When considering a Peru Vacation, you need to ensure that you are able to complete the ultimate Inca rite of passage – the Inca trail!
The four day trek or one day trail takes you along one of the original Inca roads to the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, a place that was once the reserve of Inca royalty and high priests.
Inca trail availability is tight; it usually books up months in advance, especially during the peak months of June, July and August.
The numbers allowed on the trail are restricted by the Peruvian government by issuing only a limited number of permits that includes the guides, porters and chefs as well as the actual trekkers.
By restricting access to the trail the government can ensure that the trail is preserved and it gives trekkers a better trekking experience.
Currently, there are no permits available until September 2010. This changes on a daily basis, though, so check with one of our Peru Travel advisors for more up to date information.
The Inca trail is a mystical trek along the well-trodden path of the Incas to the spectacular citadel in the sky, Machu Picchu.
Visitors to the citadel are amazed by the architecture, craftsmanship and technological skills of the city built by an advanced civilization that did not even use the wheel.
Walking along the trail is a privilege as you pass through Inca ruins, Quecha-speaking villages, and the breathtaking Sacred Valley.
Here are our top ten insider tips for walking the trail:
1. Book in advance!
Most travel agents will always tell you to book all your vacations in advance, but this is especially important when planning an Inca Trail trip. Due to such a high demand of visitors, coupled with the need to preserve the trail, the Peruvian government has severely limited the number of visitors per day.
Only 500 people are allowed onto the trail a day. That number includes guides, porters, and cooks along with trekkers. More often than not there are more trek ‘assistants’ than actual trekkers on the trail.
As a rule we recommend that you try to book your tickets at least three months in advance, and in the high season (June, July, August) at least five months in advance.
Peruvians, like other football (soccer for our North American readers) mad Latinos are going to be putting their lives on hold over the next few weeks as the 2010 World Cup kicks off.
With the first match on Friday (11th June) the eyes of the world are going to be on South Africa, and with the final on the 11th July it is a month of football madness.
Sadly Peru wasn’t able to qualify; but the South American nations of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and of course Brazil will all be fighting for the title.
One thing that I have learnt during my time in South America is that everybody loves football; it runs in the blood with many South American towns almost deserted during key cup matches.
Trying to get a taxi while Boca Juniors play River in Buenos Aires is not a good idea.
So while you’re here on your Peru vacation why not get into the spirit of the continent, find a bar, a big screen and enjoy the show.
Where to go:
In Lima there are a number of options. Many hotels, bars and casinos will be showing the match.
The well known places for a good crowd are The Corner Bar in Miraflores and the El Estadio bar near to San Martin square in the centre.
The Corner Bar, a typical American sports bar, is home away from home for sports fans. But with one of the first matches being England v the USA on the 12th June, there should be a good vibe.
El Estado is in the city centre and is for serious sports fans. With 50″ HD screens and a range of Peruvian food this could be a place to spend a long afternoon.
The Fiesta Casino on Av Benevides in Miraflores is also counting down the days to the world cup, boasting food and drinks to keep you going during the match.
In the rest of Peru as well as Lima, Casa Andina Hotels will be showing matches in all of its bars. Casa Andina are have a special promotion where you can try some of the national food from each and have a beer for only 25 Soles.
This means ‘Cheeseburgers‘ and ‘Fish & Chips‘ for the USA v England match on Saturday and Nachos on sale for the Mexico v France match.
Being a writer, I’m not supposed to be overly biased. However, being a Brit living in Peru I have to say – come on ENGLAND!
During the last week of June, the dusty adobe-brick town of San Pedro de Atacama in the North Country of Chile is transformed into a party town.
But this isn’t any party. San Pedrans celebrate the Catholic feast day, Festival de San Pedro y San Pablo, with a distinctive blend of lively folk dancing, a thrilling rodeo, and solemn processions that infuse their Atacameño heritage into hispanic Catholic traditions.
The week-long religious festival culminates on June 29, known as Festival de San Pedro y San Pablo all over Catholic Latin America.
Similar religious festivals are found in Costa Rica and elsewhere in Latin America, but San Pedro de Atacama goes to dramatic lengths to celebrate their namesake and patron Saint Peter.
On June 29, the major festival begins with mass in the Church of San Pedro – a white brick adobe relic from 1641. A procession of musicians, dancers, and onlookers heads to the main plaza.
Locals, visitors, and clergy all join in, carrying the image of Saint Peter through the streets. The procession returns to the church, and the clergy gives communion to the masses.
At an elevation of 2440 meters in the highlands near Chile’s Bolivian border, San Pedro de Atacama was an Inca – and later, Spanish – outpost on the way to the coast, later a mining center, then became a waystation during cattle drives from Argentina to the the desert.
Once a waystation, it is now a destination. The town relies on tourism, although some locals still farm on terraces from before the Inca era. The tourist high season is October to February, but during the offseason there is still much to see and do.
The crumbling dirt streets – lined with menu restaurants, sandboarding tour offices, and views of nearby volcanoes – are picturesque.
The Iglesia de San Pedro with its roof of cactus and pepperwood supports, is exquisitely preserved in the thin desert air. The Museo Arquelógico includes an interesting collection of artifacts left by the Belgian missionary Padre Gustave Paige.
Nearby, the salt flats of Valle de la Luna, or Moon Valley, create weird lunar landscapes dotted with gushing geyers. The valley is 12 km outside of town, walkable in three hours, or you can take a car. It’s best to make it for sunset – otherworldly on a clear day.
There are also remants from the pre-Inca era, such as the Pukará de Quitor fortress that was restored in 1981, or the ruins at Catarpe and Tulor. The El Tatio geyer and the Salar de Atacama, a 741316 acre salt lake inhabited by pink flamingoes, are both worth a trek as they show off Chile’s North Country at its most strange – and beautiful.
This summer, ski down mountains nearly all to yourself in Chilean Patagonia. Travel down to the bottom of the world, where some of Patagonia’s most popular ski slopes crown Chile’s Andes.
A few days or week-long skiing vacation after catching a tour on a Chile Travel Deal is a great way to see all Chile has to offer.
Three of the most popular ski resorts, Valle Nevado, La Parva, and Colorado, are known collectively as the Tres Valles.
These mountains huddle together in the Andes just 1.5 hours outside of Chile’s capital – Santiago.
Strung together like Christmas lights by an interconnected lift system, the Tres Valles combine to offer enough runs to keep an advanced skier busy for a week. The peaks range 2800-3700 meters (9186-12139 ft), and during the high season (July-Aug), get a generous dusting of crisp dry powder.
Valle Nevado is the most elegant of the three, with a resort that offers a luxurious touch to its rugged slopes. With 22.9 miles of ski runs open year-round to skiers and snowboarders of all abilities, plus heliskiers, this park offers an all-inclusive stay for snow-sport lovers.
El Colorado, the next peak over, is the largest of the three parks, with 16 lifts, 25 trails, and a view over Santiago. This is an excellent park to take the kids, with several beginners’ slopes and a lift designed specifically for little ones.
Colorado slides into La Parva, and boasts untrekked trails that stretch over 66 miles. It’s known for its advanced skiers’ slopes, and great backcountry bowls of completely untouched snow. Together with the borders of Valles Colorado and Nevado, La Parva makes for some of the widest-ranging skiable snow in all of South America.
When to go:
Ski season begins mid-June and high season begins in July. If you plan for late June, you’ll beat the crowds and hit the virgin snow. But if you have to wait, wait until late August to September, when the high season is winding down. Season ends October.
Where to stay:
The Valle Nevado Resort is every skiers dream come true – guests wake up to the best views of the mountains, the La Fourchette D’or restaurant is known for its terrific French cuisine, rooms are fully renovated, and the sauna, massages, and yoga classes will be sure to get out all the knots after a long day of hitting the slopes.
Tres Puntas Hotel, also in the Valle Nevado ski center, is an affordable alternative; great for groups that still provides comfort for the weather-weary skier. It’s within walking distance of the Ski Center, and offers many amenities such as a pub with karaoke and live music, a fitness center, swimming pool, games rooms, and child care center. The Sur restaurant serves from a traditional Chilean menu.
Hotel Posada de Farellones, the charming Swiss ski lodge in Farenolles, 10 minutes from the peaks, was one of the first lodges in the area. Outfitted with modern amenties, it offers a cozy fireplace in the living room, satellite TV, games, Jacuzzi, and shuttles to and from the ski resorts.
Where to eat:
Most hotels include breakfast and dinner in their accommodation prices, and lunches can be purchased in the ski centers. Still, the Tres Valles resorts are known not only for their slopes, they’re also famous for good food and wine.
Valle Nevado Ski Resort has the most eateries. Besides the aforementioned restaurants, there’s the Swiss Le Montagnard and the Italian La Trattoria in the Puerto del Sol Hotel, plus barbeque, sushi, and other options.
Farellones has a decent nightlife, with bars El Montanes and the Blue Tambo Lodge.
The Go Covered! campaign, launched this month by Latin America For Less, is helping to guarantee travelers’ ease of mind by offering a free travel insurance policy to cover their trip.
The campaign has been launched to protect travelers from some of the rare complications that may occur during an international trip. Even minor flight delays and missed transfers can have a financial impact and cause unnecessary hassle. On the other end of the spectrum, natural disasters and severe weather can disrupt an entire vacation.
The Go Covered! campaign provides another layer of security for Latin America For Less’ clients and ensures that, in the unlikely event that something does go wrong, the financial cost and inconvenience will be minimal.
Over the first half of 2010, many of Latin America For Less’ clients were affected by unforeseeable situations and events, such as flooding near Machu Picchu, an earthquake in Chile and the European ash cloud that grounded international flights for a week.
In each instance, clients who had booked their vacation without travel insurance found themselves dealing with significant financial costs, as well as the challenge of rearranging their travel plans.
According to Richard Leon, Director at Latin America For Less, travelers who don’t take insurance to cover their trip are leaving themselves open to unnecessary risks: “It’s not only rare natural disasters and extreme weather that pose a problem to peoples’ trips. Smaller events like delays or minor health problems can also have a financial impact.
“If anything goes wrong during our clients’ trips, we always do everything in our power to help rectify the problem but the client is financially responsible for their unforeseen costs. With our free travel insurance campaign, travelers will be able to claim a reimbursement should anything go wrong during their vacation.
“Go Covered! is just the latest step in our mission of offering the best quality, most reliable and highest value travel services to our clients.”
Two policies are being offered for free as part of Latin America For Less’ Go Covered! campaign: The Picture Perfect policy covers all travelers up to 49 years old and includes full coverage, including trip cancelation and health insurance. The Single Trip Lite policy is valid for 50-69 year olds and provides cancelation coverage.
The offer is valid for clients choosing to pay for their trip via Direct Debit, wire transfer or check.
Coverage is provided by the insurer iTravelInsured and Latin America For Less is not responsible for the contents of any policy, or the nature coverage provided.
For more details, view the Go Covered! page online.
Category: Travel News
Have you ever dreamed of waking in a sun-filled cabaña with the scent of salt and tropical fruit breezing through the windows, and a view of glassy, ultramarine seas surrounding your island paradise on all sides?
Ilha Grande, the grand island just off the coast of Brazil between Rio de Janerio and São Paulo, is for you. Escape the busy citylife to experience a Brazil hotel you can almost call your own.
Surrounded by pristine beaches and a crisp blue ocean, the island and the surrounding ocean are part of the Ilha Grande National Park. The center of the island is filled with a rich range of wildlife and some of Brazil’s last remaining Atlantic rainforest.
The island is only accessible by boat and, except for the local ambulance, no cars are allowed. The best way to get around is to hike: there are over 150km of hiking trails snaking through jungle vegetation, deserted beaches, freshwater pools, and spectacular waterfalls.
The eastern coastline is exposed to the Atlantic, and its waves are popular with surfers and body boarders. The rough seas have also claimed a number of vessels in the years since colonization; these wrecks are now visited by many scuba diving schools. A yacht tour is another excellent way to explore the beaches surrounding this beautiful island.
The town of Abraão faces the port of Angra dos Reis on the Brazilian mainland, and the majority of ferries between the mainland and the island dock in this port.
In Abraão you will find some excellent restaurants and bars that are great to explore as the sun sets on this pristine island. You will also find posadas, a type of Brazilian hotel room. It is essentially an en suite room in a family-styled home.
For visitors looking for more luxury it is possible to stay in one of the many luxury eco-hotels outside of town. These are only accessible by private boat from the hotel.
Abraão has almost the typical tourist services, but be warned, internet connectivity is limited and credit cards are not widely accepted.
Visitors to Ilha Grande are privileged to experience such a unique environment. Be prepared to relax, explore and experience one of the best places that Brazil has to offer.
Imagine it is early evening, and the day seems to stretch as far Tierra del Fuego. An ice expanse studded with royal blue glaciers and ultramarine watermelts surrounds you on all sides. You stand at the southernmost part of the world, poised and waiting for the sun to set.
And then, total darkness. The birds – ibis, condors, flamingoes, parakeets – flock confusedly to their nests. Guanaco, hares, foxes, and pumas scurry to their burrows. The temperature drops as the day turns to night in a matter of seconds.
You have just witnessed the Black Sunset. This rare natural phenomenon, a total solar eclipse, will pass over a tiny sliver of Chile’s breathtaking Southern Patagonia just as the sun sets this July 11.
Viewing a total solar eclipse is rare, but viewing a black sunset is even more so – it involves being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. The eclipse will begin at 18.15.15 GMT in the Pacific Ocean, and will end as the Sun touches the horizon at 20:51:42 GMT in southeastern Chilean Patagonia. The next total solar eclipse will not occur until November 13, 2012.
The moment of “totality,” when the moon totally obscures the sun, will last 2 minutes and 45 seconds. At this breathtaking moment, the solar corona surrounds the dark orb of the moon like a lion´s mane. “Bailey’s Beads,” or bright spots of sunlight passing over the uneven surface of the moon, are visible, and sometimes even solar flares.
At the Hotel Remota, located in the fishing town of Puerto Natales in Southern Chile, you can witness the Black Sunset on a Chile Travel Deal with all the luxury of this beautiful glacial paradise.
All experiences include delicious full meals, guided tours to the surrounding city and glacier fields, and all transfers to and from the airport. Plus, during the eclipse, Dr. René Méndez, a well known Chilean astronomer will offer his expertise, eclipse-viewing sunglasses will be available, and a traditional Patagonian BBQ and cocktails will be served. Accommodations are limited and selling fast, so it is recommended that you book now for a chance to experience this rare natural phenomenon in this beautiful part of the world.
The landscape of Puerto Natales is awe-inspiring in itself. This tranquil town inhabited by fishermen in tin houses – is situated on the quiet waters of the Canal Señoret fjord and surrounded by mountains dusted with snow. Temperatures at sea level are relatively mild, and the days are clear and sunny.
The town makes a terrific launch point for ice hiking and camping through the glacier fields of the Balmaceda and Torres del Paine national parks. The Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is 700 acres with 15 peaks over 6561 feet. There are over 150 miles of well-marked trails. The parks are home to over 100 species of birds, including black-necked swans, flightless steamer ducks, condors, ibis, and flamingoes, as well as 25 species of mammals such as the guanaco and pumas.
Travelers wanting to witness this astonishing sight should explore Chile For Less’ special travel deal, Witness the Black Sunset.