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 exploration. 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. Improvisation, adaptation and a venturous spirit will be essential to make this ride a once in a lifetime equestrian travel experience. The main purpose of the riding expedition is not the amount of distance we cover or at what speed. It is about the exploration of unknown and beautiful places. 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 prehispanic 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 pallida) 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).
Going even further back in time (read 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.
- 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.
About the expedition
The starting point of the riding expedition is the town of Ica. From here we will depart to our basecamp in the desert where we will meet our horses. We have no idea what our final destination will be but one way or the other we will return to Ica within the set time frame of 10 days. On previous scouting tours we outlined the area on the map and marked the GPS-waypoints of the places we would like to visit during the ride. Part of the route will be along the shores of the Pacific Ocean, with miles and miles of empty beaches. Most days however will be spend in the open desert and along the valleys of the Ica and Nasca River. Among the places we want to visit are the lomas (fog meadow) to see some of the coastal vegetation and fauna. The lomas de Ullujaya or San Fernando in Nazca have some beautiful views and archaeological sites also. There are places within the area where we'll find fossils, pre-hispanic cemeteries and water channels as well as remains of ancient settlements.
The riding expedition starts on November 02 and ends on November 11 (10 days/9 nights). For participants of the expedition we have organised an exclusive travel program of 14 days / 13 nights starting and ending in Lima (October 30 - November 12).
The welfare of our horses will be our prime concern during the ride so we will have to go well prepared. A back up team and 4x4 vehicle(s) will support the expedition and provide water and food for the horses as well as other basic supplies and provisions. A maximum group size of only 6 participants can join the ride.
For the expedition we will use our own horses as they will be in top shape after our riding season high in the Andes. They will be trucked to Ica from our ranch in the Sacred Valley, a 3 day journey with plenty of stops to rest. In the Ica desert we will set up our basecamp next to the Ica river and near the old hacienda house (under restoration) of the Cabrera family in Ullujaya. A huge corral for the horses has already been constructed. Our basecamp will be essential for the logistic support. Solar panels will be installed at basecamp to provide the necessary electricity for lighting and for the refrigeration of food (and drinks).
During the ride we will follow one of the golden riding rules set by experienced long riders: 3 days riding - 1 day rest - 3 days riding - 1 day rest, and so on.. This way the horses don’t wear out. Distance and speed will be dictated by the abilities of the group and the type of terrain and is subject to weather conditions and fitness of the horses. The ride leader decides the pace and distance covered during the ride, always having the welfare of the horses in mind. Our horses are in top shape and there will be enough time to enjoy their smooth Paso Llano gait and to gallop along the sandy and endless Pacific coast beaches.
In general the weather in the Ica desert during the month of November is good, but on some days it can get quite hot around mid day. On those days we just take a long siesta and ride a bit longer at the end of the day.
On the trail accommodation is in 2 person tents out in wild nature with minimal facilities. Water containers will be placed at strategic points in the desert before the ride. This way our support team will always be able to find water sources within reasonable distances.
Expedition plus trip extension
This travel program, exclusively designed for participants of our Exploratory Expedition, starts and ends in Lima. Dates: October 30 - November 12 (14 days/ 13 nights). The program includes: one overnight in a comfortable hotel in Lima (October 30), a flight over the Nasca lines from the airport in Pisco, a visit to the Islas Ballestas and the Paracas National Reserve with 1 overnight in a comfortable hotel in Paracas (Oct. 31) and two overnights in a comfortable hotel in Ica (Nov. 01 and Nov. 11). It also includes private transport from Lima to Ica and return. Your earliest departure flight for your international flight is Nov. 13.
For more info click here.
Exploratory rides require a certain kind of resilient, flexible, fit and independent horse-person who is also a team-player. If you are interested to participate, please contact Eduard van Brunschot at [email protected] or through our contact page. Participants will be informed about the latest developments and updates through our newsletters.