Peru was AMAZING!
I arrived at the beginning of March and had a couple of days to acclimate to the altitude of Cusco (~3900m). I enjoyed walking around town and visiting local markets and the Spanish churches and Incan temples.
The city of Cusco was beautiful - you could almost feel the history from the 17th century churches to the 12th century temples/ruins to even the cobbles of the streets!
During the course we spent 3 days in Cusco having lectures on plant ecology, ecosystem ecology, fire ecology... many ecologies... We also got the chance to survey some of the residents of Cusco about their views of climate change.
Then we headed to the Wayqecha Research Station in the Andes.
The station was beautiful - nestled on a mountain side with a view straight down onto the (often cloudy) Amazon. There was an amazing collection of orchids at the location and a number of inquisitive (and hungry) hummingbirds (Photos by Erik Kusch).
We then spent about 10 days collecting plant samples in the Puna grasslands of the Andes.
There were such beautiful views from our field sites that they were quite distracting (when not covered in clouds and not raining/hailing on us).
(Click through the gallery below for some pictures from our adventures on the course. Photos by Brian Enquist)
After our sample collection and processing, the course travelled to Pisac where we presented short summaries of the data and proposed potential research questions that we intend to follow up on. I did not do any heavy data processing (due to lack of time) but my tablet was sufficient to help with the data cleaning and small data processing tasks. We also got a chance to visit the ruins above Pisac which were quite spectacular.
After the course many of the students spent a few days travelling around the area. I took a short trip to Machu Picchu. Then I spent my last couple of days back in Cusco collecting souvenirs and gifts for family and friends.
I then returned to NY to visit family before heading back to Brisbane!
It was a fantastic visit to Peru and a great course! I met a lot of amazing people and had the opportunity to learn some of the plants of Peru and, of course, collect some traits as well!