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ABC's 2006 Amazon and Machu Picchu Ethnobotanical Tour

The American Botanical Council and the ACEER Foundation’s annual Botanical Medicines from the Amazon and Machu Picchu ethnobotanical tour will be held October 2nd through 9th, 2006. The optional extension to Machu Picchu will be an additional four days through October 12th.

An exciting new development this year is the addition of Steven Foster as faculty. Foster is the president of the Steven Foster Group (, a respected author and photographer, and a member of ABC’s Board of Trustees. He will be presenting “History of Herbs in Medicine and Pharmacy” and leading a session with Jim Duke, PhD, on “Herb-Drug Interactions.” Foster and Dr. Duke will do two presentations in the ACEER’s Jardín de Plantas Medicinales and will be accompanied by head gardener Justo Rengifo. Topics will include “Medicinal Plants of the Amazon” and “Plants of Economic and Health Value.”

Dr. Duke is an internationally known ethnobotanist and economic botanist, a prolific author, a long-time faculty member on the ABC-ACEER ethnobotanical tours, and a member of ABC’s Board of Trustees. Upon arrival in the Amazon, he will lead a visit to the local market, which includes medicinal herb stands where there will be an opportunity to talk with local healers about traditional remedies. Duke will present additional lectures on “Amazonian Shamanic Traditions” (with Justo Rengifo), “Amazonian Food Farmacy Diet,” and “Medicinal Weeds.” New this year is a laboratory activity led by Dr. Duke in the new field lab at ACEER-Tambopata Inkaterra (ATI) where attendees will study traditional medicines obtained in the market in Puerto Maldonado and botanicals from the medicinal gardens at ATI.

In addition to the lectures, which can provide continuing medical education for physicians and continuing education for pharmacists, there will be a visit to the new Inkaterra Canopy walkway, a series of suspended walkways 100 feet above the forest floor that provides an unparalleled opportunity to view the flora and fauna of the forest canopy. An exploration of ATI with its Nature Interpretation Center, medicinal plants garden, children’s rainforest garden, and 3.5 km Useful Plants Trail is also on the itinerary, as is a trip to the 10,000 hectare (25,000 acre) Inkaterra Ecological Reserve. At the reserve, there will be opportunities to view numerous species of small animals, including numerous tropical birds, as well as a wide diversity of Amazonian plants that are the basis for medicines from the rainforest.

The optional extension to the Andes and the spectacular Inca mountain-top citadel of Machu Picchu is well worth the extra time and investment. In addition to exploring the architectural remains of one of the true wonders of the world, travelers can climb Huayna Picchu, the pinnacle south of Machu Picchu that is so prominent in typical views of that ancient city, or hike the other direction to Intipunku (Sun Gate) where one can witness this spectacular view of Machu Picchu firsthand. Machu Picchu and its environs abound with orchids, bromeliads, begonias, and mountain mint among other interesting Andean plants. It is the perfect setting for an ongoing opportunity to discuss Incan culture and medicinal practices.

Anyone wishing to attend should send a $500 deposit, along with their registration form to the ACEER Foundation by June 13th, 2006. A downloadable registration form and itinerary are available on ABC’s Web site ( or by calling Marguerite Gould at ACEER at (610) 738-0477. The cost of the Amazon portion of the trip is $3395 all inclusive from Philadelphia, PA. The optional extension to Machu Picchu is $1075.

—Gayle Engels