We may be a little crazy, but we decided to self trek Salkantay to Machu Picchu without bringing a tent. No tour, no guide, no reservations. We trekked for five days and were able to find guest houses and cheap local restaurants along the way, and saved hundreds of dollars in the process. We’ve done all the work so now all you need to do is ditch the tour and get out there.
Colca Canyon offers multi-day trekking in one of the world’s deepest gorges. Located in southern Peru, this area offers challenging hikes with many route options. There is no need to book an expensive tour as this trek can be done cheaply and easily using this detailed planning guide.
Many South American backpackers endure a painful 30 hour bus ride all the way from Ecuador to Lima to start their trip in Peru. While it is true that northern Peru does not have the huge tourist draws of the south, there are still good ways to break up this trip. We explored the northeastern part of the country and found five places to visit on your trip south.
Before traveling to Peru, the Cordillera Blanca mountain range wasn’t even on our radar. But after completing the high altitude hike to Laguna 69 and seeing its glacier crowned electric blue waters, we can confirm that this is a hike which rivals even the most sought after routes in Patagonia like Torres del Paine. Take a look at our photos and see why you need to add this area to your next South American adventure.
Ecuador is one of the most diverse countries on the planet. Incredible Andean mountains, active volcanoes, Amazonian wilderness and rich sea life. Explore the country’s best hiking and wildlife on a budget with this adventurous one month Ecuador itinerary.
Cajas National Park is one of the most unique high altitude hiking areas in the world and one of the most beautiful parts of Ecuador. The many trails can be done on a day trip from Cuenca without the need for an expensive tour using this Cajas hiking guide.
The Quilotoa Loop is a multi-day trek through the Ecuadorian Andes, culminating at the incredible crater of Quilotoa Lake. There is no need to book an expensive tour as this trek can be done cheaply and easily by using this detailed planning guide.
The noise of the jungle is deafening, but some calls are so strange, so unique that they stand tall amongst the crowded reverberation of insects and animals. This we determined when the startling song of the oropendola lured us from sleep deep in Ecuadorian Amazonia. The mating call, best described as an electronic interpretation of a surfacing water bubble echoing in a cave, was alone worth the trip to this remote rainforest. But this bird barely scratched the surface of wonders in this remote forest.
The hike down the laughably steep rim turned out to be the easy part. Sliding down into an ancient volcanic crater should have been the worst, save for the climb back up, but bushwhacking through the cauldron had left us scraped and bruised. Despite the theme of disappearing trails and thorn bushes, hiking in an orchid forest surrounded by the craggy caldera was an experience exceeding our expectations.
The ice and volcanic sand pelted our cheeks, creating a stinging reminder that we stood near the top of one of the world’s tallest active volcanoes. The frozen drizzle, whipping wind and ankle deep gravel made hiking along the 40 degree slope tough to appreciate, despite the sweeping view of the valley and surrounding ridges. Later, as we stood at the base of the towering cone, soaking up the sun with the clouds finally parted, the majestic glacier and vivid colors made up for the earlier pain.