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Monthly Archives: August 2016

incredible journeys in South America

1. The Inca Trail, Peru

The four-day hike between Cusco and Machu Picchu, a spell-binding mountain trek into the Inca past, needs no introduction.

Although just one of the Inca trails you can follow across the Andes, what makes this 33km route so popular is the unrivalled reward of Machu Picchu at its end. The most famous ruins in South America are a place that – no matter how jaded you are – stop you in your tracks.

2. Carretera Austral, Chile

To see the wettest, greenest and wildest part of Chile, head to Northern Patagonia where the Carretera Austral, the partially paved, partly dirt-and-gravel “Southern Highway”, stretches for 1240km from Puerto Montt to tiny Villa O’Higgins.

The rounding ice-fields, vast glaciers and jagged fjords along this spectacular highway are most easily visited with your own wheels, but most are reachable by public transport; all you need is a bit of time and some organizational skills, since not all buses run daily.

3. Death Road, Bolivia

One of the most popular trips in Bolivia, and some travellers’ sole reason for crossing the border, is a chance to hurtle down the infamous Death Road. This hair-raising adventure involves a 3500m descent along the old road from La Paz to Coroico in the Yungas.

Be careful when planning a trip, though – cyclists have been killed or seriously injured on this rough, narrow track chiselled out of near-vertical mountainsides, and you must choose a tour operator with great care.

 

4. Ruta 40, Argentina

The legendary Ruta 40 (or RN40) runs from the top to the bottom of Argentina, following the line of the Andes all the way to the far south from the border with Bolivia. It covers 5000km and 11 provinces, crosses 18 important rivers on 236 bridges, and connects 13 great lakes and salt flats, 20 national parks and hundreds of communities. There’s little wonder it’s one of the most famous attractions in the country.

If you haven’t got your own wheels, head to the section between El Calafate/El Chalténand Bariloche. Long popular with backpackers, with much of this route is paved and buses run its length almost daily in season – but it still retains a sense of isolation thanks to the endless pampas scrubland, interrupted only by the occasional tiny settlement or estancia.

5. Serra Verde Railway, Brazil

The Serra Verde Express is one of the most scenic train journeys in Brazil. This enchanting ride winds around mountainsides, slips through tunnels and traverses one of the largest Atlantic Forest reserves in the country.

In fact, it’s one of our top reasons to visit Brazil’s overlooked southern states. Make sure to sit on the left-hand side of the train for the best views (or on the right if you’re not good with heights).

6. The Circuit, Torres del Paine, Chile

The great massif contained within the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, with the sheer granite towers of Las Torres to the east, and the multicoloured Los Cuernos to the west, is one of Patagonia’s most jaw-dropping sights. The park offers incomparable opportunities for backcountry hiking, as well as animal spotting; you are likely to see guanacos – wild relatives of llamas – and ñandú or rhea (like a small ostrich).

To best soak up the charms and wildlife of this rugged landscape, embark on “The Circuit” – a seven- to ten-day hike. An extended version of the popular “W”, this route that leads you around the back of the Torres, giving you some respite from the inevitable crowds.

If You Like a Challenge Let’s Travel to This Places

 1. Chipaya, Bolivia

High on the windswept plains of Bolivia, the Uru Chipaya are one of the oldest peoples of South America, having survived for thousands of years on such arid land that even the Incas avoided. Living in huts made of mud and straw, you won’t find any modern comforts in Chipaya, but you will experience an ancient culture that has hardly changed its customs or dress for millennia.

2. Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia

Known as the ‘Pearl of Siberia’, Lake Baikal is the world’s oldest and deepest lake. In winter, the water freezes over and its uneven icy surface stretches as far as the eye can see. It’s best to travel by car to reach the most isolated ice grottoes but be careful; cracks, slabs of ice and a dangerously slippery surface mean it’s best to hire an experienced driver. Although, if you really want to test your perseverance, try walking across the lake.

3. Aldabra, Seychelles

Incredibly isolated and wonderfully untouched, it’s no surprise that David Attenborough described Aldabra as one of the wonders of the world. With no regular ship or air services, the intrepid traveller will need to organise their own transport to reach the remote paradise. Strong tides around the island and challenging terrain are worth braving for the vibrant sea life and chance to spot an endangered giant tortoise.

4. Derweze, Turkmenistan

Deep in the barren Karakum desert, you’ll find the otherworldly Door To Hell, a fiery natural gas crater that has been burning for more than forty years. The mesmerising sight is visible for miles, and is best visited at night when it juxtaposes stunningly against the dark sky.

5. Easter Island, Chile

Once the home of the Rapa Nui, Easter Island is one of the most isolated inhabited islands on Earth. The landscape is dotted with imposing moai statues, relics of its ancient Polynesian culture. The Rapa Nui devastated the island’s natural resources, destroying its environment, so the rugged terrain can be testing, particularly in bad weather.

6. Kungsleden, Sweden

If we asked you to think of Western Europe’s last remaining wilderness areas, you might not have Sweden in mind. But in the far north of Swedish lapland, the atmospheric and grandly-named Kungsleden, or King’s Trail, is a stunning area of untouched natural beauty. Although much of the trail is well-adapted for hikers, try a route through Sarek National Park, where there are no marked trails, for a real challenge.

7. Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland

Ittoqqortoormiit, on the eastern coast of Greenland, is the country’s most isolated and undisturbed region. The neighbouring sea freezes over for nine months of the year, making it even harder to access, but visit in winter to experience it at its best. The colourful houses on the shore poke out above thick snow and the ice can reach six feet deep. Roads become unusable, so dogsleds and ski-mobiles are the preferred form of transport.

8. Alert, Nunavut, Canada

Canada’s Nunavut is its largest but also least populous territory. Inaccessible over land and with a largely polar climate, Nunavut boasts Alert, the most northerly permanently inhabited place in the world. Go to see the gorgeous midnight sun and mesmerising northern lights – a trip that’s certainly worth the effort.

9. Macquarie Island, Subantarctic Islands

Sitting between New Zealand and Antarctica, the remote, icy and utterly fascinating subantarctic islands are filled with rare and endangered species. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, you’ll find fur and elephant seals as well as royal, king and gentoo penguins on Macquarie Island.

10. Salavan, Laos

Wide open spaces, spectacular waterfalls and mountainous terrain characterise the Lao province of Salavan. Despite the stunning scenery, little tourism infrastructure or transport means that its remote villages still attract only the most intrepid travellers.

6 incredible treehouses you’ll want to stay

 1. Treehotel, Sweden

Sweden’s Treehotel, built by some of the country’s finest architects, takes the humble treehouse to new levels. Its six, strikingly modern “treerooms” range from the futuristic glass Mirrorcube to the alien-like UFO. And if a night here wasn’t unforgettable enough, there’s even a sauna suspended from the pines.

2. Tree House Lodge, Costa Rica

In 10 acres behind Punta Uva beach in the province of Limón lies a treehouse that owners Edsart Besier & Pamela Rodriguez promise will take you back to your childhood. Surrounded by a tropical garden and accessed via a wooden suspension bridge, it’s the perfect place to unwind.

3. Garden Village, Slovenia

A short walk from the banks of Slovenia’s famous Lake Bled, Garden Village is a fairytale come to life. Neat rows of luxury glamping tents are staggered down the hillside, while six treehouses hide in the woods alongside, connected by wooden platforms and short suspension bridges. Romantic escapes don’t come much better than this.

4. Chewton Glen, England

You’ll find the ultimate in treehouse luxury at Chewton Glen in the New Forest. Four luxury treehouse cabins are squirrelled away in a wooded valley here and the extras are fittingly decadent: spa treatments, golf buggies to take you to the main hotel and gourmet hampers delivered through a secret hatch.

5. Tongabezi Lodge, Zambia

It’s hard to imagine waking up to the crashing of Victoria Falls. but when you stay at Tongabezi Lodge’s Tree House, this becomes a reality. Hidden away on the banks of the Zambezi river, along the cliff face past the pool, this ground-level treehouse offers a tranquil situated away from the main lodge. Staying here is a way to “experience the beauty and majesty of Zambia without setting a foot outside”, they say.

6. Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica, Peru

Deep in the Peruvian Rainforest, a stay at Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica plunges you into jungle life. Set within a 17,000 hectare private reserve, this luxury resort offers the likes of spa treatments, jungle treks and bird watching expeditions. Best of all, however, is their Canopy Tree House – although at 90-ft above the jungle floor, a night here is not for the faint hearted.

7 most beautiful places in Italy

 1. Florence

This Renaissance beauty has it all. For starters, there’s the glorious architecture – who could resist the cheerful pink-and-green facade and iconic cupola of the Duomo, the photogenic Piazza della Signoria with its statement statuary, and the Ponte Vecchio’s jumble of shops spanning the river Arno? For most, though, Florence’s biggest draw is its staggering hoard of world-class paintings, frescoes and sculptures: according to UNESCO, thirty percent of the world’s most important works of art are to be found here.

2. San Gimignano

Tuscany has no shortage of winsome hill-towns but San Gimignano stands tall above the rest for its distinctive skyline, bristling with medieval towers, and its remarkably intact historic centre, a gorgeous assemblage of honey-coloured stone buildings. Its winding backstreets hold frescoed churches and Gothic palazzi, and beyond the city walls on all sides, the hills are blanketed with vineyards and olive groves.

3. Lake Garda

With a more down-to-earth feel than glitzy Como but with plenty of class, Lake Garda is the largest of Italy’s spectacular lakes. Rugged mountains encircle its deep blue waters, with boats zipping between the pretty towns that hug the shore. You could base yourself here for a week or more – choose between luxury spas and faded waterside hotels – or day-trip it from Milan. Whatever you do, make time for a Spritz overlooking the lake, preferably at sunset.

4. Positano

The Amalfi Coast is wildly beautiful, and the few towns strung along its length are ideal vantage points for taking in the coast’s dazzling ensemble of craggy cliffs, lush forests and dramatic seascapes. Chichi Positano is the pick of the towns: a dramatic huddle of pastel-coloured houses tumbling down to the sea, its centre a warren of stepped lanes framed by pink bougainvillea and lined with smart boutiques.

5. Puglia

With its crystalline seas, white-sand beaches and hidden rocky coves, Puglia is many Italians’ favourite place to soak up the sun in the summer months. Its interior is just as beautiful, with wooded hills, wildlife-rich lakes, and endless olive groves: the region produces around forty percent of Italy’s olive oil.

6. Capri

The legendary island of Capri, beloved of the emperor Tiberius, any number of artists and writers in search of inspiration, and legions of modern-day celebrities, has star appeal in spades. Away from its twin centres, Capri Town and Anacapri – bursting with designer boutiques and chichi cafés – picturesque lanes wind past Roman ruins and grand villas, with staggering views over the deep blue Mediterranean.

7. Venice

No one forgets their first glimpse of Venice: however many times you’ve seen it in pictures, you can’t prepare yourself for the sight of a city of stately marble palazzi sitting pretty atop a dazzling green lagoon. Mesmerizing in sunshine, moodily atmospheric when wreathed in mist, colourful at Carnevale, unforgettable when it floods: Venice is never anything short of a knockout.