Para-traverse of the Cordillera Blanca to the temple of Chavin

grafik_chavin grafik_space



To the east and the west of the Cordillera Blanca two branches of the old Inka road lead upwards the valley of the Río Santa and the Río Mosna. Both were connected a long time before the Incan empire by a road over a pass leading to the temple of Chavin. Thanks to the work of the eminent indigenous archeologist Julio Tello, we now appreciate the paramount geographical and religious significance of this impressive site.



Sunny and green begins the way at Olleros at 3450 m in the Santa valley, up the Río Negro.


Further above the Río Negro is renamed Quebrada Uquián, (quetch.: the grey-brown river valley). No fishes in its clear water, for the whole journey I carried my small fishing gear with me in vain. Here a branching of the valley. My route to the pass leads through the left valley while the one of my temporary companion and his donkey goes to the right to his Ichu gras hut.


First night camp. The clouds announce already the coming of a cold hail thunderstorm. It is the end of september, raining season approaches.

A little boy aproaches and asks me seriously for toothpaste. I am quite surprised but he earnestly claims to have a tooth ache. I give him half of my little tube and he strolls satisfied back to his little ichu gras hut.


The way to the pass on the next morning I meet Zacharias and his llama herd. He leads them upward from Olleros every couple of days to graze at the pass. He is gonna return downward soon, because the smart llamas know their way already, and I all need to do is follow them.


The passport Yanashallash (yana = black, shalla = leaves). Further up the mountain Urwashrahu. Directly at the pass at 4700 m a good launching point and pleasant headwind. An old pre-Inka pass, since it has been already in use for an estimated three thousand years.


...and indeed, you do fly Inca road here...


Look back after the first short flight downwards, 500 m below.


The village Lanchan: Rather drunk but nevertheless very friendly dancers, decorated with masks and crowns, accompanied by bass drum and quena, a bright straight wooden flute. They do not rest until I dance with them for half an hour. In the background to the right, the Nevado Huantsán (6395 m).


View into the Mosna valley

My second launching spot, although I first have to work busily for another hour with my saws until the area is cleaned of all thorny shrubs and roots. Down below at 3150 m the temple of Chavin (1000 - 200 v. Chr.). Launch nine o'clock with the first useable thermals, since it was hard to estimate how turbulent the valley would become later on. Already in the early afternoon the wind sweeps downwards from the cold eastern side of the Cordillera Blanca. The most amazing part of the temple cannot be seen from above: The labyrinth-like interiors underground, with a large old stele (stone totem column) in the center.


Landing on the large stony field in front of the temple.


La cabeza clava, a landmark of ancient Peru.

grafik_moche grafik_space Looking closely it consists of three creatures: A jaguar, a snake and a human. How come the oldest important culture of Peru in the highlands chooses a jaguar, an animal that never lived here as its idol? What is the meaning of the Raimondi-Stela in the interior of the temple? Besides the Mochica near Trujillo this region fascinated me by far the most on my journey into myths of old Peru. See a little more about the meaning of the temple in the article about Inca-Cosmology



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