Tag Archive for Peru

Charity Challenge is turning 16 and offering a 16% discount off the deposit! Somebody get a cake!

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This month Charity Challenge turns 16 and to celebrate this wonderful coming of age, we are offering 16% off ALL CHALLENGE DEPOSITS* from 10/06/2015- 10/07/2016, all you have to do is type the promotional code: BIRTHDAY16 when making a booking!

If you’ve already done a challenge with us before, then take advantage of our repeat booking discount which has doubled to £100 (£50 for short haul challenges)! Don’t forget to quote VACU at the time of booking.

Our wonderful suppliers have joined us in celebrating by offering additional discounts to all of you that are currently booked on a challenge. Log into your members area and take advantage of this!

The real challenge is deciding where you you want to be in 2016….so to help you decide we’ve put together some of our Charity Challenge favourites…

ANGKOR WAT?

Charity Challenge,

Pedal off from the architectural phenomenon that is Angkor Wat, through the waterways and rice paddies of Cambodia, past the postcard perfect beaches of Thailand and into the barmy backstreets of Bangkok. This truly is the best way to discover South East Asia, can you take on the 450kms that will take you through the heart of South East Asia? Find out more…

 

Cycle or Trek Beautiful Burma

Burma charity Trek, Charity Cycle to Burma

Mystical Myanmar has managed to remain largely untouched in comparison to its neighbours, perfectly preserving its magic, beauty, culture and secrets. Previously known as The Land of Gems, the views in Myanmar are truly humbling, it is the people however that are its best kept secret – warm, inviting and gentle, we promise you won’t find anywhere else like it on earth. Trekking or cycling through Myanmar offers you the opportunity to explore the lazy villages, meet the lovable locals and soak up all the spectacular views. Whilst this might all sound like a holiday, the terrain and the humidity ensure that exploring Myanmar is an incredibly worthwhile but challenging task. Take a look!

Trek Machu Picchu

Charity Trek to Machu Picchu, Charity Challenge, trekking, PeruThe ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu sit amongst the clouds, set an altitude of 2,667m to see them is to witness something truly magical. To get there however is no walk in the park but an incredible trek through the rarely visited Lares Valley, a region untouched by time. The scenery here is breathtaking throughout and you will be greeted by llamas, alpaca’s and the Quechua people in their brightly coloured ponchos.  The route is hard and you will spend your nights camping, under the Peruvian sky, the sight of Machu Picchu as you re-join the Inca trail and complete the 3000 steps to walk through the Sun Gate will however make any aches disappear. Click here to find out how you can climb through the clouds….

Charity Challenge, Sapa Hill Tribe Trek, Vietnam Trek, Trek

Vietnam Trek – Sapa Hill Tribe

The hill tribes of Sapa combine the iridescent greens of the rice paddies with the vibrantly coloured dress of the remote hill tribes. Trekking here takes you away from the wonderful madness of the eclectic city of Hanoi as we head off the beaten track into this tranquil but rugged region where rolling hills meet the Red River. We will meet remote hill tribes as we trek further into the region, the varied terrain seeing you tackle Mount Silverstone before taking on the jungle terrain as we follow the footsteps of local farmers and camp in this remote and beautiful region. Explore more…

Lombok Charity Trek, Trekking in Indonesia, indonesia, Trek, Mountain

Brank New: Lombok Trek

Lombok Lava Trek! Set in the ‘Ring of fire’ this exhilarating trek offers towering peaks reflecting in ethereal lakes. Taking on Mount Rijani volcano, one of Indonesia’s tallest peaks standing at 3,726m is worth every metre you climb as you stand triumphant at the top overlooking breath-taking views from the natural colours of the forest to the surrounding turquoise bays. This challenge is not for the feint hearted and involves very long days and high altitude. If you think you could take on this sensational landscape then click here to find out how…

A massive thank you from all of us here at Charity Challenge!

Charity challenge, Trekking, Cycling, Adventure travel, charity challenges

Here’s to another 16 years!

*Terms and conditions apply

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.

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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.

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  • 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!

Get through the Winter blues with £100 discount off the deposit on our spring departures!

We’ve had a great summer this year and although we’ve been promised a heat wave this month, Autumn and Winter are slowly creeping up on us.

The first few months of the year always seems to be the slowest and hardest months to get through, so we’ve decided to give you something to look forward to.

The majority of our departures between January and May now have a £100 discount off of the deposit!*

This includes:

Book on any one of these challenges by quoting BLUES and get a £100 discount off of the deposit* and have something to help motivate you through the winter blues. Offer ends 31/10/2014.**

We know that some of you have been let down by Student Adventures and are now looking for alternative challenges, hopefully you can take advantage of our current special offers.

Don’t forget, we’re still celebrating Pachamama in Peru and the Moon Festival in China and are giving £100 off all 2015 China and Peru challenges! Make sure you book soon (quote promotional code PERU when booking on a Peru challenge or MOON when booking on a challenge in China), as this offer expires on the 31/10/14!

If you have any questions about any of our challenges, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards

Firdous
Marketing Manager

T: +44 (0)208 346 0500 | E: info@charitychallenge.com | W: www.charitychallenge.com

*One promotion can only be used at any one time.

**Subject to flight availability

The Lord of Miracles Festival in Peru

The largest city in Peru and the ‘Gastronomic Capital of the Americas’, the city of Lima was founded nearly 500 years ago by the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro. Inspired by the occasion of the Epiphany, the city was named La Ciudad de Los Reyes (The City of Kings), in honour of the three Magi who travelled across the known world to witness the miracle birth of Christ. It seems fitting therefore that some two thousand years later, this same city should play host to one of the largest and most revered religious festivals in the Americas.The festival of El Señor de los Milagros (the Lord of Miracles) is a dazzling explosion of colour, singing and dancing that sees hundreds of thousands take to the streets to venerate a miracle of equally humble origins.

Believed to be one of the largest religious gatherings anywhere on the planet, the festival celebrates the huge image of a black Christ that was painted on a church wall by an Angolan slave nearly 400 years ago. In spite of all attempts to remove the painting, including the intervention of a massive earthquake in the 18th century that destroyed much of the city around it, the picture survived. Indeed, it survived to become the most venerated image in the city and each October it is paraded through the streets on the shoulders of an esoteric brotherhood called the cargadores. No mean feat given that the silver litter carrying the painting weighs close to a ton!

During these celebrations the city is turned into a blaze of purple, as the mes morado (purple month) as it is known, takes on a party atmosphere. The air is thick with incense and the streets echo to the sounds of musicians, penitents and toreadors, as the centuries old Plaza de Acho witnesses the start of Lima’s famous bullfighting season. As for the painting itself, well that begins its journey at the 18th century Las Nazeranas Church, travelling across the city to the beautiful Baroque setting of the Church of La Merced in Barrios Altos, a journey that takes it past stalls that are piled high with sweets and delicacies. Try the city’s famous Turrón de Doña Pepa, a delicious, sweet paste made with eggs, butter, flour, aniseed and fruit syrup.

This year’s festival takes place on the 18th, 19th and 28th October.

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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.

 

 

Working with Local Guides in Peru

In May of this year Charity Challenge sent me over to Peru to spend some time with our local leaders, guides and porters to do some retraining in health, safety and welfare with our local staff.

It was a great experience for me to get out and see one of our challenges in action rather than just organising it from my desk half way across the world in North London! Best of all was to see just how enthusiastic our local crew are about working with Charity Challenge groups.

My favourite part of the trip was to spend some time with the porters for our challenges, who in my view are the unsung hero’s of our expeditions. They work like titans to get your luggage moved from one campsite to another, your tents set up for you in the evening and the chefs tent and mess tent up so that you can have a warm cup of coca tea waiting for you when you get back into the camp and it was fascinating to learn how they work as a team to get all these jobs done quickly and safely.

We spent time together with all of the crew learning how to work together so that both the team and all of the passengers stay safe and happy, we went on to do some role play exercises and brainstormed some new ideas on how we could keep up and improve all this fantastic work.

 

Of course I loved being out on the Lares route – it’s unspoiled beauty, meeting the local communities and the incredible clear starry skies at night were fantastic, but I really believe it is our outstanding local crew that make the experience of trekking in the Andean mountains a once in a lifetime experience.

“We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.”

-Ng a Ton g, Porter

Great porters, and also – if the above quote is anything to go by – great poets!

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