Bolivian Andes to the Amazon rainforest
Wednesday, 13 December 2006
2/F Olympic House, So Kong Po, Causeway Bay
Drinks Reception 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm The Royal Geographical Society Hong Kong is delighted to welcome John Benson to lecture to the Society. Three normally besuited deskbound friends, John Benson, Ian Gardener and Jeremy Trevis, set out to follow a little travelled preInca trail across the Apolobamba range of the Bolivian High Andes, down through the dense cloudforest of the Madidi National Park to the edge of the Amazon rainforest. The trail, built 2,500 years ago by the ancient Tiwanaku civilisation, crosses some of South America's most inhospitable and inaccessible mountains and jungle. The Bolivian Andes have close to a thousand peaks over 17,000ft (5,000m) and these mountains, which provide the headwaters of the Amazon, fall almost to sea level through cloud forests, dry forests, savannahs and subtropical/tropical rainforests. John with his group fought over these mountains then these other inhospitable terrains. Bolivia is a country of extremes: it has the world's highest capital (at 12,000 ft La Paz is at almost the same height as the top of Mont Blanc), the world's highest navigable lake, it has mountain ranges to rival the Himalayas and thick Equatorial jungles, it has some 50 languages, has seen 188 coups, has been the world's biggest supplier of both Silver and Tin and has one of (if not the) richest ecosystems on the planet. This landlocked country has several major ecosystems and is home to thousands of animal/bird species. The north east corner of Bolivia, the location of the trail, is one of the most topographically varied and biodiverse places on earth. This illustrated lecture tells the story of the journey the cold, heat, humidity, llamas, highaltitude fooll, bugs, nuns, tangerine wine discusses the local culture and gives an overview of one of the most ecologically biodiverse while spectacularly beautiful places in the world. The lecture is finely illustrated by photos while being given with humour. John Benson is an internet publisher. He used to aspire to the Louis Vuitton style of travel until reality introduced him to exploring. Whilst living in Hong Kong during the 1990s, he travelled extensively throughout Asia including weeks in the jungles of Sumatra and treks to remote parts of Irian Jaya. The trip to Bolivia was his first to South America. He now lives in London. Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this lecture, which is HK$50 for Members, HK$100 for Members' guests and HK$150 for others.