Renée del Gaudio

The Sacred Steps of the Inca

Step designs are found everywhere in important Inca ruins and are versions of the chacana, a sacred Andean symbol similar to the Christian crucifix. Learn more about the chacana—the key to understanding the spiritual beliefs of the Inca—and where to spot it.

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Cusco and Machu Picchu: Living History

Despite the conquest, Inca culture has proven remarkably resilient over the centuries, which creates the sensation of time standing still. Quechua, the Inca language that is spoken by six million Andean highlanders, is heard as often as Spanish along the narrow alleyways of Cusco. Inca Trail hikers who arrive at dawn at the Inti Punku, or Sun Gate, will see the fog rise gently from the terraces and perfect stone buildings of Machu Picchu, which was lost for centuries and therefore perfectly preserved.

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Moon Guides Author Spotlight

Moon author Jason Frye

Jason Frye (Moon Great Smoky Mountain National Park)

Raised deep in the mountains of West Virginia, Jason Frye first fell in love with North Carolina as a kid during family vacations to the Outer Banks. In 2002, he swapped his mountains for sand dunes and his river for an ocean when he moved to Wilmington to pursue a master of fine arts in creative writing. There, his love for North Carolina deepened into a longing to stay, settle, explore, and be a part of the people, culture, and history of the state.

Along with his wife, Lauren, Jason has kayaked the marshes and waterways near his home; hang glided off the Outer Banks; explored the cityscapes of Charlotte, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem; and wandered the woods and wilds around Asheville.

A member of the Society of American Travel Writers, Jason has contributed stories to VisitNC.com, AAA’s Go Magazine, Our State magazine, Southern Living, Salt, the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer, and acts as a culinary critic for the Wilmington StarNews.

Keep up with Jason on Instagram @beardedwriter.