4-Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

July 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

The hikers: Wesley, Kasey, Ethan, Barbara, Gary, Joe, Cindy, Angela

The classic 4-day hike through the jungles of Peru follows a trail originally created by the Incas 500 years ago. The trek isn’t easy. Aside from walking 6-8 hours per day and sleeping in tents, it involves multi-hour-long stretches of continuous uphill steps, scary cliff-side paths, and a constant battle with shortness of breath and headaches due to the 13,000 ft altitude. Days on the trail may be wet and slippery, nights in the tent are freezing, and you are cut off from modern conveniences like running water and electricity. But you eat well, see amazing scenery, and on the final day you cross through the last mountain pass and behold the lost city of Machu Picchu.

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Adventure Sports

June 14, 2011 § 3 Comments

We took advantage of the low prices in South America to try a bunch of adventure sports. Most cost under a third of their US-equivalent prices (yet still offer over half the safety!). Here’s what we’ve done so far:

Paragliding

San Gil, Colombia

My most commonly recurring dream is having the ability to fly — or to sort of hover using a mysterious seated position — over the trees and houses of my neighborhood. When I wake up I’m deeply disappointed that my magic power is gone. Paragliding is the answer.

You sit in a comfortable harness along with the instructor, the wind fills the sail behind you, and then you canter off the side of a hill and lift-off. It’s so gentle that I didn’t even realize we were off the ground at first. Once aloft it’s quite peaceful and not scary at all.


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Spanish colonial towns – the charming and the unexpected

June 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

In South America, though the capitals typically contain 30-50% of the entire country’s population, they are not generally destinations in and of themselves (exception, Buenos Aires). Let us recommend three alternative cities which are probably new to you: Sucre, Bolivia; Arequipa, Peru; and Cuenca, Ecuador.

All of these cities have a similar feel with their well-preserved buildings, square Spanish-style plazas, and cute cobblestone streets. The United Nations has listed them all as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Two of them even have the same nickname: “The White City”. As Andean cities, all have elevations of at least 7,000 feet. And though they overflow with historic charm, each of them intrigued us with some non-traditional surprises as well.

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The People You Meet.

February 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

1) Where are you from? 2) What is your trip like?

These are almost universally the first two pieces of information traded when meeting other travelers. Since it’s just Joe and me most days, we enjoy the chance to meet people with whom we can share a drink or a conversation. Some random encounters have been with other Stanford people, identified by the gear. Once we chatted with a girl all day, only to find out at dinner she worked for the same company as me. We frequently meet others on similarly long trips, especially in places like Bolivia where people wouldn’t go for a short holiday visit. We’ve noticed some interesting trends in the kinds of people, though the categories highlighted below are by no means exhaustive. « Read the rest of this entry »

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