Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

OMAPED Christmas Chocolatadas

On 20th December, Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel was proud to host a very special event in collaboration with OMAPED, the Municipal Office for People with Disabilities in Peru.

More than 200 people in the area of Machu Picchu suffer with some form of disability, meaning that daily life can often be very difficult. As part of their Christmas celebrations, OMAPED organised a special event together with many organisations from across the district, throwing a traditional Chocolatadas for those individuals helped by OMAPED.

The event consisted of entertainment, and like the chocolatadas held throughout Peru at this time of year, hot chocolate and sweets were handed out to those attending. As a final surprise, Papanoel himself, Father Christmas took time out from his very busy December to hand out presents. As part of its ongoing commitment to local CSR initiatives, Inkaterra is proud to be involved with such initiatives as this, helping to spread the spirit of goodwill during the festive season.

¡Feliz Navidad!

Alpacas around the manger, turkey at midnight and a potential wait until January to receive your presents; Christmas in Peru has more than a few quirky traits. As a predominantly Christian nation, it is unsurprising that Christmas is celebrated widely in Peru. Thanks to influences from America and European colonialists, a Christmas in Peru is very similar to those in the UK and the West. However there are a few traditions that make a Peruvian Christmas just that little bit unusual…

Though the Scandinavian tradition of Christmas trees are becoming more popular, it is the nativity scene that dominates in almost every Peruvian home. Known locally as retablos, they have a rich history in Peru. These wooden carvings were traditionally used by Catholic priests in converting the indigenous population to Christianity. Largely resembling the traditional nativity scene recognised worldwide, retablos do retain a little Peruvian quirk. Look closely and you’ll spot llamas and alpacas surrounding the manger, rather than cows and donkeys.

A big difference between a Peruvian Christmas and one in the UK is that when most of us are tucked up in bed waiting for Father Christmas on the 24th December, in Peru, the party is already in full swing. Noche Buena or “Good Night” is the peak of Christmas in Peru, and it is far more lively and spirited than the 25th.  About 10pm on Christmas Eve, churches throughout the country hold the Misa de Gallo, akin to Midnight Mass. Outside the church; there are fireworks, music and revelry signalling the start of a very special period.

At midnight, Christmas dinner is served. As in the UK, turkey is traditionally the centrepiece, but like most Peruvian gastronomy, dishes are full of distinct, herbs and spices. One of the most traditional accompaniments to a Peruvian Christmas dinner is a spiced apple sauce, along with a huge variety of salads, home made tamales and of course, the Christmas cake.

Of course, Christmas isn’t complete without presents! In Peru, households exchange gifts before tucking into the spectacular feast, some give gifts afterwards, and in some Andean communities, gifts aren’t exchanged until January 6th during Epiphany, signifying the arrival of the Three Wise Men bringing their gifts to baby Jesus.

In Cusco especially, crowds flock to the city for Chocolatadas, an event that sees the true spirit of Christmas come alive. Communities group together to provide for those less fortunate than themselves. Often organised by churches, businesses or shops, they characteristically give hot chocolate, sweets, bread and even toys to poor children or pensioners. Many poorer families descend on Cusco for several days in order to attend Chocolatadas.

Whilst the build up to Christmas can last several weeks, with events that take place across towns and cities, right town to smaller close-knit communities, but it is on the 24th, after the meal and the gifts, in the dead of night, that Christmas truly comes alive in Peru.  Once the children are put to bed, the adults really let their hair down and enjoy the festive celebrations. As the parties are in full swing until the very early hours…it’s no wonder that Christmas day in Peru is rather quiet!

In any case – whether you are in Peru or not, we wish you a very Merry Christmas from everyone at Inkaterra.

 

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Birding Rally Challenge – Southern Peru – The Winners Are Crowned

After one of the closest competitions that we have seen, we are proud to announce that the winners of the final Birding Rally Challenge Southern Peru 2013 are the Field Guides from the USA, after spotting a grand total of 457 species. Just two species behind with 455, and tied for second place are Sunbird (UK) and Surbound (US).

Third place is awarded to the team from South Africa, Birding Ecotours, who counted 389 species. It has been an incredible Birding Rally Challenge for us to help host, and it is remarkable that the teams managed to identify 619 species, that is 7% of the world’s total species.

Green and White Hummingbird

Here is a breakdown of the Birding Rally Challenge results in full:

FIELD GUIDES (USA) – Total: 457

SUNBIRD (UK) – Total: 455

SURBOUND (USA) – Total: 455

BIRDING ECOTOURS (South Africa) – Total 389

AVIATUR (Colombia) – Total 350

Heptic Tanager

We would like to offer our congratulations to all the teams that have taken part. The support that they have lent to ecotourism and sustainable development in Peru is immeasurable. We look forward to seeing our friends again for the next Birding Rally Challenge  BRC – Nor Amazónica in May 2014.

The challenge has definitely intensified.

There is nothing like a bit of international rivalry between the UK and the USA teams!

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Day 2 of The Birding Rally Challenge 2013

The teams in the 2013 BRC

The Birding Rally Challenge has set off to a flying start here in Peru. Already on our 2nd day, the UK Sunbird’s showed great promise coming in first place for their day 1 sightings, but have now been knocked off the top spot by US team Surbound. Combating a merciless sun, the teams did a great job on the Rally’s second day.

Our Founder and Chairman, Jose Koechlin, at the opening of the BRC 2013 with PromPeru

Our Chairman & CEO, José Koechlin, at the opening of the BRC 2013 with PromPeru

Both US teams, Surbound and Field guides were sent to Valencia Lake at the beginning of Day 2. Leader’s Surbound ticked off White-chested Swift’ and ‘Plain soft tail’ near Gamitana creek from their checklist, and a magnificent ‘Black Hawk Eagle’ perched low on the Madre de Dios riverside caught their eye. Meanwhile, Field Guides found a ‘Long-crested Pygmy Tyrant’, due to Dan Lane’s privileged sense for bird calls. A ‘Chimney Swift’ and an extremely hard-to-find ‘Sungrebe’ were Field Guides’ other picks.

Spotted at the BRC on day 2

The UK team Sunbird’s, now in second place, walked around the surroundings of Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, where they spotted a ‘Pavonine Cuckoo’ (very rare for the area) and the impressive long-beaked ‘Purus Jacamar’. On the same route, South African Birding Ecotours found two colourful species from the tropics; an ‘Ivory-billed Aracari’ and a ‘Curl-Crested Aracari’.

South Africa Birding Ecotours

Aviatur (Colombia team), led by Alba Milena Ayala –the first woman to participate at the rally– was the only one to travel by the Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion and Lake Sandoval route, where they spotted a ‘Long-billed woodcreeper’, a ‘White-throated Jacamar’ and an ‘Agami Heron’.

Spotted in action at the BRC

Barred Antshrike

It’s been a successful few days here in the Amazon for the beginning of the Birding Rally. Tomorrow see’s the last day at Tambopata, after which all teams will be heading to Puerto Maldonado. Check out the full itinerary for the rally here. Stay tuned for updates on both our Twitter and Facebook and right here on our blog, as well as on the official BirdingRally Challenge.com website.