MONGOLIA EXPEDITION - JULY 2013
SITREP 1 - 7 July 2013
Most of the team have now arrived in Ulanbataar and the final 3 are expected tonight. Dental stores and books for 3 schools have been purchased and will go to Moron with the land convoy tonight. Rain fell in Ulanbataar yesterday, but temperature is warm. Main body of expedition flies to Moron on 9 July.
SITREP 2 - 11 July 2013
1. Team camped at Moron in fine weather, some light rain. Surveyed 3,500 year old deer stones and grave mounds. Largest deer stone site in Central Asia.
2. Watched the 15 kms race for 4 year old horses. Children jockeys up to 12. Saw spectacular display of national costumes in main square.
3. Presented books to Moron secondary school. 2300 pupils
4. Locals very friendly. Attend Naadam archery and wrestling events today and drive 100 kms north to Beltes river. Ends
Stores truck stuck in mud on drive north. Whilst extracting it, we caught 2 narrow headed voles which we measured and released. Zoologist ecstatic.
Books presented to another school.
Met our 63 horses on 12 July and rode North on Taiga Forest and over ice covered rivers.
Now giving aid to remote reindeer people. Dentist removed 18 teeth today.
Local Shaman proving very interesting.
Zoologist captured a water vole.
Horses very strong and doing well. Wolf attacked a village dog. Move south 17 July.
SITREP 4 19TH JULY 2013 - KHOVSGOL EXPEDITION
1. Now back at the Khogiin river away from the wind and frost we endured with the Reindeer people. No longer does the noise of 300 reindeer echo around our camp frightening our horses.
2. 5 of us were allowed to attend a fascinating 3 hour ceremony carried out at midnight by the local Shaman and Reindeer people.
3. Bird life limited to Ptarmigan and chicks.
4. Now botanical wild life survey in hand. 5½lb Salmon like Lennox caught. 8 rare salamanders found.
5. Dentistry completed.
Hot days and cold nights continue. Move to Moron 21st July.
Strep 5 - 22 JULY 2013
Now at Moron after epic drive with multiple breakdowns of stores truck. Eventually front wheel fell off. Miraculous repairs.
Fly to Ulanbataar today and on to Przewalski horse study. Ends
Strep 6 - 25 July 2013
At Hustain sighted over 50 Przewalski horses, red deer, many birds of prey. Botanical list most impressive. Traditional Burns supper held as farewell dinner with Stahlys Haggis and whiskey. Expedition dispersing.
PERU RECCE - SITREP BY JOHN BLASHFORD-SNELL
Because of dangerous landslides in the Manu area we decided to investigate a different possible task area in Western Peru. Returning to Lima we hired a car and driver, named Henry, to take us to the town of Oxapampa. This involved a 7 hour drive through mountains, rising to 4818m to the remote town on the corner of one of Peru’s great wilderness areas, the Yanachaga Park. Here cloud capped Jungle clad heights are the home to numerous rare species of wildlife including the spectacled bear and a host of birds, such as the cock-of-the-rock. The area has been designated as a national park but is also the traditional hunting ground of the Yanesha Indians, who are suffering from many ailments and need help.
The park is managed by a Peruvian charity, the Development of Rural Sustainability organisation (DRIS), who approached Yolima Cipagauta, the SES representative in South America, seeking medical support for the Yanesha communities, help with biological studies and eco-tourist advice. Thus a recce of possible projects was carried out in the period 15-19 April by Yolima, myself and DRIS staff.
The East side of the area was examined first. Driving in a 4WD pickup through cloud forest, over fast flowing fords and eventually descending to the small town of Iscozacin, we were stopped by police and warned of a recent armed robbery of a vehicle and passengers ahead of us. Indeed this area was once a centre of activity by the Shining Path Terrorists.
At Iscozacin we conferred with park authorities and saw the problems facing the Yanesha. Local health workers briefed us on typical ailments affecting the tribe. Interestingly there have been no cases of malaria reported for many years but there are cases of Leishmaniasis. We discussed plans with senior officials of the rain forest reserve. We also found a church owned lodge, directed by a Polish priest, that would make an ideal base.
At a small and poor community we gave out some of Shirley Critchley’s teddy bears, pencils and crayons to children and reading glasses to adults. One lady, who claimed to be 100 was delighted to receive a pair, which being unable to read, she selected by seeing if she could thread a needle.
Driving back in heavy rain along a narrow track awash with mud we had to cross many fords over swollen rivers to reach Oxapampa. From here we followed the raging Huancabamba river on a winding road cut into the sides of a steep sided valley. A thousand foot drop on one side kept one rather alert. Shimmering waterfalls cascaded out of the cliffs showering passing traffic and one drove with great care over the slippery surface. Freshly created crevasses cut into the track, often left only a few spare inches of firm ground for our passage. Down below boiling cataracts tumbled over jagged boulders. This was not a river, even for experienced white water rafters.
Visiting Huampel Lodge, that has been erected by DRIS on the edge of a sheer sided canyon, we were amazed to find it well equipped for visitors and boasting an impressive display centre. Alas few people seem to know of this facility and visitors are rare. However the wildlife seem to appreciate this and the resident rangers told us of a number of endangered spectacled bear living nearby.
Returning to Oxapampa on the tortuous mountain road, we paused to discuss villagers illnesses with nurses at one of the few health centres and to discover what medical and dental aid was available. The answer was that if they were lucky a doctor might visit some of the remote villages once a month for a few hours but dentists rarely came.
At Huancabamba DRIS asked if a future expedition could run 2 days training for up to 40 villagers in conservation, water resources management, health and nutrition. They said that advice on eco-tourism in the area would be appreciated. Near the town a NGO had a first class lodge which assists under privileged people and visitors. Programme Social Yanachaga (PROSOYA) German association, is managed by a charming Spanish lady and directed by a Peruvian. They would be happy for us to have a base for a future expedition when working on the Western side of the park. The lodge had a small medical centre and a well equipped dental clinic, but no dentist.
On 19th April an outline proposal was put to the Park Directors staff in Oxapampa, who suggested small changes but seemed happy with our plan.
The drive back to Lima in fine weather took us through some stunning scenery and once again over the 4818m pass, but was marred by the long delays at roadwork’s. However Henry, our driver, knew an alternative, scenic route which led us across the hills on a 3 meter wide cart track. Fortunately his car’s ground clearance was just sufficient for this.
Approaching Lima we encountered giant trucks moving almost nose to tail which led to some terrifying overtaking. Clearly Henry hoped to compete in Formula One! Pausing only briefly for a snack of fresh avocados, we still took 10 hours to reach our hotel in Lima, where the traffic virtually jammed the city’s main roads.
Renato Rios, Director of DRIS, met us on 20th April to discuss our proposal for an expedition in July 2014, with which he seems to agree.
Thus ended a memorable 19 day recce in some very wild country well off the usual tourist routes. As stated in Sitrep 1 we did not find tasks suitable for an SES approved expedition on the Urubamba and we could not get to the Manu region. However the Yanachaga park certainly has many worthwhile projects that would assist the development of this vast area of this protected forest. It will be important to recruit Spanish speaking members for a future expedition, which will probably be 1-21 July 2014.