How To Avoid Crowds at Machu Picchu

In light of AFAR magazine’s most recent article, “The True Magic of Machu Picchu Isn’t Where You Think It Is”, we would like to highlight the items that they discuss, and we offer, that will help make your next adventure to Peru and Machu Picchu all the more special and away from the throngs of tourists that might take away from your personal journey.

Lares

Incredible vistas from the lodge to lodge Lares Trek

Choose your own adventure on the Luxury Lodge to Lodge Lares Adventure! This 5 day hiking and cultural experience is excellent for groups of diverse interests and abilities. Your incredbile journey will lead you through the rich history, living culture and magnificent landscape of Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas and end at Machu Picchu, the crown jewel of the Inca Empire. At each day’s sunset, settle into deluxe mountain lodges run in partnership with local communities, to prepare for a new day of multi-activity adventure and exploration.

Majestic archaeological sites lead to remote and uncrowded trails taking travelers through mountains and valleys, abounding in natural beauty and dotted with Andean communities, where the locals are master weavers and their traditions are still firmly rooted in ancient Incan culture. Expert guides tailor the experience with an offer of a la carte daily activities (easy to challenging hiking or mountain biking) and cultural encounters. Decide on whim, what you feel like doing each day and make this trek your own!

This program is also available as a 7 day itinerary, with 2 additional days of hiking and touring.  Contact us, if interested.

>>Read more about this trek from our own Peru expert’s personal experience

Discover less-known Incan Ruins site along this trek to Machu Picchu

This is an outstanding mini-trip for those wanting “a taste” of the Inca Trail, avoid crowds and link it with other adventures in the area. The second day can be arranged with a hike up Huayna Picchu.

NEW FOR 2018! We are offering a set departure on Thursdays for the 2-day Inca Trail Express, with a special group price. Minimum for group is 2 people.

You will need Inca Trail permits for this trek.  This trek is available in private, for any day of the week. Set departure groups start on Thursdays.

>>Read more about this trek from our own Peru expert’s personal experience

Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain

Besides Machu Picchu, there are so many other mind-blowing sites around Cusco and the Sacred Valley. For those looking for something truly unique, we have combined two great day tours into one stellar package, with river rafting on the Urubamba River and an overnight at a river lodge on the first day and hiking to Rainbow Mountain on the second day.  This is one of our most popular tours!

The river rafting is in a group (small group in raft) and the hike to Rainbow Mountain is private.  These may be booked separately as day trips.

Want to start planning your next Peru adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Peru Expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Luxury, Machu Picchu, Peru, Sustainable Tourism, Trekking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 7 Tips for the Best Experience on the Camino de Santiago Trek

Here are our top tips to make the most of your trek on the Camino de Santiago!

1) Book Early

Our favorite accommodations do get filled up during high season.  There are many other nice options out there, but the early bird gets the nicest hotels!

Our group departures also fill up.  We can always do a self-guided tour on any day, but if you like the group experience, you will want to book early.

2) Don’t Rush It

There is so much to see and do, there is no need to rush through the trip.  Arrive a day or two early, or stay a little longer.

We offer a couple of great day tours out of Santiago.

Consider adding a rest day to the hike.  Give your body a break and explore some of the great towns along the way.

3) Get Your Sleep

Getting to bed early will help you feel rested and ready for your next hiking day.  We book all your accommodations, so you don’t have to worry about your logistics.  And our comfortable hotels give you a private room and nice bed.

4) Make It Easy

We provide luggage transfers, which makes your hiking days that much easier.  But people still tend to pack too much in their day packs.  Pack just what you need and share some items with your fellow hikers.

Split one or more of the longer days into two shorter, easier walking days.  This also gives you more time to explore the area.

5) Pick the Best Experience for You

Some people like the camaraderie of a group experience and enjoy having a guide leading the group.  However, some people want the option to set their own schedule and explore on their own.  We offer both options — group treks and self-guided treks — so you can choose the best option for you.

There are many festivals along the Camino in the summer.  If you enjoy the pageantry and chaos of a festival, plan your trip around one of those.  If you prefer a quieter experience, schedule your trip away from those dates.

6) Be Prepared

Train — Get out and hike.  The more walking you do beforehand, the easier it will be on your Camino.  Wear a light day pack as well to condition your shoulders.

Clothing and Shoes — Plan ahead by looking at our Camino Packing List, and buy things that you need well ahead of your trip.  Wear your shoes on your training hikes to get them broken in.

Research — Get some Camino books, watch some movies, and talk to experienced Camino hikers.  The more prepared you are, the better your trip!

7) Keep a Sense of Humor

Things can go wrong on any trip.  A sense of humor is often the best solution to any problem.  The Camino is about caring and sharing.  If it has been raining for days, and someone needs a rain jacket, give them your extra one.  If you don’t speak French, learn charades.  Try a little octopus!  A smile goes a long way!

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Best Day Hike in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca

Want to add on more stellar hiking to your Peru adventure? Consider visiting Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca! Truly a trekker’s paradise with far fewer tourists than the Sacred Valley, this is a hidden gem that adventurers will not regret! Read on to discover more about our favorite day hike in the area: Hike to Lake 69.

Cordillera Blanca

Cordillera Blanca

HIKE 69 LAKE

Duration: Full Day
Difficulty: Medium – Hard
Max Elevation: 4600masl / 15091fasl
Start: Cebollapampa
Finish: Cebollapampa

OVERVIEW:

  • Located at 4600m/15091ft nestled between Pisco and Chacraraju Mountains.
  • This is one of the most beautiful aqua colored glacial lakes in the Northern Cordillera Blanca mountain range.
  • Considered by most hikers as one of the most impressive scenic day hikes in the entire Cordillera Blanca.
  • On clear days you can see straight through its deep blue colored waters while at the far end of the lake, an incredible waterfall thunders down into the surreal and magical lake.
  • This hike is rated medium to hard because of the altitude and more challenging hiking effort required for the last section of the trail just before reaching the lake.
  • This hike combines scenic mountain views of the main Cordillera Blanca peaks, electric colored lakes, rich vegetation and magnificent waterfalls dropping down along the sides of the valley.
Lake 69

Lake 69

DESCRIPTION:

Drive north along the Callejon de Huaylas. In Yungay we turn northeast,
driving up a dirt road where the Llanganuco Valley is located. From here, we cross
the Chinancocha and Orconcocha Lakes to get to Cebollapampa at 3900masl:
our hike starting point for Lake 69. At the beginning, it is a pleasant hike along an almost flat area for about 1 hour, passing through Quenual tress enjoying scenic views with a constant backdrop of Huascaran Mountain, the highest peak in the Cordillera Blanca, as well as Chopicalqui and Yanapaccha peaks. We then ascend along awell-marked zig-zaggin path to the first small lake. Here we gain even more magnificent views of the glaciated peaks of Chacraraju, Yanapaccha, Huascaran, Chopicalqui mountains along with epic waterfalls. We continue ascending on the zig-zagging trail until we reach Lake 69. Some people find this last stretch a little more demanding due to the steepening trail and altitude. The site you will behold is well-worth the effort! The majestic beauty of the lake and an up-close view of the Pisco and Chacraraju Mountains will leave you speechless. Relax, take pictures, have lunch while enjoying the surrounding landscape and then descend back the same way to Cebollapampa, where our transportation is waiting to drive you back to your Huaraz Hotel.

Hiking time: Approx. 6 to 7 hours
Driving time: Approx. 3 1⁄2 (total driving)

Want to add the Cordillera Blanca to your next Peru trip? Contact us!

Also, check out these great itineraries for more ideas:

4-Day Cordillera Blanca Trek / Santa Cruz Loop

6-Day Best of the Huayhuash Trek

Your friendly Peru expert,
Gretchen

Posted in Family Travel, Machu Picchu, Peru, Travel Advice, Trekking | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Experiencing Luxury on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

At AWR we pride ourselves in always working top-tier local guides who make all the difference when traveling to a new destination. Read on to hear from two AWR travelers who just returned from the 5-day Luxury Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu and share their experiences with their guides on the trek.

“We had a wonderful trip!We would like to make the following commendations

Claudia: great guide. personable and very knowledgeable about the Inca trail, culture and all the sites. She was also very wise about keeping us to a slow steady pace which meant that we didn’t tire out and actually passed a lot of people who had to stop to rest. we made it to all of our campsites on time or ahead of schedule. Her English is excellent (she even understands American idioms)

Machu Picchu

Fernando: assistant guide. He was also very personable and knowledgeable and caring. His English is good.

We liked both of our guides so well that we invited them to dine with us the last night of the trip at Inkaterra.

Nicolas and Bernando (cook and assistant cook). The cuisine was excellent. I wasn’t expecting this level of food on a camping trip. I am not sure how they accomplished it but kudos to them. the service was also excellent I couldn’t lift a finger without someone jumping to help me and they brought coffee to our tent every morning. On the third morning they made us coffee on top of the hill so we could sit and watch the sunrise over Salkantay (it was a clear morning and we saw Salkantay in all its glory).

Americo (chief porter) and all the other porters: they were all very efficient and friendly. they kept us comfortable and well taken care of. we couldn’t communicate directly with them but there were always smiles and nods. The porters spotted a spectacle bear duo that we saw on the second days hike and stopped to show us. we were all very excited to see them.

Napolti was also a great city guide.

We have already recommended Adventures Within Reach and will put a review on trip advisor.

We enjoyed all of the trip. However, our most memorable moment was the third nights’ campsite, which was probably the most beautiful campsite in the world!

Thanks again for a wonderful trip package.
Susan and Wallace”

Want to plan your next Peru adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Peru, Sustainable Tourism, Travel Advice, Trekking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New W Trek Departures For Early Spring in Patagonia

We have exciting news!

If you have been thinking about taking a trip to Patagonia to hike when the cold of winter is coming to an end, then you might want to keep on reading.

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine, Chile

This September we have three special departures coming up to hike the world-famous W circuit, available as a 5 day or 7 day trek.

This could be the chance you’ve been waiting for to see the majestic Paine massif, to hear the immense crashing of the calving Grey Glacier, or to spot wild pumas stalking their guanaco prey, all in the one of the world’s most beautiful places.

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine, Chile

These dates are unique because they differ slightly from our normal program. These modifications have been made to correspond with the changes in weather conditions and daylight hours that Springtime brings, as well as any developments that may have occurred with our trusted third party providers. They are also kept at the same low season prices you see on our website.

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine, Chile

DEPARTURE DATES:

5-DAY W TREK
-Sept 10th
-Sept 17th
-Sept 24th

7-DAY W TREK
-Sept 8th
-Sept 15th
-Sept 22nd

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine, Chile

If you are ready to pack your bags or if you need more information, please contact us. Patagonia awaits!

Your friendly Patagonia expert,
Gretchen

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

Family Patagonia Adventure

This family of four just returned from trekking in Argentina and Chile. They began their adventure in Buenos Aires, continued on to trek and visit glaciers in El Calafate and El Chalten, explored the incredible Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and ended in the wine country outside of Santiago. Read on as they share the highlights of their trip below.

Explora Patagonia

Trekking in Patagonia

“Our trip was amazing and it went really smoothly, your plans went off without a hitch and the weather cooperated for us. It wasn’t even that windy in Patagonia until the day we drove out.

We enjoyed working with Gretchen. She was extremely knowledgeable, pleasant and responsive. The itinerary she built for/with us was spot on and we felt it was one of our best trips ever. This was our third trip with AWR and we will continue to recommend AWR and utilize them too. Maybe Machu Picchu in 2019.

Patagonia

Cerro Torre at sunset, Patagonia, Argentina

Our favorite part of the trip was Patagonia Camp and the trekking (Fitz Roy in El Chalten; Frances Valley and Base of the Torres in Del Paine)

We loved the Calafate Sours and the champagne for our daughter’s birthday at Patagonia Camp. And of course the empanadas in Argentina.

Patagonia Camp

Patagonia Camp Yurt Interior

In net, Gretchen did and awesome job and we loved the trip. Many great memories and pictures!! Thank You!!”

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

Your friendly South America expert,
Gretchen

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

Bahian Magic at UXUA: Trancoso, Brazil

Our own South America Program Director and Brazil expert, Gretchen, just returned from a family dream holiday at the incredible UXUA hotel in Trancoso, Brazil. Read on as she describes her experience at UXUA and exploring Trancoso.

Trancoso

Trancoso Beach with Uxua

Authenticity is the greatest luxury a visit to Brazil’s picturesque and historic Bahia state can offer. And no place delivers the experience like Trancoso’s Quadrado, its car-free, UNESCO-protected town square.

Trancoso

Traditional fishing boats off shore

Welcome to the luxurious UXUA Hotel! Located in Trancoso, Bahia, it is the perfect place to celebrate the end to an adventure in Brazil with family and friends! Trancoso was isolated for centuries before its rediscovery by hippies and artists in the 1970’s. The culture is unique and people one-of-a-kind.

Trancoso

Uxua Ze e Zilda Casa

At UXUA (pronounced OO-SH-WAH), they break the mold of conventional hotel rooms by offering traditional houses as accommodations along the famous Quadrado. Half of UXUA’s casas date back 500 years to the village’s founding. They were restored by designer Wilbert Das in collaboration with local artisans using traditional techniques and reclaimed materials. Each of these casas have a soul, each with legends and family history; every detail uniquely crafted by caring hands.

Trancoso

Uxua Beach Bar

Trancoso’s beach is second to none and UXUA does everything perfectly to contribute to their guests’ experience. They restored an old fisherman bar, and still serve from an antique wooden boat topped by a thatched roof; low impact, sustainable, and delightful. They offer Bahian cuisine and innovative tropical cocktails, all with UXUA standards. Surf, sea kayaking, beach volleyball and wooden gym are all at Trancoso’s most central beach just steps from the Historic Quadrado.

Trancoso

Gretchen and her family enjoying an afternoon drink at Uxua’s Restaurant on the Quadrado

Finally, the culinary experience at UXUA and within Trancoso are absolutely incredible! With Bahia’s rich culinary heritage mixing African, native American, and Portuguese influences, it’s no surprise that the food scene is dynamic, and every aspect is celebrated from the most innovative restaurant to the goodness of home cooking and simple, traditional street food. Read more about UXUA’s culinary experiences and history HERE.

Trancoso Beach

Surf’s Up at Uxua !

Want to add UXUA and Trancoso on to your next Brazil holiday? Contact us!

Uxua Trancoso

Greetings from Gretchen!

Your friendly Brazil expert,

Gretchen

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

Feeling Like Inca Royalty in Peru!

This couple just returned from a 3-week anniversary trip to Peru where they explored Cusco, the Sacred Valley and completed the Luxury Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu! Read on to hear about more of their experiences.

Salkantay Luxury Lodge to Lodge Trek

I wanted to get back with you and share the wonderful details about our trip and things that might be helpful to you and your future clients.

We were so grateful to be met at the Lima airport! We did not know that we had to claim our bags in Lima. United Airlines told us our bags were checked thru to Cusco so when we landed we went thru customs and then just walked on out to look for our transfer agent. There were a ton of people holding signs. It was really great that your crew had the AWR sign. It really made them easy to spot. Our transfer agent Sam was great! Since we did not claim our bags it created a problem. Sam was very patient and made arrangements for us to go back through security to get our luggage. If he had not been there it would have been a disaster. We then collected our bags and headed over to the hotel where he helped us get our room. Costa del Sol worked out beautifully, transfer agents were wonderful and very helpful, especially getting us settled for our adventure.

Next morning walked over foot bridge to the airport, which was super convenient! Rechecked our bags to Cusco. Costa del Sol was super clean and nice staff.

La Casona, Cusco

Landed in Cusco, at the baggage claim a porter came up to me and asked if I was Andrea, I said, yes, not sure how he identified me but it was great. He helped us with our luggage and handed me some colorful tassels to attach to the bags, upon existing we met Kenny, Frank and our driver Aderley. They were fantastic!!!! Once we got to the van they served us hot Coca tea and cookies! What a wonderful greeting!!!! We then headed to our hotel, La Casona which we LOVED! Our transfer agents helped with the check in at the hotel. Before leaving Kenny went over our itinerary and gave us his phone number in case we needed to reach him during our stay. The hotel was exactly what we wanted small, intimate, and the service levels were exceptional! We also loved the location of the hotel.

Next couple of days we were with our driver Aderley and our guide Nepteli. First day he took us to the Sun Temple, Cathedral, Sacsayhuaman and around town.

Second day, Aderley and Nepteli again. Loved having the same driver during our trip. We went to Chinchero, one of my favorite towns, loved the church and square. Then we went to Moray. Nepteli told us we were going to have a picnic lunch but to our surprise there was a tent set up in a field overlooking a beautiful valley. Upon entering the tent there was a table covered with beautiful linens. A private chef, complete with a chef hat greeted us and began preparing our delicious 4 course lunch. This is one of my favorite memories. We then headed to Maras. This was also one of our favorite places we visited.

First Lodge of Salkantay Trek

We met our hiking group at the Mercado Hotel, which looked like a cool place to stay. Met our guides. Next morning we were picked up by Mountain Lodges of Peru. Started our trek. They did a great job. We loved the entire journey to Machu Picchu. Loved the hotel in Agua Calientes, Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.

Trekking to Machu Picchu

The transfer from Ollantaytambo train station to Hacienda Urubamba went smoothly. Once again we were met at the train station by our original driver Aderley and Kenny 🙂 We were concerned about our bags that we left at La Casona would make it to our new location but our guide with MLP was working to make the transfer of our bags work smoothly. There was some confusion on who would transfer the bags, either MLP or our transfer agents. We gave our guide Kenny’s phone number for him to call to make arrangements between the two companies. All went smoothly.

Salkantay Mountain in the Distance

We LOVED Haicienda Urubamba! Great place to stay after Machu Picchu. It seems most people stay there on the way to Machu Picchu. The hotel was gorgeous and we were happy for the luxury and rest it provided! The hotel staff and hospitality were exceptional. We visited Pisac and Chinchero again from that location. We also went fly fishing with Peru Anglers. They are great guys! We fished a high mountain lake in Calca Canyon. Got to see the local mountain people. The fishing guides are working with different villages to create a new source of income for the local people by introducing fly fishing to Peru. It was a wonderful experience. They are a new company. It might be nice to get to know them. They are Peruvian and their heart is in the right place.

Machu Picchu

Upon leaving, we were picked up by Kenny and a new driver. They dropped us at the Cusco airport BUT Kenny also got a porter to handle our luggage, he also got our boarding passes, also stood in line with us to check our bags, then walked us to the security check in!!! The service level was unbelievable! My husband was floored about how well we were taken care of. Kenny gave us big hugs and said goodbye!

Hacienda Urubamba, Sacred Valley

I want to tell you how fantastically you connected all of the dots! We felt like a king and queen the way we were treated. Kudos to all of you! We will definitely share our experience with friends and definitely book with you again.

Hacienda Urubamba, Sacred Valley

Thank you for a very memorable and special vacation!!!!

XOXO
Andrea”

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

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Inca Trail, Luxury, Machu Picchu, Peru, Sustainable Tourism, Trekking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brazil E-Visa Made Easy

Hoping to plan your next adventure to Brazil? Earlier this year, Brazil made the visa process much easier and MUCH cheaper for American, Canadian, Australian and Japanese citizens.

>>Read More About What Changed Here

Watch the following video for a quick tutorial on the new e-visa process:

Want to plan your next trip to Brazil? Contact us!

Your friendly Brazil expert,

Gretchen

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2 Ways to Visit Torres Paine While Staying at EcoCamp Patagonia

Thinking of planning your next adventure to Torres del Paine National Park? Check out the following two options of how to best visit the park while staying in some of the most unique and well-located accommodations, at EcoCamp Patagonia.

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine

5-Day Patagonia: Torres Del Paine Flexible EcoCamp

Torres del Paine National Park’s magnificent and unrivaled flora, fauna, and stunning vistas are at your fingertips with this customized adventure package, allowing you to handpick daily activities such as cycling, hikes, and nature walks, returning home to EcoCamp at the end of each day for cozy accommodations and sublime meals. Best of all, the 5-Day Patagonia: Torres Del Paine Flexible EcoCamp adventure offers you the best flexibility to see and explore the park (you can even do all the W-trek segments as day hikes if you like!) and its inhabitants with shorter or longer stay options, ranging from 4 days to 7 days so that you can get the most out of your stay in Torres del Paine Patagonia!

EcoCamp

Cozy Suite Domes at EcoCamp

5-Day Patagonia: Torres del Paine W Trek with EcoCamp

Be amazed by the skyrocketing mountains, deep blue glaciers, and hauntingly beautiful forests of Torres del Paine National Park on the world-renowned W Trek, all completed with EcoCamp’s unique blend of adventure and comfort. The visually stunning W Trek – highlighting the best of Torres del Paine such as Grey Glacier, French Valley, and the base of the Towers – is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Head off on one of the most famous treks in the world, ending each day of spectacular sights with delicious meals and comfortable nighttime accommodations. During your nights at EcoCamp Patagonia, you’ll be treated to delicious meals made from local ingredients, fun conversation over drinks in the Bar dome with your fellow guests, yoga to stretch your muscles, nights spent in unique domes, and more!

Cozy Standard Domes at EcoCamp for guests doing the W Trek

Glacier Grey

Want to start planning your visit to Chile? Contact us!

Your friendly Patagonia expert,

Gretchen

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