Archives for May, 2009
Hi everybody, this is Rachel! Today was our first full day in the Amazon rain forest. Our group was split up into 6 different groups to do different activities at different times. Our morning team activity was to go to Oxbow Lake to search for giant river otters, which can be 2-3 meters (6-9 feet) long. To get to the lake, we went by boat ride on the river and then hiked on a very muddy trail for about 20 minutes. We never saw any otters but we saw bats clinging to the side of a tree, several birds, and we fished for piranhas! Grace K. and Dewey both caught piranhas. It was very cool. We did put them back in the lake after we looked at them.
So far this expedition has been unbelievable to say the absolute least. I’ve longed to travel to and explore Peru since I was five years old and National Geographic has given me the opportunity to fulfill that dream. This country is drop-dead gorgeous and amazing. It has been so breathtaking to explore Lima, Sacred Valley, Cusco, and now Machu Picchu.
There are no words to describe the feeling of walking on the same stones the Incas trekked nearly 600 years in the past. Now I see why the “Lost City of the Incas” was recently dubbed one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I still can’t believe we just saw this breathtaking “city in the clouds.”
This morning, after packing our bags, shooting group photos, and checking out of the Inkaterra Hotel, we all grabbed our seats on a bus, slipped on our motion sickness bands or took motion sickness medicine and anxiously peered out the windows as we zig-zagged on 14 switchbacks up the mountain.
Once we finally reached the peak of the mountain, we gathered at the gate of the path that leads to Machu Picchu and all sprayed on the thick layer of sunscreen and foul smelling bug spray.
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“Senorita, senorita. Mira, mira! Compra?” ” Little girl, little girl, look, look! You buy?” This is what I hear on the streets when we are walking. There are many street vendors on every corner. Mostly, they are selling things like Peruvian hats, shawls, blankets, and scarves. The men tend to sell paintings, carved gourds, and tour books. I even saw a couple of them selling memory cards for your camera!
When we came out of the airport, the vendors approached us rather quickly, because they knew that they would only get a limited amount of time to make a sale. They followed me to the bus, and even start tapping on the window to get my attention! At other markets, you could barter for the goods that you wanted for a lower price. When ever I bought something from a vendor, I always bartered. It was kind of like a game. I would start to low, they would start to high, and we would always end up somewhere in the middle. I wanted a necklace from a vendor on one of the stops before we went to Machu Picchu. She wanted five sols for it. That is the currency here in Peru. I thought that maybe I could get for lower, so I asked for about two sols. The lady agreed after a very short time, and I ended up subtracting three sols from the original price.
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Stars of the new movie Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian told our young reporter, Calla Rosenfeld, some of their favorite green tips. Watch the video!
What is your favorite way to use less energy and help the environment?
Allillanchu! That is Quechua for hello. Quechua is the native language of the Incas before the Spaniards arrived in 1532.
We had a nice breakfast at the Libertador Hotel. I had watermelon with sugar and prickly pear cactus root. It tasted like the white part of watermelon, but it was red and had tons of seeds. We have been trying many different foods that you don’t eat in America. For example, they served alpaca, llama, and guinea pig. (I didn’t try the guinea pig because they are pets in America.) Another thing that was quite interesting was that Lijah let me try a little calamari (or octopus). It tasted like fish and was purple with tentacles.
After breakfast we boarded the bus and we drove through the Andes making a few stops along the way. We took pictures and stopped at the marketplace in a small village. The market was filled with people in colorful costumes who were there for a weaving contest. I bought a woven camera strap and an alpaca breeder mask. The mask is part of a costume that people wear in the dance to get the season off to a good start. Most of the masks are white with a cross and a stripe on the forehead. But there are many different types of these masks. They have cool colors, horns, beards, and faces. If you look at one from far away they look like a ski mask or socks with many colors.
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Peru has been extremely incredible! On the sixth day in Peru I still have not done anything that I did not love. We’ve seen quite an assortment of animals since we came to Peru.
Being in Cusco, we had a day of travels to get to our destination, Machu Picchu. On a photo stop, we were confronted by two woolly alpacas. They had the softest light poofy fur, though it was very matted. The funny thing about them was they couldn’t stop sniffing your face. They would shove their noses right into yours, and if you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on how your look at it!), they would lick you. I’d never seen anything like it!
Australia’s Tasmanian devils are dying off due to a disease called DFTD, or devil facial tumor disease. This contagious cancer is spread when Tasmanian devils bite each other.
In the 13 years since the disease was first discovered, the population of Tasmanian devils has dropped about 70%. Earlier this month, the Australian government officially changed the status of the Tasmanian devil from “vulnerable” to “endangered.”
Get the facts on Tasmanian devils in the Creature Feature.
Watch a video about Tasmanian devils and the contagious cancer on National Geographic Kids.
Read how kids helped Tasmanian devils at a wildlife conservation center.
Learn more about this story from The Guardian.
Hola everybody, this is Rachel Day blogging from Peru! Today we visited the Inca Ruins of the capital city of Cusco. It was at a very high altitude and we had to hike up because our buses were on strike that day, so most of the day included walking. Even though it was hard, it was kind of nice for me to be out of the buses!
The city ruins were very interesting and I learned a lot of facts, but I am not going to turn this blog into a history lesson! After the tour of the city and many new things learned, the group headed toward the rock slides. These are actual rocks shaped like a series of slides that you can sit on and go down. The first time, before you knew how to brace yourself, it was a little painful. Once you learned what was coming up you could prepare your position and then it was fun. While we were sliding we met some local kids and watched a magic show. It was very neat and unexpected.
Hi, this is Pete. Today, the fifth day of our journey, we took a hike to the ancient Incan ruins of Sacsayhuaman. The hike was much harder than most because of the lack of oxygen in the air. But the hike was worth it when we reached the top and saw the breathtaking structure. It was a myriad of boulders upon boulders. The largest ones were at the bottom to create a stronger support. The largest of the boulders were around 18 tall. It was a wonder that men could transport such mammoth rocks.
Even more impressive was the way in which these boulders were carved.
Each boulder was carved expertly to fit perfectly with adjacent
boulders. Every wall looked like a jigsaw puzzle, without any spaces
between pieces. It is amazing that such perfection could be created
over 600 years ago. We later learned that the area of Sacsayhuaman was
called Puma City and was made to look like a Puma. Every structure was
made to look like a specific part of the Puma.
The Incan civilization was so powerful and advanced that their history is almost addicting. I cannot wait to go to the Citadel of Machu Picchu to see more wonders of the Incan Empire.
The winners of the 2009 Hands-On Explorer Challenge contest flew to Peru on May 22 to begin exploring the wildlife, culture, and history of this South American country! The talented 15 kids and two teachers have already visited Lima, where expedition team member Lijah was fascinated by the face-shaped pottery at the Rafael Larco Herrera Archeological Museum.
Tomorrow they’re off to Machu Picchu. Follow their adventures in the Hands-On Explorer Trip Blog!
Check out their blog entries on the Hands-On Explorer Trip Blog.
Read excerpts from the winners’ essays on National Geographic Kids.
Hi, it’s Elliot. Today we participated in the “Search of the Treasure” game, which took place high up in the Andes at an elevation of about 13,000 feet. We were divided into four groups for the game.
We were greeted by people wearing traditional and ceremonial clothes. Some people were wearing clothes representing the devil and a man was dressed as an Inca King. He chanted in Quechua, the traditional language, and then we started the first challenge, hair braiding. One girl in each group sat down, and with the help of a few locals, we braided as many braids as we could in five minutes. It was really hard to do and I could only do two braids out of our group’s 29. The whole time we were chanting to try and get more points.
Hi , this is Ian!!! Today we visited the Pisaq market and learned about the Amazon rainforest and the species that live in it. At the market people would walk right up to you and offer you anything! It was so weird!!! I was offered anything from weavings to pictures of me walking out of the airport!!! During this visit I learned that no prices are set and never pay full price on anything. I was able to get an old coin for 3 soles instead of 5 and got everything for much less than was offered. I also learned that if you do pay the full price for anything it is almost considered an insult. Not like a mall anywhere in the U.S.A.
I also learned about the jaguar, caiman, and freshwater dolphin from Boyd Matson, an NGS explorer and host of Wild Chronicles. They all are endangered due to over hunting, supposed protection of farmland animals, and bad fishing techniques. I hope that people can learn about all these problems so they can change them and prevent any problems involving these amazing species.
So far this trip has taught me a lot about everything in Peru. I hope you can follow this blog and I will write again when we’re in the rainforest. (We can’t post until we leave the rainforest because the lodge has no electricity.) See you soon everyone!!!
Hi, my name is Becca! We have arrived at beautiful Cusco, nestled in the Andes mountains. On the flight from Lima, early in the morning, we passed over the mountains and munched on crackers, very excited to land. When we got there, we got on a bus and drove to a welcome party, complete with marshmallows, advice, and coca tea. I liked the coca tea a little, and it really helped with the altitude sickness. I took some photos of the nearby fountain and pretty flowers.
Afterwards, we got back on the bus and started driving up the mountains. We drove in a zig-zag line, so that the sudden change in altitude wouldn’t bother us much. Along the way, we saw small villages and waved to workers and kids going to school. They have to walk several miles each way to get to school every day! I could never do that. Our guides, Luis and Edgar, told us about the buildings in the villages: the straw and mud bricks that dry in the sun, the crosses in between miniature bull statues on the tops of the roofs, the formerly Spanish houses that have the coats of arms above the doors…. We learned a lot.
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Hi! I’m Cady. Cusco is amazing! Yesterday afternoon, we saw some of the marvelous creations of the Inca. They built terraces on the mountain side to experiment on how plants grew in different humidity. The terraces were circular and they had steps going up the side. The Inca brought stones from the river to build the terraces, which have lots of layers. A man that the Inca called a priest had a house on the terraces where he and others could take care of the plants. When you stood on the edge and looked down to take a picture, you could see the amazing structures that the Inca built long ago. If you looked hard enough, you could almost see the Incas working. A research group had just finished restoring it and looking for clues to how the Inca lived and farmed. They used aqueducts to irrigate the terraces. Although they were also used for farming, the terraces were also a temple, a place to worship the gods. Just looking at the terraces, you could tell how magnificent the Inca were.
Hi this is Dewey!
Today, after breakfast we had a meeting on our itinerary for the next week. We also had a slideshow from Bruce and Amy about their job as photographers and different techniques they can give us to become better at photography! After that, we jumped onto our tour bus and headed to the Mamacona Country House, which has Peruvian horses.
Once we got there (after a 40 minute bus ride) we walked down a dirt rode and entered the gates to the horse ranch. Instantly a Peruvian folk band started playing for us and we spotted the most BEAUTIFUL horses ever. The host (owner of the ranch) directed us to a fancy backyard with a row of seats and seated us to watch a horse show and Peruvian dances!! The show was wonderful, we got to see some men direct the horses in a neat show with the horses practically jumping in the air!! As the horses and their riders showed off their moves some Peruvian dancers showed us some very difficult looking dances, they also wore very pretty dresses and outfits!
Hi, this is Nellie!
Today, my dad and I went for a walk around our hotel. I saw this boy and I probably went a little goggle-eyed. Isn’t he adorable? He was holding hands with his father, and I just HAD to take a picture. He looked quite confused actually. He has such cute, little, chubby cheeks!
Lima is really interesting. They have public restrooms in the middle of the sidewalk…
Hey, It’s Grace T from Pennsylvania. My exciting expedition to Peru started out at 3: 30 am, at which point I started getting ready to leave for JFK airport. Driving to the airport we passed the New York Times building, the Hudson River Gap and crossed the George Washington Bridge into New York, before I knew it we were at the airport. It was now 7:30. At the airport there were many different languages spoken, even the airport workers were speaking Spanish. Once we had gone through the airport lines and gotten all our baggage checked, we met up with some of the National Geographic staff in the waiting lobby. We were surprised when we were boarding the plane that the airline was taking precautions against the swine flu. They passed out dust masks that we had to wear the whole flight into Ecuador; where we would take another flight to Lima.
Hola! This is Laura Beth, here to write about our long journey to Lima, Peru! My trip started at 5:30 on Saturday morning, when my mom and I left for the Sioux Falls airport. Two uneventful flights later we arrived at the Los Angeles airport, where we met up with my cousin, Jeanne, (who came with me as a guardian, since my mom is a teacher winner,) and Nellie, Elliot, and Wyatt, and their parents. Once we had all gotten to know each other a little, we boarded the plane to begin our eight-hour flight to Peru! The flight, however, didn’t seem like it was eight hours. We each had a TV screen on the back of the seat in front of us, and we could watch movies, TV shows, listen to music, or play games. The flight attendants gave us meals and beverages, along with pillows and blankets. They all spoke Spanish, so it was very interesting to try and understand what they were saying! I was very surprised how easily we could communicate by pointing and smiling, along with using simple English and Spanish phrases.
We arrived in Lima at about eleven o’ clock. We grabbed our luggage and some even experimented with the vending machine, using different currency. By one in the morning we were on a bus to our hotel!
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Hi, it’s Lijah. We have arrived in Lima and to my surprise I am actually not that tired. I usually cannot sleep on planes but this time I was sound asleep on both plane rides. We arrived at the Peruvian airport and we noticed everyone had medical masks on. We asked around and supposedly they were very big on keeping swine flu out. This was kind of scary to know that it was a possibility. We went to get our luggage; we got ours just fine, but Dewey and Tim were not having much luck. Finally after a while it came through. Then Dewey and Tim also got the random security check. They were not having much luck in the Peruvian airport!
From the airport we were bused to our hotels. The night life of Peru was amazing. There were a lot of casinos and bright tourist lights that lit the city. We also saw many wild dogs that roamed the parks and alleys. There were these two specific dogs that were running in circles around a big park statue. They were barking and rolling around. It was quite humorous!
Our Guinness World Record attempt to collect the most clothing for recycling continues. Now that we received Ben Stiller’s jeans and jeans from kids all over the U.S., we have a mountain-size pile of jeans accumulating here at National Geographic. Our latest count is….14,634!
You can still participate! We have one month left to collect denim that will be recycled into insulation through the COTTON. FROM BLUE TO GREEN.® program.
Get all the details on how you can participate and see a video of the recycling program.
BOOK NAME: Feathers
AUTHOR: Jaqueline Woodson
“Hope is the thing with feathers” was Frannie’s favorite poem. Frannie is a twelve-year-old girl who lives during the time of segregation. She was born in an African-American family and has a brother who is deaf. At school she is bullied by two boys named RayRay and Trevor, and there’s some new kid from the white side of town moves into the town and now goes to their school. To make matters worse Frannie’s mom has been acting a little weird when she finds out that she’s pregnant. The story is all about how Frannie struggles through tough times in and out of her private life.
I would give this book 3 out of 5. It was pretty hard understanding at parts but by the end it got easier. It’s kind of an interesting topic in a sort of way that it’s not the usual thing that you see sometimes in books. It is definitely not the kind of book that has action in every chapter, but it’s more about what’s going on around the characters. I was glad to see that it was a short read just because I needed to take a break from those heavier books.
Post in the comments if you have ever felt strange at a new school or felt left out and can relate to Frannie.
The 2009 Hands-On Explorer Team leaves for Peru in a couple of days. We’ve gotten our vaccinations and itineraries (and passports, too!). We’re busy packing, and getting to know each other by e-mail. Soon we’ll say hello to our fellow explorers in person!
Each member of the team received a cool book about the Inca and a journal. Here’s a picture.
We’re also practicing with our new cameras. On Friday we’ll board our planes, and then it’s off to our incredible adventure in Peru. We’ll be really busy exploring new places, including some spots that may not have Internet access, so we may not be able to post a blog entry every single day. But don’t worry–there WILL be an entry for every day we’re on the trip.
So watch this site, check back often, and live the adventure with us!
Eric Yang, a 7th grader from Texas, won the 21st National Geographic Bee today. Eric received a $25,000 college scholarship and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. He’ll also get a trip to the Galapagos Islands!
The second place winner was Arjun Kandaswamy, and the third place winner was Shantan Krovvidi.
Watch Eric answer the final question!
Watch last year’s final question on National Geographic Kids.
Do you have what it takes to be a bee contestant? Quiz Your Noodle and find out.
Learn more about the National Geographic Bee.
The 45 National Geographic Bee finalists are gathering at the National Geographic Society headquarters today for the final competition. All of the finalists were champions in their state geography bees. The ten who come out on top after today’s questions will progress to the final round of the Bee tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s first prize winner will receive a $25,000 college scholarship and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. The second prize winner will receive a $15,000 college scholarship, and the third prize winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship.
Come back tomorrow to find out who won!
Do you have what it takes to be a bee contestant? Quiz Your Noodle and find out.
Learn more about the National Geographic Bee.
Last week at the premiere of the movie “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” star Ben Stiller donated his jeans to NG KIDS to help set a Guinness World Record. All the denim collected will be donated to COTTON. FROM BLUE TO GREEN.®, which recycles jeans into insulation for homes that have been damaged in storms.
Check out Ben’s green tips and watch him hand over his jeans to our kid reporter, Calla. Then find out how you can participate!