Chapter 9

Ausangate, the Sacred Mountain: 2012 

When people think of the Inca Empire, the citadel of Machu Picchu usually comes to mind. I was less interested in deserted buildings from a bygone era and more interested in the descendants of the Inca, those still living high up in the backcountry of the Peruvian Andes. After researching their history, religion and lifestyle, I visit Cuzco to acclimatize, then explore the high altitudes by myself, hoping to experience their culture firsthand. While there, I am rewarded with a unique encounter with a local shaman and participate in a ceremony not often witnessed by outsiders.