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14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary

So you like to be active, huh? That’s totally cool with us. In fact, our new tour features the best of the best when it comes to an active vacation—hiking volcanoes and kayaking fiords—and you may just see some really amazing things along the way. Here’s the perfect itinerary for 14 days in Patagonia for all of the ultimate explorers out there:   Day 1: Get your bearings in Bariloche with an authentic Patagonian meal. We all know travelling takes a lot out of you. One of the best jet lag cures? Food! And you’re going to love Patagonian cuisine. Your arrival to Bariloche brings you to the chocolate capital of Argentina. Artisan chocolate shops line the streets, beckoning you inside. And why not? You’re about to spend two weeks on the move—live a little! Dinner tonight features a typical Patagonian meal. Entrees include beef, spit roast lamb, trout, king crab, and wild boar. Served alongside your meats are potatoes, breads, and cheeses. All of the foods come from the surrounding landscapes, from the glacial rivers (trout) to the dense forests (wild boar) to the Atlantic Ocean (king crab).   Day 2: Warm up your hiking legs with a trek to Cerro Llao Llao and cool off with a dip at Playa Tacul. It’s your first official day on the trail! And what better way to spend it than amongst the lakes and peaks of Patagonia. Cerro Llao Llao sits in the midst of three different lakes, all of which can be seen from the top of your hike. Popping up in the distance are the tops of Cerro Lopez and Cerro Capilla. Wind your way through a wooded trail to the top for a mid-morning tea break, a very “Patagonian” thing to do! After finishing your tea (or maybe mate!), descend Cerro Llao Llao to lake-level. Here you can walk the sandy shores of Playa Tacul or even jump into the crystal clear and clean waters of the lake. No matter how you choose to spend your time, you are sure to love the lago (that’s Spanish for lake!).   Day 3: Get your heart pumping with a brisk climb to Cerro Bella Vista—you won’t believe the views. It’s day three in Argentina, and you may be feeling one of two ways: Completely ready for the next adventure or exhausted as your body is still trying to adjust to Patagonian life. The good news is you get to choose how you want to spend your day! For those ready to hit today’s Patagonian path, head to Cerro Bella, which literally means “beautiful views.” You’re going to want to make sure you have your camera and/or smartphone for this one. Binoculars wouldn’t hurt, either. It’s quite a trek to the top, with a heart-pumping ascent above the treeline, but it’s well worth it for 360 degree views of the myriad lakes and crowded horizon line of huge peaks. If you’d rather spend the day exploring Bariloche and its surroundings, that’s completely fine too! Who wouldn’t want to sample the rich and smooth chocolate the town is

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

Looking for a better way to spend your winter instead of staying inside all season long binge-watching Netflix? No offense to the binge-watchers out there—it certainly has its time and place! But after awhile, don’t you crave something a little more… adventurous? Sure, you could travel to the beaches of the Caribbean, along with every other coworker in your office. Who wants to lay out on a cramped beach or wait in a long line for a cocktail? Traveling just a little further south—south of the equator, in fact, takes you to a continent basking in the warm, golden rays of the sun, but also filled with many natural phenomena just waiting to be explored. This place is full of magnificent mountains, wondrous waterfalls, and amusing animals. Don’t believe it? Here are seven reasons why South America is the ultimate winter destination:   1. Escape from the bitter cold to a continent with both tropical and temperate climates. While those wallowing in winter in the Northern Hemisphere are freezing, South Americans at or below the equator are enjoying warm weather conditions. Ecuador, while partially in the Northern Hemisphere, straddles the equator, giving the whole country a tropical climate year-round. It’s particularly pleasurable January through May, most of which are cool months for Europe and North America. Just below Ecuador is Peru, known for its mountains, lakes, and Machu Picchu. November through April is considered the “wet season,” but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to visit. On the contrary, during these months the trails are much quieter—better to enjoy your scenic surroundings. Conservation work takes place on the Inca Trail during the month of February, but it is still possible to reach Machu Picchu and explore the magic of the ancient site. Patagonia (made up of Argentina and Chile) is at the base of South America. Here the climate is more temperate during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months, perfect for hiking Chile’s Andes Mountains or kayaking across Argentina’s many lakes and rivers. Peak traveling season for Patagonia is January-March, but if you want to avoid the crowds while still escaping the cold, consider visiting during November or December.   2. While everyone back home is skiing, snorkel off the shores of the Galapagos Islands. You’ve heard of the Galapagos Islands, right? They make up an archipelago just off the coast of Ecuador famous for century-old tortoises and Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. But these islands are more than just pieces of land in the Pacific Ocean—they are teeming with life, both flora and fauna. Want to know an amazing way to see all that these islands have to offer? Climb on a bike! Starting at the top of San Cristobal’s highest point, cycle your way down from the highland cloud forest that covers the top of the island to La Loberia, a beach home to a large sea lion colony and nursery. Ready to get up close and personal with the cute and cuddly creatures as well as other marine life? Snorkel or scuba dive around Isla Lobos and watch

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

“Am I too out-of-shape for an adventure trip?” It’s the number-one question we’re asked by so many travellers inquiring about our trips. It’s the nagging worry that especially keeps 50+ adventurers from taking the plunge on the vacation of their dreams – and that’s a shame, because anyone who loves the outdoors is a good candidate for an adventure tour. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to prepare before your trip to make it more enjoyable. A little investment in your overall fitness before you go pays big dividends in terms of what you can accomplish out on the trail. That doesn’t mean you have to join the gym or punish yourself with a triathlon-level training regimen. There are a lot of common sense steps you can start right now to get yourself ready for the adventure of a lifetime. So if you’re a 50+ adventurer and wondering where to start, try these eight fitness tips to give yourself the confidence to achieve your personal goals.   1. Give yourself time to prepare. In general, it can take your body from three weeks to three months to really see a significant improvement in your fitness level and to respond to a change in routine. So if you’ve already booked your trip, you’d best get started now!   2. Focus on your cardiovascular fitness. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week for people 50+ with at least 30-minute sessions at a time. The best aerobic activities for mature athletes are swimming, cycling, brisk walking or jogging—all of which are great preparation for an adventure like exploring Peru and Machu Picchu. Even if you can’t get outdoors or make it to the gym, there are lots of great cardio exercises you can do at home to get your heart pumping. Jumping jacks, half-jacks, squats, leg raises, hops, and even plank-jacks are great bodyweight exercises that require no special equipment or skill. If you’re doing a hiking adventure (like Mt. Everest perhaps), high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is particularly beneficial because it improves both aerobic and anaerobic fitness and prepares your body for the bursts of strength you’ll need on your climb. HIIT sounds more complicated than it really is – it’s simply adding a short period of more strenuous exertion into your daily walking, jogging, swimming, or biking routine. For example, if you take a 45-minute brisk walk, try to jog for 30 to 60 seconds every 5 to 10 minutes of your walk. Same if you swim or bike – add a few sprints during your usual routine. A note of caution for you mountain adventurers: Even if you’re in pretty good shape, it’s important not to push yourself too hard at higher altitudes. Exertion is a key driver of altitude sickness.   3. Focus on leg strength. Strength training is generally a good idea for athletes of all ages, but for hikers, leg strength is essential for an enjoyable experience. Your

Multi-day Hiking in New Zealand’s Backcountry, and 8 Reasons Why You Should Go Guided.

Hiking up Siberia Valley in Mt Aspiring National Park The team here at Active Adventures are an outdoorsy bunch. Every weekend you’ll find a handful of us out there in the hills, or on the rivers, getting stuck in to New Zealand in all its natural beauty. One of our favourite ways to spend a long weekend is by grabbing a backpack, packing a toothbrush, a cooker, a few meals, and a sleeping bag, and heading for one of the 950 huts dotted all over the country. Here we’ll talk about spending time in the backcountry on overnight ‘missions’ and offer some advice on how best to tackle the great New Zealand outdoors! Angelus Hut on the edge of Lake Angelus in Nelson Lakes National Park Background on New Zealand’s backcountry As kiwis, we are lucky enough to have some of the best walking in the world, in our backyards. New Zealand has hundreds of trails, amongst vast mountains, rainforests, coastline, glacial valleys, and volcanoes. Even better than that, is that those trails, and (most of) the 950 huts that serve them, are maintained by the Department of Conservation, DoC. The huts started appearing in the 1800s, and were initially a network of shelters for hunters overnighting in the hills. Today they’ve become a big contributor to tourism in New Zealand, and a part of our national identity. For us the most unique thing about hiking in New Zealand is the variety of landscapes you can immerse yourself in. That’s why we love getting out there, because every time (and every hut!) is different. Taking a moment for reflection on the stunning Milford Track Few people who think of New Zealand do so without thinking of Milford Sound. It’s one of the things that put this country on the map, we don’t deny it. And it is absolutely stunning in its scale, and its untouched nature. The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks – walks of stunning natural beauty, maintained by DoC, and taking in the most impressive scenery in the country. But the Great Walks are not the only walks worth doing when you get here! There are quite literally hundreds of multiday walks here, and between us, we’ve probably knocked off most of them! Learn More About Multiday Hikes Why are we so addicted to getting out there? We’d describe our love for multiday adventures in the hills as natural, and an essential part of growing up, and living in New Zealand. Being able to get away from traffic noise, light pollution, even cell reception, in a matter of minutes from home, is a special privilege, and not one we waste. There’s something primitive about arriving at a hut under your own steam, after a tough day, and being greeted by a log fire, smiles, and a cosy bunk. When you’re in a backcountry hut, sharing the experience, and stories, with others, you’re living in the moment; the last thing you’ll worry about is work, or bills. Instead you’ll be worrying about who’s

Top 10 Places to Retire in Asia

Top 10 Places to Retire in Asia. Offering everything from lush, tropical rain forests to bustling mega-cities, Asia is one of the world’s most varied and interesting places to retire. With an increasing number of Western retirees seeking an ‘escape’ from the fast-paced life that they are used to, and Asia offering a cultural experience that’s second-to-none, the number of retirees seeking peace, comfort, and financial security in Asia has continued to increase. But it’s not just peace and quiet that retirees are searching for in Asia – it’s a fun and interesting life. While Western cities offer a great deal of economic opportunity, they can often feel somewhat stale and lacking in culture. In contrast, many of Asia’s top cities feel full of life and interesting opportunities to be found. Likewise, Asia’s beach destinations, small towns, and rural settings can offer the perfect picturesque setting for a retiree. From beautiful scenery to truly stunning natural surroundings, many of Asia’s best locations are undiscovered secrets when compared to their counterparts back home. These ten locations offer a great mix of modern conveniences, creature comforts, an affordable cost of living, and a unique look on life. From mega-cities to small towns, these top ten places to retire in Asia should be at the top of your list when you’re on the look for a great place to retire. 1. Phuket, Thailand. Known as Thailand’s capital of adventure, beach life, and summer sports fun, Phuket is a large island off the coast of Thailand’s Andaman Peninsula area. Connected with the mainland via a large road bridge and a bustling international airport, the island is easy to reach and well connected to the rest of the world. While Phuket may be best known for the party hotspot of Patong, the rest of the island is warm, quiet, and remarkably peaceful. With a year-round tropical climate and some of the world’s most stunning beaches on its shores, this tropical island is a hotspot for retirees in Asia. 2. Penang, Malaysia. Malaysia’s northern cultural capital and foodie paradise, Penang is an interesting island for those seeking a more cosmopolitan beach experience. Home to some of the world’s best street food – including famous Laksa and Char KuayTeow – this bustling island is renowned as one of the world’s best places to eat out. With some picturesque beaches of its own, Penang is no stranger to tourism and foreign retirement. Large condos line many of the island’s top beaches, while new shopping malls and commercial developments make this island a convenient place to live. 3. Singapore. Singapore is one of Asia’s most livable large cities – an international community on a small island south of Malaysia. Home to a robust and powerful economy, a financial sector that’s ranks amongst the world’s biggest, and a variety of parks, natural areas, and gorgeous nature, this city of five-million is highly livable for retirees. Despite its high cost of living, Singapore offers a great deal for those on a pension or fixed

“For me, this was the best experience I’ve ever had.”

The crew from Andrea’s ‘Kiwi’ trip celebrating at Braemar Station. Over the last twenty years or so we’ve been honing our skills in adventure travel. We started with a group of three guests on a trip around New Zealand’s South Island in 1996, and have progressed to taking groups to nine different countries on four different continents. As kiwis we are famous for our hospitality, we love welcoming people, taking care of people, and sharing in experiences with people. When our guests finally arrive in New Zealand, they’ll often pop into our office in Queenstown mid-trip, because like us, friendships are so important to them. We love being able to put a face to the voice we hear on the phone before the trip! A group of Active adventurers meet Lynette and Fiona at Active HQ in Queenstown. That hospitality, and the sharing of experiences with new visitors to any of the countries we travel in, are the reasons we love doing what we do. And it’s guests like Andrea Rudolph (recently returned from New Zealand adventures) who help us to remember that: ‘Not only was the scenery breathtaking and the tour well run but our fun loving adventurous group made it even more special. Even the experienced travelers in our group felt it was the best tour they had ever been on. It’s been difficult to settle back into my ’normal’ life after such a life-changing experience.’ We find that guests on our adventures, because they always share common interests (adventure being just one!) really buy in to this idea that sharing the experience makes it so much more powerful. The willingness to be honest and open with one another about your life, and your achievements, and even your regrets, adds another dimension to the experience in a way that we find difficult to put in to words.   Andrea wrote some lovely comments about her South Island Explorer trip the ‘Kiwi’. On top of that she also took the time to write an awesome poetic review about the trip, here’s some of our favourite bits: Active Adventures had everything planned For a ‘better than average’ trip to Kiwi land Our fearless leaders, Rachel and Koru In every instance knew what to do prepped us on schedules and weather every day And tried hard to make us listen to what they’d say.   Koru told myths of Maoris and war His tales were creative and never a bore He showed us plants like the silver fern This land is so varied there’s a lot to learn.   The Hector’s dolphins near the beach were rare They amazed us by doing flips in the air At the wildlife center we saw kiwis being fed And heard how they’re kept safe till they’re bred.    Braemar gave us bright stars at night Sharing toilets and co-ed showers was also a delight We ran through the hills, and drank lots of wine Singing old songs and jingles, it was divine.   New Zealand is perfect except for the sandflies Which bite all our legs as they drop from the skies They even dare follow us into the van Where we smash them on windows as

What to expect from your Milford Sound Cruise

Whether you’ve arrived into Milford Sound under your own steam via the Milford Track, or ridden the exciting 950m (3100ft) final descent from the Homer Tunnel to sea level by bus, we’re sure you’ll agree it is a magical place. The scale of the granite mountain faces, the flooded glacial valleys, and the mostly untouched forests, are simply breathtaking. Rudyard Kipling described this place as the eighth wonder of the world; it’s easy to see why. A still day on Milford Sound gives a perfect reflection of Mitre Peak and the surrounding peaks. So where does the name Milford Sound come from? Milford Sound has had a bunch of name changes since it was discovered in 1812 by Sealer Captain John Grono, who named it Milford Haven after his home town in Wales. As us Kiwis have become more conscious of conservation, and protecting our Maori culture and influence, Milford Sound became Milford Sound/Piopiotahi in 1998. But wait! There’s more! Milford Sound is actually incorrectly named… A sound is a river valley which has been flooded by the ocean, and just like so much of our dramatic South Island, Milford was formed by glaciers, and so it’s a fiord. This is a popular trivia question, so take note for your New Zealand adventure! Milford Sound has several permanent waterfalls, including Stirling Falls – more than three times the height of Niagara Falls. And Lady Bowen Falls; a short distance from the wharf area. Seeing as the granite landscape doesn’t absorb a drop of the annual 6,412mm (252in) rainfall, it made sense for Bowen Falls to be used to power the small town of Milford Sound.  It is during the regular periods of rain in Milford when the waterfalls really come alive. Hundreds of new falls cascade down the steep faces of the mountains, and if you catch Milford on a rainy day, why not name your own? A group of Kayakers approach Lady Bowen Falls. Overnight Cruise on Milford Sound If you choose to take an overnight cruise on Milford Sound, you’ll be choosing luxury, tranquillity, and stunning natural beauty. You’ll board the ‘Milford Wanderer’ mid afternoon and cruise the 15km (9.3miles) out to the Tasman Sea, passing by Lady Bowen Falls, and getting close enough to Stirling Falls to feel the fresh spray from the Wanderer’s deck. As the afternoon fades into the coloured light of evening the captain will drop anchor in a sheltered cove, where you can go exploring with specialist nature guides, either by kayak or in the vessel’s small craft, until it’s time to climb back on board for your carvery buffet dinner and some stargazing with a glass of New Zealand wine. The Milford Wanderer cruises, under sail, on the fiord. The next morning we suggest emerging from your private cabin in time to watch the sunrise, it should help to clear your head if you really enjoyed the Kiwi wine! Then tuck in to a hearty buffet breakfast. Your captain will once again point the Milford Wanderer in the direction of the Tasman Sea, take this opportunity to do some wildlife spotting: Dolphins of three different species,

10 Quick Facts about Machu Picchu

1. Longitude and Latitude Machu Picchu Machu Picchu’s geographical position is 13.1631° S, 72.5450° W. It’s located 74.7 kilometres (46.4 miles) from Cusco. See How To Get To Machu Picchu   2. Size of Machu Picchu The Machu Picchu Inca Ruins cover an area of one square mile. The area of the greater Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary in the Vilcanota-Urubamba basin covers 32,592 hectares. 3. Temperature at Machu Picchu During the warmer months of September, October, November and December the weather is fairly mild with a good average temperature of between 8 degrees celcius (44 degrees F) and 20 degrees celcius (68 degrees F). 4. Population of Machu Picchu The population of Machu Picchu was most likely between 1,000 and 1,200 at any given time – but the ruins have been uninhabited for hundreds of years now. Today – the closest town to Machu Picchu is Aguas Calientes, with  a permanent population of around 3000 people.  5. Languages Spoken in and Around Machu Picchu The native spoken language is ‘Quechua’ – the ancient Inca language. Spanish is the colonial language, introduced by the Spanish on their arrival in November 15, 1532 6. Weather And Seasons at Machu Picchu Machu Picchu is usually covered in mist until mid morning, giving it the feeling of hovering amongst the clouds. Most rainfall (during the rainy season) is seen in December, January, February and March. Machu Picchu has dry periods in May, June, July, August and September. On average, the warmest month is September. See Best Time To Visit Machu Picchu 7. Meaning of the name Machu Picchu In the Quechua native language, “Machu Picchu” means “Old Peak” or “Old Mountain.” 8. Machu Picchu’s Global Significance Machu Picchu is recognised as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is featured on many intrepid travellers bucket list. 9. Machu Picchu Transport There are several options for getting to Machu Picchu, other than by foot of course. Trains operate, as do busses, both public and private. Small group tour busses are less crowded if you can find them. You can visit this page for more information about transport to Machu Picchu. 10. Fitness For Machu Picchu & Other Hiking Options Machu Picchu is a city at altitude, so it’s a great idea to stay a few days and enjoy being treated to some authentic Peruvian hospitality. It’s a pleasant day hike from Aguas Calientes if you are only interested in a flying visit to Machu Picchu itself. If you are going to walk one of the “trip of a lifetime” journeys to get there however, you’ll need a moderate level of fitness. Again, taking your time to acclimatise and investigate the local villages, or other ruins along the way makes for a much more “cruisy” (as we say in New Zealand) adventure to the city in the clouds. Related Content: Inca Ruins of Peru Machu Picchu Inca Ruins How to get to Machu Picchu Hiking to Machu Picchu Classic Inca Trail Classic Inca Trail Tour Itinerary Lares Inca Trail Lares Inca Trail Tour Itinerary Best Time to Visit Peru’s Machu Picchu Machu Picchu Hiking Tours Source link

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