NEW: Hot Air Balloon Rides Over the Atacama Desert, Chile

Have you ever wanted to go on a magical hot air balloon ride over an exotic landscape? A whole new stunning world will be revealed to you on this epic trip extension, which offers the perfect complement to any of our Atacama tours. An exciting journey flying over the beautiful Moon Valley in a unique hot air balloon ride, enthralled by amazing views bathed in the spectacular colors of a high desert sunrise. Join us on one of our newest hot air balloon adventures in the spectacular Atacama Desert!

Atacama

Hot Air Ballooning Over the Atacama Desert

You will be picked up from your hotel early in the morning, and once on site you will be served coffee, tea and refreshments while waiting for the balloon to be ready to fly. After a safety briefing, this amazing experience will start. Fly over the driest desert in the world and enjoy one of the most beautiful sunrises over the Moon Valley in the Atacama Desert. This sunrise flight will drift slowly over multi colored and spectacular rock formations and salt plains against a backdrop of distant snowcapped volcanoes, a one of a kind experience! Sparkling wine, breakfast, fruits and pastries upon landing!

Atacama

Hot Air Ballooning Over the Atacama Desert

Starting price: $250 per person

Want to add this incredible adventure to your next trip to Chile? Contact us!

Your friendly Chile expert,

Gretchen

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Chez Gaston: Wine Tasting With the Locals

Buenos Aires

Chez Gaston

Allow your palate to travel through the premium wine regions of Argentina (Mendoza, Salta and Patagonia) with a sommelier that opens his home to you in one of the traditional neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. Gastón is an industrial engineer that lived in amazing places such as France, Italy, Uganda, Nigeria and Mauritania. His job gave him the chance to submerge himself into various unique cultures and learn about food, wine and tradition.

Buenos aires

Chez Gaston

Life ultimately brought him back to Argentina, where his wife and baby girl live. After becoming a sommelier, he now enjoys receiving guests at his private home to share his knowledge about wine.

buenos aires

Chez Gaston

Want to add this local experience to your next adventure to Argentina? Contact us!

Price: $95 per person.

Your friendly Argentina expert,
Gretchen

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Trip Review: Group of Four Friends Returns From the Peruvian Amazon

A group of four friends just returned from their 3-day trip to Inkaterra Field Station in the Peruvian Amazon with us and shared their experience here:

“We had a wonderful time in the Peruvian Amazon!

All four of us said we would absolutely recommend this experience to others.

inkaterra fieldstation

Inkaterra Field Station

We loved everything about the lodge, our favorite excursion was probably the Lake Sandoval. However, within the lodge, the staff was kind and courteous, the food was amazing, and the accommodations were excellent.

inkaterra fieldstation cabanas

Inkaterra Field Station Cabanas

A favorite moment from the trip was on the first day while visiting the fruit farm – we met a rescued baby Spider Monkey who sat on all our heads and was so friendly. Such a great first day experience. We also loved seeing alligators and giant river otters. The whole experience was just spectacular.

Spidermonkey

Spider Monkey

Thank you so much for all your help!

Brynden”

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

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

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5 Things to do in Aguas Calientes that DON’T include Machu Picchu

With the new Machu Picchu time slot regulations, most guests will now be spending at least one night in Aguas Calientes, the little town located below the Machu Picchu citadel. For those with some extra time, wanting to explore Aguas Calientes a bit more, here is a short list of 5 things to do in Aguas Calientes that DON’T include Machu Picchu:

Urubamba

Crossing the Urubamba River

1) Visit The Machu Picchu Museum (El Museo del Sitio)

The actual citadel of Machu Picchu does not haev any signage or placards explaining what you are seeing or any of the history of the site. So, for those travelers who have not done their homewrok before arriving, a visit to this humble museum is a great crash-course in what you are about to experience.

The museum is situated close to Machu Picchu. Follow the river to the bridge that is the entrance for the Machu Picchu ruins in the morning. Cross it and go to the right, pass the stairs leading you up to the ruins and you will get to the museum.

It is open from 9 AM to 5 PM and costs S./22.

2) Visit the Botanical Gardens

Located on the property of the Machu Picchu Museum, the botanical gardens are a tranquil way to relax and take in some of the stunning local fauna, including numerous orchids. The museum ticket includes entrance to the botanical gardens.

3) Visit the Aguas Calientes Hot Springs

Aguas Calientes (“Hot Waters” in Spanish) received its name from its local hot springs. Travelers arriving in Aguas Calientes after long treks or just wanting to relax in the thermal waters can walk ten minutes outside of town to arrive at the hot springs. The baths are open from 5 AM to 8:30 PM and the entrance is S./10.

4) Walk Along the Urubamba River

Thundering through the center of town is the mighty Urubamba River, a scared river to the Inca. If you want to get out of the touristy village, just walk a bit along the river to be in nature. Admire the mountains high above you and the verdant cloud forest.

5) Get a Massage

With the abundance of weary trekkers arriving in Aguas Calientes, there are numerous spas and massage parlors where trekkers and non-trekkers alike can take a load off and receive a variety of different styles of massages.

Want to book your next Peru adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

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Tips For Altitude Acclimatization in Peru

When traveling to Peru, we have many guests ask us about altitude acclimatization for when they arrive in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, the Colca Canyon and/or Arequipa.

Here is a quick list of tips to remember and take into account when arriving in a high altitude destination in Peru (or elsewhere).

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

 

– Altitude effects everyone differently (it is a genetic predisposition). Someone in your group may be effected while others may not feel anything at all.

– Each experience with altitude is different. Sometimes, someone can go somewhere at high altitude and not have any effects and then, return to high altitude a second time and all of sudden find that this time they are effected.

– The best way to help prevent altitude sickness is making sure that you stay well-hydrated (drink LOTS of water). Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol the first few days you are at altitude as they dehydrate you. In Peru, many people drink coca tea which is said to help altitude sickness. Every hotel offers it in the lobby.  (It has not been scientifically proven to make any difference but who knows!)

– There is a medication you can ask your doctor for to take with you in case you are suffering from altitude sickness. It is called Diamox.

– All hotels have oxygen tanks in the lobby should you feel short of breath (this is not usually necessary but good to know just in case). Some higher end hotels even pump oxygen straight into their rooms.

– Remember, take it slow the first days. Don’t push your self too hard (ie maybe don’t go work out in the hotel gym the first day in Cusco 😉 ). Remember that it is normal to be slightly winded when going up stairs, hills, etc. You can absolutely do these things just take it easy and slow 🙂

– If your are traveling with us and you, or anyone in your group is feeling extremely sick, while traveling, please call our emergency number right away and they will assist you in getting the care and attention you need.

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

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

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Planning a Two-Week Trip to Patagonia and Antarctica

 We are often asked, how best to combine Antarctica and Patagonia with limited time. We recommend the following:
Antarctica

Antarctic Peninsula

Our best-selling, Antarctica expedition is our 11-Day Antarctic Peninsula Expedition. To accompany this itinerary, we recommend adding on 5 or 6 days in Patagonia as well.

Patagonia is one region shared between Chile and Argentina. The most famous areas of Patagonia are: Torres del Paine national park in Chile, El Calafate + El Chalten (Fitz Roy area, Perito Moreno Glacier and Los Glaciares National Park) in Argentina and finally, Ushuaia + Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. (Read more HERE about choosing between these three areas.)

Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego Trekking

Most Antarctica expeditions depart out of Ushuaia, Argentina. The best way to arrive in Ushuaia is via plane. There are direct flights from Buenos Aires or El Calafate. There are no flights from Chilean Patagonia to Argentine Patagonia (so, for example, if you were in Torres del Paine, Chile and wanted to get to Ushuaia, you would need to take a transfer from Torres del Paine to El Calafate – approx 5 hour drive – and then spend the night in El Calafate to ultimately catch your flight from El Calafate to Ushuaia the next day). That said, with your time frame, I already am thinking that focusing on Argentine Patagonia this trip will be best for you (you can save Chile for another adventure – there is so much to do there!).

El Chalten

Glacier Trekking on Glacier Cagliero

Take a peek at the following itinerary options we have based out of El Calafate, El Chalten and Ushuaia (below). Depending on our guests’ interests, we can customize any of these itineraries (or create a special one ) that encompass what they are looking for.

1) 6-Day Los Glaciares National Park and Mount Fitz Roy
2) 4-Day Los Glaciares National Park: Perito Moreno and Upsala Glaciers
3) 3-Day Tierra del Fuego: Trekking at the End of the World

El Chalten

Getting cozy in Laguna Condor Refugio after a day of trekking

Take a peek at our blog to see some of our new exciting options for Argentine Patagonia that we can also put together for the coming season:

1) Rafting in El Chalten, Argentina
2) NEW Epic Adventures and Luxurious Cabin Experiences in El Chalten, Argentina

Want to book your next adventure to end of the world? Contact us!

Your friendly South America expert,

Gretchen

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5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Patagonia In The Shoulder Season

The shoulder seasons in Patagonia are magical times! The shoulder seasons are: September-early November, Patagonian Spring and late-March-May, Patagonian Fall. Read on for 5 top reasons to visit Patagonia in the shoulder season:

Patagonia

EcoCamp in the Fall

1) The winds are less intense and the weather is more stable in the shoulder seasons (and it’s generally only a few degrees colder on average than Dec/Jan/Feb).

Patagonia

Sunset in Torres del Paine

2) Patagonia’s Spring (September, October) and Fall (March, April, May) is when everything is in bloom or when the colors on the trees are starting to change – gorgeous!

Torres del Paine

Fall in Torres del Paine

3) There are fewer people in the park during the shoulder seasons.

Patagonia

Fall in Patagonia

4) As there are fewer people, far more wildlife can be seen (puma, guanaco, rhea, condor, etc)

Patagonia

Fall in Patagonia

5) Prices are cheaper in the shoulder season.

Patagonia

Glaciers in the Spring

Check out some of our most popular Patagonia adventures here:

Want to book your next Patagonian adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Patagonia expert,

Gretchen

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NEW Epic Adventures and Luxurious Cabin Experiences in El Chalten, Argentina!

As we start gearing up for Patagonia’s next season, take a look at some of the new adventure opportunities around El Chalten in Argentina’s Patagonia!

Laguna Los Tres

Laguna Los Tres, El Chalten

Laguna Condor Refugio de Montaña: Enjoy a meal, the day or several days here! Relax in the hot tub, use mountain bikes to go to Lago del Desierto, 20kms away, or trek on any number of the near-by trails. Located 20kms west of El Chalten and only 3kms from the trailhead that leads to the base of Mt. Fitz Roy along the Rio Blanco. Guests also have the chance to stay here overnight at one of the lodge’s 8 cozy cabins. For the 2017/2018 season the cabins will have private bathrooms (currently bathrooms are shared). Experiences at Laguna Condor Refugio de Montana can be booked with breakfast or full board.

**Please inquire for pricing

El Chalten

Biking at Laguna Condor Refugio de Montaña

El Chalten

Cozy cabins with wood-burning stoves

El Chalten

Inviting hot tub with views!

El Chalten

Main lodge at Laguna Condor Refugio de Montaña

El Chalten

Enjoy cheese and wine by the fire at the end of a long day of adventuring!

Cagliero Glacier Trekking: Finally, there is an alternative to the Viedma ice trek (not operating any more) and the Perito Moreno Ice Trek (which has an age limit of 65)!

Cagliero Glacier Trekking
Full day: 8 am to 6:30 pm
Minimum age: 15 years old
Difficulty: High
Operation: Mondays to Saturdays- November to March

Transfer from El Chalten to Los Huemules visitor’s area. The activity starts at 9 am there and then continues up the Diablo river for 2 hours through a gorgeous Lenga forest. Arrival at Laguna del Diablo (770 m masl). From here, we enter the Huemules reserve, a private property: Campo Gorra Blanca. We skirt the north shore of the lake, arriving at the area where we will get to rock climb! Short technical talk and ascent. One hour later, we arrive at the glacier viewpoint. We continue with an hour trek to get to the glacier. Finally, we put on the crampons and start the glacier trek. Weather permitting, we will have lunch on it. We stay at the glacier for 2 hours aprox. Return by the same route.

**Starting Price: $470 per person

El Chalten

Cagliero Glacier Trekking

El Chalten

Cagliero Glacier Trekking

El Chalten

Cagliero Glacier Trekking

El Chalten

Cagliero Glacier Trekking

Interested in adding either of these incredible experiences to your next Patagonia adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Argentina expert,

Gretchen

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Choosing Between Torres del Paine, Fitz Roy Area or Tierra del Fuego

We are often asked: “If you had to choose between trekking in Torres del Paine, the Fitz Roy Area or Tierra del Fuego, which would you choose?”

Our Patagonia expert, Gretchen, gives a quick rundown here:

“It ultimately comes down to what you want/like/are looking for in your adventure. The big wow factors of each area, in my opinion, are:

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine: You can complete a full trek or do many optional treks throughout the park. There is far more wildlife in this area to see (pumas, guanaco, rheas, condors, etc). The lodges here are all very imaginative and unique places to stay.

Laguna Los Tres

Laguna Los Tres, El Chalten

El Chalten (Fitz Roy Area): You can do private or group treks. If you prefer being in a small mountain town instead of in the middle of a national park, it is great because during the day you can take off on any number of the various trails departing right from “downtown” El Chalten and, at night, you can go out to the quaint restaurants and bars in town.

Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego Trekking

Tierra del Fuego Trekking/Camping: This is REMOTE. You almost never see other people and you are at “the end of the world”.

Want to plan your next adventure to Torres del Paine, Fitz Roy or Tierra del Fuego? Contact us!

Your friendly Patagonia expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Argentina, Chile, Family Travel, Patagonia, South America, Travel Advice, Trekking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Argentina Reciprocity No Longer Required for Australian Citizens

argentina and australia

Great news for Australian travelers visiting Argentina!

As of the beginning of July, the Argentine government has suspended the reciprocity fee it previously charged Australian travelers entering the country:

“Interested parties are hereby advised that Argentina has decided to suspend, as of 1 July of this year, the requirement for payment of a fee to enter the country for tourism or business purposes (as provided for under Decree No. 1654/08 and DNM Provision No. 2761/09) in relation to Australian nationals. Check this link in Spanish for full information.

For the full text of the travel advice, please refer to: smartraveller.gov.au

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

Your friendly Argentina expert,

Gretchen

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