The Complete Guide to Hiking Torres del Paine

UPDATED Nov. 2019: A lot has changed since we visited Torres del Paine in 2015. Trekkers doing the O and Q circuit can only hike counterclockwise, and all campsites and refugios need to be booked in advance including the free CONAF campsites. Note that Campamento Torres will still be closed during the 2019/2020 season due to maintenance. Read on for more details.

After several months of indulging in amazing luxury experiences in Peru and Argentina, Tony and I were craving a good challenge and decided to hike the O circuit around the Torres del Paine Massif. It had been way too long since we did a multi-day trek on our own, so hiking Patagonia without a guide was just what the doctor ordered. Continue…

Exploring Coron Island by Kayak

Thomas Kayaks near Coron Island

Sitting in our stilt house recovering from our spectacular wreck dives, the second major reason to visit the Philippine Island of Busuanga is clearly visible on the horizon. Dramatic and mysterious, Lonely Planet describes mystical Coron Island best when it says, “It wouldn’t be out of place in a King Kong film.”

Ominous walls of jungle-covered black karst erupt from the surrounding turquoise seas. Jagged and spectacular, Coron Island is the ultimate karst showpiece. As mountainous as Yangshuo, as labyrinthine as the Stone Forest, mid-ocean like Halong or Pang Nga, and as razor-edged as the spiky tsingy of Madagascar, Coron trumps them all. The place is Continue…

Camping in Antarctica

If there is one thing that’s guaranteed in Antarctica, it’s that there are no guarantees. We knew this when we booked our trip to the ice continent: all activities are very weather dependent. Mother Nature rules down here with a very raw sense of humor, and she sometimes likes to put humans in their place. Zodiac outings, landings, penguin viewing, hiking, every Antarctic activity listed in the brochures comes with an asterisk next to it clearly adding “subject to weather conditions.”

Everybody on board knew this, and we knew the most weather dependent activity of them all was camping in Antarctica. There were two designated days where the overnight camping excursion was possible. When we were told camping was not possible on the first night due to wind and rain, we all held our breath and prayed for Mother Nature to cut us some slack. Those prayers were answered the second night when it was announced that the camping excursion WAS ON! Cheers Continue…

Trekking Mount Kailash

Tony backed by Mount Kailash

The following post was written when we visited Tibet in 2007. In the last decade, much has changed. The roads leading to Mt. Kailash have been paved, Chinese guides must accompany tourists, and the once isolated region sees more visitors.

We were still half a day’s drive away from Darchen, the town at the foot of Mount Kailash and the starting point for our trek, when we caught our first glimpse of the snow-covered peak in the distance. After ten days bumping up and down on a series of increasingly deteriorating dirt rodes, Tibet’s holiest mountain was within sight.

The tension had been building for days. Rumors had been circulating that the Chinese military had moved into the area to clamp down on unrest resulting from the construction of an unapproved Buddha on the slopes of the mountain. Conflict had broken out between the soldiers and Tibetan pilgrims doing the Kailash kora. We had met several foreign trekkers and travelers who had been turned back by the troops. As we silently bounced our way towards our destination, we were all asking ourselves the same question: would we be allowed to trek Continue…

Rajasthan Camel Safari

Everybody does it here – it has become somewhat of a touristic cliche. It can range from a luxury tented eco-experience to an off-the-beaten-track adventure. You might find yourself in a sea of tourists waiting to pose for a portrait on a dune, or perhaps like us, you’ll end up sitting out a sandstorm in a herder’s desert wigwam. It is the Rajasthani camel safari, and it is whatever you make it.

Eager to make ours an adventure, we did our homework first. There are endless options in Rajasthan, but we wanted to get Continue…

The Akha

Akha woman in northern Laos

The first time I went to Thailand in 1990, I had the opportunity to trek through portions of the North to visit many of the hill tribes. At that time, traditional clothing and culture were still very intact. Yes, there were already too many tourists, but there was still much to be seen and experienced especially in the remote regions along the borders of Myanmar and Laos. The markets of the Golden Triangle were filled with a mix of exotic tribal people donning colorful garb buying and selling goods in a dozen languages.

The obvious stars of the markets were the Akha, a group whose unique culture, blood-red betel nut stained teeth, and over-the-top headdresses made them one of the most recognizable tribal groups in the world. I had hoped Continue…

Ten Cool Treks for Adventurous Souls

Tony and Thomas in the Gokyo Valley, Nepal

Looking to do some serious trekking? Scouring the web for some recommendations? Over the years, we have had the amazing opportunity to do some of the best treks on the planet. It’s about time that we put together a list of recommendations to compete with the hundreds of others out there on the Net. (Ours is naturally better. Ha, ha.)

What makes this list different? Well, first of all, we have personally done every trek we list here. Beyond that, each of these treks Continue…

Iguazu Falls – Which Side is Better, Argentina or Brazil?

Iguazu Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. Almost twice as tall as Niagara Falls and only rivaled by Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls, the jaw-dropping Iguazu Falls leaves even the most seasoned travelers in awe (and yes, I’m talking about us). The 82-meter-high cascades of foaming water span an incredible width of 2.7 kilometers. At any one time, there are between 150 and 300 falls depending on the water level. Witnessing the power and noise of the falling water shrouded in perpetual mist is an unforgettable experience, an experience made even better by the incredible 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…

Kayaking in Antarctica

Kayaking in Antarctica around Cuverville Island

Gliding through the waters off Petermann Island, I cautiously dipped the paddle into the subzero Antarctic ocean to steer the kayak around a small flow of brash ice. Startled by my change of direction, four Adélie penguins leapt from the water and porpoised alongside me. Up ahead, the One Ocean Expeditions kayaking guide Michelle rounded the tip of the island backed by a couple of sculpted icebergs.

The second guide Mark paddled off to my right. A humpback suddenly surfaced in the distance behind him, a monstrous tail lifted into the air and then slipped below the surface. I reflexively glanced down into the water suddenly remembering that YouTube video of the whale that almost swallowed a scuba diver. Nothing below. We Continue…