Our trek to the Tongariro Crossing on New Zealand’s North Island was the trek that almost wasn’t. Winds were fierce, rains continued to pour down and visibility only seemed to get worse right up to the day before we were set to hike.
As night fell, winds began to subside and the rain slowed, but it still didn’t look good. We prepared ourselves for the worst.
The next morning, however, a shift. Timed for our late start, winds died further, clouds burned off and blue skies emerged. This was our Tongariro Crossing. Open up the panorama to full screen to see what we found: the Emerald Lakes, the Red Crater and hints of Mordor. Continue Reading »
This is a story about living in someone else’s shadow. It’s also the beginning of our answer to the question: New Zealand, North Island or South Island?
Imagine a geeky younger boy who grows up in the shadow of his brother, the all-star. The big brother gets all the attention, all the fame. But it’s the younger brother with whom you develop a special relationship, who was allowed to surprise you because you spent some time with him.
The New Zealand advice mantra of choice: “Get amongst it!”
This is our relationship with New Zealand’s North Island. It lives in the travel shadow of its South Island brother. Sure, the South Island is spectacular (yes, we’ll get to that), but it’s on the North Island that our New Zealand love affair began.
While most may steer you directly to the South Island when asked about New Zealand travel, we take a different approach. Visit both. Really. You can thank us later. Continue Reading »
This is a story about faraway places and our relationship to the somewheres we dream of visiting. It’s also about the fact that we fly to New Zealand next Monday.
Some places on our planet seem to lend themselves to the imagination, that is to the image of the mind, to putting eyes closed and attempting to place yourself somewhere you’ve never been. Think about it: there are endless beautiful places on Earth that evince all manner of beauty, but among them, there are a few special places whose reputation so precedes them.
One of those places: New Zealand. Continue Reading »
Have you ever been hiking and witnessed colors so surreal that you find it difficult to believe they’re natural?
The turquoise hue of Lake Pehoe in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile certainly falls into this category. Open up the panorama below to see for yourself. Continue Reading »
A few ideas on how walking up a big pile of volcanic rocks in Africa can teach you something about life.
For some, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is another check box on a “to do” list. For me it turned out to be a journey — in its own way, an epic exercise in achievement.
Like any journey of significance, themes emerged. Somewhere beyond Kilimanjaro’s snow-patched Uhuru Peak, I learned and relearned some lessons that resonated beyond the mountain-climbing task at hand. Continue Reading »
- Climbing Kilimanjaro: Life Lessons from the Top of Africa
- Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: Day by Day
- Climb Kilimanjaro: Equipment and Preparation
While we’re not usually ones to wake up early, sometimes we’ve been rewarded for the effort when we have. Waking up to double rainbows while camping atop El Hoyo volcano in Nicaragua was one of those moments. Continue Reading »
Deserts and dictators. Yurts and nomads. Silk Road cities, staggering yet underrated mountain ranges, Soviet detritus, and one of the world’s greatest road trips.
This is Central Asia. The ‘Stans. Never well understood, but absolutely worth an attempt to understand.
A glimpse of Pik Lenin (23,000+ feet) along the Pamir Highway near the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.
Continue Reading »
“What has been your best travel experience?”
Often asked, but impossible to answer.
However, if we were locked away and forced to choose just one experience in order to get out, the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal just might be it. This uber-trek (we took 17 days, some opt for several-day segments and others take a month or more) combines some of the best of what travel has to offer: rich culture, diverse people, stunning landscape, lurking adventure, breathtaking exertion and profound circumstances to clear the mind. Continue Reading »
On the topic of trekking in Patagonia, the two names most bandied about: Chile’s Torres del Paine and Argentina’s El Chalten. Although their hunks of uplifted granite are similar enough, the prevailing style of hikes they offer are quite different.
Whereas the “W” and Circuit treks at Torres del Paine are mainly about the long haul, El Chalten’s strength: its day hikes. On the edge of Argentina’s Glacier National Park (Parque Nacional Los Glaciares), El Chalten also offers the thrill of nature at a lower cost than its Chilean neighbor — with the added feature of a microbrewery on the way home from the hills.
In other words, two Patagonian trekking centers; two rather different experiences. Continue Reading »
Most articles we read about Torres del Paine National Park in Chile focus on Patagonian meadows, turquoise lakes, and rose-tinted granite towers in sunrise.
We’ll allow our photos to do that bit for us.
Instead, we’ll take a different tack and share some of the lessons –- about yourself, your marriage (if you have one), Patagonia, expectations, life, and travel – you might learn from trekking in Torres del Paine. Continue Reading »