Where To Get The Most Out Of Patagonia

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Perito Moreno Glacier, El Chalten by Nestor Galina on Flikr

Whether you’re visiting Argentinian or Chilean Patagonia, this area is sure to be a highlight of your trip to South America. The scenery is mesmerising, with rolling hills, jagged peaks and best of all, gigantic glaciers. They are an outstandingly beautiful natural wonder and this is the most accessible place in the world to view such big ones. My tips are for Argentinan Patagonia as this is where I travelled to last Christmas (and after extensive research the side that looked like it would be the most rewarding), it was an incredible trip and I can’t wait to go back and visit the Chilean side!

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A quick run down of where the highlights are

El Calafate

It’s not a particularly cute town but it serves it’s purpose of being a good base to explore the surrounding glaciers, and for getting to El Chalten and other areas. Food and drinks are overpriced but tasty. We stayed at Rincon Hotel which was absolutely wonderful and very cheap, because it’s a 15 minute walk out of town. If you don’t mind the walk, you’ll get a gorgeous room with great service, a lovely lounge with a fireplace and delicious breakfast.

There are plenty of tour agencies in town that offer a huge variety of tours of the surrounding glaciers, mostly the same stuff for different prices as usual. You can do anything from boat cruisesice treks and even kayaking. There’s loads of options to suit every budget, the cheapest being a short trek on the Perito Moreno Glacier ($100) and the more expensive being kayaking through ice caves ($400). You don’t need to book tours before your trip starts, unless you want to reserve a space on the Big Ice Trek (7 hours on the ice as opposed to 2) or kayaking, but this is weather dependent anyway so just because you book ahead it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll go. High season (November – January) might see some tours selling out quicker, on Christmas eve we managed to get on a mini trekking tour the day before, but not big ice trekking.

The mini trekking was excellent and more than enough time on the ice. It included a boat ride, trekking on the ice and time on the incredible walkways to view the glacier which is an activity in itself and well worth doing even if you don’t do the ice trek. There is a public bus that goes here to view the glaciers from the walkways so you don’t have to book a tour necessarily. If you can get onto the ice for a short trek, I highly recommend it, it’s the only way to see the true blue of the glacial crevasses and it’s truly unique.

The glacier museum is excellent, very informative and engaging with excellent information that really puts into context just how incredible glaciers are. There is a free shuttle from town to the museum, and an ice bar there if you fancy it too.

El Chalten

El Chalten by by Nestor Galina on Flikr
El Chalten by by Nestor Galina on Flikr

There are dozens of treks you can do here by yourself lasting from 1 hour to a few days (take good camping gear!) The tourist information point at the bus station will give you a clear map and advise you on the best treks based on your fitness level.

You can get a bus independently from El Calafate to El Chalten, it takes about 3 hours, you can usually book it the day before but they’re always full so don’t leave it until the last minute!

There’s plenty of other activities to do here including rock climbing and kayaking, you can easily spend a week here soaking up with chilled out atmosphere and stunning views. Don’t miss a meal at the cute cafe Mathilde.

Ushuaia

Ushuaia Pier by David Stanley on Flikr
Ushuaia Pier by David Stanley on Flikr

It’s a long way down to Ushuaia but it’s worth it if you want to feel like your at the edge of the world, in fact it’s the most southern town in the world so you literally are. This is the place to come if you want to visit Antarctica but it doesn’t come cheap, and to say it’s cold would be an understatement so make sure you’re prepared!

Boat tours to see penguins, orcas and sea lions are popular here, you can book tours from any one of the huts at the port. Shop around for the best deal and make sure you know what type of boat it is and what wildlife you’re going to see. Patagonian Adventures is around $56 USD for a 4 hour trip.

You can also visit Tierra del Fuego national park here which is full of beautiful scenery, though in my opinion it pales in comparison to that of the glaciers in El Calafate.

Accommodation here must be booked in advance, its incredibly expensive no matter which season you visit in.
For more ideas on where to travel in Argentina, get in touch! 

A Complete Guide to Visiting the Salt Flats in Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni a.k.a the Salt Flats of Bolivia a.k.a the largest mirror in the world are a natural phenomenon that often features on people’s bucket lists. It’s located within a magical and vast terrain in south west Bolivia surrounded by equally impressive landscapes full of multicoloured lakes and mountains not unlike the surface of the moon in our imaginations. It’s not just about the salt flats here, not at all. The geysers, hot springs (don’t think about the cold, just dive in), clear starry skies at night and hotels made completely of salt all feature on this incredible journey full of beautiful postcard pictures you’ll remember for ever. Here’s my guide to making sure you get the most out of the experience, including pictures, what it’s like, how to get there, how to book a tour and when to visit.

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Why Colombia is the Ultimate Destination for the Authentic Travel Experience

Visiting the Botero sculptures in Medellin by Ivan Erre Jote on Flikr
Visiting the Botero sculptures in Medellin by Ivan Erre Jote on Flikr

We arrived in Bogota, Colombia to an overcast sky as the sun was setting. There was just enough light when we were landing to see the twinkling lights sprawling far wider than I expected. This was the first of many expectations that would be surpassed on our 5 month trip across South America, the intrepid land where backpackers go to find themselves or have an adventure in a place so completely different to what we know. It seemed in fact, that this capital city that I’d never heard of before booking the flights was just like any other. I was full of hope that it wouldn’t be a dangerous country full of drug barons and anarchists, waiting to make a quick buck by kidnapping the first affluent westerner they saw. That all changed when we stepped out of our hotel.

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Lake Titicaca: A Journey to the Highest Lake in the World

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Travelling from Peru to Bolivia presented us with one of the most picturesque border crossings on our round the world trip via Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable body of water in the world at just over 3,800 metres above sea level. Nestled high up in the Andes, many people believe this to be the birth place of the Incas, not hard to believe when you consider how tough Machu Pichu was to find. They sure do love secret hideaways, and this lake is in many ways just as mysterious as it’s more famous counterpart. On the Peruvian side you can find intriguing colonies of indigenous people living on man made reed islands, in Bolivia a rural island full of Inca ruins and agricultural communities that are yet to receive any form of transport or wifi. It’s a real back to basics trekking experience not to be missed if you’re feeling intrepid. We ventured forth to find out more.

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7 of South America’s most captivating mountain towns

Alausi, Ecuador

Let me start by saying I am by no means a serious trekker. The opposite in fact, I usually have to be pushed up the last part of a summit. I do still, however, love the mountains. As a city girl I love to get into a wide open spaces with views I couldn’t imagine in my wildest dreams and I firmly believe you don’t have to be a fit sporty type to enjoy that. All my favourite places below can be enjoyed by any fitness level, you’ll see what I mean when you get there and see the South American families on days out together hiking volcanoes with grannies in tow.

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I travelled for 10 months in 21 countries, these were my top 10 moments

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This was not an easy list to compile, but a fun one. We had so many great times on our trip of a lifetime it’s hard to pick just 10, but these are the ones that brought tears to my eyes, made me feel free and made the times when it was difficult worth it. All photos were taken on our trip.

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6 top treks to get you to Machu Pichu

Machu Pichu

Machu Pichu is on most people’s itineraries when they visit Peru, and for good reason. It’s hidden lost city built in the middle of the jungle abandoned for reasons we can only speculate, brimming with genius architectural designs that one cannot comprehend at times. Suffice to say it left me breathless, and though Peru is bursting full of wondrous and diverse places to explore, this one cannot be missed. Of course, there are several ways to experience it based on your level of fitness, preferred level of comfort, size of your wallet and love of the outdoors. It’s good to have an idea of which way is right for you before you go, or you’ll risk being flummoxed and under pressure to book when you get there. Stay cool, pick 2-3 reputable agencies to visit and haggle with and keep in mind what you really want to get out of the experience.

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The Galápagos Islands: What’s the right way for you to travel?

Photograph of a family of seals taken on Isabela Island
Arriving early is essential to get a good seat.

The Galápagos Islands are a magical place to visit, full of adventure and unique wildlife for you to immerse yourself in. Once you’ve decided to go, the first decision to make is whether to take a cruise or travel independently, and the right answer for you depends on your budget and how much you like boats! Both will give you the potential to have your dream experience, but think seriously about the practicalities of both options before making your decision.

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