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Feb 2020

Machu Picchu Summer Solstice

Posted by / in Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Horse Riding Holidays, South America, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

The Incas and the Sun
Inca lore has it that the Sun God, Inti, rose from Lake Titicaca to control the heavens and the seasons. The Inca, the eponymous emperor of the Inca people, was believed to be a direct descendant of Inti.

Inti was anchored to the earth by The Intihuatana Stone, known as “The Hitching Post of the Sun” in English, which stands inside Machu Picchu. This remarkable stone is a precise indicator of the two equinoxes, spring and autumn, as well as other celestial events.

Temple of the Sun, Machu Picchu

Temple of the Sun, Machu Picchu: Note the sun shining through the window and the light falling directly onto the Intihuatana Stone.

The name Intihuatana is derived from the local Quechua language and is rumoured to have been coined by Hiram Bingham. It comes from inti meaning “sun”; and wata which is the verb root “to tie or hitch” (huata- is simply a Spanish spelling). The Quechua -na suffix changes a verb into a noun for things like tools or places. Hence inti watana is literally an instrument or place to “tie up the sun”; in English that makes “The Hitching Post of the Sun”.

There is a similar, though totally unconnected, link with Ra, the Egyptian sun god. You could say that the dynasty of the pharaohs in Egypt and the much later dynasty of the Incas were each sun cults. And there’s nothing wrong with a bit of sun worship!

Machu Picchu and the Spring Equinox
Machu Picchu is south of the equator, just, so the spring equinox happens in September rather than March; March is the beginning of autumn here in Peru, whereas in the northern hemisphere, it’s t’other way around.

What is the Equinox?
The Earth is in ceaseless orbit around the sun and is tilted at 23.5° off the vertical which means the sun’s light and warmth swap between the two hemispheres twice per year, March and September. At equinox the sun is directly overhead at noon, as seen from the equator; night and day are of equal length. The name equinox comes from Latin aequus = equal and nox = night.

What is the ‘Solstice’?
A solstice occurs when the sun reaches the end of its tether, either in the extreme north, or south. There are two solstices: Summer on the 21st June and Winter on the 21st December. This year we have a very special opportunity to witness the Summer Solstice inside the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in the company of one of the foremost Inca specialists, Edwin Duñeas.

Details of Edwin’s 14-day trip are here.

Intihuatana Stone, Machu Picchu

Intihuatana Stone, Machu Picchu

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Oct 2019

The Amazon just got closer

Posted by / in Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, South America, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

Amazon Jungle, Peru.
Visiting the Amazon is a Bucket List event and one of the lodges we always recommend, and many clients have visited, is Tambopata in Peru. For birding and wildlife, this is the best. It began life as a research centre but has morphed into a comfy jungle lodge, with outstanding guides.

The bad news is that Tambopata Research Center (TRC) used to be a real mission to get to: 1 hr flight from Cusco, over the Andes and down into the hot, sweaty jungle; a road and canoe transfer and 8 hrs later you arrived. TRC just got closer thanks to a recently improved road, it now takes just 3 hrs to reach.

A 3 night stay is ideal for most people.

Timings are now:
Puerto Maldonado Airport to Rainforest Expeditions office – 5 mins by shuttle-bus
Office to Puerto Filadelfia – 1 hr by road
Puerto Filadelfia to TRC- 2hrs 30mins by boat. (This will come into effect from 1st November 2020.)

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Jun 2019

Beautiful Books!

Posted by / in Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, South America, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

The Most Beautiful Bookshop in the World?
Here’s a challenge for everyone who loves books as much as they love browsing bookstores: can you find a more beautiful bookshop than this Argentine gem?

El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore in the centre of Buenos Aires has to be the champ! It’s a stunning building (used to be a theatre) it’s distinctively Argentinian and is just plain unique, packed with new editions, new books, new authors, and the broadest spectrum of subjects.

We have created an Insider’s Walking Tour of BA which includes the ‘Grand Splendid’ (half day or full day) accompanied by a local university lecturer to interpret the subtleties, innuendos and implications of Porteño life a street café level. Explore like a Porteño (South American Spanish for a person who lives in a port city) and visit the ‘hoods, café scenes and imaginative graffiti spots; feel the Latin pulse of this most charming of South American cities.

Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore, Buenos Aires

The “reading area” (Stage) of El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore, Buenos Aires

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