Iceland in a Weekend: Ice Caving in Photos

The first time I went to Iceland I was extremely unsuccessful in visiting an ice cave due to rain and flooding. But not this time! We visited two ice caves on our wonderful tour with Local Guides of Vatnajokull. Here’s the tour in photos.

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El Chalten: Laguna de los Tres in pictures

We had time for one hike in El Chalten and we chose the Laguna de los Tres hike. I strongly advise going to Hosteria El Pilar via the Las Lengas shuttle (you can buy a ticket in the bus station). You get to see more stuff this way and you end the hike in El Chalten where you can pick up a delicious empanada from Che Empanadas (no website, it’s on the main road that you walk back from).

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the dropoff point near Hosteria del Pilar
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the first mirador along the hike. if you wait here a bit, you will hear ice breaking.
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it gets cloudy so you may have to wait a bit. bring cards and/or lunch.
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but Fitz Roy does peak out eventually (haha, get it?)
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only to go back into hiding

The W Trek in Torres del Paine in pictures

We did the W trek from West to East, saving the Torres del Paine for our last day. Here’s our trek in pictures.

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everyone wants a picture on the catamaran through Lago Grey
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the beginning of the trek
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you should stay in Grey just to walk to these suspension bridges
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through the Valley Francés
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still going through the Valley Francés, this is the longest day
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at Britanico!
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the trail abuts this beach on the third day
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there are a lot of suspension bridges..
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we made it to Torres del Paine!

Do the W trek in Torres del Paine without a guide!

So I don’t really like to take tours when I go hiking, mostly because I like to go my own pace and sometimes like to spend longer or shorter in a specific place than tours usually allow. For the W trek, I decided to try and do it on my own. Guys, it is SO easy and much cheaper to do everything on your own. Everything is super well-marked. Here is a step by step guide to creating your own W trek.

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Quetzaltrekkers: Xela to Atitlan

Quetzaltrekkers is a fantastic organization and this was an amazing trek. The guides are all volunteers and they donate all of their proceeds to a local school. They were also super friendly; they arranged our transportation from Guatemala and also accommodated us when our shuttle was late to the pre-trip meeting. Everything (camping gear, food, housing) is included in the trek price of 750 quetzales. Over the 3 days we ate delicious food, saw beautiful landscapes, and met many wonderful people. Also, there’s a sauna and smoothies and some of the best trail mix ever! If you have time and are reasonably fit, do not hesitate. Just go! Words can’t demonstrate how beautiful everything on the hike was so I’ll try to do it with pictures.

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first views of the countryside after the slightly strenuous first portion of the hike

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Hiking up Acatenango Volcano in photos

Antigua is a great base for exploring volcanoes and ruins. We went for a overnight hike with Ox Expeditions up Acatenango (with an optional extension to Fuego) and it was an amazing experience. While it’s not cheap ($89/person including lunch, dinner, and breakfast and camping gear), I felt taken care of and the porters and guides were really friendly. Note that the hike is strenuous and you may get altitude sickness so it’s important to go with a knowledgeable guide.  Continue reading “Hiking up Acatenango Volcano in photos”

Cappadocia: Part 2 (Photos from the Ground)

We had a wonderful time exploring Cappadocia by foot on the Golden Hiking Tour with New Goreme Tours. Our guide Gulsah was super friendly and knowledgeable about the landscape and history. She also taught us our new favorite Turkish phrase, “Tehlike Benim Adim,” which means “Danger is my name.” This is apparently what Turkish people say upon seeing a sign that says TEHLIKE. On our tour, we explored the Pigeon and Love Valleys as well as the Rose and Red Valleys. It was uber hot but we stopped often at little cafes to hang out with locals, who all seemed to know and like Gulsah. There were lots of places to buy 1TL bottles of water (sweet deals!). Here’s a photo tour of our hike:
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Let’s Explore NY: Lakes and Farms Aplenty in Upstate New York

I spent the weekend in Kerhonkson, NY where we had a great time filled with relaxation, nature, and fresh produce. Our first stop on the way up from NYC was A Tavola (food was delicious and fresh, decor was upscale rustic) in New Paltz. New Paltz just might be one of the hippest cities upstate. There are bars, guitar shops, and many restaurants so it seemed like a really cool place to hang out on a Friday night.
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Climbing all 730 steps to the Monastery in Petra

For our second day in Petra, we decided to go up to the Monastery. This trail is not as long as the trail to view the Treasury so yay! but there is very little shade so you do still have to absolutely bring water! There is a nice man that sells water just before the beginning of the trail for 1 dinar. Buy some. Also, in the summer, do not attempt this trail between the hours of 12pm and 3pm. It is WAY too hot and we saw many people give up and turn back. After those disclaimers, here are some lovely things you will see along the way before reaching the Monastery, which is beautiful and huge!
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Photo Tour of the “Secret” Trail in Petra

One of my lifelong goals has been to visit Petra and it did not disappoint. While I was looking for information about it online, I came across some posts about a secret trail that brings you to a view above the Treasury. I still managed to get lost a bit before finding the trail so I decided to make a fool-proof guide to locating the trail and show you what you will see along the way. Note that the full trail back and forth will take about 1.5 hours and it includes quite a few steps. I recommend doing it in the afternoon to hide from the heat and see a great view of the sun set over the valley below. The trail is not exactly a secret; it is marked on the map as the Al-Khubtha Trail and there are signs pointing to the trailhead.
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Alien Landscapes in Joshua Tree

We spent the weekend in Joshua Tree National Park, which was super amazing. It’s about a 2 hour drive outside of LA and along the way, you see dozens of wind farms. We drove there at night and the wind farms look even more interesting in the dark. Many of the turbines have red lights that flash on and off to warn aircrafts of their presence so out of nowhere you’ll see bunches of red lights randomly appearing in mid-air.
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Rock Scrambles (and Shooting) In New Hampshire

New Hampshire is an interesting place. Its motto is “Live Free or Die”, which means that you can pretty much do anything there. I like to go to New Hampshire for the hiking. It’s the the closest place with legitimate mountains and I especially enjoy mountains with rock scrambles. Here are my three favorites in order of ascending difficulty; all peaks are above 4000 feet.
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Hiking a mountain and meeting a troll in Seattle, Washington

 It’s important to know what kind of hike you are doing. For example, a pair of Converse is not appropriate for a 16-mile hike up Silver Peak in Snoqualmie National Forest. Ah well, the scenery was lovely and and my feet did not suffer too much. There is a beautiful lake where one can rest and have a picnic lunch in the middle of the hike.

We spent the end of the day in Fremont, a neighborhood with a Lenin statue in the town square and a troll sculpture under the main bridge, finishing with a great sushi meal at Chiso.

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