Discovery and Adventure
Welcome to Adventure Specialists. We are a small, educational, adventure group focusing on Andean archaeology, discovery expeditions and adventures
by foot and horseback.
We specialize in quality, exclusive, custom designed programs for discriminating travelers and small groups.
Read on about who we are and
our unique programs to Machu Picchu and the Inca Royal Estate, Choquequirao.
Who we are
and our Photo Gallery
Gary Ziegler, Adventure Specialist's founder and co-owner, is a field archaeologist with a geology background. He is a mountaineer and explorer who has spent a lifetime finding and studying remote Inca sites in the Vilcabamba range of Peru’s Southern Andes.
Gary is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and of the Explorers Club. He has featured in documentary films for the BBC, Discovery Channel, Science and History Channels. In 2013, he was awarded the title “Distinguished Lecturer” at NASA’s Marshal Space Center.
He has taught at Colorado College and Peru’s national university, San Marcos. His home base is 4000 acre Bear Basin Ranch in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Southern Colorado’s Custer County where he is a former County Sheriff and a founder of the search and rescue unit.
Adventure Specialists and our Colorado home base ranch, are co-owned and managed by Amy Finger. Cusco natives, Fanny and Edwin Duenas manage our stables and horse remuda in Peru while organizing logistics and programs.
Edwin works with Gary as a research associate and our chief program guide.
Gary Ziegler and Amy Finger
Gary Ziegler at Choquequirao
Our Field Team
We offer custom departures including special guided, narrated visits to Machu Picchu.
Gary and Edwin organize and lead research expeditions locating lost Inca sites annually.
We are happy to help with your Peru travel plans as well. Put your own group, family or friends together or join one of our going trips.
Continue down to view our programs to Machu Picchu and Choquequirao
Call or email us for your needs or questions
719 783 2076
More about Amy and Edwin
AMY FINGER founded Adventure Specialists with Gary after earning degrees in geology and climatology from the University of Colorado in the early 1980s. She has designed and led horse trips in Spain, Argentina, Mexico's Copper Canyon, Peru and Colorado's Sangre de Cristo mountains. Home base is 4000 acre Bear Basin Ranch where she manages our cow/calf operation and remuda of mountain horses. Meanwhile, she directs the business and logistics aspects of Adventure Specialists from the ranch office.
Contact Amy at our Colorado Ranch headquarters
EDWIN DUENAS Is a Quechua speaking Cusco native. Edwin holds a Doctor of Law degree and practiced law before catching the ancient mysteries bug.
Edwin became our expedition Maestre del Campo, expertly organizing porters, camp staff, wranglers and heading up logistical operations. Edwin guides most of our custom programs including his 'much in demand' interpretive talks at Machu Picchu.
He pursues ethnohistory and field research with a passion. Each dry season we launch a new exploration together dedicated to unravelling ancient Andean mysteries with the ongoing Andean Research Project.
Edwin is an accomplished horseman, trainer and back country guide. He manages our stables, horses and office near Cusco.
Contact Edwin at email@example.com
Bear Basin Ranch; our home on the range in Colorado's Sangre de Cristo Mountains
Home on the range
Enjoying the wood stove in our 1880 home, office and headquarters
Our Educational Adventure Programs and Expeditions
The Classic Inca Trail Ride
2019 Full deluxe 9 day trip $3,200. ‘Trek only’ 4 days/3 nights $2000
(more days of riding can be added)
Discounts available for groups, families and more
Private custom dates for as few as two.
Year around - weather permitting
Lodge to Lodge exploration of Inca Trails on Horseback from Cusco to Machu Picchu;
An educational journey on quality horses to key Inca ruins finishing with famous Machu Picchu.
Participants may ride all, hike portions of the route or choose to travel
in our vehicle joining the riders at Lunch, major Inca sites and each night.
Quality Cusco hotel [three nights]. Walking tour of Cusco. Deluxe Sacred Valley horse trip. Comfortable, quality hotels in Sacred Valley [4 nights]. Machu Picchu visit by train with narrated interpretive tour. Archaeology specialist guide and support staff. Skilled wranglers and horse handlers. New, comfortable South American style saddles. Large capacity saddle bags for day items. Private bus/van/car support vehicle for transportation of personal overnight items and for those not riding. Ground transportation from/to Cusco. Airport/hotel transfers, Cusco.
Email us for the detailed itinerary
Choquequirao - Machu Picchu's Sacred Sister Trek;
Hike or Ride as you choose
$1600, 6 days
(Arrange additional days to include Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu)
March-December-custom dates for as few as two
Day 1) We pick you up from your Cusco hotel in our private vehicle to drive 4 hours, with another 2 or so hours looking at ruins, to the small community of Cachora. This is the main central highway with interesting ruins we visit along the way; the ceremonial sites of Quillarumiyoq, and Saywite.
We overnight at the comfortable Casa Salkantay lodge near Cachora
( all meals and select evening libations included of course).
Day 2) Drive to Capilloc Pass. We have our first view of the immense Apurimac drainage far below. This deep canyon and it’s powerful river is one of the great geographic wonders of the Americas. The Apurimac which means “ voice of god or mighty speaker” in Quechua, thunders hundreds of miles through the remotest part of the Andes to eventually, along with a multitude of sister rivers, become the Amazon. We hike a winding trail down some 3000 ft to set camp at a developed campground with toilets and a cold shower beside the river.
We travel by foot or on horseback with accompanying mule pack train (estimated 5-6 hours of hiking/riding and a stop for lunch). The staff sets up a large dining tent with tables and chairs. One or two persons are assigned a four person sleeping tent. Meals are prepared from fresh meats, grains and vegetables. Our seasoned (no pun intended) cooks are well experienced in catering to vegetarian diets for those of that calling. Before the evening meal, we enjoy happy hour with popcorn, assorted hot beverages and for those who imbibe, our famous expedition vodka martini or select Chilean wine.
(disclaimer - having done this hike many times Gary and/or Edwin will likely be riding most of the way on mules).
Day 3 ): Trek up to Choque. After tea and coffee served in bed along with a tub of warm washing water, we breakfast in the large tent then head out around 8:30 or so. We climb another 4500 feet to our objective some 5-6 hours with a stop for lunch.
By late afternoon we have reached a spectacular camp site among massive stone constructions and jungle tangle near the imposing walls of the ancient ceremonial city.
Day 4) CHOQUEQUIRAO-Nestled at 10,000 ft., on a prominent ridge overlooking the profound Apurimac chasm with backdrop of ice sculptured mountain cathedrals, this mythical Lost city rivals Machu Picchu in beauty and importance. We are learning more every year of this major, seldom visited, Inca site. Following a leisurely breakfast, the day is dedicated to an extensive exploration of the main groups led by Gary and/or Edwin Duenas. They explain in detail what they have learned form several decades of field work there. Discussion continues over camp happy hour as the Andean sun settles behind sacred Apu Ampato to the west. (all meals included)
Day 5) We have ample have time to revisit the main groups before departing to then descend the winding steep trail some 4500 feet back down to the Apurimac River. Crossing over the newly rebuilt bridge above the rapids, we again overnight at the riverside camp (all meals included).
Day 6) Completing the trek out to the road head, sadly bidding mules, cooks and wranglers goodbye. we toast our staff and the successful completion of a magical journey back through time. We bus back to Cusco, with luck, arriving by early evening. (Breakfast and lunch included.)
Inclusions: From Cusco and return: near gourmet meals, deluxe camp, The best local support staff, transportation, park fees, saddle animals and pack mules - - a night at the comfortable Casa Salkantay lodge at Cachora.
The Andean Research Expeditions
May 5, 2019: A return EXPEDITION to the Inca complex at Palcay
by foot, mule and horseback
Update - we are back! Report to follow soon. The next expedition is in planning for September
As a continuation of the ongoing study of Inca period sites that may be associated with Machu Picchu, we are returning to the remote, deep canyon site, Palcay which we studied and surveyed in 2006 and 2017
Our expedition in april last year located a probable ceremonial site that was
unknown and undocumented. Our goal is to identify what this site may have been and
how it may fit with distant Machu Picchu.
We travel with the usual amenities; good meals prepared by our camp chef, Pancho, ample happy hour supplies, dining tent and comfortable camp set up.
We will be able to ride our longtime wrangler's excellent saddle horses, bringing all gear along with pack mules. Of course some steep hiking will be needed to approach the site locations or it would not be an expedition.
Date: May 5, 2019
PLEASE CONTACT GARY ZIEGLER FOR DETAILS.
Read the report of the 2006 expedition:
the 2018 Expedition report published in the Peruvain Times:
Bibliography and Reports
Valuable source reading for our programs and understanding of the Inca
Brian S. Bauer, Javier Fonseca Santa Cruz, and Miriam Aráoz Silva (2015). VIilcabamba and
the Archaeology of Inca Resistance. University of New Mexico Pres
Brian S. Bauer, Madeleine Halac-Higashimori, and Gabriel E. Cantarutti 2016.
Voices from Vilcabamba. University of Colorado Press.
Bingham, Hiram, (1952) Lost City of the Incas. Phoenix
House, London (revised edition).
D'Altroy, Terence. (2003). The Incas. Blackwell Publishing, London.
Hemming, John. (1970). The Conquest of the Incas. Revised edition,1993. Pan-Macmillan,
Hyslop, John. (1984). The Inca Road System. Academic Press, New York.
Lee, Vincent, (2000). Forgotten Vilcabamba: Final Stronghold of the Inca. Empire Publishing.
MacQuarrie, Kim. (2007). The Last Days of the Inca. Simon & Schuster, NY.
Reinhard, Johan. 1990. ‘Informe sobre una sección del camino Inca y las ruinas en la cresta
que baja del nevado de Tucarhuay entre los ríos Aobamba y Santa Teresa’ Revista
Sacsahuaman, no. 3:163-187, Cusco.
(2007). Machu Picchu: Exploring an Ancient Sacred Center, 4th edn. Cotsen Institute of
Archaeology, Los Angeles.
Savoy, Gene. (1970). Antisuyo, The Search for the Lost Cities of the Amazon. Simon and
Titu Cusi Yupanqui. (1570). Relacion de la Conquista del Peru y Hechos del Inca Manco II.
Thomson, Hugh. (2001) The White Rock’ An exploration of the Inca Heartland, Orion, London
(2006). A Sacred Landscape - The search for Ancient Peru, Overlook, N
Ziegler, Gary. (1999). Vilcabamba, Report from the Field. South American Explorer. vol57.
(2015) Beyond Machu Picchu Choquequirao; Lost City in the Clouds http://www.peruviantimes.com/06/beyond-machu-picchu-choquequirao-lost-city-in-the-clouds/23519/
(2015), Choquequirao Field Report, Peruvian Times. Lima
New Inca Ruins Charted Near Choquequirao (2016) http://www.peruviantimes.com/03/new-inca-ruins-charted-near-choquequirao/26814/
The Road to Ruins (2016) http://www.peruviantimes.com/05/the-road-to-ruins/27694/
Ziegler, Gary and J Mckim Malville (2013). Machu Picchu’s Sacred Sister;
Choquequirao and Llactapata; Astronomy, Symbolism,and Sacred Geography in the Inca Heartland Johnson Publishing, Boulder.