Best Travel Apps – Documenting Your Travels

Best Travel AppsWe have rounded up our favorite apps for documenting your travels in this Part IV of our Best Travel Apps series including

  • Photography
  • Track your Wanderings
  • Trip Journals

Let us know what your favorites are!

Photography

Photo Grid

  • Features:
    • Grid: Quickly combine multiple photos with 300+ layouts into a beautiful picture.
    • Photo Editor: Stylize your shots with perfectly categorized filter effects.
    • PinBoard: Pin moments to a customized board. PinBoard allow you add photos, texts, stickers to a customized background.
    • Video Slides: Turn your photos into stunning video stories. Video Slides allow you create beautiful video stories by using your Camera Roll photos, adding music, text, and stickers you love!
    • Stitch: Tell a story via a long picture, combining multiple photos via text and stickers!
    • Poster: Transform your photos into stylish posters in seconds.
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:
iPhone Screenshot 1iPhone Screenshot 2
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Canva

  • Features:
    • Create beautiful designs and professional graphics
    • Edit photos, add text, elements, stickers, borders, frames and more.
    • Get started in seconds with more than hundreds of professional templates and tweak them to suit your need.
  • Cost:  Free
  • Platform:  iPad only
  • Screenshots:
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 ProCamera

  • Features:
    • All-in-one app that features photo, video, and editing capabilities using state-of-the-art technology
  • Cost: $4.99
  • Platform:
  • Screenshots:
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Snapseed

  • Features:
    • 26 Tools and Filters, including: Healing, Brush, Structure, HDR, Transform (see list below)
    • Opens JPG and RAW files
    • Use the “stack” to re-adjust edits later
    • Selective filter brush
    • All styles can be tweaked with fine, precise control
    • “Insights” feature with tips and tricks about Snapseed and general photography
  • Cost:  Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

Track Your Wanderings

LiveTrekker

  • Features:
    • Track your every step
    • Record everything around you
    • Share with your loved ones, live
    • Safeguard your travel memories
    • Fine-tune your best journeys
    • Protect your data privacy
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:
iPad Screenshot 1iPad Screenshot 2
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Instagram

  • Features:
    • Post photos and videos you want on your profile grid
    • Share multiple photos and videos to your story
    • Go live to connect with your friends and followers
    • Send disappearing photos and videos, text messages, and posts from your feed to groups and friends
    • Watch stories and live videos from the people you follow
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:
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SnapChat

  • Features:
    • Share your life with your friends by sending snaps (pictures and videos), which can be viewed for 10 seconds and then disappear, to friends
    • Add snaps, which can be viewed for up to 24 hours, to your Stories section
    • Add snaps, which stores the snaps, to your Memories sections
    • Video chat
    • Send voice messages
    • Send money
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:
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Trip Journals

Trip Journal

  • Features:
    • Document your travel in real-time using Google Earth
      • Write journal entries
      • Use photographs and videos
      • Track your route, distance, and location
    • Share with friends and family using popular social networks like Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, YouTube, and Twitter
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

iPhone Screenshot 1iPhone Screenshot 2iPhone Screenshot 3

Please visit the earlier installments of our Best Travel Apps series:

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Exploring Brazil: Bonito, An Adventurer’s Paradise

Here is part one if you haven’t already read it: Exploring Brazil: The Pantanal and Bonito

Prying ourselves away from the majesty of the Pantanal’s landscapes and warmhearted people was a difficult task. To ease the pain of separation, we were surprised with a traditional Pantaneiro lunch of epic proportions at the charming Recanto Vale do Sol. Greeted by a live local samba band, grilled meats galore, a refreshing swimming pool for a mid-day dip and bottomless caipirinhas, we were instantly reminded that there is no time to be forlorn in Brazil, because the best always yet to come!

The second half of our adventures in Brazil was based from the adventure heaven of Bonito- an ecotourism paradise chock full of natural attractions and rich in culture. Crystal clear rivers, cascading waterfalls, epic caves, abundant wildlife, tempting culinary delights, and a strong sense of community make this area utterly unique; it quickly became my favorite destination in Brazil (along with Chapada Diamantina).

Bonito Brazil

Falls at Estancia Mimosa

We began our time in Bonito, grabbing snorkel gear, suiting up in wetsuits and exploring the limpid cool waters of the Sucuri (Anaconda) River. Countless schools of vibrantly colored fish, reflecting the sun’s rays in shimmering glints of silver and gold, darted through the alien underwater world that spread out below us. Here, where pre-historic looking shells rested in the riverbeds and submerged springs gleefully bubbled the white sand, we floated beneath toucans, monkeys and the emerald jungle’s low swinging branches.

Bonito Brazil

About to embark snorkeling along the Sucuri River

Bonito Brazil

Vibrant fish in Sucuri River

The following day, we jumped into the jaws of the Ahumas Abyss Cave. As we swiftly rappelled in tandem through a slender crack in the forest floor, a new subterranean landscape came into view. Humbling stalactites and stalagmites, mimicking massive pillars supporting an ancient temple, jutted in and out of a massive lake that filled the depths of the grotto. In the bellows of our awesome surroundings, we stood engulfed by wonder, as tiny specks a float a wooden platform in the heart of the watery underworld. First navigating the lake by boat, we then were armed with snorkels and flashlights and given the opportunity to explore the cavern swimming on our own. Our journey into the Abyss ended with a challenging and exhilarating ascent back towards the high noon sun beckoning through the cavern’s 225 foot roof.

Bonito Brazil

Dropping in tandem into the abyss

Bonito Brazil

About to ascend out of the cave (PC Mark Crawford)

The adventure continued over the next days as we went scuba diving up the Formoso River and under a thundering waterfall. Surrounded by joyful bubbles and watching from below the surface, as the late afternoon sun filtered through, I had the distinct sensation of swimming in a glass of champagne. Capuchin monkeys clambered in branches above us, while we hiked out in the maze of trails at Estancia Mimosa to eight of the most inviting and stunning waterfalls I have ever seen and macaws made a dramatic entrance to the scene while we visited the Buraco das Araras. Awkward anteaters sauntered across the crimson red roads and armadillos scurried about as dusk drew close. In the evenings we were introduced to two local, community-based operations: Casa do Vidro (Glass House), an artisanal workshop that single handedly collects the vast majority of Bonito’s discarded bottles and creatively repurposes them, along with Taboa Cachaça Factory, a beautiful distillery where artisanal cachaça is produced and all the ingredients used to spice it are produced in Taboa’s own garden.

Bonito Brazil

Views from below the surface

The final night of our dramatic adventure culminated with an authentic cowboy cultural experience at Galpão Chama de Bonito. Meat sizzled on the rustic barbecue and aromatic stews simmered on large wood fire stoves, as local women danced traditional dances with their Paraguayan skirts swirling about them and moving guitar notes drifted along on the balmy night breeze.

Is a trip to Brazil calling your name? Want to plan your next escape to Bonito and the Pantanal? Contact me!

For adventures like this one, check out our following tours:

Your friendly Brazil expert,

Gretchen

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Exploring Brazil: The Pantanal and Bonito

Vibrant sunsets, pastel sunrises, crystal clear waters, scuba diving, caving, country cycling, wildlife spotting and a real taste of the Pantaneiro (Brazilian cowboy) way of life: welcome to Brazil’s Wild West. Several months ago, I had the extraordinary opportunity to explore Mato Grosso do Sul on a ten-day journey in Brazil. In ten days we covered two spectacular areas brimming with adventure, unique landscapes, quaint colonial towns, rustic ranches, charismatic people and the most tantalizing food!

Corumba Brazil

Sunset in Corumba

Our journey began in Corumba, a charming frontier town in the South Pantanal, seated on the mighty Paraguay River. The Pantanal, the largest continuous wetland on the planet, declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, is South America’s primary wildlife sanctuary. With a total area of approximately 58,000 square miles, the Pantanal marks the heart of the South American continent and brings together several diverse regions: the Amazon rainforest, the Catinga, the Brazilian Savannah, the Atlantic Rainforest and the Paraguayan Chaco. This amazing conjunction of ecosystems boats an equally fantastic biodiversity including: 698 bird species, 80 mammals, 260 fish species and 50 reptiles.

Corumba Brazil

Sunset on the Paraguay River

Our first night in Corumba, we strolled down to the boardwalk past sleepy, colorful storefronts and got our first taste of the rich, fiery sunsets that are so characteristic of Brazil’s wetlands. Local fishermen let the steady current carry their lines while massive islands of grass and reeds drifted by. We continued down the cobblestone streets to the heart of the historic center where we were greeted by our local hosts at vintage Hotel Galileo for an entrancing welcome dinner. A band of local guitar players serenaded while we feasted on local delicacies of piranha soup, grilled caiman and sopa paraguaia (a spongy, savory cake, similar to corn bread made with corn, cheese and onion).

Corumba Brazil

First night in Corumba serenade

Corumba Brazil

Caiman anyone?

In the morning, we explored several local artisan co-ops and art centers focused around empowering the local community and producing distinctive ceramics and fish (yes, fish) leather. Lunch was served family style in one of Corumba’s premier mom and pop hidden gem restaurants: the Avalom Bistro. We feasted on several local favorites and continued on to the Boticario Nature Station to learn more about the fascinating intricacies of the complex ecosystem in which we were about to embark for the next three days. Grabbing one last fresh coco from a toothless and charming street vendor, we boarded Joice Tur’s river boat: soon to become our second home, research station and floating gastronomic haven. With another spectacular sunset as our backdrop, the twinkling lights of Corumba’s street lamps slipped away as we took off down the Paraguay River into the vast expanses of the Pantanal towards Porto da Manga.

Corumba Brazil

Our floating sanctuary: Joice Tur’s Boat

Corumba Brazil

Leaving the Port of Corumba

The following days were filled with cycling on red dirt roads, horseback riding through the marshes, swimming in tributary streams, river canoeing and endless wildlife spotting! One of my favorite mornings was rising early to set off on a bike ride down the rust-colored South Pantanal Road to Sao Joao Lodge. As the night’s mist lifted, in the already blazing morning sun, we were greeted by numerous families of capybara. At almost every turn, we saw various birds or mammals darting in and out of the reeds and low hanging trees, which our enthusiastic, naturalist guides were eager to discuss and describe. The heat was stifling by mid-day but cool, outdoor showers awaited us along with lazy hammocks swinging in the sweet, refreshing shade. Our hosts at Sao Joao Lodge were the weathered and charismatic Pantaneiros, who proudly described their deep-rooted traditions and the challenging ways of life that cattle drivers have to endure. Facing the late afternoon heat, we set off on horseback into the flooded plains where we saw crowds of hyacinth macaws and countless lethargic, potbellied caiman resting on muddy banks.

Pantanal Brazil

Sao Joao Lodge

Pantanal Brazil

Arriving at Sao Joao Lodge

The final night aboard our floating sanctuary, we were serenaded at sunset by our own private string duo. The dreamy notes from the cello and violin flirted with the calm of dusk and a far off storm lit up the horizon and flashed lightning on the Bolivian border. After an epic feast of suckling pig and exotic fish, we all clinked glasses while sipping refreshing caipirinhas and watched on the top deck as the southern hemisphere’s star constellations illuminated the sky.

Corumba Brazil

Bolivia on the horizon

Corumba Brazil

Joice Tur’s dinners were overwhelmingly spectacular every night!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my adventures in Bonito: an adventurer’s paradise!

For adventures like this one, check out our following tours:

Want to plan your trip of a life time to Brazil? Contact me!

Your friendly Brazil expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Brazil, South America, Sustainable Tourism, Travel Advice, Trip Journals, Trip Photos | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Best Travel Apps – Communications

Best Travel AppsWe have rounded up our favorite apps for communications in this Part III of our Best Travel Apps series including

  • Learn a Language
  • Translation
  • Communications

Let us know what your favorites are!

Learn a Language

World Nomads – Travel Language Guides

  • Features:
    • Learn basic travel phrases in 28 different languages
  • Cost: Free
  • Platform:
  • Screenshots:

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Duo Lingo

  • Features:
    • Learn 22 world languages through a game setting
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

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Memrise

  • Features:
    • Online memorization game using flashcards, mnemonics, and spaced repetition to learn 14+ languages
    • Has other non-language courses available
  • Cost: Free or $2.99 for full version
  • Platform:
  • Screenshots:

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Translation

Google Translate

  • Features:
    • Translate between 103 different languages by typing
    • Can be used offline for 52 languages
    • Speak (32 languages), write (93 languages), or take a picture (37 languages)for translations
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

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iTranslate

  • Features:
    • iTranslate enables travelers, students, business
      professionals, employers, and medical staff to read, write
      and speak in 90 languages, anywhere in the world
    • Translate text or websites, start voice conversations or
      lookup words, meanings, and even verb conjugations in over 90 languages
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

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SayHi Translate

  • Features:
    • Universal Voice Translator
    • Talk to your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad and hear your words back in different languages.
  • Cost: Free
  • Platform:
  • Screenshots:

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Communications

Viber

  • Features:
    • Free text, calling, photo messages and location-sharing with Viber users*
    • No registration, alias or invitations required
    • Instantly integrates with your own contact list
    • Best-quality mobile calls using 3G or Wi-Fi
    • *Calls use your data plan
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

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WhatsApp

  • Features:
    • Fast, simple, secure messaging and calling for free*, available on phones all over the world. *Data charges may apply.
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

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Messenger

  • Features:
    • Texts: Know when messages are delivered and seen
    • Voice and video calls: Call across the world for free (data charges may apply)
    • Photos & Videos: Send photos and videos instantly
    • Location: Send a map of any location
    • Stickers: Say it better with stickers
    • Voice messages: say, sing or shout your messages
    • Payments: Send money securely and easily
    • Groups: Start group chats with your favorite people
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

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Please visit the earlier installments of our Best Travel Apps series:

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Iguazu, Patagonia and Atacama: An Epic Guest Trip Report

Jeanne and Carol just returned from an epic adventure across Argentina and Chile. Beginning their journey amongst the glittering falls in Iguazu on the boarder of Argentina and Brazil. They continued down to Argentina’s southern Patagonia and trekked through the Fitz Roy area of Los Glaciares National Park with their base in the quaint mountain town of El Chalten. Three hours south, they embarked on a catamaran up to the towering face of Perito Moreno Glacier where they were able to witness the famous calving of the colossal pieces of ice shedding off the glacial cliffs and thundering in the depths of Lago Argentino below. Heading west, to Chile, they spent the next five days trekking along the stellar, undulating trails within the world-famous Torres del Paine National Park, all the while accommodated in luxurious yurts. Finally, they ended in their odyssey in the highlands of the Atacama Desert under a sea of stars and surrounded by crimson mountains, sand dunes and impressive geysers.

Atacama

Atacama Desert Sand Dunes, Chile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Torres del Paine

Carol and Jeanne in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Here are some of their photos from the trip as well as a few of their insights:

“Adventures Within Reach delivered a 10***** experience for us.

Every part was fabulous!

You can’t improve on our itinerary for us.  It was what we asked for plus your suggestions and routing made it perfect for us.

In the Atacama, all guests should make sure they get to take advantage of the special barbecue on Tuesdays (I believe). It was terrific and the best food of our stay. All the staff couldn’t be more accommodating.  The managers Juan and Maureen knocked themselves out trying to insure everyone had a fabulous experience.

In El Chalten everything was fabulous!  Perfect weather. Loved our hotel in El Chalten.  Fabulous restaurant and right next door was a hostel owned by the same people and we went there for a terrific dinner also. Highly recommend it and again ask for mountain (Forest Mtns) view room for other guests.  We didn’t bother to request a change but liked our room anyhow cuz they were rock climbing right outside of our window. Loved, loved El Chalten!!  Thank you thank you. Hikes were fabulous as you can tell by photos. All mountains “out”!

Loved Patagonia Camp. Probably my favorite place we stayed. The yurts gorgeous, the common area of restaurant, bar and lounge area small and comfortable, companionable. Patagonia Camp had the special lamb barbecue two nights a week.  I wish we had been there for both!!!!  It was fabulous. I think Wednesdays and Sundays. Again, the staff was wonderful.

Do appreciate the advice on money.  We were fine, never went near an ATM.

I truly appreciate the time and effort you put into this trip.

-Jeanne and Carol”

For some ideas on how to customize your next adventure to Argentina and Chile, check out some of these options:

Not seeing what you’re looking for? Let’s customize your next adventure!

Your Friendly South America expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Luxury, Patagonia, Trekking, Trip Photos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Best Travel Apps – Destination Information

Best Travel Apps

We have rounded up our favorite apps for destination information in this Part II of our Best Travel Apps series, including

  • Maps
  • Conversion
  • Tipping
  • Sleep

Let us know what your favorites are!

 Maps

National Geographic World Atlas

  • Features:
    • World maps in high resolution provided by the National Geographic Society
  • Cost: $1.99
  • Platform:
  • Screenshots:

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City Mapper

    • Features:
      • Map app that helps you compare transport options (subway, bus, rail, ferry, bike/car sharing, Uber) side-by-side for major world cities
      • Finds the closest train/subway station
      • Previously searched destinations are saved under the search bar
      • Offline public transport (bus, train, subway) maps and schedules
    • Cost: Free
    • Platforms:
    • Screenshots:

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    • Features:
      • Plan trips and share with friends
      • Online and offline maps of more than 150 countries, 60,000 destimations, and 50 million places
      • Contains in-depth guide to those cities, including millions of points of interest, with local insider tips
    • Cost: Free
    • Platforms:
    • Screenshots:

Stay.com

  • Features:
    • Travel recommendations by qualified locals
    • Offline maps of thousands of worldwide cities, with GPS available
    • Create personal travel guides for yourself or collaborate with friends and family
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

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Maps.me

  • Features:
    • Maps for any country, any place, from the largest cities to the smallest villages, at your fingertips
    • Totally offline detailed maps, including searches, bookmarks, auto-follow mode, GPS positioning
    • Zoom-in and zoom-out smoothly
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

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Star Walk

    • Features:
      • Interactive astronomy guide
      • Provides detailed information about celestial objects you see in the sky above you
    • Platforms:
    • Screenshots:

     

  • iPhone Screenshot 1iPhone Screenshot 2
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Conversion

XE Currency

  • Features:
    • Calculate world currency prices
    • Live exchange rates
    • View historical currency rate charts
    • Monitor 10 currencies
    • Stores last updated currency rates for use when the Internet is not available
    • Pro edition:
      • Ad-free
      • Monitor 20 currencies
  • Cost: Free
  •  Platforms:
  • Screenshots:
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The Converted

  • Features:
    • Shows conversions in an easy-to-understand visual format
    • Convert currencies, metric to English measurement units, and more
  • Cost: $4.99
  • Platform:
  • Screenshots:

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Tipping

GlobeTipping

  • Features:
    • Tip calculator for 200+ countries for every situation
  • Cost: $0.99
  • Platform:
  • Screenshots:

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Sleep

Sleep Cycle

  • Features:
    • Tracks your sleep patterns and wakes you up during light sleep
    • Waking up during light sleeps feels like waking up naturally rested without an alarm clock
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:
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Entrain

  • Features:
    • Monitor your body’s circadian clock using your smartphone
    • Adjust faster to new time zones and schedules to conquer jet lag
    • Developed by the University of Michigan
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

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Please visit Part I of our Best Travel Apps series – Organizing Your Trip and Flight Information.

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2017 Trip Giveaway Contest

Machu PicchuAdventures Within Reach (AWR) announces our 2017 Trip Giveaway Contest! AWR will pick two winners – one to win a 5-day Inca Trail Trek for 2 people and another to win a 3-day Amazon Rainforest Trip for 2 people.

The winner of the Inca Trail Trek will receive a 5-day trip for 2 people in a group departure (valid through December 20, 2018, subject to availability). The Trek includes Inca Trail permit, 1 night at the El Mapi hotel in Aguas Calientes, and Machu Picchu entrance fees.

The winner of the Peru Amazon Rainforest Trip will receive a 3-day trip for 2 people with 2 nights accommodations at the Reserva Amazonica in a standard room double-occupancy, tours at the lodge, entrance fees, all meals, and airport transfers (valid through December 20, 2018, subject to availability).

People can sign up for the contest on the AWR 2017 Trip Giveaway Contest web page. People can also sign up by visiting the AWR booth at the 2017 New York Times Travel Show (January 27-29, 2017 at the Jacob K. Javits Center) or the 2017 Denver Adventure & Travel Show (March 18-19, 2017 at the Colorado Convention Center). The contest began on January 1, 2017, and ends on March 31, 2017. Winners will be notified on or about April 5, 2017.

“We are delighted to make these exciting trips available for this year’s contest. This is the fourth year we have offered a Trip Giveaway Contest. I love being able to highlight a special destination every year. It gets our past travelers excited about a new place they have never been!” says Robin Paschall, President of Adventures Within Reach.

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Manaus: Brazil’s Gateway to the Amazon

Manaus Brazil

Teatro do Amazonas, Manaus, Brazil

Manaus is green and tranquilly chaotic with charming and inviting people. It is a city where over 600 billion-dollar industries collide with the impending brute force of the surrounding sea of inhospitable jungle. No man-made roads lead to Manaus; there was a failed attempt at one from Matto Grosso, which the Amazon took hold of and promptly re-ingested into its suffocating embrace. Now, the only ways into the city are, as was always the case, via one of the thousands of waterways winding their way to the Amazon itself, and flight. The heat has character. It has a weight, music and flavor all its own; it works its way into the wood of the small houses along the riverbanks, into the fibers of clothing and finally into deeper epidermal layers where it gleefully takes hold. It smells lush- every plant fighting to dominate the dense air with its own native, pungent and glorious perfume. The fish is meaty- it tastes like the earthy tannins that dye the Rio Negro while complimented by the vibrant local condiments: onions, exotic fruits, manioc, oils, lime juice and petit, pale, green peppers that burn all the way down.

Manaus Brazil

Manaus Port

Manaus Brazil

Local Dining in Manaus along the Amazon River

Manaus Amazon

Amazon fish for sale in local market

 

Manaus is a city of contrasts; today’s frenzied metropolis of 3 million inhabitants still has the shadows of European wealth from the rubber and diamond boom lingering in its doorways alongside the struggle of displaced natives from ancient indigenous cultures often times living on the fringe of society. Within any one person in Manaus culture and identity are deeply rooted yet strongly polarized between western-centric 21st-century appropriation and the centuries of traditional ways that date back to pre-Colombian times. The best representation of Manaus’ puzzling character is its iconic Teatro do Amazonas (Amazon Theater). In the heart of this gritty city, a mighty tribute to the turn of the century wealth that once flourished in this unsuspecting locale stands, seemingly untouched by time, in its full splendor and glory as it has for the past 100 years. Once a space reserved solely for the upper, European class, the theater today has been made a public space and platform for local visual and performing arts- it is free so anyone and everyone in the community can share and take part in what is showcased. Performers of all types come here to present local dance, music, theater and more. Smartly dressed locals come from all over the city to partake in what are now deemed cultural nights at the theater.

Manaus Brazil

Teatro do Amazonas Interior

Manaus Brazil

Building began in 1896

 

While recently in Manaus, I had the blessed opportunity to see one of these free shows at the Amazon Theater. I climbed the polished stairs to the highest balcony level. Dim lights illuminated the way and red velvet covered chairs awaited the theater’s patrons. When the performance began, around 10-14 guitarists came out on stage and performed local classics. Deeply moving, the crowd was instantly entranced- people began swaying, tapping feet and singing along; these songs were heartfelt and connected the youngest children through to the oldest grandmothers in the crowd with themes of love, loss and longing. Halfway through the show, a surprise guest group came out: a group of about 12 middle-school children from a rural town in the Amazon called Manacapuru. Several local public schools in Manacapuru participate in a developing project focused on bringing youth together with music as a focus. Each student in the program builds their own Ukulele by hand with wood gathered from trees that have fallen down naturally in the jungle; through this process they learn about the importance of their surroundings and build pride in protecting the Amazon. Before playing, several of the students gave moving speeches about the importance of protecting the crowd and the performers’ collective home: The Amazon. “If we don’t protect and take pride in our home, who will?” one boy demanded. The ukulele band performed more local songs and then harmoniously joined the larger group of guitars for a grand finale.

With the mounting threats the world poses on this life-giving area of our planet, hearing these students speak from the heart and collectively sing, play and unite the crowd, one could not help but feel an overwhelming feeling of respect, joy and hope. Please watch the following video about the Manacapuru students and music project and watch some of their behind the scenes performances.

Manaus is a city in flux. Its exterior a cold, industrial port in the middle of a jungle the size of the United States with an interior raw and beautiful in its roots and genuine collective struggle for identity and a place on the modern world’s stage.

Check out some of our Amazon Programs:

  1. 5-Day Complete Amazon: Boat Expedition
  2. 4-Day Amazon Immersion: Jungle Adventure

Want to visit Brazil? Let me help you design your ultimate custom trip to Brazil!

Warm regards from the Amazon,

Gretchen

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5 Hidden Gem Treks in South America (Plus one bonus trek!)

Chile Patagonia trekking

Trekking in Torres del Paine, Chile

If you are hoping to broaden your adventure portfolio this year, then I am here to help! This year I am extremely excited to share several new treks throughout South America for travelers looking for truly unique, rare and enticing experiences that showcase the various gems of South America’s diverse landscapes and the local peoples that call these enchanting places home.

Come trek in the steps of the Inca, through Martian landscapes and past table top mountains. Adventure into caves with glittering blue lagoons or venture amongst guanacos, condors and Puma on the Patagonian steppe. We have something for everyone and look forward to helping you plan your next epic journey!

Trek through a land of glittering waterfalls and dazzling caves! Near Salvador we find the most important trekking spot in Brazil: Chapada Diamantina. Large quantities of rivers are born in this spectacular region, forming over the years, beautiful streams, bubbling waterfalls and clear, natural pools. Some natural attractions include the Cachoeira da Fumaça, with its free fall of 380 meters, or the awe-inspiring cave, Poço Encantado. Throughout the trek, the marvelous natural landscape will continue to surprise and amaze.

Patagonia

Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

Complete a circuit of the park on this challenging trek while hiking among Torres del Paine’s famous craggy mountains. 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. 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.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, Peru

A challenging trek to Choquequirao, then on to Machu Picchu: this is the best of the best! This program has you trekking past the Apurimac river canyon, into the amazing ruins of Choquequirao, through the Cordillera Vilcabamba to finally reach Machu Picchu from its south side. This unique program is perfect for those who want to combine archaeology and mountains. Some of the trail is following the footsteps of Hiram Bingham!

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

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

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

Salta Argentina

Trekking to the Clouds, Argentina

Follow an Inca trail through the Andes of Salta, Argentina! This trek begins at the foot of Cerro El Gólgota in Ingeniero Maury and ends four days later in Quebrada de San Lorenzo, right next to Salta city. Explore an old Inca trail amid landscapes of great contrasts. The first part of the tour takes place in a dry and arid climate. During the final segment we will enter the rainforests of Salta’s Yunga. Along the route, we will be in contact with nature and the culture of a special area of Salta.

Starting at the Quebrada del Toro, our first ascent will be surrounded by cardones (giant cacti) and will reveal the snowy peaks of Cerro San Miguel and Acay. The trail leads to the archaeological site of “Sillón del Inca” (Inca Seat), ruins that once belonged to the southern part of the Inca empire. We will continue the trip visiting the local inhabitants of the area, who work the fields and breed livestock over in villages over 3,000 meters high. Camp sites and dinners will be the time to share moments with the group and sometimes with locals when we camp near their homes at night.

Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego Trek, Argentina

Camp and trek in the remote wilderness of Tierra del Fuego! The National Park of Tierra del Fuego is in the heart of the rugged wilderness that comprises the land of fire at the end of the world.

Explore this extreme remote area of the Andes just outside of Argentina’s southernmost city: Ushuaia. Valleys, lagoons, streams, prairies, cliffs, peaks, mountains, birds, guanacos, fox and numerous other species add to this amazingly pristine and unique landscape. Explore, breathe and feel, step by step, the rhythm and heart of Tierra del Fuego along the trail to Laguna del Caminante, at Laguna Superior and at each campsite surrounded by lush, green woods, rolling hills and snowcapped peaks.

Green Coast Brazil

Trekking the Green Coast, Brazil

Trek through lush mountains, rainforest, crystal lagoons and tropical islands! South of Rio de Janeiro, the Green Coast is a unique combination of mountains, tropical rainforest, crystal water lagoons and untouched tropical islands. In this region, we can still find small fishing villages where the electricity has not yet arrived and where they still use traditional fishing techniques. The Ecological Reserve Joatinga is one place we’ll where we will learn from several fishing communities their lifestyle and customs. At the end, we will also visit the beautiful colonial town of Paraty and its romantic and cozy atmosphere.

Have questions about any of these exhilarating treks? Want to book your spot? Feel free to contact me!

Your friendly South America expert,

Gretchen

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

Best Travel Apps – Organizing Your Trip and Flight Information

Best Travel Apps

We have rounded up our favorite apps for organizing your trip and for flight information in this Part 1 of 4 in our Best Travel Apps series.

We would love to hear what your favorites are!

Organizing Your Trip

Itineraries / Confirmation

TripIt

  • Features:
    • Organize travel plans in one place
    • Synchronizes with your calendar
    • Ability to share travel plans
    • Store travel documents in one place
  • Cost:
    • Free
    • TripIt Pro – $49/year
      • Real-time flight alerts
      • Locate alternate flights
      • Save money with VIP travel benefits
  • Platforms:
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Packing

Packing Pro

  • Features:
    • Generates expert packing list based on number of adults, children, and days of travel
      • Takes into account temperature, destination, food preparation, and laundry preferences
    • Sample template lists available
    • Create, edit, and check-off customized packing lists
    • Allows creation of sub-lists for managing business or large family trips
  • Cost: $0.99
  • Platform:
  • Screenshots:
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PackPoint

  •  Features:
    • Generates packing list based on length of travel, weather, and activities
    • Share packing lists with others
  • Cost: Free
    • PackPoint Premium (sponsored by Sheraton)
      • Connects to TripIt and Evernote
      • Customize with your own activities and packing list items
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

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Flight Information

Flight Tracking

Flight+

  • Features:
    • Track live flight status at every airport (16,000+) in the world, in real-time
    • Departure, arrival, terminal, gate, and flight Status information available
    • Aircraft and seat maps available
    • Weather forecasts for destinations
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:  Apple
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FlightAware

    • Features:
      • Live flight tracking (status, gate/terminal information, delays, cancellations)
      • Track charter, private and GA aircraft
      • See nearby aircraft flying overhead
      • Mobile push notifications and flight alerts
      • Flight planning and routes
    • Cost: Free
    • Platforms:
    • Screenshots:

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Airport Information

GateGuru

  • Features:
    • Door-to-door solution for travelers
    • Find services, retailers and restaurants at more than 200 airports, as reviewed by users, with maps
    • Flight information and real-time push notifications for thousands of worldwide airports
    • See security line wait times
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

LoungeBuddy

  • Features:
    • Find airport lounges all over the world
      • Find lounges available for a fee (beginning at $25)
      • Find lounges associated with airline elite status, lounge membership, and credit card affiliation
  • Cost:  Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

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U.S. Immigration

Mobile Passport

  • Features:
    • Expedited passport processing at 20 U.S. airports and one cruise port
  • Cost:  Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

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Compensation for EU Flight

AirHelp

  • Features:
    • Get up to $680 compensation if your EU flight is delayed, canceled, or overbooked
      • For any flight subject to EU passenger rights within the last three years
    • AirHelp handles your claim on a no win, no fee basis
      • If AirHelp is successful, you get 75% of the claim
  • Cost:  Free
  • Platforms:
  • Screenshots:

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