Thursday, December 23, 2010

Motorcycling in Colca "not recomended"

by the Colca Specialist

Motorcycling is a fantastic sport and as I said before Colca Canyon and Colca Valley are the dreamed paradise of adventure sports,but to reach these places you need to take the road that goes from Arequipa to Puno before you reach the crossroads that will lead you to Colca Valley.
The way the peolple drive here is chaotic!

Alex Paul was an american tourist who rented a "chinese" motorcycle in Arequipa ,and he went alone by himself to Colca Canyon.

When he was coming back to Arequipa, at 5:50 pm aproximatedly,he took a curve and for his disgrace a bus from a company called "ANDALUCIA" was passing other bus on a closed curved!
These drivers are criminals on 4 wheels!

Alex Paul couldn´t make it and he was run over by the bus that invaded his side and died instantly.

Travel agencies in Arequipa are not specialized in adventure sports, and the tourist was not given the right information about the circuit.

First, he traveled alone without van support which is important and he was not informed that the road he was taking has the highest record of accidents and crashes beacsue of excessive speeds and careless maneuvers.

In Arequipa, there are no specialized motorcycling tour operators, so you should be careful about your tours.

As we said before, informality is a problem here in Arequipa ,so you should check your book guides and you can ask your tour operators for their licenses.

Besides you should check the equipment. Chinese motorcycles are not good quality and it´s like doing parachuting with old and torn parachutes!

Vacactions are important but your life is more important!
Tragic ends like Jean Pauls´s should be avoided!

Andalucía is the worst company in Colca Canyon. Don´t risk your life with companies like this!
This is a picture of one of the accidents ANDALUCIA had in Colca Valley.

As a personal eyewitness of Jean Paul´s accident ,it was terrible for me to see this young boy (23 years old) dying because of a fool who doesn´t care about traffic rules. Rest in peace Jean Paul wherever you are...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

About Chachani volcano

by the Colca Specialist

Chachani volcano is one of my favorites volcanoes in Peru. As a mountain climber I love challenges and Chachani is one of my favorites.

Chachani volcano is 6,075 meters high and it ws one of the sacred mountains of the incan people in Arequipa.

When you see Chachani from the air is very impressive. When you see it from Arequipa, it doesn´t look s nice as Misti volcano ,but when you climb it, it is simply incredible!
The views are different and impressive. It seems that this "prize" is reserved for those that reach the top.

I hope you enjoy the pictures of one of the most interesting volcanoes of Arequipa: Chachani volcano.

Mismi: the source of Amazon River

In 1982 Jean-Michel Cousteau led a large scale scientific exploration of the Amazon from its mouth to its origin. The “Cousteau Amazon Expedition” budget was eleven million dollars and culminated in a six-hour television documentary titled “Cousteau’s Amazon” released in 1983.

It offered study information to last years and gave insights into the biology and geology of the largest river system on earth. This expedition was broken into three separate groups and the upper Amazon section was covered by “The Flying Expedition” tasked with exploring the upper third to Arequipa from the river's origin.

Traditionally, explorers and geographers defining the origin of a river system by tracking the larger tributaries using volume of flow while plying up stream, however in a system as complex as the Amazon basin with a dozen streams unpredictably occurring within any region at any time no consensus could plausibly be substantiated and the origin left to speculation, nonetheless half a dozen sites claimed title to “The Origin of the Amazon“ and until 1982 several were in the running.

Using an international team of twelve and bringing in expeditionary specialists from Germany, France, Argentina, Peru and the USA, Jean Michael Cousteau put together resources and logistics spanning a thousand miles of unknown jungle.

The Upper Amazon expedition (The Flying Expedition) included an Eastern European multi-axled reticulated Land Rover for use on land, a float plane Papagaiu, for air support and reconnaissance, and the Peruvian Air Force offered a high elevation helicopter to reach the upper levels of the
Cordillera de Chila mountain range in Peru.

Expedition support bases were established in
Cusco, in the mountains, in Arequipa on the Pacific coast, and high in the Cordillera de Chila at Caylloma for the quest to find the origin of the Amazon.

Many locations were remote, making it necessary to surmount language, terrain and logistical difficulties, as the mountain team made their way up the Río Selinque to the flanks of Nevado Mismi.

At this mountain's base, Jean Michael dispatched a team of German alpinists who climbed the 18,000 foot volcano and returned in two days. During their descent, they found melt water dropping into a fissure.

This cleft varied from two meters to half a meter wide, angling down the slope. This stream flowed nearly fifty meters before disappearing, emerging again lower down to flow between stones and continue its course.

They discovered that within the fissure, the water was deep enough to float a small craft and realized that they were presented with an opportunity. Utilizing pack llamas, kayaker Carl Ridley was brought to the site, and in June 1982, navigating by kayak, became the first person to run the origins of the Amazon. Later expeditions refined our understanding of the river's many origins and it's subsequent course to the Atlantic Ocean.
National Geographic Society Expedition

In 2001, it was verified that the main headwater of the
Amazon River has its glacial source on Nevado Mismi. An expedition of the National Geographic Society discovered that Carhuasanta stream flowing into Río Apurímac originates on the mountain's northern slopes and then runs its course through other tributaries and rivers to help form the main Amazon River. The fact that the headwaters of Río Apurímac are the source of the Amazon River was confirmed by Brazilian scientists in 2007, who pointed at Quebrada Apacheta as the most probable source of the Amazon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Colca Dignity: the rebelion of the incas

by Anthropologist Mariella Sanchez.

The rebelion of the incas has started in Colca Canyon. Tired of the abuses done by irresponsible travel agencies from Arequipa ,an association of local tour guides from Colca Canyon called ASGUIP TUCAY (Association of tour guides from Caylloma Province) has created a movement called COLCA DIGNITY ,a movement whose main goal is to defend the rights of the locals in order to have a sustainable tourism in the area.
COLCA DIGNITY movement has at the moment many followers in the Colca Valley and the Colca Canyon area ,and it was organized according to the incan principles.
The creator and the leader of the movement is the Mallku Jaqe or Condor Man ,a mestizo leader who has inherited the inca knowledge from a woman elder Maria Asunta Ninataypi ,born in Yanque village in Colca valley area,straight line descendant from Diego Goro Inca Ninataypi.
The Mallku Jaqe is a Chaka -Runa , a "man bridge". According to the inca tradition,somebody that keeps the knowledge of the mother (inca) culture, and the best of the father (spanish) culture. Somebody who joins two civilizations.
The presence of "the bridge peoples" was prophetised by the inca priests in the legend of the 5th generation.
The mission of these elders is to pass the lost knowledge to the natives, knowledge that the conquerors tried to prohibit and to abolish, a knowledge they could not dissappear at all. After the conquest TAKI ONQOY movement appeared,a movement of rejection against the catholic religion and the abuse done by the spanish authorities.
Taki Onqoy or "sick dance" movement had many folllowers in those times. The ceremonials were performed on the top of the sacred mountains and they asked their inca gods to take the white devils away. After the rituals they performed the "sick dance", an in trance dance.
Catholic church fought Taki Onqoy movement and it was kept secret until 1970! Simply incredible.
Nowadays that we have freedom of speech,little by little the keepers of the ancient ways from the different ethnic groups are coming back to give the knowledge back to their peoples who have forgotten to "live in armony with nature".
According to the Mallku Jaqe,the inca knowledge is not for making money but to live life. It is terrible that travel agencies are turning our sacred land into a circus,our culture is used to cheat tourists who are looking for the true traditions,our peoples are exploited,many of them are being taken to other countries to give speeches and to perform rituals and the representatives exploit our people.We don´t want that anymore -said the Mallku Jaqe.
As a man bridge he was chosen by the elders as spokesperson and representative of his people.
The actual situation is critical for the locals of Colca Valley and Colca Canyon and the presence of the Mallku Jaqe is important for the people.The Mallku Jaqe is protected by his local followers and his name is kept secret like in the old times.
The local authorities have to work more in order to preserve the traditions and culture of peoples in Colca Canyon. It is necessary to protect the environment from contamination provoked by tourism.In order to have responsible tourism the needs of the locals should be taken into consideration. In that way tourism will really benefit the people of Colca Canyon,so the new authorities have much to do now!
Good luck Mallku Jaqe. You have all our support and thanks for all.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

About Cerro Baul: Empires of the Andes

The people huddled in their impregnable fortress atop the high mesa called Cerro Baúl, their last refuge as the mighty Inca legions swept through the valley far below. With its sheer walls and single, tortuous route to the top, the citadel defied attack by storm, so the Inca army laid siege to Cerro Baúl. For 54 days, the people held out. But with little food and no water, they found their redoubt was not only a grand bastion but also a grand prison.

Then, in hopes of saving their starving children, the defenders sent the youngsters down from the beleaguered mountaintop. The Inca received the children with kindness, fed them, and even let them take a few supplies to their parents - along with a promise of peace and friendship.

That was enough for the hungry and hopeless people of Cerro Baúl. They surrendered unconditionally to the new imperial order about A.D. 1475. The siege of Cerro Baúl was but the final chapter in the legendary history of what 500 years earlier had been the southernmost outpost of the Wari, the first of the great empires of the Andes. The Inca siege was described by Spanish chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega, and our two seasons of excavations at Cerro Baúl lend credence to this historical lore.

The mesa today is a sacred mountain, sanctuary of El Señor de Cerro Baúl, a spirit that's widely venerated throughout the region. But our investigations confirm that it was, for nearly five centuries, a majestic city that dominated the frontier between the Wari and the neighboring Tiwanaku empire.

The story of Cerro Baúl begins in the time archaeologists call the Middle Horizon, when the two empires ruled the central Andes. The Wari, secular and militant, governed most of highland and coastal Peru from their upland capitol at Ayacucho. The Tiwanaku, a trade-based state with a religious core, controlled parts of what is now Bolivia, southern Peru, and northern Chile from a capitol near Lake Titicaca. The Moquegua Valley, dominated by Cerro Baúl, is the only place where the two civilizations are known to have come face-to-face.

The Moquegua Valley had been in the Tiwanaku orbit until the Wari made their bold thrust into the region. To secure their political outpost, the Wari intruders strategically settled the towering Cerro Baúl and the adjacent pinnacle of Cerro Mejia. Unraveling the nature of this intruding colony and its relationship with the surrounding Tiwanaku is a long-standing concern of the Asociación Contisuyo, a consortium of Peruvian and American scholars investigating the region. Recent mapping and excavation at Cerro Baúl and adjacent sites are beginning to reveal pieces of this puzzle.

Where the two competing nations met, their citizens apparently chose cooperation over conflict. Our excavations find no evidence of warfare during the centuries (from about A.D. 600 to 1020) in which the Wari and the Tiwanaku shared the valley and its scant water. Goods and ideas almost certainly were being exchanged; interaction was inevitable, if for no other reason than to discuss rights to the most critical resource of the arid desert. Water streaming from mountain rainstorms had to pass by a Wari canal before it reached Tiwanaku fields.

Furthermore, we recovered a Tiwanaku-style kero (a drinking vessel used in ceremonies) among the Wari's most sacred ceremonial offerings yet found at the site - a strong argument for ritual interaction between the two groups who shared the valley.

Cerro Baúl was a bustling city of one- and two-story houses organized around plazas where people raised guinea pigs (for food and fuel), prepared feasts, created obsidian projectile points, and made necklace beads of turquoise, lapis lazuli, onyx, and polished shell imported from the Pacific coast. The 25-hectare (62-acre) summit of Cerro Baúl - some 600 meters (nearly 2,000 feet) above the valley floor - was clearly the political and social crown of the Wari outpost. Yet most of the empire's citizens lived not on the top, but on terraces cut into less lofty heights.

When the Wari arrived in the valley, they introduced an agricultural technology of terracing steep slopes and digging long, serpentine canals across the broken land. A 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) canal wound from the Torata River through the El Paso Divide between Cerro Baúl and Cerro Mejia, where the water course split to irrigate expansive terraces that stairstepped the flanks of both hills. This high-country irrigation system may be the key to the Wari's successful expansion into the extremely arid Moquegua Sierra, especially during severe droughts from A.D. 562 to 594 and from A.D. 650 to 750.

The summit of Cerro Baúl is divided into two areas of very different architecture. A monumental core comprises one- and two-story masonry buildings, while the eastern occupation, extending to the edge of the mesa and overlooking the route of ascent, is crowded with more modest, one-story stone dwellings similar to those found on the terraces of the slopes.

Building atop the mesa was a daunting task. Earth for mortar and silt for plaster came from the banks of the Rio Torata, two hours away by foot. Water for mixing those materials was hauled uphill from the El Paso canal. For construction stone, Wari builders turned to the mesa itself, quarrying the western half of the summit so heavily that it resembles a cratered lunar landscape.

Fine masonry construction was restricted to important buildings that adhered to the strict architectural canons of the imperial capital at Ayacucho. D-shaped structures are among the rarest and most distinctive buildings at the political nexus, where they likely were at the sacred center of Wari culture, an area of sacrifice and propitiation of the gods. At Cerro Baúl, we find at least one and possibly two of these temples. In our investigations of one of them, several fine artifacts were found in a ritual offering. These include entire polychrome ceramic vessels, an engraved gourd bowl, and a silver-alloy foil camelid 2.5 centimeters (about an inch) across.

Another potentially important religious complex at Cerro Baúl is the plaza of the sacred stone, an architectural compound built around a large boulder at the center of the summit. Sacred stones were prominent features in Inca cosmology, and a similar structure has been uncovered near the Wari site of Pikillacta in the Cuzco region. These stones were the centers of ritual and received offerings of special libations (such as maize beer or sacrificial blood) or of sacred items. Common Inca sacrificial offerings included llamas, coca leaves, gold or silver work, and in extreme cases, human children. The massive boulder of Cerro Baúl likely played a similar role.

The most common architectural form at the capital and other Wari cities is an enclosed plaza flanked by impressive stone halls. These halls included residences of governors and wealthy citizens, government offices, and beer houses for state-held parties that rewarded the loyalty of important subjects. The most interesting of the long halls that have been excavated so far contained a burnt deposit of classic vessels and keros, some of which were decorated in a hybrid Wari-Tiwanaku style. Six fine necklaces were also recovered from this burnt offering. Each had an average of 970 shell beads, some with a few lapis lazuli or chrysocolla tube beads as well. The evidence suggests the fire that destroyed the hall was intentionally set, and the beautiful ceramic vessels, many of them probably brought more than 500 miles from the Wari capital, were deliberately smashed and thrown into the smoldering flames.

The fire and destruction clearly were ceremonial and not a general sacking of the site. As part of the final sacramental drinking episode in this hall - perhaps as part of the abandonment of Cerro Baúl itself - Wari priests ceremonially interred the building. The offering of bead necklaces was made after the fire had been extinguished.

Similarities in their religious iconography are impressive and suggest intimate contact between the Wari and Tiwanaku. The Tiwanaku influence on hybrid Wari keros reflects the incorporation of Tiwanaku ideas in the highest realms of Wari religion, and the existence of a Tiwanaku-style kero in the most sacred of Wari ritual offerings on the summit documents the inclusion of Tiwanaku artifacts in Wari religious ceremonies.

By studying relationships between the Wari and the Tiwanaku, we can observe how ancient empires communicated with each other. In our own age of internationalization and globalization, the Andean past may tell us a great deal about the nature of confrontation between nations and the successes and failures of strategies of imperial interaction and control.

PATRICK RYAN WILLIAMS is visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida. Educated at Northwestern University and the University of Florida, he has directed the Cerro Baúl Excavation Project since 1997.

MICHAEL E. MOSELEY is Professor and Associate Chair of Anthropology at the University of Florida. Educated at Berkeley and Harvard, he was a founding member of the Asociación Constisuyo and has conducted archaeological research in the Andes for more than 30 years.

DONNA J. NASH is a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida. She is currently directing excavations at the site of Cerro Mejia and is a Supervising Archaeologist on the Cerro Baúl Excavation Project.

The ancient greeks,the incas and the altomesayoq

Anthropologist Alberto Villoldo reports the comments of his informant (and mentor), Prof. Antonio Morales, regarding the great civilizations who had developed North of the equator, as been characterized by a “descending God”, where “the divine comes from the heavens and descends to the Earth” (Villoldo 1995:172).
The Greeks were amid those ancient civilizations who had this marked “descending” character attributed to their divinity. The Incas – unique great culture developing South of the Equator – conversely, had an “ascending” god-force, raising, like the golden maize stalks in the garden of the Koricancha Temple, from mother earth to heaven. Still, we believe there are oversimplifications in this pattern of reconstruction, which do not take into account the many, complex overly-articulated aspects of ancient Greek perception of the divinity, the different phases and stages where these religious ideas were manifested and expressed in -sometimes – conflictual forms, which make any “descending” statement tout-court a bit of an issue in terms of reflecting the actual way these different visions of the world were perceived and channelled in cultic and ritual practices by our Greek ancestors.

This is not the place for a treaty on ancient Greek religion, therefore we shall dwell only on those aspects of this ancient Greek sense of divinity – those archaic cults linked to the earth-goddess, and then prophecy and divination as they were practiced in the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, and to a specific cult of Zeus, worshipped as “Kataibates” – which lend themselves to be seen with a more sympathetic eye to the explorer of Inca shamanism.

By all means, a few millennia before the Incas, Ghe’ – Gaia, the primordial Earth Mother – was worshipped by the ancient Greeks. One of the attributes of the later, Olympian deity of Apollo was Pythios, and – as the myth goes – Python was the dragon-snake, son of Gaia, who guarded the ancient oracle at Delphi. Here, the Pythia, priestess of the Oracle, divined in trance, uttering inexplicable, enigmatic prophetic announcements, intoxicated by the vapours coming from a rocky chasm in a special area of the sanctuary. Her words were later interpreted by a special class of priests, devoted to the de-codification of the prophetic response. Python was the guardian of this chasm, from where the inebriating vapours ascended from the depths of the earth. The power of prophecy was – in primordial times – originating directly from Ghe’, the Earth Mother. It came, ascending from the earth. In later times, Apollo, a later, solar Olympian deity, stole the role of this primordial divinity, killed Python and took over in the cult at Delphi, becoming himself the god of prophecy.

The Incas worshipped Viracocha, their creator god, Inti, the Sun, Quilla, the Moon goddess, and had in the cosmological temple of Koricancha – in Cusco – a whole section dedicated to Venus, the Pleiades and all the stars. Here, Garcilaso de la Vega informs us, there was a room “dedicated to lightning, and to thunder, which they were both expressed by the single name, illapa. [...] This room was entirely covered with gold, but neither thunder not lightning were represented there [...]. The fourth room was devoted to the rainbow, which they said descended from the Sun [...]. It was entirely covered with gold and the rainbow was painted, in beautiful colours, across the entire surface of one of the walls. They called the rainbow cuichu and revered it very specially. [...] The fifth room and last room was reserved for the high priest and his assistants, who were of royal blood. [...] The name of the high priest was uilac-umu [...] This means “he who speaks of divine matters” [..]“.
Cusco was for the Incas what Delphi was for the Greeks: an esoteric centre of the world.

So far, we have seen an ascending Greek goddess, Ghe’, and had a glimpse of the special status that Cuichu, the rainbow descending from the sun, had for the Incas. Far from mirroring the complexity of the dimension of religious cults and vision of the world in either culture, the statements of Prof. Morales – as reported by Villoldo – do not seem to pay full justice to the reality of facts. There is no clear-cut view of Inca shamanism, religion and cultic practices versus ancient Greek civilization and, escaping poetic and simplified views, more than antithetical and opposite visions of the world we are strongly bound to believe that there is much more ground to dwell on similarities instead.

We do not know in what form the uillac-umu, the high priest of the Incas who spoke of divine matter may have – if at all – survived in contemporary Andean religion and cults. But we know that the Q’eros, who repute themselves direct descendants of the Incas, distinguish (alongside other indigenous communities of the high Andes) between two different types of different shamans: the Altomesayoq (or Alto mesayoq), a higher shaman – invested by the the power of prophecy and seeing – elected by the Apu (“Lord”, Sacred Mountain Spirit) and stroke by lightening (up to) three times, and the Pampamesayoq (or Pampa mesayoq) – a “normal” shaman, of lower status than the Altomesayoq. Both are called Paqos (or pakos).

The lightning cults of ancient Greece, where individuals and areas struck by lightning benefited in certain cases of an exceptional sacred status, and the election process of the Andean Altomesayoq bear a close intrinsic resemblance: both benefit from a special sacred condition and elective affinities.

In ancient Greece, one of the epithets with which the figure of Zeus was worshipped (as we know from Aischylos, as early as 467-458 BC) was that of Kataibates – the god “who descends” as a thunderbolt, or (as later sources translate the epithet) he “who makes to descend” the thunderbolts, denoting in either case the fall of the striking lightening from heaven to earth.
Zeus Kataibates was worshipped for many centuries in different regions of Greece, and the ground adjoining the altars of the god was at times regarded as an ábaton, or inviolable sacred place, innermost sanctuary or shrine. We know that there were lightning ábata, called enelýsia, holy grounds of the god, which were essentially spots struck by lightning and reputed to be the living place of Zeus Kataibates.

The closest Andean equivalent to the Greek enelýsia may be seen in the spot hit by Illapa (deity of thunder, lighting and rainstorms), where the future Altomesayoq – the “shaman of the high table” – will find the sacred stones that will become part of his or her own mesa (sacred space with medicine objects) and will be the aid in the direct communication with the Apu.

The most striking parallel between the specially elected and higher condition of the Altomesayoq and the ancient Greek world (at least from the 5th century B.C.) is probably offered by the status of the Dioblés, the “Zeus-struck man”. The god descended as a lightning flash and the one on whom he fell was considered Diόbletos – “struck by Zeus” – and held in an especially sacred status. In ancient Greece, the divinity of the god was conveyed on the individual struck by the lightning – i.e. by Zeus Kataibates – who was made immortal, or imperishable.

In the Andes there is a special relation between lightning and the make of a high shaman. The Altomesayoq, who can communicate directly with the Apus and Illapa – receives his or her shamanic powers after been struck by lightening. The initiatory process develops essentially along three phases, which are all deeply remnant of traditional shamanic initiations: at the outset Illapa strikes (one to three times) and kills the chosen person, then his or her scattered body parts are put back together, and finally the person is brought back to life. When the candidate future Altomesayoq re-awakes from the shock and regains consciousness, he or she must look for special stones that the Illapa left on the ground when it stroke. Nobody must see – or interfere with – the future Altomesayoq (who may otherwise die).

These stones – called Khuyas stones – are invested of special powers and sacredness, and will become part of the mesa of the Altomesayoq. These will be the intermediary in the direct communication that the high shaman establishes with the Apu and Illapa.

Cook, A. B. Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion, Cambridge University Press, 1925Garcilaso de la Vega, The Royal Commentaries of the Yncas, translated by Maria Jolas, Lima 2002

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Trekking training guide for the Inca Trails

by the Colca Specialist

Although walking is something most people do every day, we strongly urge you to train for your trek. You should start training several months before the event and this Trek Training Guide for Inka Trails will help you to do this.
It is designed for a person of 'average' fitness. Even if you walk regularly and have a good level of fitness, you will still need to train for this type of long-distance walking, though you may find that it will not take you as long to reach the stages outlined below. If you do not walk often and have only a basic level of fitness you should allow more than the 16 weeks outlined.

Why Walk?

• It strengthens your heart, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
• It improves circulation, breathing and endocrine functions.
• It tones muscles and strengthens bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
• It reduces blood fat and cholesterol.
• It burns calories and helps you manage your weight.
• It boosts mental performance and improves psychological well-being.
• It enables you to solve problems, manage stress and reduce anxiety.

Walking Techniques - ways to avoid injury and discomfort

• Touch the ground heel first, roll forward through the arch, over the ball of your foot to your toes, which push off to start another step. This reduces the risk of shin splints and tendon pulls.
• Walk with your head up and eyes focused ahead.
• Keep your shoulders level, pulled back and down, lift your chest.
• Contract your abdominal muscles, pressing them towards your spine.
• Carry your arms at 90° angles and pump them forward and back, rather than side to side. The faster you move, the better your cardiovascular workout. But try to keep an even stride and maintain a steady pace. To walk faster....
• Accelerate your arm movements.
• Take smaller, quicker steps.
• To prevent lower back pain avoid leaning forward and arching your back.


Choose a comfortable pair of walking shoes designed for the specific activity of walking. It should have a reasonably high ankle and a stiff heel counter to give lateral support. The midsole should be firm yet comfortable. It is worth investing in a good pair of trekking or hiking boots, and appropriate socks. New boots must be worn in. Wear them around the house, on the way to work, etc, and then on longer trips. Once they have conformed to the shape of your feet there is less likelihood of getting blisters.

Feet first!

There are some common foot problems which are very easy to treat and avoid:
• To avoid blisters keep your feet dry and wear socks made with fibres which draw moisture away from your skin - steer clear of pure cotton. Don’t lace your shoes too tightly or too loosely. The irritation from the pinching and rubbing may cause blisters.
• Aching arches are usually caused by pounding when you walk. Make sure you touch the ground with your heel first and pushing off with your toe. Arch supports may help.
• Blackened toenails are caused by the big toe hitting the front of your shoe. Keep your toenails neatly trimmed. Make sure that if one of your feet is slightly larger than the other, as most are, that your boots fit the larger one.

Long-distance Walking: 16-week Training Programme

Week 1 - 6:
2 x 30mins walks. 1 x 2 hour walk. Full stretch after each walk.
Week 7 & 8:
Sat or Sun: 4 hour walk and stretch
Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 3, stretch.
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 3, stretch.
Fri: Rest Day
Week 9:
Sat AND Sun: 4 hour walk and stretch. (Walk both days if possible).
Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 3, stretch.
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 3, stretch.
Fri: Rest Day
Week 10 & 11:
Sat or Sun: 6 hour walk and stretch
Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 4, stretch.
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 4, stretch.
Fri: Rest Day
Week 12:
Sat AND Sun: 6 hour walk and stretch. (Walk both days if possible).
Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 4, stretch.
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 4, stretch.
Fri: Rest Day
Week 13 & 14:
Sat or Sun: 8 hour walk and stretch
Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 5, stretch.
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 5, stretch.
Fri: Rest Day
Week 15:
Sat AND Sun: 8 hour walk and stretch. (Walk both days if possible).
Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 5, stretch.
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 5, stretch.
Fri: Rest Day
Week 16:
Sat or Sun: 4 hour walk and stretch
Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 3, stretch
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 1 hour walk, stretch, exercise circuit x 3, stretch
Fri: Rest Day

Programme Notes

The 16 week programme is a rough training guide. Obviously with work, family and fundraising commitments you may not always be able to achieve what we have set out for you. However in order to get close to achieving the training it is very important to organise your time properly. There are plenty of ways to ensure that you maximise your training, even if you feel you have no time outside work.
• You must organise your week to make time to get out to do some training.
• Get up an hour earlier and go out for a quick walk with some stretching in the morning before work while it is still light.
• If you can walk to work, do so. If you get to work by public transport, get off a stop or two earlier than usual, so that you walk some distance each day. If you drive, park further away than usual, or walk a longer route to work.
• Use your lunchtimes to take regular brisk walks around your work area, not just a stroll around the shops.
• Find a steep set of stairs i.e. five floors of a department store/office block and climb them five times, at least three times per week.
• Swimming, squash, badminton, cycling and any other sport will also help get you prepared.
• Joining a leisure centre is a good idea as the local fitness instructors may well be able to design a programme specifically for you. Most good gyms have a walking machine, or even better a stair climber, where you can clock up mileage more safely and comfortably, but do try to walk as much as possible in ‘real’ conditions and wearing your rucksack and boots.
• It is important at weekends to get into some hilly areas to experience walking on different surfaces, get used to the hills and of course the weather. You should wear the boots and rucksack you will take on the trek.
• You should make the time to walk some consecutive long days: an isolated Sunday walk does not have the same effect as two consecutive days. Nothing will prepare you for the trek better than actually walking. Even if you’re only doing an hour around the park or streets put your rucksack and boots on, you may look silly but it’s worth it.
You may not stick to the training guide exactly but you need to keep it in mind and to do regular exercise every week according to the guide. You will enjoy this challenge far more if you are physically fit.

Training Tips

After the first six weeks you need to gain endurance by walking long slow distances. Pick one day per week as your long walk to gain endurance. Choose two evenings or mornings as your shorter walks with the Circuit Exercises to help build specific muscles groups. Remember to stretch after ever walk, it is also essential to stretch after about ten minutes of walking once you’ve warmed up a bit. Make sure you plan adequate rest/recovery days as part of the training.
Of course nothing is better than walking. However if you play squash, tennis, badminton or go to the gym, cycle or swim for an hour or two, then this will also help with your general fitness. Adding this to your programme instead of one of the short days or on one of the rest days would be fine. Make sure you stretch properly after each session.