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How to Return to “Normal” Life Gracefully After Long-Term Travel

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You’ve been the envy of your circle of friends for months. They’ve followed you on social media, lived vicariously through your travels and most likely called you a lucky so-and-so when they got together on Friday evenings after a long work day. They’re looking forward to seeing you, but a lot of time has passed.

On the other hand, you’ve been gallivanting around the world, living without the baggage that comes with being in an environment where your role is defined. You’ve stepped far outside of your comfort zone, had some philosophical epiphanies, some life-threatening escapades and a lot more travel added to your bucket list now. You’re looking forward to seeing those you love, but you’re not exactly the same person anymore.

How do you come back after so many months away (beyond just weathering the reverse culture shock)? And how do you find a place for yourself in everyone’s lives when you return? Here’s how you can reenter “normal” life gracefully after long-term travel:

#1: Not Everyone Wants to Talk About Your Trip

You’ll come back brimming with travel stories, only to find that a lot of your friends or family aren’t really asking. Either they want to tell you everything that’s happened while you’ve been gone, or they feel like they know it all through your blog or emails.

Maybe some of them don’t know how to start — how do you ask about eight months of travel? Maybe some are just glad you’re home safe and hope that now you’ll get around to grown-up stuff like finding a job again. Give them time to acclimate to having you back, let them comment on your tan or overgrown hair, and let the stories wait.

#2: People Want to Know The Bad News First

Fact: you’ll be asked more about the bad stuff than the good stuff. What was the worst thing that happened to you? Were people nasty to you? Did you fight with your boyfriend/sister/friend while you traveled?

It bothered me that nobody wanted to know about the most significant moment of my trip, or where I saw the most memorable sunset, or what it was like to live out of a bag. It’s possible that most people are afraid of all sorts of bad things happening when they travel, and maybe they’re asking just to confirm their suspicions.

I like to focus on the exciting/scary stories and save the bad stories (if any) for the closest friends. You don’t want to have to see that ”˜I knew it!’ face.

#3: Most People Are Not Comfortable With Long-Term Travel

Long-term travel upsets and unnerves many people – they just don’t get the “travel bug“. They don’t know how to respond to this unconventional behavior, and it comes out in different ways. We’ve had friends and family ask, “Now are you ready to settle down to a good job?”, “Is it out of your system now?” It bothers us, but we try to laugh it off.

Depending on how much you like the person who is asking, you could explain why travel is so fascinating for you, or tell them they’re damn right it’s an escape and what’s wrong with that? You’ve already ruffled their feathers anyway.

Woman reading book on airplane
One Last Flight (Kansai, Japan) © Luke Ma

#4: You’ll Make People Want to Emphasize How Adventurous They Are

You meet a friend after months and settle down to have a chat. You’re expecting questions and have so many stories that you think will interest them. But there’s something about being faced with a long-term traveller that makes people want to assert how adventurous they are.

At the end of the evening, you’ve heard all about his family trip to a beach where they bravely tried a spicy curry. In these situations, give the gutsy traveller story due appreciation. If it really bothers you, segue into your story with a delicately timed, “That reminds me of the time I stayed with a local family and learned how to cook from them ”¦”

#5: Decide What You Want to Talk About

Before you get home, go through a mental list of the questions you’re going to be asked. You know your friends best, so you know what to expect. If you are not comfortable talking about how much you spent, or who you hooked up with, or how you worked out that visa snafu, make sure you have a few flippant replies up your sleeve.

#6: Understand How People Feel About Your Travel

While most people have envied you, there are some who think you’ve been irresponsible, some who think you’re just plain crazy and some who just don’t care either way. Their reactions will veer from admiring to downright dismissive, and you’ll be shocked because you’re not expecting it.

If you avoid bragging and take the time to explain why you chose to do what you did, you’ll have a better chance at getting them to see things from your point of view. You’ll also earn respect for being able to understand or at least listen to their point of view and maybe they’ll do the same for you.

Hipster bird graffiti
Just listen … © hobvias sudoneighm

#7: Don’t Make Loved Ones Feel Neglected

You’ve been away for months. Maybe you’ve missed landmark occasions like weddings, 30th birthdays or new babies. Returning with only your own life in your head will make loved ones feel like you’ve lost interest in them.

When you start meeting people again after a long time away, take a minute to mentally review what has happened with them in the time you’ve been away. Get them to talk about that. It brings you back into the picture so you don’t feel like you’re still far away, and makes them feel loved.

Returning gracefully seems like it’s all about putting aside your own experiences and focusing on other people, and why not? It helps you move back into the space you left behind, and makes loved ones feel like you’re back in their lives again. And after all, that story about the time you stared down a bear can always wait awhile.

The post How to Return to “Normal” Life Gracefully After Long-Term Travel appeared first on Vagabondish.

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What to expect from your Milford Sound Cruise

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 Kiwiand 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. Or, if you’d rather have a workout whilst you explore Milford, check out our Rimu itinerary for a kayaking option instead!

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.


Source: New feed

Grown-ups Are Stupid! How to Travel + See the World Like a Child

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4:48 a.m. I woke this morning to a pattern of lights slowly gliding across my bedroom ceiling. A pale, yellow apparition in the shape of my window that twisted in upon itself before fading completely.

Seconds later, another. Then … a third.

For a moment, I was captivated. In the quiet morning hours, it felt like a special light show that someone had arranged just for me. As I was still half-asleep, it felt alien, yet calming and beautiful.

Within seconds I realized it was just the reflection of headlights from the cars on the street below. My amazement was short lived.

Light Boy at Bauddha Stupa, Nepal
© Dhilung Kirat

My initial reaction to this mundane event mirrors how children see the world. Everything they see, hear, taste, and experience is viewed with wide-eyed amazement, joy, and awe. They don’t completely understand it all. Partly because they can’t — their brains simply lack the capacity to comprehend it.

But, more importantly, I’m not sure they want to. Unlike adults, their amazement stems from a pure, carefree place that values the experience itself more than a grown-up need to analyze, mentally catalog, and file it all away as yet another underappreciated moment.

Consider the reasons:

  • Everything is new to them
  • They possess limitless curiosity + everything is a learning experience
  • They live in a carefree bubble, without the worries of daily adult life (money, relationships, life and death)
  • They love to create
  • They don’t care what other people think
  • They act with reckless abandon – doing “just because”
  • Their default mode is “play”
  • They live in the present

For many reasons, humans begin to outgrow these qualities around adolescence. Through experience, we see enough fireworks, laser pointers, and fluffy kitties that they become ordinary, part of the background static of daily life.

It’s understandable.

If every adult wandered the streets, mouth agape in pure awe at the mere sight of an airplane or the moon overhead, society would grind to a halt. Society also teaches us that childishness is for, well, children. Beyond a certain age, that playful curiosity is often no longer recognized as a virtue.

Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc.

Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.’
— Hugh MacLeod

Surprised Children Reading a Book Together
© Jeremy Kunz

Childlike awe is a skill worth cultivating.

But too many of us live our lives at the extremes — either as immature adults barely able to fend for ourselves or as “good”, responsible adults with an unwavering focus on our bank accounts, job security, and whether that tie is dressy enough for the company Christmas party. As adults, we often lose the ability to, as my Nana would say, “stop and tip-toe through the tulips”.

Which is why I’ve begun to appreciate that tapping into that original joy — that childlike awe — is a skill worth cultivating. I would argue that it’s critical in fact to finding true happiness.

It comes easy for frequent travelers. Witnessing Victoria Falls, the Great Wall of China, or the Eiffel Tower for the first time inspires awe in even the most hardened “adult”. (Although I know more than a few travel bloggers who hardly seem amazed by anything anymore, which only proves my point …)

The true practice then comes at home. At finding wanderlust in the ordinary, in the everyday. I say “wanderlust” because that’s what it is in the broadest sense of the word. The term has been coopted in recent years to mean “a burning desire to travel”. But defining the word so narrowly is the antithesis of traveling and living through a child’s eyes. And we forget that the world is all around us, that wanderlust is not just embodied in an exotic, hardly pronounceable island 6,000 miles from home.

Boy Playing with Dog

Unlike with Robert Redford though, all is not lost. We can regain some of that original curiosity, amazement, awe, and ultimately joy. Even if only a little at a time. We just need to try.

Here’s how …

Watch + Play with Children

Sit down with children. Observe them. Experience their world literally at their level. Play with them and their toys on their terms (“Now you’re the firefighter and I’M the toothbrush dragon!“) and make up some of your own. Don’t think. Just abandon any preconceived notions you might have and go with it.

Chat with Children

Like challenging a goldfish to a staring contest, you cannot out-talk a kid. They will ask and ask and ask and ask until you can’t physically answer anymore. Learn from this. Be curious. Speak with them, not as an adult or child, but as a human being. Ask them questions back and learn from their answers. Even if they’re nonsensical, simply appreciating and enjoying how a carefree mind thinks can be a very helpful lesson.

The most sophisticated people I know – inside they are all children.
—Jim Henson

Foster Your Own Curiosity

Children constantly ask “Why?” and “Why not?” Revive your own curiosity about the world around you by doing the same. Every hour of every day, there’s so much going on inches from your nose that you don’t know or understand. Look closer. This will help you appreciate the extraordinary in the everyday.

Learn to Play Alone

Learning to amuse and play by yourself is one of the most important skills an adult can cultivate. It can instill humility by teaching you to laugh at yourself. It can reteach you how to have fun, no matter the circumstances and no matter who might be watching.

Live Without Constraint

There’s nothing sadder than hearing an adult say, “I always wanted to do that …” Because, no matter what that was, they probably could have.

What would you do, create, or be without societal pressure or expectations? Children don’t have that constant, nagging “Nah, you can’t do that …” voice in the back of their minds. You shouldn’t either. The only thing it’s going to do is stop you from following your dreams.

Above All: Live in the Moment. Enjoy the Now.

The entire paradigm of a child can be summed up thusly: Enjoy the now. Live in the present.

It’s easier said than done of course. In a world of 24-hour news cycles, an endless need to update our Facebook statuses, and texting instead of calling, it sounds impossible.

So start by slowing down. If you’re multitasking, knock it off. Seriously: it’s a myth. If you have that much to do, take stock of your daily life and weed out the things that aren’t enriching it.

Start small: once a month, abandon all responsibilities and obligations for an entire afternoon. Shed your adult persona for the moment and be spontaneous to a fault.

“Never stop wandering, never stop wondering …”

The post Grown-ups Are Stupid! How to Travel + See the World Like a Child appeared first on Vagabondish.

Source: travel blug

History of Machu Picchu

History of Machu Picchu

Archaeological evidence uncovered around the site suggests that the area was first used for agricultural purposes back in 760 B.C.

Machu Picchu Historical Photo


The war of Vilcambamba Pachacutec in 1440 established the first settlement at the site. It was called the Tahuantinsuyo Empire which was later followed by the formation of the government of Manco Capac.

It is thought that Machu Picchu was first inhabited by 300-1000 inhabitants, who were of the highest class or “Llactas”.

The valleys around these areas were important for their agricultural contribution, however after death of the Emperor Pachacutec, it lost its importance, with the establishment of new sites like Ollaytantambo and Vilcambamba. The building of these new sites by his successors, in more accessible terrain made Machu Picchu less appealing.

From 1527 to 1532, two brothers Huáscar and Atahualpa fought against each other in a civil war over the Inca Empire. Their father, Inca Huayna Capac had given each brother a section of the empire to manage, one in Huáscar in Cuzco and Atahualpa in Quito. When Huayna Capac and his heir, Ninan Cuyuchi, died somewhere between 1525 and 1527, the two brothers Atahualpa and Huáscar went to war over who should rule.  The population who had come to live in the Machu Picchu area from rural or remote locations left after the war ended to return to where they came from. Later another brother, Manco Inca was sent into exile in Vilcambamba, and Machu Picchu was deserted.

Antonio Raimondi was an Italian geographer and scientist from Milan who visited Machu Picchu in 1851. In 1867 Augusto Berns arrived to mine the site.

Hiram Bingham re-discovered the ruins in 1911. He documented and publicised his “discovery”.

Photo of Hiram Bingham

Photo of Hiram Bingham

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Source: New feed

Facts About Machu Picchu To Outsmart Your Tour Guide

Outsmart your guide at Machu Picchu

Peru has so many ancient ruins, villages imbued with an infusion of ancient and modern Incan tradition, mixed with a melting pot of Colonial and pre- Spanish Peruvian culture. 

Of all the Peru landmarks, Machu Picchu (which in the Quechua native language, means “Old Peak” or “Old Mountain.”) is the one categorised as both one of the best known and also most mysterious of the ancient Inca sites. Call it cliche to label it the jewel of Peru’s crown or it’s most famous contribution to the 7th wonders of the world, but Machu Picchu has remained in the limelight since it’s discovery by Hiram Bingham in 1911. It stands at 2,400 meters above sea level and it’s precise stone construction is spread along a narrow and uneven mountain vista, tucked up against a 400m sheer cliff, overlooking the Urubamba Valley and River. The whole city was hidden (and thus saved) from marauding conquistadores for centuries and its high remote location makes if feel like it is floating on a sheet of mist.

Local guides will tell of legends withed down from Inca ancestors, archaeologists will give you another perspective all adding to the sites enigmatic status, but it’s actually quite hard to put your finger on the reasons why this citadel in the clouds is just so fascinating.

Many of the discoveries in and around Machu Picchu have led to more questions than answers around it’s true purpose. The more discoveries made it seems, the wider the variety of possibilities.

Rather than give you a list of dates, numbers and scientific facts, this page is going to offer you a treat, so you can wow your guides and make them think you’ve been on a crash course of anthropology and/or Incan philosophy!

I probably don’t need to tell you that Machu Picchu’s walls, caves and buildings are widely adorned with intricate carvings in the citadel, boasting carefully selected cave entrances, strange altars, 600 impressively engineered terraces, a 1km long aqueduct and exquisitely engineered buildings. Quizzical llama lawnmowers help to keep the grass around the buildings all beautifully manicured, showing off their best features. It is indeed a sensory feast for 21st century eyes staring firsthand at structures built by Incan hands more than a thousand years ago!

Did you also know that the positioning of the buildings are no accident. Inca people were master astrologers, the milky way had particular significance, and they arranged structures within the citadel to align with the cosmos or rising of the sun at specific times of year?

Standing amongst these features, everyone marvels at the masterful engineering the ancient Incan builders managed to achieve way back in the mid 14th century. You may find yourself getting lost in stories told by local legends if you walk through the various buildings with a local guide (like our Cynthia Valledares). When you also understand the significance of the structures around you from a spiritual and ritualistic point of view – it is not at all difficult for ones mind to be blown!

Machu Picchu Architecture

The technique used to build the structure is called called “ashlar”, this means that stones that are precisely cut to fit together without any mortar. This method is so precise that not even a credit card can slide between stones. Peru has experienced hundreds of years of seismic activity, yet the stones the Inca’s crafted stand strong, mostly undamaged by natures powerful forces.

Some of the most interesting architectural features of Machu Picchu are all closely huddled together over it’s total area of 32,592 hectares, an assortment of structures, each with an archaeological and spiritual back story that would make even Indiana Jones proud!

Sacred Rock

Sacred Rock Machu Picchu

Looking out over the central plaza to the far end of Machu Picchu , we find the Sacred Rock, something you will notice in almost every Inca village. The Inca practiced placing a sacred stone in close proximity to the building site and this was dedicated to the site itself, which adds to the intrigue of the site; what did this mean to these people, and what daily practices took place right here where you stand, some say they can still feel the energy of these people and the land they revered so much.The Sacred Stone of Machu Picchu was carefully placed at the base of Huayna Picchu (or little peak), a place from which it’s possible to ascend right up to the summit, for a magnificent view down the valley. After your hour-long hike to the top of the peak, you can choose to stop off on the way back down at the Gatekeeper’s shack for a signed memoir, verifying you have conquered the steep climb up Huayna Picchu. The rock, resembling the shape of the top of the mountains behind it is a shrine where the Incas carried out special rituals and pachamamas (offerings to the earth).

The Sacred Rock is a powerful symbol in Machu Picchu, and is recognised as being a spiritual area for meditation and absorbing positive energies.

Many visitors like to include Temple of The Moon cave, another enigmatic structure situated approximately 1280 feet or 390 m below the summit of Huayna Picchu facing North. This is less than an hours walk from Sacred Rock, and will reward you with not only grand Inca structures to marvel over, but also spectacular views down the valley.

Central Plaza

Temple of the three windows, Machu Picchu, Peru

The Central Plaza of Machu Picchu is laid out with rows of many roofless stone structures embedded among steep terraces, facing outward for a grand view of Huayna Picchu. The lush green grass colour in the middle of the plaza can be likened to an island sitting amongst the rest of the Inca stone buildings that make up Machu Picchu. It’s an enticing and inviting spot amongst the buildings for Llamas and other grazing animals to frequent for a tasty meal. The Central Plaza’s grassy field also provides separation from the Sacred Plaza and Intiwatana to the residential areas on the farther side of the complex.

One of the buildings bordering the plaza is the Temple of the Three Windows. From this standpoint we look out to see a pretty view out on to the green central field, if we carry on from here, a flight of stairs at the back of the Sacred Plaza takes us back down to the Central Plaza.

At the very lowest end of the Central Plaza we find what is known as the Prison Group, this is essentially a network of cells, passageways, and niches extending both underground and up to the plateau above. Right in the center of this group of structures, we find the Temple of the Condor, some visitors and locals call this the main attraction because of its attention seeking condor carved in stone right above a rock pile. Behind this striking carved condor head, is a doorway leading to a tiny underground cell.

Temple of the Condor

Temple Of The Condor

The Temple of the Condor in Machu Picchu has to be one of the highlights (although you will find it difficult to choose one) of your exploration of these Inca ruins. It is an exquisite example of Inca stonemasonry. The Inca took a natural rock formation shaped by the elements millions of years ago, and skillfully shaped it into the outspread wings of a condor in flight. The Condor represented spirit and higher levels of consciousness, so the Inca considered the Condor to be of elevated importance in the animal, and spirit kingdom.

On the floor of the Condor temple you can see a rock carved in the shape of the condor’s head and neck feathers, this section of the rock makes up the figure of a three-dimensional bird. Historians speculate that the Inca used the head of the condor here as a sacrificial altar. Underneath this is a small cave that used to contain a mummy, the hierarchal importance of which perplexed archaeologists like many other mummified remains found in this area. Behind the temple, is situated a prison complex. The prison comprised of many human-sized niches and an underground maze of dark dingy dungeons. The close proximation of the alleged sacrificial temple and the prison structures conjures up visions of how the Inca may have used them for sacrifice or other rituals. Similar Inca prison sites, record events outlining the handling of an accused citizen… word has it that the prisoners would be shackled into these niches for up to 3 days to await their fate. The jury could nominate their death for such simple sins as laziness, lust, or more in line with Victorian punishments, theft.

Funerary Rock Hut

Funerary Rock Hut

If you are a photographic enthusiast, you will want to take a small hike to Machu Picchu’s Funerary Rock Hut. It’s believed this location was the place where Inca nobility were mummified, and like many places chosen for overseers to rest, the vantage point from the hut offers a dramatic view over the whole complex.

Every day herds of Alpacas and Llamas arrive via the terraces near the Funerary Rock Hut to graze leisurely on the grass. These furry manicurists keep the lawns short, neat and tidy for our benefit whilst filling their stomachs with rich green grass. From this position we look out towards the start of the Inca Trail, in contrast to many of the skinny mountainous trails in the region, it is easy to see because the Inca Trail is a well developed wider road that connects the Cusco region directly with Machu Picchu.

The hike up the long sturdy stairs that lead to the Funerary Rock Hut will give your muscles a good workout, but the rewards at the end of this short but relatively steep hike are worth every drop of sweat. The views from this viewpoint will stay in your memory along with many snapshots of your unforgettable trip to Machu Picchu.

From this point we take a detour back down the stairs to arrive at the Royal Tomb.

Royal Tomb

Royal Tomb Machu Picchu

Walking down and to the left descending a long set of stairs, we approach the Royal Tomb. This cave-esque area of Machu Picchu is decorated with ceremonial niches and adjacent to the Temple of the Sun is a carefully carved Inca cross. The cross design resembles steps, and represents the three levels of existence in the Inca world. The first step, symbolised by the snake, is representative of the underworld or of death. The second step represents the present, or human life, symbolised by the jaguar. The highest step represents the celestial or spiritual plane of the gods, and is symbolised by the condor.

This revered site has been the focus of numerous mummy excavations. Over 100 skeletal remains have been discovered here, 80% of which were women. For this and several other factual reasons, historians surmised that the area was inhabited primarily by Inca high priests and an elite selection of chosen women.

Immediately to the left of the royal tomb lies a series of 16 ceremonial baths, cleverly linked together via a skilfully engineered viaduct. At the top of this system we find the watershed hut, which passes beside the rock quarry emerging at the Sacred Plaza.



Intiwatana Hitching Post Of The Sun

The Intiwatana at Machu Picchu, is referred to by Inca and modern people as the “hitching post of the sun”. One of Machu Picchu’s primary functions was that of astronomical observatory. It is a carved rock pillar with construction planned to orient towards the four cardinal points. As accomplished astronomers the Inca used the angles of the pillar to accurately predict the solstices. The sun was an integral part of the Inca way of life and greatly influenced agriculture which supported the life of the whole community. The Inca considered the Sun the supreme natural god and during the winter solstice on June 21, it is said that the high priest would rope a golden disc to the Intiwatana, to symbolically catch the sun, returning it back to earth, thus ensuring another bountiful season of crops.

Sadly the Intiwatana is the only structure of its kind left standing by the Spanish conquerors, who went on a aggressive campaign to wipe out all structural references to Inca religion. Many visitors report that Machu Picchu feels like one of Earth’s magnetic focal points, it emanates a mystical quality and carries an inherent spiritual or metaphysical power.

When you’re sitting on the edge of heaven, perched high above the valley at the Sacred Plaza looking down at the Urubamba River below, it’s hard to deny the etherial sense this place is embued with. Turn around behind you, and absorb the genius of the ancient builders who created these stone plaza and temple structures, framed magnificently in the background by the spectacular mountain peaks of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu to the left and right. How could you not be moved and humbled by this experience?

Huayna Picchu

The big little mountain that everyone forgets. Huayna Picchu is like a jewel in the crown of Machu Picchu. Standing at  2,720 metres (8,930 feet), it towers above and behind the citadel of Machu Picchu.  Only 400 people are allowed daily to climb Huayna Picchu in 2 groups – first departing at 7.00AM second at 10.00Am. The steep (both hands and feet needed) climb winds up the side of the rock faces and through a tunnel. It takes about 1.5-2 hours up and about 45 minutes to 1 hour down. For many people climbing Huayna Picchu is one of the highlights when visiting Machu Picchu.  The view from the top highlights how the structures and terraces below are built on seemingly impossible places like they are almost glued to the mountain side. You are in for a breathtakingly beautiful panorama of the site of Machu Picchu below, but also the snowcapped mountains and grand valleys beyond.

Machu Picchu is divided in two parts

Hanan and Urin according with the Inca tradition. This essentially means upper and lower, or heaven and earth.  The upper realm = included the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, the planets, and constellations (milky way in particular) and was called hanan pacha (in Quechua). The hanan pacha was inhabited Inti, the masculine sun god, and Mama Killa, the feminine moon goddess. The lower realm is where earth spirits reside, or the people who inhabit the earthly realms. 

 Popular Trails Leading To Machu Picchu

Ancient Inca rulers forged trails and communication systems through this region over 18,600 miles long, paving mountain tracks, building runners and swing bridges from straw ropes. Most of these structure still exist today, and it’s quite astounding to think that the well worn steps you are walking on when traversing the Inca or Lares trails were hand constructed by Inca stonemasons so very long ago.

The most popular trails leading to Machu Picchu are the Lares Trail and the Inca Trail. There is also the Salkantay trek, but the two most raved about journeys by far are the Lares and Inca trail. The Lares takes you through many more villages, without the same level of foot traffic you may encounter on the Inca Trail. You can also opt for cycle and kayak options, where you can visit a small village on Lake Titicaca’s reed islands and hang with the locals. Experiences like these are magical, they add a few more days to your adventure, but you’ll leave with a whole new sense of the meaning of immersion in another uniquely Peruvian culture. Check out this comparison between the Inca Trail vs. Lares Trails or take a look at our Jaguar trip which gives you the option of visiting these places and many more.

Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu

A trip to Machu Picchu along the Inca trail is the epitome of a spiritual and wondrous experience to one of the worlds most fascinating ancient wonders of the world. An unforgettable experience is not something you have to ‘try’ to achieve when visiting Machu Picchu – you’ll be taken on a journey of curiosity and wonder in all directions.

Facebook Review:

Noel Carroll reviewed Active Adventures – 5 star – 29 July ·

Jaguar trip to Peru. Great guides, accommodations, activities, food. Absolutely the best adventure I have had, and I have been blessed with quite a few. Would definitely consider another one. Hiking the Inca trail on this trip was the hardest and most rewarding thing I have done.

Other pages that may be of interest:

Best Time To Trek Machu Picchu | Machu Picchu Tours |4 Day Machu Picchu Trek 

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Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, Peru

Although it’s one of the most well-known archaeological wonders of the world, Machu Picchu still holds plenty of secrets and is on our shortlist of must-see destinations on any Peru trip.

Paul enjoying Machu Picchu on the Jaguar trip

Paul Walrath enjoying Machu Picchu – on the ‘Jaguar‘ trip

Machu Picchu is an enigma, some would say a paradox because it is known as both the best known yet least known about of the Inca sites. Since its discovery on July 24, 1911 by North American Hiram Bingham, Machu Picchu has been considered one of the world’s greatest architectural and archaeological monuments, due to its extraordinary magnificence and harmonious structure. Machu Picchu is definitely one of the most fascinating sites in Peru.

At 2,400 meters above sea level, in the province of Urubamba, Machu Picchu surprises us because of the way its stone constructions are spread over a narrow and uneven mountain top, bordering a sheer 400 meter cliff into the Urubamba River canyon.

Why and how was Machu Picchu built?

Huayna Picchu from Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is a citadel shrouded in mystery, and to this day archaeologists have not definitively uncovered the purpose of this city of stone. The site covers an area of about one square mile, and stands in a region that the Incas considered to be magical, due to the meeting of the Andes mountains with the mighty Amazon river. When 135 bodies were discovered while exploring the site, 109 of which were female, some believed that Machu Picchu could have been a monastery where acllas (young girls) were trained to serve the Inca and the Willac Uno (High Priest). Others said it may simply have been an advance settlement for further expansions planned by the Incas. Perhaps the mystery may never be fully explained.

The surprising perfection and beauty of Machu Picchu’s walls, built by joining stone to stone without using any cement or adhesive whatsoever, has led to many theories developing around how the city was constructed as well. It is said that a bird by the name of Kak’aqllu knew the formula for softening rock but by command, perhaps by the ancient Inca gods, had its tongue torn out. Others say there was a magic plant that could dissolve and compress stone. Nonetheless, mysteries and myths aside, the obvious wisdom and skill of the city’s ancient builders – evidenced by Machu Picchu’s many squares, aqueducts, watchtowers, observatories and its sun clock – is quite clear.

Many people may be drawn to Peru by Machu Picchu, yet it is considered by many of our guests, to be just one of many of the ruins featuring on the “highlights reel”of their trip. See reviews to read more

Group photo looking down on Machu Picchu Ruins

How to get to Machu Picchu – One day or multi day trails

You can take a one day trip to Peru from Cuzco or Lima, and walk up to this citadel in the clouds high in the Andes, or you can take some time to get acclimatised and trek via several trails that lead to Machu Picchu, most taking around 4 to 5 days to complete. A lot of people begin their Peru trip with the intent of visiting Machu Picchu, but don’t know how much more there is to see and do in and around Machu Picchu.

After all, if you are going to Peru to experience a South American trip of a lifetime, why not learn about all the activities and other ruins there are to discover.

Popular activities on our Peru trips (including Machu Picchu):

  1. Hiking the Lares or Classic Inca Trail
  2. Exploring Machu Picchu – facts about Machu Picchu
  3. Hiking in the Amazon jungle
  4. Sea kayaking on Lake Titicaca
  5. Staying with a local family on Amantani Island
  6. Hiking Sacsayhuamán fortress
  7. Hiking and cycle in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
  8. Exploring Cuzco
  9. Cycling through Andean villages and La Raya Pass
  10. Hiking Amantani and Taquile Islands

You may be surprised at the number of activities you can do in Peru. In fact it’s a surprise to a lot of people that it is possible to enjoy these “non Machu Picchu focused” activities at all. Our philosophy is a little different to many tour companies, we believe that if you are going to travel all the way to a new country to experience a whole new culture, why not experience as many perspectives, local cultures and ruins as you can while you are there?

Obviously the most popular trail chosen by visitors wanting to visit Machu Picchu is the Inca Trail. Some people prefer the Lares Trail because it offers a much more immersive experience in Peruvian village culture. If you wants to experience some of the traditions and village life the early Inca’s enjoyed, you can stay with their descendants in one of the many villages along the Lares Trail.

If you want to hike the traditional route,  take a sneak peak below at some of what the Inca Trail has to offer.

Hike to Machu Picchu on the ancient Inca Trail

The Inca Trail between the Sacred Valley of the Urubamba River and the mysterious abandoned citadel of Machu Picchu is one of the world’s classic treks. Climbing out of the river valley, crossing rugged mountain passes over 13,000 ft high, the trail winds through the Andes, passing numerous significant Inca ruins en route before descending through the Sun Gate to the silent stone city of Machu Picchu. To hike the Inca Trail is a thrilling experience and a great privilege. You need a permit from the Peruvian government to set foot on it, and there are strict limits on the number of permits issued each year. If you join a guided tour like the ‘Jaguar‘ trip, these permits are all take care of for you.

But the Inca Trail is much more than a great hike. It is one small portion of an incredible network of such trails crossing high mountain ranges, bleak deserts, and raging Andean rivers, tying the Inca Empire together. At its peak expansion, Tahuantinsuyo (or The Four Corners as the empire was known) extended from what is now southern Colombia in the north, to central Chile in the south, covering a distance of about 5500 km (3400 mi). To rule such a vast domain, the emperor, or Inca, forged a remarkable communications system of approximately 18,600 miles of trails, paved through much of its length, stepped where need be, through tunnels where necessary, and using gossamer suspension bridges built of straw ropes to cross rivers unfordable in the wet season.

The roads served to move the conquering Inca armies, and were generally wide enough for a minimum of two warriors to travel abreast. A system of runners stationed at rest houses known as tambos sped messages along the roadways, much like the Pony Express mail of the old American West. The Inca, at his empire’s capital in Cuzco, could receive news from far away Quito as rapidly as a letter crosses between the two cities in today’s mail.

As remarkable as this highway system was in the days when it was built, used and maintained, it is an astounding testimony to its construction that so many segments remain serviceable today, after half a millennium of neglect. Clearly the Inca highway system ranks as one of the greatest engineering achievements of pre-industrial man.

The full Inca Trail is approximately 40km long. Spread over 4 days, this amounts to about five hours walking per day, although you can walk at your own pace – you are not forced to walk with your group the whole time. It is not a difficult walk, although there are a couple of high passes, and a steep climb on the second day, so a basic level of fitness is required.

Read More:

Aventura Fantastica!

“This was our second Active Adventures trip and while we went to Peru mainly to see Machu Picchu, I feel it was only a fraction of the fun we had during our trip. For me, hiking at 14,000+ feet, climbing rocks via ferrata to go zip lining was an awesome experience despite being very prone to altitude illness (we got there a day early and I was fine by the second day) and having a hubby who is very afraid of heights. Machu Picchu was magnificent but I really enjoyed the less crowded Incan and pre-Incan sites we visited more because we had them nearly all to ourselves. Our tour leader Jhayro and another local guide Daniel (who we had for 3 days in Peru) also made our trip extra special being so friendly and fun to be with both while leading us on adventures as well as during meals and on the bus.

The food we had in Peru was excellent and that is coming from someone who is usually viewed as a picky eater with a fussy stomach. My hubby, who is a much more adventurous eater than I, tried alpaca and guinea pig and both were surprisingly good (yes, I tried them too!). After a couple days, we were used to not drinking the tap water or flushing paper down toilets so neither were a big deal. In fact, when we were in Quito, it seemed strange to be able to do so!

For the Galapagos portion of our trip, we were led by Jose since our scheduled guide Pablo couldn’t be there due to a family emergency. Jose was very knowledgable about the local geology, flora, fauna and variety of other things and with several in our group being (former) teachers or scientists, we sure did ask a lot of questions. The unique wildlife of the islands was the primary reason I wanted to visit and I loved seeing Galapagos turtles again as I’d not seen them since I was a child back in the 60’s (I remember riding on some in a zoo which I know now was so wrong!). It was my first time seeing marine iguanas and blue footed boobies in the wild and I also enjoyed seeing a variety of other creatures that are in other places but we don’t see very often, even living in Hawaii which has very similar geology.

Like Hawaii, each of the Galapagos Islands was different and it was interesting to see how they varied. The different forms of transportation we used to get from island to island were also adventures in themselves: 2 hour ride on a speed boat and an hourish ride on a teeny prop plane!

The only thing that was not quite what we expected with this trip was that some of the activities listed on the Galapagos Island itinerary we did not get to do. Nevertheless, the trip was fantastic and being probably my one and only trip to South America, it will always be remembered.”

Shirley Pratt's Review Image

Shirley Pratt – Hawaii, United States
Iguana, May 2016




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10 Quick Facts about Machu Picchu

Facts about Machu Picchu Peru

1. Longitude and Latitude Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu’s geographical position is 13.1631° S, 72.5450° W. It’s located 74.7 kilometres (46.4 miles) from Cusco. See How To Get To Machu Picchu  

2. Size of Machu Picchu

The Machu Picchu Inca Ruins cover an area of one square mile. The area of the greater Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary in the Vilcanota-Urubamba basin covers 32,592 hectares.

3. Temperature at Machu Picchu

During the warmer months of September, October, November and December the weather is fairly mild with a good average temperature of between 8 degrees celcius (44 degrees F) and 20 degrees celcius (68 degrees F).

4. Population of Machu Picchu

The population of Machu Picchu was most likely between 1,000 and 1,200 at any given time – but the ruins have been uninhabited for hundreds of years now. Today – the closest town to Machu Picchu is Aguas Calientes, with  a permanent population of around 3000 people. 

5. Languages Spoken in and Around Machu Picchu

The native spoken language is ‘Quechua’ – the ancient Inca language. Spanish is the colonial language, introduced by the Spanish on their arrival in November 15, 1532

6. Weather And Seasons at Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is usually covered in mist until mid morning, giving it the feeling of hovering amongst the clouds. Most rainfall (during the rainy season) is seen in December, January, February and March. Machu Picchu has dry periods in May, June, July, August and September. On average, the warmest month is September. See Best Time To Visit Machu Picchu

7. Meaning of the name Machu Picchu

In the Quechua native language, “Machu Picchu” means “Old Peak” or “Old Mountain.”

8. Machu Picchu’s Global Significance

Machu Picchu is recognised as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is featured on many intrepid travellers bucket list.

9. Machu Picchu Transport

There are several options for getting to Machu Picchu, other than by foot of course. Trains operate, as do busses, both public and private. Small group tour busses are less crowded if you can find them. You can visit this page for more information about transport to Machu Picchu.

10. Fitness For Machu Picchu & Other Hiking Options

Machu Picchu is a city at altitude, so it’s a great idea to stay a few days and enjoy being treated to some authentic Peruvian hospitality. It’s a pleasant day hike from Aguas Calientes if you are only interested in a flying visit to Machu Picchu itself. If you are going to walk one of the “trip of a lifetime” journeys to get there however, you’ll need a moderate level of fitness. Again, taking your time to acclimatise and investigate the local villages, or other ruins along the way makes for a much more “cruisy” (as we say in New Zealand) adventure to the city in the clouds.

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5 Sleaziest Tricks Hotels Are Using to Screw You Over

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With razor-thin profit margins, hotels are getting downright sneaky with their tactics to fill rooms. In an effort to avoid being sued, I won’t call them outright “scams” or “bait and switch” tactics.

No, these fall into more of a gray area. Enough plausible deniability on the hotel’s part (“What? We told you there was free Wi-Fi … we just didn’t say where.”), but still plenty annoying from a traveler’s perspective.

Here are five of the worst, most deceptive tactics many hotels are using these days to mislead unsuspecting travelers.

#1: Deceptive Room Categories

Hotels use a number of empty adjectives to pretty-up their otherwise not-so-pretty rooms. These days, “Deluxe” and “Superior” are to hotel rooms what “gourmet” and “artisanal” are to lousy food: completely meaningless. Not to mention, the word “superior” is relative. It’s senseless to use it to describe an entry-level room.

“Garden” is another one. While sometimes accurate, more often than not, it’s code for “your balcony offers sweeping views of our parking lot full of dumpsters.”

But the mother of them all is “Oceanview”. Again, sometimes it’s accurate, but it’s often only technically accurate. “No, no … you can totally see the water. You just have to stand on the balcony air conditioning unit and cock your head like so …”

Man Sitting on Hotel Bed
© Daniel Zedda

#2: Free (But Very Limited) Wi-Fi

(That any hotel is still charging for Wi-Fi these days is mind-boggling. It’s a disgraceful, Ryanair-style tactic. But we’ll talk about that another time …)

These days, hotels are instead touting “FREE WI-FI!” However, they never quite nail down exactly where the Wi-Fi is free. Can I actually get it, ya know, in my room? Or is it only available in the lobby? Or sometimes in the lobby? Or in the third-floor janitor’s closet? And is it a high-speed connection or can I actually hear the modem connecting a la AOL circa 1997?

I once stayed at a five-star resort in Africa where the “free” Wi-Fi was only available from one particular chair in the lobby during a one-hour window every afternoon. I’m not kidding. While not every hotel is quite that bad, it’s still a deceptive tactic and they know it.

#3: Hidden “Resort Fee” Charge

This one is particularly insidious and it’s exploded in popularity in the last few years. The gist is simple: charge guests a one-time fee for simple, often essential, amenities. Want to visit the gym, use the Wi-Fi, or drink the bottled water in your room? Yeah, that’s a $20 upcharge. Daily.

What’s worse is that it’s cropping up in hotels that are far from “resorts”. Most hotels reveal this surcharge somewhere, but it’s often intentionally buried on their website’s fine print or on one of the multiple papers you hurriedly signed at check-in. If you visit a handful of hotels each year, chances are you’ve already paid this fee at some point and not even known it.

Abandoned hotel in Phoenix
Phoenix’s Finest Hotel © Kevin Dooley

#4: When “All-inclusive” Really Isn’t

I know it’s weird, but “all-inclusive” used to mean every last thing was included in your stay: food, booze, watersports, shows, and access to every restaurant on the property. No more. Now, almost every “all-inclusive” resort is really “mostly-inclusive” or, even worse, “kinda-inclusive”.

Resorts are now saving the best food for their a la carte (read: not included) restaurants, where the additional fees are sometimes $50 USD or more per couple, not including booze. And they would historically only charge for things like jet skiing or scuba diving. Now, even basics like kayaking and use of snorkel equipment are extra.

At an “all-inclusive” property (sorry, but that term requires quotes every time) in the Dominican Republic recently, the staff provided me with a list of what was and was not included with my stay. The “additional fee” list was almost twice as long as the inclusions.

#5: “City” Hotels That Aren’t Anywhere Near the City

This final tactic is cropping up especially in suburbs throughout the United States. It’s the “City Hotel, but Not Really” naming-scheme. I’m talking about when you book “Joe’s Goodtime Boston Beantown Resort” with dreams of walking to the city’s best bars, shops, and restaurants … only to realize that Joe evidently doesn’t own a map. Because Joe’s Boston Resort is actually 50 minutes outside the city.

While they’re not technically doing anything illegal here, this is intentionally misleading and they know it. And, while travelers should always do their research before visiting a destination, they still shouldn’t be hoodwinked into thinking they’re staying somewhere — or at least near somewhere — that they aren’t.

The Bottom Line

As with anything, the key is scrutiny. Hotels count on intentionally obscuring or misleading travelers, knowing full well that you won’t realize “Free Wi-Fi” doesn’t actually mean “Free Wi-Fi in your room” until you check-in. And, by then, it’s too late. Do your research, read plenty of reviews carefully, and always call the hotel directly with any questions.

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Travel Wyoming: A Deeper Look Into Jackson Hole

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We watched mesmerized and shivering, just off the side of an empty two-lane road as three moose grazed lazily alongside a herd a hundred or so bison. Lateral ribbons of grey hovered above us, extending fingerlike and sparsely woven toward the horizon. The wind whipped, sharp; a terse reminder that our current, naive understanding of cold would soon change. This, after all, was Wyoming and it was October. Short of the wind and the occasional mischievous raven, the land was silent.

Two months earlier, where we stood in Grand Teton National Park, a thousand tourists at any given time, dusk ‘til dawn, gathered under the summer sun, not only to observe wildlife but to take in the famed Grand Teton Mountain range that to me, thanks to the ominous wintery death clouds, existed only in theory.

While it was a thrill to enjoy the park’s resident moose and thunderous herds of bison and elk in relative solitude given the offseason, the idea of leaving without an actual glimpse of the craggy pinnacles felt akin to going to a movie theater only to experience the popcorn … Or at least that is what I thought until I ventured into the upscale neighboring town of Jackson Hole.

House Near Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Near Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Located minutes from Grand Teton National Park and a two-hour drive from Yellowstone, Jackson Hole is often and inaccurately considered simply a tourist-trap gateway town to the National Parks or an exclusive second home destination for the world’s wealthiest and most famous. With an eclectic culinary scene and thriving art galleries and museums, a culturally immersive stay in Jackson Hole will enrich any nature lover’s experience of the National Parks far beyond the observation of snowy peaks, waterfalls, and gurgling geysers.

At Gather Restaurant and Bar, located just off Jackson Hole Town Square, you will find one of the most inventive menus and dining experiences in Wyoming. Gather’s menu, unlike any other, is entirely influenced and designed around the tastes and preferences of the clientele. While it is always open to the public, Gather also features a private Chef’s Table. Booked more than two months in advance, this unique experience allows guests to experience Jackson Hole’s finest kitchen staff unhinged as they work to create a beautifully plated, locally sourced and spectacular meal.

Chef in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Chef in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

While the chef’s table is where Gather shines, where Gather becomes truly unique and interactive, however, is at its Tuesday Tastings. Each Tuesday at 12pm, owner Graeme Swain joins a table of 12 individuals who are invited to taste three newly created dishes. Each dish is prepared from scratch and presented by the chef to the room family-style. Guests are given sheets to rate each dish based on presentation, creativity, flavor and value. After voting on each for each dish, as customers sip wine waiting for the next course, Swain leads a lively culinary-driven dialogue about why each dish worked and how each dish might be improved. Upon completion, the chef joins the table to discuss the dish’s critiques in what is an enormously fulfilling and insightful dining experience. The successes and failures of the Tuesday Tastings are what ultimately shape Gather’s ever–evolving menu making it one of Jackson Hole’s premiere dining spots.


While Gather is the most unique, Jackson Hole’s downtown is booming with outstanding restaurant options. For other upscale trendy dining options, The Rose also features a strong regionally influenced menu and an outstanding chef’s table, this chef’s table is in the restaurant’s kitchen where guests watch the chef craft each course. The Kitchen is also not to be missed. For more casual dining, try Café Genevieve, Local, and Snake River Brewing are all outstanding options. For lighter fare and amazing coffee, Persephone with its baked goods and clean menu is hard to beat.

Jackson Hole’s culinary scene is indeed a lively one and is perfectly coupled with an ever-evolving arts community. Jackson Hole has long been a destination for artists of all kinds. The town square is lined with galleries from local and internationally known artists. Jackson Hole’s striking Public Art adds splashes of color and creativity to every turn through town from the information center to the library.

Jackson Hole’s creative hub is, without a doubt, the at The Center for the Arts. This 78,000 square foot campus houses 19 local, national and international artistic non-profits ranging from the visionary filmmakers of Jackson Hole Wild to theater and music groups to the public art office. The Center’s theater also regularly features intimate events and performances from international musical superstars like Ben Folds, readings from world-renowned authors like David Sedaris.

The National Museum of Wildlife Art, Wyoming

The National Museum of Wildlife Art, Wyoming

If the weather at Grand Teton National Park is keeping you from experiencing the great outdoors, one can experience said wilderness instead by way of The National Museum of Wildlife Art. This 50,000-square—foot building, designed after the Slains Castle in Scotland overlooks the National Elk Refuge and houses fourteen galleries with pieces from over five hundred artists.

The Elk of Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The Elk of Jackson Hole

The museum’s collection is centered on the big game wildlife paintings of German-born Carl Rungius and the entire collection features art from 2,500 B.C. to contemporary works from some of the world’s most famous artists. The subject matter ranges from explorer art to Romanticism; from realism to modernism. The Wildlife Art museum includes work from such artists as John James Audubon, Frederic Remington, Picasso, Rodin, Rembrandt, O’Keefe and Andy Warhol. The museum also includes a theater which regularly hosts documentary screenings and speaker series featuring explorers and adventurers from all over the world. A gift to see the natural world as seen through the eyes of the world’s greatest artists.

My last day in Jackson Hole, I set out once again into the park with Jackson Hole EcoTour Adventures, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Tetons. My guide picks me up from the Rusty Parrot Lodge just before sunrise and as we make our way into the park, there is still a low fog; this time blocking even any grazing wildlife from view. As we cut deeper into the park, though, slowly sunlight begins to cut through the fog. Slowly the mountains reveal themselves washed in a pink alpenglow. Again, moose, bison, horses and even a grizzly bear roam the foreground. Once again, we had the park to ourselves. It had grown colder since I had arrived. Winter was approaching. I think back to those ropey clouds and how they’d frustrated me my first day in Wyoming. I think about how I’d thought there was so little else to see and experience Jackson Hole… Full and inspired, I couldn’t help but think how badly I had been wrong.

All photos © Matt Payne.

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A Quick Tech Guide for the Frequent Traveler

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While there’s something to be said for switching off completely during your holiday, many modern vagabonds will want to stay connected while on the road, especially when travelling for extended periods. Nowadays, digital nomads roam the globe ticking off items on their bucket lists all the while ticking items from their work to-do lists as well.

The key to staying connected and productive on the road is to have the right tools at hand, so here are a few tips for equipping yourself with the right digital gear (and without adding too much packing weight).

Laptop Near the Beach

Get a Dual-SIM Smartphone

Admittedly, you might not want to buy a new smartphone just for this purpose if you’re happy with your current one. But the next time your smartphone is due for an upgrade, consider getting a phone with not one but two SIM slots. While Apple does not offer this, many Android phones do.

The advantage is that you can stay connected on your regular home SIM, while adding another local SIM upon arrival at your destination. This approach is much cheaper than roaming, as it avoids the high fees typically associated with international calling and data use. Within the device settings, you can select exactly which SIM to use in which situation. This means you can also use one SIM for calls, and another one just for mobile data, so you can take advantage of cheap data-only offers in each country.

By setting up a mobile hotspot on your phone, you can connect any other devices you have. Make sure your SIMs support mobile hotspot (or tethering) use.

Finding the Right Travel Laptop

Smartphones and tablets can be good portable devices, but they don’t include all the functionality you might need on the go. For those of us who need to work while on the road, or going on a longer journey, it makes sense to bring a laptop.

The best travel laptop for you depends of course on your exact budget and requirements. But you’ll probably want to keep things lightweight and versatile, and there are a couple of laptop types that are particularly suited for travel.

If you’re a budget traveller needing just a simple device for transferring photos or doing some blogging, then I recommend looking at the latest Chromebook models. Keep in mind that these laptops run on Google’s fairly basic Chrome OS and are mainly designed to be used in the cloud, so they don’t include much storage space nor much processing power. But they’re fine for internet browsing and basic office tasks, and you can find decent Chromebooks for as little as $200. Be sure to pick one with a USB port, so you can attach external drives.

If you’re going to countries with high crime rates, you might feel more secure bringing a cheap Chromebook than the latest brand-name laptop. When I travelled in Central America, I felt more comfortable carrying this around than an Apple laptop, and didn’t feel the need to pay an extra insurance premium.

For a more advanced travel laptop, ultrabooks such as the MacBook Air or Dell XPS used to be your obvious choice. But a new and attractive option is the Microsoft’s Surface Pro. These two-in-one laptops are perfect for using on the go.

The killer feature of the Surface Pro (and its imitators like the Dell XPS 2-In-1 Edition or the Acer Aspire Switch) is that you can use them both as a tablet and as a regular laptop. Ever tried using your laptop when flying economy, seated all cramped up with only a tiny table to use? Now you can just fold up your laptop and comfortably use it as a tablet device.

A 2-in-1 laptop is easily used it as a video player, sketchbook, or ebook reader from your plane seat or that hammock on the beach. Simply unfold it and set it up like a regular laptop whenever you need more productivity functions. While these laptops are usually a bit less powerful than a regular ultrabook, you may find the increased versatility worth it.

Handy Accessories

There are a few miscellaneous tech bits and bobs that you may wish to bring with you on the road.

One key item is a spare battery charger, just to give my smartphone and other devices some extra juice on long journeys. A typical smartphone or camera battery will hold a charge of about 2000 to 3000 mAh, so if you get a USB-powered battery with several times that charge, you’ll extend the life of your devices dramatically.

Speaking of cameras, if you’re on the road a lot, you’ll surely want to look at getting a lightweight camera instead of a bulky SLR. You can find some recommendations for best travel cameras here.

An external hard drive is a must, even if it’s just for making backups. I’ve met far too many travellers around the world who suffered some data disaster, so don’t underestimate the value of making backups! Setting up a cloud backup service is a good first step, but if you’re going to countries where internet connectivity is slow or spotty, it’s worth having an extra local backup packed in a separate bag.

Finally, if you regularly need to be online for work or blogging, you might want to bring a trackball. Yes, it adds just a bit more packing weight, but laptop trackpads often force you into an unhealthy dinosaur arms position that can seriously strain your muscles. Unlike a mouse, a trackball doesn’t require a flat surface, so you can use them even on a bus or plane, or if you’re seated at a cafe table with an uneven surface.

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Source: travel blug