Category Archives: South America

Sharing the Inca Trail: A Community Trek to Machu Picchu – by Guest Trekker Helene Cooper

If I’d taken the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, I would have had to share it with some 500 people a day. I prefer something off the beaten track, where I can feel more attuned with nature and experience something unique. A Community Inca Trek gave me the opportunity to venture out in a smaller group and stay in remote villages along the way.

I prefer something off the beaten track, where I can feel more attuned with nature and experience something unique.

In between long hikes, clear blue skies, archaeological beauty, and sun-blushed views of the snow-capped Peruvian Andes, I camped with locals and gained an understanding of what it’s like to live there. I also had a chance to volunteer in the villages. Many tourists don’t realize their impacts on the local environment, so it’s good to be able to give something back.

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A PATAGONIAN ADVENTURE: Leaving Chile’s Beaches for Torres del Paine – By Guest Trekker Leslie Kreffer

I set off on a five-day trek to see Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, in the company of two perfect strangers… and everyone else on the crowded trails. I had heard of the pristine beauty of Torres del Paine, and the amazing view at the end, but the real reason I was on this trek was my determination to make my South American adventure a real adventure, not just about beach hopping and bar hopping.

I threw up in the washroom of the administration office, and began the 32-kilometer stretch to Glacier Grey.

So, after a few hours on an ancient bus, I hopped off at the trailhead, threw up in the washroom of the administration office, and began the 32-kilometer stretch to Glacier Grey with nothing but a backpack full of granola bars, instant coffee, a kettle, and a different flavor of rice for each night. And a camera, of course!

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The Traveler’s Dilemma

When I tell people I’m an avid traveler, I say so with both pride and shame. Pride: because world travelers tend to be among the most environmentally conscious, culturally sensitive, socially progressive people you’ll ever meet. Shame: because, as a traveler, I cause more damage to the environment, and more disruption in the lives others, than people who stay home.

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A Song of Sand (by guest trekker Alice Salles)

“Sing, Jandaia!” Every time I speak the name of this sand-drenched place, I’m giving a command to its parakeets. The name of this state in Northeastern Brazil is Ceará, which means, “Sing, bird!” The native bird of Ceará is the Jandaia, a parakeet whose shrill call sounds much like its own name: Jan-dah-ya. The little bird’s yellow, red, green and blue feathers mimic the sun, as it sets over endless desert sands leading to beautiful sandy beaches.

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Celebrating Art in the Streets (by guest trekker Alice Salles)

On Saturday morning the ceaseless rain wouldn’t call it quits. It wouldn’t even take a break for the lonely hour of noon, so people braving the soaked city streets could enjoy the midday meal. My expectations were not high. But as I strolled down these streets I’ve known all my life, I noticed something unusual about the way people were behaving, something the rain could not explain.

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THE OTHER “LOST CITY OF THE INCAS”

Remote, intensely difficult, not as famous as Machu Picchu: that’s why few trekkers visit the Inca city of Choquequirau, Machu Picchu’s Sacred Sister. But I want an alternative to the eroding, overbooked trekking superhighway known as the Inca Trail—which leads to Peru’s more famous sibling. Continue reading