Tusker is staking its brightly colored tents in a new continent this year, South America.
Peru is the first trip this June, a 15 day trek in the Cordillera Blanca with a seven day extension to Machu Picchu. The trip will be led by Andrew Springsteel, Tusker’s South American guide and head of U.S. operations. Peru offers some things new and some things tried and true in keeping with Tusker’s traditions.
Tusker’s pursuit of reaching for the heights is clearly evident on the Peruvian trek. Peru’s highest peaks and the glacially-carved valleys leading to them are features on the Cordillera Blanca trek. This mountain range is higher than Kilimanjaro topping out at 22,000 feet, but this is not designed as a getting-to-the-summit trip. The trip goes above tree line and tops out at nearly 17,000 feet exploring the region’s diverse flora/fauna that flourishes amid the ample rivers and melting glaciers dropping from the serrated peaks. It also gives insight into the region’s Inca and pre-Inca byways and burial sites where the group will travel.
The adventure is a hybrid version of other Tusker offerings. It is comparable to Everest Base Camp, Mongolia and Bhutan in its mountain, cultural and archaeological roots, but also shares some of the aspects of Iceland where Tusker has broken up nights in the backcountry with short stays in comfortable lodgings.
Of course, each of these journeys is as unique as the topography and the people living there. Peru’s Andean magic is its vibrant food and music kept alive by its pre-conquest indigenous population. At over 40 percent, Peru has the second highest indigenous population of any country in the Latin world. Only Bolivia at 55 percent has a higher percentage of Amerindian people speaking their native pre-Spanish languages today.
Tusker’s New Paths
Andrew has shaped the Peru trip to give it Tusker’s flair and not a regurgitated version of common trips out there. Almost every adventure travel company on the planet today goes to Machu Picchu and a few offer the Cordillera Blanca. Most companies subcontract out to Peruvian based outfitters to handle all the details and in many cases lead the trip, but Tusker’s attention to food and high altitude medicine are trademarks that continue to distinguish the company.
The route Tusker has chosen is also quite different from the larger companies by going into the Quilqueyhuanca Valley for a five day trek. Most trips offered by others follow the Santa Cruz circuit which although spectacular, is overpopulated and well-traveled.
Heading Further South
Peru is just the start of Tusker’s South American expansion. Eddie Frank, Tusker’s founder, embarked on an exploratory expedition in February trekking south of Bariloche, Argentina to find a rarely traveled route in Patagonia for Tusker’s adventuresome lot. The Patagonia trek, still in development, promises to be truly spectacular. Andrew will trek into the Chilean wilds this March seeking a circuit that turns into a new trip for 2017.
With the world’s longest mountain range the Andes, South America will soon become Tusker territory. Be part of Tusker history and come along for the ride.