Peru: Best Affordable Boutique Hotels for Under $95

From ancient Incan palaces, to Spanish-colonial retreats to quaint, antique mansions check out our carefully selected list of Peru’s best boutique hotels for under $95 USD per night!


Lima boutique hotel

Arawi Hotel

Miraflores: Arawi Hotel ($95 USD)

Located in in the heart of Lima’s fashionable Miraflores district, Arawi Lima Hotel is a newly built property offering luxurious accommodation in a contemporary and sophisticated atmosphere. This boutique hotel is a short walk from the seafront and vibrant Berlin street and offers a number of beaches within easy reach.

Arawi Lima Hotel has 30 elegant rooms divided into four categories. The rooms are air-conditioned, come with king-size, queen-size or large double beds and feature a range of amenities, including flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi internet connection, safes and mini-bars. All rooms have en-suite marble bathrooms with complimentary toiletries and bathrobes.

Lima small hotel

Huaca Wasi, Lima

Miraflores: Huaca Wasi Hotel Boutique ($80 USD)

Located in a quiet tree-lined street in the fashionable Miraflores district of Lima, with just six suites, Huaca Wasi Hotel Boutique is set in a restored rustic style mansion house just a few steps away from the Huaca Pucllana archaeological site. This charming boutique hotel is a short walk from many chic restaurants and boutiques, and is also ideal for visitors to the San Isidro business and financial district of the city. Lima’s magnificent seafront is just over one kilometer away.

Huaca Wasi Hotel Boutique has a small patio garden where guests can relax in the shade, and a comfortable lounge for moments of tranquility, where breakfast is served.

Lima boutique hotel

Duo Boutique, Lima

lima boutique hotel

Duo Boutique, Lima

San Isidro: Duo Hotel Boutique ($58 USD)

Duo Hotel Boutique is a 20-room small family owned and run property located on a quiet street in the exclusive San Isidro district of Lima. Set in a carefully renovated neo-colonial style mansion, this charming boutique hotel offers luxurious accommodation in a privileged setting. Perfectly situated for visiting this spectacular city, the fashionable neighborhood of Miraflores is within easy reach, while major embassies, restaurants and boutiques are all close by, allowing for a quiet, comfortable and safe stay for guests.

Looking onto a beautiful courtyard garden with a small swimming pool and carefully tended trees and bushes, this handsome building has been painstakingly restored to maintain a balance between the original design of the 50’s and 60’s and modern furniture created especially for the hotel. Guests can enjoy fusion cuisine with traditional Peruvian elements in the Duo Bistro cafeteria, and spa services are also available, with a range of massages and treatments. There is also a meeting room for small and medium sized business events.


cusco boutique hotel

Unaytambo, Cusco

cusco boutique hotel

Unaytambo, Cusco

Cusco: Unaytambo ($84 USD)

Set in a magnificent colonial building built on the foundations of an ancient Inca palace, Unaytambo enjoys a prime location in the historic centre on Cusco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This small boutique hotel is just a short walk from many of Cusco’s most important sights, including Qorikancha, (the Temple of the Sun), the Plaza de Armas, the Inka Museum and the Musuem of Religious Art.

Unaytambo Boutique Hotel offers guests wonderful city views from some of its rooms, while other rooms overlook the beautiful courtyard where breakfast and snacks can be served in fine weather.

Unaytambo Hotel’s 15 unique rooms are all individually decorated, featuring warm materials and fabrics, including colonial style noble timber furniture and local stone. Some rooms have fireplaces and all have flat-screen cable televisions, heating and en-suite bathrooms. Wi-Fi is also available.

Sacred valley boutique hotel

El Albergue, Sacred Valley

El Albergue, Sacred Valley

Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley: El Albergue ($84 USD)

El Albergue Ollantaytambo Hotel & Restaurant is a charming boutique property situated at the Ollantaytambo railway station, just a ten minute walk from the Ollantaytambo Inca temple and village. This romantic little hotel is ideally located for visiting the Sacred valley and Machu Picchu, as the famous Inca site is just over an hour away by train, while Cusco is also around an hour’s drive away.

Offering spectacular views of the mountains, the hotel’s rooms look onto beautiful gardens filled with fuchsia, passionflower, peach and avocado trees and visited by numerous species of hummingbirds. Albergue Ollantaytambo’s rooms have maintained the minimalistic traditional decoration of the original building, combining antique furniture with warm fabrics and noble wood flooring.

Albergue Ollantaytambo is dedicated to the ideals of conservation and eco-friendly tourism, and therefore runs its own farm, using traditional methods without agrochemicals or synthetic fertilizers. Guests are welcome to visit the farm and take part in activities if they wish. Much of the farm’s fresh produce is used in the hotel’s restaurant, forming a part of its natural cuisine with a selection of delicious Peruvian and European dishes.


Arequipa boutique hotel

Casa Arequipa, Arequipa

Arequipa ($68 USD)

This outstanding 11-room property is set in a painstakingly restored mid-20th century mansion house, located in an exclusive, leafy neighborhood on the corner of a tree-lined avenue. Casa Arequipa is a boutique bed and breakfast establishment, offering luxurious accommodation in an outstanding setting. Ideally situated for visiting this historic city, Casa Arequipa is within easy distance of many of Arequipa’s most important sights, including the Plaza de Armas, the cathedral and the Goyaneche Palace.

Breakfast is served in the sumptuous upper floor dining room, which offers spectacular views of the Andes, while guests can enjoy beverages and cocktails in the spacious downstairs lobby.

Want to plan your next boutique escape to Peru? Contact me!

For more great boutique hotels check out: Great Small Hotels

Please note: all prices are starting prices for LOW SEASON. Prices may vary.
Your friendly South America expert,


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

Best Photo Ops: Lima, Cusco, Santiago

Planning your next trip to Lima and Cusco in Peru or Santiago, Chile? Don’t forget these must-visit photo op spots for the best souvenirs of your adventure! Taxis are very reliable in Peru and Chile for you to get to where you might want to take photos. Uber is also an option in Santiago. Private transfers/a driver are also easily arranged (though for a higher cost). If you’re feeling adventurous, try the bus in Lima. More straightforward? Take the subway in Santiago. The following are the must-stop spots in and around Lima, Cusco and Santiago:

Lima Photography

Lima at sunset

Lima Photography

La Picanteria, Surquillo, Market Lima

Lima: Sunset or sunrise on the Malecon (boardwalk in Lima connecting Miraflores and Barranco neighborhoods). Surquillo Market (especially La Picanteria) is the perfect spot for foodie shots and a delicious/cheap ceviche lunch ;). Also along the steps of Barranco neighborhood leading down to the beach- great at sunset!


Cusco: The lookout over the city atop the San Blas neighborhood. The Central Market in Cusco is also great for cultural shots.

Sacred Valley

Sacred Valley, Peru

Sacred Valley

Salkantay, Sacred Valley, Peru

Sacred Valley: Both the ruins in Pisac and Ollantaytambo are excellent places for photography. Ask your guides for the best angles and spots within the ruins.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu: If staying in Aguas Calientes, in the morning get to the gates of the citadel on one of the first shuttles (or hike up on your own) and head up to Intipunku (the sun gate). This is the classic and famous “Machu Picchu at Dawn” shot. You could also do this in the evening for a sunset shot- there will probably be less people at that time. If you are arriving at Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail- you’re set! You will be arriving through the Sun Gate.


Street Art, Santiago


Plaza de Armas, Santiago


Mercado Central, Santiago

Santiago: Cerro San Cristobal and/or Cerro Santa Lucia both offer high view points of the city. One can hike or take a gondola to the top of San Cristobal. Atop Santa Lucia there is an enchanting old castle offering epic contrast shots between the “old and new” architectural styles of Santiago. For vibrant street art and great people-watching visit the neighborhood of Bellavista. The Lastarria neighborhood, is great for taking shots of classic Chilean/Spanish architecture and culture. The Mercado Central is the place for shots of food and people. Finally, for fancy fun, visit the luxury Singular Hotel and head to their bar; its on the top floor, offers sweeping views of the city- and excellent drinks to boot!

Want to try your hand at travel photography? Let us help with your itinerary!

Your friendly South America expert,



Posted in Chile, Machu Picchu, Peru, Travel Advice, Trip Photos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel Advice: Adding The Colca Canyon and Lake Titicaca to Your Peru Adventure

A frequent question that many of our guests (especially those doing the Inca Trail) have is: “I read about Lake Titicaca and the Colca Canyon but don’t how to integrate them into our trip to Peru- can you help us with this?”

Lake Titicaca

Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca


Santa Catalina, Arequipa


Mt, Misti, Arequipa

Colca Canyon

Gretchen Trekking in the Colca Canyon

I love both of these destinations. Lake Titicaca seems almost Mediterranean but at a staggering 14,000 ft and surrounded by the Cordillera Real in the Andes. I do not advise visiting Lake Titicaca before Cusco/Sacred Valley/ Machu Picchu though as it is at a much higher altitude and most people are very uncomfortable when they jump straight from there to Lima. If you visit Lake Titicaca, I would recommend doing so after your Inca Trail Trek or visit to Machu Picchu. I recommend 3-4 days at Lake Titicaca. It can be reached in the following ways:

  • Flying from Cusco to Juliaca (45 mins) and driving to Puno (40 mins)- middle price
  • Train from Cusco to Puno (10 hours luxury, most expensive)
  • Tourist bus from Cusco to Puno (I highly recommend this- you get to stop in several small villages and visit archeological sites, lunch and entrance fees are included) – this is the cheapest option as well. 8 hours.
Lake Titicaca

Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca

Sunset at Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca

Kayaking on Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca

Gretchen boating on Lake Titicaca

The Colca Canyon and Arequipa are excellent too (and a wonderful add-on after trekking to Machu Picchu). The Colca Canyon has amazing hiking, quaint small villages and beautiful hot springs. I recommend at least 3 days/2nights at the Colca Canyon and at least 1 night and a day in Arequipa. Arequipa, also know as the “White City” for all of its buidlings constructed out of white sillar stone is at around 8,000 ft and a good place to acclimate before the Inca Trail as well. The Colca Canyon is at around 12,000 ft. The Colca Canyon can be reached the following ways:

  • Flying from Cusco to Arequipa (45 mins) OR Lima to Arequipa (1.5 hours) + driving (3 hours)
  • Bus from Lake Titicaca (includes stops at several wildlife refuges and lunch) – 6 hours

Santa Catalina, Arequipa


Central Plaza, Arequipa

Want help adding one of these destinations to your next Peru adventure? Feel free to check out the following trips or contact us:

3-Day Lake Titicaca and the Floating Isles

1-Day Arequipa City Tour and Sta Catalina

3-Day Colca Canyon Trekking

Your friendly South America expert,

Gretchen ­­­


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

Argentina: Best Affordable Boutique Hotels for Under $130

From hidden, urban, art-deco retreats, to cozy, traditional Patagonian ranches to the ultimate wine lodge experiences check out our carefully selected list of Argentina’s best boutique hotels for under $130 USD per night!


San Telmo Buenos Aires

Moreno Hotel, San Telmo

San Telmo: Moreno Hotel ($60 USD)

Moreno Hotel Buenos Aires is located in the bohemian neighborhood of San Telmo, combining daredevil design and modern comfort. One of the few hotels in the city that besides having 39 huge rooms, counts with a restaurant and an on-site theater.

Just a few blocks away from Plaza de Mayo, the “Cabildo” (Government seat in colonial times), the “Manzana de las Luces” and numerous other historical buildings of the city, Moreno Hotel is one of the quintessential Art Deco buildings conserving its patrimonial value, designed by the German/Hungarian architect Johannes Kronfuss in 1920. On each of the seven floors the characteristics of that time remains the same: high ceilings and large vitraux windows designed by Gustav van Treeck.

It is surrounded by art galleries, antiques markets, handicrafts fairs, museums, tango halls, pubs, restaurants, the famous Sunday San Telmo Flea Market.

Palermo Hotels Buenos Aires

Hotel Vitrum, Palermo, Buenos Aires

Palermo: Hotel Vitrum ($116 USD)

Hotel Vitrum is a boutique hotel where art, design, fashion and cuisine coexist in the enigmatic neighborhood of Palermo Hollywood in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Located on Gorriti Street, close to the corner of Fitz Roy, Hotel Vitrum is at the very epicenter of design, avant-garde urban culture and signature cuisine. Guests of Hotel Vitrum can experience the best of Buenos Aires in this district of art galleries, restaurants, Tango bars and boutique hotels.

Walk down Caminito Street in La Boca neighborhood or cool off at the Paraná Delta. Don’t miss Puerto Madero, San Telmo, or the areas surrounding Plaza de Mayo and the Colon Opera House. Art lovers will enjoy the MALBA Museum, Recoleta Culture Center, Borges Culture center and Palais de Glace. Outdoor people will love the Botanical Gardens, Palermo Woods, the Japanese Garden and the Polo Field.

Add one of these properties on your next Buenos Aires adventure!


Hotel Territorio Patagonia

Hotel Territorio, Puerto Madryn, Patagonia

Peninsula Valdes, Puerto Madryn: Hotel Territorio ($130 USD)

With a magnificent oceanfront location in Punta Cuevas, just outside Puerto Madryn, Hotel Territorio is set in a modern, avant-garde building, and offers luxurious boutique accommodations with a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

Ideally placed for exploring the dramatic steppe, the coast and the sea of Península Valdés, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Hotel Territorio is a wonderful spot to return to after a busy day full of exploration. Guests can wind down in the relaxation area, complete with a dry sauna, Jacuzzi and a range of treatments and massages, or enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of tea in the cozy lounge, which boasts a wood burning fire for those chilly Patagonian evenings. Every morning, the stunning view of the sea from the dining room accompanies a perfect breakfast. At nightfall, candlelight makes it the ideal place to try some of the tempting offers at the bar.

Hotel Territorio has just thirty-six spacious rooms and suites, all with fabulous views of Bahía Nueva, where in winter and spring, right whales perform their spectacular breaches. All rooms feature an elegant, light filled design, combining the simplicity of concrete and the warmth of timber and a carefully selected range of cozy fabrics, and come with a full complement of modern, high-tech amenities.

Kau Yatun El Calafate Patagonia

Kau Yatun, El Calafate, Patagonia

El Calafate: Kau Yatun Hotel de Campo ($93 USD)

Surrounded by the native vegetation and fauna of Estancia 25 de Mayo, Kau Yatun Hotel de Campo is set in a traditionally built Patagonian ranch, featuring massive timber logs, natural stone and the typical green-painted corrugated iron roofs of the region. Standing just outside El Calafate, this charming property offers luxury accommodation and delicious regional cuisine in a tranquil, secluded location.

With a history stretching back to the first settlers of El Calafate, Kau Yatun Hotel de Campo is perfect for relaxing stays in this charming little town, internationally recognised as the gateway to the Los Glaciares National Park, the Perito Moreno Glaciar, Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. On site, guests can enjoy free mountain bike hire, and a range of trails within the historic area of the Estancia.

Kau Yatun Hotel de Campo is home to two unique dining venues: ”El Quincho”, located a few steps from the main hotel building, serves delicious home-made local cuisine, based on the finest fresh produce from the Estancia and puts on ”Gaucho Shows” for guests’ entertainment. The El Alambique Resto Bar is the gastronomic space of Tremun Yatun Kau Hotel, where guests can enjoy Patagonian delights with fine views of the hotel’s parkland.

Add one of these properties on your next Patagonia adventure!


Legado Mitico Salta

Legado Mitico Salta

Salta: Legado Mítico Salta ($116 USD)

Located in the centre of historic Salta, in northern Argentina, Legado Mítico Salta is set in a grand nineteen-thirties mansion. Recently having undergone an extensive renovation, this charming property offers up-market boutique style accommodation and friendly, welcoming service in a magnificent heritage atmosphere.

Ideal for tranquil stays in this historic city, Legado Mítico Salta is just a ten-minute walk from the magnificent Plaza 9 de Julio square, with the cathedral, the Cabildo, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and many other beautiful historic buildings. Guests will also find myriad cafés, restaurants and fascinating shops in the streets around the house. The mansion boasts period-style décor, with original tiled floorings, antique and vintage furniture, and plush fabrics. There is a cosy, elegant lounge area, as well as a patio garden, perfect for relaxing after a busy day’s sightseeing.

Legado Mítico Salta offers a hearty breakfast buffet every morning, and other services include private parking, complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the house, and full air-conditioning.

Salta Hotel

Finca Valentina, Lerma Valley Salta

Lerma Valley, Salta: Finca Valentina ($128 USD)

Enjoying a delightful, secluded location, near the city of Salta in the Lerma Valley, Finca Valentina is a lovingly refurbished country house. Maintaining traditional architecture externally, but with the layout, light and comfort of modern living in the interior, this charming family-owned and run property offers cozy boutique style accommodation in a beautiful rural setting.

Perfect for relaxing escapes in this fabulous region, just twenty-five minutes from down-town Salta, Finca Valentina offers a fabulous range of activities, both on-site and close by the estate, including horse-riding, hiking and trekking, mountain biking, or traditional cooking lessons, among many other options. The house boasts a large outdoor pool, and massages can be arranged on request.

Breakfast at Finca Valentina is served in the dining area, with stunning views of the pre-Andean mountains. Specialties include genuine Italian cappuccino, along with a variety of home-made cakes, natural products, seasonal juices, bread from the local bakery and jams and honey from the neighboring farms. Lunch and dinner are available on request, and Finca Valentina’s expert chef creates a different menu every day, accompanied by an excellent selection of wines from the finest wineries of the Mendoza and Salta valleys.

Cafayate Salta

Vinas de Cafayate Wine Resort, Cafayate, Salta

Cafayate, Salta: Viñas de Cafayate Wine Resort ($120 USD)

Standing in the heart of the vineyards of the Calchaquí valley, near the city of Cafayate, Viñas de Cafayate Wine Resort is a small boutique resort, set in a charming low-rise traditionally-styled estate. Calm and tranquil, this delightful property offers luxurious accommodation, great food and wine and a fabulous range of activities in a friendly, welcoming ambiance.

Perfectly placed for relaxing visits to this beautiful region, guests at Viñas de Cafayate Wine Resort can enjoy a magnificent range of activities, both on the estate and close by. These include visits to the vineyards, and tastings at the most important wineries of Cafayate, mountain biking, hiking and trekking, horse-riding or visits to the historic village of San Carlos and the Quilmes ruins. The Estancia de Cafayate Wine & Golf is one of the largest golf courses in South America, and offers special green-fee rates to guests at Viñas de Cafayate Wine Resort.

On-site, the resort boasts a large outdoor swimming pool and solarium, a cozy lounge with a fireplace and library, and a boutique with a selection of regional silver jewelry and exclusive crafts. The gourmet restaurant served delicious menus created from the finest locally sourced produce, including fresh vegetables and herbs from the resort’s organic garden, and guests can enjoy a magnificent range of local wines from Viñas de Cafayate’s well stocked cellar. Staff are multi-lingual, and on hand 24/7 for all guests’ requirements.

Add one of these properties on your next Salta adventure!



Posada Verde Oliva, Maipu, Mandoza

Maipu, Mendoza: Posada Verde Oliva ($118 USD)

Verde Oliva is situated in a carefully renovated and modernized 19th century hacienda. This charming property provides cozy boutique-style accommodation, friendly service and a range of outdoor activities in a tranquil rural setting.

The design of the inn has preserved all the features of a typical country house in Mendoza – including a large, spacious gallery – combined with all the comfort and safety of a modern hotel. Ideal for wine tours and vineyard visits in this fascinating region, Posada Verde Oliva is just sixteen kilometers from the center of Mendoza, yet is seemingly a world away, in a rural spot where time stands still and the hustle and bustle of the city are left far behind. Staff at Posada Verde Oliva are on hand to arrange a number of especially programmed activities, including wine and olive oil tours, horse riding, mountain biking, adventure sports, and many other options. On-site, the posada boasts a large outdoor pool, expansive gardens, and a large, cozy living room, featuring an open fireplace for those cool winter evenings, and an extensive library with a range of titles on wine and olive oil production, the region’s history or tourism in Mendoza.

On arrival at Posada Verde Oliva, guests are welcomed with wine and cheese, and tasty lunches and dinners can be prepared on prior request. Olive oil therapy massages can also be arranged on advanced request.

Add this property on your next Mendoza adventure!

Want to plan your next boutique escape to Argentina? Contact me!

For more great boutique hotels check out: Great Small Hotels
Please note: all prices are starting prices for LOW SEASON. Prices may vary.
Your friendly Argentina expert,


Posted in Argentina, Chile, Patagonia, Travel Advice, Travel Products | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trip Report: Colombia Multi-Sport: October 2016

  • Staff Member: Dan Crandall
  • Travel Dates: October 21-26, 2016
  • Destinations: Columbia: Bogota, Santander, Pereira (gateway to the Coffee Region) and Cartagena

October 21, 2016: Bogota arrival

I arrived late at night in Bogota. Right away, I was impressed, which was a constant feeling throughout my trip in friendly Colombia, by the airport – the infrastructure in Colombia was in generally very good condition with certain key installations like airports being remarkably modern. Tonight, I stayed at the Hotel Sheraton in Bogota, a comfortable, clean mid-range hotel, maybe 15 minutes from the airport with an airport shuttle service on-site.  Modern Bogota, established back in 1538,  is a leading city in South America. Surrounded by green mountains, the city is a blend of colonial and contemporary architecture, with a host of impressive buildings, art museums and galleries, and a colonial historical center, attractive churches, markets, and interesting day trips nearby. A primary attraction here is the famous Gold Museum, one of the finest of its kind in the world. The Bogota Gold Museum contains 34,000 gold artifacts, plus thousands of ancient bone, stone, ceramic, and textile art pieces from a slew of fascinating pre-Hispanic societies.

October 22, 2016: Fly to Bucaramanga

Today I flew into Bucaramanga, Santander’s capital city of 1 million not far from the Venezuelan border and a classic “working” town (rather than a “tourist” town) that is ringed by high, attractive hills. I found the city center a pleasant place to stroll and gained an excellent glimpse into “real life” inside Colombia. Of particular interest to adventure travelers, however, is the paragliding center on the edge of town, which offers tandem paragliding trips that would make for a fun half-day excursion if this is of interest. I overnighted at the Hotel Dann Bucaramanga, a fine 5-star hotel with a good central location for exploring the town’s center by foot.

October 23, 2016:  Mountain biking and Whitewater Rafting

This morning, we drove approximately 2 hours through the mountains until we reached the starting point, situated at 6,000 feet above sea level, for our exhilarating mountain bike descent into famous Chicamocha Canyon, the second largest canyon in the world. Passing waterfalls, coffee and tobacco farms, we rode to Jordan, a historic pueblo (town) at 1,000 feet above sea level. Jordan is an atmospheric little village along the river with a feel of an abandoned ghost town that most tourists don’t have an opportunity to see. Here we stopped at a refreshing natural pool to cool off, had a swim, and enjoyed a fantastic lunch.

Afterward, we experienced one of the top activities in Santander, whitewater rafting.  Leaving our bikes behind, we boarded our waiting rafts on the Chicamocha River. We encountered some thrilling rapids and huge waves, starting with some Class III’s and increasingly larger until the last section of Class IV’s. Rafters have been known to experience huge waves, depending on the weather and the water levels. The nice thing with the Chicamocha River is that, in the case of wipeouts, there are pools at the end of each rapid which make this river runable for tourism.

Afterward, we got back into our air-conditioned van for the ride up to Barichara, a quaint colonial village. Our overnights here were at the wonderful Hotel Hicausa, a comfortable mid-range boutique hotel with loads of charm.

October 24, 2016: Waterfall Hike, Waterfall Rappel, and Caving

Rarely will you find a more enjoyable morning activity than an adventurous hike through a lush, tranquil forest up a mountain to a beautiful, gushing waterfall at the top. But that’s what we did this morning, at Juan Curi waterfall, where we found a phenomenal 600-foot high cliff with a cascade thundering down multiple rock ledges and terraces to a huge pool below. We took in the scenery and unique flora and butterflies as we hiked up.  At the broad boxy ledge about 2/3rds of the way up, we got into climbing harnesses and sat through a safety briefing, among simply gorgeous scenery, for our next adventure, rappelling down the same waterfall we just hiked up.  Part of the rush, especially at the start – besides the sheer height – was simply entering the oodles of water after the initial launch and making your way down by rope through this significant waterfall.

For a few in our group, this was their first time at rappelling, but even for rest of us, the adventure definitely got the adrenaline up. After making my way down the cliff, the safety guy helped me remove the harness and I dived straight into the large natural pool at the bottom of the falls, which made for excellent swimming, especially on a hot day like it was.

From there, we headed to the attractive hilltop town (aptly named) Paramo. Here, we had a delicious lunch in a beautiful little family-owned restaurant that was loaded with eccentric relics like old TV’s, record players, guitars, records, old family photos, etc., and a meditative orchid nursery in the back. After lunch, we headed underground for a subterranean adventure. Cueva del Indio (“Indian Cave”) just outside of Paramo is a mysterious limestone cave system, complete with long echoes and a fascinating variety of bats flying overhead. We donned hard hats, personal flotation devices, and flashlights to make our way through the watery darkness. We learned a bit about life underground while weaving between stalactites and stalagmites, low ceilings, bat colonies, and shallow pools. Near the end, I took the option to jump into the total blackness into a deep pool below, from where we swam out into the daylight via an underground river exit.

We returned to Barichara for our overnight. Dinner tonight was at the elegant La Nube Posada, where we were treated to a special regional highlights dinner by an amazing local gourmet chef.

October 25, 2016: Barichara walking tour and hike on the Camino Real trail to the pretty town of Guane

Our group did a nifty walking tour of Barichara this morning, en-route to the starting point for our hike on the Camino Real. Barichara is a renowned heritage village in Colombia especially for its hand-carved stone streets. We visited cathedrals, enjoyed a few spectacular viewpoints, and strolled past some wonderful colonial architecture.  In fact, Barichara is dubbed “the most beautiful pueblo in Colombia.”

The edge of town is the starting point for the hike to the pretty little pueblo of Guane. This countryside hike travels approximately 9 KM along cobble, stone and dirt and is a famous if short stretch of the old “royal road,” otherwise known as the Camino Real.  Birding is excellent along the trail, but watch your step since the old road is rather rugged – hiking boots were helpful. We passed attractive farms, distant hills, rolling countryside, and old rock fences from many years ago.

At the end of the hike, we reached Guane, often touted as a smaller version of pretty Barichara, home to an attractive old church, tiny white-washed homes, cobble streets, and a worthwhile paleontology museum. We ate at a brand-new hotel/restaurant, only about a block from the village’s only square, where we were served phenomenal seafood paella. We got in the van then and headed back on a quick drive to Barichara. Some in the group joined the guides for some fun mountain biking right outside of town. I met up with them and tried a special salty treat that locals enjoy with a cold one – dried ants, ants specifically known as “big ass ants.” I would call them “interesting,” but pretzels, peanuts and popcorn have absolutely nothing to worry about. I made sure to leave room for dinner tonight, which was at the tranquil Restaurante Las Cruces, an outstanding culinary project/teaching restaurant at the local center for regional arts and crafts.

October 26, 2016: Flight to Pereira 

We had a 3-hour transfer flight this morning to Bucaramanga, where we connected with our flight to Pereira, a city of about 450,000 and the main gateway to the Coffee Region.

While I was busy at a conference for the next 3 nights, meaning I didn’t do any touring in Pereira, I certainly learned a lot about the Coffee Region while I was here. The countryside here is a UNESCO heritage area full of beautiful coffee estates, wonderful haciendas, glaciers, mountains and hills, hot springs, and more. Coffee tours, horse rides, nature walks, birding, treks, and hiking are all popular activities. Pereira itself is not a tourist attraction, but all around it, you’ll find a major tourism area.  Armenia, El Bosque del Saman, Manizales, and Pereira form a region known as the “coffee triangle.” Many of the major sights and experiences within this coffee triangle can be reached within an hour or two’s drive. The area may remind some travelers of Chile’s Central Valley or Argentina’s Mendoza wine regions, without of course, the wine, but with lush coffee fields adorning the green rolling hills instead.

October 29-31: Cartagena

I flew to Cartagena, arriving around mid-evening. It was a breeze getting to my hotel, the Hotel Las Americas, with a convenient taxi kiosk just outside the main entrance. The airport is about 20 minutes from most entrances to the citadel, which is the main tourist zone in the city, where many hotels are located. If traveling light, it’s probably easiest just to get dropped off at an entrance and then walk to your hotel – nothing is that far away. Taxis are inexpensive, about $10-20 depending on your hotel’s location.

No other city in Latin America quite matches up with Cartagena; it’s a truly singular destination. Cartagena is an open-air spectacle that compels you to wander, strolling the countless narrow cobblestone streets and taking in all the colors of 400-year-old houses and astounding fortifications from its Colonial glory days. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cartagena dates to 1533, and the immaculate colorful colonial buildings are protected by the most complete set of fortifications in South America. Excellent restaurants, enchanting street performances, live music, cosmopolitan bars, attractive plazas, and leafy parks round out the historic inner town, while outside the city walls are beaches, resorts, and a bustling commercial city. Day trips enjoying scuba diving, white sand beaches and snorkeling are on offer on the nearby Rosario Islands and beyond, adding to the allure of Cartagena.  I spent 2 nights here but 3 nights might be more ideal depending on when your departure flight is scheduled. But definitely plan on at least one full day and 2 nights to really enjoy the inner heritage zone.




Posted in Colombia, Trip Journals | Leave a comment

Peru’s Craziest Hotels

Sleep hanging from the side of cliff, in the roof the Amazon canopy or surrounded by some of the most awe-inspiring peaks of the Andes! For true adventure-seekers, check out our top three most unique and craziest hotel experiences in Peru.

  1. Skylodge, Sacred Valley: Have you ever wanted to sleep in a condor’s nest? Here is the next best thing! A transparent luxury capsule that hangs from the top of a mountain in the Sacred Valley of Peru. The exclusive Skylodge Adventure Suites offers you the chance to sleep within a completely transparent hanging bedroom, that allows you to appreciate the impressive view of this magic and mystic valley. To sleep at Skylodge, people must climb 400 mt. of Via Ferrata or hike an intrepid trail through ziplines!

Join our 2-Day Via Ferrata/Zip Line/Sky Lodge in the Sacred Valley and experience this unique lodge for yourself!


Sleep hanging from the cliffs above the Sacred Valley

Skylodge Sacred Valley

Unique Sleeping pods of Skylodge, Sacred Valley


Views from the Sacred Valley Skylodge

  1. Romantic Treehouse at Reserva Amazonica, Amazon: The Fairytale Canopy Tree House, is a staggering 90 ft. Above ground. Accessed by canopy walkway and situated on its own private platform in the sky, the Canopy Tree House is ideal for animal watching below, stargazing above or just unwinding in complete peace!

Take advantage of this one-in-a-life-time opportunity on our 3-Day Amazon Rainforest itinerary!

Amazon Treehouse

Walk across the canopy bridge to your own Amazon Treehouse

Amazon Tree house

Sleep surrounded by the life of the Amazon

Reserva Amazonica Treehouse

Best wildlife viewing from the branches of the Amazon!

  1. Llanganuco Mountain Lodge: Surrounded by some of the most epic peaks in the Andes, when visiting the Cordillera Blanca, these mountains are so overwhelmingly awe-inspiring and humbling why would you ever want to stay in the city of Huaraz? Instead, call Llanganuco Mountain Lodge home while you explore the dreamy and adventurous trails and peaks in the heart of Peru’s Andes. Breathe in the mountains from where you sleep in comfortable down bedding with a small wood burning stove to keep your room warm and cozy. Rise early the next morning and stroll around any one of the numerous mountain lakes and, if you’re brave enough, dive in for a swim!

Learn more about our incredible journeys in the Cordillera Blanca.

Llanganuco Mountain Lodge

Sleep under the stars in teh Andes of Peru

Llanganuco Mountain Lodge

Cozy rooms at Llanganuco Lodge

Corillera Blanca Lake 69

Lake 69 in the Cordillera Blanca

Llanganuco Mountain Lodge

Local llamas admiring the sunset












































Want to book one of these wild experiences for your next adventure? Contact me!

Your friendly South America expert,


Posted in Inca Trail, Peru, Travel Advice, Trekking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NEW TRIP– 3-Day Tierra del Fuego: Trekking at the End of the World

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. Join us on our newest adventure, Tierra del Fuego: Trekking at the End of the World!

Explore this extreme remote area of the Andes just outside of Argentina’s southern most 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.

Tierra del Fuego

DAY 1: Ushuaia to Laguna del Caminante

Visiting: Tierra del Fuego

This 3 day journey starts at the hotel with a short drive that will take you to the place where the trekking begins in the glacial Andorra Valley. The fueguian forest will show you its humidity, the beech trees give protection, show fertility and fragility of this ecosystem besides of giving amazingly beautiful life to this remote area. Some prairies aside the meandering river, the ‘peat mattresses’  that splashes forest in the open valley, some trunks gnawed down by beavers crossing the path, some muddy and some rocky portions of the trail will add variety to the walk. Ascension to Laguna del Caminante will be traversing the southern hillside sub-antartic forest, a wonderful hillside prairie and finally descending to the lagoon for the 2-night stay in this wonderful place. Overnight in tents. Walking distance 12,5 km; 552 m in ascension; 194 in descending; highest point 643 m.

  • Meals: LD
  • Budget Lodging: Camping

Day 1

DAY 2: Laguna del Caminante & Mt. Falso Tonelli

Visiting: Tierra del Fuego

Today we continue on the Superior Valley, which yields yet another spectacular view of the southernmost Andes. We arrive at Laguna Superior and have the possibility to walk up beside the Superior Glacier. Vibrant green vegetation and a wide variety of varying landscapes will make this journey unforgettable. If weather allows, we will ascend to Mt. Falso Tonelli -also called Mount Robert- giving us a stunning 360 degree view. We return to camp along the same trail. Finally, as the sun sinks below the proud peaks of the world’s end, we share today’s experiences and highlights with each other on the shores of the deep blue mountain lake while cooking dinner over the fire. Overnight in tents. Walking distance 14 km; highest point 1079 m.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Camping

Day 2

DAY 3: Laguna del Caminante – Ushuaia

Visiting: Tierra del Fuego

Today we depart on the final segment of our trek- brimming with new highlights around every corner. Before entering into the forest again, the trail brings us west to the Paso de la Oveja (Sheep Pass), today’s highest ascension point. A long glacial valley will greet us with outstretching, panoramic views. We descend through Sheep Canyon in the direction of Ushuaia, once again traversing the fueguian forest. Arrival back in Ushuaia will be at around 4 pm. 15 km.

  • Meals: BL

Day 3

Starting price per person (based on double occupancy): $640 per person

Want to plan your own trip to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina? Contact me!

Your Argentina expert,


Posted in Argentina, Chile, Travel Advice, Trekking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

12 South American Wines of Christmas

Looking for the perfect gift for the wine-loving adventurer in your family? Look no further. As the year comes to a close, our South America team would like to highlight the 12 best Chilean and Argentine wines to grace former Wine Spectator Editor, James Suckling’s Top Wine List of 2016:

1) Viñedo Chadwick, Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle de Maipo 2014: Coming in at 100 points, James Suckling reports “This is a wine that defines the greatness of Chile with a purity, structure and finesse that competes with the best reds of the world. And its pedigree is second to none with vineyards next door in the Valle de Maipo to the highly regarded Almaviva and Concha y Toro Don Melchor.”

Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard

2) Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Malbec Mendoza Fortuna Terrae 2012: #5 in Top 100 Wines of 2016 and #2 on our list, about the Fortuna Terrae, Suckling writes: “Today it represents a new wave of Argentine malbecs that emphasize finesse and terroir. Its balanced, elegant and intense character has no equal in Mendoza.”

3) Trapiche Malbec Cabernet Franc Mendoza Iscay 2011: If the flavor description doesn’t reel you in, just follow Suckling’s final words (yes, sir!). “Fabulous aromas of cedar, cigar tobacco and berry follow through to a full body, with fine tannins and fresh finish. Subtle and interesting with some minerality at the finish. Drink now.”

4) Viña Cobos Malbec Mendoza Cobos 2013: Another bold vintage from Mendoza, Argentina- this little number with aromas of wet earth and dark fruit coupled with flavorful dashes of spice, pepper and blueberry is going to do anything but disappoint!

5) Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Don Melchor Puente Alto Vineyard 2012: Crossing back over the Andes to Chile’s Maipo Valley. The famous vineyard of Concha y Toro wins our number 5 place. “Gorgeous aromas of eucalyptus, black currants, berries and stones. Medium to full body, fine tannins and tension. Firm, caressing texture. This remains one of the top cabs of Chile as always,” boasts Suckling.

Matetic Vineyard

6) Matetic Syrah Valle de San Antonio 2012: A personal favorite, this boutique, biodynamic vineyard deserves this win! Matetic Vineyards is a family run operation in Casablanca Valley and a partner property to Patagonia Camp in Torres del Paine. “Pretty blackberry and Asian mushroom on the nose. Full body, fine tannins and a lightly austere finish. Stylish and serious,” James Suckling describes this Chilean wine exquisitely.

7) Villard Syrah Valle de Casablanca Tanagra 2014: Another stunning selection from Casablanca Valley, located just outside of Santiago, Chile, this Syrah was awarded 97 points on Suckling’s list.

8) Abremundos Malbec Valle de Uco Octava Bassa 2013: A full bodied and bold Malbec, the 2013 vintage is afforable and will take any wanderluster home to the heart of Mendoza’s humble vineyards at the foothills of the towering snowcapped Andes.

9) Cheval des Andes Mendoza 2013: “Fabulous aromas of blackberry, spice and flower. Perfumed. Lavender, rose and lilac too. A wine that grows on the palate with extreme finesse and complexity that shows ultra-fine tannins, currants, and flowers. Super length. Mostly mablec with cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot” writes Suckling, finishing with a comedic, “Best Cheval des Andes ever?”.

Bodega Chacra

10) Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir Patagonia Sin Azufre 2015: A rarity among wines today, this Argentine Patagonian wine is not messing around! “A completely handmade natural wine. Pushes the limits of coolness. Only 340 bottles made. From 60-year-old biodynamically grown grapes” -James Suckling.

11) Seña Valle de Aconcagua 2014: Grown between the coastal and Andes mountain ranges in Chile, this combo of flavors delight the palate.

12) Zuccardi Malbec Paraje Altamira Finca Piedra infinita 2013: Our final 2016 gem of South American wine comes from the single finca, or vineyard, located in Altamira in Valle de Uco. This is “A gorgeous wine with complexity of flowers, dark fruits and spices. Full body, stones and texture. A beautiful, dense and polished wine,” remarks Suckling.

Want to visit the origins of these remarkable wines? Check out some of our favorite wine itineraries in Argentina and Chile:

  1. Have questions? Contact me!


    Your friendly South America expert,


Posted in Aconcagua, Argentina, Chile, Travel Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Choosing The Right Amazon Experience With Limited Time In Peru

Arrival in the Amazon

Arrival in the Amazon

Want to add the Amazon onto your next Peru Adventure? The Amazon region of Peru takes up roughly half of Peru and is home to never-ending forests, winding rivers and abundant wildlife. It is contains multiple wildlife reserves and refuges for endangered species, like the maned wolf and marsh deer. This region is also home to indigenous communities that promote ecotourism in regions with some of the richest biodiversity in the world, such as Lake Sandoval, Lake Valencia, Manu National Park, Tambopata National Reserve and Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, the only tropical, humid savannah ecosystem in Peru.







The Amazon is split up roughly into two parts: the North and the South. Choosing between these two regions can be difficult when first planning a trip to Peru and is often a question we receive. Which is better for a more limited time frame? How much flexibility will I have? How does the pricing compare?


In the north, while there are some land lodges, travelers will primarily find Amazon river cruises as the focal point. In contrast, in the south, all Amazon experiences are lodge-based. With a short amount of time, and wanting to fully maximize time, money, energy and overall experience, I typically recommend the South and visiting one of the lodges reached from the jump-off point of Puerto Maldonado. Our favorite lodge is Reserva Amazonica and its sister lodge Hacienda Concepcion. For those travelers with a limited time frame, I recommend the lodges in the Southern Amazon (near Puerto Maldonado) over the cruises in the Northern Amazon (near Iquitos) for several reasons :

Reserva Amazonica

Reserva Amazonica

  • Cost: the cruises can come out be around $700-$1000 per person per day, while you can stay at Reserva Amazonica (the higher end of the two lodges) in a Superior Cabana for $640 TOTAL per person all inclusive for 4 days and 3 nights. If you wanted to go for the more simple of the two lodges, Hacienda Concepcion, you could stay in your own Cabana for 4 days and 3 nights for $380 per person).

    Cabana at Reserva Amazonica

    Cabana at Reserva Amazonica

  • Logistics/location: The cruises are in the north and run on set schedules. To get there, you have to fly from Cusco to Lima, spend the night in Lima (due to flight times) and finally to Iquitos to start your cruise. When you come back from the cruise, you will most likely have to spend another night in Lima as well. The lodges are located outside of Puerto Maldonado, just a 35 minute plane ride from Cusco. You can leave in the morning from Cusco and already be doing jungle activities by the afternoon. Also, there are convenient direct flights from Puerto Maldonado to Lima as well, so on your final day you can still do morning activities at the lodge, transfer back to Puerto Maldonado and fly to Lima in time to catch your flight home (usually international flights from Lima to the US leave late at night).
  • Activities: On the cruises, you have a fixed schedule of activities each day (ie not much flexibility). At the lodges, you have a whole excursion menu to choose from everyday (all excursions are included in the rate) and you can pick and choose what best reflects your interests and do what you feel like doing each day to make the most of your time while in the Amazon. Please also note that all activities at Reserva Amazonica and Hacienda Concepcion are shared between the lodges. So, it doesn’t matter which lodge you stay in- you will have the same opportunities.
Sunset in the Amazon

Sunset in the Amazon

Want to book your next adventure to the Peruvian Amazon? Contact us!

Your friendly South America expert,

Posted in Peru, Travel Advice | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

NEW TRIP– Argentine Inca Trail: Trekking to the Clouds

Everyone always talks about the traditional Inca Trail in Peru leading to Machu Picchu. What many neglect to mention or have no idea about is the rest of the vast network of Inca Trails largely untouched running up and down the Andes to as far south as Argentina. We are excited to share with you our newest trekking option in Argentina: The Inca Trail to the Clouds!

Trekking to the Clouds

Trekking to the Clouds

Begin your adventure at the foot of Cerro El Gólgota in Ingeniero Maury and follow one of the southern most Inca Trails left over from the empire and end, four days later, in Quebrada de San Lorenzo, right next to Salta’s capitol! The first part of the tour takes place in a dry and arid climate. During the final segment we will enter the rainforest of Salta’s Yunga. Along the route, we will be in contact with nature and the local culture found in this special corner of Salta.

Starting at the Quebrada del Toro, our first ascent will have us surrounded by cardones (giant cacti) and will reveal the snowy peaks of Cerro San Miguel and Acay. The trail winds its way 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 in villages over 3,000 meters high. Camp sites and dinners will be the time to share moments with the group and often with locals who invite us to camp on their properties at night.

Approaching Sillon del Inca

Approaching Sillon del Inca

DAY 1: San Antonio de los Cobres to Sillon del Inca

The trip begins at the bus terminal in the city of Salta. We will take the bus that goes to San Antonio de los Cobres (departs at 8 am – time to be confirmed on each departure as it may vary). We will get off the bus at the Gendarmerie Outpost of Ingeniero Maury, next to a school.

After checking in the luggage and backpacks for the day, we will provide lunch boxes, fill our water bottles and start walking. The first part is uphill. The trail is well marked and the slopes are mild/moderate but continuous. As we ascend, the Quebrada del Toro starts looming before us in all its glory as well as the snowy peaks of Cerro San Miguel and Acay behind the hills. After three hours of walking uphill we will reach La Virgen del Caminante (The Pilgrim ́s Virgin), a reference point for many mountaineers in the area. From here, the path continues with intermittent ascents and descents, but mostly downhill.

Our destination is Sillón del Inca ruins, where our first camp will take place. We’ll have some spare time to walk around the area at this archaeological site that was once part of the Inca Empire.








Meals: LD
Accommodations: Camping

Gorgeous views from cozy campsites

Gorgeous views from cozy campsites

DAY 2: Sillon del Inca to Lerma Valley

The second day departs from Sillón del Inca and the path will lead us over the 3,000 meters. We will walk along one of the most beautiful places of agricultural production in the area, and if we are lucky, we will see some condors flying over us. We will continue the road with a slight increase up to the maximum height of the trip in the crossing clearing, reaching 3418 meters above sea level. Here, the journey will show us one of the most spectacular views. From this point well above the clouds you will get to see the whole Lerma Valley and the city of Salta. Then, the trail descends and will lead us, accompanied by spectacular views, to the site of our second camp. The camp will take place in the company of local people, who have their agricultural production ranch. We can share experiences with them and learn about their lifestyle in the area.








Meals: BLD

Accommodations: Camping

Triumph above the clouds

Triumph above the clouds

DAY 3: Lerma Valley to Yunga

The third day the trail will lead us closer to the typical wetland forest of the Yunga. We will leave our camp and begin to descend. Here, the views are completely different from the previous two days. After a short hike we will find that trees and vegetation begin to grow on the mountains and we will see numerous rivers and waterfalls. The trail continues in slight decline to a point where two mountain rivers meet. Here, we continue upstream and then go into the Yunga. Here there is a slight ascent that gets more intense towards the end of today’s trek.








Meals: BLD

Accommodations: Camping

DAY 4: Yunga to Salta

We will begin the last day of our tour already immersed in Salta Yunga. The trail goes along charming landscapes towards the city of Salta. Walking on the edge of the mountain, we will enjoy the flora and fauna of the region, in contact -every few kilometers- with local inhabitants who breed cattle in these remote places. The last part of the tour will take us to the foot of the city of Salta, in the Quebrada de San Lorenzo. Once in there we will share drinks and end the trip by returning on a bus to the city of Salta.








Meals: BL

Want to plan your next adventure to Argentina? Have questions about the Northwest? Contact me!

Your friendly Argentina expert,


Posted in Argentina, Inca Trail, Travel Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment