The Inkatrail with paraglider

 

grafik_inca grafik_inca The ancient roads of the Inkas in Ecuador are conserved only at very few places. The main road through the high plain got completely erased/replaced by the Panamericana. Near Cuenca, the third largest city in the country, there is however a small remote piece left. This ecuadorian Inka Trail connects Achupallas with the largest conserved Inca structure of Ecuador: Incapirca.

Many hikers walk along here every year, but I am probably the first gumby that besides tent and stove also carries along his entire paragliding equipment. I foresaw three launch possibilities when studying the maps for my project to fly the old Inka roads. Although the trek is well known and has been described quite often in books it became a lonely trip in a deserted landscape.

 

 

Looking back at the first pass down to the region of Achupallas at 3500 m, where the march began. So far no flights possible. This by the way is exactly the spot where Rob Rachowiecky tells you to squeeze yourself through a small tunnel in the rocks. Of course there is a much easier way around, where you can keep your backpack shouldered, but then you miss the best part of this days walk...

 

First launching possibility: The way goes along the flat valley slowly upwards up to the south. With sufficient wind from the east one should be able to stay dynamically at the right slope and soar the way up. The wind direction is swell, but its strength too irregular it does not carry well enough considering the small elevation difference of 200 m from the ridge to the bottom.

 

At the end of a long day the Laguna tres cruces at 4250 m.

 

After the second pass the next morning finally a launching possibility at the summit of the Quillaloma with view to the destination Laguna Culebrilla (small snake). The name Quillaloma means either moon summit or lazy summit, since the word quilla can mean both in Quetchua. Both makes sense, since coming from the north you have to ascend only thirty meters, in order to reach the summit overlooking the valley. Height difference to the tallow approximately 500 m.

Weather splendid but 35 km/h tail wind. I try several different launching possibilities, in order to take off in opposite direction against the wind and then fly around the mountain downwards. These are my first false starts in this far away country and then even seven of them some more gentle some rougher. It lasts the whole day and at the end triumphs first the darkness and I spend the cold night on the summit at 4400 m. Then the next morning sense and sensibility overcome myself and I descend heavy_hearted, heavy_laden by foot.

 

On the way down some of the traditional indigeneous ichu weed huts, huts which during a flight I certainly never ever would have seen, they would have remained unknown to my eyes forever...

 

Already three days without flight, but we are still at 3800 m and Incapirca lies far below in the valley...

 

Big birds on their way down. They can do it, why, oh why can't I...

 

Completely down by foot to the holy grail. The hill in the background, which leads to the high plain where I come from would have been the last flying possibility, but the wind in the plain and the violent tree movements in the most different directions down in the valley which is covered by various high voltage transmission lines tells even the upperclass twit of the year that there are more turbulences in the air here than health could afford.

Right above the small wall my friend and calamity, the wing of liberty squeezed into the grey-green Alpamayo backpack.

The first drag-along-your-paraglider of the Inkatrail is completed.

 

 

----------------------------------------------- With a paraglider above the Inca roads -----------------------------------------------