Adventures in the Gorges du Verdon, the Grand Canyon of Provence

“Provence”. The name probably makes you picture cute villages and lavender fields, but did you know that it is in this area that you can find one of Europe’s most grandiose canyon?
It looks like that:

 

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A million years back, during the last ice age, the river found its way in the rocks, creating the Gorges du Verdon.

 

Difficult to seize properly the dimension of the Canyon on a picture… Try to imagine that the limestone walls are 700 m (higher than 2 Eiffel towers on top of each other!) and that the emerald river Verdon runs in the canyon over 25 kilometres, creating a fantastic playground for outdoor lovers.  By foot, by car, by canoe or climbing, discover in this article the many ways to explore this jewel of Provence.

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Hiking around El Chalten (Argentina) – a 3 day trek by Fitz Roy

After 22 hours of bus, on a straight road in the middle of flat and boring steppes land, we saw its silhouette in the distance: the famous Fitz Roy chain. Slowly, the silhouette becomes sharper and bigger, until revealing a fantastic mountain range like created from shark tooth, surrounded by a beautiful grey laguna and several glaciers. We arrived to the promised land of El Chalten, self-proclaimed capital of trekking of Argentina.

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The dream starts at the end of a 22h bus ride.

El Chalten offers plenty of hiking possibilities: you can easily take day hikes but why not going for a mini trek for a more immersive Patagonia experience?

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Kungsleden, a 7 days trek above the Arctic circle

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Kungsleden, “the royal trail”, it’s a 450km trail running into the swedish mountains of Lappland, above the Arctic circle. Thousands of hikers come every year in summer to complete a portion  (or all!) of one of the most beautiful treks on the planet and enjoy full wilderness – not even phone connection! The first part of the trail, between Abisko to Nikkaluokta is a rewarding 5-7 days trek.

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5 ways to get close to glaciers in Patagonia

 Ever since I watched the fantastic documentary Chasing Ice by James Balog (see the trailer here) I have been fascinated by glaciers. I wanted to get close to them, to touch them, to explore them. In Patagonia, my dreams became true.
The glaciers of Patagonia are among the most accessible in the world. Did you know that the Southern Patagonian ice field is actually the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water? It stretches between Chile and Argentina, over 12.000sqkm. It feeds more than 40 glaciers in the area among them the famous Perito Moreno (El Calafate,  Argentina) but also glaciers Viedma (El Chalten, Argentina) and Grey (NP Torres del Paine, Chile) , all really accessible to the active traveler.
Getting close to glaciers is the number one  on the list of my must do in Patagonia.

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Sao Paulo’s gourmets’ secrets

19 millions inhabitants, 13.000+ restaurants, 15.000 bars. The figures talk for themselves: Sao Paolo is a monster city that can easily intimidate travellers. But it’s an excellent destination that gourmets should not miss during their visit to Brazil.

Thanks to my dear brazilian friend Regina, I discovered a trendy, sophisticated and hipster Sao Paolo that delights even the pickiest gourmets. For those who aren’t lucky enough to have a brazilian friend -get one!-, I am sharing a few local secrets…

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How much should you pay for your trek to Machu Picchu?

Arrival at the camp on the first day of the Salkantay trek

Arrival at the camp on the first day of the Salkantay trek

For many travellers to Peru, the trek to the inca site of Machu Picchu is the highlight of their trip to Peru. Many prepare it many months in advance, but many arrive without anything booked. In Cusco, the old capital of the inca empire and departure point for the mythic ruins, trying to choose a tour operator for what shoud remain as a once in a lifetime experience can be quite overwhelming. Hundreds of agencies are lined up on the streets and where you can’t walk around without being shout at by some dynamic “Machu Picchu? Tourist information?“. The situation gets even more tricky once you realize that, for what seems to be the very same experience, prices of a trek can vary from $195 to $600 (or even $2000 if you don´t want to camp). In this jungle of offers, how to choose?

 

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Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu: it’s like Peru in a nutshell

With this 5 days trek, you leave from bursting Qosqo (Cusco) to start hiking into a fantastic valley, you will pass amazing snow y andean peaks, admire glaciers and lakes, cloud forest and humid jungles before ending up at the amazing archaeologic site of Machu Picchu.
The trek brings you in the steps of the chaskis´ steps, the inca messengers. Thanks to a vast network of inca trails which was connecting Cusco, mountains and the jungle and a system of relay, a message could reach Machu Picchu from Qosqo in only 5h. For you, it will be in 5 days, on one of the world´s top 25 treks, according to National Geographic.

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Under the charm of Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia (Chile)

If you are following our trip “live”, you may have noticed we have been silent for more than a week. No posts, no tweets, no Instagram pictures. So what did we do the last 8 days? We walked. 151kms to be precise, for more than 47 hours of hiking, over 8 days and 8 nights of camping to explore one of the jewels of Patagonia: National Park Torres del Paine (Chile). I am now sharing the magic of this place in 14 pictures captioned with extract from my travel diary. Enjoy the trip!

 

1. Kilometer 0, day 1: the starting point of the “Circuit” trek

Fresh and excited. Note that we are doing the trek in autonomy and carrying around 30kg of equipment between us 2: tent, mattress, sleeping bags, food for 8 days.

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Rio Azul loop, 3 day trek around El Bolson

Is it the fresh air of the mountains and the tasty water from the glaciers that makes people from El Bolson so happy? Guidebooks have described El Bolson as a hippie community, and if not all wear dreadlocks, you have to admit that these people seems to know how to live! The good news is that the mountains around El Bolson offer infinite possibilities for hiking, a good chance to check it by yourself, for example with this beautiful 3 days trek.

Why go hiking around El Bolson?

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Is it the Shire? No, it’s Argentina!

 

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Into the wild: our first 2 day trek in autonomy

Walking kilometers, we have done. Trekking for several days too. Climbing submits, as well. But so far, all our hikes always ended up with a nice meal not cooked by us, and a night in a tent nor carried nor pitched by us. In prevision of our upcoming 9 days of trek in south Patagonia, we decided it was time to take the pluge and do our first trek in autonomy. A recommendation from an outdoor shop sales guy and here we were: on active volcano Villarica close to Pucon, Chile ; ready to conquer the first part of the Villarica traverse with a bit less than 20kg of equipment between us two. What could possibly go wrong?

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