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Surrounded by the granite peaks of Argentina’s iconic Mount Fitzroy massif which rises vertically out of the desolate Patagonian steppe, El Chalten is a small frontier town, 2 hour’s drive from Calafate perched at the very foot of the mountains.
Stretching some 400km along the spine of the mountains from San Martin de los Andes though Bariloche and on to Esquel, the Lake District is one of the most captivatingly beautiful areas of Argentina. To the north, monkey puzzle trees (the famous Araucaria araucana) straddle the flanks of the snow-capped Lanin Volcano amidst a chain of picturesque lakes and densely forested lagoons.
The glacier-topped Andean peaks of Bolivia’s Cordillera Real tower above Lake Titicaca, a huge mountain range that runs south-east through the country and separates the highland plateau from the semi-tropical lowlands. With seven peaks over 6000m, the Cordillera Real offers some of the finest hiking in the Americas.
Three hours’ drive from Campo Grande, southern gateway to Brazil’s great Pantanal wetlands, the crystal clear waters and limestone caves of Brazil’s Serra do Bodoquena attract visitors from far and wide.
500km inland from the picturesque Bahian coast, Brazil’s “Lost World” of the Chapada Diamantina rises out of the landscape, a vast area of table-top “Chapada” mountains, cascading waterfalls and beautiful caves. For hikers, this is one of Brazil’s most spectacular destinations and best explored on foot from the small colonial mining town of Lencois.
South of the Marau Peninsula, Bahia’s coastline showcases picture-postcard Brazil where beautiful beaches are framed by cocoa plantations and large tracts of virgin Atlantic Rainforest.
Battambang, meaning “disappearing stick”, is named after a powerful staff used by a legendary Khmer king to achieve and maintain power and is Cambodia’s second city. Located on the Sangker River, 40 kms west of Tonle Sap Lake, it retains the character of a sleepy local market town and is still host to a good number of colonial buildings.
Mondulkiri is the eastern most, largest, least populated and least accessible province in the country. The main town, Sen Monorom, is a sleepy laid back place with a Wild West kind of feel about it. The area is famed for its waterfalls, indigenous culture, national parks and elephant treks. If you plan to visit this region a stay of 3 days would be the minimum recommendation.
Tucked away in the far northeast of Cambodia is the unique, rarely visited region of Ratanakiri. The area has a rich culture and is home to a number of minority ethnic tribes famous for their traditional ceremonies and burial practices. Chinese, Vietnamese and Laotian communities can also be found in the area.
The awe-inspiring temples of Angkor are undoubtedly one of the most impressive and important historical sites in Southeast Asia. Many assume that there is just the one temple “Angkor Wat” but in fact there are well over 40 monuments to explore, they are not technically all temples but rather the remains of an ancient city and include places of worship, learning and healing to name but a few.
Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. It forms a natural floodplain reservoir that is drained by the Tonle Sap River into the Mekong River near Phnom Penh.
A short flight south of Santiago followed by an hour’s drive from Temuco, Pucon is the adventure capital of Chile, a bustling town ringed with picture-postcard national parks at the foot of the spectacular Volcano Villarica. Overlooking Lake Villarica, the town brims with colourful bars, hotels and restaurants and is the ideal base from which to explore the breathtaking scenery.
Established in September 2014, the Vira Vira is a charming hotel and working farm overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Liucura River set against a backdrop of towering volcanoes.
Chile’s last, wild frontier, the Carretera Austral is a remote highway that snakes south from Puerto Montt through 1200km of ever-changing landscapes to reach the lake-side village of Villa O’Higgins just across the water from Mount Fitzroy in Argentina and Chile’s great southern icefield.
The face of Patagonia, the awe-inspiring Torres del Paine adorns tourist brochures the world over and is South America’s most spectacular national park. Perched at the tip of the continent, the park was established in 1959 and encompasses some 2,400 km² of mountains, ice and rolling Patagonian steppe close to the border of Argentina.
More than just spectacular scenery, Jiuzhai Valley National Park is home to nine Tibetan villages, over 220 bird species as well as a number of endangered plant and animal species, including the giant panda, Sichuan golden monkey, the Sichuan takin and numerous orchids and rhododendrons.
Nestled in a stunning valley below the snow capped peaks of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is the wildly picturesque UNESCO World Heritage listed town of Lijiang. It is the stronghold to a ethnic minority called the Naxi, originally migrants from eastern Tibet, they are matriarchal and speak a Tibeto-Burman language. The Naxi use a unique picture-script and have a strong musical tradition.
Zhongdian, which in the Naxi language means Yak Plateau, is nowadays usually referred to by its Tibetan name - Shangri-La. It is located at a lofty altitude of 10,500 feet (3,200 metres) on very edge of the Tibetan plateau. Tibetans make up around a third of the population with another 12 minorities constituting the balance.
Jinghong translates as “City of Dawn”, is the capital of Xishuagbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture and located in the centre of Xishuagbanna region. There are 13 towns and 86 villages in Jinghong with a population of around 440,000. It is for the most part an unchallenging place to spend a couple of days investigating Dai culture.
West of Bogota, straddling the lush forested slopes of the Andes, Colombia’s famous Coffee Triangle spans three departments – Quindío, Riseralda and Caldas – and produces arguably the finest coffee in the world. Yet not only do the lush valleys provide the perfect conditions for coffee they also showcase a dizzying array of beautiful landscapes.
High in the Sierra Nevada mountains above Santa Marta, Colombia’s “Lost City” is an ancient city and archaeological wonder cloaked in eerie, tropical forest. Dating back to 800 AD, some 650 years before Machu Picchu, the site was only recently discovered by the outside world.
Arenal is the country’s most active caldera, a spectacular volcano that gently smoulders during the day and for years has lit up the night with spellbinding lava flows and firework displays. It sits at the heart of a 7000 hectare national park of primary and secondary rainforest, tumbling waterfalls and crystal clear streams that harbours an extraordinary array of wildlife.
The spa town of Banos de Agua Santa is Ecuador’s adventure capital, a bustling tourist haven perched at the foot of the breathtaking Tungurahua Volcano. Surrounded by mountains, raging rivers and over 60 waterfalls that tumble down towards the tropical lowlands, the town was originally a pilgrimage centre following a vision of the Virgin Mary.
70 miles south of Quito along the breathtaking “Avenue of the Volcanoes”, the beautiful snowy peak of the Cotopaxi Volcano and national park dominates the countryside. Just under 6000m above sea-level, Cotopaxi is Ecuador’s second tallest peak and one of the world’s highest active volcanoes.
For many visitors Mt Fuji is the most beautiful symbol and icon of Japan. The snow-capped summit atop a glorious, near symmetrical volcano is a perpetual reminder of the country’s connection with the earth and the deities within. It 3776m above sea level Mt Fuji is the highest point in Japan and is located approximately 60 miles from central Tokyo.
Hakone is located to the south of Mt Fuji and has been a popular spot since the Samurai warriors ordered an onsen (natural hot water spring bath) be built here in 1590 and to this day, the area is home to more onsen than any other in Japan.
Koya-san is the centre of Buddhist study and practice that was founded around 12 centuries ago by Buddhist monk Kobo Daiashi Kukai as a centre for Shingon Buddhist training. His wish was to establish a monastery deep in the mountains away from worldly distractions where monks could practice and pray for peace and the welfare of the people.
The area near Wat Phou where the Mekong River is at its widest point, some 14 kilometres, is the vicinity known as 4000 islands or Si Phan Don. The islands range in size with Don Khong being the largest. You can stay on some of the smaller remote islands but the accommodation is extremely basic.
Just an hour by road from the town of Pakse, at an altitude of just over 600 meters above sea level and set amongst coffee, tea and cardamom plantations, you will find the picturesque Bolaven Plateau.
This remote province in central Laos is one of the newest areas to open up for tourism. The infrastructure here is not fully up and running so, just as in the Far North of the country, please allow for some minor on trip alterations if required.
Along with north-western Cambodia, the far north of Laos is one of the truly adventurous destinations in Asia. Due to the lack of facilities and infrastructure travel in the remote region is arduous but ultimately rewarding.
The once sleepy town of Vang Vieng, located in a picturesque spot on the banks of the Nam Song River, makes an ideal breaking point for anyone who chooses to travel by road between Vientiane and Luang Prabang. The limestone karst scenery is quite simply stunning and makes the area ideal for those looking to do some day trekking or gentle walking.
Sabah, as well as being home to the most impressive array of flora and fauna in Southeast Asia, is also home to its highest peak, namely Mount Kinabalu. Standing at 4093 meters to climb to its peak is an extraordinary adventure. The ascent takes two days of pretty strenuous, but achievable trekking, with an overnight stop in en route.
Deep in the Tarahumara Mountains in Mexico’s north-west state of Chihuahua, the breathtaking Copper Canyon (“Barranca del Cobre”) covers close to 65,000 km² of rugged mountains, forests and canyons.
“The best rooftop views in North Africa” according to Condé Nast Traveller Magazine, the Kasbah du Toubkal is a rustic yet wonderful mountain retreat framed against the magnificent Mount Jebel Toubkal. At 1800m above sea-level, it is nestled deep in the Atlas Mountains beside the traditional berber village Imlil yet is only 1½ hour’s drive from Marrakech.
Just 75km south of Marrakech, Mount Toubkal is Morocco’s and North Africa’s highest peak at 4167 metres above sea-level and centre-piece of the 380km² Toubkal National Park. The area is dominated by rugged snow-capped peaks and isolated berber villages that cling precariously to the mountainsides and eke out an existence around the fertile lower valleys.
The best way to appreciate the scale of this temple site is to see it from the air. We can arrange a spectacular hot air balloon ride, taken at sunrise and including a light breakfast and a glass of Champagne. The flights, which drift serenely over the temples allowing perfect photo opportunities, generally last about 45 minutes.
In the days of the British occupation Kalaw was a popular hill station retreat. The area is populated by Nepalese and Indians, which is reflected in the cuisine, as well as local hill tribe people. The colonial architecture mixed with the stunning alpine forests make this a great place to visit. It is an excellent base for walking in the cool picturesque mountains.
Only recently opened to tourists and tucked away in the far north of the country is the small quiet town of Putao. Formally known as Fort Hertz, Putao was one of the British Empire's most remote outposts. During the Second World War, even the Japanese were unable to conquer this remote and isolated area.
Sittwe, the capital of the Rakhine State, is located on the northern coast near the Bangladesh border and home to a large Muslim community. Originally built by the British in 1826, the town’s most popular sites include the Payagyi Pagoda, the Rakhine State Cultural Museum, Payamya Monastery and the riverfront market.
Bandipur is located approximately midway on the Prithivi Highway between Kathmandu and Pokhara. It is 148kms from Kathmandu which takes 4 hours on drive.
Bardia National Park lies to the west of Chitwan and for those willing to make the effort to reach will be rewarded with an unrivalled wildlife experience with few visitors and great chances to spot wild elephant, one-horned rhino, leopard and if you’re exceptionally lucky then even the ra
Located just 32 kms east of Kathmandu, Nagarkot offers unrestricted views to the mighty Himalaya mountain range right from the Annapurna’s in the west to the mighty Everest in the east.
The attractive town of Tansen is located in the mid-West Nepalese hills and is home to quaint houses built with old-style Newari architectural influences. It is the capital of the Palpa district and its history dates back to 11th century and you can still find remains of ruins that date back to between the 15th and 19th centuries.
Deep in the north-eastern corner of the Peruvian Andes, lies one of the country’s most fascinating and least visited regions Chachapoyas, capital of Amazonas state. Surrounded by lush cloud-forested mountains punctuated with pre-Inca towns, this was home to the Chachapoyas civilisation, dubbed the “Warriors of the Clouds” which dates back to 850 AD.
High in the mountains at 3300m above sea level and a short flight from Lima, is Cusco, Peru’s most important tourist centre and a fascinating colonial city built on the ashes of the Inca capital.
The face of Peruvian tourism for years, Machu Picchu is simply awe-inspiring and evokes the very mystery and beauty of South America. The classic photo of the Incan citadel sitting at the base of the towering peak Huayna Picchu adorns every travel brochure and yet this is only a snapshot of the site.
The Peruvian highlands lend themselves to wonderful mountain biking, the perfect way to leave the tour buses behind and spend an afternoon exploring the countryside. From Cusco, you can escape into the hills to visit the enigmatic ruins of Moray and dazzling salt-flats of Maras amidst traditional colonial villages.
The Salkantay circuit is arguably Peru’s second most famous hike after the Inca Trail. The dizzying path takes you high into the Andes across the majestic, snow-capped face of Mount Salkantay before dropping you down through lush cloud-forest to reach Aguas Calientes, gateway to Machu Picchu.
The glacier-topped mountains of the Peruvian Andes are home some of the finest white water rafting in the Americas. From the Inca capital Cusco, the venerated Rio Urubamba flows through the heart of the picturesque Sacred Valley and offers gentle grade 3+ rapids to suit beginners to experts alike.
Vast, magnificent, dizzying, there are few words to describe the awe-inspiring Colca Canyon which sits at the heart of Peru’s southern altiplano, some 4 hours’ drive from Arequipa.
High in the Andes only a short flight from Lima, lies Huaraz, a scruffy highland town at the heart of the Cordillera Blanca Mountain range, surrounded by majestic, glacier topped peaks. Despite its appearance, having suffered a serious of devastating earthquakes, Huaraz is Peru’s trekking capital and the perfect base to set out and explore the mountains.
The classic Inca Trail is one of the world’s great treks and the highlight of any trip to Peru. Breathtakingly beautiful, the four day trail follows an age-old Inca pathway that winds through the heart of the magnificent Vilcabamba range. Arriving at the sun-gate at dawn, the captivating lost city of Machu Picchu is illuminated by the first rays of sunlight, a truly mesmerising sight!
Deep in the Sacred Valley north of Cusco, the Lares Valley offers an authentic slice of Peruvian life where herds of alpacas and llamas roam amidst Inca ruins, breathtaking mountain scenery and traditional weaving communities.
Just outside Cusco, the Urubamba river flows through the picturesque, fertile Sacred Valley under the shadow of the snow-capped Vilcabamba mountains. Once breadbasket of the Inca, the Sacred valley sits on average at 2800m above sea-level, 500m lower than Cusco, and is characterised by white-washed Inca villages, traditional markets and a series of impressive Inca sites and ruins.
Adam’s Peak is located in a picturesque area of the southern hill country about 2 hours drive from Hatton. The peak has a few names depending on beliefs - Adam’s peak after the place where Adam first set foot on earth after being thrown out of heaven, Sri Pada – which means sacred footprint after the footprint left by Buddha as headed to paradise and Samanalakande – Butterfly Mountain.
Located in eastern Sri Lanka away from the typical tourist trail in Gal Oya National Park, Gal Oya Lodge is a real gem and a must visit for wildlife and nature enthusiasts or those looking to get off the beaten track.
Isabela is the Galapagos’ largest island covering an area of 4,640 square kilometres and is a dominated by 6 shield volcanoes, all but one still active – Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf.
Gyantse, is nestled in the Nyang-chu Valley 254km south-west of Lhasa, is famed for the the Gyantse Kumbum, the largest chorten (stupa) in Tibet. En route to Gyantse from Lhasa you pass through stunning Himalayan scenery, the Kamba-la Pass providing sweeping panoramas and leading down to the turquoise waters of Yamdrok-tso. Gyantse has a horse racing and archery festival in the summer.
This fascinating city dates back to the 7th century A.D when the colorful Tibetan figure, Songtsen Gampo, built his palace in Lhasa. It was back in 1642 when the 5th Dalai Lama made Lhasa his capital and rebuilt the architectural masterpiece, the Potala Palace.
There is some remarkable trekking in Tibet and there could be little disagreement if we argue that it's possibly the world's best high altitude trekking. We must however immediately stress that altitude is an issue and that no-one of any age or fitness level should under-estimate the effects of altitude and that all of these treks are without vehicular access. We supply all equ
Tibet is one of the world's ultimate river destinations with itineraries covering the full range of rafting and kayaking. We can offer trips that include a half day of gently floating down the Lhasa River or a half day of Grade 2 and 3 rapids to one day up to 21 day adventures of Grades 2,3,4 and Expert (Grade 5) rapids.
The stunningly beautiful Ba Be Lakes are actually three adjoined lakes, namely – Pe Lam, Pe Lu and Pe Leng. They lie in the middle of a vast limestone mountain range in Bac Kan Province 200km north-west of Hanoi. The area has a lot to explore including waterfalls, rivers, valleys, lakes, and caves all set amidst a lush picturesque landscape.
Cat Tien National Park is located around 150 kms north of Ho Chi Minh City. It consists of about 50% evergreen forest, 40% bamboo woodland and 10% farmland, wetlands and grassland. The National Park is one of Vietnams most biodiverse regions, which explains the impressive range of wildlife that can be found.
Halong Bay is one of the world’s natural wonders and is renowned as one of the most stunning destinations in Vietnam, an absolute must on all itineraries! Halong Bay features more than one thousand limestone karsts and islands of various sizes and shapes.
Located amongst a back drop of rice terraces and forested mountains, the Mai Chau Ecolodge is a new edition (Jun 2014) to this emerging area 3 hours drive south west from Hanoi.
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