Polish scientists embark on 10-day expedition in Peru’s Colca Canyon

A year after a multinational team of scientists discovered what they believed to be pre-Inca tombs in a never-before-explored area of Peru’s Colca Canyon, eight Polish explorers started off Tuesday to conduct a geological and archeological survey of the remaining 10 kilometers of the canyon’s unexplored territory.

“Last year we were able to cover eight kilometers, and there are 10 kilometers of unexplored terrain remaining,” said expedition leader Jerzy Yurek Majcherczyk in comments to daily Peru21.

During the 2008 edition of the Colca Condor Expedition, Majcherczyk and his team collected samples from rock formations and rivers to determine how the Colca Canyon, which is twice as deep as the United States’ Grand Canyon and habitat to great Andean condors, was initially formed.

As they progressed in the unexplored area, the scientists and explorers stumbled upon bones and some well-preserved skin and hair remains, believed to belong to pre-Inca nobility, and a complex of ruins the scientists have named the Sombreroyoc-Pinchollo Archaeological Complex.

This year, in addition to a geological and archeological survey of the unexplored terrain, the scientists will photograph and document the amount of trash and waste that has accumulated along the Colca Canyon.

According to Majcherczyk, who is campaigning to have the canyon declared a national park, waste is threatening the area, which he believes has the potential of becoming Peru’s top tourist attraction, surpassing Machu Picchu.

The canyon’s name, Colca, refers to small holes used in Inca and pre-Inca times as tombs for nobility and to store potatoes and other Andean crops for food.

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