Day 4: Chaski Challenge

After a morning of hiking to Pinkuylluna, we began the Chaski Challenge. The Chaski were the messengers in the Incan empire. They were highly fit and agile. Through a relay system they carried messages and gifts throughout the empire – they say the Sapa Inca (“emperor”) could get fresh fish from the ocean near Lima to the capital in Cuzco in under 24 hours. Google Maps says that driving that same distance today would take over 20 hours!

To honor that history of the Chaski, practice team-building skills, and get comfortable navigating by themselves around this small town, we did a scavenger hunt in Ollantaytambo.

Three teams of 2 students were tasked with completing six tasks, assisted by local residents:

  1. Rimac Wasi (Interview) – flexing their Spanish muscles, they interviewed a local resident about their lives, their favorite Peruvian foods, their community and what advice would you give someone visiting Peru. Ethan and Bailey interviewed some of the town’s sanitation workers, Keki and Bao interviewed some local kids.
  2. Pinkuylluna (Photo) – revisit the start of our morning hike and take a photo at one of the ruins. Some students, in Pingry style, worked for extra credit by hiking up some of the trail again!
  3. Mikhuna (Laundry) –washed socks by hand.
  4. Matachola (Inka Game) – played Inca tetherball game at Full Moon Lodge
  5. Tusy Wasi (Dancing) – danced at Adela’s house
  6. Cuy y Maiz – corralling cuy (guinea pigs) by enticing them with delicious lemon grass and grinding corn into flour.

The stations were set up throughout the town of Ollantaytambo. Each team started in the primary school soccer field and then began their Chaski Challenge – Bao and Keki, Bailey and Ethan, and Miro and Vicky.

They started their adventure at different stations completing all their tasks within the two-hour time limit. As you can see from the photos and videos, the challenge provided an opportunity for the teams to problem solve, collaborate with their teammate, and enjoy the various sights of Ollantaytambo. Our very competitive students were additionally motivated by the lure of ice cream for the winners.

There were some notable performances from Bao and Keki’s record of 43 cuys to the 20 minute dance of Ethan and Bailey and to Miro and Vicky’s dominance of Matachola, good fun and laughs were had by all. The winning team is still under judicial review.

Note: these pictures are very low-res in order to allow them to be uploaded over spotty internet – we’ll share the full resolution images after the program.

Map for the challenge. Students definitely need more practice using a paper map to navigate in the age of Google Maps!
Pre-game: studying the maps.
Starting the challenge with a silly back-to-back and hold-the-balloon game.
Miro and Vicky washing socks.
Bailey and Ethan taught how to wash socks by hand by Sara.


Prickly pear cactus growing above one of the building walls in the old Incan section of town.
Host sister Angie with Cafe and Leche, 15-day-old kittens.
Ethan and Bailey dancing with Adela’s nieces and nephews.


Bailey and Ethan wrangling guinea pigs. We might eat some of these tomorrow.
Mmmmmm, delicious cuy.
Ethan and Bailey strolling the ancient Incan streets.





3 thoughts on “Day 4: Chaski Challenge

  1. OMG! This is awesome. Congratulations to all of you for participating and accepting the challenge. Grow and Learn! Miss you guys but love seeing the photos.

  2. What a fun day! Great to see the team active and in high spirits! The guinea pigs are really cute. Curious: who are the winners?

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