Ignacio Mamani Huillca
2023

Ignacio Mamani Huillca

Machu Picchu Park Ranger

steward of the Andean Jungle

meet ignacio

For the better part of his life, Ignacio Mamani Huillca has worked to preserve nature in southeastern Peru–as a farmer, explorer, and a park ranger. At Manú National Park, it was his duty to protect the reserve against illegal incursions and to ensure the prosperity of tis indigenous people. At the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu, he has been responsible for maintaining the integrity of the site. Since 1994, he has also participated in numerous archaeological expeditions undertaken by members of The Explorers Club, which have found and documented several previously unknown Inca and pre-Inca sites in remote areas of the Peruvian jungle.

steward of the Andean Jungle
Nominated by: Joe Grabowski FI'18
Class of 2023 Location California, USA
Ignacio posing with an Explorers Club flag
Ignacio posing with an Explorers Club flag

Having been born in the Calca, on the banks of the Urubamba River, nature has always been part of my life—being a child of the ancient land of the Inca. It is here that I have lived, studied, explored, and now work to protect, as a ranger for the great reserve that surrounds the 15th-century Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, a post I have held at the UNESCO site since 2016.

Prior to signing on at Machu Picchu, I worked for more than a decade as a ranger at Manú National Park, a 1.7-million-hectare haven of terrestrial bio diversity, which bridges the tropical Andes and the Amazon Basin in southwestern Peru. Inscribed on UNESCO’s list for its universal value in 1987, the park is home to some 850 species of birds and other rare creatures, such as the giant otter and the giant armadillo, as well as the jaguar. Both positions required not only proficiency in the use of GPS and an ability to map, but also a mastery of the survival skills required for work in dense jungles and other remote areas. In both capacities, I have been responsible not only for protecting these areas against illegal incursions and destructive activities, but also charged with forging bonds with the Indigenous people of the region, help ing them to maintain their culture and way of life as well as providing for their communities and their families.

“I dream that future generations will play by creeks, catch a fish or two, and drink straight from a healthy river.”

- Ignacio Mamani Huillca

Given my jungle survival skills and my fluency in Quechua (Runa Simi), the ancient language of the Inca, which is still spoken today, I have been invited to participate in seven Explorers Club Flag Expeditions since 1994, during which we have identified and mapped a suite of previously unknown archaeological sites. These include the Inca sites of Tambocasa and Llactapata, as well as the ruins of the pre-Inca agricultural center of Miraflores.

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