Ausangate Lodge Trek

Our Ausangate lodge 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 Cuzco, Peru. Yay!

The Ausangate circuit is featured on many lists of the world’s best high-altitude treks. One of the holiest mountains in Incan mythology, Ausangate features windswept valleys, snow-covered peaks, glaciers, panoramic views… everything a serious trekker could want. But much to our surprise, we discovered that that rainbow mountain was not on the well-known camping circuit. Further digging revealed that the Camino del Apu Ausangate, an alternative lodge-based trek run by Andean Lodges, combines the stunning mountain scenery and high-altitude passes of Ausangate with the little known technicolor landscapes around Vinicunca Continue…

The Faces of Ausangate

Andean Lodges: Roberto, our horseman, shows off one of his many trekking hats

As you can see from the Ausangate lodge trek post and video, our trek along the Camino del Apu Ausangate was full of natural and cultural highs. For many people, the spectacular landscapes and isolated Andean villages are reason enough to do the trek. But we also wanted to stop and reflect a bit on the unique relationship between Andean Lodges and the communities of Chillca and Osefina which greatly benefit from these treks. 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 with Natura Vive was taking those adventures to new heights… literally.

The Skylodge just might be the world’s “edgiest” hotel as you literally sleep hanging off a thousand-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 was built by adventurers for adventurers. If you want to sleep suspended on a sheer Andean wall, you have to earn it. Continue…

Robot Restaurant Tokyo

Tokyo feels a world apart from the rest of the country, and from Earth in general. The city is wonderfully weird and inspirationally insane. Diving into the city’s lively Shinjuku neighborhood at night will probably be the closest you come to interstellar travel. Welcome to planet Crazy!

After exploring the city’s ever-clinking Pachinko parlors, kooky Harajuku culture and anime emporiums, we were looking for the piece de resistance of crazy Tokyo experiences. Resistance was futile. There was no way we could escape the gravitational force of Tokyo’s insane Robot Restaurant, a futuristic electro-cabaret featuring a very distinct air of Disneyland meets Blade Runner. Merely approaching the restaurant, makes it clear that this is something different. 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…

Tokyo Food Tours

Tokyo Food Tours

Japan had been on our bucket list for a while, but the actual decision to come here was made in the spur of a moment. “I want to go to Japan and eat,” Tony said one afternoon after an uninspired meal. No sooner did he utter these words than I booked us a flight to Tokyo, sushi wonderland and foodie capital for many travelers. After having spent five years in Asia, we considered ourselves relative experts on Asian cuisine. Obviously, all we had to do was walk the capital’s busy streets and fill our bellies with exotic delicacies. Or so we thought.

It turns out that Japan is a whole different kettle of fish. With a population of over 13 million, metropolitan Tokyo seems to have almost as many restaurants, food stalls and izakayas as it has people. Yes, there is such a thing as too many options. What should you have for lunch? A Michelin-starred bento plate or green tea soba noodles? How about yamaimo or fugu? Oh, that’s right – one can make you sick, the other can potentially kill you. Add to that language difficulties and chokingly high prices, and you find yourself Continue…

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 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…

Lisbon Food Tours

Enjoying Lisbon's Food Tours

Portuguese food is a topic Tony and I knew very little about. Although we had encountered variations of Portuguese dishes in former colonies such as Macau, Brazil and the Indian regions of Goa and Diu, not much seemed familiar as we made our way through the narrow streets of Lisbon’s old town. Local specialties were advertised at every corner: Pastel de Belém, pata negra ham, bacalhau or vinho verde. But where to start?

Our awesome experience with various food tours in Rome had taught us that it’s sometimes better (and easier) to leave it up to the experts. Why fight it, right? So just as we did in Italy, we sought out the advice of local gourmands. In order to get a good understanding of what authentic Portuguese cuisine was really like, we chose three different foodie activities in Lisbon: a food walking tour, a wine tasting, and a cooking class. As fast as you can say “salada de bacalhau com grão de bico”, we were on our way to becoming experts. Continue…

Mallorca Highlights for Adventurers

Palma cathedral, Mallorca

Twenty-five years after my first visit to Mallorca, I returned to the Mediterranean island in October with Tony in tow. Like many visitors, my first experience here was a rushed trip spent on the busy tourist beaches near Palma. It was only later, through a German magazine article, that I learnt just how many adventurous activities I had missed. So this time around, I wanted to do it right. During our two weeks on the island, Tony and I set out together to discover the best of what the largest Balearic island has to offer. Continue…