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the Degree Confluence Project
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Peru : Puno

3.6 km (2.2 miles) W of Coasa, Puno, Peru
Approx. altitude: 4137 m (13572 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 14°N 110°E

Accuracy: 8 m (26 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: South - Funeral chullpa with mountains of the upper valley #3: Incan terracing and road #4: Cloud covered mountains and potato fields #5: Tundra grasses and boulders #6: GPS Image #7: Coaza from above and side #8: Llama on cliff #9: Military practicing for 150 year celebration #10: Andy contemplating 14700 feet from an incan stairway

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  14°S 70°W  

#1: Confluence overview

(visited by Andy and Dana)

23-Apr-2004 --

Accuracy: 8 meters

Altitude: 4152 meters (13700 feet)

Website: www.bylandwaterandair.com

Plant life: Tundra plants - grasses, daisies and other short or sessile plants. Potato fields are planted in the valley below the confluence.

Animal life: Vizcachas (Lagidium sp.s) - a large rodent in the Chinchilla family that burrows in the area. Vizcachas look like large rabbits with long bushy tails and love to sit on the tops of large boulders. Llama, sheep and alpaca herds also roam the area with their human caretakers.

Nearest town: Coaza (also spelled Coasa) is a little over two kilometers from the confluence. Coaza is a remote village high in the Andean mountains with a population of 5000-6000 people, and is the government center for the Coaza region with 11000 people. The town itself was officially founded exactly 150 years ago (they were preparing for the anniversary celebration when we were there) though the actual age of the town is thought to be much older; how much is unknown. The people speak both Quechua (the language of the Incas) and Spanish (the language of the conquistadors). Because of the remoteness of the town (the journey is so difficult that only a few buses and trucks make the passage each week, despite the population size) they only received electricity a few years ago, when a hydroelectric plant was installed on the steep hillside using diverted water from the valley's river that is then plummeted down the hillside in a tube to create electricity. It produces enough for the town during the day and after 9:00 at night when the floodlights at the local football (soccer) field are turned off. The regional economy consists mainly of potatoes, wool (from sheep, llamas and alpacas), and mining ore. Traversing the region is one main road that comes from Ajoyani and passes through Coaza on its way to the Amazon jungle only three hours by truck away. From there, travel is by boat along the river systems. A claim to fame for the village is that the esteemed photographer, Martín Chambi was born in the area in 1891. During his lifetime he became an incredible photographer whose photos are now known throughout the world, especially those of Machu Picchu and scenes around the city of Cusco.

Getting to the confluence: Hiking out of Coaza along the paths that lead up the valley to the potato fields, we passed people harvesting potatoes before starting our ascent up to the point of the confluence itself. Located up a side valley, and then up a side of this valley, the confluence is in a beautiful location on the side of a 4397 meter tall mountain (14510 feet) next to a funeral chullpa, common structures in the remote Andes built to honor and protect their ancestors who are buried inside these rock circles. Hiking to the spot was relatively easy, as the only plant life are short or sessile, leaving only the altitude and steep ascent to slow our progress. After reaching the point, we continued to hike up to the top of the mountain, which then lead to another taller mountain, 4477 meters (14770 feet) in height at its first peak, and continuing to climb from there. Lagoons accented the altiplano, with llama and alpacas grazing at its shores. There is a complicated path system through the area with a painted sign on a large boulder stating that by hiking through the next uninhabited valley and beyond for 120 kilometer one could hike to the town known as "4". As intriguing as this was, we opted for the 5 kilometer path back to the village before the frigid winds of the night began to blow.


 All pictures
#1: Confluence overview
#2: South - Funeral chullpa with mountains of the upper valley
#3: Incan terracing and road
#4: Cloud covered mountains and potato fields
#5: Tundra grasses and boulders
#6: GPS Image
#7: Coaza from above and side
#8: Llama on cliff
#9: Military practicing for 150 year celebration
#10: Andy contemplating 14700 feet from an incan stairway
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)