Kim MacQuarrie’s Peru & South America Blog

Adventures in the Andes–A Voyage from Colombia to Patagonia

posted on December 6th, 2014 in Adventures in the Andes (New Book), South America History & Travel

Adventures in the Andes

In 2011 I set off for a 4,500-mile road, boat, bus and train trip down the Andes of South America, from Colombia in the north to Patagonia and Cape Horn in the south, while working on a book that eventually would be called Adventures in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes, and Revolutionaries. It’s due to be published in June, 2015 by Simon & Schuster. On the way, I naturally took photos, lots of notes, and video, some clips of which I will gradually post. The following is my new book’s description from the publisher:

Unique portraits of legendary characters along South America’s mountain spine, from Charles Darwin to the present day, told by a master traveler and observer

 The Andes Mountains are the world’s longest mountain chain, linking most of the countries in South America. Emmy Award-winning writer and filmmaker Kim MacQuarrie takes us on a historical journey through this unique region, bringing fresh insight and contemporary connections to such fabled characters as Charles Darwin, Pablo Escobar, Che Guevara, and many others. He describes living on the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, where people still make sacrifices to the gods. He introduces us to a Patagonian woman who is the last living speaker of her language, as he explores the disappearance of indigenous cultures throughout the Andes. He meets a man whose grandfather witnessed Butch Cassidy’s last days in Bolivia and the school teacher who gave Che Guevara his final meal. MacQuarrie also meets the Colombian police officer who made it his mission to capture Pablo Escobar—the most dangerous cocaine king in the world.

Through the stories he shares, MacQuarrie raises such questions as, where did the people of South America come from? Did they create or import their cultures? Why did the Incas sacrifice children on mountaintops—and how did these “ice mummies” remain so well preserved? Why did Peru’s Shining Path leader Guzmán nearly succeed in his revolutionary quest while Che Guevara in Bolivia so quickly failed? And what so astounded Charles Darwin in South America that led him to conceive of the theory of evolution? Deeply observed and beautifully written, “Adventures in the Andes” shows us this land as no one has before.

Below is an initial clip from the journey, this one from La Paz, Bolivia, where the festival of the Candelaria happened to be revving up as I was journeying ever southwards.

You can pre-order the new book here




Machu Picchu Facts

posted on November 8th, 2014 in Machu Picchu Facts

Machu Picchu Facts

Machu Picchu Facts

Machu Picchu Facts

Where it’s located: in the cloud forest of the Andes Mountains, in southeastern Peru, South America.

Who built it?: The Incan Emperor Pachacutec ordered its construction.

When was Machu Picchu built?: in the mid-15th century A.D.

When was Machu Picchu abandoned? Probably 100 years after its construction, most likely during the time of the Spanish conquest, sometime between 1533-1536.

Who discovered it and when? The American history professor, Hiram Bingham, in 1911.

How does it rank as a site to visit in S America?: It is the most visited archaeological site in South America, is Peru’s #1 tourist attraction and in 2007 was voted one of the new “Seven Wonders of the World.”

How many people visit per year? Nearly one million. The Peruvian government has recently limited visitors to 2,500 per day. Before that, sometimes twice that amount would visit during the high season (May through September).

Is it worth the visit? If you can only visit one place in South America and are interested in getting a sense of the Andes and of the largest indigenous empire ever to have existed on the continent—by all means, Machu Picchu is the one place to visit. Since you have to travel to Cusco to get there, you get double bang for your buck, as Cusco is one of the most interesting cities on the planet.



Atahualpa: The Inca Lord Who Lost an Empire

posted on September 21st, 2014 in Incas, Peru



The Inca Emperor, Atahualpa

 Atahualpa: Emperor of the Incas

Note: Atahualpa, lord of the Incas, was captured in Nov of 1532 by 168 Spaniards. Atahualpa was captured in the Inca town of Cajamarca, in what is now northern Peru. The following is an extract from The Last Days of the Incas:

“Most Inca accounts state that after [Atahualpa’s father] Huayna Capac‘s death, the latter’s son Huascar was crowned as emperor in Cusco, a thousand miles to the south. Another son, Atahualpa, remained in Quito, meanwhile, which Huayna Capac had made into an ancillary capital during his constant campaigns in what is now Ecuador. Born from different mothers, Atahualpa and Huascar were half-brothers.


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