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THE TRIFECTA EFFECT: Tank, Fleece and Shell for your next Trek While hiking the Inka Trail to Machu Picchu, part of what makes the experience so exceptional is the vast array of microclimates you pass between. Though absolutely incredible, it can present its self as a challenge when creating a packing list. This past August when I was hiking the Inka Trail, I couldn’t have been more thankful for the three lightweight layers I ended up living in (and out of) while hiking. Here are three excellent choices for the perfect trifecta of hiking layering for your upcoming trek from ExOfficio! LAYER ONE: The quick drying and wicking GO-TO TANK for when the sun (much closer at such high elevations) beats down overhead. The wicking and quick dry is critical because, though you will be feeling quite hot while on the move, the wind will give you unwelcomed chills when you stop if you are wet with sweat.  LAYER TWO: The lightweight...

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Kicks for your next adventure When I’m not out on a mountaineering adventure, I prefer to wear a lighter and more comfortable shoe for all of my outdoor activities. It can be difficult to find lightweight footwear that meets the performance demand of the great outdoors, but the Keen Targhee II WP Hiking Shoe fits the bill. Whether you are casually strolling around town or out on a hiking adventure, these shoes will keep your feet dry, safe and comfortable. My favorite feature on these shoes is the waterproofing. When I’m day hiking or backpacking, keeping my feet dry is a must. I wore these Keens on a 5-day trek in Torres del Paine and my feet stayed dry as I tromped across streams, through knee-deep mud and across areas with snow pack. Comfort is also important in the outdoors. These shoes have excellent cushioning with a high arch (removable footbed for those who prefer...

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How to Tip on the Inca Trail Trek Head porters, chefs, toilet porters and guides - oh my! The Inca Trail trek, like any supported backcountry trip, has a large cast of characters who ensure that you as a trekker are encouraged, enriched, well-fed and safe throughout your journey. These individuals work very hard, literally engaging in 'back breaking' labor for a seemingly puny salary by our standards, and they rely on tips from trekkers as a portion of their compensation. The polite thing to say is that 'gratuities are at your discretion,' but in reality if you are trekking the Inca Trail in Peru, you should budget porter, guide and support staff tips into the overall cost of your trip. Here are my recommendations for 'how-much' and 'how-to' when it comes to divvying up tips on the Inca Trail.  How Much: This varies greatly based on the number of people in your trekking group, but at a...

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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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