Bonito, Brazil Voted National Geographic’s #1 Destination for Summer 2017

Bonito is a town in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, world famous for its ecotourism. Boasting magnificent natural landscapes, especially the water attractions, snorkel or even scuba dive in crystalline rivers with an abundance of varied wildlife: tropical colored fish, monkeys, macaws and more! Besides the beauty of its rivers there are also totally or partially flooded caverns, formed thousands of years ago in the local limestone; rappel deep into the caverns and discover the astonishingly massive stalagmites and stalactites!  Finally, hike through lush forest to numerous hidden waterfalls where you can swim in the lagoons behind the inviting curtains of cascading water.

Bonito Brazil

Waterfalls at Estancia Mimosa, Bonito

This year, Bonito was voted as National Geographic’s #1 destination on their list of Top 10 places to visit in the Summer of 2017!

Check out our 4-Day River Snorkel and Waterfall Walks in Bonito for your next summer adventure!

Bonito

Rappelling into the Abyss

Day 1: Arrival in Campo Grande and transfer to Bonito

Visiting: Bonito

Airport arrival at Campo Grande, from where we’ll transfer to Bonito, a small village in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul surrounded by extraordinary nature.

  • Meals:
  • Budget Lodging: Pousada Pirá Miúna
Bonito

Scuba diving in Rio Prata

Day 2: River Snorkeling at Rio da Prata + Taboa Cachaça Visit

Visiting: Bonito

In the morning we leave the hotel bound for a fascinating tour that takes place amid various schools of fish in the Recanto Ecológico do Rio da Prata. When we get there we will receive guidance and equipment (mask, snorkel, life jacket, neoprene clothing and rubber sneakers – included). We will be surrounded by piraputangas, dourados, curimbatás, piaus, matogrossinhos and other fish in the area. On the way, we will stop at Vulcão Olho d’Água, a place where we can snorkel to feel the water that flows from the bottom of the river until we meet with the Rio da Prata and follow the last stretch floating in water or on a support boat.

On the way back we’ll participate in two workshops, including an experience with clay and working with cattail straw, understanding the manufacture of coated bottles and other handicrafts. There is also a passage through the garden, where we’ll get to see over 50 different herbs. The tour ends with tasting twenty varieties of Taboa cachaça and a visit to the store where we can purchase unique bottles of Taboa, plus unique handicrafts made at the factory. We return to Bonito for the night.

  • Meals: B
  • Budget Lodging: Pousada Pirá Miúna
Bonito

Fish in the crystal clear waters of Bonito

Day 3: Waterfalls at Fazenda Ceita Corê

Visiting: Bonito

In the morning we visit the fazenda Ceita Corê, in Tupi-Guarani language “Land of my children.” The farm has one of the most beautiful and traditional headquarters of the region, with a house on the edge of a crystal clear lake, where visitors can take a boat trip to see where River Chapena is born. A trail of approx. 1800 meters in the riparian forest of Rio Chapeninha will lead us to six waterfalls formed by calcareous tufa, small caves, and natural pools. A typical lunch is served at the farmhouse which has a bar and restaurant, toilets, sand volleyball court, pool, game table, hammocks, and gift shop.

  • Meals: BL
  • Budget Lodging: Pousada Pirá Miúna
Bonito Brazil

Bonito Gruta Azul

Day 4: Departure

Visiting: Bonito

Transfer to Campo Grande airport for departure to your next destination.

  • Meals: B

Want to book your next Brazil Adventure? Check out some of these other great itineraries that work well with Bonito or contact us to plan your own customized journey!

Your friendly Brazil expert,

Gretchen

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Adventures Within Reach Now Offers Trips to Colombia

We have added Colombia as the newest destination for our travel portfolio.  Colombia is bounded by 2 oceans, yet loaded with mountains and charming colonial towns for you to explore.  You will have lots to see and do in Colombia, which has a population of about 50 million people and is larger than France in size.  For the adventuresome, Colombia is also home to tropical wetlands and Amazon rainforests, and in Colombia’s heart, you will find the lush green coffee region to explore.


Treasures of Colombia (9 Days)

See and experience a wonderful cross-section of this emerging destination. You will start in Bogota, with its bustling, creative energy, then travel to San Agustín Archeological Park, a UNESCO world-heritage archeological site, considered as one of the top two such sites in Colombia.  UNESCO says the San Agustín Archeological Park boasts “the largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America (and) stands in a wild, spectacular landscape.  Gods and mythical animals are skillfully represented in styles ranging from abstract to realist.  These works of art display the creativity and imagination of a northern Andean culture that flourished from the 1st to the 8th century.”  San Agustín should be on anyone’s radar who dreams of Easter Island, Machu Picchu, and the like.  We continue on to the beautiful, colonial, living spiritual pilgrimage town of Popayan; the scenic, authentic heart of coffee country in Armenia; and end this amazing tour in Cartagena, the crown jewel of colonial cities in Latin America.


Great Colombia Outdoors Adventure (9 Days)

Situated at the crossroads of epic natural wonders, and with a culture and history all its own, Santander is the perfect location for a Colombian adventure.

Rushing rivers, rugged mountains, deep canyons, and exciting caves await the adventurous traveler, with no shortage of activities to get your heart racing.  This trip gets you into the splendor of the area’s incredible landscapes and deep into the culture of a rich agricultural tradition. Despite its excitement level, this trip is a moderate adventure suitable for any adult and older child in good health.


Los Nevados Trekking (8 Days)

Enjoy an awesome mix of city, mountains, and rural coffee country on this custom, private trekking tour.

The trek has a number of days at over 12,467 feet (3,800 meters) above sea level and we consider it physically challenging (like the Inca Trail).  Walking can be adapted, however, to suit a traveler’s needs and pace.  Four days of this trek is supported by horses and your baggage, food, and equipment will be carried by mules for the entire duration of the trek.  Trekkers need only to carry their day-packs during the trek. Camping gear and meals during the trek and in remote locations will be provided by the logistics manager, chef, and trek leader.  Meals in the cities will be on your own.


Medellin Multisport with Cartagena (8 Days)

This unique adventure tour explores the very best of Medellin and the surrounding natural areas located in the Antioquia Department.  You will bike along varied ecosystems, raft on isolated rivers, hike through nature reserves, and explore world heritage neighborhoods.  Your comfort and safety are guaranteed with high-end dual suspension mountain bikes and rafting equipment. Certified adventure guides lead the way, so relax and enjoy the very best of Antioquia!  We finish the trip with two nights in Cartagena, a leading Latin American city and a colonial masterpiece.

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Peru: Family Summer Travel

Come explore Peru with your family on one of our uniquely crafted tours, designed with your kids in mind! Our family-designed tours are based on our own experiences traveling with our own kids to Peru and around the world.

  • Lima
  • Cusco/ Sacred Valley
  • Amazon
  • Best Activities
  • Recommended hotels (3*-luxury)

Peru, a country brimming with culture, stunning landscapes, history and amazing food, is the perfect gateway country for a first family adventure to South America. With frequent and numerous direct flights from all over the US, Canada and Europe to Lima, the capital, Peru is easily accessible. The northern hemisphere summer is the perfect time to visit Peru’s highlands and Amazon as it is the dry season where sunny, clear days are the norm.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Many families have a limited time to travel together; the highlights of Peru can be visited without any difficulty in a seven-day period: Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu! Peruvian culture is extremely welcoming and accommodating to families- all excursions can easily be tailored to meet the needs of a multi-generational group and most hotels offer discounts for children up to 12 years old. Cultural exchanges with locals help inspire kids (and adults too!) to practice their Spanish and dive into the rich, unique traditions found in this glorious nation!

Maras Sacred Valley

Discover the Sacred Valley

Here is a carefully hand-picked list of our favorite family excursions in Peru’s highlight destinations as well as our favorite family-friendly hotels:

LIMA

Surfing in Lima: We start the day on the Pacific Ocean! Early pick up from your hotel, and depending on the waves, we decide which beach to go to for our surfing lesson. Most beaches are nearby along La Costa Verde, in Miraflores. After 2 or 3 hours, we dry off and head to lunch at a fantastic local restaurant, to enjoy seafood and other spectacular tastes of Peruvian gastronomy!

Lima Surf

Lima Surf for Beginners to Advanced

Boat trip and optional snorkeling at the Palomino Islands: At the Callao boat dock, you will board your boat for a 4-hour tour of the islands. The guide will point out historical sites, geological features, and marine birds. About 1/2 hour will be spent swimming with the sea lions (optional).

CUSCO/ SACRED VALLEY

Kayaking/ SUP at Piuray Lake: Piuray is a beautiful lake located in the Community of Pongobamba, in the district of Chinchero. In a private area along the shores of the lake, Placido Escalante, owner of this area and member of the local community, will greet you and invite you to take part in a variety of outdoor activities such as sea kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, mountain biking, yoga, among others. Tarnquil Piuray is known for its bird watching diversity, from endemic kind of birds to many types of Andean ducks. You will enjoy outstanding scenery and breathtaking views of the surrounding hills with pre-Incan terraces, forests and the Sacred Valley snow-capped mountains!

Cusco Piuray

SUP on Lake Piuray

Ziplining/Via Ferrata in the Sacred Valley: Pick up at your hotel in Cusco or the Sacred Valley, drive to the Pichar area in the Sacred Valley; full day of rock climbing with via farrata assist, and zip lines. Depart in the late afternoon to your hotel in the Sacred Valley or Cusco.

A via ferrata is a type of rock climbing on an established route with a safety system permanently installed, it gives people with no experience in climbing and using minimal equipment, the opportunity to move through spectacular mountain scenery. The 100-meter rappel descent will give you the extra adrenaline you need to make this a unique experience. The zip-line has 5 cables from 100 to 500 meters for a total of 1880 meters. The first cable is a beautiful 35-minute walk.

Sacred Valley Zipline

Zipline in the Sacred Valley

Rafting (mild class 3-4): You will raft the Chuquicahuana section of the Urubamba River, located about 2 hours south of Cusco, and above 11,000 feet elevation. This whitewater rafting offers a moderate to challenging (class III and IV) option by a beautiful canyon. Prior experience is not required, but is important to have swimming skills.

Rafting Sacred Valley

Sacred Valley Rafting

Chocolate Museum: We take you to the Choco Museo so you can uncover chocolate secrets and taste chocolate delights made from the best organic Peruvian cacao beans!

Choco museum Cusco

Make your own chocolate!

AMAZON

Peru Amazon Adventure: Located about a 25-minute motor-canoe ride down the River Madre de Dios from Puerto Maldonado, the Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion Lodge is in an enchanting and serene lush setting of natural rainforest.

This rainforest property includes a main lodge with 8 rooms and 7 individual Cabañas, all with private bathrooms and covered porches. There is a spacious dining area with warm colored furnishings.

Sensitively positioned within walking distance of beautiful and solitary lake Sandoval, this unique jungle lodge offers a wide range of fixed land and river excursions in its surroundings, opportunities to spot hoatzins or shanshos and other wild animals. The varied menu of day-trips will introduce guests to the magic of the rainforest which has yet to be discovered. Guaranteed to provide an incomparably memorable stay, this is an experience for true adventure seekers.

Amazon Peru

Cabanas at Hacienda Concepcion

RECOMMENDED HOTELS/LODGES FOR FAMILIES:

LIMA

3*: Casa Andina Miraflores Family Room

4*: El Pardo Family Suite (swimming pool)

5*/Luxury: Belmond Miraflores w/ connecting rooms (swimming pool)

CUSCO

3*: Amaru I / Amaru II Family Room

4*: Casa Andina Cusco Plaza Family Room

5*: El Convento Family Room (swimming pool)

SACRED VALLEY:

3*: Pakaritampu Hotel Suite Apartment

4*: Greenhouse Villas Family House for 6 people

4*: Sonesta Posada Yucay Family Room

5*: Sol y Luna Family Suite (swimming pool)

MACHU PICCHU:

3*: Casa Andina Machu Picchu Family Room

4*: El MaPi Connecting Rooms

5*: Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel Family Suite Cabanas (swimming pool)

AMAZON:

3*: Hacienda Concepcion Triple Cabanas (Kids Half Price and up to 2 children under 12 can be in the same cabana as their parents)

3*: Inkaterra Field Station (Families can be in one room/cabana- no age restrictions)

4*: Reserva Amazonica (Kids Half Price and up to 2 children under 12 can be in the same cabana as their parents)

Want to plan your next family Peru adventure? Check out the following itineraries for ideas or contact us to create a custom journey!

Your friendly South America expert,

Gretchen

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

Top 7 Luxury Safari Lodges and Tented Camps in Tanzania

Lake Manyara Serena Lodge

This lodge is located on top of the escarpment above the Rift Valley. It also has a lovely infinity pool overlooking Lake Manyara.  The rooms are good sized with a patio with nice views.


Tarangire River Camp

This is a permanent tented camp right outside Tarangire National Park located on a ridge overlooking a river.  Elephants can be seen around the camp.  The tents have wood floors, have large bathrooms, are nicely decorated, are all on stilts. There are 11 tents are right on the ridge, and the rest are set back.


Acacia Farm Lodge

A very stylish 4+ star romantic retreat that serves as an excellent base to explore the Manyara highlands and/or the Ngorongoro Crater. Farm-to-table fare, this property is wonderful choice for foodies.


Ngorongoro Serena Lodge

This is one of the few lodges located right on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.  The desk is amazing to watch the sunset and sunrise.  They have evening entertainment by local musicians, dancers, and acrobats.


Pakulala Safari Camp

This is an upper-scale, classic tented camp scenically situated on the Crater rim.  Each tent offers an elegant fusion of modern and classic tented accommodation, including en suite bathrooms elegantly adorned with fresh flowers and crystal.


Kubu Kubu Tented Camp

This camp has been strategically situated so that all the areas of Serengeti are within reach of its guests, including such mythic locations as the famous Maasai Kopjes, the Olduvai Gorge Museum, the Seronera Valley and the Grumeti River. It has been designed and decorated in a modern African style that creates a fresh and light ambiance, very welcoming but with a touch of luxury. Guests can view the Great Migration from the comfort of their tents.


Lemala Ewanjan Seronera Camp

Lemala Ewanjan is an authentic intimate tented camp set in a secluded part of the game-rich Seronera Valley in Central Serengeti. The 12 en-suite tents are spacious and comfortable, and have an outside deck offering beautiful views over the area.

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Family Adventure to Brazil’s Green Coast- A Major Hit!

South of Rio de Janeiro and east of Sao Paulo, the Green Coast has a unique combination of mountains, lush rainforest, crystalline lagoons and virgin tropical islands. And in the middle of it all, we find Paraty.

Paraty

Paraty, Green Coast

Different from other colonial villages by its coastal charm, Paraty has a small but well-conserved historic downtown, where we can find artisan shops, high-quality restaurants and a cozy and romantic atmosphere.

From Paraty, it is easy to reach the impressive Serra da Bocaina or stroll around the equally spectacular Paraty Bay.

Mercadao Sao Paulo

Mortadella sandwiches and ice cold beer at the famous Mercadao (market) in Sao Paulo

My family just came to Brazil for the first time and we opted to visit the bustling historic center and internationally renowned street art of Sao Paulo, the hidden pirate coves and quaint historic town of Paraty and end in the rhythmic metropolis of Rio on the beach!

A few of our favorite experiences were:

Paraty Boat Tour:

In Paraty, the most beautiful beaches and islands can only be visited by boat. We set off on a comfortable traditional wooden boat from Paraty’s colorful port and made several stops at beaches and islands in the Bay of Paraty. Great for swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing, we even stopped for lunch at one of the excellent hidden restaurants located on one of the little islands’ beaches!

Paraty

Stopping at hidden beaches and tiny local island restaurants

Sao Paulo City Tour:

On our half day tour of Sao Paulo we visited three of the emblematic neighborhoods that help paint the face of this extraordinarily diverse city: first, we visited the enormous Ibirapuera Park, next, the historic downtown and finally the vibrant and bohemian, Vila Madalena!

Sao Paulo

Famous street art by Cobra in Ibirapuera Park

Guides:

We LOVED our guides. Santiago in Sao Paulo was extremely knowledgeable, flexible and had a great read on everyone and their individual interests. The city tour really captured the different faces and complexities of Sao Paulo and demonstrated how amazing the city is. My brother literally said that he wanted to move to Sao Paulo after the tour was over. Santiago also gave us many recommendations and suggestions of what else to see and visit while we were in the city and they were fantastic recommendations (drinks on the Unique hotel terrace was a huge hit!).

Harry, our guide for the city tour of Paraty, was a wealth of knowledge! He was explaining the history of Paraty with such vividness and obvious love for history.

Paraty cooking school

Sitting down to our first of 5 courses, homemade by us!

The cooking class was wonderful- the hosts were great (they were definitely characters) and Brazil’s gastronomic history is fascinating- it was awesome to get a “taste” of it and experience cooking the dishes ourselves in a local house and kitchen. Also, the cooking school’s flexibility to accommodate my brother’s lactose allergy and my vegetarianism was greatly appreciated!

Finally, Sergio in Rio was fantastic! It is very apparent that he loves his city. He was extremely animated and excited to show and tell us about many intricate details regarding history, architecture, and culture.

Rio de Janeiro

Ending our trip visiting Christ the Redeemer in Rio!

Want to plan your next getaway to Brazil? Check out some of these exciting itineraries:

Don’t see what you want? See all of our Brazil options HERE or…contact us- we are happy to help plan a custom trip for you!

Your friendly Brazil expert,

Gretchen

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Antarctica $1000 OFF for 2018-2019!

Antarctical Expedition Cruises

Save $1000/person on select Antarctica voyages for the 2018-2019 season!  We also have 2 departures on sale for 2017.  These trips are on the M/V Sea Spirit.  You must book by July 31, 2017.

Destination Dates Days Activities Special offers Rates from
Falklands & South Georgia
Puerto Madryn (Argentina) – Ushuaia (Argentina)
20 Oct – 07 Nov 2017 19   1.000 off & free pre-cruise tour
$ 9995
$ 8995
/person
Antarctic Peninsula
Ushuaia (Argentina) – Ushuaia (Argentina)
14 Dec – 25 Dec 2017 12   1.000 off
$ 8995
$ 7995
/person
Falklands & South Georgia
Puerto Madryn (Argentina) – Ushuaia (Argentina)
21 Oct – 08 Nov 2018 19   Early Bird Discount
$ 9995
$ 8995
/person
Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica
Ushuaia (Argentina) – Ushuaia (Argentina)
07 Nov – 27 Nov 2018 21   Early Bird Discount
$ 13395
$ 11995
/person
Antarctic Peninsula
Ushuaia (Argentina) – Ushuaia (Argentina)
05 Dec – 16 Dec 2018 12   Early Bird Discount
$ 8595
$ 7695
/person
Antarctic Peninsula
Ushuaia (Argentina) – Ushuaia (Argentina)
15 Dec – 27 Dec 2018 13   Early Bird Discount
$ 9895
$ 8895
/person
Antarctic Peninsula
Ushuaia (Argentina) – Ushuaia (Argentina)
26 Dec – 06 Jan 2019 12   Early Bird Discount
$ 9395
$ 8395
/person
Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica
Ushuaia (Argentina) – Ushuaia (Argentina)
05 Jan – 25 Jan 2019 21   Early Bird Discount
$ 15995
$ 14395
/person
Antarctic Circle
Ushuaia (Argentina) – Ushuaia (Argentina)
24 Jan – 07 Feb 2019 15   Early Bird Discount
$ 11295
$ 10295
/person
Antarctic Peninsula
Ushuaia (Argentina) – Ushuaia (Argentina)
06 Feb – 17 Feb 2019 12   Early Bird Discount
$ 9395
$ 8395
/person
Antarctic Peninsula
Ushuaia (Argentina) – Ushuaia (Argentina)
16 Feb – 27 Feb 2019 12   Early Bird Discount
$ 9395
$ 8395
/person
Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica
Ushuaia (Argentina) – Puerto Madryn (Argentina)
26 Feb – 19 Mar 2019 22   Early Bird Discount
$ 13395
$ 11995
/person

 

Posted in Antarctica, Specials | Leave a comment

Announcing the AWR 2017 Trip Giveaway Contest Winners

Announcing the AWR 2017 Trip Giveaway Contest Winners

Congratulations to Anders Uppgaard and Jerry Ciotola for winning our 2017 Trip Giveaway Contest!  Anders won the 3-day Amazon Rainforest Trip for 2 people with 3 nights accommodations at the Reserva Amazonica in a standard room double-occupancy, tours at the lodge, entrance fees, all meals, and airport transfers.  Jerry won the 5-day Inca Trail Trek for 2 people, which includes the Inca Trail permit, 1 night at the El Mapi hotel in Aguas Calientes, and Machu Picchu entrance fees.  

Anders on winning the 3-day Amazon Rainforest Trip:

I am a senior graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a degree in Biology. After school, I intend to work as a genetic engineer for agricultural crops in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I love traveling because of the unknown adventures that always come along with visiting a new place, and I try to travel as much as my schedule allows. Growing up, I did a lot of camping and fishing expeditions with my brother and father, where I learned to love being out on the water. I usually make yearly canoe trips with my friends to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota, where we fish, hike, swim, and enjoy the quiet solitude. Last summer, I took a road trip to Glacier National Park in Montana, where we were able to climb gorgeous mountains and see ultra blue glacial rivers. Ever since then, I have been wanting to get back and experience its magic.  Last winter, I went on a trip with my girlfriend Caitlyn and her family to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  It was a blast, swimming in the ocean, seeing dolphins and whales, swimming with sea lions, and going deep sea fishing for mahi-mahi.

When I was planning my trip to Peru, I really wanted to see the Amazon Rainforest, but staying there for even a few days looked like it would be out of the budget. As a last resort, I saw that Adventures Within Reach was holding a free trip giveaway, so I signed up and forgot about it for a few months. When I found out I had won, I couldn’t believe it. I am really excited to be able to go on this trip of a lifetime. I have always wanted to see rainforest animals such as monkeys in real life, rather than just on TV watching Planet Earth. I have been preparing for my trip to Peru and the Amazon by running and working out, as I have read that the elevation can really affect people’s trips. Aside from that, I am making sure I have all my traveling gear in order, hoping not to forget much.

Jerry on winning the 5-day Inca Trail Trek:

I live on Staten Island, New York, and worked 39+ years for the Environmental Protection Agency as a project engineer. I like to travel the USA on kayak and cycling vacations. I also do high peaks hiking with my girlfriend Melanie.

I understand the Inca trail is challenging, so I am up for any hurdles and want to take photos of the beautiful flora and fauna, not to mention the Peruvian highlands.  I have traveled to Mexico and Germany in the past and am looking forward to South America.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our 2017 Trip Giveaway Contest!  Keep an eye out for our next contest.

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Glamping and Trekking in Torres del Paine

Today we embark, across the Patagonian steppe to Patagonia Camp in Torres del Paine National Park! This is has been my long awaited segment of our journey; Torres del Paine is one of my ultimate favorite places in all of South America.

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine

At Patagonia Camp they are committed to care for Patagonia. For this reason in particular, both the construction of Patagonia Camp and its operations are conducted with the utmost respect for the environment.

Patagonia Camp was designed for guests to experience and enjoy the wonderful nature of Patagonia with great comfort. From within their luxurious yurts, guests hear the lulling sounds of wind or rain while they sleep, gaze at the stars right from their comfortable beds, and encounter one of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the world right from their window or from any one of the walkways in the camp. Guests are immersed in a beautiful, aromatic native forest of coigües and notros and enjoy watching and listening to the many bird species that live among camp.

Patagonia Camp

Patagonia Camp

 

Patagonia Camp’s architectural design and construction is minimally invasive and harmoniously adapted to the local landscape.The entire complex is built on wooden piles which support the terraces and yurts, as well as the common areas and interconnecting walkways. This building system helps preserve the native plants, shrubs and trees that have grown in the area for hundreds of years and the dozens of birds curiously observing guests’ arrival.

Patagonia Camp

Patagonia Camp

Patagonia Camp

Patagonia Camp Yurt Interior

Our second day at Patagonia Camp, we set out to Grey Lake.

Grey Beach Hike

Difficulty: Low

Departure: 9:30 am approx.
Duration: 2.5 hours approx.
Route distance: 5.5 km
Initial altitude: 59 masl
Maximum altitude: 75 masl

This excursion introduces us to three completely different environments: beginning at Guardería Grey (or entry) we cross a mature Lenga tree forest where we observe forest birds such as Magellanic woodpeckers and cachañas. The hike continues along the beach at the far end of Lake Grey with views of the icebergs breaking away from Grey Glacier with their amazing blue colors and breathtaking shapes. Finally, upon reaching the peninsula we find a spectacular view of Grey Glacier and surrounding area, a festival of colors to delight our senses!

Grey Lake

Grey Lake

Grey Lake Beach

Grey Lake Beach

Our third day we embark on the iconic Base of the Towers Trek!

Torres Base Trek

Difficulty: High
Departure: 7:00 am approx.
Duration: 8 hours approx.
Route distance: 18 km
Initial altitude: 120 masl
Maximum altitude: 870 masl

A deservedly famous and highly demanding excursion. After crossing the Ascensio River we walk uphill around 2.5 km until reaching Pasos del Viento pass at about 480 meters above sea level (masl), with a beautiful panoramic view of the pampa, the lakes to the south and the Ascensio Valley itself. From there we descend to the Refugio Chileno shelter. Up to that point the vegetation is that of the pre-Andean scrubland bioclimate; from then on the vegetation changes completely and, as we climb, we penetrate the ancient lenga tree forests until we reach the Torres Glacier moraine at 600 masl. Once out of the forest a final push of around 45 minutes of continuous uphill climbing takes us to the Torres Base at 870 masl, where we stand in awe of the three massive granite giants, the best reward to our efforts!

Throughout the trek we observe fauna such as condors, mora eagles, caranchos and other birds of prey- gorgeous!

Base Torres

On our way to Base of the Towers (the moon setting)

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine

Our last night we celebrate with a delicious quincho, Patagonian traditional barbecue. We sip delicious red wine and toast to our incredible days spent in Torres del Paine- if only we could stay longer!

Wines at the Quincho

Wines at the Quincho

Quincho

Quincho

Want to add Torres del Paine to your next adventure? Check out some of the following itinerary inspirations as well as some additional itineraries that are easily added on:

Have questions? Want to book one of these experiences? Contact us!

Your friendly South America expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Argentina, Chile, Luxury, Patagonia, South America, Trekking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NEW TRIP — 8-Day Himalayan Culture of Kathmandu and Lhasa

8-Day Kathmandu and Lhasa Tour

Introducing our newest trip to the Himalayas exploring the culture of Kathmandu, Nepal and Lhasa, Tibet in 8 days!

Prices start at

  • $1695/person with mid-range accommodations
  • $3595/person with luxury accommodations

Nepal is the land of beautiful temples, majestic mountains, and pristine lakes. Tibet, call it “The Roof of the World”, “The Forbidden City”, or the “Third Pole” – so magnetic is its fame that a mere mention conjures up images of grandeur and spirituality amidst a wild and uncompromising landscape.

An excellent combination of these two unique and fascinating countries that are rich in terms of culture, ethics, and old traditions will leave behind a feeling of nostalgia for every traveler who is fortunate enough to visit them.

  • Best Season: February – May and September – November
  • REMEMBER —  You can customize any of our trips!

ITINERARY

Day 1 : Arrive in Kathmandu

Visit Buddhist culture in NepalOnce you land at Tribhuvan International Airport, complete the immigration formalities. You will then be met by our airport representative and transferred to the hotel. You will be briefed about the programs and rest of the day will be at leisure.

Day 2 : In Kathmandu

Travel to Kathmandu NepalAfter breakfast start your day with a visit around Kathmandu, the largest city of Nepal as well as the political and cultural capital of the country. Kathmandu is blessed by a living goddess. The Kumari Devi is the most important of several living goddesses in Nepal. Visit the Kathmandu Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the goddess resides surrounded by temples and a museum. You will take a rickshaw ride amidst the vegetable and spice market in Ason to Thamel, a tourist hub, where we will stop for lunch.

Later, we will visit Swayambhunath Stupa, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient stupa is the most sacred Buddhist shrine of Nepal and is also known as a Self-Created stupa or the monkey temple.

Then, we will head to Patan, the city of artisans and a paradise of fine arts. In the heart of Patan, amidst the hustle and bustle of the marketplace is the Patan Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Exquisite works of religious art and architecture, ancient palaces, pagoda temples, Hindu and Buddhist shrines adorn this place. Note: the April 2015 earthquake destroyed some of the temples in the Durbar Square. Reconstruction is currently taking place.

Day 3 : In Kathmandu

8-Day Kathmandu and Lhasa TourOptional activity: in the early morning, you can take a one-hour scenic mountain flight to see the Himalayas. The Himalayas has always been a great source of mysticism. This flight offers a rare, fascinating opportunity to embrace the legendary Himalayas and discover the ineffable beauty that is guaranteed to be one of the most mesmerizing experiences ever. You will return to the hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, we will transfer you to the medieval city of Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur or Bhadgaon translates as the “City of Devotees.” A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the extraordinary Bhaktapur Durbar Square has monuments that reflect the glory days of the Malla Dynasty when art and architecture thrived in the three cities of the Kathmandu valley. In Bhaktapur, you will also have the opportunity to try your hand at pottery and make a customized pot which you can take it home as a souvenir.

Day 4 : Fly to Lhasa

Travel to Lhasa TibetAfter breakfast, we will transfer you to the airport, where you will catch a flight to Lhasa, Tibet (approximately one hour flight time). Upon arrival at the Gonggar airport, our representative will meet you and transfer you to your hotel (approximately one hour). Lhasa, the heart and soul of Tibet, is a city of wonders. The rest of the day is at your leisure.

Day 5 : In Lhasa

Debating at Sera Monastery in Lhasa TibetAfter breakfast, we will visit the Sera Monastery, which is 5 kilometers north of Lhasa. The Sera Monastery’s setting is one of the prettiest in Lhasa, hugging the ridge that forms the Northern wall of the Kyi Chu Valley. We will also visit the Drepung Monastery, one of the “great three” Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet. The Drepung Monastery houses many cultural relics, making it more beautiful and giving it more historical significance. Afterward, we will take you back to your hotel.

Day 6 : In Lhasa

Trip to Potala Palace Lhasa TibetWe will visit the Potala Palace, the chief residence of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century, which has been the focus of the travelers for centuries. Next, we will visit Norbulingka, the biggest man-made garden in Tibet. The park was built by the Seventh Dalai Lama in 1755, and became the summer residence of the Eighth Dalai Lama. Then, we will visit Jokhang, which means “House of the Lord,” located in the center of old Lhasa and is the oldest and the most revered religious structure in Tibet. Jokhang was built by craftsmen from Tibet, China, and Nepal and thus features an intriguing mix of architectural styles. We end our day in Barkhor Street, the oldest street in Lhasa, which runs through the center of the old city. Barkhor Street is a circular street where Tibetan culture, economy, religion, and arts assemble. The word Barkhor refers to the middle of the three concentric holy circuits around the Jokhang.

Day 7 : Fly Back to Kathmandu

Cultural Tour to Lhasa TibetAfter breakfast, we will transfer you to the airport for your flight back to Kathmandu (approximately one hour flight time). Upon arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel.

In the afternoon, you will visit the Pashupatinath Temple and the Boudhanath Stupa. The magnificent temple of Pashupatinath with its astonishing architectural beauty is situated amidst a lush green natural setting on the bank of the sacred Bagmati River. The temple, which is built in pagoda style, has a gilded roof and richly carved silver doors. The Pashuptinath Temple is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also Nepal’s most renowned Hindu cremation site.

Later, we will visit the Boudhanath Stupa, one of the most imposing landmarks of Kathmandu and a center of Tibetan Buddhism. The stupa is built on a massive three level mandala-style platform and is 36 meters (118 feet) in height. We will bring you back to your hotel afterward.

Day 8 : Final Departure

After breakfast, we will transfer you to the airport for your onward journey.

8-Day Kathmandu and Lhasa Trip >>

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Embarking into the Unknown: Tierra del Fuego & Agostini National Park with Cruceros Australis

Today we board the M/V Stella Australis. After a welcoming toast and introduction of captain and crew, the ship departs for one of the remotest corners of planet Earth. During the night we cross the Strait of Magellan and enter the labyrinth of channels that define the southern extreme of Patagonia. The twinkling lights of Punta Arenas gradually fade into the distance as we enter the Whiteside Canal between Darwin Island and Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego!

Cruceros Australis

Boarding the Stella Australis

For the next three days we explore, a little-known protected area in the very south of Chile, the Alberto de Agostini National Park: the third largest in the whole country, covering an area of 5,637-sq. miles (14,600-sq. km). It takes its name from the Italian priest of the Salesians of Don Bosco order, Father Alberto María de Agostini, who drew up maps, took valuable photographs of the Magallanes region and worked alongside the local indigenous people.

Stella Australis

Rainbow seen from our cabin our first morning

A region characterized by labyrinthine channels, plunging glaciers and pristine evergreen rainforests, it is only accessible by boat and is considered to be one of the most untouched parts of Patagonia.

Stella Australis

Hidden bays await at dawn

The park marks the final point of the Andes Mountains: the longest continental mountain chain in the world. Spanning the entire length of South America, they start in Venezuela in the north and cover 4,300-miles (7,000 km) before they finally plunge into the ocean here in the Alberto de Agostini National Park.

Stella Australis

Hiking among glaciers and misty peaks

At this point, they are known as the Cordillera Darwin (or Darwin Mountains) and they are so inaccessible that they were only first fully crossed in 2011 by a French expedition team. Mount Darwin, one of the highest peaks in this mountain range, acquired the name in honor of Naturalist Charles Darwin who was passing through the region as part of his five-year voyage on the HMS Beagle.

Stella Australis

Hiking in remote forests

The most famous of the Alberto de Agostini National Park’s glaciers is the tidewater Marinelli Glacier, which spills from the Darwin Mountains and the Darwin Ice Sheet into Ainsworth Bay. Although it is currently retreating, this stunning glacier can be viewed from trails traversing the land around the bay.

Stella Australis

Glaciers can be seen at every turn

Glacier Alley, a passage through the Chilean fjords lined by a series of impressive tidewater glaciers, is also located in the park. Named after European countries (including Spain, France, Holland, Germany and Italy), these glaciers flow from the Darwin Mountains into the ocean. The ‘calving’ of ice from their termini – viewed from the safety of a cruise ship – is an unforgettable sight.

Stella Australis

In front of the Brooke’s Glacier

The Águila (“Eagle”) Glacier flanks the Agostini Fjord (or Agostini Sound) and the scenery in this part of the national park has been compared with the landscapes of Tierra del Fuego National Park. To arrive at the glacier, a Zodiac boat must be landed on shore; visitors can walk close to the foot of the glacier which hangs above an aquamarine, glacial meltwater lagoon.

Stella Australis

Explore deeper into the unknown in zodiac boats

In 2005, the Alberto de Agostini National Park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve thanks to the singular characteristics of its ecosystems. One of the main features of the park which merited its inclusion in the UNESCO list is the subpolar Magellanic forest found here and which began to grow around 10,000 years ago when the glaciers formerly covering the area began their retreat.

Stella Australis

Get up close and personal with icebergs

These Magellanic forests share plant families with temperate forest ecoregions in New Zealand and Australia, but the Alberto de Agostini National Park’s colder climate makes it less rich in plant life than the milder Valdivian forests which are found further north in Chile.

Stella Australis

The colors are truly impressive

The fauna here is also impressive, with beavers, elephant seal colonies, the southern pudú (the world’s smallest deer) and the endangered southern river otter making up some of the most interesting wildlife species. Andean condors can sometimes be spied circling above land.

Stella Australis

New Zealand Glacier

The only way to gain access to this fragile environment is via cruise ship. Tours allow close interaction with an incredible national park which marks one of the last uninhabited places remaining on Earth!

Stella Australis

Remote hiking to get closer to the glaciers

Want to add an adventure cruise aboard the Stella Australis on your next trip to South America? Check out the following itinerary as well as some additional itineraries that are easily added on:

Your friendly South America expert,

Gretchen

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