Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com Trip Ideas, Itineraries, Maps & Area Experts Fri, 15 Dec 2017 23:57:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 https://deathstar-650a.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cropped-moon_logo_M-32x32.jpg Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com 32 32 125073523 10-Day Best of Patagonia Trip Itinerary https://moon.com/2017/12/10-day-best-of-patagonia-trip-itinerary/ https://moon.com/2017/12/10-day-best-of-patagonia-trip-itinerary/#respond Fri, 15 Dec 2017 23:49:54 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61593 This 10-day Patagonia trip itinerary focuses on highlights for first-timers, including Argentina’s Glaciar Perito Moreno, Chile’s Torres del Paine, and one of South America’s largest penguin colonies.

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This 10-day Patagonia trip itinerary focuses on highlights for first-timers, including Argentina’s Glaciar Perito Moreno, Chile’s Torres del Paine, and one of South America’s largest penguin colonies.

Day 1

Plan a morning arrival in Buenos Aires, leaving the afternoon free for sightseeing and the evening for a tango floor show.

the icy glacier of Perito Moreno in Patagonia's Parque Nactional Los Glaciares

Glaciar Perito Moreno is one of South America’s greatest sights and sounds. Photo © Renan Greinert/Dreamstime.

Days 2-3

After breakfast, fly to El Calafate (3 hours) and take an afternoon excursion to a nearby estancia for a traditional asado (barbecue). The following morning, take a full-day excursion to the groaning, deep blue Glaciar Perito Moreno.

Days 4-5

Take a scenic morning bus trip or drive to El Chaltén (3 hours), the trekking mecca of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. With an early arrival and good weather, it’ll be a swift hike to view the glaciated needle of Cerro Torre. Spend the next morning on a full-day hike to Laguna de los Tres, with stupendous views of Cerro Fitz Roy, followed by an evening return to El Calafate.

waterfalls on rocks with Mount Fitz Roy in the background of Argentinean Patagonia

Monte Fitz Roy at dusk. Photo © OST/iStock.

Days 6-8

Bus to bustling Puerto Natales (5 hours), gateway to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. Stay overnight in Natales. The next day, plan on a scenic day hike in the vicinity or in the park (2 hours north), with afternoon options for short hikes or a horseback ride. The next morning, hike the short but strenuous trail to the tarns beneath the Torres themselves. In the evening, return to Puerto Natales.

Day 9

Travel across the Magellanic steppe to Punta Arenas (3 hours), with a short detour to the Magellanic penguin colony at Pingüinera Seno Otway, or, if the timing is right, ride the afternoon ferry to the larger colony on Isla Magdalena, in the Strait of Magellan. There are also quicker Zodiac trips to Isla Magdalena.

a group of penguins on the shore of Seno Otway in Patagonia

Magellanic penguins at Pingüinera Seno Otway. Photo © vale_t/iStock.

Day 10

From Punta Arenas, a morning flight to Chile’s underrated capital, Santiago (3 hours), leaves the afternoon free for sightseeing and a seafood lunch at the Mercado Central, followed by a nighttime departure. A later departure from Punta Arenas could mean time to visit that city’s exceptional Museo Regional Salesiano and then transfer directly to the international flight home.

See the best of Patagonia on a 10-day trip of a lifetime. This flexible itinerary focuses on highlights for first-timers, including Argentina’s Glaciar Perito Moreno, Chile’s Torres del Paine, and one of South America’s largest penguin colonies.


Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

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Jamaica Nature Itinerary: Hidden Beaches and Hillside Hikes https://moon.com/2017/12/jamaica-nature-itinerary-hidden-beaches-and-hillside-hikes/ https://moon.com/2017/12/jamaica-nature-itinerary-hidden-beaches-and-hillside-hikes/#respond Wed, 13 Dec 2017 23:10:09 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61144 Hikes, bird-watching, secluded beaches, and mangrove tours are indispensable to a greater appreciation of Jamaica’s natural wonders. This 8-day itinerary was developed with Jamaica's nature attractions in mind.

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Hikes, bird-watching, secluded beaches, and mangrove tours are indispensable to a greater appreciation of Jamaica’s natural wonders. This 8-day itinerary was developed with Jamaica’s nature attractions in mind.

Transportation is an important consideration when planning an eco-vacation, as many of the less-visited sights are remote and require a rental car or car and driver. Excursions into remote parts of Cockpit Country and the Blue Mountains require a 4WD vehicle, but for most places, SUVs are not necessary and the extra expense is not justified.

Harmony Cove private beach in Jamaica

Harmony Cove. Photo © Oliver Hill.

Day 1

Arrive in Montego Bay and head directly to your rental villa at Good Hope Plantation or Silver Sands in Trelawny. Spend a few hours at Good Hope’s private beach in Bounty Bay or at Harmony Cove in nearby Braco before a relaxing dinner back at the ranch.

Day 2

Explore Cockpit Country on horseback in the morning or go tubing down the river with Chukka Caribbean, followed by lunch back at the villa. Head to Sea Castles in the afternoon for kiteboarding before a casual dinner at Far Out Fish Hut in nearby Greenwood.

salt water pool at Tensing Pen in Jamaica

Tensing Pen on the West End. Photo © Oliver Hill.

Day 3

Depart in the morning for Negril, stopping at Half Moon Beach for lunch and a dip. Continue on to Tensing Pen to spend the afternoon jumping off the cliffs and relaxing by the pool.

Day 4

Depart for Belmont, stopping at Brighton’s Blue Hole Mineral Spring before heading to Blue Hole Gardens for a refreshing dip and walk through the gardens. Catch the sunset at Bluefields Beach and overnight in Belmont at the Luna Sea Inn.

secluded swimming hole at ys falls in Jamaica

YS Falls join the Lower Black River Morass. Photo © Oliver Hill.

Day 5

On your way to the Blue Mountains, make a stop in Black River for a morning kayak or pontoon boat safari to see the crocs, and then stop by YS Falls for an early afternoon dip. Push on through Kingston to overnight at Forres Park in Mavis Bank, Lime Tree Farm, or Whitfield Hall, if you can make it that far before dark.

Day 6

Rise early to hike up to Blue Mountain Peak. Descend by early afternoon stopping at Crystal Edge for lunch before checking in to Woodside for your last two nights.

Woodside cabin in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica with access to nature trails in Holywell

Woodside is located on a 3-acre coffee farm and offers a base for hiking in Holywell Recreational Park. Photo © Oliver Hill.

Day 7

Hike the trails of Holywell, or up to Cinchona Gardens in the morning. Afterward, visit the Twyman’s Old Tavern Coffee Estate for a tour and to pick up some beans to carry home. Dine at The Gap Café, Strawberry Hill, or back at Woodside.

Day 8

Rise early for the drive back to Montego Bay, stopping in Ocho Rios for a dip in the White River or at One Love Trail by the sea, or take a garden tour at Konoko Falls. Leave Ochi in time for an evening departure from Mobay’s Sangster International Airport.

Spend 8 days in nature, exploring Jamaica with hillside hikes, birdwatching, secluded beaches and swimming holes, and mangrove tours.


Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Jamaica.

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Two Weeks in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula https://moon.com/2017/12/two-weeks-in-mexico-yucatan-peninsula/ https://moon.com/2017/12/two-weeks-in-mexico-yucatan-peninsula/#respond Wed, 13 Dec 2017 22:56:58 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61148 See and do a little of everything in the Yucatán Peninsula in just two weeks. With beaches to enjoy, ruins to explore, museums to visit, cenotes to snorkel in, and cities to discover, this is a trip for travelers with plenty of energy and a hankering to see it all.

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If you plan to spend two weeks in Mexico, you can see and do a little of everything on the Yucatán Peninsula. With beaches to enjoy, ruins to explore, museums to visit, cenotes to snorkel in, and cities to discover, this is a trip for travelers with plenty of energy and a hankering to see it all. Renting a car for the entire trip will give you added speed and flexibility, and ensure you have time to enjoy every stop. But if a rental car is out of your budget, most of the route can be done easily enough by bus. A good compromise is to rent a car for a few key days.

The coast of Isla Cozumel in mexico. Photo © Robert Flannagan/123rf.

The coast of Isla Cozumel. Photo © Robert Flannagan/123rf.

Day 1

Arrive in Cancún but head south to Playa del Carmen, which is a better base for exploring the Riviera Maya. (Puerto Morelos, Akumal, Tankah Tres, and Soliman Bay also are good choices if you prefer something smaller.) If you plan to get in some serious diving, consider heading directly to Isla Cozumel to save yourself the ferry ride the next day. That, or just fly straight there!

Day 2

Spend your first full day underwater in the Riviera Maya. Just about every town along the coast has a dive shop (usually several) offering snorkeling and diving tours on the ocean reef. The waters in front of Puerto Morelos and Akumal have less boat traffic than Playa del Carmen. Or take the plunge in one of the Riviera Maya’s myriad cenotes, either at a park like Dos Ojos or on your own at a site like Jardín del Edén. Budget some beach time in the afternoon.

Day 3

Head inland. Get an early start and go straight to Chichén Itzá, getting there as close to opening time as possible. That way you’ll have a jump on the big tour buses and can enjoy these magnificent ruins with fewer people to weave around. Budget at least three hours here. Check into a nearby hotel, have lunch, and spend the afternoon cooling off at Cenote Sagrado Azul, a popular site in Ik Kil ecopark. In the evening, head back to Chichén Itzá for its high-tech sound and light show.

Day 4

Get up early and head straight to Mérida, one of Mexico’s great colonial cities. Go to the anthropology museum or the modern art museum, the market, or just visit the church, the murals in the government buildings, and the plaza. See what’s happening that evening—there’s a free cultural performance almost every night of the year.

flamingos in water at Celestun Biosphere Reserve in mexico

Spend a day among the flamingos in Celestún Biosphere Reserve. Photo © javarman3/iStock.

Day 5

You can spend this day in a couple of different ways. There are a number of great day trips from Mérida, including a flamingo tour in the town of Celestún, or visiting the colonial town of Izamal and swimming in cenotes near Cuzamá. Then again, if you especially love the Maya ruins, you won’t want to miss those along the Puuc Route. For this option, get an early start and visit Uxmal first—it is the biggest and the best of the sites here, and you don’t want to shortchange your time there. Afterward, cross the road to the Museo del Chocolate, an engaging museum about the history of chocolate, which dates to the ancient Maya. Time permitting, visit one or two of the smaller Puuc ruins too. Check into a hotel in Ticul or Santa Elena, have dinner, and wind down with a relaxed evening in the town’s central plaza.

Day 6

Plan to drive to the beautiful colonial town of Campeche City this morning. Check into a hotel and then pick a few of the sights to take in. The museums along the city walls and at El Palacio Centro Cultural or Fuerte de San Miguel are especially good. If it’s a Saturday or Sunday, stroll down to the central park for a free musical performance and elote (corn on the cob) from a street cart. Most evenings, there’s also a spectacular sound and light show, a multimedia celebration of Campeche’s history.

Day 7

Start early for the long drive to Palenque. Check into your hotel and have dinner at Don Mucho in the jungle neighborhood of El Panchán. If you’re up for it, stay late for live music and fire dancers.

Palenque maya ruins in Chiapas mexico

Archaeologists have studied the Maya calendar, hieroglyphics, and astronomy at Palenque. Photo © Philgood/iStock.

Day 8

Spend your first day of Week Two in Mexico visiting Palenque archaeological zone. Be sure to leave time for the terrific on-site museum.

Day 9

Stay another day in Palenque to see some of the nearby attractions. If you still haven’t gotten enough of the Maya ruins, consider booking an all-day tour to Yaxchilán and Bonampak. Or visit the impressive waterfalls at Misol-Há and Agua Azul for a bit of outdoorsy fun.

Day 10

From Palenque, drive toward the southern Campeche town of Xpujil. Depending on your time and energy, visit one of the many small Maya ruins clustered along Highway 186 like Balamkú or Becán. Check into a hotel in Xpujil, or if your budget permits, at one along the highway.

Day 11

If you want to see even more ruins, a daylong trip into Calakmul is a terrific experience, albeit tiring. Otherwise, jump ahead in the itinerary—you can always use the extra day at Tulum, either for more beach time or for exploring more of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

Day 12

Drive to Tulum, where you can treat yourself to a beachside bungalow on one of Tulum’s glorious beaches. Spend the afternoon relaxing.

maya ruin of el castillo in tulum mexico

The impressive El Castillo is a 12-meter-high (40-foot) pyramid constructed on a rocky bluff in Tulum. Photo © dexchao/iStock.

Day 13

Spend another beach day on Tulum’s quiet and dreamy southern beaches. If you get restless, get some snorkeling in at the great nearby cenotes of Gran Cenote or Car Wash. If you’re tired of the car, walk to Tulum ruins, dramatically overlooking the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Be sure to take your bathing suit for a dip in the ocean from the site’s small beach.

Day 14

Take a tour of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, an ideal place for fishing, bird-watching, and snorkeling and a perfect way to end your vacation.

See and do a little of everything with two weeks in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. With beaches to enjoy, ruins to explore, museums to visit, cenotes to snorkel in, and cities to discover, this is a trip for travelers with plenty of energy and a hankering to see it all.


Excerpted from the Twelfth Edition of Moon Yucatán Peninsula.

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Expert Tips for Better Phone Photography https://moon.com/2017/12/expert-tips-better-phone-photography/ https://moon.com/2017/12/expert-tips-better-phone-photography/#respond Wed, 13 Dec 2017 17:38:28 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61728 For those of us without a professional camera to document our travels, we checked in with Christine Amorose Merrill of C'est Christine for her tips on taking memorable photos with a smartphone.

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Christine Amorose Merrill is the voice behind CestChristine.com, an awesome blog that covers her life as a traveler—with some pretty amazing photos, to boot! For those of us without a professional camera to document our travels, we checked in with Christine for her tips on taking memorable photos with a smartphone.

ivy climbing on townhouses

Photo © Christine Amorose Merrill.

library with classic architecture

Photo © Christine Amorose Merrill.

How did you get your start in blogging and travel photography?

I moved to Nice, France and started my blog in the spring of 2010. Although I majored in journalism, I initially started blogging as a way to keep my friends and family in the loop as I lived out my dream of bartending and studying French on the Cote d’Azur. It’s hard not to be inspired in the South of France: the sparkling turquoise Mediterranean Sea, the pastel shutters and cobblestone streets, the bakery display windows piled high with baguettes and pains aux chocolats. And I’ve never stopped writing and taking photos of my travels—through solo adventures in Europe, Southeast Asia, Central America, Australia, and the USA, and stints living in Melbourne, New York City, and now San Diego.

Photo of the New York City skyline taken with a mobile phone

Photo © Christine Amorose Merrill.

What is your favorite thing to photograph when you travel? Is there a particular type of image that inspires you the most?

I’m most drawn to blue skies, colorful details and open spaces, whether that’s a tropical beach or an empty cobblestone street. I’m also always looking for shades of turquoise and pink, and elements of symmetry in cities or nature. Although I love traveling to gorgeous, remote (and very photogenic) beaches, I’m most inspired by public art or street graffiti: I love seeing how people beautify and bring color into their cities. I also love how ephemeral street art is: sometimes being captured in a photo is the only way that it will live on.

What advice would you give to travelers working with a smartphone? Any tips for capturing the perfect shot?

I strongly believe that the best camera is one that’s always on you. Some of my favorite photos aren’t necessarily grandly prepared, or even in the most photogenic tourist destinations: it’s a spectacular sunset captured while walking on the way to dinner, or a human interaction that is easier to candidly take with an unobtrusive smartphone. Although cameras in phones are getting better and better, I think the biggest drawback is how it manages in low light and how disruptive the flash can be. I always find that smartphone photos are best in good natural light: use your golden hours properly!

colorful mural painted on the side of a city building

Photo © Christine Amorose Merrill.

photography of the brilliant colors of sunset captured on a mobile phone

Photo © Christine Amorose Merrill.

Do you have any favorite photo editing apps that you use? What do you like about them?

I edit all of my photos in VSCO; I use the same filter so that my Instagram feed and blog have a consistent feel, and usually increase the exposure, contrast, and possibly the saturation. Lately, I’ve been impressed by the editing tools in the Instagram app as well. They’re also super easy to use, and I like that all of the editing can be done instantly on my phone.

Lastly…if you had to choose, what’s your favorite photo that you’ve taken?

That’s such a tough question! I think this one is one of my favorite photos and memories. Peak bloom is always one of my favorite times of the year, and being the first person to see the cherry blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic on this morning was magical.


Want to take better travel photos with your Android or iPhone? Learn how to level up your phone photography skills with these expert tips from travel blogger and photographer C'est Christine.

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Visiting Punta Tombo’s Penguins https://moon.com/2017/12/visiting-punta-tombo-penguins/ https://moon.com/2017/12/visiting-punta-tombo-penguins/#respond Mon, 11 Dec 2017 18:33:08 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=32462 On barren South Atlantic shores, some 200,000 pairs of Magellanic penguins waddle ashore every austral spring to nest on only 210 hectares at Punta Tombo. Learn about the Área Natural Protegida Punta Tombo and its staggering amount of both penguin and human visitors.

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On barren South Atlantic shores, 126 kilometers south of Trelew, some 200,000 pairs of Magellanic penguins waddle ashore every austral spring to nest on only 210 hectares at Punta Tombo. Despite its isolation, more than 100,000 visitors a year, and up to 2,500 in a single day, find their way to Área Natural Protegida Punta Tombo (Sept.-Apr., foreigners US$17, Argentines US$7, plus a small fee per vehicle), following RN 3 and a shortcut to a dusty southeasterly lateral road and the continent’s largest single penguin colony. Besides penguins, there are giant petrels, kelp and dolphin gulls, king and rock cormorants, and shorebirds that include oystercatchers and flightless steamer ducks—not to mention offshore whales.

Megallnaic penguins ashore at Punta Tombo in Patagonia

Some 200,000 pairs of Magellanic penguins waddle ashore every austral spring to nest at Punta Tombo. Photo © arleking/iStock.

Tours from Trelew (around US$65 pp) arrive around 11am daily, but the birds are so dispersed that it rarely seems crowded. Authorities have marked off the nesting grounds, and human visitors must stay on marked trails and boardwalks. Still, since penguins do not respect fences, it’s possible to get up-close-and-personal photos. Just respect the birds’ space (their beaks can inflict a nasty gash). Tombo’s infrastructure remains limited, though the new Centro de Interpretación de Pingüinos has recently opened. No camping is permitted. The season runs from September to April; the park is closed for visits outside that period.

Despite their numbers, penguin populations here and at Península Valdés may be in trouble. An article in Science concluded that continued overfishing of the Patagonian anchovy, which constitutes half the penguins’ diet (and also sustains elephant seals, dolphins, and other South Atlantic species) could cause a population collapse.

While it’s also possible for a group to hire a taxi for a day trip to the reserve, renting a car in Trelew or Puerto Madryn would make it possible to follow the scenic desert coastline south past the ghost town of Cabo Raso to the picturesque fishing port of Camarones and Cabo Dos Bahías, a reserve with both penguins and sea lions. From Camarones, it’s possible to return to Trelew or Puerto Madryn via paved RN 3.


Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

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Parque Nacional Torres del Paine Hiking and Climbing https://moon.com/2017/12/parque-nacional-torres-del-paine-hiking-climbing/ https://moon.com/2017/12/parque-nacional-torres-del-paine-hiking-climbing/#respond Mon, 11 Dec 2017 18:06:24 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=11057 Some of the Andes’s youngest peaks, the Torres del Paine are among the most emblematic in the entire range. Here's everything you need to know to explore hiking trails and climbing opportunities,.

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Some of the Andes’s youngest peaks, the Torres del Paine are among the range’s most emblematic sights. Some 10 million years ago, a magma intrusion failed to reach the earth’s surface, cooling underground into resistant granite. In the interim, water, ice, and snow have eroded softer terrain to liberate the spires as one of the world’s most dramatic landscapes.

So strong a draw are the Torres that some visitors pressed for time settle for day tours that allow only a few hours in the park. Others walk to their base from Hostería Las Torres, a relatively easy day hike where it’s hard to avoid the crowds. A longer and more tiring alternative, up the steep Río Bader canyon, provides a different perspective and the Andean solitude that many hikers seek.

spiries of Torres del Paine in Patagonia

The Torres del Paine are among the most emblematic sights in the Andes. Photo © Paiphoto9/Dreamstime.

Cuernos del Paine

On a 10-day trek over the now-famous Paine Circuit, this author met only three other hikers.Many park visitors misidentify the Cuernos del Paine (Horns of Paine) as the Torres. Located almost immediately south of the Torres proper, the saw-toothed Cuernos retain a cap of darker but softer metamorphic rock atop a broader granitic batholith that, like the Torres, never reached the surface before cooling. It’s the contrast between the two that gives the Cuernos their striking aspect.

As with the Torres, day-trippers can admire the Cuernos from the park highway. The best views, though, come from the “W” trail along the north shore of Lago Nordenskjöld, between Hostería Las Torres and Lago Pehoé.

Hiking

Paine Circuit

Nearly three decades ago, under a military dictatorship, Chile attracted few foreign visitors, and hiking Torres del Paine was a solitary experience. On a 10-day trek over the now-famous Paine Circuit, this author met only three other hikers. Parts of the route were easy to follow, while others were barely boot-wide tracks on steep slopes, or involved scrambling over granite boulders and fording waist-deep glacial meltwater.

Today, much has changed. At peak season, hikers are so numerous that the route can approach gridlock (hyperbole intentional). Rudimentary and not-so-rudimentary bridges make water crossings easier. In addition to the lean-tos that once sheltered shepherds, there are enough comfortable refugios (shelters) and organized campgrounds that it’s theoretically possible to complete most of the circuit without a tent or even a sleeping bag. Still, hikers must remember that this is rugged country with unpredictable weather and come well-prepared.

Most hikers tackle the circuit counterclockwise from Guardería Laguna Amarga, where buses from Puerto Natales stop for passengers to pay the park admission fee. An alternative is to continue to Pudeto and take a passenger launch to Refugio Pehoé, or else to the park’s Administración (involving a longer and less interesting approach). Both of these mean doing the trek clockwise.

A trail along Lago Nordenskjöld’s north shore provides access to the Torres’s south side, offering easier access up the Río Ascencio and Valle del Francés on the shorter “W” route to Lago Pehoé. The circuit follows the river’s west bank south to Laguna Amarga. (A Laguna Azul, exit or entrance is feasible as well by crossing the Río Paine by a cable raft at the river’s Lago Dickson outlet, with help from the staff at Refugio Dickson.)

The full circuit takes at least a week to complete. Before beginning, hikers must register with park rangers. Camping is permitted only at designated sites, a few of which are free. Purchase supplies in Puerto Natales, as only limited goods are available within the park, at premium prices.

The W-Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park. Photo © Scott Biales/iStock.

The “W” Variant

From Guardería Laguna Amarga, a narrow undulating road crosses the Río Paine on a narrow suspension bridge to the grounds of Estancia Cerro Paine, at the foot of 2,640-meter Monte Almirante Nieto. The estancia operates a hotel, refugios (shelters), and campgrounds, and the staff also shuttles hikers back and forth from Laguna Amarga (US$5.50 pp).

From Estancia Cerro Paine, a northbound trail parallels the route from Guardería Laguna Amarga, eventually meeting it just south of Campamento Serón. The estancia is more notable, though, as the starting point for the “W” route to Lago Pehoé, a scenic and challenging option for hikers lacking time for the full circuit. On the western edge of the grounds, the footbridge crosses the Río Ascencio to a junction where a northbound lateral trail climbs the river canyon to Campamento Torres, where a short but steep trail ascends to a nameless glacial tarn at the foot of the Torres proper. Weather permitting, this is a recommended day hike from the estancia, though many people prefer to camp or spend the night at the refugio.

From the junction, the main trail follows Lago Nordenskjöld’s north shore, past another refugio and campground, to the free Campamento Italiano at the base of the Río del Francés valley. While the main trail continues west toward Lago Pehoé, another northbound lateral trail climbs steeply up the valley, between the striking metamorphic Cuernos del Paine to the east and the 3,050-meter granite summit of Paine Grande to the west, to the free Campamento Británico.

Hikers in search of peace and quiet can make a strenuous detour up the Valle Bader, a steep rugged river valley that’s home to a climber’s camp at the Cuernos’ base. The route is mostly unmarked, but experienced cross-country walkers can handle it.

Other Trails

After heavy runoff destroyed the once-sturdy bridge at Lago Paine’s outlet in the early 1980s, the Río Paine’s north shore became isolated from the rest of the park. A good road, though, still leads from Guardería Laguna Amarga to Laguna Azul’s east end, which has a campground and cabañas, as well as the Sendero Lago Paine, a four-hour walk to the lake and a simple refugio (shelter). A trekkers’ alternative is the Sendero Desembocadura, which leads north from Guardería Laguna Amarga through open country to Laguna Azul’s west end and continues to Lago Paine, but this takes about eight hours. From the north shore of Lago Paine, the Sendero Lago Dickson (5.5 hours) leads to the Dickson Glacier.

Several easy day hikes are possible near Guardería Lago Pehoé, directly on the road from Laguna Amarga to the visitors center. The short Sendero Salto Grande trail leads to the thunderous waterfall, at Lago Sarmiento’s outlet, that was the circuit’s starting point until unprecedented runoff swept away the iron bridge to Península Pehoé in 1986. From Salto Grande, the Sendero Mirador Nordenskjöld is a slightly longer but still easy walk to a lakeshore vista point, directly opposite the stunning Cuernos del Paine.

From Guardería Lago Grey, 18 kilometers northwest of the visitors center by road, a short footpath leads to a sandy beach on Lago Grey’s south shore, where steady westerlies often beach icebergs from Glaciar Grey. The longer and less visited Sendero Lago Pingo ascends the Río Pingo Valley to its namesake lake (5.5-6 hours). A basic refugio and two free campgrounds are along the route.

Lago Grey and the Patagonian ice field in Torres del Paine national park

Lago Grey is located on the western side of Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. Photo © davidionut/iStock.

Climbing

Though popular, hiking is not the only recreational option. Despite similar terrain, Paine attracts fewer climbers than Argentina’s neighboring Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, perhaps because fees for climbing permits have been high here. At present, permits are free of charge; before being granted permission, climbers must present Conaf with climbing résumés, emergency contacts, and authorization from their consulate.

When climbing in sensitive border areas (meaning most of Andean Chile), climbers must also have permission from the Dirección de Fronteras y Límites (Difrol) in Santiago. It’s possible to do this through a Chilean consulate overseas or at Difrol’s Santiago offices or, preferably, online. If you arrive in Puerto Natales without permission, it’s possible to request it through the Gobernación Provincial (tel. 061/241-1423), the regional government offices on the south side of Plaza Arturo Prat. The turnaround time is 48 hours.

While climbing and mountaineering activities may be undertaken independently, local concessionaires can provide training and lead groups or individuals with less experience on snow and ice. Big Foot Adventure Patagonia (tel. 061/241-4611 in Natales) has a Refugio Grey base camp, where it leads half-day traverses of Glaciar Grey’s west side (US$140) and 2.5-hour kayak excursions (US$90). It also operates guided three-day, two-night descents of the Río Serrano (US$795-1,090 pp, depending on group size). Except for weatherproof clothing, the company provides all equipment.

What better way to explore the natural beauty of Chilean Patagonia than on foot? Learn about hiking and climbing in Torres del Paine National Park.


Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

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3 Days of Winter Romance in the Grand Canyon https://moon.com/2017/12/3-days-winter-romance-grand-canyon/ https://moon.com/2017/12/3-days-winter-romance-grand-canyon/#respond Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:27:19 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61013 The most romantic time to visit the South Rim is during the winter, when crowds are lighter, sunrises are later, and frosty temperatures make snuggling by a fireplace even more fun.

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The most romantic time to visit the South Rim is during the winter, when crowds are lighter, sunrises are later, and frosty temperatures make snuggling by a fireplace even more fun. This Grand Canyon itinerary is sure to set the mood for an intimate 3-day getaway.

Day 1

Check into elegant El Tovar or a cozy cabin at Bright Angel Lodge. Some of the cabins have fireplaces or canyon views. If you want to impress your sweetie with a romantic dinner, make reservations in advance for El Tovar’s candlelit dining room.

Snow covered ground at Hopi Point with a pink and purple sky stretching above the canyon.

The pastel hues of a winter sunset at Grand Canyon National Park’s Hopi Point. Photo © Kesterhu/iStock.

Day 2

After breakfast, pick up a picnic lunch at the General Store deli and spend a few hours exploring the overlooks along the West Rim’s Hermit Road. Hike the Rim Trail from Pima Point to Hermits Rest (1.1 miles), where you can warm up with some hot chocolate. Rumor has it that Mary Colter, the architect of this fanciful structure, liked to steal away for a few moments of solitude along the rim close by. See if you can find her special perch or, if it’s not too icy, hike a short distance down nearby Hermit Trail.

Winter sunsets arrive early and paint the canyon walls in glowing orange, pink, and lavender. Hopi Point is popular at sunset; opt for Pima or Mohave Points if you’d prefer to avoid a crowd. After watching the celestial show, return to the village and warm up by your cabin’s fireplace. No fireplace of your own? There’s usually a blaze going in El Tovar’s Rendezvous Room, and the lounge is a cozy spot for a warm drink.

The Shrine of the Ages hosts occasional evening programs in winter. But the most awe-inspiring show is outdoors: On dark, clear nights millions of diamond-bright stars will take your breath away. Pick up a star map at one of the park’s shops or use a stargazing phone app. If you bundle up and bring a flashlight, you can view the night sky almost anywhere, but the amphitheater at Mather Point has front-row seats.

Snow covers the ground at Yaki Point in the Grand Canyon.

Enjoy a breathtaking view at Grand Canyon’s Yaki Point in Winter. Photo © Spondylolithesis/iStock.

Day 3

Sunrise or sleep in? If you decide to greet the dawn from somewhere other than your window, grab a coffee at the Canyon Coffee House in Bright Angel Lodge, and then hop the shuttle to Yaki Point. Watch as buttery golden sunlight spreads over the canyon’s inner peaks.

Return to the village for a hearty brunch, and then stroll along the rim to Hopi House, designed by architect Mary Colter in 1905. Inside this historic structure is the canyon’s finest collection of Native American jewelry, perfect if you want a memento of your special weekend.

Spend the rest of the day exploring the East Rim by car. Watch the sunset from Lipan Point or Desert View Watchtower, another of Mary Colter’s romanticized re-creations. To the west, inner canyon temples and buttes fade to layered silhouettes in blues and purples—a dramatic finale to the weekend.


Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Grand Canyon.

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North Shore Kaua‘i Beaches in Kilauea https://moon.com/2017/12/north-shore-kauai-beaches-in-kilauea/ https://moon.com/2017/12/north-shore-kauai-beaches-in-kilauea/#respond Sat, 09 Dec 2017 17:00:06 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=18873 Kaua‘i’s north shore has a beach that will make your day: surfers revel in the world-class waves during the winter months, snorkelers enjoy pristine reefs during the summer, beachcombers can easily find shells and driftwood, and sunbathers will love the white sand and myriad nooks and crannies along the coast to find their own slice of paradise.

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No matter what kind of beach lover you are, Kaua‘i’s north shore has a beach that will make your day: surfers revel in the world-class waves during the winter months, snorkelers enjoy pristine reefs during the summer, beachcombers can easily find shells and driftwood, and sunbathers will love the white sand and myriad nooks and crannies along the coast to find their own slice of paradise. You can post up next to a lifeguard or spend the day without seeing another soul at Secret Beach. Some beaches requires a hike and a thirst for adventure, while others provide the convenience of beachfront parking under the ironwood trees for the perfect beach picnic. North shore beaches are dynamic, raw, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the Hawaiian Islands.

blue waters of the empty beach in Moloaa Bay, Kilauea

Moloa‘a Beach is a haven away from the crowds. Photo © bochalla, licensed CC BY-SA 2.0.

Moloa‘a Beach

As with any beach in Hawai‘i, swimming should only be attempted when the waves are very calm. Moloa‘a means “matted roots” in Hawaiian, and the relevance of the name is apparent at the river mouth, where tree roots are exposed to the elements. Moloa‘a Beach is a crescent moon-shaped, white-sand beach. At this lesser-visited beach, black rocks jut out of the water to the far left and right of the large bay. Even though oceanfront houses back the east half of the beach, it still provides an undisturbed haven from the more crowded beaches. The river mouth here usually has rough water flowing out of it, and the water can be murkier than other river mouths in the area. The south side of the beach is nicer than the north, providing shade and safer swimming and bodyboarding than the other end of the beach. As with any beach in Hawai‘i, swimming should only be attempted when the waves are very calm. Due to the prevailing trade winds, the water at Moloa‘a Beach can be a bit rough and windy. Moloa‘a is a perfect place to watch a colorful sunset, which will most likely be enjoyed alone. To get here, turn onto the rough Ko‘olau Road between mile markers 16 and 17. Then turn onto Moloa‘a Road and follow it to the end to Moloa‘a Bay. Parking is very limited here, but signs alert visitors of where it’s okay to park.

Larsen’s Beach

Named after the former manager of Kilauea Plantation, L. David Larsen, Larsen Beach offers seclusion and enough space to stroll and see what you can find on the beach. Larsen’s is another place where the crowds are usually nonexistent, and many times you will be alone or a good distance from other visitors. The very dangerous Pakala Channel is right before the point on the north end and features an extremely strong current that beachgoers absolutely must stay out of. For the rest of the beach, if the waves are flat and conditions are very calm, snorkeling can be marvelous here. To get to Larsen’s Beach, turn down the second Ko‘olau Road headed north, right before mile marker 20, and a little over one mile down take the left Beach Access road to the end. After the cattle gate is a trail; it’s about a 10-minute walk to the bottom.

secret beach or kauapea beach on kauai's north shore

During the summer months, the waves die down and swimming is possible at Secret Beach. Photo © 7Michael/iStock.

Secret Beach

Secret Beach is a wonderful treasure at the end of a dirt road and short trail. The beach is very, very long, and when the waves are really small, generally in the summer months, swimming is possible. Conversely, during the winter months the waves pound the shore and the current is extremely strong. Steep, tall cliffs back the beach, and about halfway down the beach you’ll find a small waterfall—perfect for rinsing off.

Secret Beach is full of surprises, and depending on the season, wave size, rain, currents, and tides, you may find swimming ponds in the sand or exposed rock and tide pools. The walk down takes about 10 minutes and is a steep trail on roots and dirt. The way back up can be strenuous because of the incline. Secret Beach is also the unofficial nude beach on the north shore. Unofficial because, as signs posted by the police department will tell you, nudity is against the law. However, the signage hasn’t entirely stopped dedicated nudists.

Secret Beach is also known as Kauapea Beach, and the Kilauea Lighthouse is visible on the point at the east end. There are awesome, even more secret tide pools and another waterfall farther west past the beach. To get here, turn onto the first Kalihiwai Road heading north and take the first right onto a dirt road. Head to the end of the road; parking is behind large homes.

view of kahili beach with the ocean crashing onto the rocks

Kahili Beach on the north shore. Photo © starr-environmental, licensed CC BY 2.0.

Kahili/Quarry Beach

A long, fine white-sand beach backed by an ironwood forest, Kahili Beach is also known as Quarry Beach. A popular spot with locals for surfing and boogie-boarding, Kahili Beach is gorgeous but not a good choice for swimming. The ironwood forest growing out of the red dirt backing the beach makes for a fun place to experiment with photography. There are two sides to the beach with a ridge of rock dividing them. The east side serves as an unofficial campsite. It’s not a wide section of rock, and crossing over is simple when the waves are small. A river meets the ocean on the west end of the beach, and along the river can be a good, calm zone for swimming. During weekdays, there’s a good chance Quarry Beach will be empty, but it’s popular with locals on weekends.

Local fishers come here to catch a fish they use for bait called ‘o‘io. The fish is too bony to fry and eat, but the fishers get the meat off the bones by cutting off the tail, rolling a soda bottle over the body, and then squeezing the meat out of the cut. It’s then made into fish balls by mixing it with water, hot pepper, and bread crumbs.

To get to Kahili Beach, head north and turn right onto Wailapa Road between mile markers 21 and 22. Turn left at the yellow post and cement blocks marking the top of the road and go about a half mile down to the beach.

Waiakalua Beach

The great thing about Waiakalua Beach is that it’s usually empty and secluded. Ample shade, soft white sand, a fringing reef, and a spring at the north end add character to this beach. As usual, ocean conditions dictate whether swimming is doable here. To get here, turn onto North Waiakalua Road and turn left onto the dirt road just before you reach the end. Park at the end and walk the trail on the left. Waiakalua Beach is on the left after about a 10-minute mini hike down the steep path. To the right after the large rocks is Pila‘a Beach, which is reachable after about 15-30 minutes of walking.


Excerpted from the Eighth Edition of Moon Kaua‘i.

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Visiting the Glaciers of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares https://moon.com/2017/11/visiting-the-glaciers-of-parque-nacional-los-glaciares/ https://moon.com/2017/11/visiting-the-glaciers-of-parque-nacional-los-glaciares/#comments Thu, 30 Nov 2017 22:32:45 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=11357 Whether you're a day visitor, a hiker, or a mountaineer, there are plenty of sights in Argentina's Parque Nacional Los Glaciares to enjoy. Read on for information about the park's many lakes and glaciers, plus hikes and tours.

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On the eastern Andean slopes, Parque Nacional Los Glaciares comprises over 750,000 hectares, where slowly flowing ice gives birth to clear frigid rivers and vast lakes, interspersed with Magellanic forests, along the Chilean border west and north of El Calafate. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s famous for the Glaciar Perito Moreno, which draws thousands of visitors as well as scientists absorbed in glaciology and climate studies. The northern sector draws those seeking to spend several days in vigorous exercise, for either trekking or the riskier technical climbing.

Hugging the Chilean border, the elongated park stretches well over 100 kilometers from north to south. There are four significant access points, but just two of those get the great majority of visitors.

Since nearly all visitors come to see Glaciar Perito Moreno, most stay at El Calafate, 80 kilometers east by paved highway; the only accommodations closer to the glacier are expensive ranches and lodges just outside park boundaries with small capacities. At the Río Mitre entrance, this main Glaciar Perito Moreno approach, the Administración de Parques Nacionales (APN) collects a US$22 admission fee (payable in pesos only) from nonresidents of Argentina. Lake excursions into the park leave from Punta Bandera, a short detour north from the Moreno Glacier road. Passengers on lake excursions from Punta Bandera must also pay the fee.

The other main access point is the village El Chaltén, 220 kilometers to the northwest by a paved but roundabout route, with abundant accommodations in all categories and easy trail access even for those without their own vehicles. This northernmost sector—a three-hour bus trip from El Calafate by paved highway—attracts hikers and serious mountaineers. Backpackers should note that no campfires are permitted within the park. Carrying a camp stove is obligatory for cooking. This southern approach includes the APN visitors center (tel. 02962/49-3004, 9am-5pm daily, occasionally until 8pm), which has natural history exhibits, provides a decent trail map (scale 1:75,000), and also issues climbing permits (free).

There is additional park access at Lago Roca, southwest of El Calafate, and at little-visited Helsingfors, to the northwest. Accessible by gravel road, the Lago Roca sector has campgrounds and some ranch accommodations, but few trails. To the northwest, on the south shore of Lago Viedma, reached from El Calafate by a roundabout combination of paved and gravel routes, the park’s Helsingfors sector has limited but scenic hiking and private accommodations at its namesake lodge. There is no public transportation.

At present, the Lago Roca, Helsingfors, and El Chaltén sectors remain fee-free.

the icy glacier of Perito Moreno in Patagonia's Parque Nactional Los Glaciares

Glaciar Perito Moreno is one of South America’s greatest sights and sounds. Photo © Renan Greinert/Dreamstime.

Glaciar Perito Moreno

Where a low Andean pass lets Pacific weather systems cross the cordillera, countless storms have deposited immeasurable meters of snow that, over millennia, have compressed into Glaciar Perito Moreno, a rasping river of ice that’s one of the continent’s greatest sights and sounds. Fifteen times during the 20th century, the advancing glacier blocked Lago Argentino’s Brazo Rico (Rico Arm) to form a rising body of water that eventually, when the weight became too great for the natural dam, triggered an eruption of ice and water toward the lake’s main glacial trough.

The last event took place on March 10, 2016, but the avalanche of ice and water could easily have been a metaphor for the flood of tourists that invaded El Calafate in anticipation. On any given day, massive icebergs still calve off the glacier’s 60-meter face and crash into the Canal de los Témpanos (Iceberg Channel) with astonishing frequency.

Perched on newly modernized catwalks and overlooks, many visitors spend entire days either gazing at or simply listening to this rumbling river of ice. Descending to lake level is prohibited because of the danger of backwash and flying ice chunks.

Sights and Tours

Hielo y Aventura (Av. Libertador 935, El Calafate, tel. 02902/49-2205) offers full-day “mini trekking” excursions onto the ice (US$140 pp includes transportation from El Calafate). Other options include the more strenuous Big Ice trip (US$152 pp with transporation) and a passive Safari Náutico navigation (1 hour, US$23 pp, transportation not included) that approaches the glacier’s face.

Organized tours to the glacier, 80 kilometers southwest of El Calafate via RP 11, leave every day, as does scheduled transport. Transportation is usually extra for everything except bus tours.

In addition to regularly scheduled transportation, guided bus tours are frequent, but both are less frequent in winter. Competent operators include Aventura Andina (Av. del Libertador 761, Local 4, tel. 02902/49-1726), Cal Tur (Av. Libertador 1080, tel. 02902/49-1368), Cordillera del Sol (25 de Mayo 43, tel. 02902/49-2822), Eurotur (Av. del Libertador 1025, tel. 02902/49-2190), Mundo Austral (Av. Libertador 1114, tel. 02902/49-2365), and Rumbo Sur (9 de Julio 81, Local 2, tel. 02902/49-2155).

El Calafate’s Hostel del Glaciar runs its own guided minivan excursions (US$40 pp), leaving about 8am daily and returning around 5pm. These include more hiking and a navigation for a waterside view of the lake.

tourist on a boat gazing at Upsala glacier in Los Glaciares national park

Take a boat tour to Glaciar Upsala. Photo © Melissa Schalke/Dreamstime.

Glaciar Upsala

Even larger than the Glaciar Perito Moreno, 50 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide at its foot, Glaciar Upsala is impressive for its sheer extent, the sizable bergs that have calved off it, and their shapes and colors. It’s accessible only by crowded catamaran trips from Punta Bandera via Lago Argentino’s Brazo Norte (North Arm).

Tours

At midday the boat anchors at Bahía Onelli. Bring a bag lunch (skipping the restaurant) to hike to ice-clogged Lago Onelli. The land portion of this excursion is regimented, and the guide-suggested pace—30 minutes from dock to lakeshore—is appropriate for those on crutches. Smoking is prohibited on the forest trail.

Visitors should realize that this is a mass-tourism excursion that may frustrate hikers accustomed to freedom of the hills. If you take it, choose the biggest available ship, which offers the most deck space to see the Spegazzini and Upsala Glaciers. On board, the freshest air is within the cabin of the ALM, whose seats are cramped but where smoking is prohibited; on deck, desperate smokers congregate even in freezing rain. Reasonably priced cakes, sandwiches, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are available on board.

Puerto Bandera is 45 kilometers west of Calafate via RP 11 and RP 8. For information and reservations, contact concessionaire Solo Patagonia (Av. Libertador 867, El Calafate, tel. 02902/49-1155 or 02902/491428). The full-day trip costs about US$110 per person, US$65 ages 8-16, with a four-course lunch and open bar; it does not include transfer to Puerto Bandera or the US$22 park fee.

On its small cruiser Leal, Cruceros Marpatag (9 de Julio 57, Local 10, El Calafate, tel. 02902/49-2118) offers a full-day excursion, with a six-course gourmet lunch (wine included), to the Spegazzini and Upsala glacier fields (US$270-340 pp, including transfers and park admission). The triple-deck 22-cabin catamaran Santa Cruz now offers three-day, two-night cruises to Upsala and Spegazzini (US$1,785-3,900 s, US$3,360-5,680 d), with a final day’s lunch facing the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Lago Roca

Also known as La Jerónima, the park’s little-visited southwesterly sector along Lago Roca’s Brazo Sur (South Arm) offers camping and cross-country hiking. There are no formal trails, only routes such as the one from the campground to the summit of Cerro Cristal, 55 kilometers from El Calafate. The most striking feature is the high shoreline, dry from the days when the lake backs up behind the advancing Glaciar Perito Moreno. Unlike other sectors, Lago Roca charges no admission fee.

clear green glacial water at the foot of Cerro Fitz Roy in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares

The spires of the Fitz Roy range match those of Torres del Paine. Photo © Michal Jastrzebski/Dreamstime.

Sector Fitz Roy

In the park’s most northerly sector, the Fitz Roy range has sheer spires to match Torres del Paine. Even if you’re not a top technical climber, trails from the village of El Chaltén to the base of summits such as Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre make for exhilarating hikes. It’s even possible to traverse the southern Patagonian ice fields. Visitors seeking a sedate outdoor experience will find a handful of former sheep ranches, onetime Patagonian wool producers that have reinvented themselves as tourist accommodations.

Hiking and Trekking

From a signposted trailhead at El Chaltén’s north end, the Sendero Laguna Torre is an 11-kilometer track gaining about 200 meters in elevation as it winds through southern beech forests to the climbers’ base camp for Cerro Torre; figure 3 to 3.5 hours. At the lake, in clear weather, there are extraordinary views of Cerro Torre’s 3,102-meter summit, crowned by the so-called ice-and-snow “mushroom” that technical climbers must surmount. While Italian Cesare Maestri claimed that he and Austrian Toni Egger reached the summit in 1959 (Egger died in an avalanche, taking the camera with him), Italian Casimiro Ferrari made the first undisputed ascent in 1974.

From the Madsen pack station, the more demanding Sendero Río Blanco trail rises steeply at the outset before leveling out through boggy beech forest and continuing to the Fitz Roy base camp, climbing about 350 meters in 10 kilometers. About midway to Río Blanco, a signed lateral trail leads south to Laguna Capri, which has backcountry campsites.

From Río Blanco, a vertiginous zigzag trail ascends 400 meters in just 2.5 kilometers to Laguna de los Tres, a glacial tarn whose name commemorates three members of the French expedition—René Ferlet, Lionel Terray, and Guido Magnone—who summited Fitz Roy in 1952. Truly a top-of-the-world experience, Laguna de los Tres offers some of Patagonia’s finest Andean panoramas.

From the Río Blanco campground (reserved for climbers), a northbound trail follows the river’s west bank north to Laguna Piedras Blancas, whose namesake glacier continually calves small icebergs. The trail continues north to the Río Eléctrico, beyond the park boundaries, where a westbound trail climbs the river to Piedra del Fraile and a possible circuit of the Campo de Hielo Sur. This is only for experienced snow-and-ice trekkers. At the Río Eléctrico, it’s also possible to rejoin the road from El Chaltén to Lago del Desierto.

From the park visitors center, a short ascent (about 45 minutes) leads to the Mirador de los Cóndores, for good views of El Chaltén and the confluence of the Río de las Vueltas and the Río Fitz Roy.

From the same trailhead, the hike to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado is a 500-meter elevation gain that yields some of the area’s best views. Weather permitting, the panorama takes in Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, Cerro Solo, Glaciar Torre, and Lago Torre, but the wind at the overlook can be overpowering. Four hours is about right for an average hiker, but the truly fit can do it in three. The descent takes about 2.5 hours.

Glaciar Viedma

From Lago Viedma’s north shore, south of El Chaltén, the park’s best lake excursion is the Viedma Discovery’s full-day catamaran to Glaciar Viedma, which can include an ice-climbing component. The less ambitious can settle for just a boat trip.

Sailing from Bahía Túnel, the vessel rounds the ironically named Cabo de Hornos (Cape Horn) to enter an iceberg-cluttered area before anchoring in a rocky cove. After disembarking, visitors hike to an overlook (the glacier is Argentina’s largest, though its lakeside face is small) with additional views of 2,677-meter Cerro Huemul. Those who want to can strap on crampons and continue onto the glacier for about 2.5 hours (even some sedentary city-dwellers do so).

The bilingual guides know glaciology. While the price here does not include lunch, they do provide an aperitif on the glacial rocks.

Departure time from El Chaltén is 8:30am, while the boat sails from Bahía Túnel at 8:15am; the cost is US$160 pp, including transportation from El Chaltén. The more demanding “Viedma Pro” version, which involves ice climbing, costs US$200. The twice-daily “Viedma Light” boat trip alone is US$55 pp. For details, contact Patagonia Aventura (Av. San Martín 56-B, tel. 02962/49-3110, El Chaltén).

Parque Nacional Los Glaciares map in Argentinean Patagonia

Map of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares in Argentina


Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

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Best Haleakala Hikes https://moon.com/2017/11/best-haleakala-hikes/ https://moon.com/2017/11/best-haleakala-hikes/#respond Thu, 30 Nov 2017 20:10:22 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=22158 If you’re an outdoors enthusiast, no trip to Maui is complete without tackling at least one of Haleakala’s trails. With that thought in mind, here’s a rundown of the most popular hikes, listed from shortest to longest.

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Thanks to the colorful cinder cones and trails that crunch underfoot, anyone who hikes across Haleakala Crater will swear they could be on the moon. Covering a total of 19 square miles, the crater basin is a vast wilderness with 30 miles of trails. It’s a place of adventure, mythology, and silence—and home to Maui’s best hiking. If you love the outdoors, no trip to Maui is complete without a spending a day on the crater floor.

Hikers need to be prepared, however, as temperatures can range from 30°F to 80°F over the course of a single day. The hiking is at high elevation, 7,000 to 10,000 feet, and hiking back up generally takes twice as long as the hike down. Hike Maui (808/879-5270, $179) is the only company that offers commercially guided hiking tours. Should you go on your own, here’s a rundown of the most popular hikes, listed from shortest to longest. All mileage is round-trip.

landscape view of Haleakala National Park, home of the best hiking in Maui

No Maui trip is complete within a visit to Haleakala National Park. Photo © mdlart/iStock.

Pa Ka‘oao

0.4 mile
If you don’t feel like watching the sunrise with 200 other people, huff your way up the five-minute Pa Ka‘oao Trail that leaves from the Visitors Center parking lot. The view from the top looks down toward the crater, and it’s better than from the parking lot. Bring a flashlight for the walking the trail before sunrise.

Leleiwi Overlook

0.5 mile
Running late for sunrise? Consider hiking to Leleiwi Overlook (8,840 feet). Located by mile marker 17.5, Leleiwi has smaller crowds and is usually warmer. The view looks down on the crater floor and the sheer multihued cliffs, although since the lookout faces east, it isn’t as good for sunset.

Hosmer’s Grove Nature Trail

0.5 mile
Unlike other trails in the park, the Hosmer’s Grove Nature Trail is at the park’s lower boundary just after you enter the park. The short trail loops through a dense grove of trees, planted in 1910 as part of an unsuccessful experiment to test the viability of the lumber industry. Surrounded by sweet-smelling pine and fir, grab a fleece and go for a stroll through the 20-plus species of trees, listening for forest birds that flit around in the treetops. To reach the trailhead, make a left on the road pointing toward the campground immediately after entering the park. The walk, over mostly level ground, should take 30 minutes. To extend the trip, hike the Supply Trail for 2.3 miles to where it meets with the crater rim.

Halemau‘u Trail (Switchback Trail)

7.5 miles
Beginning from an altitude of only 7,990 feet, the first 1.1 miles of the Halemau‘u Trail meander through scrub brush before bringing you to the edge of a 1,000-foot cliff. The view down into the Ko‘olau Gap is better here than from the summit, and although the trail is well-defined, the drop-offs can be a bit disconcerting. After 3.7 miles—and a 1,000 foot drop—the trail passes Holua Cabin, where you can turn around. Tack on another mile by continuing to Silversword Loop, a section of the crater known for its numerous ‘ahinahina, or endangered silversword plants.

the barren landscape of the Sliding Sands hiking Trail in Haleakala National Park

The 8-mile Keonehe‘ehe‘e (Sliding Sands) Trail is barren and windswept, but offers sweeping views of cinder cones. Photo © photo75/iStock.

Keinehe‘ehe‘e Trail (Sliding Sands Trail)

8 miles
Starting at the summit visitor center at 9,800 feet, Keonehe‘ehe‘e descends 2,500 vertical feet to the crater floor below. This trail is barren, windswept, without shade, and a stunning conduit to the cinder cones. You can turn around anytime you want to hike out. Continuing to Kapalaoa Cabin adds 3.5 miles round-trip.

Sliding Sands-Switchback Loop

12.2 miles
If you’re in good shape and have a full day to devote to exploring the crater, this is hands-down the best day hike in the summit area. Park at the Halemau‘u trailhead, then hitch a ride to the top, where you’ll hike down to the crater floor on the Sliding Sands Trail. Follow the signs toward Holua Cabin and the Halemau‘u Trail, where a leg-burning, switchbacking, 1,000-foot climb leads back to the car.

If you really want an island adventure that you’ll never forget, consider hiking the trail at night in the light of a full moon. For this night hike, bring a backpack of extra clothing, carry extra water and a flashlight, and dress for windchill that can drop below freezing any time of year.

Kaupo Gap

Of all the hikes in Haleakala Crater, none are more legendary, or more extreme, than “shooting” the Kaupo Gap, a two-day trip, with a stay at Paliku campground, that drops 9,500 vertical feet over 17.5 miles. Permits are required for camping at Paliku, in the crater’s remotest corner, 9.2 miles from the Sliding Sands trailhead.

On the second day of the hike, you’ll descend from Paliku outside the national park boundary, and legally continue across private land until you reach Kaupo Store. Along the trail, keep an eye out for goats and deer that roam the windswept grasslands. When you finally finish the hike in Kaupo, it’s best if you’ve prearranged a ride. If not, you may have to convince the rare passerby to shuttle your sweaty body all the way to the other side of the island. Despite the logistical challenges and the grueling backcountry terrain, this is a unique and memorable hike.

Map of Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

Haleakala National Park


Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Hawaii.

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