Everest Base Camp Gear Packing List

Everest Base Camp Gear Packing List


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Here you’ll find a list of 32 items you’ll want to be sure you remember for a trek to Everest Base Camp. These are the essentials – you’ll also need to consider the essential travel documents you’ll need, as well as any optional extra items.

For more information on our Everest Base Camp adventure click here.

  1. Main piece of luggage – You’ll leave this in Kathmandu and only take what you need for the trail, which your porter will carry for you. We will provide one porter bag, this is a maximum weight of 10kg (22 pounds) per person, equivalent to around 50 litres of space per person.
  2. Sleeping bag – For the tea houses. Must be rated for four seasons, and down to at least -26C (-14F). We can provide these for you if needed.
  3. Daypack – For carrying items you’ll need throughout the day on the trail. Must be well fitting with supportive shoulder straps and a waist-strap. Should be large enough for your water bottle or bladder, raincoat, fleece, camera and personal items. Size 25-30 litres (2500 cubic inches).
  4. Hiking Boots – Waterproof boots with good ankle support and solid tread are required. Note it’s very important that your boots are well broken in and comfortable before your trip.
  5. Hiking Poles – We highly recommend bringing two poles with you to support your knees during the hikes. If you don’t have your own then we provide them, though you may prefer your own for comfort and training.
  6. Trail runners/light sandals – For casual wear, and in the tea houses in the evening.
  7. Waterproof rain jacket/shell – A breathable, rainproof and windproof unpadded shell jacket with a hood. Ponchos are not suitable.
  8. Waterproof/windproof rain pants – For keeping dry and warm while hiking. Wearing thermal underwear underneath these is best.
  9. Down jacket/sweater – It gets very cold on the trail, must be 800 loft/fill compulsory and good quality – you can hire a super-down jacket from us free of charge if you like.
  10. 2 fleece sweaters/jackets – One medium-weight to wear during the day and a light one for the evenings.
  11. 1 pair of fleece pants – For evening wear in the tea houses.
  12. 2 t-shirts – Quick-dry merino wool style, cotton t-shirts are not suitable.
  13. 1 long-sleeve shirt – Quick-dry.
  14. 1 pair hiking trousers – lightweight.
  15. 1 pair shorts – Quick-dry.
  16. Thermal underwear – One long-sleeved top and bottom set of thermal/polypropylene underwear.
  17. Underwear
  18. Pyjamas/nightwear
  19. 4 pairs of hiking socks – Must be good quality. At least two of these pairs must be warm so that they wick moisture away from the foot and minimise blisters.
  20. Travel towel
  21. Warm hat – Wool/fleece ski hat or similar.
  22. Sun hat – Wide brimmed to protect you from the sun.
  23. Sunglasses – With polarizing lenses to prevent glare.
  24. Waterproof gloves – Wool/fleece gloves with a waterproof outer shell.
  25. Water/hydration bladder – One 2 litre volume Camelbak style bladder and a 1 litre bottle.
  26. Torch/flashlight/headtorch – With extra batteries as the cold can decrease their life.
  27. Camera – Memory cards and batteries/charger (220V capable with plug adapter for Nepal).
  28. Dry Bag – Waterproof bag for protecting your camera equipment.
  29. Toiletries – Shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, facecloth, prescription medications, glasses/lenses, shaving gear, feminine hygiene products, wet wipes, hand sanitiser etc.
  30. Personal first aid kit – For any essential items including strapping tape, prescription medications and antibiotics that you know you’ll need e.g diarrhea, food poisoning, cold and flu, pain relief, hydration salts, and blister treatment if you are prone to blisters. Your guides also carry a comprehensive group first aid kit.
  31. Sun-block and lip balm – Maximum SPF UVA/UVB broad spectrum recommended all year in Nepal.
  32. 2 buffs or bandanas – One fleece to protect your face and airways in the cold air at altitude, and a thin one for the dusty trail. Easy to purchase in Kathmandu.
Our Guides Take On the Everest Marathon

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Everest Marathon – Our Guides are Taking it on for Charity


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Already heard about Mel and Elder’s Everest Marathon challenge and want to donate?

Make a Donation

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Our guides are pretty amazing people. They’re understanding, adaptable, enthusiastic, hilarious, superhuman backpack carrying superstars, who also happen to be awesome drivers and talented chefs, among lots of other great things. Mel, from Christchurch, New Zealand, and Elder, from Puerto Maldonado, Peru, are no different.

Elder began working for Active Adventures in Peru, and has since moved to New Zealand to be with his partner Ellie, where he guides for us. Elder now also guides for us in the Himalayas.

Elder Everest Base Camp Peru Flag
Elder proudly displaying the flag of his home country, Peru, at Everest Base Camp

Mel has guided for us in New Zealand for a number of years, and also guides for us in the Himalayas during the New Zealand off-season. Our Himalayas trips are overseen by experienced Kiwi Dan Keys, a New Zealand and Nepal guiding superstar.

Mel selfie EBC training
Mel grabbed this selfie whilst out training in the Everest Region. We’re not sure if it’s a smile or a grimace. You decide!

DK spends a large portion of each year in Nepal, and has established the Active Hearts Foundation, a charity focused on helping remote villages of the Himalayas.

Gokul-and-DK
Guides Gokul and DK grab a quick selfie during a rest on the trail

Here’s what DK had to say about Active Hearts Foundation:

“The Active Hearts Foundation is a group of trekking guides, family and friends from New Zealand, Nepal and the world, who lead expeditions through the Himalayas and want to give something back to the communities they live and work in. The Nepalese are wonderfully humble and caring folk who constantly make trekking tours magic by sharing their homes, culture and friendship. Active Hearts was formed to build school libraries in the remote villages of our local guides and porters and to assist with other small community projects. Since the devastating earthquakes of 2015 the focus has been on emergency shelter, food, water, sanitation and medical assistance.”

Having spent a lot of time in Nepal, the amazing local people, and the story of their resilience in a life with almost nothing have become a big part of the lives of both Mel and Elder. So they’ve decided it’s time for them to try to give something back to all of the smiling faces they pass every day on the trails of the Himalayas – so they’re doing the Everest Marathon and raising money for the Active Hearts Foundation. How cool is that?!

The race is on the 29th of May this year, and the pair are squeezing in as much training as they can alongside their busy guiding schedule in the Mount Everest region. You can follow both Mel and Elder’s training by checking out their blogs, Mel’s is here, and Elder’s is here. Watch this space for some more photos from the Himalayas, the guys’ training sessions, and the race day itself!

If you feel like donating to this amazing cause, then you can do so by clicking the button below. DK, Mel, and Elder will be extremely grateful.

Make a Donation

Guides Nick and Elder Take on the Motatapu Race

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Guides Nick and Elder take on the Motatapu Race

Guides Nick and Elder take on the Motatapu Race


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For those of you lucky enough to have been guided on an Active Adventures trip by Nick or Elder (or both if you were extra lucky!), you’ll be aware that they’re a couple of blokes who can’t get enough of the great outdoors. When they’re not guiding for us in New Zealand, they can be found leading guests on hiking trails in our other destinations – Nick in Europe, and Elder in Nepal. If you’re not familiar with these particular Active Adventures guides, check out the picture below:

Elder Nick lupins
Elder (left) and Nick appreciating the beautiful lupins during a ‘Weka’ trip

Nick and Elder often guide our New Zealand Biking Adventure ‘Weka’ trips together, and so are really good friends who are used to pushing each other to work hard when they’re out riding. 2018 is proving no different for these two so far, and they’ve decided they want to take on the challenge of one of New Zealand’s most popular races, the 47km Motatapu Mountain Bike Race.

Nick and Elder love their bikes so much, that they’ll be competing in the Motatapu midway through a 2-week ‘Weka’ trip as the race falls perfectly on the day the group will spend exploring Queenstown, close to where the race will finish. We managed, somehow, to catch up with Nick and Elder and quiz them on their decision to race in the Motatapu, their training, and if they’re in it to win it.

Q: Have you competed in this race before? What’s the terrain going to be like?

Nick: “This is the sixth time for me. There’s plenty of up and plenty of rivers!”

Elder: “It’s my second time, I love it. The terrain starts with a 15km road section, then it’s onto the single track, lots of ups, but some downs too!”

Q: Are you guys really competitive? Will you be racing to win or just out there to enjoy yourselves?

Nick: “I think everyone wants to win. But it will be a great team challenge. We’re always finding ways to compete with each other, especially on bikes! Ultimately we’ll be competing as a team, and we’re not allowed to be more than 2 minutes apart at any time during the race, so I’d say we’ll be pushing each other pretty hard!”

Elder: “Sure. I want to win. Sorry we want to win! Haha. I’d say I’m competitive but not obsessed.”

Q: Any secrets you’re willing to share with us about training, preparation, or staying fuelled during the race?

Nick: “Peanut butter is key. Haha! Seriously though, it is. There’ll definitely be a Fergburger or two involved in my pre and post race meals too.”

Elder: “I try and eat something every 6km or so. And before the race I’ll be loading up on carbs and making sure I eat a good breakfast.”

Q: Have you done much training? I guess the ‘Weka’ trips you’ve been guiding are enough….?

Nick: “You can always do more training but yeah the Weka trips have helped me keep a steady fitness.”

Elder: “I have been doing lots of running (I’m also running the Everest Marathon in May!) so I’ve been training for that, and of course some biking too. The Weka trips have been really helpful for endurance for biking, it’s a different kind of strength than marathon running.”

The Macpac Motatapu Race is taking place on Saturday the 10th of March, and we’ll make sure that the guys have a team of fans waiting at the finish line in Arrowtown with a cold beer for them! Whilst the boys aren’t riding the race for charity, if they do manage to win any money they intend to donate it to the Queenstown Trails Trust, a charity committed to developing a network of public trails around the Wakatipu Basin. Elder will be running the Everest Marathon in May this year, so watch this space for more details on that, and how you can donate to his chosen charity, Active Hearts Himalayas.

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We've Been Nominated for an AFAR Award!

We’ve Been Nominated for an AFAR Award!


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If you’ve got an opinion about your favourite places to travel, or your favourite operators to travel with, then please vote in the AFAR Travelers’ Choice Awards. If you’d be willing to vote for our Patagonia Hiking Adventure ‘Condor’ trip, in the category of Photography Expedition (that’s question 6 of the survey!) we’d really appreciate it! Click here to vote now!

We’re absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for the AFAR Travelers’ Choice Awards, in the category of Photography Expeditions – The Patagonia Hiking Adventure ‘Condor’ trip has been selected among the best trips you can go on, if photography is your passion. So we’re calling on all of you – that means past Condor travellers, past Active Adventures travellers, and all of you guys who think we’re pretty cool but haven’t been on a trip yet, to jump in and vote, we wanna win this thing!

Click Here to Vote Now

If you’re not familiar with our ‘Condor’ adventure, or you’re not sure it’s the perfect Photography Expedition then check out the video below, and some photo submissions from our past guests.

Guest Patrick Nguyen captured this shot on his Condor trip in January 2017 (The road approaching Torres del Paine National Park, and Mt Fitz Roy).

Torres del Paine

This is another one of Patrick’s from his January 2017 Condor trip (Guanacos in Torres del Paine National Park).

Guanacos Torres del Paine

This shot of the Condor bird, on his Condor trip, was captured by guest Justin de Beer in November 2017.

Condor bird

This photo was taken by guest Sarah Lundeen on her Condor trip in February 2017 (Gazing at Mt Fitz Roy and the glaciers, Torres del Paine National Park).

Mt Fitz Roy Sarah Lundeen

Still not convinced that our ‘Condor’ adventure is the ultimate photographic expedition? Check out our album of favourites here. And don’t forget to vote!

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Milford Wanderer sails the fiord.

What to Expect From Your Milford Sound Cruise


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Whether you’ve arrived into Milford Sound under your own steam via the Milford Track, or ridden the exciting 950m (3100ft) final descent from the Homer Tunnel to sea level by bus, we’re sure you’ll agree it is a magical place. The scale of the granite mountain faces, the flooded glacial valleys, and the mostly untouched forests, are simply breathtaking. Rudyard Kipling described this place as the eighth wonder of the world; it’s easy to see why.

Mitre Peak and its reflection in the still water of the Fiord.
A still day on Milford Sound gives a perfect reflection of Mitre Peak and the surrounding peaks.

So where does the name Milford Sound come from?

Milford Sound has had a bunch of name changes since it was discovered in 1812 by Sealer Captain John Grono, who named it Milford Haven after his home town in Wales. As us Kiwis have become more conscious of conservation, and protecting our Maori culture and influence, Milford Sound became Milford Sound/Piopiotahi in 1998. But wait! There’s more! Milford Sound is actually incorrectly named… A sound is a river valley which has been flooded by the ocean, and just like so much of our dramatic South Island, Milford was formed by glaciers, and so it’s a fiord. This is a popular trivia question, so take note for your New Zealand adventure!

Milford Sound has several permanent waterfalls, including Stirling Falls – more than three times the height of Niagara Falls. And Lady Bowen Falls; a short distance from the wharf area. Seeing as the granite landscape doesn’t absorb a drop of the annual 6,412mm (252in) rainfall, it made sense for Bowen Falls to be used to power the small town of Milford Sound.  It is during the regular periods of rain in Milford when the waterfalls really come alive. Hundreds of new falls cascade down the steep faces of the mountains, and if you catch Milford on a rainy day, why not name your own?

Group of kayaks approach Lady Bowen Falls
A group of Kayakers approach Lady Bowen Falls.

Overnight Cruise on Milford Sound

If you choose to take an overnight cruise on Milford Sound, you’ll be choosing luxury, tranquillity, and stunning natural beauty. You’ll board the ‘Milford Wanderer’ mid afternoon and cruise the 15km (9.3miles) out to the Tasman Sea, passing by Lady Bowen Falls, and getting close enough to Stirling Falls to feel the fresh spray from the Wanderer’s deck. As the afternoon fades into the coloured light of evening the captain will drop anchor in a sheltered cove, where you can go exploring with specialist nature guides, either by kayak or in the vessel’s small craft, until it’s time to climb back on board for your carvery buffet dinner and some stargazing with a glass of New Zealand wine.

Milford Wanderer sails the fiord.
The Milford Wanderer cruises, under sail, on the fiord.

The next morning we suggest emerging from your private cabin in time to watch the sunrise, it should help to clear your head if you really enjoyed the Kiwi wine! Then tuck in to a hearty buffet breakfast. Your captain will once again point the Milford Wanderer in the direction of the Tasman Sea, take this opportunity to do some wildlife spotting: Dolphins of three different species, New Zealand Fur Seals, and Fiordland Crested Penguins can all be seen at the right time of year in the Sound, alongside New Zealand’s vast array of native and introduced bird life. Occasionally, and most recently in 2016, a pod of Sperm Whales made the 15km (9.3miles) trip into Milford from the coast, marine biologists attributed this to the uncharacteristically low levels of rainfall for that time of year, which in turn allowed Phytoplankton to thrive, the whales’ main food source. If you get to see whales on your cruise you’ll be among a very lucky few – don’t forget your camera!

A seal swims amongst kayakers
A New Zealand Fur Seal playing amongst the kayaks.

Finally the Milford Wanderer will return to dock at the wharf, and we’re sure you’ll disembark rejuvenated, full of good food and great memories, to continue your New Zealand adventure.

Highlights of the Overnight Cruise:

  • Full length Milford Sound Cruise.
  • Optional access to a section of the Milford Track (guided).
  • Three course buffet dinner, fully licensed bar, cooked or continental breakfast.
  • Overnight on the Fiord in Harrison Cove.
  • Specialist Nature Guides for duration of the trip.

 Check out our Tui trip, Essence of the South Island, for an itinerary that includes the overnight option.

Day Cruise on Milford Sound

Several of our itineraries involve cruises on Milford Sound, it’s definitely one of the best ways to get out there and do it, to get up close with nature. The day cruise is included in our Weka itinerary, as well as our Kiwi, and Manuka trips.

Several companies operate daytime cruises from Milford Sound wharf, and we always aim to pick the most personal experience for our guests. We like the guys who only allow their vessel to be booked to half capacity, leaving you with plenty of room to chill out, roam around the decks, or visit the open wheel house and have a yarn with the Captain.

The two-hour Milford experience starts with a slow cruise up the left side of the fiord. Your captain will point out hanging forest, permanent waterfalls, and name some of the tallest peaks. The specialist nature guides on board can also help answer your questions about the geology and wildlife.

Once your vessel arrives at the Tasman Sea, the captain will turn her around and head slowly back up the opposite side of the glacial valley. On the return journey they like to point the bow towards Stirling Falls, and give you a chance, if you want, to be drenched by the spray of one of Milford’s highest permanent waterfalls. If there’s rain and wind, keep an eye out for Milford’s waterfalls to nowhere – try and grab a photo of the cascade before the wind blows it away.

A day trip boat points its bow into Stirling Falls.
A day trip boat points its bow into Stirling Falls.

We know that Milford Sound is right up there on many people’s bucket lists, and can be the greatest reason our guests choose to come to New Zealand in the first place. We have put together a list below of our trips that include either the overnight cruise, or the day trip. If you’d rather have a workout whilst you explore Milford, check out our Rimu itinerary for a kayaking option, or read our page on kayaking Milford Sound here.

kayakers taking a break on Milford Sound
Two kayakers enjoy a moment of quiet on Milford Sound.

Whichever you choose, know that the majesty of this place is reserved by its remoteness, and that by making the journey to Milford Sound itself, you are experiencing somewhere special, somewhere truly New Zealand in all its rawness, and somewhere that will stay with you long after you leave.

The Tour du Mont Blanc with Active Adventures
Facts About Machu Picchu To Outsmart Your Tour Guide

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"the best experience I've ever had."

“the best experience I’ve ever had.”


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A group cheering and waving near Mt Cook.
The crew from Andrea’s ‘Kiwi’ trip celebrating at Braemar Station.

Over the last twenty years or so we’ve been honing our skills in adventure travel. We started with a group of three guests on a trip around New Zealand’s South Island in 1996, and have progressed to taking groups to nine different countries on four different continents. As kiwis we are famous for our hospitality, we love welcoming people, taking care of people, and sharing in experiences with people. When our guests finally arrive in New Zealand, they’ll often pop into our office in Queenstown mid-trip, because like us, friendships are so important to them. We love being able to put a face to the voice we hear on the phone before the trip!

A group poses for a photo at Active Adventures HQ.
A group of Active adventurers meet Lynette and Fiona at Active HQ in Queenstown.

That hospitality, and the sharing of experiences with new visitors to any of the countries we travel in, are the reasons we love doing what we do. And it’s guests like Andrea Rudolph (recently returned from New Zealand adventures) who help us to remember that: ‘Not only was the scenery breathtaking and the tour well run but our fun loving adventurous group made it even more special. Even the experienced travelers in our group felt it was the best tour they had ever been on. It’s been difficult to settle back into my ’normal’ life after such a life-changing experience.’

We find that guests on our adventures, because they always share common interests (adventure being just one!) really buy in to this idea that sharing the experience makes it so much more powerful. The willingness to be honest and open with one another about your life, and your achievements, and even your regrets, adds another dimension to the experience in a way that we find difficult to put in to words.

 

Andrea wrote some lovely comments about her South Island Explorer trip the ‘Kiwi’. On top of that she also took the time to write an awesome poetic review about the trip, here’s some of our favourite bits:

Active Adventures had everything planned

For a ‘better than average’ trip to Kiwi land

Our fearless leaders, Rachel and Koru

In every instance knew what to do

prepped us on schedules and weather every day

And tried hard to make us listen to what they’d say.

 

Koru told myths of Maoris and war

His tales were creative and never a bore

He showed us plants like the silver fern

This land is so varied there’s a lot to learn.

 

The Hector’s dolphins near the beach were rare

They amazed us by doing flips in the air

At the wildlife center we saw kiwis being fed

And heard how they’re kept safe till they’re bred.

 

 Braemar gave us bright stars at night

Sharing toilets and co-ed showers was also a delight

We ran through the hills, and drank lots of wine

Singing old songs and jingles, it was divine.

 

New Zealand is perfect except for the sandflies

Which bite all our legs as they drop from the skies

They even dare follow us into the van

Where we smash them on windows as fast as we can.

 

I tried really hard to write something clever

To celebrate our group and the best trip ever

Though our journey is over and we’re all back home

We can laugh and remember when we read this poem.

So when our guests return home, from adventures in New Zealand, South America, Nepal, or Europe, they return home with a warm fuzzy feeling that never wears off. And it’s that warm fuzzy feeling, and those unforgettable moments that so often lead to our guests travelling with us again: ‘I’ve spent lots of time researching my next trips. I will definitely go on the Iguana trip. and I will definitely keep checking your website for new trips I can take in the next several years.’ And when those guests take the time to write such amazing comments as the ones Andrea sent us, that warm fuzzy feeling is transferred to everyone involved with Active Adventures, and reminds us all why we love this job.

 

Multi-day Hiking in New Zealand’s Backcountry, and 8 Reasons Why You Should Go Guided.
The Tour du Mont Blanc with Active Adventures

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8 Reasons To Go Guided When Overnight Hiking in New Zealand

8 Reasons To Go Guided When Overnight Hiking in New Zealand


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5 hikers in colourful gear walk a flat track along a valley surrounded by snowcapped hills.
Hiking up Siberia Valley in Mt Aspiring National Park

The team here at Active Adventures are an outdoorsy bunch. Every weekend you’ll find a handful of us out there in the hills, or on the rivers, getting stuck in to New Zealand in all its natural beauty. One of our favourite ways to spend a long weekend is by grabbing a backpack, packing a toothbrush, a cooker, a few meals, and a sleeping bag, and heading for one of the 950 huts dotted all over the country. Here we’ll talk about spending time in the backcountry on overnight ‘missions’ and offer some advice on how best to tackle the great New Zealand outdoors!

A backcountry hut sits in a basin next to a large alpine lake.
Angelus Hut on the edge of Lake Angelus in Nelson Lakes National Park

Background on New Zealand’s backcountry

As kiwis, we are lucky enough to have some of the best walking in the world, in our backyards. New Zealand has hundreds of trails, amongst vast mountains, rainforests, coastline, glacial valleys, and volcanoes. Even better than that, is that those trails, and (most of) the 950 huts that serve them, are maintained by the Department of Conservation, DoC. The huts started appearing in the 1800s, and were initially a network of shelters for hunters overnighting in the hills. Today they’ve become a big contributor to tourism in New Zealand, and a part of our national identity. For us the most unique thing about hiking in New Zealand is the variety of landscapes you can immerse yourself in. That’s why we love getting out there, because every time (and every hut!) is different.

A person lays back above a glacial valley enjoying the view.
Taking a moment for reflection on the stunning Milford Track

Few people who think of New Zealand do so without thinking of Milford Sound. It’s one of the things that put this country on the map, we don’t deny it. And it is absolutely stunning in its scale, and its untouched nature. The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks – walks of stunning natural beauty, maintained by DoC, and taking in the most impressive scenery in the country. But the Great Walks are not the only walks worth doing when you get here! There are quite literally hundreds of multiday walks here, and between us, we’ve probably knocked off most of them!

Learn More About Multiday Hikes

Why are we so addicted to getting out there?

We’d describe our love for multiday adventures in the hills as natural, and an essential part of growing up, and living in New Zealand. Being able to get away from traffic noise, light pollution, even cell reception, in a matter of minutes from home, is a special privilege, and not one we waste. There’s something primitive about arriving at a hut under your own steam, after a tough day, and being greeted by a log fire, smiles, and a cosy bunk. When you’re in a backcountry hut, sharing the experience, and stories, with others, you’re living in the moment; the last thing you’ll worry about is work, or bills. Instead you’ll be worrying about who’s taking up the most boot space around the fire, or who’s next in line at the sink to wash their dishes. It’s a special experience, and it’s made special, in part, by the sense of achievement, but so much more than this by those you share it with.

Two pairs of boots dry on a fence at the head of a valley.
Hiking Boots drying out at Siberia Hut in Mt Aspiring National Park.

And guess what! Aside from the warm fuzzy feeling that multiday hiking gives you, there’s also a whole heap of health benefits, and not all of them are physical! Maybe that’s why people say us kiwis are such a friendly bunch?!

Benefits of going guided

Over the years our guides have learned a few tricks when it comes to overnight hiking. And we know how valuable local knowledge is. When you’re on the trail you’ll want all sorts of information about the area you’re hiking in, its history, the plants, birds, even the elevation changes for each day – your guides can share that with you. And that kind of knowledge adds so much to an experience in the backcountry. They’ll also share a few secrets to having a successful trip, the kind of things you didn’t know you needed to know, or to pack. They’ll take you to the best viewpoints for the perfect photo, and tell you how to make your own pillow – no need to pack one. All you have to do is turn your sleeping bag stuff bag inside out, and fill it with your spare clothes. Now you can rest easy!

A group of hikers and their guide stand on a ridgeline.
Guide Andy, and his group of adventurers on Robert’s Ridge in Nelson Lakes National Park.

Our guides have comprehensive training in all sorts of areas, some of which we hope they’ll never need. They’re trained in outdoor first aid, efficient radio communications, and river crossing techniques, to name a few. And they’re also backed up by an awesome Operations Team here at Active HQ. The team is always just a phone call away, anytime day or night.

Two hikers on the trail, a river running beside, and a small aircraft flying overhead.
To hike in Siberia Valley you’ll need to catch a plane in!

Everyone’s number one priority in the outdoors is safety, especially on multiday hikes. Because of its separation from other large land masses, New Zealand gets some very interesting weather. Add that to the geography of the country, and particularly the South Island, with the Southern Alps dictating weather patterns as they do, and we end up with very changeable conditions. Our local guides have spent their lives amongst those conditions, and are always prepared for four seasons in one day. They’ll approach every hike with a plan A, a plan B, and often a plan C. Rivers can change course, or rise rapidly, groups can be super keen and want to hike further, or struggling, and need to do less, or rest more often. A guide is ready for anything, they’ve seen it all before, they’ll react calmly, and smoothly, and ensure you’re comfortable and safe.

Panoramic shot of glacial lake, icebergs floating, and a group sitting on the shore.
Icebergs floating in Crucible Lake in Mt Aspiring National Park. The kind of place you wouldn’t know to visit without a guide!

Our guides are also logistical magicians, and they work in pairs. You’ll hop off the bus for a hike from A, and the bus will pick you up at B just as you arrive off the trail, or back at civilisation from the hills. They’ll also give you some advice on the best way to ensure you get a comfy bed when you arrive at each hut – if it’s not pre booked. Your guides will carry the little extras, like bug repellent, hand sanitizer, and candles too. They’ve spent heaps of time in the hills, they know exactly what you need for a perfect trip. And to top it all off, they’re masters of the backcountry cooker! You’ll be fed delicious, nutritious meals after a day’s hiking, and wake up ready to go again.

 Why go guided recap

  1. Knowledge of flora, fauna, mountains, rivers, and viewpoints.
  2. Tricks of the trade e.g how to pack your bag, or make a pillow.
  3. Comprehensive safety training.
  4. Backed up by an Operations Team.
  5. Experience of the conditions – plan Bs+Cs in place.
  6. Logistics – arranging transport, organising beds, putting up tents.
  7. Providing the small things that are easily forgotten – bug repellent, hand sanitizer etc.
  8. Excellent cooks.

We’d advise…

So if you’re itching to head out into the hills, and see what the real New Zealand is all about, we reckon your best bet is to do so with a local guide. The best advice we can give you though, is to embrace the whole experience, trust in your guides, and keep in mind that it’s sharing these experiences that makes them special. Head for the hills willing to share your space, and your stories, because it’s the story that you’ll remember long after you’ve taken your boots off.

Check Out Our Guided Trips

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Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer
“For me, this was the best experience I’ve ever had.”

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Preparing for a hiking adventure

8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer


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Preparing for a hiking adventure

“Am I too out-of-shape for an adventure trip?” It’s the number-one question we’re asked by so many travellers inquiring about our trips.

It’s the nagging worry that especially keeps 50+ adventurers from taking the plunge on the vacation of their dreams – and that’s a shame, because anyone who loves the outdoors is a good candidate for an adventure tour.

Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to prepare before your trip to make it more enjoyable. A little investment in your overall fitness before you go pays big dividends in terms of what you can accomplish out on the trail.

That doesn’t mean you have to join the gym or punish yourself with a triathlon-level training regimen. There are a lot of common sense steps you can start right now to get yourself ready for the adventure of a lifetime. So if you’re a 50+ adventurer and wondering where to start, try these eight fitness tips to give yourself the confidence to achieve your personal goals.

 

1. Give yourself time to prepare.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

In general, it can take your body from three weeks to three months to really see a significant improvement in your fitness level and to respond to a change in routine. So if you’ve already booked your trip, you’d best get started now!

 

2. Focus on your cardiovascular fitness.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week for people 50+ with at least 30-minute sessions at a time.

The best aerobic activities for mature athletes are swimming, cycling, brisk walking or jogging—all of which are great preparation for an adventure like exploring Peru and Machu Picchu.

Even if you can’t get outdoors or make it to the gym, there are lots of great cardio exercises you can do at home to get your heart pumping. Jumping jacks, half-jacks, squats, leg raises, hops, and even plank-jacks are great bodyweight exercises that require no special equipment or skill.

If you’re doing a hiking adventure (like Mt. Everest perhaps), high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is particularly beneficial because it improves both aerobic and anaerobic fitness and prepares your body for the bursts of strength you’ll need on your climb.

HIIT sounds more complicated than it really is – it’s simply adding a short period of more strenuous exertion into your daily walking, jogging, swimming, or biking routine. For example, if you take a 45-minute brisk walk, try to jog for 30 to 60 seconds every 5 to 10 minutes of your walk. Same if you swim or bike – add a few sprints during your usual routine.

A note of caution for you mountain adventurers: Even if you’re in pretty good shape, it’s important not to push yourself too hard at higher altitudes. Exertion is a key driver of altitude sickness.

 

3. Focus on leg strength.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

Strength training is generally a good idea for athletes of all ages, but for hikers, leg strength is essential for an enjoyable experience. Your legs are doing the bulk of the work, after all.

Lunges, squats, and calf-raises are all good exercises you can do at home. Try slowly stepping on and off a step or exercise platform, gradually increasing the height as you progress.

Setting your treadmill at a higher incline is also great preparation – or just walking up a few hills on your evening stroll.

 

4. You need a strong back to carry your pack.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

Your adventure pack and a few bottles of water are a portable gym to help you get in shape just about anywhere. Strap on your pack and practice “step ups”. This will really get your calves and back ready for the weight you’ll be carrying on a hike! Walking up and down the stairs with your pack is also great training.

Push-ups and planking with a loaded pack build up essential muscles in your core, shoulders, and upper body that you’ll need on longer hikes. Here are some good exercises you can do with your pack to strengthen your back.

 

5. Don’t neglect your core.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

Your core muscles are your abdominal muscles, back muscles, and the muscles in your pelvis and they give you balance and flexibility – and underpin just about every other physical activity you’ll do on an active adventure.

Crunches, bridges, and planks are some of the best exercises to build a strong core. You can tune up your core by sitting on an exercise ball while you read or watch TV at night; step up your core fitness game with these stability ball exercises.

 

6. Keep it balanced.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

This sounds too simple to mention, but a few minutes spent improving your balance can prevent injuries on your trip and give you more stability when you climb. Walking heel-to-toe with your arms out at your side and your eyes looking straight ahead is an easy and effective balance exercise. So is simply standing on one foot for 30-60 seconds at a time (longer if you can manage) before switching to the other foot.

Here’s a great video with some easy exercises to improve your static and dynamic balance (and you’ll need both on the trail).

 

7. Don’t forget the practice hikes.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

Now’s the time to put all those exercises to work for you with a few practice hikes. Look for places with variable terrain and elevation so you can get the feel for how your body responds to the stresses – and areas where you may want to improve.

Remember to wear your pack and toss in a few water bottles, adding more as you progress, so you get used to handling your body with a weighted pack.

The practice hikes are essential for one more extremely important reason: You’ll get a chance to break in your boots – or buy a new pair if the ones you have aren’t supporting you correctly. There’s nothing worse than hitting the trail with a pair of painful, poorly fitting boots.

Remember that new boots rarely feel great right out of the box. The lighter models may break in with just a few hikes, but some of the sturdier leather ones may take weeks to really conform to your feet. Keep that in mind if you’re considering a new pair of hikers before your trip.

 

8. Mental preparation is important, too.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

Fear is the enemy when it comes to trying something new. Combat it with physical preparation – knowing you’re doing positive things to get your body ready for the trip.

Focus on the “why,” the personal benefit you hope to attain by completing an adventure: “I want to hike the Inca Trail because I will _______________________.” Keep that benefit firmly in mind when you’re feeling discouraged, both in your preparations and on the trail.

Finally, visualize success. See yourself standing on the vast Tibetan Plateau or hiking Grey Glacier in Patagonia. Seeing success is the first step toward achieving it.

Don’t be afraid of a little self-doubt – it happens to everyone, even the most well-prepared. But you can combat it by knowing why you’re taking an adventure tour in the first place and what success looks like to you.

Of course, a really knowledgeable and supportive trip leader can make all the difference, too.

 

Final thoughts…

You don’t have to be in the best shape of your life to have a memorable and successful adventure tour. But it helps to give yourself confidence with a little preparation before you go.

Just remember – no matter how you feel when you leave, you’ll return renewed, refreshed, and alive with a sense of accomplishment.

If you’re ready to take the next step and start planning your own active adventure, why not contact us today to talk about your travel goals?

And if you’re not ready to have a conversation, but want to know more about adventure vacations and how to plan and prepare for them, sign up for our free email course today.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination
Multi-day Hiking in New Zealand’s Backcountry, and 8 Reasons Why You Should Go Guided.

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7 surprising reasons

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination


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7 surprising reasons

Looking for a better way to spend your winter instead of staying inside all season long binge-watching Netflix? No offense to the binge-watchers out there—it certainly has its time and place! But after awhile, don’t you crave something a little more… adventurous?

Sure, you could travel to the beaches of the Caribbean, along with every other coworker in your office. Who wants to lay out on a cramped beach or wait in a long line for a cocktail?

Traveling just a little further south—south of the equator, in fact, takes you to a continent basking in the warm, golden rays of the sun, but also filled with many natural phenomena just waiting to be explored. This place is full of magnificent mountains, wondrous waterfalls, and amusing animals. Don’t believe it? Here are seven reasons why South America is the ultimate winter destination:

 

1. Escape from the bitter cold to a continent with both tropical and temperate climates.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

While those wallowing in winter in the Northern Hemisphere are freezing, South Americans at or below the equator are enjoying warm weather conditions.

Ecuador, while partially in the Northern Hemisphere, straddles the equator, giving the whole country a tropical climate year-round. It’s particularly pleasurable January through May, most of which are cool months for Europe and North America.

Just below Ecuador is Peru, known for its mountains, lakes, and Machu Picchu. November through April is considered the “wet season,” but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to visit. On the contrary, during these months the trails are much quieter—better to enjoy your scenic surroundings. Conservation work takes place on the Inca Trail during the month of February, but it is still possible to reach Machu Picchu and explore the magic of the ancient site.

Patagonia (made up of Argentina and Chile) is at the base of South America. Here the climate is more temperate during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months, perfect for hiking Chile’s Andes Mountains or kayaking across Argentina’s many lakes and rivers. Peak traveling season for Patagonia is January-March, but if you want to avoid the crowds while still escaping the cold, consider visiting during November or December.

 

2. While everyone back home is skiing, snorkel off the shores of the Galapagos Islands.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

You’ve heard of the Galapagos Islands, right? They make up an archipelago just off the coast of Ecuador famous for century-old tortoises and Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.

But these islands are more than just pieces of land in the Pacific Ocean—they are teeming with life, both flora and fauna. Want to know an amazing way to see all that these islands have to offer? Climb on a bike! Starting at the top of San Cristobal’s highest point, cycle your way down from the highland cloud forest that covers the top of the island to La Loberia, a beach home to a large sea lion colony and nursery.

Ready to get up close and personal with the cute and cuddly creatures as well as other marine life? Snorkel or scuba dive around Isla Lobos and watch the sea lions catch a meal. Afterwards, cruise to Kicker Rock to swim some more with turtles, tropical fish, and maybe even some sharks at the remains of an underwater volcano.

Want to see a volcano on land? Try hiking Sierra Negra Volcano, which rises nearly a mile above the ocean. As you ascend, the vegetation changes before your eyes from full flora to a barren lunar-like landscape. Its caldera is one of the largest in the world—seven miles wide! Bird enthusiasts will appreciate the opportunity to see Galapagos hawks, short-eared owls, finches, and flycatchers in this region.

These are just some highlights of the many ways to explore the Galapagos Islands. Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime trip island-hopping, something that only a handful of people will ever have the chance to do.

 

3. Explore beautiful mountain ranges without all of the ice and snow.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

Sure, you will see some snow-capped mountains while hiking in Peru, but thankfully the snow stops at approximately 4,500 meters in mountain ranges close to the equator, allowing for exceptional exploration! Start your journey in the ancient Incan city of Cuzco (not to be confused with a certain grooving emperor) in the Andes Mountains. Make your way to Sacsayhuamán (meaning House of the Sun) fortress, an awe-inspiring archaeological site that represents a set of jaguar’s teeth. Each massive “tooth” is perfectly fitted and can weight up to 130 tons.

If the idea of exploring Sacsayhuamán is enticing, just wait until you hike to Machu Picchu. This centuries-old Incan city is mind-blowingly advanced for its age. How and why did they build the tall walls and carve the magnificent terraces and ramps? It’s a mystery we’ll probably never know the answer to, but part of the fun when exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

Can’t imagine going all the way to South America without seeing the Amazon rainforest? Well, forest fans—rejoice! The Amazon Jungle extends into Peru, providing perfect wildlife viewing for any adventurer. Motorized canoes glide you down the Tambopata River, one of the many headwaters of the Amazon, into the forest basin. Tropical birds like the macaw fly overhead through the canopy as howler monkeys fill the air with their call. The diverse flora includes many medicinal plants. There truly is no place like it anywhere else on earth.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a visit to Peru without kayaking on Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America and the highest in the world that is still navigable. The lake’s colour is a deep blue unlike any water you’ll have ever seen. Make your way across the immense body of water to Capachica Peninsula, then hug the shore line, grazed by sheep and shadowed by ancient remnant agricultural terraces. For those seeking a more thrilling vacation, consider all that Peru has to offer.

 

4. You don’t have to travel to Antarctica (or be freezing!) to hang with penguins.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

At the bottom of South America lies a completely different land than that of Ecuador or Peru. This is Patagonia, a vast area of land that starts in the plains of Argentina and moves to the mountains of Chile, finally reaching the edge of the world.

What’s a better way to start your trip than with a visit to Magdalena Island, home not to humans, but to Magellanic penguins. Hike across the island, exploring all the nooks and crannies. Cameras are essential for this hike—you don’t want to miss out on capturing the tuxedo-wearing bird and other wildlife!

Hiking continues for a special trek, the legendary four-day “W” hike! This journey inside Torres del Paine National Park takes you across granite peaks, snow-clad mountains, glacial lakes, and the thick Magellanic forest. On the first day of your hike, you’ll come across the stunning Torres del Paine (that’s ‘Towers of Blue’)—three monstrous mountain peaks rising to a height of 3,000 feet and thought to be the highest natural cliff faces in the world. These natural wonders are breathtaking.

After completing the “W” trek, give your legs a rest and let your arms do some work. Kayak across Grey Lake, known for its grand glaciers and immense icebergs.

If cycling is more your speed, you’re in luck, Argentina’s landscape provides a better terrain for bikes. Ride through the valley basin of River de las Vueltas, viewing river vistas and waterfalls along the way.

 

5. Even kiddos need to “get away” sometimes!

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

These days, it’s more important than ever to get kids outdoors and spend time with their families. With all of the distractions in our lives—from technology to school work to work projects—it can be hard to find enough time to bond with our loved ones.

Want the chance to get away as a family? Embark on a family-friendly adventure to Peru! Together you’ll journey through the Amazon rainforest with some incredible wildlife viewing opportunities. You might spot a capybara, or macaws perched atop the river banks or hear the howls of troops of howler monkeys from the tropical forest canopies above. Hike to Las Salineras and learn about salt production, and explore the ancient Incan cities of Cuzco and Machu Picchu.

What could be better than a vacation that gets the kids active, and also educates them? Not to mention, it’s a ton of fun!

 

6. Heat things up while visiting Ecuador’s volcanoes and hot springs.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

Maybe you like the idea of adding some rest and relaxation into your adventurous trip? Ecuador is the place for you.

Begin your trip at a ranch on Cotopaxi, learning about Ecuadorian farm life. Try your hand at milking cows, take in the serene scenery surrounding the ranch, or just curl up with a good book that you’ve been meaning to read.

The next day, pick up the pace as you cycle down Cotopaxi, which, by the way, happens to also be a volcano. The views on your way down are unparalleled—the Valley of Volcanoes provides vistas unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

Ready for a hike? After traveling into the heart of Ecuador’s rainforest, you’ll find yourself hiking through waterfalls, making your way to the Papallacta highlands and cooling yourself off at the same time. At the end of your day, soak in a steaming hot spring that is right outside your lodging for the night.

At the end of your trip, fly out of Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. But before you leave, consider enjoying some free time in this historical mountain city.

 

7. Biking is way more fun when you’re under the golden sun!

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

Want the best of both Peru and Ecuador? You got it! Enjoy seeing highlights from both countries as well as island-hopping around the Galapagos Islands.

An important part of any trip abroad is to take in the culture around you. One of the best ways to get up close and personal with the locals is via bike. While in Peru, cycle through the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the once great civilization of the Andes Mountains before they were conquered by the Spanish. Speaking of the Andes, did you know they stretch all the way from Venezuela to Chile, making them the longest mountain chain on land?

7 Surprising Reasons South America Is the Ultimate Winter Destination

On your cycling excursion, ride through breathtaking scenery, dotted with local villages and surrounded by the massive, green slopes of the Andes. Finish your ride at the small town of Pisac, a typical Peruvian village. A must-see is the colorful mercado artesanal, a fresh market full of local fruits and vegetables.

Finish your time in Peru with visits to Machu Picchu and Cuzco before departing for Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands are just a plane ride away and will enthrall you with their lush vegetation, diverse marine life, and peculiar land animals.

 

Quiero visitar América del Sur? Want to visit South America?

Your South American winter adventure is waiting for you. Don’t have the same old winter holiday as everyone else—embark on a journey that both challenges you and feeds your soul. Get in touch today to see how easy it is to plan the winter trip of your dreams, or sign up for our free email course if you’d like to know more about adventure travel in South America.

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary
Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

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14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary


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Patagonia

So you like to be active, huh? That’s totally cool with us. In fact, our new tour features the best of the best when it comes to an active vacation—hiking volcanoes and kayaking fiords—and you may just see some really amazing things along the way.

Here’s the perfect itinerary for 14 days in Patagonia for all of the ultimate explorers out there:

 

Day 1: Get your bearings in Bariloche with an authentic Patagonian meal.

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary

We all know travelling takes a lot out of you. One of the best jet lag cures? Food! And you’re going to love Patagonian cuisine.

Your arrival to Bariloche brings you to the chocolate capital of Argentina. Artisan chocolate shops line the streets, beckoning you inside. And why not? You’re about to spend two weeks on the move—live a little!

Dinner tonight features a typical Patagonian meal. Entrees include beef, spit roast lamb, trout, king crab, and wild boar. Served alongside your meats are potatoes, breads, and cheeses. All of the foods come from the surrounding landscapes, from the glacial rivers (trout) to the dense forests (wild boar) to the Atlantic Ocean (king crab).

 

Day 2: Warm up your hiking legs with a trek to Cerro Llao Llao and cool off with a dip at Playa Tacul.

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary

It’s your first official day on the trail! And what better way to spend it than amongst the lakes and peaks of Patagonia. Cerro Llao Llao sits in the midst of three different lakes, all of which can be seen from the top of your hike. Popping up in the distance are the tops of Cerro Lopez and Cerro Capilla.

Wind your way through a wooded trail to the top for a mid-morning tea break, a very “Patagonian” thing to do! After finishing your tea (or maybe mate!), descend Cerro Llao Llao to lake-level. Here you can walk the sandy shores of Playa Tacul or even jump into the crystal clear and clean waters of the lake. No matter how you choose to spend your time, you are sure to love the lago (that’s Spanish for lake!).

 

Day 3: Get your heart pumping with a brisk climb to Cerro Bella Vista—you won’t believe the views.

It’s day three in Argentina, and you may be feeling one of two ways: Completely ready for the next adventure or exhausted as your body is still trying to adjust to Patagonian life. The good news is you get to choose how you want to spend your day!

For those ready to hit today’s Patagonian path, head to Cerro Bella, which literally means “beautiful views.” You’re going to want to make sure you have your camera and/or smartphone for this one. Binoculars wouldn’t hurt, either.

It’s quite a trek to the top, with a heart-pumping ascent above the treeline, but it’s well worth it for 360 degree views of the myriad lakes and crowded horizon line of huge peaks.

If you’d rather spend the day exploring Bariloche and its surroundings, that’s completely fine too! Who wouldn’t want to sample the rich and smooth chocolate the town is known for? Or maybe do some souvenir shopping?

 

Day 4: Hike the “Road of the Seven Lakes” to Cerro Falkner and panoramic views of Argentina’s Lake District.

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary

If you signed up for spectacular sights, today is the day for you. Your journey today takes you through the “Road of the Seven Lakes” to Cerro Falkner. The trail twists and turns through lush forests, by cool-blue lakes, and past wondrous waterfalls. Feel free to take a dip in the water if you’re feeling so inclined!

Soon, the base of Cerro Falkner emerges ahead, and you’re ready to begin your climb to the top. The trees you pass are coihue and ñire, the latter of which is the southernmost tree on earth as it was found on Hoste Island. Once you reach the tip of the mountain, you’ll be happy for every step you took on the way up. Marvel at all seven of the lakes from a bird’s eye view, it’s just amazing.

 

Day 5: Enter the “Ring of Fire” with a trek up the south face of Volcan Lanin.

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary

If you can’t stop singing a certain Johnny Cash tune right now, no one will blame you. That’s right, we’re headed into the “Ring of Fire.”

Volcan Lanin straddles the border of Argentina and Chile and has two National Parks on its slopes (one for each country). The wild woods of the mountain enhance your hike. Lookout for the peculiar Pehuén, or monkey puzzle tree.

As you encounter the volcano’s snowline, you might think you’ve gone “North of The Wall” as snow exists year-round here. Mountains upon mountains go as far as the eye can see, creating a breathtaking backdrop.

 

Day 6: Immerse yourself in the Chilean rainforest at the Huilo Huilo Reserve.

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary

After one last Argentine ascent (the red-hued Cerro Colorado), you’re on your way to Chile. Once over the border (that’s another stamp to your passport!), board a ferry on Lago Pirihueico for a ride to Huilo Huilo Reserve.

This private, biological reserve is 600 square kilometers of Chilean temperate rainforest. There’s a high amount of precipitation here and relatively warm temperatures during the summer. Wildlife enthusiasts will be in Patagonian paradise. There are 81 known species of bird throughout the forest as well as the phantom puma — we say phantom because you will most likely never see the big cat due to its timid and nocturnal nature.

Here you’ll never be far from the local flora as your hotel is literally shaped like a mushroom. Reino Fungi Hotel pays architectural homage to the fungi found in the forests near the lodging. Enjoy a house-brewed beer as a nightcap before getting a good night’s rest. Tomorrow has a lot in store!

 

Day 7: Explore the Valdivian forest and waterfalls along the Fuy River.

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary
© Marcos Escalier

We won’t have to go too far for our hike today. The Fuy River and Valdivian forest are practically on our doorstep. As you wander through today’s trail you’ll feel as if you’re in a fairytale. Songbirds serenade you from the treetops, and picture perfect waterfalls break up the many tributaries.

While these sights are amazing, you can choose instead to have a relaxing day at the hotel, if you’d prefer. Soak up the sun with lakeside views and a coffee or hot chocolate. Or perhaps you’d rather soak yourself in the lodge’s hot pools. Whatever your fancy, you can’t go wrong at our friendly, fungi inn.

 

Day 8: Raft the Petrohue River past four magnificent volcanoes. [Free day option]

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary
© amira_a

Welcome to Puerto Varas! There are so many options for you to consider today, but no matter which you choose, you’re going to have a blast. It’s a free day in this Chilean town, but that doesn’t mean there is no adventure to be had.

A great way to spend your afternoon is rafting the rapids of Petrohue River. As you navigate through the white and wild waters, be sure to look up at the four vast volcanoes that line the river.

Cyclists will appreciate the opportunity to show off their skills at the Osorno Volcano pump track. And of course, you can always choose to stay within town limits for shopping, sightseeing, and sampling of local cuisine.

 

Day 9: Check out the Chilean fiords and hike Hornopirén National Park.

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary

On the Chilean coast is the village of Hornopirén, its name derives from the nearby volcano and means “snow oven.” No matter where you look, the views are outstanding. The Andes Mountains are dissected by the Chilean fiords, and glaciers cover their slopes.

Lunch at the local market brings you closer to understanding the Chilean culture. Try a fresh catch of Merluza or Congrio (Southern Hake and Conger Eel) or grab one of the many colorful fruits and vegetables.

Bellies full, it’s time to get inside Hornopirén National Park, renowned for its mountains, glaciers, and volcanoes all packed into a relatively small area. Animal lovers will also love the wide variety of fauna residing in the untouched temperate forest. A ferry ride to Llancahue Island takes you home for the night.

 

Day 10: Soak in the hot springs at Cahuelmo Fiord.

It’s your 10th day in Patagonia. You’ve seen some incredible sights, but you might be feeling in need of a “pick me up.” The hot springs of Cahuelmo Fiord will do just the trick. The springs are located inside Parque Pumalín, created by the late American entrepreneur and ecologist Douglas Tompkins, founder of The North Face.

One of the things that makes this park so unique is the way in which the local economy thrives alongside conservation. Within the park you’ll find small organic farms with activities such as animal husbandry, cheese making, ecotourism, wool handicrafts, and honey production.
Beginning with a short boat ride on Quintupeu Fiord, you’ll see wonderful waterfalls and granite peaks. The azure waters of the fiord are met with the steep, emerald forested walls of the Andes.

Following up the spectacular scenery will be spectacular springs. In the temperate rainforest lies Cahuelmo Fiord, which produces relaxing hot springs just waiting to be lounged in. Let any tension in your body flow out into the warm waters. There’s no better way to end your day than with a reflective soak in the hot springs.

 

Day 11: Kayak where fresh and saltwater meet—and maybe meet some friends along the way.

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary

Water-lovers will enjoy getting on tandem kayaks on the Reloncavi Fiord. Kayaking is the best way to see the snow-capped mountains, cascading waterfalls, and even certain sea-friends (sea lions and dolphins might just swim by!).

After disembarking from your kayak, lunch will be a special treat at a locally owned farm for an authentic asado (lamb barbecue). Meet the Yolanda family, who have been living on the banks of the fiord for three generations. Chatting with the Yolanda’s will allow you to fully embrace Chilean culture and understand the Andean way of life.

 

Day 12: Test your limits on a trek to Desolation Pass on Osorno Volcano—the views are absolutely worth it.

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary

Hiking Osorno Volcano takes you through many different kinds of landscapes. First, your trek will begin on a lunar landscape—rocky and desolate of any vegetation. As you climb further up the slopes, lush woods emerge, bringing you back down to earth. Finally, as you ascend to the top (known as Desolation Pass), the stunning skyline comes into view. Below is Lago Todos Los Santos, it’s crystal clear waters reflecting the surrounding sights.

Back at your home-away-from-home for the night is a hearty meal complete with a glass of red wine. If you’re looking for more than a libation to relax, try lounging in the wood-fired hot tubs.

 

Day 13: Take a catamaran cruise across Lagos Todos los Santos before crossing the Andes into Argentina.

It’s your last full day in Patagonia. Take a minute and soak in your surroundings. Got them locked in your memory? Okay, here we go…

Today’s travels begin on Cruce Andino, or the lakes route. Cruise on a catamaran over Lago Todos los Santos towards your lunch in Peulla. Then, it’s time to get back to Argentina, but not before a dramatic crossing over the Andes Mountains.

On the other side are even more lakes just waiting to glide you across their mirror-like surfaces. A boat ride, bus ride, and catamaran cruise later and you’re back at Bariloche, where this journey began.

 

Day 14: Celebrate your Patagonia adventure with a farewell tour of Bariloche.

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary

Before departing the paradise of Patagonia, be sure to get in some last minute activities in Bariloche. Fill up on a festive Argentine feast with your new found friends, before heading to the airport. Do some last minute shopping for souvenirs to take home to loved ones (postcards are great for remembering your favorite sites!). Delight yourself with some delectable desserts in the corner chocolate shops or take one last stroll around the city for beautiful, Swiss-style architecture.

As you board your flight, headed home, reflect on the last two weeks. Maybe you like to journal. Maybe you have a blog of your explorations. Perhaps pictures on your phone are the best way to remember the good times you’ve had. Adios, Argentina! It was fun.

 

Want to get active in Patagonia?

Between the sights, activities, food, and people, you can’t go wrong with an adventure in Patagonia. Click here to start planning the adventure of a lifetime. Or, if you aren’t quite ready to book but would love more information about this tour, sign up for our free email series.

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