Josh's South American adventure travel blog

Locals say this naturally created portrait is of the Inca king.

Much larger than any photo can depict, this pre-Inca ruin is sculpted...

Highly regarded religious beings; two puma carvings guarded the entry to the...

This profile gives a good idea of the height of the rock...

The condor is the Bolivian national bird, and for good reason. Its...

A few restored walls below the fort show the design and plan.

"All religion has relation to life and the life of religion is to do good," Swedenbourg.

I arrived in Samaipata because it is one of several gateways to the Amboro National Park, a jungle reserve in the middle of Bolivia and the southernmost extent of the Amazon River basin. Due to weather (and a certain cost factor), I did not go into the jungle from Samaipata, but I did spend a day hiking to and exploring a pre-Inca ruin.

Three other backpackers and I hired a guide to take us to the fort. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and the highlight was seeing a condor glide by not more than 50 feet away. From that distance, I got a good idea of what a six-foot wingspan looks like. I spent more time watching the bird and less taking photos, but you can see the one I did shoot. PHOTO of condor

As we rounded the bend on our way up the mountain, we came across a natural yet unnatural rock sculpture. Our guide swore wind and water erosion created the face in the rock, and the locals say it is the face of the Inca king. PHOTO of rock sculpture

Near the top of the mountain, the visitor center had your typical array of maps, photos of the site and some artisans selling reproductions of Inca ceramics. A trail wound around a tree-covered hill and we climbed up onto an overlook on stilts, and I don't think any of us were prepared for our first view of the fort. PHOTO of El Fuerte

El Fuerte is a massive rock set atop a naturally defended hill. The pre-Inca people who made it carved flat spaces for buildings, steps, water channels and artistic decorations into the rock. < B>PHOTO of puma carving Buildings were then erected on top of the rock. Uses for most parts of the site are still speculation, but it is accepted that this was a religious site. Residential and storage buildings surrounded the citadel, and a few restored walls show the basic design and plan. PHOTO of restored walls

Our guide, who worked for the museum that took care of and at times, studied the fort, was an amazing source of information. Yet again, I was glad we made the effort to hire him.

PHOTO of fort profile

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