Choosing between the Andes and Himalayas

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of January 8-14, 1998
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Choosing between the Andes and Himalayas
Question: I'm planning to take a cultural trekking trip for three weeks. I can't decide between Peru and Nepal. Any ideas?

Simon Nurse
Cardiff, Wales

The terraced hills of Peru may be
the perfect vacation choice

Adventure Adviser: Is this a trick question? Because there's no wrong answer here. That said, I'd probably choose Nepal over Peru.

From my point of view, Nepal is a bit more exotic with the world's highest mountains, the eclectic catch-all city of Kathmandu, various religious expressions, and indigenous cultures that are far removed from our Western way of thinking.

Plus I think Nepal is a bit safer in remote areas. On the other hand, Peru has tremendous Mayan ruins, endless green terraced hills stretching as far as the eye can see, a diverse cultural history, and great wool sweaters.

Before you choose, I'd take a serious look at the cost discrepancy between the two countries. From the United States, it would probably be much less expensive to go to Peru, but from England, it's a toss-up.

I did a land-only price comparison with KE Adventure Travel, a company that offers trips to both Peru and Nepal. Surprisingly, at $3,295, their 21-day trip called "Peru's Remote Cordillera Vilcabamba" was more expensive than any of their 21-day Nepal trips, which ranged in price from $2,275 to $3,195.

Ironically, the picture they show of the trek in Peru looks as if it was shot in Nepal. If you'd like to use an outfitter for this trip, contact U.S.-based KE Adventure Travel at 303-292-0458, or e-mail them at [email protected]

I'd also try to get a sense of the safety situation in each country. You may be a person who likes traveling among guerrillas, but if you don't want to hassle with political uprisings or a possible kidnapping, you should try to keep on top of the situation in Peru.

A good way to do this is to get in touch with the U.S. State Department. Though Peru is much safer than it was a few years ago, there are still isolated incidents that will make your blood curdle.

Last but not least, I'd spend a few hours in a book store browsing through the picture-book section trying to get a feel for what you'd actually see in each country. Then I'd take a deep breath and go with your gut.

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