Kasbah du Toubkal – Luxury Trekking in the High Atlas

As we sit sipping sweet mint tea gazing out the sculpted slopes of the Imlil Valley, the call to prayer echoes up from the Berber villages below. I adjust the cushy pillows around me and lean out to take in the mountain panorama that surrounds the Kasbah du Toubkal. Behind our hill-top refuge rises the barren, rocky peak of Mt. Toubkal, which at 4,167 m (13,670 ft) ranks as the highest mountain in North Africa. Opposite us, a wondrous waterfall pours into an oasis of walnut, apple, and – most importantly – cherry trees. It’s literally raining cherries in the valley below.

When trekkers talk dream destinations, the conversations often turn to distant lands such as Nepal, northern India, Tibet or Peru. Scanning our archives will prove that these reputations are well deserved. But trekkers-in-the-know keep a few dazzling finds to themselves, off-the-beaten-track treasures where the hiking enthusiast can walk the trails without the crowds. One of the best kept secrets

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Gocta Lodge Adventures – Kuelap, Revash, Mummies and More

View of Gocta Falls from Gocta Lodge
See note at end of post on changes since our visit.

Stepping out onto the balcony of our room here at Gocta Lodge, it’s hard to believe this view isn’t on the cover of every travel magazine on the planet. We came to Chachapoyas to explore Peru’s rising star Kuelap, which many are calling the Machu Picchu of the north. Yet, the view from our hotel room may eclipse that rising star.

We look out over a jungle-filled canyon framing the spectacular two-tier Gocta Waterfall, which has only recently been named one of the highest in the world. A flock of several dozen parrots swoops by above our heads. Hummingbirds dart from flower to flower below.

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Trujillo – Pyramids, Plazas and Playas

Huaca Arco Iris

As we mentioned in our post on Caral, much of northern Peru is gloriously neglected by the country’s mass tourism. It’s a vast area filled with colonial towns, great food and the crumbling remnants of unknown ancient cultures. It’s an adventurer’s paradise waiting to be explored.

As we bused north on the paved Pan-American highway to Trujillo, the number of seductive dirt tracks luring travelers off the road to remote archaeological sites was almost too much to bear. We passed a number of remote ruins which I would have loved to visit including Paramonga, the fortress of Chanquillo, and Sechin. Thank god for visa limitations, or Thomas and I would be here for another six months combing the desert, side valleys and mountains for hidden treasures.

But it’s just a fact of life, there is no way to see everything in Peru because this country is overwhelmed with world-class Continue…

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Many tourist brochures would have you believe that trekking options in the Cusco region begin and end with the famous (perhaps overly famous) Inca Trail. Nothing could be further from the truth. Four-month waiting lists and packed campgrounds have left more spontaneous visitors to the Cusco region searching for trekking alternatives which they can easily combine with a visit to Machu Picchu.

The rising star among these alternatives is the beautiful Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu, a unique option which takes trekkers on a world-class journey across Mt. Salkantay and the high-altitude Salkantay Pass and descends into the cloud forests surrounding Machu Picchu. Along the Salkantay trail, trekkers experience an extraordinary range of Andean mountain environments as well as remote Incan trade trails and rare views of the western side of Machu Picchu from the Llactapata Continue…

The Ultimate Guide to the Perito Moreno Glacier & Los Glaciares National Park South

 Los Glaciares National Park: View over the Perito Moreno Glacier

After our adventure tours of the world’s greatest ice flows in Antarctica and Tierra del Fuego, our latest destination is the superstar of Patagonian ice, the spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier. Located in the southern reaches of Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park, the Perito Moreno Glacier is famous for its very active calving; and even better, visitors can get up-close and personal with all the action. And while the Perito Moreno Glacier might steal the spotlight, there are several other up-and-coming starlet glaciers that will literally take your breath away. Continue…

Ausangate Trek – Lodge to Lodge along the Camino del Apu Ausangate

Our Ausangate trek started with a picture, a mind-blowing image circulated on Facebook of a surreal rainbow mountain, which I assumed had been photoshopped beyond belief. (Could something really be that beautiful?) When I saw the image, I initially thought it was the Zhangye Danxia mountains in China, but something about the shape of the hill looked slightly different. Dragging the picture into Google image search revealed that I was looking at formations near Ausangate mountain just a few hours from Cusco, Peru. Yay! Continue…

Skylodge Peru – The Edgiest Hotel in the World

We had some pretty incredible experiences during our six months in Peru; it felt like we were bouncing from one awesome adventure to another. But our outing to the Skylodge Adventure Suites with was taking those adventures to new heights… literally.

The Skylodge Adventure Suites just might be the world’s “edgiest” hotel as you literally sleep hanging off a twelve-hundred-foot cliff overlooking Peru’s famous Sacred Valley. It’s seriously cool, but sorry jet-set crowd, there’s no pulling up to this hotel in a taxi. The Skylodge Adventure Suites was built by adventurers for adventurers. If you want to sleep suspended on a sheer Andean wall, you have to earn it. Continue…

Sipadan and Mabul – Borneo’s Most Popular Dive Destinations

Pulau Sipadan

Some of the world’s most famous islands among scuba divers in the know are Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai in Malaysian Borneo. Sipadan, in particular, features numerous dive sites consistently listed in the top five dive destinations in the world. Divers flock here from all corners of the world to witness the spectacular underwater scenery with its amazing sea life and unusual topography.

Planning your trip to Sipadan Island ahead of time is key. As part of a necessary conservation effort to protect Sipadan, the Malaysian government decided in 2005 to close all resorts on the island and put a strict permit system in place allowing only 120 divers per day. Unfortunately, arranging your permit can be quite confusing. Not all dive shops and resorts can organize permits. Check out Sipadan.com to see how many permits are allocated to which dive shops and resorts in the area. They also provide detailed information on the Sipadan permit system, including how to increase your chances of getting a permit in the first place. Continue…

Luxury Yurt Camping in Lanzarote

As we drive north from Arrecife to the small coastal village of Arrieta, we immediately notice how different Lanzarote looks from the other Canary Islands we have visited. Most obvious is the lack of high-rise buildings and huge tourist complexes. The black scorched land along the coast is dotted with small white-washed villages and traditional windmills. We marvel at the bizarre landscape of terraced cones, squat craters, and soil that shimmers with onyx hues of the volcanic spectrum. It seems like a spectacular location for our glamping experience at Lanzarote Retreats. Continue…

Escaping to Riad Les Yeux Bleus

Yes, Marrakesh is madness, mayhem and pure melodrama, so of course we totally love it! But even for culture-chaos junkies like us, there are moments when you just need an oasis of calm. To be honest, every single time I left the medina, we really needed a place to chill. Luckily, many of the city’s old riads, traditional Moroccan houses or palaces, have been converted into luxurious boutique hotels which make for the perfect place to hide away (especially when it is 100 F outside!!!) Continue…