Central Andes, Peru
Far less visited, yet equally as fascinating are the Central Highlands in Peru. Ayacucho is a beautiful colonial town nestled in a bowl of mountains with a vibrant local market, fascinating local crafts, pre-Incan ruins and no less that 33 churches! With its lovely main square it is a great place to people watch, enjoy some local food and soak up a bit of rural Peruvian life.
Estancia Cristina, Argentina
Arriving at this lodge is an adventure in itself and really does give you a sense of being very far from anything. You take a 2-hour boat ride across the enormous glacial lake of Lago Argentino passing tongue glaciers and ice bergs to arrive at the shores of the old working farm of Estancia Cristina. A typical 2-3 night stay at the lodge would involve walks to the waterfalls, through the forest to mountain viewpoints, a visit to the impressive Upsala Glacier and also a hike through a canyon paved with beautiful fossils. It’s a small lodge so this incredible scenery is very comfy and as you are totally disconnected and very remote, you do get a real sense of how hard life must have been to settle here more than one hundred years ago.
Chiloé Island, Chile
On our Patagonia group tours you have the option to visit Chiloé Island for the day from the lakeside town of Puerto Varas in the southern part of the Chilean lake district. This day was always a real highlight for my groups and also a day I immensely enjoyed. It’s an early start and late finish but very worthwhile. For me what really made this day was the variety – spotting birds from the beaches, Oyster tasting, hopping in boats to see penguins, sea otters and sea lions, insights into Chilean history, island folkloric tales, a glimpse into local life, delicious sea food and a traditional pit bake dinner, really knowledgeable local guides and stunning scenery throughout.
Top Travel Tip
Don’t try to fit too much into your itinerary – sometimes just adding an extra night in a few places with no fixed excursions allows you a little more time to soak it all in, re-visit places you made a quick stop at the day before or simply have a day where you are not getting into a vehicle.
Top Packing Tip
Pack light but take plenty of layers. Whether you are trekking in Patagonia or visiting the Peruvian highlands, dressing with plenty of layers will be really handy for changes in weather and getting inevitably a bit hot walking up to viewpoints but remember, try to pack light! If you are moving around quite a bit, the less you take, the less you have to pack every few days.