Category Archives: Travel Advice

When To Visit Brazil

It’s already February! Time to start planning your next escapes for 2020. Now that US travelers no longer need a visa to visit Brazil, we highly recommend venturing to this incredible country now more than ever!

Brazil is such a large country (roughly the size of the continental US) and there are endless opportunities for any kind of adventure our travelers might be looking for. To help our travelers this year, we have made a chart of the various regions of Brazil with the best times to visit them throughout the year and when to start you trip planning.

VISIT BEST TIME TO TRAVEL WHY? START PLANNING IN
Rio de Janeiro, Costa Verde Paraty, Ilha Grande May to October It is the time of least rainfall, although you can visit at any time. January
Lençóis Maranhenses and Jericoacoara June to September The rainy season ends in June and the lagoons are full. February
Pantanal and Bonito July to September Dry season in which you can see more animals. Since May you can see the jaguar. March
Ilha de Marajó July Excellent season for foodies in the exotic state of Pará. April
Amazonas July to November Although there is rain all year round, at this time there is less heat and less mosquitoes. May
Reveillon (New Year) December 24th to January 2nd Hurry to make reservations to celebrate the change of year in classic or alternative destinations. June
Route of Emotions September to November Good prices and it’s windy season for water sports practitioners like windsurfing and kitesurfing. July
Brasil’s Northeast (Bahia, Fernando de Noronha, Salvador…) December to February Escape the cold winter on tropical Brazilian coasts with hot weather the whole year. August
Rio’s Carnival  2021 February 13th to 16th In September they release tickets and prices. September
Minas Gerais April to September It is the dry and less hot season, but you can visit at any time. October
Santa Catarina Easter Week Excellent destination to travel with the family throughout the year. November
Chapada Diamantina May to September Less rain and better roads for trekking activities. December
Foz de Iguacu All year long The falls are impressive throughout the year. All year long
Bahia All year long It is good weather all year round. Between November and January it rains less. All year long
Great Cities (Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador) All year long Urban experiences, with art, architecture and gastronomy for city adventurers. All year long
Bonito Brazil
Bonito Gruta Azul

Want to add Brazil to your next adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Brazil specialist,

Gretchen

San Blas: A Bohemian Gem in Cusco

Situated just a short walking distance from Cusco’s Plaza de Armas, the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas is one of the most beautiful districts in the city. It features a variety of beautifully restored buildings, narrow cobble-stone alleys, quaint streets, artisanal shops, as well as cafes and bars.

The neighborhood is well-known for its artsy bohemian barrio, which boasts an outdoor artisan market as well as a small plaza where artists sell their handicrafts on Sundays. Several art studios and workshops also lined the cobbled streets of San Blas.

Iglesia de San Blas is one of the top attractions to visit while in the neighborhood. The mid-1500s church features an intricate pulpit carved in the Spanish Churrigueresque style.

San Blas is surrounded by ancient Inca history, take a walk around the neighborhood and soak up the ambiance.

Want to plan your next Peru adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Peru expert,
Gretchen

EcoCamp Patagonia Now Open In Winter!

Attention all adventure-seekers! We are so excited to announce that EcoCamp Patagonia is now officially open during Chile’s winter season. It’s the perfect chance to have that big, beautiful and snowy landscape all to yourself! Keep reading and learn what to expect on a trip to EcoCamp Patagonia this winter. 

EcoCamp Patagonia in winter
Winter at EcoCamp Patagonia

Get Your Facts Straight

  • Winter Months: May, June, July and August
  • EcoCamp’s Schedule: Open every other week this winter!
  • Available EcoCamp Domes: Due to Patagonia’s chilly temperatures, travelers can only book a Suite or Superior Dome. It’s a little too cold to stay in a Standard Dome (which doesn’t have heating).
  • Adventures to Book: Winter Flexible EcoCampWinter W Trek and Patagonian Winter Adventure. 

More About Our Epic Adventures

As mentioned above, we are offering three EcoCamp adventures in winter: the Winter Wildlife Safari, Winter W Trek and Patagonian Winter Adventure. Learn more about these snowy experiences to discover which trip is right for you: 

EcoCamp Patagonia in winter
  • Winter Flexible EcoCamp: (4- 7 Days): This is one of our most popular EcoCamp experiences! During winter, travelers can pick from one of two daily activities. Through each excursion, you will discover the park’s remarkable viewpoints and admire local fauna. Please note that during this season, we only have excursions available from Tuesday to Saturday. Click here to view our daily activities.
  • Winter W Trek (7 Days): Take on a wilder, more adventurous version of Patagonia’s classic W Trek. Along with cozy nights at EcoCamp, you will camp out along the trail and visit iconic scenery, such as the base of the Towers or the French Valley. Keep in mind that this trek is a bit more challenging during the winter season and snowshoes are advised! 
  • Patagonian Winter Adventure (5 Days)Explore the Magallanes region and spend a couple of nights at EcoCamp Patagonia. This is a great option for travelers who want to see Torres del Paine, as well as the surrounding areas. The itinerary includes a kayaking excursion, trekking, and much more. 

Why You Should Come in Winter

There are plenty of reasons why winter is the best time of year to visit Torres del Paine! For starters…

grey glacier, torres del paine in winter
  • It’s absolutely stunning! Imagine snow-capped mountains, crystal blue lakes and quiet forests that are all surrounded by a blanket of white, icy terrain.
  • Shy fauna come out to play! You have a better chance of spotting wildlife with fewer travelers in the park. Keep your eyes peeled for colorful birds, foxes, pumas and huemules (native deer).
  • Patagonia is your own personal playground! The park is practically empty around this time of year. That means you can enjoy the landscapes and hiking trails without any crowds. It’s great for people who are looking for a peaceful and remote experience. 
  • It’s perfect for true adventurers! The weather is colder and the conditions are rougher — but it is all part of the Patagonia winter experience. Wintertime is a dream for those looking for a rugged, outdoor vacation.  

Are you ready to book your winter adventure? Contact our Chile expert, Gretchen, today!

7 Hikes You Can’t Miss Near Santiago, Chile PART 1

In Chile, hiking is not limited to just the Patagonian region! Many parts of the country have great trails to check out, including in the Central Valley. This region offers a distinct type of climate and landscape, along with beautiful flora and fauna to admire. In fact, there are many hiking opportunities right by or in Santiago, Chile’s capital city. That means, you can easily escape the hustle and bustle and hop right into beautiful nature within a matter of minutes!

There are so many great trails to pick from, but today we’ve listed some of our favorites. Without further ado, here are 7 great hikes near Santiago.

1) Aguas de Ramon
Difficulty: Intermediate
Length: 7-8 hours roundtrip
Location: Santiago

Located on the eastside of Santiago, Parque Aguas de Ramon offers a slew of wide, open land to explore! There are a few routes to take, but a common one is Salto de Apoquindo which leads visitors straight to a waterfall! That’s right — there is a waterfall in the middle of Santiago.

The park is home to local fauna, including foxes, tarantulas and various birds. There are also many opportunities to check out local flora that reside in the dry and sunny Santiago climate.

If you are going to complete the full hike, it is important to arrive early to the park! Every visitor needs to check in before embarking on the excursion and you won’t be allowed to complete the hike if the ranger does not think there is enough time. Arriving between 8 and 8:30 AM is recommended.

2) Mirador de Los Condores
Difficulty: Intermediate
Length: 4-5 hours roundtrip
Location: Cajon de Maipo

Just a couple of hours outside of Santiago is a great hike to the “Mirador de Los Cóndores.” This translates to “Condor Lookout” in English. Based on the name, you might guess that there is a lot of Andean condors on this trail! That’s right — it’s one of the best spots to marvel at this massive bird (one that’s wingspan stretches to 3 meters).

Keep in mind that you are entering the condors’ home. It’s important that all hikers are respectful of the birds and observe them from a safe distance.

3) Cerro Manquehue
Difficulty: Intermediate
Length: 2-3 hours roundtrip
Location: Santiago

The Cerro Manquehue trail can also be found in the middle of Santiago. But this one goes straight up hill! It is shorter in distance than Aguas de Ramon, the city’s other popular trail, but is significantly steeper. Prepare to strut through the dirt trails, up rocks and to one of the most beautiful spots above the city. You’ll sit right beside the clouds!

For those looking for an easier hike, in the same area there is Cerro Manquehuito. This is a smaller hill and doable for hikers of all ages. On a sunny weekend, it’s likely you’ll spot families, pets and groups of friends hiking up the hill.

For both hills, make sure to wear proper trekking shoes and bring plenty of water. Hiking poles are also helpful due to the steep terrain.

4) La Campana National Park
Difficulty: Intermediate
Length: 5-6 hours roundtrip
Location: Olmue

Palm trees galore! La Campana National Park is the perfect place to spot the Chilean palm trees. In this national park, there are hundreds of trees, as well as many beautiful landscapes. You can camp, bike, hike and more!

One great hike in the park is the Amasijo- Portezuelo Ocoa Trail, which leads visitors into an area filled with palm trees. Just make sure to pay careful attention to the pathway. An area with so many similar-looking trees can be confusing.

Want to add some of these hikes on to your next Chile Adventure contact us!

Stay tuned for the rest of the list of hikes around Santiago next week!

Your friendly Chile expert,
Gretchen

GUEST REVIEW: Brazilian Amazon

This group of 6 AWR travelers just returned from an adventure in the Brazilian Amazon. Read on for their highlights and travel advice!

“We had a GREAT time in the Amazon! The folks at Tariri lodge were great & the food was wonderful! Wish we could spend more time there. Hard to coordinate 6 people’s schedules.

The night boat ride was great: everyone in the group remarked how cool it was to be on the water hearing the sounds of the jungle & seeing all the Southern Hemisphere stars! The group really enjoyed piranha fishing too (I was the only one who didn’t catch one though!)

Everyone on the AWR team was great & helpful & prompt!

My advice would have to do with flight-hopping within Brazil. Try to pack JUST carry on if you can: they’re more flexible with baggage too. In fact, the GOL rep. told us not to check the bags we were going to check and indeed we had no issues with 2 carry on size bags each. Connections can be tight (they had to reschedule us because one plane was late) & you never know. There aren’t the same fluid restrictions for domestic flights in Brazil. GOL did take good care of us when they had to reschedule our flights & put us up in a nice hotel near the SDU airport in Rio complete with cab fare & meals.

-Sven”

Want to plan your own Brazilian Amazon adventure? Contact us!

Also, check out some of these trips for inspiration:

3-Day Unique Amazon Bungalow Adventure

4-Day Amazon Immersion: Jungle Adventure

5-Day Complete Amazon: Boat Expedition

6-Day Secrets and Spices of the Amazon

Your friendly Brazil expert,

Gretchen

10 Must-Do Hikes Around Cusco PART 2

The nature surrounding Cusco, Peru is some of the most astounding in the World. Complete with snowcapped peaks, deep sprawling valleys, roaring rivers, ancient buildings, and colorful sunsets and sunrises. These magical landscapes in and around Cusco are ones you’ll want to explore close up, walk through, and take a day or two to slow down to soak it all in. The perfect way to do this is by one of many half-day, day, or two-day hikes in the area. Travel to the Sacred Valley to experience astonishing ruins or stay close by and enjoy remarkable views of Cusco from the nearby mountains. Continue on to find more information on the top ten hikes we offer in this area. All of our hikes include transportation (if necessary), a bilingual guide, and some include meals.

5) Pumamarca to Ollantaytambo

Duration transportation (RT): Cusco: 4 hours
Hiking distance: 7.2 km / 4.5 mi
Duration of the hike: 2:30 – 3:00 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Fun for the whole family! This half-day adventure and trek will allow you to explore the Sacred Valley. It gives a glimpse into the local culture and communities in the area and visits archaeological sites. Travel from Cusco, past the Sacred Valley town of Ollantaytambo, to Palata where we will begin our trek. The trail inclines to reach the stunning Pumamarca, an Inca treasure. Once again the Inca chose a remarkable site to build. This high vista point overlooks the Patacancha Valley and nearby rivers. Explore the archaeological compound of Pumamarca, where you can observe the impressive Inca stonework. From stairs to buildings to storage units, observe the diverse ability of the ancient civilization. After discovering all that Pumamarca has to offer, we continue trekking through phenomenal Andean landscapes to Musqa Pukyo. These farmed terraces make for a stunning sight against the backdrop of the panoramic view of the Sacred Valley. Our day comes to a close in the village of Ollantaytambo, where we drive back to Cusco.

6) Quillarumiyoc to Zurite Terraces

Duration transportation (RT): Cusco: 2:15 hours
Hiking distance: 7.4 km / 4.6 mi
Duration of the hike: 3:00 – 4:00 hours
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Take in the vision that is Quillarumiyoc on this half-day, but undemanding trek. Quillarumiyoc is a pre-Inca temple built over 3000 years ago. Erected to honor Mama Quilla, which is the Goddess of the Moon and one of the most important of all the ancient gods. Although partially buried by an avalanche, you can still see the ancient stonework, engravings, and symmetrical carvings of this site. After having to time to explore this area, we stroll down to Qapac Ñan, the most important road running through the Andes. Wander through eucalyptus forests, vast potato farms, and ending at the village of Zurite. In Zurite we will enjoy a lunch in a beautifully restored colonial house before heading to the nearby terraced farms. This trip is a perfect melody of nature, Inca and pre-Inca ruins, and cultural education.

7) Chinchero to Urquillos

Duration transportation (RT): Cusco: 2:30 hours
Hiking distance: 9.2 km / 5.7 mi
Duration of the hike: 4:00 – 5:00 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Enjoy a half day of adventure in the Sacred Valley! This easy hike is comprised of mostly downhill trekking complete with incredible scenery and wildlife. We begin by driving to Chinchero, a small, traditional Inca town known for its colonial buildings and skilled weavers. We will spend some time in the town, observing its archaeological complex before proceeding on our hike. Feel the history as we hike down a reconstructed, but original cobblestone Inca trail. Pause to drink in the staggeringly beautiful views from a lookout before descending a zigzag trail to the Urquillos Canal. Along the way, our knowledgeable guides will point out the blooming flora and abundant birdlife and wildlife. Our day comes to a close when we reach the Urquillos Bridge, suspended over the Urubamba River. Enjoy the sounds of the flowing river before hopping in the private car back to Cusco.

Stay tuned for the rest of the top ten hikes around Cusco next week!

Want to add one or more of these to your next Peru adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

The Ten Thousand Star Hotel: The Skylodge

Picture this: you wake up in a plush bed to a 300-degree view of the rolling green hills, snowcapped mountains, sprawling blue skies, and rushing rivers of Peru. Now, what if I were to tell you, this could be you. Everyone is always searching for a unique way to travel and enjoy once-in-a-life time experiences. Look no further. Satisfy all your “travel goals” with one little trip. Meet the only suspended lodge in the world: The Skylodge Adventure Suites. This exclusive lodge is located in the Sacred Valley and makes for the ideal excursion from Cusco.

The transparent capsules are suspended 400 meters (1,200 feet) above ground, nestled into a mountain rock face. Handcrafted out of aerospace aluminum and weather-resistant polycarbonate, you can rest assured these clear pods are safe and secure. Each suite is complete with four beds, a dining area, and a bathroom. (And yes, you can even see the incredible views from the bathroom!). The pods are large and can comfortably accommodate up to eight people. Making it the perfect excursion for the whole family, a group of friends, or a perfect date night! Come eye to eye with massive condors, the predators native to the Sacred Valley. Sit in awe as the sun sets and allows the night sky to take over. The dark sky is littered with stars, including the impressively bright Milky Way constellation. That’s why they call it the ten thousand-star hotel!

Half of the adventure is getting to the incredible lodge. There are three thrilling ways to reach the transparent pods. You may choose to climb 300 meters on a via ferrata path, a path with permanent safety equipment installed such as steel ladders and bridges. Each person is attached to the steel cable that runs through the entire course. This gives people with no experience of rock climbing the opportunity to taste the thrill, without the fear of falling. The second option to reach the lodge is via a zip-line. Beginning with a 30-minute walk to reach the first of seven lines, each individual will soar above the Sacred Valley like the condors that share the sky. Every line of the course is unique, offering a different view of the Sacred Valley below. The final option is a combination of the two, via ferrata and zip-line.

After the excitement of climbing to reach the Skylodge, you are rewarded with pure luxury and million-star views. Enjoy fine dining in the sky with a savory dinner, complete with wine. Wake up to the beautiful morning light and indulge in a hearty breakfast before making your way back down. This trip perfectly encompasses adventure, beauty, thrill, and romance.The thousand-star hotel awaits.

Want to experience the Sky Lodge for yourself? Contact us!

Check out our itineraries and other blogs about this incredibly unique experience as well as our videos:

2-Day Via Ferrata/Zip Line/Sky Lodge in the Sacred Valley

Peru’s Craziest Hotels

NEW VIDEO: Via Ferrata + Sky Lodge + Zip-line Adventure (Sacred Valley, Peru)

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

Taquile Island: The Community of Men Who Love to Knit

Situated 45km on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca in the middle of the pristine blue-green waters is the quaint little island of Taquile. With a modest population of around 2000 Taquilenos, the community has an important role to play for the local Quechua speaking inhabitants, attracting culture hungry and inquisitive travelers from corners all over the globe.

Over the past one thousand years, very little has actually changed on the island, and the locals have created a sustainable way of living, cultivating their crops, building homes from natural resources and weaving their clothes by hand. They don’t depend like most of us on modern day appliances like electricity, gas and cars, adding to the intrigue and harmony of this untouched Inca community.

Upon arrival to the island you immediately sense the simplicity of daily life and the presence of generations of history that have shaped its ancestry. Free from the distraction of modern technologies and the digital world, women can be seen preparing a sumptuous lunch, sheep idly graze and roam freely whilst the men are out catching fish for the evening dinner. However, once the daily chores are put to one side a rather unexpected social scene begins to unfold, as the men exchange and chew a few coca leaves, before congregating to sit down and begin their knitting traditions.

What may appear, as a casual interchange of the morning’s activities is the beginning of serious business and for good reason. Each man that lives on the island wears what’s known as a “Chullo”. The rather pantomimesque looking hats, are carefully knitted from llama, alpaca, vicuña or sheep’s wool and at a quick glance can reveal a man’s marital situation and current mood. If the hat is red and white, the man is single, but all red symbolizes he is not up for grabs and married. The Chullo’s are also characterized by the long, narrow pointy tail which depending on the way it is leaning indicate the individual’s mood. If the tail is flopped to the left he’s worried, to the right side he’s happy and to the back it means he’s busy which is normally the adopted position whilst knitting.

The hidden messages and importance of the men’s knitting skills don’t end there and arguably the most crucial test for a man, is how tight he can knit his hat. When he is looking for a life partner to marry, he must prove his self by drinking water out of his hat. If the “Chullo” has been knitted loosely, the water will drip, on the contrary and a drop won’t be lost showing off his skills and indicating that he is off sufficient caliber to consider partnering with.

The art and culture of textiles on Taquile Island is literally woven into the heritage of the locals, with the skills, techniques and cultural meanings being taught and passed on over generations. So much so, that the textile art they produce is now protected by the UNESCO Traditional Craftsmanship and Social Practices, and their work is amongst the most prestigious in the world.

Check out these itinerary options of ours that include Taquile Island and Lake Titicaca:

3-Day Lake Titicaca and the Floating Isles
3-Day Sea Kayaking on Lake Titicaca / The Magic Triangle

To start planning your next Peru trip, contact us!

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

The Magical Uros Floating Islands of Peru

The floating Uros Islands of Peru is one of the magical places to visit in Peru. Home to the Uros indigenous people, the islands are situated on Lake Titicaca, South America’s largest freshwater lake, that overlaps the border between southern Peru and western Bolivia.

The Uros are one of the first ethnic groups that inhabit the Andean region and they live on the man-made floating islands on the lake. The islands are constructed out of the totora reeds that grow around the lake.

Visit the magical floating Uros Islands and discover the rich culture and traditions of the people as well as their day-to-day activities.

For more information on how to include a visit to the magical floating Uros Islands of Peru in your trip, please check out some of the following itineraries or give us a call:

3-Day Lake Titicaca and the Floating Isles

21-Day Peru Greatest Hits

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

The Torres del Paine Circuit Trek: Join Now!

Are you ready for an exciting, out-of-this-world adventure? Patagonia is the place to come! This southern region is full of amazing treks, biking excursions, running opportunities and more. There are tons of adventures for different ages and abilities, all fun and active! As we kick off this year’s trekking season in Patagonia we would like to highlight one of our wildest and most spectacular treks: The 9-Day O-Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.

The Paine Circuit is one of the best trekking experiences in Torres del Paine. It’s a 9-day trip, covering all of the park’s major highlights and some off-the-beaten-track areas. We recently made a video of this exceptional multi-day excursion! Check it out and see what makes this experience so special.

For more information about this trek, check out the full itinerary here:

9-Day Patagonia: Torres Del Paine Circuit Trek with EcoCamp

This trek is a circuit around the famous Paine Massif. This is the best adventure for trekkers who seek a challenging trip in Torres del Paine and a true wilderness experience.

The accommodation is camping every night. Guides provide the tent and trekkers only need to bring a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad.

Torres del Paine O- Circuit

Trekkers only carry a day pack with box lunches and personal belongings. The guides provide two duffel bags and porters will carry them during the trek.

Group size is normally 8 to 12 trekkers with a maximum group size of 12. There is 1 guide for every 6 trekkers.

Season and departures: Departs every Wednesday from November to March

Your friendly Patagonia expert,
Gretchen