VIDEO: Luxury Rainbow Mountain Lodge to Lodge Trek

Come trace the steps of our breathtaking 5-Day Luxury Rainbow Mountain Lodge to Lodge Trek here:

Want to join the adventure and book this trek for your next Peru adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

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NEW TRIP! 5-Day Luxury Rainbow Mountain Lodge to Lodge Trek

Our 5-Day Luxury Rainbow Mountain Lodge to Lodge Trek is a breathtaking journey in the Cordillera Vilcanota, on a route we call the “Camino Del Apu Ausangate”, the route to the sacred Rainbow Mountain. Apus, or “sacred mountains” in Quechua, are the bearers of life and the guardians of some of the most pristine alpine ecosystems in the world. Ausangate, the Rainbow Mountain, is, without a doubt, one of the most stunning peaks you will ever behold and the journey there is a trip of a lifetime.

On your trek you will be accompanied by llamas and horses that will carry our gear. These are owned by shepherds of the community of Chillca who are proud to share their land with us, as well as the spirit of their inspiring world. On our hike and in the unique “Tambos” or Andean Lodges, daily meals will be prepared by experienced chefs who will introduce you to a great variety of delicious Peruvian dishes and produce, and for your entertainment: authentic vernacular music, played by local inhabitants, will liven up some of our evenings at the cozy, candle-lit “tambos.”

GROUP DEPARTURES: Every Friday

PRIVATE DEPARTURES: Available upon request

OVERVIEW:

  • Day 1: Cusco – Chillca (LD)
  • Day 2: Chillca – Machuracay (BLD)
  • Day 3: Machuracay- Anantapata (BLD)
  • Day 4: Anantapata-Huampococha (BLD)
  • Day 5: Huampococha- Cusco, Departure (BL)

ITINERARY

Day 1: Cusco – Chillca (LD)

An early departure from Cusco to travel in our comfortable coach bus along the Vilcanota River to visit the temple of Checacupe, then through the upper valley of Pitumarca. At Japura, we’ll trek a short distance to Chillca. Community members and local musicians greet us at our first Andean Lodge, sharing their native Andean music as we sip coca tea. Our 8 double rooms have hot showers and full bathrooms. The lodge features tasty, healthy Andean cuisine, such as Alpaca steak, with vegetarian dishes and other dining options available.

Meals included: Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Chillca Lodge

Day 2: Chillca – Machuracay (BLD)

After breakfast, we trek along the glacier valley of Phinaya, seeing hundreds of alpacas and llamas. On the way to the glaciers at Mt. Santa Catalina, the trail climbs past the breathtaking Pjachaj waterfall. Our picnic lunch awaits us above. Then, surrounded by moraine walls, glaciers and lakes, we walk about 5 hours to Machuracay Lodge. Your bags are carried by llama caravan. At the lodge, we’re met by the native family that manages it.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Machuraccay Lodge

Day 3: Machuracay- Anantapata (BLD)

Today we take on our first mountain pass (16,587 ft./ 5,100 m.) enjoying spectacular panoramic views. Descending alongside the glaciers, we hike to Ausangate Cocha Lake where we’ll have lunch. Here, the landscape shifts dramatically, with red sandstone formations where we’ll see vicuñas and occasional condors. After a great day of hiking we arrive at the third Andean Lodge to relax, take in the splendid views and enjoy a restful night.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Anantapata Lodge

Day 4: Anantapata-Huampococha (BLD)

After breakfast, we hike the trail up to the next mountain pass. Dropping down, we hike past Lake Kayrawiri, surrounded by rugged mountain peaks and the great valley below. Colorful bands of soil adorn the hillsides. Then, we continue on to Laya Grande Hill via massive Glacier del Inca, to encounter the amazing colors of soil strata at Mt. Vinicunca (the world-renowned “Rainbow Mountain”). We have lunch there, with time for photos and a rest stop in this spectacular landscape. On our way to our fourth Andean Lodge we might see hundreds of Andean geese nesting in the cliffs of Anta. Hiking past the flatiron formations of Mt. Apu Labrayani, we arrive at Huampococha Lodge, where we’ll spend the night in comfort.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Huampococha Lodge

Day 5: Huampococha- Cusco, Departure (BL)

We hike up enjoying an outstanding view of the mountains to reach the top of the last pass. It’s an easy downhill from here. We hike past the strange shapes of a Karst limestone rock forest and continue to the end of the trail at Trapiche. There, we have lunch and return by bus to Cusco, reminiscing about the unforgettable experiences we’ve shared in the Andes.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

The 5-Day Luxury Rainbow Mountain Lodge to Lodge Trek combines amazingly well with the following itineraries:

Want to book your next Peru adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

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Guest Review of Amazing Brazil and Peru Adventure

This group of three just returned from an incredible Brazil and Peru combination custom adventure! Read on to hear about their journey, the highlights, as well as personal advice to future travelers.

Kicking off their journey in Sao Paulo, they explored the historic center, numerous parks and incredible markets that this must-visit South American metropolis has to offer. From Sao Paulo, they continued on to the rhythmic beaches of Rio de Janeiro where they visited the famous Christ the Redeemer, Tijuca Forest and soaked up the sun atop Sugar Loaf mountain. They ended their magical time in Brazil, staying at the spectacular Belmond Das Cataratas Hotel on the edge of the mighty Iguazu Falls!

Continuing on, they jumped on the direct flight from Foz do Iguassu (airport on the Brazil side of Iguazu Falls) to Lima, Peru. In Lima, they stayed in the chic and upbeat neighborhood of Miraflores while checking out the world-renown culinary scene and the stunning collection of Peruvian historical artifacts at the Larco Museum. Machu Picchu bound, they flew to Cusco next and spent time discovering the beauty and tranquility of the Sacred Valley, with the always deeply knowledgeable and upbeat, Claudia (one of our top guides in the region). Awestruck by the mystery and wonder instilled by the Machu Picchu citadel, the trio returned to Cusco and flew north to Iquitos, in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. Their adventure came to a close with four days and three nights aboard the Delfin III as they explored the overwhelmingly incredible biodiversity of this enchanting ecosystem.

Moray

“We had a wonderful time in Brazil and Peru and AWR’s travel arrangements were flawless. Special mention to our lady guide in Sacred Valley, Claudia, she was very helpful and nice.

We are extremely likely to recommend Adventures Within Reach to our friends, family, and coworkers. You guys would be the first one I contact for any locations where I need an agency.

Our top three highlights from the trip are:

1) Iguazu Falls was amazing. Peru, generally, was way above expectations. The people were very nice everywhere we went, food was good and standards generally high.

2) Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu are must-visits. We also really loved the Sonesta hotel in Yucay, Sacred Valley. Great value and beautiful property. We actually liked it better than all the Belmonds.

3) The Delfin III is a nice boat for a quick cruise on the upper amazon. Good quality rooms, interesting programs and amazing staff.

Arrival in the Amazon

It has been great working with Gretchen. Will not hesitate to recommend to all my friends and family. I wish you could have organized some of our other travels.

Advice for future travelers:

If budget permits, stay at the Belmond in Iguazu Falls. It makes a lot of difference to have access to the falls when the crowd clears.

The temperature at Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu may be cool but when the sun is out, it’s scorching hot. You definitely need a good hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and water. “

Machu Picchu

For more inspiration based on the components of this particular adventure, check out:

9-Day Active Rio and Iguazu Adventure

9-Day Sao Paulo, Paraty and Rio de Janeiro

1-Day Lima City Tour with Museum Visit

7-Day Peru: Machu Picchu Tour by Train

4-Day Delfin Amazon River Cruise

Want to plan your next Brazil adventure or trip to Peru? Contact us!

Your friendly South America expert,

Gretchen

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

Introducing Antarctica’s 2020-2021 Season Dates and Rates!

Our most popular ANTARCTICA trips
Being up-close with Antarctica’s penguins is one of the world’s most exciting wildlife experiences

Adventures Within Reach is excited to announce that the 2020-2021 Antarctica expedition dates and rates are set. Reserving a trip far in advance is the only way to better insure that you get on the trip you want, when you want it, and in the cabin you prefer. For some expeditions, like the 8-day Antarctica Fly/Cruise, booking more than a year out is virtually a de facto requirement just to get on a trip.

The 2020-2021 season dates and ships are listed on the landing page of each trip. Simply click the trip link and check out the tour summary at the top for dates/ships. Most departures include a “from” price for general reference. For specific prices and availability for the cabin-type you’d prefer, simply contact us >> and we will help!


12-Day Antarctica Basecamp
Camping on Antarctica

12-Day Antarctica Basecamp

These specialized, adventure-oriented Basecamp Expeditions feature the most exciting activities imaginable including camping on Antarctica, sea kayaking, mountaineering and more, all included in the price. The “basecamp” is in fact a comfortable yet formidable expedition vessel. Traveling by zodiac to shore, you’ll explore awesome natural areas loaded with pristine Antarctica scenery. Like with other expeditions, you’ll also have plenty of opportunities to witness the wonderful wildlife of the region too!


10-Day Classic Antarctica Peninsula Expedition
Zodiac in Antarctica

10-Day Classic Antarctica

Classic Antarctica expeditions are easily the most affordable way to visit Antarctica in a deeply meaningful way. The trips check all the most important boxes: Antarctic wildlife, surreal polar scenery, and a chance to personally set foot on the hallowed white continent itself. These trips voyage from Ushuaia, Argentina and across the famed Drake’s Passage to explore the wildlife-rich South Shetland Islands and the icy upper reaches of Antarctica’s western arm.


8-Day Antarctica Fly/Cruise
Penguins line up for the polar plunge

8-Day Antarctica Fly/Cruise

The 8-day Antarctica Fly/Cruise expeditions are among the truly elite travel experiences available on Earth. Departing from Punta Arenas, Chile, travelers fly to Antarctica aboard a polar-worthy, custom aircraft. After landing, you hop aboard the expedition vessel and cruise Antarctica much like you would on a classic cruise. Then you fly back. The trip saves you time and spares you the 2-day voyage across the Drake. Sea Kayaking and hiking/snowshoeing are options for travelers looking for that extra kick!


19-Day Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica
Albatross displaying

19-Day Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica

For travelers who have the time and financial resources available, the longer Antarctica expeditions are among the most epic trips in the world, traveling to three amazing “end of the world” natural areas, each incredibly isolated and wild. These trips are especially excellent for keen wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. With more variety in habitats, there’s more variety in wildlife and scenery.

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NEW TRIP! 3-Day Petropolis Teresopolis Trek

Just outside of Rio lies the mind-blowing Serra dos Orgaos National Park and mountain range. Trek one of Brazil’s most beautiful routes through this incredible park on the 3-Day Petropolis Teresopolis Trek! The trail is known for its breathtaking vistas, steep climbs, and high difficulty rating, so get ready for an incredibly rewarding challenge! This is an excellent add-on for adventurous and active travelers looking for a unique experience while visiting Rio.

Starting at $1595 USD per person!

ITINERARY:

Day 1: Arrival in Petropolis; Start Trek (LD)
Day 2: Castelos do Acu and Pedra do Sino (BLD)
Day 3: Pedra do Sino to Teresopolis (BL)

Day 1: Arrival in Petropolis; Start Trek (LD)

Private transfer from Rio de Janeiro to Petropolis. (1h50 / 70 km approx).

1st Day: Petropolis park entrance x Castelos do Acu

Hiking time: 5 to 7h

The first day of Petropolis Teresopolis crossing is the most demanding. During the 7 km up to Castelos do Açu shelter we gain approximately 1100 meters of altitude. The trail of Acu mountain goes through a dense forest and with a strong ascent to Pedra do Queijo viewpoint. Then the trail gets a little less steep until arriving at Ajax viewpoint, which has natural water supply. After Ajax, we need to face the point considered the most difficult of the ascent to the Açu castles: the Isabeloca mountain. This ascent is named after an alleged passage of Princess Isabel on the spot. Once Isabeloca is over, we’ll cross the Chapadao do Acu, a counterfort, before arriving at the Acu castles. This is the first place to stay overnight and where the first mountain shelter of the Petropolis Teresopolis Crossing is located. The view of the Acu castles closes the first day with a golden key. From there it is possible to see all of Rio de Janeiro and Guanabara Bay in addition to the entire mountain range of Serra dos Orgaos.

The current overnight options are (depend on availability of the National Park):

Camping (in camping tent)
Bivaque (collective room without beds inside the mountain shelter)
Bunk bed (bed inside the mountain shelter)

Meals included: Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Refugio or Camping

Day 2: Castelos do Acu and Pedra do Sino (BLD)

2nd Day: Castelos do Acu and Pedra do Sino

Hiking time: 6 to 8h

The second day is undoubtedly the most beautiful of Petropolis Teresopolis crossing. The entire course goes on an average altitude of 2,000m. After leaving the Acu castles, we’ll cross a valley and then climb to the top of Morro do Marco. After descending this hill, we arrive in Luva valley and then ascend to the summit of Morro da Luva. The trail follows another section of rock summits, where navigation is complicated until reaching the section called The Elevator. The Elevator is a ladder made of steel rebar stuck to a steep stone that gives access to the summit of Morro do Dinossauro. Once at the top of Morro do Dinossauro, we find the first great view of the Pedra do Garrafão and Pedra do Sino stones. From there we start the descent to Vale das Antas and the trail continues to the summit of Morro da Baleia, where you can see the rock wall of Pedra do Sino, Garrafao and the trail channel where The Cavalinho is located. The Cavalinho (The small horse) has this name because it is a stone that to cross is necessary to make a movement similar to riding a horse. After overcoming Cavalinho, the trail follows the channel until it skirts Pedra do Sino and reach a bifurcation that gives access to the peak of Pedra do Sino and to the Shelter 4. The Pedra do Sino is the highest point of the crossing. At its summit there is an incredible 360 view, being possible to see several mountain ranges of the region, Rio de Janeiro city and even the Agulhas Negras peak and Serra Fina mountain range, in the clearest days.

The current overnight options are (depend on availability of the National Park):

Camping (in camping tent)
Bivaque (collective room without beds inside the mountain shelter)
Bunk bed (bed inside the mountain shelter)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Refugio or Camping

Day 3: Pedra do Sino to Teresopolis (BL)

3rd Day: Pedra do Sino and End in Teresopolis

Hiking time: 4 to 6h

The third day is the least demanding of the crossing. The trail follows for approximately 9 km to the Teresopolis park dam, the final crossing point. During the descent we hike through two waterfalls where the highlight is the Veu de Noiva (Veil of the Bride) of Teresopolis with 16 meters of height that at certain times of the year is dry.

Private transfer from Teresópolis to Rio de Janeiro. (2h/110 km approx)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

More on Brazil:

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Guest Review of Recent Thailand Adventure

Two repeat AWR travelers just returned from an incredible journey to Thailand. Read on to hear about

  • Hiking in the northern jungles
  • Foodie experiences in Chang Mai
  • Bathing elephants
  • Wwimming in emerald falls
  • Making friends with the locals

Our trip to Thailand with AWR was our most exciting travel yet! We loved playing cards half the night with the kids in the Palong village. They were so welcoming and adorable. We spent about six hours hiking through the jungle of Northern Thailand, and, though it was hot, the views were spectacular. It was so amazing to walk among so many mango and banana trees.

Chang Mai was a lot of fun with great food. Ukrit was a wonderful guide. He showed us some great shopping, and shared so much Thai culture with us. We truly appreciated how personable he is.

We also loved spending half a day with the retired elephants at the Thai Elephant Care Center. Each elephant had unique personalities that made the feeding and bathing lots of hands-on fun. We learned so much and truly treasure our experience there.

Oh, and we were so happy to have had a chance to see Erawan Falls. All seven falls are that perfect shade of blue/green that you can never forget. And, you won’t forget the fish nibbles either!

AWR took the stress out of planning our trip to Thailand. They paid close attention to detail so that every transition of our travel went remarkably smooth. This was our second trip with AWR (our first was to the Amazon rainforest in Peru) and we will surely book a future adventure with them.

Thank you! It is a pleasure to work with all of you at AWR. 

Chrissy

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Using GPS on the Camino de Santiago Trek

The Camino trail is relatively easy to follow — the route is very well sign-posted, so you just follow the yellow arrows and shell signs along the way. However, after you book your Camino de Santiago Trek we can also provide you with the GPS coordinates, which you can download to your smartphone. We have files for the Camino French Way and the Camino Portuguese Coastal Route.

This is a great tool in case you find yourself off the track, mislaid your walking notes, or missed a Camino marker along the way. It is also fun to follow along!

There are many tools that you can use to import and view the GPS waypoints. This will show you how to use it with a phone app called “Ride with GPS.” This is a bicycling app, but can be used for hiking. This tool can be used to download to iPhone, Android, Garmin Edge, Wahoo, and other tools.

STEP #1 – Download the GPX file

We will send you the .gpx file for your route — either via email or DropBox. Download this file to your computer. Contact us for the file.

STEP #2 – Create account with Ride with GPS

Go to the Ride with GPS website, and create a free account.

STEP #3 – Download Ride with GPS app onto your phone

Download from the app store to your phone. Log in using your account information.

This is a free app, but if you want to view maps offline, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan. There are 5 different subscription offers available, the cheapest being the 1 week Basic Pass for $3.99 or the monthly basic subscription for $5.99. After your Camino, you can unsubscribe to the service on your device if you do not wish to continue to use.

STEP #4 – Upload GPX file

  • On the Ride with GPS website, click on the option on the left side for “Upload”.
  • Under “Upload files”, click on “Select files”.
  • Select the GPX file that you downloaded to your computer.
  • Once uploaded, select “View route”.
  • On the left side, select “Send to Device”.
  • Select your device, then Next.
  • If you have the Ride with GPS app installed on your phone, select “Yes”.
  • Click Next and then “Return to Route”. This will show you the full route on a map and the elevation profile. Feel free to browse around!

STEP #5 – View Route on Phone

Over on your phone, you should get a notification that the route was received. Click on the notification, which will open the app. It will ask if you want to Download Route to view and navigate offline. If you paid for the upgrade, click Download.

You will be able to view the route on your phone whenever you have an internet connection. You will be able to see your location in relation to your Camino route, zoom in and out for a more detailed view, and change between different map types.

You should have access to Wi-Fi each night at your hotel during the trip, so we recommend looking at the route for the following day.  If you wish to access the maps offline the next day, go through your entire route each night on your device at different zoom levels.  This will store your route in the device cache and can be accessed easily the next day offline free of charge.

STEP #6 – Practice and Upgrade before your trip

Familiarize yourself with the workings of the App before you leave, so that in the unlikely situation that you do feel lost, your location is only a few finger movements away.

If you wish to download and access the maps and route at any time (without an internet connection), we recommend that you upgrade your account to access this useful feature.

Contact us for more information!

Posted in Camino de Santiago, Trekking | 2 Comments

Adventures In The Cordillera Blanca of Peru

Over the past two weeks, our South America program director, Gretchen, has been exploring the Ancash region of Peru. Read on to hear about wild treks, hidden glacial lakes, towering peaks and cozy mountain huts all found in the Cordillera Blanca!

Highlights:

  • Huaraz
  • Cordillera Blanca
  • Wilcacocha Lake
  • Rajucolta Lake
  • Llanganuco Lakes
  • Refugio Peru
  • Condor Pass
  • Laguna 69
  • Pisco Mountain
  • Yanapaccha Mountain
  • Lima
  • Miraflores
  • Barranco

DAY 1: 4×4’s in Sand Dunes, Caral Archeological Site, Huaraz

This morning we begin before sunrise at 4:30AM and take off in 4x4s to sand dunes outside of Lima. We arrive at “El Tubo” where the desert turns into a staggeringly steep funnel. Without second thought, our expert drivers whip us through these epic walls of sand to safety on the other side.

From here, we continue on to the 5000 years old (3000 BC), Caral Archeological site. Here we have a tour of the major pyramids lead by the head archeologist of the region.

From the desert, we head back towards the coast and pass endless passion fruit, pomegranate and watermelon plantations on the way. We finally arrive in Barracas, a small village on the sea, where we are served fresh seafood and several other local dishes.

Once we are are all full and sleepy, we board our bus to the mountain town of Huaraz. We overnight at the quaint Swiss-Peruvian hotel, Hotel Andino, which will become home base for the rest of my time in the Cordillera Blanca.

DAY 2: Acclimatization Hike by Wilcacocha Lake

Today we drive to Wilcacocha Lake (12,139 ft), have luxury picnic, and hike downhill for acclimatization. We return to the hotel for lunch and then have the rest of the afternoon free. A few of us decide to walk around town.

Huaraz is like a maze with lots of small hidden plazas with intimate, cozy bars and cafes. This evening we attend an excellent presentation on the Ancash region, Santa Cruz Trek and Huayhuash Trek and see where we will be exploring over the next days. The day ends with all of us having dinner in town.

DAY 3: Full Day Hike to the base of Huantsan Peak

Full day hike to Laguna Rajucolta at the base of the incredibly stunning and glaciated Huantsan Peak. The valley looks like Switzerland, lined with massive granite walls and dotted with happy cows munching on tall, wild grass. On the way back, we are surprised with a picnic lunch. At night we eat at a small restaurant off the main plaza in town.

DAY 4: Hike to Refugio Peru

This morning we wake up early and drive 2.5 hours to Cebollapampa. On the way, we pass through an epic canyon of granite walls and the two electric turquoise lakes of Llanganuco. Local lore says the lakes are the tears of the male and female mountains on either side who were forbidden to be together. Upon arrival at Cebollapampa, we are treated to a beautiful picnic breakfast.

We then set out up into the mountains on the Pisco Mountain climbers’ trail towards Refugio Peru. The trek is sunny and all around us are staggering, glaciated peaks many of them  jutting up over 6000 meters.

We arrive at the Refugio and are stunned. It’s a picturesque oasis at the base of Pisco Mountain and several other massive mountains- we feel like kings when we discover that we have the whole place to ourselves! We enjoy lunch in the cozy dining area and then scamper further up the morraine to get an even better view of Pisco.

In the evening we are treated to 360 degrees of mountainous splendor lit up by the magical alpine glow. We watch in awe as the sky turns from orange to peach to pink to finally an opaque grey. Then the real show begins as Venus rises and the Milky Way marches across the sky. Back inside, we enjoy hot showers and have a delicious dinner before curling up into our cozy bunks for the night.

DAY 5: Lakes Hike to Condor Pass, back to Huaraz

This morning we are saluted by the ring of peaks that protect this otherworldly mountain paradise. We pass through Pisco’s moraine, where half frozen steely green lakes reflect the massive Huascaran mountain peaks, and finally reach Condor Pass at 5000m.

From there we descend towards Laguna 69, a lake the brightest color blue any of us has ever seen. Above the lake towers yet another 6000m peak and a skinny and powerful waterfall cascades down into the electric blue water below. Four other incredible blue, green and turquoise lakes sit above the laguna  as well. We are in total awe.

After dipping our feet in the refreshing pool, we continue our descent back down to Cebollapampa for an exquisite picnic lunch waiting for us. Finally we drive the 2.5 hours back to Huaraz where we get ready to return to Lima after our final dinner in the Cordillera Blanca. Later at night, our bus meets us at our hotel and we drive back to Lima.

DAY 6: Cooking Class, Bike Tour, Larco Museum

We arrive very early in the morning in Lima and immediately check into our hotel, Hotel Atton, in San Isidro and sleep in until lunch time.

When we wake up we head to the Sky Kitchens where we are taught in a colorful, inviting environment about local dishes. Here we learn how to make the famous pisco sour, ceviche (fish and mushroom for the vegetarians), Lomo Saltado (beef and veggie for the vegetarians), and picarones (fried anise doughnuts) with a molasses sauce for dessert.

After lunch, we split in two groups to do a walking or bike tour of Lima’s most iconic areas. I am on the bike tour. We start on the Malecón overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the upscale Miraflores neighborhood and follow it to the bohemian neighborhood of Barranco. We end the tour back in Miraflores where we board our bus to quickly head back to the hotel, change our clothes and continue on to the gorgeous Larco Museum.

At the Larco Museum, we have a private tour that covers the common symbology and beliefs reflected in the art of various  Peruvian cultures. Finally we settle down for dinner in the museum’s restaurant- located along side a verdant patio lit by soft candle lanterns and lined with bushes bursting with red and pink flowers in full bloom.

DAY 7: Free Day in Lima with Music/Dancing/Dinner Performance

Today we have a free day in Lima. In the evening, we head to the Barranco neighborhood where we have a lively cocktail hour at Amoramar with live music and local dancers performing, followed by an incredible dinner. The night ends at the infamous Ayahausca Bar, celebrated for its creative pisco drinks.

DAY 8: Transfer to Huaraz

Today our group departs and I board a bus back to Huaraz. I arrive late in the evening and overnight back at Hotel Andino.

DAY 9: Free Day in Huaraz

This morning I meet with my mountain guide, Agripino, about the coming days in the high mountains. I spend the afternoon exploring town, going for a run and packing for the next days. I eat dinner in town at a local brewery and then head back for an early night at Hotel Andino.

DAY 10: Acclimatization Hike to Lake Chulup

After a quick breakfast, I am met by my guide and we drive up to the Lake Chulup trail head. After a steep 3 mile hike we arrive at the secluded glacial lake. Here, we enjoy a snack while taking in the views and then continue up to a vista point before heading back down. I have a leisurely afternoon in Huaraz and then enjoy a healthy dinner at the Hotel Andino.

DAY 11: Hike to Refugio Peru

We depart the hotel at 6AM today and return to Cebollapampa where we hike up again to Refugio Peru. However, this time, we camp in the grassy valley.

Day 12: SUMMIT DAY!

Today we have a 1AM start and work our way up through the Pisco morraine, to the toe of the glacier. Here, we don our crampons and suit up to make our go at the summit. We pass through crevasse fields that could swallow semi-trucks, brush through passing clouds and finally reach our objective at dawn (5752m/18871 ft). With the sun splashing the surrounding 6000m peaks and seemingly minuscule turquoise lakes below, our breaths are taken away. We take in one last look at the glory of the Cordillera Blanca and return to camp by 10:45am. We remain here for the rest of the day and camp under an epic blanket of stars once again.

DAY 13: Hike to Yanapaccha

At 7AM we start our hike down to Cebollapampa from Refugio Peru and then continue up the path towards Laguna 69. Half way to the laguna, we cut off of the path and head up towards Yanapaccha base camp. Hidden in a rocky basin adjacent to the glacier, we set up our tents at Yanapaccha base camp.

DAY 14: Hike to Llanganuco Lagunas, back to Huaraz

Unfortunately, overnight the clouds roll in and snow starts to fall. A couple near by avalanches signal to us that Yanapaccha Peak will have to wait for another day. We sleep in until 7AM and then traverse to the Llanganuco Lagunas vista point and then on to a high mountain road where our car meets us at 9AM to head back to Huaraz.

Arriving at Hotel Andino, I have time to shower and rest before meeting my guide for a final dinner in Huaraz at Creperie Patrick, a wonderful French-Peruvian bistro in the heart of the city center (I highly recommend the house drink specialty: Coca Sour!). This evening I have to say good-bye to the Cordillera Blanca and board my bus back to Lima for my flight home.

Want to book your next adventure to the Cordillera Blanca? Contact us!

Also check out these itineraries for more inspiration:

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

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Uganda Lodging Options

The mighty silverback: baby sitting

Here are some of our top picks for accommodations in Uganda.


Phenicia Hotel (Entebbe)

The staff is eager to please, which was a nice introduction to Ugandan hospitality, however the standard room came with many little problems. The plus side is the room was affordable (very budget), the property was quiet, and the airport transfer was handled without a hitch. If you are going to stay here, be sure to inquire about the executive rooms, which look newer, cost only about $15 more per night, and will probably have more reliable fixtures, etc. Most travelers will be much better served staying at The Boma, which like Phenicia, is only about 10 minutes away from the airport, a huge relief after hours and hours of airports and flying.


Kampala Serena Hotel (Kampala)

This is the nicest hotel in the Kampala/Entebbe downtown area. The Kampala Serena Hotel is urban, central, and 5-star, with a range of rooms from standard to presidential suites. The deluxe room are excellent. While the comparable priced executive rooms are newer, the deluxe rooms had a better vibe and atmosphere. Overall the hotel presents a luxury oasis in the middle of the city. Plan about a 1.5 hour transfer however from the airport. Demanding travelers will probably want to consider a stay at one or the other Serena properties.


Lake Victoria Serena Hotel (Kampala)

This sister hotel, meanwhile, is about 1 hour away from the airport and is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria. There are no elevators, and the property is home to a significant golf course and private real estate development. Depending on your tastes, that could dampen the overall experience. It is certainly not a quaint boutique hotel. But it has all the amenities, offers views of the lake (including optional boat excursions for fishing, etc. if time were to allow), is in the countryside versus the city, and provides usual high Serena standards of service.

Views of Lake Victoria from Cassia Lodge, Entebbe

Budongo Eco Lodge (Murchison National Park)

While it was an attractive location surrounded by jungle,  and the staff tries hard to please, this budget lodge features rooms that are very basic (poor lighting, etc.) and more open to uninvited insects than most discerning travelers would prefer.


Paraa Safari Lodge (Murchison National Park)

Enjoying an outstanding location on the north bank, the lodge affords sweeping views over the park. The lodge is your classic 3+/4-star African lodge with average rooms however the staff was very pleasant, with the public facilities quite nice and well-maintained.  It’s also very close to the ferry landing, about5-10 minutes away.


Baker’s Lodge (Murchison National Park)

This is a luxury permanent tented camp, arriving in time for lunch. Bakers tented units are exquisite and the lodge enjoys a privileged location right on the Nile’s banks. The lodge provides fantastic food and the swimming pool provides a welcome retreat from the heat.


Kyaninga Lodge (Fort Portal)

This is an intriguing high-end choice for active adventure travelers. The lodge overlooks a beautiful crater lake, in which you can swim, kayak, or hike around. We ate lunch here, enjoying more of the expansive views of nearby mountains and pretty, rural countryside. All these views can be enjoyed in the roomy private chalets of the lodge.

Luxury cottage interior – Primate Lodge

Primate Lodge (Kibale Forest National Park)

Kibale’s principal edge is the location, just 3-minute walk to the starting point for Chimpanzee tracking excursion as well as the incredible Chimpanzee Habituation. Accommodation options include luxury forest cottages, the mid-level Forest Cottages or for the more adventurous guest the Sky Tree house.


Ndali Lodge (Fort Portal)

This is probably the premier property to enjoy in the general Fort Portal zone. Gorgeous views, fantastic coffee and grounds, and much more.


Simba Safari Lodge

I would not recommend the extremely budget Simba Lodge except for travelers looking for the cheapest of lodging in the area or a campsite (camping is permitted).


Mweya Safari lodge

This is a huge 4-star African lodge with commanding views of the channel, including distant wildlife views right from the room.


Ishasha Wilderness Camp (Ishasha)

This is a lovely and tranquil high-end property.


Sanctuary Lodge and Bwindi Lodge (Bwindi)

The more expensive Sanctuary offers unique permanent tented chalets while the slightly less expensive Bwindi is closer to the river and offers lodge chalets. Uniquely, Bwindi Lodge includes a nice variety of bonus inclusions during your stay, including drinks, laundry, and massage.


Mahogany Springs Lodge (Bwindi)

This is lodge in the Buhoma, Northern side of Bwindi, located on its own private section of the Munyanga River, and very close to the ranger station where travelers start their trek. Mahogany Springs offers high standards of service, privacy and serenity blended with optimal comfort in a spectacular setting.


Mihingo Lodge (Lake Mburo National Park)

This is a peaceful and exclusive retreat, situated in Lake Mburo National Park. It features twelve luxury tented chalets which are built on wooden platforms. Suspended under the thatched roof is a spacious and comfortable tent equipped with en-suite bathrooms with stunning views. Each room is nestled on a private piece of the lodge’s property, enabling complete seclusion. The main dining area is a large thatched structure built of rocks. Below the dining area, an infinity swimming pool stretches out from the rocks. From the dining and pool area, guests can enjoy the view of a westward oriented valley and its stunning evening sunsets over Lake Mburo National Park. Being perched higher up, on an expansive rocky outcrop, the units catch a very pleasant cool breeze despite the heat.

 OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES IN LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK – at extra charge:

  • Mountain bike safari; great rides (with or without guide) are available in the valley or in the swamp areas with lots of zebras, topis and waterbucks. Price from US $40 per person.
  • Horseback safari; explore the surroundings on the back of a horse, a peaceful and relaxing way to get close to the wildlife. Price from US $50 per person
  • Bush breakfast; start the day with a delicious, private breakfast before going on guided bush walk. Price from US $60 per person
  • Cultural walk to learn more about the Bahima culture
  • Sundowners on the rocks; watching the sun go down and listening to hyenas calling in the valley below is a lovely way to end a day full of excitement
  • Night game drive in search of leopards, hyenas and other nocturnal animals. Price from US $25 per person
  • Enjoying a relaxing massage; a perfect way to unwind after a busy safari or a long flight! Price from US $20 per person

All of our Uganda and Rwanda safaris are custom and private, you can start them any day, and tailor them to the length of time you have available to travel, from 3-14 days.  We can help travelers with mid-range and luxury lodging or you can mix and match. Contact us >> for more information or for quotes, or visit our Uganda/Rwanda >> page for trip ideas too. The shorter 3-5 day trips are excellent extensions to a Tanzania or Kenya safari, while a longer 8-14 day tour would be an excellent trip all on its own. 

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Brazil Waives Entry Visa Requirements for US Citizens

AS ANNOUNCED BY THE BRAZIL TOURISM BOARD:

Brazil is open for you! The Brazilian Government announced on Monday, 18th, that Brazil would allow visa-free entry for citizens of The United States, Canada, Australia and Japan, effective in 90 days (June 17th). Until then, the current e-visa will be required.

Citizens of those countries wishing to visit Brazil will no longer need to apply or pay for a visa. They will be able to stay in Brazil for 90 days from the date of first entry in the country, extendable for an equal period, provided that it does not exceed one hundred and eighty days, every twelve months, counted from the date of the first entry into the Country.

These developments come as part of a series of measures that Brazil has taken to facilitate visitor access to the country. Last year, the government launched an e-visa platform through which travelers could apply for visas with more efficiency and ease.

Brazil has already seen extremely positive results with the increase of about 35% in the visa application in less than a year since implementing e-visa. These four countries are considered strategic for the development of tourism in Brazil.

According to the Foreign Ministry, in 2017, 169,910 visas (either for business, tourism or transit) had been issued to citizens of the four countries. With the implementation of e-visa, the number rose in 2018 to 229,767.

“This is one of the most important achievements of the Brazilian tourism industry in the last 15 years and we are confident that it will be extremely beneficial to the country. This decision of the Brazilian government proves that we are living a new moment and that tourism is being seen as a vector of economic and social growth of the entire nation. This is the first step; we still have much to celebrate”, said Marcelo Alvaro Antônio, Minister of Tourism.

“The United States was very receptive to the issuance of electronic visas. The World Tourism Organization says that when adopting an electronic visa, visa issuance increases by 25%, so we have exceeded that mark,” said Teté Bezerra, president of Embratur (Brazil’s Tourism Board, a federal agency and part of the Ministry of Tourism).

Now, with a strong Dollar and dozens of daily flights, experiencing Brazil is just a matter of desire and grabbing a plane. From the Amazon in the North, to the wines in the South; from the exotic Pantanal in the Midwest to the lush beaches of the Northeast; amazing cities like Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador and hundreds of hidden gems are just a few hours away.

About Brazil Tourism:

With its spectacular beaches, lush rainforests, rich culture, exotic cuisine and exciting nightlife, Brazil is one of the most compelling countries to visit today. Travelers are invited to explore Brazil’s incredible geographical diversity – from the wetlands to the beaches. With a beautiful, tropical climate, Brazil is an easily accessible, exotic get-away for couples, families and business travelers.”

Want to explore Brazil? Contact us!

Your friendly Brazil expert,

Gretchen

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