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5 off-the-beaten treks to Machu Picchu

We take a look at five alternative treks to Machu Picchu, a world away from the busy classic route.

Machu Picchu may well be a bucket list cliché, but there’s ample justification for why so many visitors flock to this glorious citadel perched high in the Andean mountains.

Trekking to Machu Picchu through the Sacred Valley is profoundly gratifying and remains a must for nearly every visitor to Peru. The Incan masterpiece is spectacularly located and, once reached, lives up to every expectation of its glorious emerald peaks and terraced ruins.

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12 largest rainforests in the world

The largest rainforests in the world are some of the most vital ecosystems on our planet. We look at where they’re located and why they need protecting.

Home to over half the world’s plant and animal species, the largest rainforests in the world absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping maintain the balance of the air we breathe while simultaneously playing a critical role in curbing global warming.

Despite their immense value, the largest rainforests in the world are under constant threat. More than half of Earth’s trees have already been lost since humans first began cutting them down.

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11 cool passport stamps of the world

Some unusual passport stamps to collect on your travels including microstates, geographical landmarks, inaccessible lands and a range of historical sights

It may not be fashionable but I’m a bit of a box-ticker when it comes to travel. I have a list of the countries I’ve visited and I keep track of memorable places such the highest, lowest and driest I’ve visited. I’m also rather proud of my passports (past and present) that have filled up with the stamps I’ve collected.

The standard entry and exit stamps from most countries are fairly mundane. However, beyond the typical destinations are some unusual (and brag-worthy) passport stamps to collect on your travels including microstates, geographical landmarks, inaccessible lands and a range of historical sights. Continue reading

Off the beaten trail: 10 unknown treks for your bucket list

I spent eight years living in London, riding the crowded tube to work, fighting for space with those around me and standing in queues at bus stops, supermarkets, anywhere really – I am British after all.

Naturally, this inspired daydreams of escaping it all and running off to the wilderness with only my backpack, tent, camping stove and a handful of freeze-dried meals.

About twice a year I managed to briefly abscond the confines of London, usually fleeing to the mountains of Norway, Austria or Scotland. In the last year, I’ve discovered plenty of unknown treks in the South Pacific but I still while away hours daydreaming of getting even further off the grid.

In either case, I’ve suggested operators that can coordinate the logistics of accessing these remote locations, leaving you to enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

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movies about south america: che guevara

10 great movies about South America

We look at 10 great movies about South America that offer context around the rich and colourful history of this great continent.

A British education is one of the most valuable things one can have. It instils a broad knowledge of the world ranging from the sciences to the humanities. Unfortunately, in our pursuit for this breadth of knowledge, we lose much of the depth within individual areas.

The subject of history is a notable example. Pupils are taught about the world wars, the monarchy, the industrial revolution and even the history of irrigation (which is, ironically, rather dry), but learn very little about large swathes of the world, South America being a prime example. Most of us know the names of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, General Pinochet and Hugo Chavez, but can share very little beyond the basics. Continue reading

6 charmless South American towns we couldn’t avoid

Travellers go to Latin America hoping, expecting, knowing they’ll be wowed. Home to three of the world’s Seven Wonders, the region has a wealth of both manmade and natural attractions.

Travellers also know that their journey through this vast continent won’t always be full of rainbows and kittens. Amid the bright, great wonders will be dreary days in dull towns with nary a redeeming feature. In South America, finding these two extremes side by side is almost a guarantee, as illustrated below. Tourist towns inevitably crop up close to major sights and more often than not, they’re completely and utterly charmless. Here are six underwhelming South American towns we failed to avoid on our travels. Continue reading

21 dos and don’ts of visiting Cusco, Peru

Peru’s Incan gem is testament to the fact that tourism need not destroy a town’s charm and soul. Here’s what to know before visiting Cusco.

Cusco is one of the prettiest, cleanest and, yes, most consistent towns in which we’ve ever been. The imposing colonial architecture, the trimmed lawns and sweeping views work in flawless harmony to negate the pernicious effects of tourism. Even the ubiquitous golden arches of McDonald’s are coloured an inconspicuous black. Continue reading

15 interesting facts about Peru

Peru’s Machu Picchu tops bucket lists everywhere, most recently appearing at number three on Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist, a compilation of  500 unmissable attractions across the world ranked by the publisher’s global community of travel experts.

There’s no doubt that our Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu was one of the highlights of our trip around the world, but there’s certainly more to Peru. From gargantuan canyons to archaeological enigmas, this South American gem offers an abundance of culture and adventure. Here are the most interesting facts about Peru we picked up on our trip across its lands. Continue reading

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The Uros floating islands of Lake Titicaca, Peru

When we set out for this trip nearly a year ago, I knew that there would be certain places, certain experiences that would leave me awestruck. I knew I’d be wowed by Machu Picchu, stand in awe of Easter Island’s giant statues and gaze open-mouthed at Perito Moreno in Argentina. What I didn’t expect is that I’d be similarly lost for words on the man-made Uros floating islands of Lake Titicaca. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of them before arriving in Peru.

I guess that’s one of the wonders of travel: discovery. The floating islands of Uros are certainly one of the most charming discoveries of our trip so far. Here’s why. Continue reading

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Nazca Lines flight: discovering one of the world’s great enigmas

Very little ignites my wanderlust as strongly as a great travel mystery. And as travel mysteries go, the mysterious lines of the Nazca Desert in southern Peru are one of the greatest.

The network comprises over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures known as ‘geoglyphs’ and 70 animal and plant drawings or ‘biomorphs’. The lines are largely indiscernible from ground level – however, from the skies above they reveal an arresting network of figures and channels which spread across the desert below. Continue reading

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Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu: highlights and lowlights

I look back on the highlights and lowlights of our Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu in Peru, to help future trekkers prepare for the challenge ahead.

There are three things I feared when embarking on our year-long trip around the world. First: the bugs (let’s face it, that was warranted). Second: our multi-day Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu (was I fit enough? Could I cope with the altitude? What about the lack of commode? Would I break down after a long bout of camping?). Third: Dealing with the Patagonian winter (I’ll face that battle when I come to it).

Having completed the 5-day Salkantay trek with Alpaca Expeditions, I can happily report that it was much easier than I expected. Day 1 was in fact the most challenging with several hours’ hiking uphill but after that it was all fairly straightforward.

I’ve put together a list of tips, highlights and lowlights to help future trekkers prepare for the challenge ahead.

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best machu picchu trek a comparison

Best Machu Picchu trek: a comparison

What is the Best Machu Picchu trek for you? We compare the pros and cons of each route to help you choose the trek that’s right for you.

Machu Picchu, that great Wonder of the World, that icon of South America so ubiquitous on travel websites and agency storefronts. Is it any wonder would-be visitors fret about choosing the perfect trek?

Some book their trip months in advance to make sure they get their trek of choice, others are left heartbroken when they turn up to find that they’ve missed the boat.

Prior to our trip, we had one pressing question: is the Inca Trail worth it?

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