Photo: Philippa Kikelly
“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world,” penned renowned travel writer Freya Stark in her 1932 book Baghdad Sketches.
I can attest to this. I just completed my very first solo adventure last month, though I will admit, it was less “pleasant sensation” and more terrifying fear that rattled my nerves; at least in the days leading up to the trip.
While I was nervous, the experience was one I can only call amazing. Going it alone meant not only seeing I wanted to see, when I wanted to see it but also getting to eat at this great hole-in-the-wall multiple times and going to bed at 7 p.m. one night after an exhausting day sightseeing.
With its sweeping vistas, rich history and diverse terrain Peru is the perfect place to explore on your own.
Photo: Manuel Bahamondez H
Cajón del Maipo, a valley etched into the foothills of the Andes, and a short drive from Santiago, Chile, is where well-heeled Santiaguinos take weekend drives and where the wealthy buy homes perched on steep overlooks. It’s also a great place to go rafting, hiking, horseback-riding, camping, or just take a day trip up into the mountains. There is plenty of food and drink to sustain you, no matter what you choose to do. And if a single day isn’t enough, there are plenty of places to stay as well.
Photo: Jonathan Hood
Vast Torres del Paine national park, located in Chilean Patagonia, just a few hours from the southern city of Punta Arenas, is one of Chile’s proudest and most-visited national parks, and with good reason.
The park’s 600,000 acres comprise a vast ecosystem of glaciers, forests, steppe, glacial valleys, lakeside camping, a striated massif, and the granite spires of the towers for which the park itself is named.
Photo: Eric Schmuttenmaer
Getting a massage after six hours of walking, arriving at the campsite with an amazing view of the mountains, taking a hot shower followed by a delightful dinner made out of local ingredients and falling asleep on a comfortable feather pillow. Believe me, this is how you want to trek the Andes!
Photo: Ismael Cañete
Pucón is Chile’s adventure sports capital, with a beautiful, volcanic-formed topography including the snow-covered Villarica volcano that peeks out on sunny days. In and around Pucón there are great opportunities for biking, hiking, canopy, rafting, skiing, horseback riding, canopy, rock-climbing (some of these only in season), and to wrap it all up at the end of the day, plentiful hot springs to choose from to suit every taste from rustic to elegant, and all-inclusive resorts.
Photo: Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador
More than 97 percent of the land and surrounding water of the Galapagos Islands are designated as a national park or reserve, making it one of the most protected areas on the planet. The Galapagos, though, are not the only protected region of the country. For those looking to explore relatively pristine and off-the-beaten-path areas, visitors have a number of choices.
Photo: Enrique Castro- Mendívil
If you are the type of traveler that likes to travel off the beaten path, here are some alternative tours in Cusco for you to explore.
Land of the Yachaqs
Yachaqs means Wise in Quechua, the language of the Incas. Less than two hours away from Cusco, in the Sacred Valley, there are communities that carry on the wisdom and way of life of Incan ancestors. You can visit eight of the many communities in the area and experience their traditions, agricultural and artisan techniques.
Photo: Lance Brashear
When people think of visiting the rain forest in Ecuador, images of jungle lodges along the Amazon River tributaries come to mind.
The Amazon begins at the base of the Eastern Cordilleras of the Andes, but what sits on the other side of the mountains along the slopes of the Western Cordillera or mountain range? Many tourists have actually discovered some wonderful destinations in the tropical and cloud forests just a couple hours west of the capital city of Quito.