Venice – Great Addition to Your Dolomites Trek!

If you are starting or ending your Dolomites Trek in Cortina, Venice is the closest airport. Why not spend a few days in this amazing city?? Find out getting there, what to do, getting around, where to stay, and more information!


Getting There

You can get a private transfer or tourist bus between Cortina and Venice. If you are coming from Cortina, you will go to the Piazzale Roma. This is where the main bus station, Santa Lucia Train Station (Ferrovia), and parking area are.

You can get around by water bus, water taxi, and walking. Ask your hotel for directions to get to the hotel. They will give you the bus route and/or walking directions. If there are 4+ of you, it is worth the money to get a Water Taxi down the Grand Canal – fun experience!


What to Do

The main tourist sites are:

  • St. Mark’s Square
  • St. Mark Basilica
  • Doge’s Palace and Bridge of Sighs
  • Rialto Bridge
  • Grand Canal
  • Gondola ride (80 Euros for up to 6 people during the day / 100 Euros at night)
  • Day trip to Murano and Burano
  • Eating
  • Shopping

Get tickets in advance online for the St. Mark’s Basilica (even day of) and Doge’s Palace (48 hours in advance) to skip the long lines.


Getting Around

You can take a water bus from Piazzale Roma to St. Mark’s Square. The San Marco and San Zaccaria water bus stop is where the St. Mark’s Square is (main tourist part of town). Route 1 takes longer but goes through the Grand Canal. Route 2 is faster and goes around but still scenic and great for sunset. It takes about 30 minutes to walk from Piazzale Roma to St. Mark’s Square. Water Taxis are available, but expensive. There is also a Grand Canal Cruise from the train station.


Where to Stay

Hotels are mostly by St. Mark’s Square, Piazzale Roma, or along the Grand Canal. Unless you are on the Grand Canal, a “canal view” room is of limited value. Hotels are very expensive, so don’t be shocked.


More Information

Make sure you have a phone with data service for using a map, or download maps on the map.me (or other) app. Maps are very handy in Venice!!

Rick Steves Pocket Venice – nice walking tours and handy tourist info (see Practicalities in the back).

See all our Dolomites treks >>

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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

Posted in Peru, South America, Sustainable Tourism, Travel Advice | 1 Comment

What is the Hiking Like on the Camino de Santiago?

Depending on the route and itinerary you choose, you will hike 9-17 miles / 15-28km per day. There are hills, but any steep sections are relatively short. Because you are hiking a good distance every day, the main problem people encounter are blisters and sore muscles. Footwear, blister first aid, and ibuprofen are important. Hiking poles are also highly recommended. There will be cafes and rest areas along the trail where you can stop for a rest. Here are some of the different types of paths on the Camino de Santiago trek.

Dirt road through a canopy of trees
Hiking through a larger town – a great look at local life
Hiking on a quiet paved road
Through the beautiful countryside of small local farms
Over stone bridges
Stone pathway
Narrow dirt path
Past cute cafes
Through forests of fragrant Eucalyptus trees
Hiking into Santiago de Compostela
Final Destination – Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela!

Plan YOUR Camino de Santiago Trek!

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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

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Finding Your Way on the Camino de Santiago

Many people ask how they will be able to find their way on the Camino de Santiago trek. Just follow the signs!

Most markers come with the kilometer distance from Santiago.
Arrows on the side of a building.
Decorated with rocks on top.
As part of a shrine.
Well worn shoe!
Modern sign.
Also artsy….

Plan your own Camino trek!

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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

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3 Ways to do the Famous W Trek in Torres del Paine

Trekking season in Patagonia is upon us! Read on to discover three different ways to do the famous W Trek in Torres del Paine with us this season.

  1. Self-Guided with Rifugios (basic)
  2. EcoCamp (comfortable)
  3. Explora (luxury)
Torres del Paine
Traditional W-Trek in Torres del Paine, Patagonia

1) Self-guided 5-Day Patagonia: Traditional W Trek in Torres del Paine (Staying at Refugios)

This is the most traditional way of doing the W Trek. Start off in Puerto Natales where you will have a briefing and be given maps, directions, bus tickets and refugio vouchers. Then head off to Torres del Paine and enjoy 5 days and 4 nights of trekking while staying at the traditional, cozy refugios throughout the park. End back in Puerto Natales. This is the cheapest option and is great for experienced hikers looking for a non-frilly, incredible trekking experience. This hike can be done with a guide as well for additional cost. Please note that we include all bedding at the refugios for our travelers so all you need to carry are the clothes and personal items you will want during the trek.

5-Day Patagonia: Traditional W Trek in Torres del Paine


EcoCamp (Standard Dome)

2) 5 and 7-Day W Trek options with EcoCamp

Enjoy the W Trek in a slightly more comfortable way with EcoCamp. These two options are group departures and are based from EcoCamp, which is your home-base for the trek and offers a variety of dome accommodations. Depending on if you do the 5-Day or 7-Day option, you will spend 1 or 2 nights respectably in one of the refugios in the park but the rest of the nights will be back at EcoCamp. This option is great for solo travelers looking to join a group or people that would like a bit more comfort during the trek than the traditional refugio to refugio option. With this option you do not have to carry anything more than a day pack with your personal items that you will want for the day in it.


View from rooms at Explora

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

This final option is the most luxurious way to hike around Torres del Paine. Base your self for 5 days at Explora Patagonia in the middle of Torres del Paine National Park. Each day you have the opportunity to choose from dozens of hiking options around the park. For those wishing to do the W Trek, you can complete the trek as three day hikes with Explora: Base of the Towers Trek, French Valley Trek and Glacier Grey Valley Trek. At Explora, your stay is all inclusive so all meals and alcohol are included as well as transportation out to the various hikes and private guides.

Want to plan your W Trek adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Patagonia expert,
Gretchen

Posted in Chile, Luxury, Patagonia, South America, Sustainable Tourism, Travel Advice, Trekking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Galapagos for the Holiday Season 2019

There are still 11 Galapagos Cruises with availability for Christmas and New Years 2019! These trips will fill up fast, so contact us for more information!

And you are free to travel early to mid-December or mid- to late January, there is even more availability. The holiday season for 2020 is already booking fast, so plan ahead!

1) Nemo I

  • DATES: December 23-30, 2019 or December 30, 2019 – January 6, 2020
  • PRICE: $3745/person

2) Blue Spirit

  • DATES: December 18-25, 2019 OR December 29, 2019 – January 5, 2020 (8 days)
  • PRICE: $4895/person Lower Deck or $5195/person Upper Deck

3) Tip Top II

  • DATES: December 30, 2019 – January 3, 2020 (5 days)
  • PRICE: $5395/person — Includes Galapagos Flight!

4) Camila

  • 8-DAY DATES: December 21-28, 2019 (8 days)
  • 8-DAY PRICE: $7695/person
  • 5-DAY DATES: December 31, 2019 – January 4, 2020 (5 days)
  • 5-DAY PRICE: $4895/person

5) Cachalote Explorer

  • DATES: December 18-25, 2019 (8 days)
  • PRICE: $4195-$4595/person depending on cabin

6) Aqua (Diving Trip)

  • DATES: December 24-31, 2019 (8 days)
  • PRICE: $3895/person Lower Deck or $4095/person for Upper/Main Deck

7) Isabela II

  • 5-DAY DATE: December 23-27, 2019 (Central Islands)
  • 5-DAY PRICE: $5295/person
  • 7-DAY DATE: December 31, 2019 – January 6, 2020 (Northern Islands)
  • 7-DAY PRICE: $6545/person

8) Santa Cruz II

  • DATE: December 27, 2019 – January 2, 2020 (7 days)
  • PRICE: $6945/person

9) Millennium

  • DATE: December 27, 2019 – January 1, 2020 (6 Days / Itinerary C)
  • PRICE: $3245/person

10) Beagle

  • DATE: December 31, 2019 – January 7, 2020 (8 Days / Southeastern Islands)
  • PRICE: $3595/person

11) Danubio Azul

  • 4-DAY DATE: December 21-24, 2019
  • 4-DAY PRICE: $2395/person
  • 5-DAY DATE: December 17-21, 2019
  • 5-DAY PRICE: $2495/person

Contact us for more information!

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Discover The Ballestas Islands of Peru

The Ballestas Islands are located right off the coast of Paracas, a vibrant wildlife sanctuary filled with a stunning scenery and a variety of wildlife species. Discover the islands and see the stunning rock formations and landscapes that surround them.

Sail around the rock formations and marvel at the colorful birds that inhabit the islands. Get up-close and personal with the Humboldt penguins and sea lions as well as many other endangered birds and animals that live on the islands.

To learn more about visiting the Ballestas Islands, please contact us or check out some of the following itineraries:

1-Day Paracas and Ballestas Day Tour

Combine the Ballestas with the Nazca Lines:

3-Day Nazca Lines, Ballestas Islands and Paracas Reserve

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.cuponidad.pe/images/Deals/paracashuellas2d.jpg?w=640&ssl=1

Your friendly Peru expert,
Gretchen

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The More You Know: Argentina Travel Tips

A successful trip to Argentina begins before the adventure! Read on for our tips on weather and when to go, packing and literature.

Laguna Los Tres
Laguna Los Tres

WHEN TO GO:

The best time to visit Argentina depends on the region you’re traveling to. October to March are the warmest and most accessible months for visitors heading to Patagonia, in the south of the country.

Meanwhile, Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Iguazu Falls and the Northwest are truly year-round destinations. June, July and August are popular months for skiers in the mountains around Bariloche, while April’s displays of fall leaves in Mendoza’s winelands make this month an appealing time for a visit.

>>Argentina Destination Weather

WHAT TO BRING:

Packing for Argentina can be tricky especially if you are visiting a combination of say, the Northwest and Patagonia. Consult our packing lists to guide you.

>>Argentina Packing Lists

ADDITIONAL READING AND ADVICE:
Travel Advice: How to Pack for The Atacama & Patagonia In One Trip (Even though this was written for Chile, it applies to Argentina as well)
Sustainable Travel — Reducing Plastic on Your Trip

Laguna Los Tres
Laguna Los Tres, El Chalten

THE MORE YOU KNOW:

Before you travel, consider picking up one of these trusted guide books about Argentina to read more about the areas you will be visiting and get ideas for restaurants and activities you may want to do on any free days you may have.

>>Argentina Books

Want to plan your next Argentina adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Argentina expert,

Gretchen

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