“The key to planning a vacation unlike any found in a mainstream tour brochure is to find a travel company that, first, has deep knowledge of the local destinations, and second, provides the most knowledgeable and outstanding guides in the region you’ll be exploring,” Lutz says. “It’
Vaya secures distinctive accommodations that reflect the best of the surrounding culture, and guests indulge in bespoke dining and sightseeing experiences that reflect a deep understanding of locale. It’s really the best of all worlds: a discerningly curated experience that is personalized to the client’s interests and schedule.
Drawing from years of research and personal travel experience, Lutz shares his favorite lesser-known and off-the-beaten path day hikes near places travelers are likely to visit in South America. Lutz points out that, “these are some little-known spots that may very well be close to you if you are traveling in these countries, potential highlights that you could easily miss. All have variations from strenuous to more easy going, but all options provide spectacular views and experiences.”
Peru - Machu Picchu Mountain: Want to take a photo of Machu Picchu that doesn’t look like everyone else’s? Try this three-hour hike. An alternative to the ever-crowded Huayna Picchu (the hike nearly all active visitors to Machu Picchu do), Machu Picchu Mountain is traversed by far fewer people and offers incredible and unique views of the surrounding mountains and ruins. This hike begins at about 8,400 feet at the southern end of Machu Picchu and rises to 10,000 feet at the summit. The hike takes about three hours roundtrip and passes through significant stretches of original Incan stonework winding up the side of the mountain, reaching a summit with 360-degree views of Machu Picchu’s iconic ruins and the Urubamba River below. See: http://www.vayaadventures.com/
Brazil - Rio de Janeiro, Tijuca National Park: Overlooking the largest (46 square mile) urban forest in the world is Pedra da Gavea (crow’s nest), a peak 2,762 feet above sea level. The trail to the top is only about a mile long, but it’s a three-hour commitment due to a section of Class IV climbing that may involve setting up a belay. The view is stunning, encompassing all the iconic points of the South Zone: the Dois Irmãos Hill that crowns Leblon Beach, the golden sand of Ipanema and Copacabana, as well as the massive statue of Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Hill in the distance. For more information on itineraries in Rio de Janeiro and in Brazil please see http://www.vayaadventures.com/
Ecuador - Quito, Pasochoa Wildlife Refuge Summit Trail: 20 miles south of Quito, near the town of Sangolqui, is the access point for a beautiful seven-hour roundtrip trek with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet to the summit at 13,800 feet. The trail is straightforward, but it requires a good level of fitness and, for those who want to get all the way to the top, there is some rock scrambling at the end to reach the summit. It’s worth it whether you make it to the top or not. Views along the way include the Avenue of Volcanoes, the snow-clad volcanic peaks of the Andes: Cayambe, Antisana and Cotopaxi. This is one of the best places in Ecuador to see condors in the wild. For more information on Ecuador itineraries please see http://www.vayaadventures.com/
Chile - Paso Desolación Trail: After a two-hour drive from Puerto Varas through Chile’s Lake District to the trailhead, guests embark on a five-hour hike that offers a spectacular alternative to the relatively touristy and overcrowded attractions of Petrohue Falls, Peulla and Frutillar. This day hike passes right along the side of glacier-clad Osorno Volcano, with incredible views out to magnificent Todos los Santos Lake and the surrounding mountains in the other direction. The hike is not challenging or technical; it just requires a decent level of fitness. For information on itineraries in Chile please see http://www.vayaadventures.com/
Guatemala - Lake Atitlán, San Pedro Volcano: This hike begins after a scenic boat ride across the lake, usually from Palopó or Panajachel. It is a 3,700-foot ascent to the summit on some 2.5 miles of steep, winding trail along the northwest side of the volcano. Plan an entire day for this one. If it’s too much to make it to the top, you’ll still get great views back out over the lake and surrounding area and experience some of the beautiful cloud forest on the flanks of the volcano, something few people take the time to do, summit or no summit.
For more information, trip planning and reservations visit http://www.vayaadventures.com or call 800-342-1796.
About Vaya Adventures
Harvard graduate Jim Lutz founded Vaya Adventures in 2004 to reflect his passion for South America and to share it with others. This private custom-travel company leaves no stone unturned when it comes to understanding the history and culture of the regions his guests visit, thanks to his research and to his expansive network of contacts in each destination, including the finest professional guides. Vaya Adventures emphasizes accommodations, restaurants and neighborhoods that reflect the best of the local culture, studiously avoiding the generic, the touristy, and the corporate. Through low-impact tourism and a sustainable supply chain, Vaya Adventures strives to create a strong positive incentive for the preservation of both historic and natural environments in South America. And Vaya is so confident of its value, it guarantees it: if clients source a trip of the same quality in level of services and accommodations at a better price, Vaya Adventures will be happy to refund the difference.
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