Expedición ANP 2016

Sep 30 2016
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Published: September 30, 2016 by PICSPORADIC 

Expedición ANP

The Servicio Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas por el Estado – (SERNANP) is an environmental agency who’s mission is to ensure the conservation of the Peru’s natural protected areas and biological diversity by maintaining a low environmental impact.

SERNANP administers the Protected Natural Areas in Peru with the aim of sustainability managing biological diversity and ecosystems in a way that provides benefit to society.

In 2015 me and two Peruvian amigos approached SERNANP with the goal of promoting ecotourism within the country’s national parks. We proposed a media trip / expedition that would showcase the Natural Protected areas of Peru as explored by bike.

Bicycle travel is a unique form of tourism that has a low impact on the environment and is the perfect way to experience the outdoors. Through our expedition we would promote sustainable travel and publicize the efforts that Peru was making towards environmental conservation.

Principles of the Expedition

  • Capture the beauty of Peru’s Natural Protected Areas with photos and video as experienced by cycling.

  • Share a cross-cultural cycle touring experience with members from United States and Peru.

  • Demonstrate the use of bicycles and for tourism – generating new opportunists for the local economy.

  • Promote the country of Peru as a destination for mountain biking and adventure cycling.


The Obejective:

The Huascarán Circut

The Huascarán Circuit is considered to be one of the most beautiful and demanding bicycle touring routes in the world. The 300km loop circumnavigates the highest point in Peru:  Nevado Huascarán (6,768m / 22,205 ft) with an average elevation of around 3,000m and crosses 3 mountain passes over 4,000 mts.


Meet the Team:

Manuel Aristondo

Owner, Perubybike

Manuel is a lifelong lover of adventure sports. He a degree in Tourism Management from the University of San Martin de Porres in Lima, Peru. He has run 12 marathons and trekked in many of the country’s national parks.

Manuel is enthusiastic about bicycle travel as a means to generate tourism and develop new opportunities for the economy of the local people.

Eddy Jhon Ordoño

Guide, Photographer

A native to the Lake Titicaca Region of Peru Eddy has a deep passion for mountain biking and tourism in Peru.   He has traveled extensively throughout the country and visited many of the natural protected areas. He enjoys photography and sharing his country with the world.

Brendan James

Photographer, Traveler, Athlete

Brendan first traveled to Peru in 2005 at the age of 20 on a motorcycle expedition that began in Ecuador. He has since visited the country numerous times for climbing expeditions in the Cordillera Blanca. He is interested in forming new relationships between the parks service, mountain biking, and environmental conservation within the country.



San Antonio Palopó

Aug 20 2016
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San Antonio Palopó

 Perched on the edge of Lake Atitlán is a town without time.

San Antonio Palopó

At the end of the precarious one-lane paved road from Panajachel is the small town of San Antonio Palopo. Isolated in geography and tradition, its largely indigenous population work the land and in the waters of Lake Atitlán.

The first time I saw San Antonio I was awestruck. The town is a contiguous structure of concrete block and wire – simple homesteads and livestock- intertwined by tight alleyways and rusty tin roofs climbing the mountainside above the lake. The locals carry provisions on their heads up steep steps to cliff dwellings which seamlessly integrate with terraced fields of onions, the local crop.

An incredible contrast of beauty and poverty

Through my work with Mayan Families my understanding of San Antonio changed greatly. It wasn’t until I got up close with the people there that I realized just how marginalized the population had become. During hurricane sandy in 2012 the town lost its only school in a landslide – since then there has been no aid on the behalf of the government to rebuild the school.  The school was necessary for many reasons. The people of San Antonio speak Kaqchikel  and without lessons in the spanish language an entire generation is growing up without the tools to communicate and work outside of their community.

Rooted in tradition – Farmers work the steep hillsides above Lake Atitlán.


Acres of onions

Everyone San Antonio grows up working the fields.  The terraced plots of land stretch upwards from the town joined together by irrigation ditches and small plastic pipe; the lifeline of water in this dry region of guatemala. The main crop of the town is cebolla or onions.

The onions are sold clean which involves a tremendous amount of work and water. Most children begin work when they can walk, and can be seen working alongside the elders in the fields. There is very little work in San Antonio, everyone grows onions.  It’s their only crop.

Many of the Mayan farmers are suffering from the low prices they receive for their crops.  Once a month the large trucks come to town to pick up the harvest.  The farmers heave their heavy sacks of produce on their heads walk the steep paths down from the fields to market. At the truck there is an on-site bidding war and once the truck is full the driver leaves. The cheap produce bound for the capital of Guatemala city and eventually the United States of America.

Gregorio age 67 has been farming the terraced onion pataches above San Antonio his entire life. The man invited me to take his photo after discovering me on his land. His farm shack has the best veiw of the lake and the town below.


I met Gregorio on my photo hunt mountains above the town. His plot sits at a cliff overlooking all of San Antonio and as I set up my tripod he came up to me. Gregorio seventy years old and walks up to the terraces each day where he grows onions and a bit of Marijuana. He spoke just enough Spanish to tell me a bit of history about the lake, his family and the town where he has been living his entire life.

Two months ago his eldest left for the United States, crossing the border illegally in a dangerous 40 day journey. His son now lives in new York where he works in a kitchen. He will most likely never return to his beautiful homeland in Guatemala. The old man and I sat for about an hour, both of us chatting in our broken spanish and taking in the amazing view of Lake Atitlán.

The construction continues perpetually. Each man working tirelessly to weave his piece of the giant puzzle of San Antonio with cement and block.

Houses on top of houses on the steep hillside.

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Aug 10 2016
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Exploring Guatemala’s Highest Volcanoes by Fatbike

as featured in Mountain Flyer Magazine : Issue 49

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Project Sponsors:

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Published: August 10, 2016 by PICSPORADIC 

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[vol·knar·key] n. :: confusion and disorder induced by an unending quest for volcanoes in the vibrant and chaotic country of Guatemala.

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“You think we could ride those?” I muse to my partner in crime, fellow gringo expat and professional photographer Brendan James. We rotate our grip on the handrails of the chicken bus as a volcano blurs past. The risk of death by fire on the mountain seems minimal compared to the insane antics of this driver who is talking on his cell phone and gesticulating wildly as he pinwheels around 90 degree turns, the trademark of the local transportation infrastructure. Brendan and I were returning from a successful stage race in Ecuador, and it seemed like the time was right for another mission.

In that chicken bus, we hatch a plan: We will use fat bikes because the wide tires have the best chance on this terrain, reach the volcanoes with a combination of bikepacking and “public transportation” — including chicken buses and hitchhiking in trucks — climb the volcanoes, camp on the summits, and shred down the ash fields.

We spent the next hours sketching routes on a napkin while anchoring ourselves into the seat with Mayans squished on all sides of us holding bushels of tapestries and produce. This culture is nuts… and we fit right in. We would attempt four volcanoes in three weeks: the biggest and most remote in the country.

It was a crazy, wingnut plan. Negotiating the chaos of the country itself with bike, camping and camera gear and days worth of food and water, attempting to ride these enormous forces of nature under full load… it was going to be complete anarchy. Volcanarchy. We had no idea if this could actually be done. It would be our Guatemalan baptism by fire.

— Liz Sampey, professional endurance athlete


Meet the Team:

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Elizabeth Sampey

Professional Endurance Athlete, Performance Coach, Writer, Speaker

With a background in backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering and nine years of experience as an elite-level cyclist, Liz has found her niche in ultra-endurance mountain bike races, multi-day stage races, and adventure projects that combine travel on bikes, skis, and foot.


In 2015 Liz discovered fat biking, and her world expanded exponentially. Combining her love of adventure biking and ski mountaineering, her focus turned to using fat bikes to access wild places and high peaks in Colorado’s backcountry. Liz shares her experiences and insights into the human side of the athlete’s journey through speaking at events and clinics and writing for her sponsors’ audiences and her own website:

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Brendan James

Athlete, Photographer and Videographer

An accomplished cross-country mountain bike racer and professional photographer, Brendan seeks out adventure and challenge in some of the most remote parts of the world. Brendan combines his creative energy with athletic pursuits and passion for exploration into photography and video that showcases the adventure of travel, place and culture.


In 2014 Brendan rode his motorcycle south from Colorado and landed in Guatemala two months later, where he has been living since. Over the past year, Brendan has been applying skills with an non-profit in Guatemala, Mayan Families, that works with education and support for impoverished children in the villages surrounding Lake Atitlán.

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