Lonely Planet’s 2019 Best in Travel

 Lonely Planet have just released their 2019 Best in Travel list and we’re pretty excited about these destinations!

 

Sri Lanka

The land of cinnamon and sand. An ancient spice island washed by the endless blue waves of the Indian Ocean

Sri Lanka has just about everything a traveller could want – superb ancient sites, magnificent scenery, amazing wildlife, delicious cuisine, incredibly friendly and welcoming locals and lovely palm-fringed, white sandy beaches. Add to this a history touched by Portuguese, Dutch and British influences and a society with a strong and devout adherence to the Buddhist faith and we find an island-nation of incredibly rich diversity with much to offer. If curry and spice and all things nice is more your style, Sri Lanka gives India a run for its money when it comes to food. Munch on fresh fish and prawns at the Negombo seafood market, sample arak, Sri Lanka’s signature local tipple, and learn to cook traditional Sinhalese fare at a cooking class in a local’s home.

Germany

Beer, art and baroque castles, Germany has culture to suit any taste

Germany might well be the arts capital of the world. Dotted with masterful castles, and flecked with modern museums, everywhere you turn there seems to be art to feast your senses. Try the Nymphenburg Palace, an opulent and incredibly ornate baroque treasure, or the Munich Residenz, a daunting palace filled with gold. Even the Berlin Wall has been beautified with colourful murals and street art. Embark on a Germany tour and be dazzled by this magical country.

Zimbabwe

Follow the sprawling Zambezi River, drift between the gorges of Victoria Falls, and enter a land of sun and bush

Zimbabwe’s getaways are world famous, from the sights of the Zambezi to the nature trails of the bush. Get the Victoria Falls experience near the border of Zambia, taking in this unbelievable setting. And have your fix of safari at Hwange National Park. With over 100 different animals and over 400 different birds, there’s more than enough to feast your eyes on – not to mention one of Africa’s largest elephant populations.

Panama

Uncrowded beaches, sensational surf breaks, magical rainforests and splendid colonial towns

Situated on the narrow isthmus bridging Central and South America, travellers will be wowed by palm-shaded (and uncrowded) beaches, sensational surf breaks, picturesque Colonial towns, and wildlife aplenty. In Panama’s west, Bocas del Toro is a melting pot of culture; home to West Indians, Latinos and expats, Bocas delivers the goods with diverse music, nightlife and food (not to mention some outstanding snorkelling). Cut to the highland town of Boquete for crystal-clear creeks and rivers, dense forest, howler monkeys, and the resplendent quetzal.

Kyrgyzstan

If mountains are your thing, then Kyrgyzstan is your place

Tucked into the heart of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan’s skyline is dominated by craggy peaks and alpine lakes. Pull on your boots and get trekking to really experience its spectacular beauty. You’re likely to come across spectacular glaciers, be invited into a yurt for some yoghurt or ushered to the sidelines of a ferocious game of goat polo.

Jordan

Modern cities filled with worldly citizens, mountainous regions dotted with small villages, and deserts inhabited by the nomadic Bedouin – Jordan has all this diversity and more

Countless mighty kingdoms have risen and fallen here, and their glorious remains make Jordan a well of ancient history. There’s Petra, The Rose City, with its colossal facades carved into pink stone; and Jerash with its abounding roman pillars, amphitheatres and temples. Even Wadi Rum, the desert valley strewn with mystical rock formations, supports a people as old as the region itself

Indonesia

With more than 17,000 mostly uninhabited islands to explore, Indonesia is one of the last great adventures left on the globe

There’s no question that Bali’s a beauty, but just beyond Indonesia’s popular holiday island there’s a vast new world to explore. Join Peregrine on a small-ship adventure cruise to some of the most enchanting isles of the Indonesian archipelago: the tiny twin paradises of Saringi and Karamat, the incredible crater lake of Satonda, unspoiled Banta, Komodo dragon-filled Rinca, and quiet Moyo, where hidden cascades lie in wait. Before returning to Kuta, stop on Lombok proper for a taste of traditional life on the mainland around gorgeous Senggigi Beach. With the comfort of four-star accommodation and the mobility of small ship, this Peregrine adventure cruise is Indonesian island-hopping at its finest.

Belarus

This former Soviet republic may still be more Soviet than European, but it has plenty to offer the trailblazing traveller

Strangely beautiful and remarkably clean, Minsk is a fascinating blend of Stalinist architecture, Soviet-era monuments, museums, theatres, and parks. Outside the capital, pastoral countryside gives way to quaint villages, pristine lakes and forested national parks, including Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park – the oldest wildlife reserve in Europe. Although the country was largely destroyed by WWII, a smattering of centuries-old castles and historic towns offer a glimpse of pre-communist Belarus. Be among the first to discover the understated appeal of this emerging nation.

Belize

This drop-dead beautiful Central American nation with a distinct Caribbean flavour has something for everyone

Stunning reefs for divers, colourful wildlife for bird watchers, rare archaeological finds for history buffs and vibrant markets for culture vultures. Beautiful Belize’s natural delights and historic highlights will capture your imagination, and steal your heart. .

Contact us on 08 9321 1259 or sales@peregrinewa.com.au for more information

Our Spookiest Adventures From Around The World

It’s that time of the year: Halloween. We’ve come up with a list of trips that will take you to some of the world’s spookiest events and destinations. Read on- IF YOU DARE!

Day of the Dead Mexico

Our Spookiest Adventures From Around The World

Feel the life of Mexico during a unique celebration of death

Let Dia de los Muertos be your gateway into Mexico. An ancient festival that remains at the heart of Mexican popular culture, the Day of the Dead reflects the country’s many sides – colourful and mystical, satirical and political, contradictory and poignant, macabre and humorous. Explore Mexico City or Oaxaca by day, then venture into the graveyards at night for the famous moonlit festivities.

Peregrine Limited Edition: Mexico Beyond the Day of the Dead- 15 days from $4,350

Intrepid Mexico City: Day of the Dead- 5 days from $1,220

Intrepid Real Day of the Dead Oaxaca- 9 days from $1,805

Halloween in Transylvania

Our Spookiest Adventures From Around The World

Spend your spookiest Halloween ever in haunting Romania

Even without its bloodcurdling myths of Dracula, werewolves, haunted castles and gypsy curses, Romania is an atmospheric destination. And no more so on the spooky holiday of Halloween. Let us introduce you to the beauty of ancient Bucharest, the fortified town of Sibiu, the old-world charm of Biertan, the blood, err… wine of Medias, the haunting beauty and mythology of Sighisoara, a local family in Viscri and Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s castle) in Brasov. For a spine-tingling adventure this Halloween, don’t look past this adventure in Transylvania. Mwahahaha

Moldova, Ukraine & Romania

Our Spookiest Adventures From Around The World

Step off the beaten track on this fascinating adventure through Romania, Moldova and Ukraine

Welcome to Bessarabia, a land so remote that tourism is yet to get a foothold. Escape the tourist crowds on this unique trip to Eastern Romania, Moldova and the Black Sea Coast of Ukraine. From the breakaway republic of Transnistria – where Soviet values persist – to the eerie wastelands of Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, this itinerary showcases some of the least visited sights in Europe. Get ready for an adventure.

Halloween in America

Our Spookiest Adventures From Around The World

Join us on a blood-curdling adventure through America’s haunted past. If you dare…

Did you hear the one about the ice-skating ghosts in Central Park? Or the Headless Horseman plaguing Sleepy Hollow? What about the kitchen poltergeist in Boston? The United States’ history is practically dripping with the bloody and the macabre, which makes it the perfect place for some Halloween thrills! Join us as we uncover Salem’s history of witch hunting, carve pumpkins in Danvers, chase ghosts in haunted Newport, and march through New York as part of the glorious Village Halloween Parade. With more treats than tricks, this might just be the best Halloween yet.

If you’re interested in any of the above tours please contact us on (08) 9321 1259 or sales@peregrinewa.com.au for more information

 

Peru Trekking Guide- More Than Just the Inca Trail

Follow in the footsteps of the Inca on an unforgettable hiking adventure along the Inca trail, or one of the lesser known but still amazing trails. 

The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu


Days trekking: 4 / Length: 43km / Max altitude: 4,200m
Who offers this option: Peregrine, Intrepid, Exodus, Chimu, G Adventures

The classic Inca Trail is the most famous trek in Peru that retraces the steps of the ancient Incas. This trek is both difficult and unmissable with a mix of high altitude passes, lush valleys and even a section of rainforest before culminating at sunrise at the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu. 

Inca Quarry Trek

 

Days trekking: 3 / Length: 26km / Max altitude: 4450m
Who offers this option: Peregrine & Intrepid 

The Inca Quarry Trail offers hikers incredible Andean scenery, challenging mountain passes and the opportunity for local interactions with the trail winding through villages in the Sacred Valley. 75,000 people a year trek the Inca, but the Quarry Trail doesn’t even come close. You’ll get all that beautiful Andean scenery more or less to yourself (apart from the odd Quechan village or friendly llama). 

 

How is the Inca Quarry Trek different to the Inca Trail?

On the Inca Quarry Trail you camp for two nights and the third is spent at a hotel in the gateway town of Aguas Calientes. You could enjoy a nice shower and a massage in town before taking a day trip to Machu picchu the next morning. Unlike the classic Inca Trail, permits are not required for the Quarry Trail. Horses not porters!

Lares trek to Machu Picchu

Days trekking: 4 / Length: 33km / Max altitude: 4400m
Who offers this option: Chimu, G Adventures 

A popular alternative to the Inca Trail, and slightly easier than the Salkantay trek, this 4-day trek is guaranteed to please! It ends in Machu Picchu, as per the Inca Trail, with a day at the ruins to enjoy. And along the way, there are great opportunities to interact with the friendly, Andean locals. If you want to escape into the wild, experience local living in Peru and still challenge yourself on a hike, the Lares Trek may be more suited to you. 

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu  

 

Days trekking: 5 / Length: 44km / Max altitude: 4600m
Who offers this option: Chimu, G Adventures, World Expeditions

A stellar alternative to the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek is – along with the Classic Inca Trail – named by National Geographic as one of the world’s 25 best treks. Throughout this trek, you’ll hike past lesser-visited but equally striking Inca ruins and will traverse a kaleidoscope of landscapes, including the Salkantay Pass at 4600m, cloud forests, valleys covered with wildflowers as well as waterfalls and glacial lakes. The Salkantay Trek will see you reach Aguas Caliente, the base town of Machu Picchu, from where you can either hike up to Machu Picchu (1.5hrs) or take the bus instead.

  

Mountain Lodges of Peru  

 
Days trekking: 6  / Length:  / Max altitude: 4638m
Who offers this option: Chimu

Avoiding the tourist crowds, this route to Machu Picchu is as much about culture and luxury as it is trekking. Have your bags transferred on the trek by horses, mules or porters while you carry a day pack during the day and relax in the jacuzzi with a cocktail at your luxurious mountain lodge by night.

Click here for our blog post on Mountain Lodges of Peru

The Moonstone Trek 

  
Days trekking: 4 / Length: 39km / Max altitude: 4600m
Who offers this option: Exodus

Named after an ancient and mysterious stone carving along its route, the Moonstone Trek is the little-known alternative to the Inca Trail. The Moonstone Trek is Exodus’ alternative trek if you miss out on Inca Trail permits. There’s not much in it, but the Moonstone Trek is a little higher than the Inca Trail. At these altitudes, every meter counts, so it’s slightly more difficult.

 

Trek to the Lost City of Choquequirao


Days trekking: 8 / Length: 103km / Max altitude: 4660m
Who offers this option: Exodus, G Adventures

Escape the crowds on this challenging, unusual trek through Peru’s mountainous region. This varied trek is constantly moving up and down the climatic zones, leading you up steep paths through dense cloud forest, over spectacular scenic passes and along ancient Inca paths to the Vilcabamba’s best kept secret: the lost Inca city of Choquequirao. Machu Picchu may draw the crowds, but Choquequirao will awe you in its secluded splendour. If you like being off the beaten path, are intrigued by rich history and crave dramatic landscapes dominated by lofty, snow-capped peaks, this is the trek for you.

 

The 1 day Inca Trail 

 

Days trekking: 1 / Length: 15km / Max altitude: 2730m
Who offers this option: Peregrine & Intrepid 

The 1-day Inca Trail is a great option for those wanting to experience trekking in Peru, but don’t want to do the full 4 days. This trek starts in from the train station known as “Km 104” and after a steep ascent, it follows the last portion of the Classic Inca Trail. Trekkers enter Machu Picchu at the sun gate in the afternoon where there will be some time to take a few photos before taking a short bus ride down to Aguas Calientes to spend the night and re-join the rest of the group. This trek is subject to permit availability, must be pre booked and will incur a surcharge.

Huayhuash Circuit

Days trekking: 7  or 12 / Length: 65 km or 165km / Max altitude: 5350m
Who offers this option: G Adventures, Chimu, World Expeditions

Comparable to the Himalayas and the Rockies in terms of snow-capped alpine beauty, Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash is a mountain climber’s dream come true. Located in one of the most remote sections of the Andes, the range asks a lot from those who trek it. Rest assured that your mountain guide has all the expertise, equipment, and encouragement needed to get the most out of these majestic peaks. Great on its own, this trip gets even better when paired with a Machu Picchu trek or any other Peru-based adventure.

 
Photo credit: Graham Cameron who trekked with G Aventures in October 2017

Ausangate Trek

Days trekking: 5 / Length: 67km / Max altitude: 5400m
Who offers this option: Chimu, World Expeditions

Trek for five days along the “Camino del Apu Ausangate” route in Vilcanota’s Cordillera, in the shadow of the sacred snow-capped Apu Ausangate that rises to 6,372 metres. This breathtaking trek takes you through one of the most pristine mountain ecosystems in the world, past glaciers, snow-capped peaks, rivers and alongside herds of llamas and alpacas and to the incredibly beautiful Rainbow Mountain.

Llamas and horses owned by the shepherds of the Chillca community accompany us on our trek carrying our trek gear. Each night is spent in an eco-friendly Andean Lodge or “Tambo” with meals prepared by experienced chefs who serve up a variety of delicious Peruvian dishes using local produce. On some evenings, the local villagers entertain us with authentic traditional music.

 The Ausangate Trek is one of the highest altitude hikes in all of Peru and joins Huayhuash in being one of the most rewarding yet least-known Peruvian attractions of all

Have an extra day in Cusco?

One day Rainbow Mountain Trek

Days trekking: 1 / Length: 12km / Max altitude: 5055m

Rainbow Mountain is one of the most beautiful, and beautifully hidden, treasures of Peru. The earthly rainbow of vibrant colours is an indescribable visual feast, and the fact that it is also one of the least-known wonders of South America certainly adds to the appeal for discerning explorers. Only a handful of visitors to Peru manage to include a phenomenal trek to Cerro Colorado, or Rainbow Mountain, every year.

Please contact us on sales@peregrinewa.com.au or 08 9321 1259 for more information

Best of: Japan in Spring

Jess has recently returned from leading her group in Japan; Temples Geishas & Cherry Blossoms and shares some of her favourite photos below. The group enjoyed experiencing the contrast of tradition and modern Japan, the bustling neon lit streets of Tokyo, the peacefulness of soaking in an onsen during snow fall in Hakone and the elegance of the Maiko and Geiko in Kyoto. Jess ended her time in Japan with another trip to Okinawa to snorkel in the beautiful turquoise waters with some curious clown fish.

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion, Kyoto

A Bomb Dome, Hiroshima

“Sakura” cherry blossoms in Osaka

Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto

Hakone

Fuji Hakone Guesthouse, Hakone

Himeji Castle, Himeji

Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto

“Sakura” cherry blossoms, Himeji

Gate to Hiroshima Castle, Hiroshima

Gate to Hiroshima Castle, Hiroshima

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion, Kyoto

Snow Monkey, Nagano

"Daibutsu" Great Buddha, Kamakura

“Daibutsu” Great Buddha, Kamakura

Itsukishima Shrine, Miyajima Island

“Sakura” cherry blossoms, Tokyo

Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion, Kyoto

Mt Yoshino, Nara

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Kamakura

Hamarikyu Gardens, Tokyo

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Kyoto

“Sakura” cherry blossoms, Osaka

Geiko in Kyoto. Photo by Wendy Smith

Clownfish, Zamami Island, Okinawa

Tokashiki Island, Okinawa

Japan trips we love

Peregrine Explore Japan

 Intrepid Land of the Rising Sun

 Intrepid Cycle Japan

For more information on our Japan trips please contact Jess: jess@peregrinewa.com.au

Limited Edition Tours & Expeditions

We’re proud to announce a range of unique new journeys for travellers looking to combine their special interests with their love of travel. From history and archaeology, to literature, photography and wildlife, our Limited Edition small group tours have been crafted just for you.

Mexico Sailing & Whale Watching

There’s nowhere quite like Baja California Sur. Jacques Costeau called it the world’s aquarium, but we just refer to it as paradise. The Sea of Cortez, off Baja’s coast, is visited by every year by thousands of migrating whales and this expedition is a chance to see these majestic mammals in the wild. When you’re not watching these breaching beauties, spend your days snorkelling in the clear blue waters, hiking the rocky coastlines, swimming with sea lions and exploring inland lagoons as your boat hops from island to island.

Argentina Expedition: Aconcagua Base & Mt Bonete

Trek to the base camp of Aconcagua, the Southern Hemisphere’s highest mountain, during this 10-day trip. Begin in Mendoza, the home of malbec, and learn about its production while touring wineries with a local wine expert before heading into the mountains proper for an expedition through the beautiful Andean ranges. Interact with climbers and trekkers from around the world at base camp then return to Mendoza to raise a glass of the good stuff to your group – there’s no doubt you’ll have earned it.
 

Peru Inti Raymi & Archaeology

Peru is a country in the midst of a cultural revival. It’s only in the last century that the country’s proud inhabitants have broken free of the shackles imposed by the Spanish conquest to embrace their ancestral Quechua language and customs, including the Inti Raymi – one of the most important festivals of the Inca calendar. Full of colour, movement and spectacle, this unique event offers a rare glimpse into ancient Inca life. Join us on a Peruvian adventure from the capital’s thriving food scene to the wildlife-filled Ballestas Island. Fly over the cryptic Nazca Lines and explore the white streets of Arequipa. Experience not one, but two visits to the iconic Machu Picchu in celebration of the winter solstice and finish up in ancient Cusco in time for historic Inti Raymi itself.

Argentina Expedition: Trek Mendoza & the Valley of Tears

On 13 October 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed in the remote Andes with 45 people on board. Stranded at 3600 metres with minimal supplies and nothing around but rock, ice and twisted metal, the survivors spent 72 days on the mountain before 16 of them were eventually rescued. The accident, which was immortalised in the 1993 film ‘Alive’, received significant global media attention when it was revealed that the survivors had resorted to cannibalism to make it through the ordeal. Beginning and ending in Mendoza, the heart of the Argentinean wine region, this expedition takes you trekking through the Andes to the site of the crash where you can pay your respects to the 29 victims amid the bittersweet beauty of this rugged mountain range.

Iran: Women’s Expedition

Join Intrepid on our first ever female-only, female-led 12-day expedition through Iran. Designed to allow travellers a unique opportunity to discover the customs, food, challenges and lives of local women of Iran through a range of experiences otherwise off limits to our normal mixed gender groups. Although gender segregation is not typically Iranian, strict dress codes imposed by Islamic Law have meant many places & ways of life have become segregated by default. Step inside the hidden world of an Iranian beauty salon, wander through a female only park, and travel by public transport in the female-only carriage of the metro, local buses and an overnight train. Experience rural nomadic life with Qashqai people, meet young female entrepreneurs, and learn secret recipes from those in the know. This trip will expose you to a range of fascinating local women; young, old, religious, conservative, rural, modern and liberal. We would love to open up these real life experiences to all our travellers; however, in order to operate in a socially responsible and culturally sensitive manner this is simply not possible. At least not yet! If you’re interested in travelling to Iran on a similar itinerary, check out some of other group departures or speak to your booking agent about a tailor-made itinerary.

Pyramids, Mummies & Pharaohs

If you’ve ever had a fascination in the ancient gods, goddesses and tombs of Egypt, this in-depth, off-the-beaten-track trip is for you. From the famous pyramids of Giza to the less-known Red and Bent Pyramids in Dashur, through the Old Kingdom capital of Memphis and along the winding Nile, your local guide Ahmed (a knowledgable Egyptologist and history buff himself), will take you on a journey through Egypt’s incredible past, landscapes and mythology.
 

Christmas in Bethleham

Spend the festive season of a lifetime in the Holy Land of Israel and the Palestinian Territories on this 8-day journey. Explore the ancient sites of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Nazareth and join pilgrims for the annual Christmas day procession to Bethlehem, then partake in an atmospheric Midnight Mass at the site where Christians believe Jesus was born. Explore a region alive with history during a time of great celebration, and gain a new perspective on the season.
 

Goroka Show, Papua New Guinea

Every year in September, over 100 clans gather in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea for one of the biggest tribal festivals in the world: the Goroka Show. Set to the beat of Kundu drums, thousands of painted, feather-adorned tribespeople come together in a huge sing-sing to perform traditional songs, dances and rituals. Under the guidance of a local leader, you’ll spend two full days at the Show, as well as several days in the beautiful Asaro Valley, where you’ll interact with friendly villagers – including the famous Asaro Mudmen and Simbu tribes – through performances and immersive activities. Keen to step off the beaten path and learn about some of the world’s best preserved tribal cultures? This is your chance.

India Expedition: Tea & Tribes

The northeastern states of India may well be the most beautiful in the entire country. Explore Kolkata, India’s cultural heartland, then set off on an adventure to the unspoiled wildlife reserves, spectacular wetlands and rambling mountain villages that make this far-flung part of the subcontinent such a special one. Check out the eclectic cultures of Sikkim, Assam and Nagaland, search for the iconic one-horned rhinoceros in Kaziranga National Park and take a train trip like no other on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. This is a relatively unexplored part of the country, perfect for an expedition. Be prepared to be wowed.
 

Japan Expedition: Okinawa

Embark on an ultimate Okinawa journey – a special group of islands that lie to the southwest of Japan. Being so far away from the main islands of Japan, Okinawa has always been considered an exotic destination even in Japan. With its distinct culture inherited from the Ryukyu Kingdom, yours will be a journey full of adventures both culturally and physically. Walk through the lively Makishi Market, visit the former underground headquarters of the Japanese Navy and learn a few karate moves in Naha. Travel to Ishigaki, part of the remote Yaeyema Islands at the southwestern point of Japan. Ride on a glass-bottom boat, snorkel with manta rays and cycle around charming Taketomi Island. Hike through dense virgin jungles and canoe mangrove-lined rivers in Iriomote. This is an expedition that doesn’t disappoint!
 

 

 

 

Ready for a truly one-off travel experience?  Contact us for more information and a full range of Limited Edition & Expedition trips for 2019/20.

Capturing the Colours of Central America

Jess has recently returned from travelling in Central America with Peregrine and Intrepid. She thoroughly enjoyed capturing the colours of Central America in the streets of Oaxaca, the food in Mexico City, the beaches in Belize and the markets in Guatemala. Take a look at some of her favourite photos below.

Colours of Central America

Habanero chili at Mercado Jamaica, Mexico City

Colours of Central America

Oaxaca, Mexico

Colours of Central America

Marigolds at Mercado Jamaica, Mexico City

Colours of Central America

Campeche, Mexico

Colours of Central America

Oaxaca, Mexico

Colours of Central America

Campeche, Mexico

Colours of Central America

BBQ corn at Mercado Jamaica, Mexico City

Colours of Central America

Campeche, Mexico

Colours of Central America

Street art in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Colours of Central America

Snorkelling with turtles in Caye Caulker, Belize

Colours of Central America

Bar in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico

Colours of Central America

Tulum, Mexico

Colours of Central America

Oaxaca, Mexico

Colours of Central America

Street art at Mercado Jamaica, Mexico City

Colours of Central America

Oaxaca, Mexico

Colours of Central America

Akumal Bay, Mexico

Colours of Central America

Oaxaca, Mexico

Colours of Central America

Belize City, Belize

Colours of Central America

Livingstone, Guatemala

Colours of Central America

Chichicastenango Markets, Guatemala

Colours of Central America

Weaving in the Mayan village of Zinacantan, Mexico

Colours of Central America

Chichicastenango Cemetery

Colours of Central America

Markets in Antigua, Guatemala

Jess travelled on the Mexico in Depth tour with Peregrine and the Mayan Encounter with Intrepid.

EVEREST HIGH PASSES TREK – March/April 2016

This is one of the greatest treks in the world. The Everest High Passes encompasses
all there is about trekking. Firstly, the mountains, these are the Himalaya, the biggest
mountains on earth, and they are enormous. Secondly, the local people, the Sherpa’s,
they are friendly, unique and helpful. Their spirituality, their culture are all there on  display.

Thame Pray Flags 2 - low res

However, the reality is that the big drawcard for this trek is Mt Everest, the highest mountain in the world.
People want to not only see the mountain, they want to experience a piece of how it feels to take on
this peak. They want to live parts of the Everest story, visit Base Camp, talk to the climbers walking up
to Base Camp, chat to trekkers from other parts of the world also taking on this challenge.

Group on Kala Patar - blog size

Front and centre when you first arrive in the Khumbu (the Sherpa name for their home region) is the
Buddhists religion and their culture. This is manifested in their villages but also their monasteries and
the Mani-walls that split the middle of most trails in the region.

Tanboche new blog size

The villages like Namche Bazaar, trading capital of the Khumbu, pay respect to the spectacular views that
surround them. Everywhere you look there is another amazing view.

Namche & Kwande - blog size

Everest is not the only mountain in this region, it’s not even the most recognisable, or obviously the highest.
Mountains such as Ama Dablam feel like a constant friend, looking over your shoulder as you trek among
these giants. Benign and good natured on some days, violent and malevolent on others.

Ama Dablam trail blog size

The trek starts down in the valley after you land at Lukla, falsely denigrated as the most dangerous airstrip
in the world, they put at least 20 flights a day into this airstrip with a minimal amount of fuss. I must
admit a real sense of adventure always pervades this trip when it starts with a Lukla flight.

Lukla blog size
Then you get to walk for a couple of days, on our specially designed itinerary at least, through low
land Sherpa villages staying around 2,800m, passing through villages like Phakding and Benkar.
This helps the acclimatisation process, you are eased into the altitude so your body has time to adapt.

Irene & Benkar Guest House blog size

Once you cross the Hillary bridge over the Dudh Khosi you then start the steep climb up to Namche
Bazar (3,400m), it takes about 2 hours from the river, but it’s 2 hour up! The bottom bridge is the
old one, the top bridge the new one, don’t get them mixed up!

Hillary bridge across Bhote Khosi blog size

Walking into Namche is wonderful particularly if you’re feeling healthy and you have no headache!

Climb to Namche blog size
Entering Namche
Now you have to spend the time to acclimatise, stay here for 2 nights. On your acclimatisation day ascend
the hill behind Namche up to the Syangboche airstrip, then climb a bit further up to the Panorama Hotel
for a hot drink. This is a very worthwhile view of the Everest massif and is the same altitude as the place
you are going tomorrow (3,800m), Thyangboche monastery, excellent acclimatisation.

Ama Dablam trail blog size

Phortse with Choloste blog size

The view on the trail to Thyangboche

Resting on way to Thyangboche blog size

Rhody's on trail to Tangboche

 

Happy clients at Thyangboche blog size

The trail to Thyangboche from Namche contours around the mountain side before dropping down into the
river valley. A good place to have lunch before you have to ascend the other side. The climb to Thyangboche
takes about 2 hours from here.

Thyangboche monastery blog size

We stay in Thyangboche for only one night, the water supply here is not so good, so we move
further up the valley to Pangboche. It’s only 100m higher in altitude but it’s a 3 hour walk, and
closer to our next day’s accommodation. We attend a monk’s prayer session in the evening and
spend time wandering in the serene surroundings. The view of the Everest massif is superb.

Waiting for yaks near Pangboche blog size

Stay out of the way of the Yak trains, always get on the uphill side of the trail as they come past, trekkers
have been pushed off the trail by the wide yak loads.

Trail from Pangboche to Dingboche blog size

The trails from Pangboche to Dingboche now feels much higher, the tree-line is left behind, the mountains
feel even closer. Himalayan Thar can be spotted in this region, along with Musk Deer and Danphe Pheasants.

Himalayan Thar blog sizePangboche lower blog sizeSnow blowing from Everest massif blog size

On our walk into Pangboche we saw a herd of Himalayan Thar, big, heavy mountain goats that nimbly
move over the hillside grazing on impossibly steep cliffs. Plus the view of snow blowing off the summit
of Everest were sublime.

Dingboche trail blog size

The trail to Dingboche is now well above the tree line, it’s quite dry, sparse and barren, nothing to block
the views of the huge massif surrounding you. A lot of the walking is now on old glacial moraine.
Dingboche village blog size
The village of Dingboche is a welcome sight. Tomorrow we will climb the hill behind Dingboche, gaining
about 500m as part of our acclimatisation regime. There are some good views of Island Peak up the valley.
Dingboche village 2 blog size
Village life goes on even though trekkers are meandering past.
Little cherub getting a wash on trail to Dingboche blog
We headed off the next morning for a climb up the hill behind Dingboche, everyone handled the height well.
We all went to differing heights, to where each of us felt comfortable before heading back down.
Dingboche acclimatisation climb blog size

The views of Ama Dablam were different now that we were behind it.
Ama Dablam from Dingboche climb blog size
And Island Peak looked dwarfed beside Lhotse, standing at the head of the valley.
Island Peak from Dinbboche climb blog size
From here we trekked to Lobuche 4990m, our highest place to sleep yet. We would really start to notice
the altitude from here.
Lobuche trail blog size
Far below we could see the village of Pheriche.
View down to Pheriche from trail blog size
Looking up the trail towards Lobuche we could see the trail we would be taking to the Cho La, you can see it
contouring around the mountains ahead.
Trail to Cho La blog size

Finally arriving in Lobuche after having lunch in Dugla and climbing the Dugla hill. Here there are many
Chortens erected in memory of the Sherpa’s, and now some Western climbers, who have died on Everest.
Group on Dugla Ridge low res
Loboche village blog size

After just the one night in Lobuche we moved up the valley closer to our twin goals of Everest Base Camp (5350m)
and Kala Pattar (5550m). We’ll do EBC first that afternoon, after an early lunch at Gorak Shep (5250m),
our destination for the night. Then we’ll get up early the next morning and climb Kala Patar before
heading back down the valley, through Lobuche again, then to Dzongla for the night, below the Cho La (5420m).
It’s a busy few days ahead.
Trail up to Gorak Shep, Pumori on left blog
Trek from Loboche to Gorak Shep blog size
Gorak Shep finally, Kala Patar

Kala Patar is the brown hill behind us, it doesn’t look like much, but wait til you have slog your way up there!
Gorak Shep is hidden just below it and behind the trekkers.
Khumbu glacier blog size
Looking up the valley towards EBC, Nuptse dominates the view, the Lho La and the Tibetan border are to
the left. The picture below is looking back down the valley at the way we’ve come up. Hard to see a way through!
Khumbu Glacier, looking back blog size

Finally in Lobuche for a hot cuppa! Off to EBC after lunch.

Irene in Lobuche blog size

Even at this altitude we keep up the ritual of “washy, washy”, antibiotic hand sanitiser to ensure good hygiene
and that germs aren’t passed around.
Happy Sherpa and washy, washy

That afternoon we left the porters and our overnight gear at the Lobuche lodge while most of the group
went up the glacier to visit Everest Base Camp, a solid 3 hour round trip.
Close to Everest Base Camp blog size
Even yaks can get to Base Camp! You can see the yellow tents in the distance. And the Khumbu Icefall
to the right of the Lho La, below the western shoulder of Everest.
Yaks, trekkers and Base Camp blog size

Made it! Goal number one done. Now the good part starts, high altitude for the next 7 days!
Base Camp trekkers blog size
Base Camp pray flags blog size

The weather turned on us on the way back, just to remind you to always, always carry your Gore-Tex in
your day pack – at all times!
Mark & Anthony Gorak Shep return starting to snow. blog size

We head back to Gorak Shep for the night, our lodge is surprisingly comfortable and warm. Tomorrow  we
begin the climb of Kala Patar (5550m) the highest point of our trek. We do it in the early morning to see
the sunrise over Everest – and to give us the best chance of having cloud free views. We were not disappointed!
Kala Patar climb early morn blog size
It was a cold start, but when the sun came out it was greatly appreciated!
Kala Patar warming up blog size

The views of Everest started from part way up, sunrise on Everest, not many people see that.
Kala Patar view of Everest dawn blog size
The summit seemed to be elusive, the trick was to get into slog mode and just put one foot in front of the other.
Kala Patar keep going view down glacier blog size
Keep going!
Kala Patar summit in reach blog size
Don’t give up! The rock scramble at the end.
Kala Patar summit almost blog size
Made it!
Kala Patar group on summit blog size

We hang around on the summit for some time before heading down.
Kala Patar group with Mikeon summit blog size
Kala Patar view of Everest blog size
Then we started down for breakfast, we still have some way to go today.
Kala Patar descent to Gorak Shep blog size

A two and half hour round trip, maybe allow 3 hours for extra time on top, bend the knees on the way down!
This is where your walking poles start to come in handy.
Kala Patar last descent to Gorak Shep for brekkie blog size
Breakfast in Gorak Shep, lunch in Lobuche, then we leave the traditional Everest Base Camp trail, instead
of going down the same way that we came up – like most others were doing – we contoured around the
mountain to the lodge of Dzongla.
Dzongla trail blog size
We left the lodge in the early morning dawn, hoping to get over the pass before any bad weather might
set in. This is the ‘key’ day, once we get over this pass we can do a Grand Circle of the Everest region.
Dzongla lodge blog size
A beautiful valley, no farms or settlements up here, isolated and remote. No other trekkers in sight – yet.
Cho La lovely flat walk up valley blog size
Cho La trail from Dzongla blog size

The pass gets closer.
Cho La gets steeper blog size

It’s always important to look back at the view of where we came from – they are often spectacular.
Cho La from where we came blog size

The trail up the pass gets steeper and steeper, but at no time do we need ropes.
Cho La getting closer blog size
Cho La scrambles blog size
Cho La nearly there blog size

We made to one end of the pass, now we just have to traverse the old, crumbling glacier to the other end
of the hanging valley, then pop over the other side and descend – easy!
Cho La group pic blog size
Cho La the ice begins blog size

Entering the ice filled valley, Dorjee and our Sherpa team are picking our path through, making sure all
the porters are travelling well too. There is a short, tricky bit, easily traversed on the left of the pass though.
Cho La the tricky bit blog size
Cho La getting to the end blog size
The end is in sight, and the weather is still brilliant. We cross the icefield to the right hand side of the pass.
Cho La the end in sight blog size
On top of the last part of the pass, ready to descend to warmer altitudes to eat our packed lunch.
Cho La we made now to descend blog size
Heading down, the first part is a bit tricky, lots of loose scree and rocks, best to take it easy for the first two
hundred metres or so, then the path is less steep and rocky. We’ll cross this valley to the right side.
Cho La descending blog size
Up and over into the next valley, make sure you look back.
Cho La looking back blog size
Follow the river down into Tangnak, again, a surprisingly warm and comfortable lodge.
Cho La Tangnak blog size

It was a longish day yesterday crossing the pass, so we only take a half a day to cross the glacier to Gokyo.
But it starts out quite steeply when we drop down the side of the moraine and on to the glacier.
Gokyo glacier from Tangnak blog size
Then we start to work our way across, zig zagging through the mounds of rock, ice and melting pools.
Gokyo glacier with Cho Oyu blog size
Cho Oyu, the sixth highest peak in the world, is constantly in the background at the head of the valley.
You’re looking into Tibet from here.
Gokyo and Cho Oyu blog size
Gokyo and Cho Oyu 2 blog size
Finally, we climb up the other side and look down on the Gokyo Lakes.
Gokyo group blog size
And then make our way down into Gokyo Village (4720m), everyone looking forward to an afternoon to relax.
Gokyo village descent blog size
It is one of the most picturesque places in the whole Himalaya, certainly one of the most remote.
Gokyo lakes, village & Cho Oyu blog size
The next morning (not too early!) we start our climb of Gokyo Ri (5360m), the fourth goal of this trek.
It’s a three hour round trip, crossing to the other side of the lake, we’ll be back for a well deserved lunch.
Gokyo Ri climb blog size

Another steep start to get the blood pumping and the heart thumping, it soon turns just ‘regular’ uphill.
Gokyo slog blog size

There’s a plateau about three quarters of the way up.
Gokyo slog 2 blog size
The views from here include not only Everest and Lhotse (4th highest), but also Makalu (5th highest)
and Cho Oyu (6th highest). Plus a plethora over ‘lesser’ peaks like Ama Dablam, Pumori and thousands
more. Some believe this is the best view of Everest, better even than Kala Patar.
Gokyo Everest, Makalu view blog size

Gokyo village is so small below.
Gokyo massive view blog size

And you’ll never guess who met at the top of Gokyo Ri, Peter Hillary, son of the first person to climb Everest
in 1953, along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, Sir Edmund Hillary. Peter has climbed Everest himself several
times now, but his most important work these days is as a director of the Australian Himalayan Foundation,
delivering much needed aid and help to Nepal. The Kiwi’s among us (Mike?!) were particularly excited!
Gokyo summit with Peter Hillary blog size

We left at a respectable hour the next morning to start over our last goal, the second of the Everest High Passes,
the Renjo La (5420m). It took us about 4 hours to get to the top of the pass so snacks were required!
Renjo La approach valley blog size
Remember to look back from where you’ve come. You can see Gokyo village in the distance.
Renjo La looking back to Gokyo blog size
The approach to the Renjo La was much more remote, we passed no other trekkers until we reached the top.
Renjo La almost there blog size

Finally, we gain the top, Renjo La, our last pass. It’s all downhill from here!
Renjo La group summit blog size
Get a little bit excited guys!
Renjo La group hurrah
Have a wander around, but be careful, this is one of those up and over type of passes, not much room.
Renjo La Irene taking pic
Renjo La pray flags blog size
Then down the other side, heading towards our lunch spot by the lake, packed lunches never tasted so good!
Renjo La descent trail steps blog size

Lunch spot next to the lake.
Renjo La descent to frozen lake blog size

The trail gets easier as we get closer to Lungdhen (4380 m), it’s almost barmy weather at this altitude.
Renjo La easy trail to Lungdhen

The next morning was a luxuriously warm start, we changed into our lower altitude walking clothes in
anticipation of it getting much warmer as we lost altitude on our way down. We were heading to Namche.
It looks a long way on the map but we were very fit, and very motivated, as were the porters and Sherpas,
so it only took us 6 or 7 hours. You can see Lungdhen village in the sun on the right side of the pic below.
Namche leaving Lungdhen village blog size

It was a beautiful walk down  the valley, through traditional Sherpa villages
Namche Thame valley blog size

Passing though the village of Thame, birth place of Tenzing Norgay and home to Appa Sherpa who has
summited Everest 22 times at last count.

Namche Thame village fields blog size

Everyone was out in the fields getting them ready to plant the potato crop as the ground was warming.
Namche digging up potato stores blog size
Traditional Sherpa house and dry stone walling.
Namche Sherpa home blog size

The trail was getting wider and we were seeing more cultural references.
Namche bridge outside Thame blog size
Lots of Buddhist paintings and references on the trail
Namche buddhist paintings blog size
We had lunch in Thomo and really started to notice the villages were getting larger and the houses bigger.
Namche Thomo marni wall trail blog size

Turn some pray wheels for good luck, we need the weather gods on our side.

Namche Thomo pray wheel and monks blog size
Until finally, we rounded a corner and there was Namche Bazar.
Namche entering Namche blog size

And when you get to Namche, it might even be time to shop?
Namche Bazar shoppin 2 blog size
Or visit one of the many bakeries, cafes or bars!
Namche Bazar coffee shop blog size

Heading down the Namche hill the next day. But don’t look too smug at all the newbies coming
up the hill. You know what they’re in for, but you still have to get the flight out of Lukla. Pray to the
weather gods that it’ll all be well. Make sure you go around the correct side of the marni walls!
And turn lots of pray wheels too!
Lukla trail Nurning pray wheels

Finally back in our lodge in Lukla, the Numbur Hotel, our final meal, give out our tips to the
Sherpas and porters. They have bent over backwards to make this trek successful.

Lukla lodge blog size

With good weather the next day, we get our flight out from Lukla on schedule and back to Kathmandu.
Lukla blog size
This is one of the best treks in the world. We made some great friends on this trip, worked with
some incredible Sherpas, like Dorjee, and the other staff. An experience that will never be forgotten.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain Lodges of Peru

Peru is undoubtedly one of the main highlights of South America, rich in history, culture, traditional arts, biodiversity and amazing food with a wild and rugged landscape featuring the peaks of the Andes, the Amazon rain forest and deep canyons. The scattered remnants of ancient civilisations including Machu Picchu, Lost City of the Incas are waiting to be explored.

Jos has recently returned from an unforgettable journey through the Andes towards the historic city of Machu Picchu. Avoiding the tourist crowds, this route to Machu Picchu is as much about culture and luxury as it is trekking. Have your bags transferred on the trek by horses, mules or porters while you carry a day pack during the day and relax in the jacuzzi with a cocktail at your luxurious mountain lodge by night. Contact us for more information.

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Best of Patagonia

 

Whether you visit Patagonia as a stand alone trip, or incorporate it into your Antarctic voyage adventure, this
is one of the world’s most spectacular and pristine locations. The mountains of Patagonia are instantly recognisable due to their sheerness, the unbelievably steep cliffs and soaring rock faces.

The Towers of Paine - low res

And where there are huge mountains, there are also huge lakes and steep rivers. Our favourite Patagonian resort,
the architect designed eco-resort of Tierra Patagonia sits on the shore of Lake Sarmiento with the spires of
Torres del Paine dominating the view.

Towers of Paine and lake 2 -low res

The view from the window of every room never gets boring,

View out of Tierra Patagonia window low resLake Sarmiento Tierra Patagonia low res

Sunset and sunrise offer some different moods.

Tierra Patagonian moon - low res

Should it get too windy or cold outside then you can retreat to the warm dining room and communal bar inside,

Tierra Patagonian bar & dining room low res

 

But, we came here for the trekking, not just the Malbec and fine food.

Dense Patagonian forest low resMountain, forest and stream low resForest trekking low resSoaking the tired feet low resHolly in Torres del Paine - low res

 

There was a surprising amount of wildlife readily on display. From Armadillos to Guanacos to the elusive Puma.

 

Armadillo low resGuanacos 2 - low resEagle low resPatagonian eagle

And then we travelled around the base of Torres del Paine to the Argentinean side of the Andes.
Here we stayed firstly at El Calafate visiting the huge Perito Moreno glacier and the driving to
El Chalten staying under the towering Mt Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre mountains. Another place
for spectacular trekking.

Patagonia group Mt Fitzroy low res

Our intrepid group of trekkers in front of Cerro Torre in Argentina, glorious weather, great people
we had a  lot of fun. Talk to us if you’d like to explore this special part of the world.

But it wasn’t all trekking and mountains, we had plenty of time in towns like El Calafate too

Ice cream in El Calafate low res

 

 

Iceland: The Land of Fire & Ice

 

Often referred to as the “land of fire and ice”. Iceland is young and still in the midst of its very creation, the ongoing result of our earths most fundamental and powerful processes.  To visit Iceland is to touch the primordial landscape with all of its diverse and raw beauty.  Where else in the world can you dive between two continents, plunging into the icy waters of the mid-Atlantic rift, descend into the darkness of an extinct volcano or trek across glaciers!  Iceland’s landscape is a textured mosaic of colours from soft moss greens, glacial blues, fiery rhyolite reds and yellows to shiny obsidian black.

 

But wait there’s more! The summer months in Iceland offer a wildlife bonanza of birdlife and whale watching.  Allow plenty of time to enjoy the funky capital of Reykjavik, with its vibrant bar and restaurant scene, museums, shopping and geothermal bathes.  Iceland has a long history, with its roots firming based in Viking heritage, remember this is the country that claims the world’s oldest parliament and continuously functioning democracy. The soft lingering twilight of the winter months draw those in search of the aurora borealis, the northern lights, but remember to pack your thermals!

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Iceland trips we love

Exodus 15 day Grand Tour of Iceland

Intrepid 10 day Iceland Discovery

Peregrine 9 Day Highlights of Iceland