Exploratory Expedition 2019, The Ica Coastal Desert
Perol Chico is organising a unique exploratory expedition in the Ica desert, one of the most fascinating places on the Peruvian central coast. The riding expedition will be all about adventure and exploring unknown places. In contrast to a riding holiday, were everything is arranged before-hand, this ride has no set day-to-day itinerary due to the many unforeseen elements and the character of the ride. The coastal desert of Ica is of a captivating beauty and its fascinating geological features and mysterious archaeological remains makes this remote region one of the most interesting places in Peru for equestrian exploration.
Extensive archaeological remains in the region attest to substantial pre-hispanic populations. The lower Ica Valley on the hyperacid south coast of Peru was once the homeland of ancient and highly civilised cultures, such as the Ocucaje (Paracas), Nasca and Wari culture.
Well into the Early Intermediate Period (0-600 AD) the south coast valleys were densely forested with Huarango trees. The Huarango tree (Proposis*) played a crucial role in integrating fragile desert ecosystems, enhancing soil fertility and moisture, and accomplishing desalination and microclimatic amelioration. Proposis is a remarkable leguminous hardwood, capable of living for over a millennium and providing timber, forage and food. Gradual deforestation eventually crossed an environmental threshold: river and wind erosion increased dramatically and precipitated radical desertification, feeding back into cultural changes in the Middle Horizon (600 - 1000 AD).
Note: The derivation of the name Prosopis is ‘towards abundance’, from the ancient Greek ‘pros’ for towards; and ‘Opis’, wife of Saturn and the goddess of abundance and agriculture.
Going even further back in time (eons ago) a big part of the Ica desert was once the bed of a shallow bay off the coast of South America. The water teemed with life: whales, dolphins, giant penguins, crocodiles and the megalodon, a 45-foot-long whale eating shark, which disappeared some 1.5 million years ago. Today the desert of Ica is not only an important cultural and historical sanctuary, it also holds some of the most important fossils in the world.