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Savings in South America Blossoming cherry trees, tulips and daffodils up north mean that the leaves of the beech trees in Torres del Paine and Los Glacieres National Park have all turned red and gold, sure signs that winter in the Southern hemisphere is not far off. But it isn’t too early to start planning your trip for next season to... For the first time in years, the cost of travel to Patagonia has decreased! Chile has eliminated the $160 Reciprocity Fee US citizens were formerly charged upon arrival into Santiago, a considerable savings for families. If you have some flexibility with your dates and aren’t set on traveling over the peak months of December, January and February, you can stretch your travel dollars further by booking one of the discounted shoulder season departures with savings of up to $1000 per person. (See below for a complete listing of discounted departure dates.) I had...

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Be Moved by the Mountains Being surrounded by raw natural beauty stirs the soul in ways that we as humans can feel and recognize but perhaps not accurately describe. Recent Wildland traveler Steve Fors, who embarked on our Machu Picchu Mountain Lodges Trek in March, very eloquently summed up his experience trekking through the Cordillera Vilcabamba.  “Our trekking guides Manolo and Darwin were off-the-chart fabulous in every way. My favorite moments for the trip were as follows; we went out on the upstairs deck at Salkantay Lodge, shut off all nearby lights and saw the most spectacular stars I have ever seen. While the sky above us was clear, there were thunderstorms nearby. The valley below lit up several times. Then lightning lit up Mt. Salkantay and its neighbors several times. When we hiked over Salkantany Pass, the mountain was obscured by clouds and fog. The next morning we awakened to clear sky, the first rays...

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Why Shoulder Season Travel is Spectacular! I recently returned from a trip to Peru with my brother to trek the Inca Trail and search for wildlife in the Amazon region of Tambopata. Our trip was in early March, just a few days after the Inca Trail opened for the 2014 season and right in the middle of Peru’s ‘rainy season.’  Traditionally, this is not thought of as an ideal time to go trekking since most people prefer not to hike in the rain. (Unless you live in the Pacific Northwest, then you are just used to it.)  Our timing wasn’t the best in that sense but we were just stoked to go so we packed the gortex, rain pants and ponchos and hoped for the best. It only rained on us twice in 16 days.  There were occasional wimpy sprinklings in the mornings but those didn’t even merit breaking out the rain jacket.  Mostly we had...
Ballooning in Bagan for My Birthday in Burma
Today in Seattle the sun is shining, robins are pulling worms from the ground and our cherry trees have erupted in their frothy, fleeting coats of pink and white blossoms. Given that the world outside is a resounding exclamation of ‘Spring!!’, I’m loathe to recall the dark and wet of January, quite possibly our most miserable month here in the Pacific Northwest.  But in reality it wasn’t that long ago that I fled Seattle for Southeast Asia and traded my intentions to learn to ski for three weeks of wandering around Myanmar (Burma.)   The trip was equal parts rediscovery of a country I met in a past life, an attempt to locate a friend and a little bit of indulgence to celebrate my 30th birthday.  This last part mainly took the shape of finally embarking on a hot air balloon ride over the temples of Bagan, an experience that...

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Why do Macaws Eat Clay? Viewing a raucous and colorful macaw clay lick in the early morning hours is one of the highlights of a trip to Peru's Amazon. It is a spectacle prized by wildlife enthusiasts and photographers alike and one that is unique to Peru's Tambopata and Manu regions. Though Macaws range from Mexico to northern Argentina, only in Peru do they congregate in large numbers at colpas (Quechua for "salty earth") to eat clay. These are typically red earth cliffs eroded by rivers where the birds squawk, play and ingest the mineral rich clay alongside a variety of parrot and parakeet species. So why is this behavior only observed among Peru's macaws? Scientists at the Tambopata Research Center have been studying macaws since the late 1980s and have developed a theory that connects diet to reproduction and chick health. Macaw food sources in the Peruvian Amazon are naturally low in sodium compared...
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