Dolomites: Hiking Cinque Torri

The Cinque Torri (or “5 Towers”) is between Corvara and Cortina. It can be visited in a day trip or spend the night at one of the 4 rifugios in the area.

The views are amazing, and the Cinque Torri is very striking at different times of day in different light. It is very popular for rock climbing and doing a via ferrata.

There is also a WWI outdoor museum which is fascinating to explore.

Rifugios are 50-70 Euros per person per night including breakfast and dinner. They have 2-person, 4-person, and dorm rooms.

  • Rifugio Cinque Torri — This is
  • Rifugio Nuvalau
  • Rifugio by the chairlift
  • Rifugio in the saddle

The Rifugio Nuvolau is one of the oldest rifugios. It is up at the top of the mountain. People who spend the night can enjoy an amazing sunrise and sunset. They grill up hamburgers outside on the deck, and it gets very busy at lunchtime. There is also a popular via ferrata circuit.

There are multiple ways to get to Cinque Torri, including a chairlift or hiking from short to long routes (2-4 hours one-way).

One possible hiking circuit is to park at Rifugio Col Galina, then hike up the short trail, spend the night and hike back down a longer trail.

  • 7-Day Best of the Dolomites >>
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    Dolomites: Hiking in Colfosco in Alta Badia (from Selva or Corvara)

    This hike can be from Selva to Colfosco, or can be based from Corvara. You either go

    1. From Selva up the Dantercepies cable car to Rifugio Jimmi, lunch at Rifugio Puez and down to Colfosco
    2. Up the gondola, over to Rifugio Jimmi for lunch, and down the red and yellow gondolas to Colfosco (taxi/bus from Corvara or San Cassiano).

    You can do this hike on our 8-Day Dolomites Three Valleys Hiking Traverse or on a custom trip.

    Up the Gondola

    Hiking near Rifugio Puez

    Over the Pass

    Rifugio Jimmi

    Down the gondola

    Posted in Dolomites, Europe | Leave a comment

    Planning your Trip to Chile & Patagonia

    Here is what you need to know to plan your trip to Chile and Patagonia!

    The best time to travel to Chile is November-March. October and April are shoulder season. You can also travel May-September, but this is winter.

    Most people do this general itinerary:

    1. Fly into Santiago and spend a few days
    2. Fly to Punta Arenas
    3. Torres del Paine (Patagonia)
    4. Other Tours in Chile (Mendoza, Atacama, Easter Island)
    5. Extend the trip to Argentina

    1) Fly into SANTIAGO and spend a few days.  Things to do:

    • City tour of Santiago
    • Wine tasting – Day trip (Vina del Mar)
    • Coast (Valparaiso) – Day trip
    • Tours in Santiago >>

    2) Fly to PUNTA ARENAS, transfer to Torres del Paine

    • It is worth spending an extra night in Punta Arenas to do a day trip to see the Magellanic Penguins (typically, after Torres del Paine), also a fun town.

    3) TORRES DEL PAINE (Patagonia)

    4) The top ADD-ONS in Chile (all accessed from Santiago):

    1. Mendoza, Argentina – 4 days for wine tasting and beautiful mountains
    2. Atacama Desert – 4-5 days, world’s highest desert, amazing scenery
    3. Easter Island – 4-5 days.  Flights can be expensive.
    4. Lakes District – 4 days, Puerto Varas, Bariloche

    Here is a map to give you a visual on where things are (Easter Island is way off to the left in the middle of the ocean):

    5) Extend the Trip to ARGENTINA

    If you want to do Chile + Argentina, typical you would

    • Drive from Torres del Paine to El Calafate/El Chalten (5.5 hours) for a 4+ days (Argentina Patagonia)
    • Fly up to Buenos Aires for a few days
    • Fly home from Buenos Aires or extend your trip in Argentina (Iguazu Falls is most popular)

    All Argentina Trips >>

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    When to Visit the Hidden Pools and Dunes of Lencois Maranhenses (Brazil)

    See our 4-Day Hidden Pools and Dunes of Lencois Maranhenses >>

    There are three primary seasons in the Lençóis Maranhenses: 

    1) Rainy Season:

    The rains start between the end of January and February and generally cease in May (rainy season). This time of year is not recommended to visit given that the sky is generally overcast and the rains make for a less pleasant visit. 

    2) Start of Dry Season:

    Immediately following the rainy season, when the rains cease, yet the lagoons remain very full from the rains. Depending on how much rain has fallen in any given year during the rainy season, this period can vary. But generally goes from June to September/October.  October is the end of the mid-season and start of the hotter months, the chance of finding lagoons still with water is high. The lagoons definitely won’t be as full as they would in July of August, for example, but there should still be a good number of lagoons with water. Moreover, October is the low season in Brazil (the highest season is between July and August given school holidays in both Brazil and most countries in the northern hemisphere), thus a visit in this season would offer much more intimacy and less crowds.

    3) Dry Season:

    With no rains and when the lagoons have mostly all evaporated. Again, this season can vary slightly depending on the rains. For example, on my most recent visit, in late November, 2019, there was still water in some of the larger lagoons, but for the most part the lagoons were dry. 

    We HIGHLY recommend both sunrise and sunset tours. Independent of the lagoons, the immensity of the Lençóis Maranhenses and the beautiful colors at sunrise and sunset are well worth a visit. 

    The Dunes and Pools at Lençóis Maranhenses truly are a special place in Brazil!

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    Planning Your Trip to Costa Rica

    Luxury Costa Rica

    Read on to find out what you need to know to plan your trip to Costa Rica!

    1. Where To Go — Traveling for 1 Week or Less
    2. Where To Go –Traveling for More than 1 Week
    3. What To Do
    4. When To Go

    See All Costa Rica Trips >>

    Samara Zipline Costa Rica
    Samara Zipline

    1) Where To Go — Traveling for 1 Week or Less

    On a short trip, most people visit 2 areas like one of these options.

    OPTION #1

    1. Fly into San Jose Airport
    2. Arenal Volcano
    3. Beach on the Pacific Coast

    OPTION #2

    1. Fly into Liberia Airport
    2. Rio Perdido
    3. Beach on the Pacific Coast

    Where To Go in Costa Rica >>

    Nighttime wildlife hike in Manuel Antonio
    Nighttime wildlife hike in Manuel Antonio

    2) Where To Go — Traveling for More Than 1 Week

    If you 10 days, you can visit 3 areas. If you have 14 days, you can visit 4 areas. Start with one of the 2 options above and then add from there.

    To pick the “other place”, it depends on what is most important to you, how much time you have, and when you want to travel. In particular:

    • River rafting or surfing or yoga
    • Wildlife or birding
    • Active adventures or more quiet
    • Whales in August-September (Osa Peninsula/Golfo Dulce)
    • Nesting sea turtles: July-October (Tortuguero)
    • August-November: Rainy on the Pacific side, but nice at Arenal on the Caribbean side

    Where To Go in Costa Rica >>

    3) What To Do

    In particular, your trip or where you stay will defined if you want to do any of these activities:

    • River rafting
    • Surfing
    • Sea turtles
    • Whales

    Other activities can fit into just about any itinerary.

    What To Do in Costa Rica >>

    Romantic dining in Costa Rica

    4) When To Go

    The main travel season in Costa Rica is mid-November to mid-April.

    Mid-September to early November can be very rainy on the Pacific side, but Arenal and the Caribbean side will still have nice weather.

    Mid-November to January is more rainy on the Caribbean side.

    When To Go To Costa Rica >>

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    Planning Your Trip to Iceland

    Iceland trips

    Here is what you need to know to plan your trip to Iceland!

    First decide when you want to travel:

    • Midnight Sun / Summer: March-August (Puffins May-Aug)
    • Northern Lights / Winter: September-March (Nov-Jan are cold and windy)

    The top trips to Iceland are

    1. Quick trip based out of Reykjavik (5 days is a good time frame)
    2. Driving tour around the island (8-12 days)
    3. Cruise around the island (10 days)
    4. Northern Lights (September-February)

    Contact us with any questions you have!

    5-Day Iceland Highlights from Reykjavik

    1) Quick trip based out of Reykjavik

    If you just have a week to travel, or if you are flying through Iceland en route to Europe, you can easily see the highlights in about 5 days.

    The top excursions around Reykjavik are

    • Blue Lagoon – Typically done upon arrival to relax after the long flight
    • Golden Circle – Full day to the south with Thingvellir National Park, geysers, and Gullfoss Waterfalls
    • City Tour of Reykavik – Can be a private guided tour or a hop-on-hop-off bus
    5-Day Iceland Highlights from Reykjavik

    2) Driving tour around the island

    The Ring Road can be done in 8-12 days either self-drive or a guided tour.

    In the summer, you can see Puffins, whales, and fishing activity. In the winter, you can see the Northern Lights!

    There are so many activities to choose from:

    • Whale watching
    • River rafting
    • Glacier walks
    • ATV tours
    • Horseback riding
    • Hiking
    • Helicopter tours
    • Snorkeling/Diving
    • Kayaking
    • Golfing
    • Snowmobiling
    10-Day Iceland Ring Road (Self-Drive)

    3) Cruise around the island

    This circumnavigation takes 8-10 days, or 12 days that includes Greenland. They operate May-September. It is a great way to explore the fjords along the coast.

    10-Day Iceland Cruise Circumnavigation

    4) Northern Lights

    You can see the Northern Lights September-February. September, October, and February are the most popular because November-January are cold and windy.

    The Northern Lights can be experienced on any of our Iceland tours, but be sure to check out the 8-Day Iceland Northern Lights (Small Group Tour).

    Iceland Northern Lights

    Contact us with any questions you have!

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    Planning Your Trip to the Galapagos and Ecuador

    Here is what you need to know to plan your trip to the Galapagos Island and Ecuador!

    1. Start your planning with the Galapagos then add your mainland activities.
    2. Pick a Galapagos Cruise or Island Hopping
    3. Beyond the Galapagos — Top Activities in Ecuador
    4. Getting to Ecuador and the Galapagos
    5. When to Go

    Contact us with any questions you have!

    Galapagos Island Hopping

    1) Start your planning with the Galapagos then add your mainland activities.

    If you are doing a Galapagos cruise, they start on certain dates, so ideally, you want to pick that first, then add your other activities around these dates. If you book an Island Hopping trip, you have more flexibility. We recommend at least 5 days in the Galapagos (8+ is better!).

    Most people do this general itinerary:

    1. Start in Quito and spend a few days there.
    2. Do other activities around the Quito area (Otavalo, Amazon, Cotopaxi, etc.).
    3. Fly to the Galapagos (start with these dates and work around them).
    4. Fly from the Galapagos home (through Guayaquil/Quito).

    Galapagos Island Cruise

    2) Pick a Galapagos Cruise or Island Hopping Trip

    The Galapagos cruises are typically 4, 5, or 8 days long (a few have 6 or 7 day itineraries, but it is not as common). Most boats are 16 passengers. The largest boat allowed in the Galapagos is 100 passengers. They are not what you think of as “cruises”, they are more like “yachts”. We can book any of the boats in the Galapagos.

    For us to find the best boat option for you, we need to know:

    • When you can travel and for how long
    • What your budget is, or what level of accommodation you prefer (mid-range, first-class, or luxury)
    • If there are any specific islands or animal/birds you want to see
    • If you want and specific activities/amenities: sea kayaking, stand-up paddleboard, jacuzzi, yoga, etc. All the itineraries will have hiking and snorkeling. Scuba diving is best with an island-hopping extension.

    With an Island Hopping tour, you can start on any day and stay for any number of days. We recommend 5-8 days or more to explore the islands. There are a variety of accommodations to stay at, and we can customize the itinerary. This is also a nice option for multi-generational families that have diverse interests.

    See also:

    Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador

    3) Beyond the Galapagos — Top Activities in Ecuador

    Quito is a lovely city and worth 1-2 days there.

    The other most popular trips around Quito are

    Explore Quito, Ecuador

    4) Getting to Ecuador and the Galapagos

    The flights to the Galapagos go from Quito through Guayaquil (on the coast) and then to the Galapagos. The return flights make this same path back. In Guayaquil, you stay on the airplane while some people get off and on.

    Most people get their international flight into Quito. It is typically easier and cheaper to fly into Quito, and also there is more to do in and around Quito.

    However, if you are just doing the Galapagos and nothing else, you may want to get your international flights into Guayaquil. Quito is 9350 feet in elevation, which can bother some people who do not do well at altitude.

    Beaches of the Galapagos Islands

    5) When to Go

    You can visit the Galapagos all year!

    The hottest months in the Galapagos are Feb-Apr. The nice thing about this is that the water is very warm, and you probably won’t need a wetsuit. However, hiking in the afternoon can be a bit hot.

    The coolest months in the Galapagos are Jul-Sep. Nicer for walking, but you will want a wetsuit for snorkeling.

    November at Cotopaxi can be rainy.

    Contact us with any questions you have!

    Posted in Ecuador, Galapagos | Tagged | Leave a comment

    Explore Patagonia with EcoCamp EcoDomes

    EcoCamp is located near the Visitor’s Center in Torres del Paine near the trailhead for the Towers.

    The most popular itinerary is to do 5-7 days in Patagonia with the EcoDomes as a base and do hiking or other excursions each day. The next most popular itineraries with the EcoDomes is a 5-Day W Trek or 7-Day W Trek.

    There is electricity to charge batteries, but no hairdryers. There is also a safe each dome.

    There are 4 types of EcoDomes at EcoCamp:

    1. Suite Dome
    2. Suite Dome Loft
    3. Superior Dome
    4. Standard Dome

    1) Suite Dome:

    • Queen bed or 2 twin beds
    • 28 sqm/300 sqft
    • Heating with wood stove
    • Private bathroom with hot water, shower, and composting toilet
    • Best views

    2) Suite Dome Loft:

    • King bed or 2 twin beds downstairs + 2 twin beds in loft (maximum 4 people)
    • 37 sqm/398 sqft
    • Heating with wood stove
    • Private bathroom with hot water, shower, and composting toilet
    • Best views

    3) Superior Dome:

    • Queen bed or 2 twin beds
    • 23 sqm/250 sqft
    • Heating with propane heater
    • Private bathroom with hot water, shower, and composting toilet

    4) Standard Dome:

    • Queen bed or 2 twin beds
    • 10 sqm/108 sqft
    • No Heat, but cozy blankets
    • Shared bathroom with hot water, shower, and composting toilet

    Contact us to book one of these amazing EcoCamp trips:

    See Also:

    Posted in Chile, Patagonia, Trekking | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

    Antarctica on the Ocean Endeavour

    Antarctica Ship: Ocean Endeavor

    With her ice-strengthened hull and advanced navigation equipment, the Ocean Endeavour is ideally suited for expedition cruising to Antarctica.

    The expansive decks and outdoor spaces provide opportunities to view the magnificent scenery. There are numerous interior and exterior areas, where you can enjoy the company of your fellow travelers or experience Antarctica in quiet solitude.

    This small, well-appointed expedition ship allows you to explore the world’s most remote regions whilst enjoying the class and comfort of a boutique hotel.

    The Ocean Endeavour offers an unrivaled sense of space and onboard activities including: spa facilities, yoga classes, sauna, hot tub, salt water pool and gym.

    There are a selection of cabins to meet a variety of budgets, and single and solo travelers can take advantage of no single supplement.


    Enjoy the onboard wellness activities, including

    • Yoga classes
    • Sauna
    • Jacuzzi
    • Heated salt water pool
    • Gym

    Or venture further afield with

    • Shore landings
    • Zodiac cruising
    • Hiking
    • Kayaking
    • Photography workshops
    • Snowshoeing
    • Ice camping


    Posted in Antarctica | Tagged | Leave a comment

    Galapagos National Park Rules

    Galapagos National Park Rules
    • Park Hours are 6am-6pm
    • Groups are a maximum of 16 people with 1 guide
    • Groups must stay together
    • Do not remove or disturb animals or objects (bacteria)
    • Stay on trails, guide in front
    • No food or gum, just water
    • Stay 7 feet / 2 meters from animals
    • Do not surround animals
    • No smoking or e-cigarettes
    • No flash photography
    • No loud noises, no phone noises
    • No drones
    • No selfie-stick, but tripods and monopods are okay
    • Walking sticks are okay, but no umbrellas, and do not use as a pointer
    • Use common sense
    • Pick up trash
    • No bathrooms, average excursion is 2 hours
    • No bright colored clothing (wasps)
    • No spray sunscreen or bug spray
    • Professional or commercial cameras not allowed
    • Binoculars are okay and recommended
    • No flip flops or sandals that fall off

    See all our Galapagos Trips >>

    Posted in Ecuador, Galapagos | Tagged | Leave a comment