Central and South America

The Trip Finder, January 1997


Central and South America
By Kathy Martin O'Neil


Argentina/Bolivia | Belize | Chile | Colombia/Costa Rica | Costa Rica | Ecuador | Paraguay | Classic Patagonia | Peru | Classic Peru

Argentina/Bolivia
Trekking the High Andean Puna
The Route
An eight- to 16-day journey to one of South America's more inaccessible corners, including a weeklong trek to the stone villages of Inca descendants and a salt lake populated by flamingos, guanacos, and llamas
When To Go
Mar - Nov
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
Trekking is wet business here. Pack a sturdy pair of running shoes or sport sandals to switch with your hiking boots for occasional river crossings.
High/Low Points
Exploring a region of the Andes that until now has seen fewer than 30 hikers per year
Suddenly experiencing vertigo on a stretch of two-foot-wide cliffside trail at 10,000 feet

Outfitters Departures Price*
Above the Clouds Trekking
Southwind Adventures
Wildland Adventures
4
on demand
5
$2,250-$2,500
$1,865
$1,259


Belize
Kayaking the Upper Moho
The Route
A six-day exploration of the Upper Moho watershed in Belize's southern Maya Mountains, including a jungle trek, a three-day paddle in inflatable kayaks, and stops at the Blue Creek Wildlife Sanctuary and the Hokeb Ha cave system
When To Go
Dec - Apr
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
Because of the humidity, you'll quickly sweat off any bug repellent you put on your skin. Instead, smear a cap and a bandanna with bug dope before putting them on.
High/Low Points
Rounding a bend in the river to find a solitary eagle perched in a sapodilla tree
Discovering that a parasitic beefworm has burrowed under your skin for incubation

Outfitters Departures Price*
Islands Expedition Co.
12
$999


Chile
Climbing Ojos del Salado
The Route
A 16-day journey through the Chilean Altiplano to the summit of the world's highest volcano, 22,539-foot Ojos del Salado, including day hikes in the Atacama Desert and visits to salt lakes and natural hot springs
When To Go
Dec - Mar
Difficulty
Strenuous
Travel Advisory
Ojos is not a technical climb, but altitude and weather, along with scree slopes and patches of snow and ice, dictate that you have some mountaineering experience and be in excellent shape.
High/Low Points
Telling friends that you spent the night at 19,350-foot Refugio Tejos, one of the highest mountain huts in the world
Acclimatizing during ten days of warm-up climbs before finally tackling Ojos itself

Outfitters Departures Price*
Aventuras Patagonicas
Condor Adventures
$2,700
$1,850
1
1


Colombia/Costa Rica
Diving Among Hammerheads at Malpelo Island
The Route
A ten-day expedition for advanced divers on a luxury live-aboard yacht to the newest big-animal dive spot in the Pacific, between Cocos Island and the coast of Colombia, featuring huge populations of hammerheads and giant manta rays
When To Go
Jan - Aug
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
As remote as Cocos Island, Malpelo is a 30-hour boat trip from port at Golfito, Costa Rica, which means that though the boat is equipped for emergencies, you're far from mainland help should something go wrong.
High/Low Points
Facing off with hundreds of female hammerheads congregating along the granite wall at Carl's Corner
Battling seasickness in ten-foot ocean swells before you've even reached Malpelo

Outfitters Departures Price*
See & Sea Travel
14
$3,570


Costa Rica
Sportfishing the Caribbean Coast
The Route
A three- to eight-day deep-sea fishing expedition for tarpon and snook off the northeast coast. Base camp at Barra Colorado is an upscale fishing lodge in the rainforest with opportunities for canoeing, jungle hiking, and bird-watching
When To Go
Year-round
Difficulty
Easy
Travel Advisory
Silver King Lodge in Barra Colorado provides Orvis rods and reels for the catch-and-release action. You don't need advanced angling skills, but you do need enough stamina for fights that can last up to an hour.
High/Low Points
Sensing a magnificent strike and watching a 100-pound tarpon vault eight feet into the air
Feeling your line go from taut to limp after a long battle with the Big One

Outfitters Departures Price*
Adventures
Costa Rica Experts
on demand
on demand
$1,395-$1,945
$1,178


Ecuador
Rafting the RŒo Upano
The Route
A ten- or 11-day raft or inflatable kayak trip on the River of Sacred Waterfalls, a rugged Class III-IV Amazon Basin waterway coursing through a rainforest canyon with 100-foot cascades and two dozen species of butterfly
When To Go
Nov - Mar
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
How wet do you want to get? ROW, which pioneered the Upano in 1992, runs it in large rafts, while Orange Torpedo clients follow a guide through the rapids in tippier inflatable kayaks.
High/Low Points
Making way for the balsa rafts steered by native Shuar people, who have populated these riverbanks for centuries
Discovering that an array of 1,500 bird species can make an unholy racket at night

Outfitters Departures Price*
Orange Torpedo Trips Inc.
ROW
2
5
$1,995
$1,745


Paraguay
Wildlife Safari in the Chaco
The Route
Four or 11 days of jungle trekking, horseback riding, paddling, and touring with a naturalist through the scrub forest and palm savannah of Paraguay's Gran Chaco region in search of birds, butterflies, and the rare tagu¤, a wild boar
When To Go
Year- round
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
Extend your trip to visit the spectacular Iguassu Falls, a five-hour drive south of Asunciün, or to paddle the Paraguayan Pantanal in the north.
High/Low Points
Spotting macaws, red-breasted toucans, and jabiru storks in the Chaco--the Quechua word for "hunting grounds"
Having the naturalist thrust one too many Paraguayan bugs up to your face for inspection

Outfitters Departures Price*
Forum Travel International
Safaricentre
weekly
on demand
$1,831*
$605-$1,350


Classic Patagonia
Sea Kayaking Tierra del Fuego
The Route
An 11- to 16-day paddle among the fjords and calving glaciers of the southernmost tip of South America, where the peaks of the Charles Darwin Range soar up to 8,000 feet and leopard seals, penguins, and cormorants inhabit the inlets
When To Go
Nov - Feb
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
Despite Patagonia's extreme weather, this trip is appropriate for beginner and intermediate paddlers: Protected channels in the fjords shelter kayakers from the infamous gale-force winds.
High/Low Points
Paddling up to still-unnamed waterfalls and glaciers in fjords approachable only by sea
Negotiating your kayak through swells generated by building-size chunks of falling ice

Outfitters Departures Price*
Outer Edge Expeditions
Safaricentre
Whitney & Smith
Wilderness Travel
2
2
1
8
$2,190
$1,580
$2,750
$2,695


Peru
Trekking to the Lost City of Choquequirao
The Route
A 14- to 21-day journey through the cloud forests of the Vilcabamba Range, featuring an eight- to 18-day trek over 15,000-foot mountain passes to a recently rediscovered Inca city, possibly the final refuge of the last emperors
When To Go
May - Oct
Difficulty
Strenuous
Travel Advisory
On this archaeological expedition, you'll be following in the footsteps of Peruvian scientists and historians who recently began charting the ruins, first mentioned in writing in 1910 by explorer Hiram Bingham.
High/Low Points
Catching the first glimpse of the Lost City, set at 10,000 feet against a backdrop of ice-coated peaks
Mastering the cable crossing of the Apurimac River

Outfitters Departures Price*
American Wilderness Experience
Condor Adventures
Journeys International
Southwind Adventures
Wilderness Travel
Wildland Adventures
1
1
on demand
on demand
3
1
$2,685
$2,250
$2,750
$2,495
$3,095
$2,755


Classic Peru
Exploring the Amazon Rainforest
The Route
A four- to eight-day journey by foot and canoe through the Amazon Basin's network of more than 1,000 rivers, including a visit to a 120-foot-high canopy walkway, dugout canoe excursions, and stays in rainforest lodges
When To Go
Year-round
Difficulty
Easy
Travel Advisory
You can't avoid rain, since this area gets precipitation 250 days a year--an average of seven inches per month. January and February mark the official wet season, but any day could be the wettest or driest of the year.
High/Low Points
Seeing eye to eye with a woolly monkey, red-nosed tree rat, or saddleback tamarin lounging in the giant mahogany and palm trees
Getting stung by ants as you climb tree trunks, stairways, and cables to the canopy walkway

Outfitters Departures Price*
International Expeditions
Journeys International
Nature Expeditions International
Overseas Adventure Travel
Safaricentre
Southwind Adventures
13
on demand
6
12
on demand
10
$1,898*
$995
$1,690
$1,590*
$810
$1,175

* includes airfare from U.S.

Copyright 1997, Outside magazine

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