Diving Into The Highlights of Bolivia!

This couple just returned from a customized version of our Highlights of Bolivia adventure. Their trip included:

  • Spending the night on the shores of stunning Lake Titicaca
  • Visiting the culturally rich capital of La Paz
  • Exploring the Unesco world heritage site of Tiwanaku 
  • Big finale at the breathtaking Uyuni Salt Flats

 

 

 

 

Want to plan your next adventure to Bolivia? Contact us!

Your friendly South America expert,

Gretchen

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Spring Into Your Next Adventure in Torres del Paine

As Spring commences in the Southern Hemisphere and the trekking season starts to ramp up in Patagonia, we would like to take the time to share with our followers our three most popular adventures in Torres del Paine, Chile with three unique ways to experience the famous W Trek! Here we will also explain some of the main differences between these options to give our travelers a better idea of what might be the best fit for them.

  1. 5-day W-Trek with EcoCamp
  2. 5-day Torres del Paine Patagonia Camp
  3. 5-Day Patagonia: Torres del Paine Luxury Explora

EcoCamp (Standard Dome)

1) 5-day W-Trek with EcoCamp

With this option travelers do the W Trek based from EcoCamp, which offers domes as accommodations. The starting price here is lowest of the three options BUT the starting price only includes basic domes (no electricity and shared bathrooms). This can be great for some travelers looking for a glamping experience on a budget. However, for those looking for a little more comfort, EcoCamp offers two upgrade options which have varying prices depending on the time of year. With EcoCamp you must start the W Trek itinerary on a Sunday. The upgraded dome options are as follows:

SUPERIOR DOMES (for max two people) that include:

  • heating
  • private bathroom (With hot shower)
  • electricity

SUITE DOMES (for max 4 people) that include:

  • heating (small private wood burning stove)
  • electricity
  • private bathroom (with hot shower)
  •  coffee maker
  • larger space

PLEASE NOTE: all W-trek options with EcoCamp have one night in a Refugio that is in shared bunk rooms with other trekkers in your group and shared bathrooms.

The price is all inclusive so it covers (transfers to/from the park, all meals, 1 drink per night – you have to pay for additional drinks-, guides, etc).


Patagonia Camp (Yurts)

2) 5-day Torres del Paine Patagonia Camp

This option is the  overall most affordable and also gives travelers quite a lot of flexibility. Patagonia Camp offers all segments of the W-trek as day hikes so guests can pick and choose which parts they want to do when; they also have the choice to do other hikes within the park that are not part of the W-Trek.

At Patagonia Camp travelers start and end each day at the camp. The accommodations are luxury yurts. Each standard luxury yurt is for maximum 2 people (a third can be added but it is very cramped). The yurts are heated, have views of the park, private decks, and have private bathrooms with hot showers and baths. Guests can also upgrade to a superior luxury yurt that is for a maximum of 4 people, has all of the amenities listed above, as well a private outdoor hot tub and two private sleeping areas joined by a private bathroom.

The price is all inclusive so it covers (transfers to/from the park, all meals, alcohol, guides, etc).


View from rooms at Explora

3) 5-Day Patagonia: Torres del Paine Luxury Explora

The final of our three most popular Torres del Paine W Trek itinerary options is staying at Explora. This is a luxury lodge located in the very heart of the park with arguably the very best views. Staying at Explora it is all inclusive and travelers get to customize their stay and hand craft their experience and what they want to do while they are there. It is the top-notch adventure option in the park. All rooms are of course heated, have huge picture windows to look out at the mountains, beautiful views from their spacious bathtubs to observe the park as well and the stay is also 100% all inclusive. Here, like Patagonia Camp, guests can do all the segments of the W-trek as day-hikes, or, they can customize theur own days as they wish with skilled guides and drivers that will take them out to explore other hiking trails in the park.

Want to start planning your next adventure to Torres del Paine and Patagonia? Contact us!

Your friendly Patagonia expert,

Gretchen

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Incredible Indonesia: Part 2 of The Incredible Beattie and Washer Family 2018 SE Asia Adventure

The Beattie and Washer families have already completed several epic journeys with Adventures Within Reach. At AWR we love helping our guests with select adventure destinations beyond what we list on our website. We have specialist local guide connections in a number of remarkable regions (Sri Lanka, Morocco, Greenland etc.), so curious travelers can always contact us and see if we can help them arrange an itinerary to any destination worldwide such as what the Beattie and Washer families did with Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Over the next weeks we will be sharing their personal stories of their most recent adventure to SE Asia exploring Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Borneo, Bali and Singapore as told by Tinaz. Read on for part 2: Incredible Indonesia.

 

 

 

DAY 8:

Took off for Bali from Columbo at the crack of dawn. We spent the whole day traveling with a stop in Jakarta. Arrived in Bali in the evening and we were picked up by Buddha, our host who escorted us to our hotel. He was quite the character! We arrived at our spectacular oasis Sankara Ubud Resort, with its beautiful pool, lush grounds, and lovely rooms…albeit no ocean! Excellent service at this hotel and we were looking forward to our few days in Bali! LOVE!


DAY 9:

Despite strong desires to hit the 7am yoga class, we all slept through and enjoyed a lovely breakfast overlooking the pool at 8am (LUXURY timing for this early-to-rise bunch)! We met up with our guide Dewa and proceeded to have one of our HIGHLIGHT experiences of our time in Bali, and on our trip altogether…a SPECTACULAR morning with a Shiva Buddhist and his lovely family in their beautiful home! Dewa brought us to his village, and we walked around the small area learning of their way of life as Shiva Buddhists. IT WAS JUST FASCINATING TO HEAR OF THEIR BUDDHIST VALUES, INSIGHTS ON HEALTHY LIVING, MINDFULNESS, COMPASSION, COMMUNITY-ORIENTATION, AND IN-THE-NOW MENTALITY! 😇


Some ideas he shared with us…

On harvesting anything from the earth…YOU TAKE ONE, YOU GIVE ONE…

On living in the now…THE VOLCANO CAN COME AT ANY TIME, SO THIS MIGHT BE YOUR LAST DAY…WHY WORRY?

On being vegetarian…OH NO WE EAT ALL BUGS…SPIDERS, INSECTS…

On sharing with your neighbor…WE COOK FOR THE COMMUNITY, KEEP ALL DOORS OPEN, AND SHARE OUR ABUNDANCE…

On being lucky…WE ARE NOT RICH, BUT WE ARE LUCKY BECAUSE WE HAVE ENOUGH TO BE HAPPY…☺ ☺ ☺


 

We then saw his lovely compound, open-air traditional home, and met his wife, sisters-in-law, children, and his dog…obviously named “Doggy”! His home was passed down within his family for 1300 YEARS…WHAT THUHHHHH?!?! 1300 YEARS? HOW MANY RENOVATIONS IS THAT? WE JUST FINISHED OUR THIRD AND OUR HOME IS ONLY 21! Apparently they renovate every 20 years in order to manage the earthquake damage.

We sat down in his kitchen and got instructions to help prepare 5 dishes with items grown on his property, including, fresh garlic, ginger, peppers, tempeh, shallots, tomatoes, corn, ferns (for salad), and chicken (enjoyed only once per month)! We each got tasks to chop, mince, sauté and help create a DELICIOUS meal with the help of himself and his family. O.M.G…IT WAS TRULY SURREAL TO BE THERE…IN THIS 1300-YEAR-OLD HOME, WITH A TRADITIONAL BUDDHIST FAMILY, IN BALI…WE WERE TRULY ALL ON A CLOUD ENJOYING THIS SPECTACULAR EXPERIENCE!!!

Afterward, he and his wife drove us back to our hotel in Ubud…and I’m not sure why, but after this highly TRADITIONAL experience that seemed as if we’d gone back in time, I was surprised to be driven in their vehicles (half-expecting a horse and buggy!). This half-day spent with Dewa was one of the most memorable travel experiences we’ve ever had together, and it was such a pleasure to see the kids enjoy it as much as we did. WELL DONE DAN AND AWR!!! 👊

This afternoon, we were met by our guide and we took a walk through the rice fields to a lookout point, and then embraced another family meal (with our guide’s family) within a different village. Delicious food as well, prepared by some lovely, kind and very friendly ladies…and we were beginning to feel like all we do is EAT! SEVERAL BANANA FRITTERS LATER, and after playing with a mountain of puppies, we left the family home and were driven back to our hotel. En route, we decided to bail on the next day’s agenda and enjoy a lazy day by the pool! Yeah…you know…like most people on vacation…


DAY 10:

Yoga at 7am for Greg, Glenn and I was quite delicious…followed by a lovely breakfast and somewhat sludgy coffee (although certainly respectable enough for several pots)! The ladies had booked mani and pedi appointments at the spa (loooovely), and the boys decided to embrace a hotel-driven, white-water-rafting excursion for the afternoon. The grownups hired a car for two hours and hit a couple of shops for some great Bali souvenirs. After some WONDERFUL pool time, we also all went for a deep tissue massage at the spa…AWESOME! CAN EVERY OTHER DAY BE A DAY AT THE POOL?!? JK…love our crazy, busy holidays…but we’ve definitely discovered a day off at least once is a good thing… 🙂 !


DAY 11:

Today we BIKE! We were met by our guide after breakfast. We took off for a coffee plantation and discovered how they make LUWAK COFFEE…made famous in the movie BUCKET LIST. As Ryan noted, how does one FIRST discover that the undigested coffee beans in a luwak’s poop would make for great coffee and sold worldwide 💩 ???


We then took off by bike for a phenomenal 22km ride through village after village, bee farm, banyan tree, and learned of the predominantly Hindu population’s cremation ceremonies. We stopped to witness the lifestyle of one family in their compound as the ladies weaved bamboo bread baskets for sale, and their very young children helped with great big scissors! It was truly phenomenal to see these villages by bike, with a downhill ride through 95% of the journey making it an easy cycle!

On the way back, we stopped for lunch and then checked into our new hotel for the next couple of nights…The Kajane Hotel. ❤ ❤ ❤

OMG OMG OMG…WE EACH HAD OUR OWN 2-BR VILLA WITH A PRIVATE POOL, TERRACE, DECK AND CHAIRS TO ENJOY!!! We all flipped out at the accommodation here…totally surprised as this was a re-routing of our agenda (2 extra nights in Bali) given the earthquake that had transpired in Lombok. I HAD to jump into the cool water of the pool and embrace some exercise in order to deal with the mountains of food (esp rice) we were getting used to enjoying! We had dinner in the restaurant on site and hit the hay early as we had an early start the next day trekking Mount Batur…1717 meters to the summit! 😬



DAY 12:

Whilst most groups trek Mount Batur in the verrrrry early hours of the morning (hotel departure at 1:30am!), we negotiated a 7am start cuz…well…does it really need explanation?!? Greg has definitely chilled over time as I recall waking at 3am (on his suggestion) for a drive up Haleakala in Hawaii 13 years ago with highly cranky wee ones 👶 (definitely worthwhile). We were driven to a breakfast hut where this lady made us banana pancakes and coffee and then we got to the base of the volcano for our early day climb. It was raining and/or misty all throughout the hike, and I was thankful for our lovely guide’s hand during some steep areas.

So glad we didn’t go at sunrise- we were the only ones at the top when we arrived!!! We got boiled eggs (cooked in hot lava steam!) and fruits in a small shack at the peak and made our way down to the Hot Springs for a dip in their pools.

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Spectacular Sri Lanka: Part 1 of The Incredible Beattie and Washer Family 2018 SE Asia Adventure

The Beattie and Washer families have already completed several epic journeys with Adventures Within Reach. At AWR we love helping our guests with select adventure destinations beyond what we list on our website. We have specialist local guide connections in a number of remarkable regions (Sri Lanka, Morocco, Greenland etc.) so curious travelers can always contact us and see if we can help them arrange an itinerary to a typically non-AWR destination such as what the Beattie and Washer families did with Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Over the next weeks we will be sharing their personal stories of their most recent adventure to SE Asia exploring Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Borneo, Bali and Singapore as told by Tinaz. Read on for part 1: Spectacular Sri Lanka.

“Many months ago (too many to recall exact timing) we discussed the possibility of a visit to wonderful old friends in Singapore, with a trip to surrounding areas as a graduation celebration for the boys. Sri Lanka as destination was introduced, as well as Bali, and brainstorming began. Given our hectic lives, I requested the support of Dan from AWR once again (as he’d created a fabulous SE Asia itinerary only a year ago), and the creation of a brilliant trip got underway. Following the introduction of several proposals and much review, we landed on a hiking, biking, safari, and cultural adventure through Sri Lanka, Bali, Lombok, and a lodge visit in Borneo with the orangutans! Singapore to visit old friends would be a final flyby destination for the Washers only…with just 48 hours nobody is allowed to sleep so we can milk our time together!

As per usual, the trip was planned months prior to takeoff under the care of AWR and our favorite travel consultant Dan…and so we’d barely read the full itinerary until…ummmmm…now…! Man…do we ever trust Dan! It was only because my friend Julie took a looksee at our itinerary three days before departure (whilst over for dinner) that I truly discovered what was coming…shame on us! I call it the “I love being surprised” approach to travel but I don’t think anybody really buys that 😆 !

After 31 hours of travel we finally arrive in Columbo, Sri Lanka and are met by our driver from AWR who escorts us to our beautiful little oasis for the night and the meet-up with our gang…our freshfaced friends, Greg and Mado who got in a good 18 hours of ahead us, and the equally-pooped Kelsey and Chad. Our first evening was spent enjoying a private terrace dinner in this lush tropical atmosphere and pinching ourselves that we were in Sri Lanka…really?!?!

DAY 1:

Today after a great breakfast (choice of SL meal of fish/chicken/veg curries and dahls with rice, or western eggs and bacon and surprisingly good Frenchpressed coffee, we took off on our 4-hour journey to see the elephants in their natural, happy habitat by Jeep! The safari took us through a national park hosting monkeys, birds, jackals, water buffalo and a host of Asian elephants enjoying the plains. OMG it was pretty flipping surreal to be within feet of these majestic creatures and watch them bathe, socialize and enjoy the 52 kilos of grass they eat per day!

DAY 2:

Our guide, Harsha met us with the van and we took off for Sirgiriya, or The Lion Rock…an archaeological heritage site built in the 5th century AD with 1200 steps to the top (#eatyourwheaties). Beautiful views from the summit were enjoyed and we might’ve taken a picture or two 😬. Good thing we got an early start at 8am as hoards of peeps were clamoring for step space by 9:30 when we were on our way down. 😇

 

 

DAY 3:

Drinking coffee on our terrace off the chalet overlooking the mountains was pretty nice this morning at 6am! We changed up the itinerary for the day somewhat and dropped a temple in favor of an earlier arrival in Kandy and the fabulous riverside hotel that awaits us. Harsha suggested we stop at a Hindu temple on the way to Kandy and OMGGGGGG WHAT A FANTASTIC SUGGESTION!!!

It was AMAAAAAAAZING! Lucked out as it was an auspicious and celebratory day with tons of local community worshippers present in their most beautiful saris and jewels, offering food and receiving blessings by the temple priests. We first observed three vehicles getting blessed with flowers, tili, and fruits by the priest. The ceremony ended when the driver drove over limes placed at the wheel base of each tire…supercool to observe! We then went inside and spent a good hour enjoying all the sights, sounds, and rituals of the community as they prayed and embraced the ceremonies. We sat on the floor and I fell in love with this little 7-yo girl who had the grandest joie de vivre…a Chatty Cathy who giggled and poked her sister and smiled at Ryan and I constantly through the service! Reminded me how much we are all the same…halfway around the world in this Hindu temple in a small town in central Sri Lanka and kids will be kids. Love. 💕

It was truly a REMARKABLE experience and completely surreal to be part of this blessing on an auspicious day, observing the local community embracing their culture and faith. These are the moments that we hope for on vacay…So. Very. Blessed. Beats an ancient ruin any day of the week because it’s alive and human and real.Looooooove. ❤

The afternoon was spent exploring the charming little town of Kandy. It was Full Moon Day during which the Buddhist community comes to temple for blessings and the entire country is dry for 24 hours. The Buddhists wear white for this special celebration and line up in large numbers for a temple visit at the Temple of the Tooth Relic in the center of town. So….of course…so did we!

Today truly ROCKED…loved loved loved the community-based experiences and opportunity to be part of the authentic vibe. Thanks Harsha! ❤

DAY 4:

Today we left for Ella by train…choosing to experience rural SL in second class seats in order to see the country as some of the locals may choose to travel. We got bussed to the train station with hotel-made lunches in tow and enjoyed the wait for the train alongside both tourists and locals. Our 6-hour journey got off to a late start, but the opportunity to hang your head out of open windows to fully experience the ride was priceless. We passed small towns, shacks, and more stations and then enjoyed tea plantations and beautiful forested countryside for miles and miles. Glenn and Greg may have taken a thousand photos…😎 .

HOLY MOLY BATMAN…ELLA IS BEEEAUTEEEFUL!!! Got off the train in what seemed like a European ski town…Sri Lanka style. A mix of palm trees and evergreens, mountains galore, straw hut style shops and restos line the streets from the train station. Known as the backpacking capital of SL, many young tourists were milling about the village. We drove up into the hills for our SECRET oasis for the night…a spectacularly-located bungalow (Secret Ella) hotel in the mountains, with a gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the grand valley with stunning vistas. The wait staff were beyond sweet as they served us a DELICIOUS meal on their terrace after we took a host of sunset shots.

DAY 5:

Totally mindblowing that this is DAY 5?!?!? We’ve done and seen so much it feels like TWO WEEKS! I wanted to plant myself here for a few days but alas we were taking a HIKE after our morning 5km HIKE up Adam’s Peak. We took off at 6:30 for our walk with Harsha and met many hikers on their way down from their sunrise hike. It was beautiful at the top of this easy climb, and we took another PIC or TWO up there 😜 . The piece de resistance for me was a FABULOUS swim in the refreshing infinity pool post-hike. I was seriously pinching myself that I was engaging my favorite summertime activity on top of the world, overlooking stunning vistas in SL! Say whaaaaa?!?!? Mamma was a happy girl…😎

This afternoon we arrived at Cinnamon Wild…a hotel in the middle of Yala National Park where wildlife are roaming freely amid the brush, greenery, dirt and occasional water sources. Immediately on arrival we see crocodiles, monkeys and water buffalo JUST OUTSIDE THE RESORT…mindblowing to discover how easily they may simply waddle/slide/walk on over to the open air hotel. We had lunch on arrival and after settling into our individual chalets (made of steel roofs so monkeys can’t get in) we took off by Jeep for the afternoon safari.

I was pretty skeptical that we would spot a leopard. Yet, then we came upon a leopard several feet away! Saw another one lying ina tree a few moments later…but the most delicious moment for most of us was the good fortune of coming across a family of elephants as they waddled across our path with their babies in tow! It was beyond surreal! Even better than the elephant safari of a few days ago. We all went ballistic as they came closer and closer to us and Kai asked his driver most politely TO PLEASE BACK UP! WE WERE SOOOOO LUCKY TO SEE THEM! Like seeing your favorite band in concert in the front row and the show simply ROCKED! Truly mindblowing experience to witness their sweetness and majesty…looove.

DAY 6:

Left the Cinnamon Wild hotel and Yala for Galle…and en route we asked Harsha to stop in this bustling town for a walkabout the streets for shopping. How lucky to come across a back alley market with possibly 100 vendors selling everything under the sun?! Fish, vegetables and fruits, meats, clothing…you name it. Again…the sweetest peeps, lots of chaos, smells and intensity…supercool experience.

Also en route, we made a spontaneous visit to the STILT FISHERMAN and Kai and Chad got up on stilts in the roving sea with bamboo fishing rods to give it a shot…well, really for the Photo opp! 🙃 .

The Galle Fort and a walk through it with our guide Reyshan was a very interesting experience…pouring rain, sampling Ceylon Tea, tons of history, and a splash of cynicism and dark humour added to his stories as he shared the centuries-old history of the famous fort. Kai was in heaven learning of the fort (and SL’s history), and we were all entertained by Reyshan’s quirky style. Nice experience altogether and a pleasure to meet Reyshan.

DAY 7:

Our last day in SL has arrived and we took off for Columbo! Harsha took us to buy Ceylon Tea at a specialty tea shop and coordinated a multi-curry lunch buffet at a downtown venue. It was cool to see Columbo as it was the first major (big) city that we’ve seen all week, and certainly had a Bombay-ish feel to it, including its “Marine Drive”.

After lunch we got to our graaaand venue for the night, The Galle Face Hotel! Holy Moly Batman…what a spectacular venue! Huuuuuge hotel on the water in the middle of the city, rich with a ton of history, including many many famous visitors…diplomats, heads of state, and artists over time.

We met up with Rashan again, who we first met at the train station in Kandy, and he took us on a fantastic walkabout/tuk tuk tour of the hotel and parts of Columbo, starting with a whiskey tasting in the famous hotel bar. 🥃

Afterward, we walked out to the huge park bordering the ocean and the guys all tasted some street fare…chicken and roti made by short-order cooks at a beach stall…yummmmm! We then got into tuk tuks…OMG STILL MY FAVORITE WAY TO GET AROUND!!!  Really fun tour with Rashan, and we bid him farewell and hit the hay for a very early flight to BALI!!! YAHOOOOO!”

Stay tuned for more on Bali!

Want to plan your own custom family adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly AWR specialist team

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Family of Six Does The Amazon

This family of six just returned from a fun family summer adventure to the Peruvian Amazon. Read on to hear mom’s account of their journey!

“We had an incredible time – we loved The Inkaterra Field Guide Station (it was so intimate) and our guide, Oscar, was terrific. He was very flexible for the adventures we wanted. I would very much be a 10 to recommend AWR.

Probably our two favorite adventures were going onto the unofficial monkey island – and being so patient and then after about an hour, they came down to us – one member at a time. Even climbed on our guide for the fruit – was a bit crazy making but so cool.

Then we got to go to the National Park and the garden of literally Eden with all the fruits and plants (tried so many cool things) and then walked up about 45 minutes and did a slow float back to the Madre de Dios on a cool canoe. Birds and the sunset – epic day.

We loved the food and the people and our cool cabanas.

Thanks AWR for your help on this planning and great communication!”

-Tammy

Want to plan your family’s next Amazon adventure? Check out some of these itineraries for more ideas:

Your friendly South America expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Brazil, Family Travel, Machu Picchu, Peru, South America, Trip Journals | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring the Ancient Salt Pans in Maras, Peru

You may be familiar with table salt, Kosher salt, or sea salt, but have you heard of Peru’s Maras saltsal de Maras (also known as Peruvian pink salt)?

Maras Salt is considered rose colored gold, which has beneficial properties for our bodies and a wonderful flavor. In recent years, this salt has quickly become the preferred ingredient for Peru’s top chefs.

Maras

Sal de Maras

The name, sal de Maras, is attributed to the place where the salt is extracted. Maras is located 11,090 feet (3,380 meters) above sea level in the Sacred Valley of the Cusco region. The salt pans were built between 200AD-900AD by the Chanapata culture, pre-dating the Incas, and are known in Quechua as Kachi Raqay. There are around 5,000 ponds which were used to supply the entire Inca Empire as well as the Viceroyalty of Peru. The salt held great importance for ancient Peruvian cultures as it was not only used for flavoring food, but also for medicinal purposes given that these beautiful pink crystals are 100% natural.

Maras Sacred Valley

Discover the Sacred Valley: Maras Salt Pans

But how did it all start? Usually, salt pans form near the ocean, meaning Maras was once covered by exactly that- an ocean! Each pond is about 54 square feet and is about 12 inches deep. An ancient spring water canal called Qoripujio feeds the ponds through a network of narrower channels that crisscross the complex, so when keepers want to fill theirs, all they have to do is open a notch to allow the salty water to come in. Once the pond is full, keepers leave it to dry in the arid Andean weather until the spring water evaporates completely. After it’s all dried up, the scraping of the pink salt crust begins – exactly how it was done centuries ago.

The salt mines have traditionally been available to anyone wishing to harvest salt. The owners of the salt ponds must be members of the community, and families that are new to the community wishing to propitiate a salt pond are generally assigned one of the ponds farthest from the community. The size of the salt pond assigned to a family depends on the family’s size. Usually, there are many unused salt pools available to be farmed. Any prospective salt farmer needs only to locate an empty, currently unmaintained pond, consult with the local cooperative, learn how to properly keep a pond within the accepted communal system, and start working.

Mountain Biking to the Maras Salt Pans

The sal de Maras is known as the healthiest and most nutritious salt on the planet, and can only be found in the Andes and the Himalayas. Health benefits of this mineral powerhouse include:

• Heartbeat stabilization and regulation, thanks to its magnesium and sodium content.

• Its sodium is essential for proper muscular function.

• Good quality salt helps minimize the effects of stress by maintaining proper melatonin, serotonin, and tryptamine levels in the brain.

• It helps remove cellular acidity, especially in the brain and kidneys and it helps prevent osteoporosis.

• It provides a buffer for blood sugar levels to help prevent diabetes or to help those who are diabetic use less insulin.

• It provides iodine in a natural setting, making it easier for the thyroid to absorb it and to regulate the endocrine system.

Maras

Maras Salt Pans

Do not miss the chance to visit this natural and historic wonder when you are exploring the Sacred Valley in Peru! Contact us about adding our 1-Day Maras Salt Mines and Moray near Cusco Tour to your next adventure to Machu Picchu and beyond (for those seeking more adventure do this tour on two wheels and pedal through these two amazing sites!) !

CONTINUED READING

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

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Planning Your Safari: Advice for Seeing the Migration in the Serengeti

You are probably very familiar with the common superlatives about the Serengeti migration: The Great Migration is the most massive overland migration in the worldThe Serengeti ecosystem is the oldest on Earth; Nearly 1 and a half-million wildebeest and 250,000 zebra plus hundreds of thousands of antelopes make the annual round-trip journey. What may be less familiar are the best times to go, to see what. Now is a good time to begin planning a Serengeti migration safari for 2019 and we hope this post will help with some solid starting points. We help travelers organize private custom safaris >>, that feature the Serengeti, that are as short as three days, plus group safaris >>.

With climate change, the Serengeti migration clock has appeared to move up a little. For example, not long ago, it was common to plan a February or March safari to see massed calving.  Now, you can argue January may be better. What’s especially riveting about the massed calving is simply the sheer numbers of baby animals: upwards of 8,000 wildebeest calves are born each day in the peak calving time, with the overall numbers ending up around 500,000 wildebeest babies born during the Great Migration. Along with the wildebeest, we see multitudes of baby zebra and baby antelope as well. The biological impulse for massed calving is a simple one: predators can only take down a certain number of babies at a time. By birthing en masse, grazing herds beat the predators with numbers and secure the future health of the species. While there are never any guarantees with Nature, to give yourself a good shot at seeing the calving, you’d want to plan your Serengeti experience ideally between mid-January and mid-February.

Calving is not the only super exciting event during the migration. Many travelers feel absolutely elated just seeing the massed animals and the big cats that are close by.  No matter when you visit the scenic Serengeti, it is easily a top-5 wildlife reserve in Africa.

While November is the “short rainy” season, November is typically when we see the masses of animals move from Kenya down through the park and gradually concentrate in the southern section of the ecosystem, in Ndutu.

Kati Kati Tented Camp

December is excellent for huge herds and cat viewing as it is the typical start of the dry season, which runs from December through mid-March. This is the prime time for the Ndutu area. Some mobile mid-range luxury camps, like the comfortable Kati Kati Serengeti Camp, migrate with the herds and set up shop nearby. A slightly simpler bush camp, Serengeti Halisi Camp, is part of our excellent value 5-day Group safari >>, and is another nice mid-range mobile camp option that moves with the herds.   Ndutu Safari Lodge is a popular mid-range permanent lodge option in the area. Elite 5-star luxury mobile camps like Olakira (South) offer premier options for higher-end travelers. Other lodges and camps, like the elite Dunia Camp, 4-star luxury Serengeti Serena Lodge , the 4-star luxury Kubu Kubu Camp, and the mid-range Serengeti Tortilis Camp, are all situated in prime central locations which are within striking distance of a vast area, from northern Ndutu to the central plains of the Seronera area. That makes them a reasonably good base year-round for the big cats as well as for the calving period.

From mid-March through May, we’d advise travelers to reconsider safari dates as the rains begin in earnest, many mobile camps close, and roads can be affected, diminishing the total area accessible to even the toughest 4×4 Land Cruisers.

In June, the region around the Grumeti River makes an excellent base to witness the passing migration. Herds form up along the river and brave the rivers on dramatic crossing, a prelude of what’s to come further north in the months ahead. Grumeti Migration Camp makes an ideal mid-range lodge here. Not too far away, the aforementioned elite Dunia semi-permanent tented camp is recognized as one of Tanzania’s finest properties. Western corridor properties are also excellent, places like the elite permanent Kirawira Tented Camp and the elite Serengeti Migration Camp, which is a key piece to the 8-day Luxury Fly-In safari >>.

As June grows into July, The Grumeti area remains top-shelf, however by the middle part of July, herds are again on the hoof to the northern Serengeti. Many herds that are separate move into the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya >>. From July through October, Masai Mara National Park teems with wildebeest and zebra. The only drawback is that it’s a relatively small park – compared to the Serengeti – and easily has one of the highest tourist migrations anywhere in Africa as well, so it’s not just teeming with animals, it’s also considerably more crowded with tourists.

From August through October, travelers often have the opportunity to witness the famous river crossings on the Serengeti National Park side of the Mara River.  Plan for at least 3 nights stays in this area to maximize the migration experience.  Here in the far north, tourist numbers are low, due to the isolated environs and the costs of running the mobile tented camps as a result. Good mobile tented camps (usually priced at the upper 4-star luxury or elite levels) in the northern realm include Kirurumu North, Chaka Serengeti Camp, and Olakira (North) among other intimate options. Lemala Kuria Hills Lodge is an excellent elite permanent tented lodge option close to the Mara River.

Most safari travelers would not want to miss northern Tanzania’s other magnificent wildlife reserves and natural areas like

But with few exceptions, the Serengeti typically steals the show and with good reason. The Serengeti is a park without parallel in Africa, and indeed the world, and it awaits your visit. Come see what is simply one of the greatest shows on Earth even to this day!

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Kilimanjaro Marathon — March 3, 2019

Climb Kilimanjaro + Tanzania Safari + MarathonThe next Kilimanjaro Marathon will be held on March 3, 2019. You can combine this great event with a Tanzania Safari, climb up Kilimanjaro, relax on Zanzibar, or all three!

15-Day Kilimanjaro Marathon with Safari and Climb Kilimanjaro
February 23-March 9, 2018
Starting at $4045/person!

Climb Kilimanjaro 7-day Machame RouteThis itinerary combines a 6-day group Kilimanjaro trek on the Machame Route followed by a 5-day group safari, which includes the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater plus a big finish with the Kilimanjaro Marathon. You can add on a trip to Zanzibar Island as well.

You can arrange any trek, safari, or Zanzibar visit around this date, but we have a group safari and group Kilimanjaro trek that fit perfectly with the Kilimanjaro Marathon.

The Kilimanjaro Marathon offers options for all levels:

  • Full marathon
  • Half marathon
  • 5k fun run

IITINERARY
Day 1: FEB 23: Arrive Moshi
Day 2: FEB 24: Free Day in Moshi, Kili Briefing (B)
Day 3: FEB 25: 6-DAY GROUP KILIMANJARO TREK / Hike Machame Gate to Machame Camp (BLD)
Day 4: FEB 26: Hike Machame Camp to Shira Camp (BLD)
Day 5: FEB 27: Shira Camp to Lava Tower to Barranco Camp (BLD)
Day 6: FEB 28: Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp (BLD)
Day 7: MAR 1: Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Hut (BLD)
Day 8: MAR 2: Mweka Camp to Moshi (B)
Day 9: MAR 3: KILIMANJARO MARATHON (B)
Day 10: MAR 4: 5-DAY GROUP SAFARI / Moshi to Lake Manyara, Game Drive (BLD)
Day 11: MAR 5: Serengeti/Ndutu Game Drive (BLD)
Day 12: MAR 6: Serengeti/Ndutu Game Drive (BLD)
Day 13: MAR 7: Drive to Ngorongoro via optional Olduvai Gorge and Maasai village (BLD)
Day 14: MAR 8: Ngorongoro, half day game drive, drive to Moshi (BL)
Day 15: MAR 9: Transfer to Kilimanjaro Airport, depart (B)

Tanzania Safari ElephantPRICING

  • $4045/person for 2 people in group tours

15-Day Kilimanjaro Marathon with Safari and Climb Kilimanjaro >>

Posted in Kilimanjaro, Safari, Tanzania | Leave a comment

Choquequirao — The Other Machu Picchu

Choquequirao (pronounced: Cho-Kay-Kee-Rao), also known as “Machu Picchu’s little sister” is a lesser-known Inca archaeological site located just 64 km (40 miles) from Machu Picchu and is perfect for nature lovers and trekkers looking to explore alternative routes in and around the Cusco region, Peru.

Choquequirao

Choquequirao

The archaeological site is reached after two days of challenging hiking in uneven terrain including a descent to the Apurimac River and a whopping 1500 meters of level change. Fun fact: The Incan site is said to be up to three times the size of its famous “older sister” and is still under cleaning process, having been largely covered by vegetation for centuries.

If this sounds up your alley, check our 7-Day Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Trek! This program has you trekking past the Apurimac river canyon, into the amazing ruins of Choquequirao, through the Cordillera Vilcabamba to finally reach Machu Picchu from its south side. This unique program is perfect for those who want to combine archaeology and mountains. Some of the trail follows the very footsteps of Hiram Bingham!

Choquequirao

Trek to Choquequirao

Way off the beaten track, Choquequirao (the “Cradle of Gold”) is an amazingly preserved Inca outpost. Only accessible by a tough trek, it is comparable in size to Machu Picchu and dramatically located on a promontory nearly 1,700m above the roaring Apurimac River. Our seven-day mule supported hike to Choquequirao and beyond takes in high passes, perfectly preserved Inca Trails and awesome Andean peaks, and ends with a spectacular and rarely seen view of Machu Picchu, complete with a fully guided tour of these incredible ruins.

This is a long, spectacular and strenuous hike crossing the entire Vilcabamba mountain range from the Apurimac to the Urubamba watershed. It is approximately 75km long with almost 5,000m of both ascent and descent, passes up to 4,100m and river crossings as low as 1,450m.

Choquequirao

Trek to Choquequirao

This is your chance to be among one of the few adventurers to visit this incredible site and complete this rewarding trek to Machu Picchu.

A 10-day package is available, including 3 nights in Cusco, Cusco city walking tour and transfers.

Please contact us for set departures dates for the 7-day trek.

  • $2320 USD per person

*Prices are for set departures; contact us for private treks, to start on any date.

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Peru, South America, Trekking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NEW TRIP! 8-Day Dolomites Hiking Traverse

8-Day Dolomites Hiking TraverseWe are excited to introduce Dolomites treks to our list of amazing adventures! Starting with the 8-Day Dolomites Hiking Traverse.

  • Starting at $1595/person!

8-Day Dolomites Hiking TraverseThe best time for trekking in the Dolomites is June through September. It can be accessed from Venice or other European cities to make for an amazing European vacation.

As with all of our trips, we can customize this trek, and we offer many of the treks through the Dolomites.

ITINERARY

8-Day Dolomites Hiking TraverseDay 1 : Arrive in Selva di Val Gardena
Day 2 : Hike around Sasso Lungo
Day 3 : Hike from Selva to Corvara in Alta Badia
Day 4 : Hiking in Santa Croce Sanctuary
Day 5 : Hike from Capanna Alpina to Natural Park of Fanes-Sennes-Braies
Day 6 : Hike from Natural Park of Fanes-Sennes-Braies to Cortina
Day 7 : Hike to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Day 8 : Departure

8-Day Dolomites Hiking Traverse >>

Posted in Alps, Dolomites, Europe, Trekking | Leave a comment