of December, Paul and his staff planted 20,000 native trees in the communities of Pampacorral and Quishuarani with the help of about 50 of their staff, porters, guides and drivers and around 500 locals from the communities.

They bought the trees direct from their own nurseries and paid everyone for a day’s work and put on a fantastic communal meal at the end so the vast majority of the money invested in these tree planting events remains directly in the community.

The tree survival rate is over 95% so it’s a highly effective campaign to help reforest seriously depleted native forest and preserve the natural habitat and watershed of the Lares valley. They took the opportunity to all camp at Lares hotsprings and on the way back, Carol, Juan Carlos Salazar (who many of you will know as one of our fantastic local leaders) and Paul hiked up to 4600m and cycled the sweetest single track yet – 1800m of descent to Huaran in the Sacred Valley over 2 hours of sheer fun I’m told!

Paul also appeared on local Cusco TV a few nights later to promote the projects and they are working on, and a short video due out soon.

Congratulations to Paul and the team for all their hard work on such a worthy cause!

If you would like to challenge yourself to a tough cycle at altitude in 2012 or 2013 or have a go at a bit of single track then follow the link through to our dates for the Cycle Machu Picchu to the Amazon Challenge; http://www.charitychallenge.com/challenges.html?all=0&cid=64463. To keep up to date on all our challenge news, subscribe to this blog and please enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.