Sunday, January 01, 2012

Peru Course 2012



Contact: silmanmr@wfu.edu

Tropical Biodiversity will be an in-depth, hands-on field course exposing students to the rich and varied ecosystems of the tropics, from absolute deserts to glaciers to tropical rain forest. Our travels will take us through the spectrum of tropical ecosystems and expose us to some of the wildest and most pristine areas left on the planet. In these living classrooms students will combine lectures on the history, generation, maintenance, and future of tropical biodiversity with field projects on a variety of plant and animal topics, from conservation to geology to tree diversity to primate behavior.

The Places

After arriving in the capitol city in Lima, we’ll travel by bus through the world’s driest desert to Paracas National Park. Located on a peninsula in the Pacific Ocean, Paracas is a rich-upwelling zone teeming with bird and mammal life. Sea otters, sea lions, penguins, boobies, and the spectacular Inca Tern are among a few of the animals we’ll see there. The abundant marine life is juxtaposed with absolute desert, receiving less than 2mm of precipitation a year. This has led to a unique and fragile flora that lives exclusively on moisture harvested from coastal fog on the tops of the highest hills.

Leaving Paracas, the course flies over the Andes to the imperial city of the Inca Empire, Cusco. There we will travel to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu, giving us a chance to see and study the unique mammal and bird fauna of the high Andes, from the relatives of camels such as llamas, vicuñas, alpacas, and the pika-like vizcacha to torrent ducks and Andean condors. We will overnight at Machu Picchu, affording students a chance to explore this magnificent ancient city in depth.

From Cusco we will travel by bus up and over the east range of the Andes, passing through remote Andean villages where the ancestors of the Inca still live much as the did 500 years ago. Passing the crest of the Andes, we enter Manu National Park—the world’s premier rain forest park—and begin our descent into the Amazon basin. We will spend a week making our way down through the different ecosystems, exploring the haunt of the rare spectacled bear and fantastic Peruvian cocks-of-the-rock. We’ll stay in the cloud forest at the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, giving ample time to explore this mysterious forest shrouded in clouds.

Descending further the trip will change from bus to boat—16 meter motorized dugout canoes—for our trip down the Alto Madre de Dios river and into the heart of the Manu. Along the way we will see native villages, study Andean and river geomorphology, and keep an eye-out for capybara, jaguars, and tapirs—all of which are seen fairly frequently.

Our final destination is the Cocha Cashu Biological Station, deep in the reserved-zone of the park. Here we will execute field projects on various topics, including large-mammal ecology, primate and bird ecology, and plant ecology. Students will work in research teams on the projects and give a report at the end. This station is one of the most remote places on earth—we will be living in a veritable zoo without walls. Among our neighbors will be 13 species of monkeys, 640 species of birds including spectacular macaws and rare cracids, and a full compliment of large mammals. Cocha Cashu is one of the few places on the planet where the tropical fauna is so abundant and intact.

Travel Considerations

Health: We will be traveling to remote areas. Students are required to see a doctor and obtain vaccines for hepatitis A, yellow fever, typhoid, and antimalarial medication. Major vectors of transmission of tropical diseases such as Dengue Fever, Leishmaniasis, and Malaria are mosquitoes and biting flies, so using insect repellent with at least 20% DEET and covering exposed skin is important.

Students are also required to carry insurance valid in foreign countries, including evacuation insurance. MOST INSURANCE POLICIES DO NOT COVER YOU OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, so check with your provider. You are required to get an International Student ID, and this comes with insurance that will cover you on the trip.

This course requires vigorous activity in remote areas. Any student with a chronic medical condition or disability--physical or mental--must consult with his or her doctor and the course instructor before enrolling. We will be traveling to elevations above 15,000 feet and also conducting rigorous fieldwork in remote areas.

Cost: Most WFU students can apply for competitive scholarships and fellowships to help cover the cost of the trip. Costs include all in-Peru fees, room and board, and in-country travel. Students should bring some extra money for days spent in cities (Cusco, Lima) for the few meals not covered in the trip and for purchasing gifts, etc. A deposit is required by March 1st.

Political Stability / Safety: Peru is one of the safer South American countries. Crime in areas where we will be traveling is rare, and the political system is stable. This trip is safer than going to, say, LA or NYC.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thinking like a plant to live in the desert

We'll see these people living in absolute desert.  What do they do for water?  They set up a fog trap that imitates the plants that grow on the tops of hills.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New views of the Inca

National Geographic has an excellent article on the Inca Empire in this month's issue.  One of the things that is striking about the article is how poorly known the Inca are--most people would think we have the history all figured out, but the archaeology is just now being done in a convincing way.  Also, we should think about some of these guys as speakers or guest lecturers on the summer course.  Make sure to check out the interactive map.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Student journal entries

Check out the student journal entries from Summer 2010 here!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Our itinerary for Summer 2010 is ready! We'll have access to phones and internet through June 7th and then again after the 24th. There might be email at Cocha Cashu but don't count on it..

Let's go to Peru!
2-Jun Transfer airport/hotel
Overnight H. Mami Panchita Lima
3-Jun Private bus Lima/Paracas/Pisco
Overnight H.Refugio del Pirata
4-Jun Boat Islas Ballestas
Bus Pisco/Lima
Overnight H. Backpakers Lima
5-Jun Transfer hotel/apto
Flight Lima/Cusco
Transfer apto/hotel
Overnight H. Familiar
6-Jun Free day in Cusco
Overnight H. Familiar
7-Jun Private bus Cusco/Wayquecha (ACCA)
Overnight Wayquecha /2 noche
9-Jun Private bus Wayquecha/San Pedro
Visit cock of the rock lek
Overnight Posada San Pedro /1 night
10-Jun Overnight Posada San Pedro /1 night
11-Jun Overnight Posada San Pedro /1 night
12-Jun Private bus San Pedro/Atalaya
Private boat Atalaya/Pantiacolla Lodge
Overnight Pantiacolla Lodge /2 nights
14-Jun Private boat PL/Pakitza
Overnight camping
15-Jun Private boat Pakitza/Cashu
Overnight camping Cashu/8 nights
Private boats Cashu 7d
23-Jun Private boat Cashu/Boca Manu
Overnight Yine Lodge
24-Jun Private boat Boca Manu/Atalaya
Bus Atalaya/Bosque Nublado
Overnight Posada San Pedro/1night
25-Jun Bus Cloud Forest/Cusco
Overnight H.Familiar
26-Jun Transfer hotel/trainstation Piscacucho
Backpacker train Cusco/Ag. Cal.
Overnight H. Machupicchu Ag. Cal.
27-Jun Backpacker train Ag. Cal./Cusco
Transfer trainstation Piscacucho/hotel
Overnight H.Familiar
28-Jun Transfer hotel/apto
Flight Cusco/Lima

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Living and exploring history


Parks, reserves, zoos, playgrounds, plazas, backyards, gardens, fields, cities, highways--they are all cultural constructed spaces with natural features. Do they share a unified meaning? What sets them apart? Why do people make them? These places are our platform for jumping head first into Latin America's past.
On this program, we'll not only see and experience the best of biological splendor--at each site we'll consider how different societies have used and conserved these lands over time. In Paracas, we'll ask how it was that bird guano came to be Peru's economic gold mine in the late nineteenth century? As we ascend to the cloud forest, we'll ask why some plants--like coca leaves--acquire such cultural power. While journey deeper away from home, we'll consider why the rain forest tugs at our imaginations and inhabits our wildest dreams? It even pulls like a siren song on U.S. presidents! What does it mean to say some place is "wilderness," and why isn't there a Spanish word for it? As we wander through the modern ancient city of Cusco we'll ask why Inca architecture persists and who it now serves. As we travel to the Sacred Valley, we'll inquire why did the Incas build Machu Picchu and how it was that a Yale archeologist made it famous?

In all of our stops we'll look at the ways nature and culture echo in each other considering how conflict and coexistence among human groups shape nature's form and the way the landscape in turn shapes societies. Students will keep journals and respond to these sorts of questions and we'll engage experts in history and anthropology as well as primary documents in our quest to explain just how societies in Latin America have used and conserved nature.
It will be awesome.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Information Meeting January 26th 7:30 pm

We'll be having a short presentation on the Peru Summer Abroad program, including the Biodiversity Course (BIO369) and the History of Nature Conservation in Latin America course (HST 350), this coming Tuesday at 7:30 pm in room 126 Winston Hall.  Come find out all about it!