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About Sacred Earth Travel
The Sacred Earth Travel website has long been due for an overhaul. You'll be pleased to know that this is in now progress - albeit in slow progress. However, once it is done, there will be many new and exciting destinations and adventures added to the collection. For the time being, though, please bear with me. I know, this doesn't look pretty anymore, but it is still functional. I do my best to keep things somewhat current, but if the latest rate is not showing, please just pop me an email to ask, I'd be more than happy to get back to you as swiftly as I can.
Kat Morgenstern, May 2018
Summer is around the corner - time to think about Christmas
I know - that sounds depressing - but when it comes to travel arrangements, unfortunately, this is sound advice. Christmas is a very popular time of year - peak season in most Latin American countries, and thus, it is a good idea to start booking your winter vacation if you want to be sure to get a space at your favourite locations. Leave it too late and you might find yourselves out of luck.
Chile, without a doubt is one South America's most diverse and amazing places. The long, thin country stretches from the Atacama desert, the driest place on earth, in the north, to the legendary Patagonia at the 'end of the world'. In between in features stunning scenery of forests, glaciers, volcanoes and lakes. Also part of Chile, although more than 2000 miles away from the mainland, lies the enigmatic Easter Island, where the Moi statues left by an ancient civilisation still baffle archaeologists today. Both, the Atacama and Patagonia are extremely remote, but Easter Island is the remotest inhabited place on earth. Each of these places is stunning in their own way, the colourful altiplano mountains and salt lakes of the north, the vast clear skies, the icefields, glaciers and pampas of Patagonia and the tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Explora has lodges in all three locations from which travelers can explore the terrain. The explora philosophy is to offer far more than what you would at an hotel an intimate immersion in the landscapes and cultures, adventures in small groups with first rate guides and top notch accommodations and food. It is an exclusive experience and one of the best adventure travel has to offer
Every journey we offer has been thought of as an exploration to enable you to get to know and, at the same time to experience. We want you to unfurl and satisfy your curiosity, to learn about nature and people, to get to know the geology, flora, fauna and culture of the places you visit. We are not satisfied with simply offering passive contemplation from a distance: we want things to happen.
We decided to offer in-depth exploration because we wanted our travelers to be able to interact with their environment and establish relationships with other people and to be a part of, rather than observing, each situation they encounter - engaging not only with reason but also with the senses and with emotions. We believe that every journey is also internal one, that as we move from one place to another, we are also moving somewhere within ourselves; that getting to know the world around us helps usto get to know ourselves.
Luxury of the essential
For us, luxury is about the experience, not appearance. We seek to offer luxury by focusing on the essential, on providing exactly what our travelers need to make every aspect of their journey as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible. For us, luxury is in the simple details, which are never superfluous. Its value does not depend on how much it costs but on its ability to enrich your experience. We believe that the essential is also that which is authentic. In a world where imitations and copies proliferate, we offer you the luxury of getting close to something in its original state.
Architecture in keeping with its surroundings. Each of our architectural projects is designed to bring urban visitors close to the natural and cultural diversity of remote places. They act as a base for exploring the remote and are also a meeting point for people from very different backgrounds, of diverse ages and experiences, but who share a common passion.
Torres del Paine National Park, San Pedro de Atacama and Rapa Nui have all posed the same challenges. At each lodge, we have sought to create a unique architectural work which contributes significantly to the experience of the journey. The awards and recognition we have received in specialist architecture publications attest to this. We have given special care to the design of both function and construction, seeking to optimize energy efficiency and care for the environment.
When the exploration ends Each of our lodges is designed to act as a center of operations for exploring the surroundings, but of course it is also there for you to enjoy, rest and have a good time. The lodges are intimate, family environments and full of activity. At the end of the exploration, the lodge’s indoor spaces light up with other activities. This is the time for friendly meetings and conversations, where languages and nationalities are intertwined.
Food and wine
Our concept of the luxury of the essential also inspires the food we prepare. We seek to enhance the original flavors of selected ingredients, avoiding excess and alteration. Many of our recipes use ingredients which are traditional to the area and have been used for centuries by the local people, such as quinoa, cochayuyo (sea-vegetable) and mote (boiled wheat). Our cuisine is designed to be healthy and well-balanced, ideal for people who are trekking, horseback riding or exploring by bicycle.
If you want to visit all three of these lodges you can get an 'explora pass', which get reduced rates. They also offer 'travesia', special journeys in exploratory style where participants spend some nights at either the Patagonia or Atacama Lodge and then travel from there. In the Atacama there are excursions into Argentina to visit Uyuni and other remote places in the Atacama, where participants will be camping at explora's campsites. In Patagonia travesias also cross the border into Argentina to visit Los Glaciares National Park and El Chalten. Itineraries range from 11-9 days.
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The far flung archipelago in the middle of the Pacific where Darwin made his breakthrough discoveries are always a popular destination, and never more so than at Christmas. If you want to visit them at that time make sure to book at least a year in advance if you are hoping to cruise on one of the better boats. Yes, really, they get booked up that far ahead of time - sometimes even two years ahead of time, so you can never book too early. At other times of the year you may be luckyer and six months my suffice to find you a space on the yacht you want.
But, there are alternatives. Increasingly, island-hopping tours are becoming more popular. For those on a budget the best option is a fixed group departure Island Hopping tour. You can choose your comfort level for the hotel. Excursions are in small groups and small vessel, but you wll be sleeping at small hotels in the islands, rather than on a cruise ship. That means you will not see as many sights and islands as you would on a the longer cruisse, because the distances are too great. But you still get to see quite a lot and maybe get more of a sense of being there' , than you do when you just hop off your yacht here and there for a few hours to explore the different sites.
There is now also the unique Galapagos Safari Camp, a luxury tented camp in the island of Santa Cruz. This beautiful, serene place is a perfect retreat for those who want a unique experience in the Galapagos Islands offering flexible itineraries and highly personalised service. Choose a land-based safari or a safari with visits to another island, a dive safari (land-based rather than on a lifeboat), special interest safaris (e.g. photography) or add a few days in this unique setting before or after your regular Galapagos cruise.
|Galapagos Tent Camp|
I am often asked, 'when is the best time to go to the Galapagos?'
Well, that all depends on what you want to see. Everything in nature has its cycles and seasons. The Galapagos Islands are no exception. Even though they are located pretty much bang on the equator, they islands are in a dry zone of the Pacific and don't experience the hot and humid climate normally associated with tropical countires. There are still two distinct seasons.
From June to November is cool and dry. As the Humboldt current sweeps north the southest tradewinds push its current towards the Galapagos islands. In lower regions it is often dry, but in the highlands there is often a misty fog known as 'Garua'.
From December to May it is warm and wet. The Humboldt current subsides and gives way to warmer water coming in from Panama. There can be heavy showers at times, but they are usually of short durations. Both air and sea temperatures are warmer.
The Galapagos Islands are like no other place on earth. The place where Darwin realised the amazing adaptive power of nature through the processes of evolution is a sactuary for marine wildlife and a unique place to learn about natural history. Innumerable companies offer cruises to the islands with visits to different interesting sites on land. But there is one company that offers such cruises especially designed for families with children and teens. Children from the age of 12 are allowed on all cruises, but families with children ages five and up can travel on any designated Family Departures. Family departures, including Family TEEN departures and Family College departure are geared towards families who prefer to travel with other families with similar aged children. Designated family departures are offered over school breaks and feature age-appropriate activities depending on the ages and number of children on board. The naturalist guides know how to bring these Islands they love to life and to balance learning with fun for the entire family.
MOST of family departures are families with teenage children age 12 to 17 and even college age 18 to early twenties and these trips will be more physically active than most. The guides will optimize the longest trails and all kayaking and snorkeling opportunities, with less down time mid-day. You will be in the company of other families with children of similar ages. If there is sufficient demand, there may be two yachts with families on board. Every effort to assign similar ages of children together on the same yacht is made. At the time of booking, you can inquire about the ages of the children already confirmed.
Tambopata Research Center is one of the longest established eco-lodges in the Tambopata region of Peru. It started as a basic bolthole for scientists researching the biodiversity and ecology of this pristine and remote area of the lowland rainforest. Gradually it evolved into a tourist outpost with basic facilities, where travellers could learn by doing - helping researchers do their job while experiencing the serene and awesome natural setting.
But after over two decades it was time for a major overhaul and the facilities have now been completely done up - Tambopata Research Center is now probably the top spot not only for a pristine rainforest setting, but also for creature comforts.
All the room categories have been improved, but without losing that sense of intimacy with nature for which the lodge is known for, with its open verandah windows. New luxurious room categories have been added, which are more comfortable than you would have thought possible in a remote place like this.
Also new at Tambopata Research Center and at Refugio Amazonas: 'á la carte' activity menues - design your own rainforest adventure according to your own interests, rather than having to follow a pre-set itinerary. This allows for far greater flexibility and you can do the jungle at your own pace.
Hard-core adventurers and spiritual seekers have been flocking to Nepal for years. Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, has an irresistible allure, not only for climbers, but also for trekkers, who hike up to the base camp just to get a glimpse of the hundreds of hopefuls that are waiting each day for their chance to climb to the top.
Last year saw the 60th anniversary of the first successful ascent by Hillary and Tenzing. The onslaught of ambitious would-be mountaineers was even more overwhelming than in previous years. Some people relish such excesses of mass tourism, but others seek a more serene atonement with nature. If you are one of those kinds of nature lovers, you might be pleased to know, that high up in the Himalayas, far away from the crowds, there are still some truly authentic and marvelously peaceful places, where trekking is more about the inner and outer adventure of experiencing different cultures and amazing nature than about ego-boasting record setting.
Reputedly the overall 'best' trek in Nepal is the Manaslu Circuit located in the east/central region of Nepal. Manaslu, which means 'Spirit Mountain', is the eights highest mountain in the world, and indeed, it is a truly majestic massif, situated just off the main tourist routes through Annapurna and Everest region. The route follows deep gorges into the mountains where cars and mopeds have no access. Walking is the only means of transport – or mule transport, for goods.
Slowly the trail winds up towards the Tibetan/Chinese border, passing many improbably situated villages that cling to the steep mountains like hawks nests. Tourism is in its infancy in these remote areas, which means that the trails are much less busy than in neighboring Annapurna, yet there are quite a few new hostels (referred to as ‘teahouses’ or ‘lodges’) along the trek. Some are quite basic and not vastly different from camping, except that trekkers don’t have to worry about food or the logistics of bringing kitchen equipment and staff, which usually make trekking in remote areas expensive.
The trek around Manaslu crosses a Larke pass at 5135m, but thanks to the slow ascend (it starts at about 800m) the body has plenty of time to adjust to the altitude and the physical demands of trekking. And the path rather than the pass is the real destination - the villages where time seems to be standing still, the rhododendron forests, the awesome cliffs and mountain scenery are nothing but mind boggling.
Read more about the Manaslu Circuit
Best times to go: October/ November and April/May
The main trekking season in Nepal is in October/November. It can get quite cold at this time, especially at higher elevations and at night, but the skies are generally clear, offering fantastic views. April and May is early spring in the mountains. It is great for wildflowers and to see the rhododendron forests in bloom. In the lower elevations it can get quite hot and steamy, as well as hazey, and the views are not as clear. However, temperatures in the higher elevations will also be a bit warmer.