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Experiencing Antarctica is easier than you think

Experiencing Antarctica is easier than you think

What do you get the man who has everything? A ticket to Antarctica of course. With icebergs, penguins, whales and more, it’s the very definition of a bucket list destination. The White Continent. Terra Australis. The Seventh Continent. The coldest, highest, windiest, driest, and remotest place on the planet. There are many ways to describe it, but every single one of them inspires wanderlust. Fortunately, visiting Antarctica has never been easier than it is now… We’ve described two of the most popular itineraries below, but guests who want to spend even longer exploring Antarctica should simply ask one of our Destination Experts about the other possibilities. Option 1: Fly in – 6 days cruising in Antarctica – Fly out This option starts and ends in Punta Arenas, Chile and allows you to a) maximize your time in Antarctica and b) totally avoid the rough and treacherous waters of the Drake Passage. The two-hour flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica is an attraction in itself, but the …
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Meet the Qhapaq Ñan crew: Kevin Floerke

Meet the Qhapaq Ñan crew: Kevin Floerke

A bona fide archaeologist with a special interest in Inca roads who also just happens to be a drone pilot, rock climber and videographer...Kevin was made for our Qhapaq Ñan expedition. Born and raised in the wine country of Northern California, Kevin has always been pathologically curious about the world and its people. He majored in anthropology and archaeology at UCLA, but it was a chance encounter at the university rock climbing wall that nudged him in the direction of the Incas. There he met a professor who was in urgent need of an experienced climber for a project in the Peruvian highlands. The rest, as they say, is history... All roads lead to... Kevin has spent every summer since then hiking and working in the Andes. As one of his first archaeological projects, Kevin, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute, used GPS data, drone, aerial and satellite imagery, and the extensive knowledge of local collaborators to survey all of the Inca road remnants within a 75 mile …
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Unforgettable Quito add-on: Mindo cloud forest retreat

Unforgettable Quito add-on: Mindo cloud forest retreat

Teeming with orchids, hummingbirds, tanagers, toucans and butterflies, a few days in a Mindo cloud forest lodge is a wonderful addition to any Galapagos itinerary. The Mindo cloud forest is two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Quito, on the outer slopes of the western Andes. It's located at a very pleasant altitude of around 4,200ft (compared to 9,200ft in Quito). The drive there is really scenic, along winding roads with great forest views. The cloud forest itself is an enchanting world of tumbling waterfalls, crystalline rivers, endemic orchids, colorful hummingbirds and thick, verdant forests packed full of wildlife. The lodges Mashpi Lodge is a 5-star establishment with gorgeous rooms, fine dining and professional service. That being said, it’s also a very eco-friendly lodge and is located in an extremely pristine section of forest which is home to a staggering 500 species of birds. Check out this video of their incredible ‘Dragon Fly’ cable car through the canopy. Run by Tom …
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Iguazu gallery: The world's most beautiful waterfall in pictures

Iguazu gallery: The world's most beautiful waterfall in pictures

If a regular picture tells a thousand words, then a picture of Iguazu must tell many more. Sit back and enjoy our gallery of the world's most beautiful place. When Eleanor Roosevelt visited the Iguazu Falls she exclaimed, "Poor Niagara," and anyone who's visited this natural wonder on the border of Brazil and Argentina will understand why. Iguazu combines raw power and delicate detail in an intoxicating package that is at once humbling and elevating. And that's just the falls themselves... The surrounding national parks on both sides of the border incorporate pristine forests that are teeming with tropical birds, butterflies and flowers, not to mention the omnipresent coatis - the cheeky little rodents which practically own the place. What's more, there are loads of trails in the forests, many of which are blessedly free of tourists. Lots of travelers debate whether the Falls are better enjoyed from the Argentinean or the Brazilian side, but for us the question is a no-brainer. To …
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Meet the Qhapaq Ñan crew: John Leivers

Meet the Qhapaq Ñan crew: John Leivers

Veteran Australian adventurer John Leivers has spent more time walking in the Andes than most llamas. His vast knowledge and on-the-ground experience of the Qhapaq Ñan make him an irreplaceable member of the team. John, who is now 64, divides his time between coaching and ‘sweeping’ a women’s surf boat crew in Perth, Western Australia and being the “chief consultant” on SA Expeditions’ ground-breaking Qhapaq Ñan Expedition from Ingapirca in Ecuador to Cusco in Peru. He will hike every step of the way alongside, with Nick Stanziano, (Founder and Chief Explorer of SA Expeditions), providing invaluable insights into the route, history, politics and more. As Nick says ,“Since I first conceived this Qhapaq Ñan expedition until today, John’s stories, mentorship and expertise on the Qhapaq Ñan have been ever present.” John in action with the 'Senyoritas' women's surf boat crew in Perth. John has always been “one of those blokes who’s keen to see what’s over the next ridge and deal with …
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Climbing Huayna Picchu (the mountain in THAT photo)

Climbing Huayna Picchu (the mountain in THAT photo)

This short, sharp ascent on narrow paths and stairs is both hair-raising and exhausting. But this is all forgotten when you stand at the top and look down on the wonder that is Machu Picchu. What is Huayna Picchu? Day visitors to Machu Picchu can choose between a regular entry ticket or a ticket that includes hiking to either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. Huayna Picchu is the dramatic cone-shaped peak which towers above Machu Picchu in all the photos…you know the one. Machu Picchu means ‘old mountain’ in Quechua and Huayna Picchu means ‘young mountain’. At 8,920ft, it’s the second highest point in the ruins precinct (Machu Picchu Mountain is higher) but it still enjoys great views. This could be you... (Photo credit: Jipe7 on Flickr) Huayna Picchu versus Machu Picchu Mountain If your legs allow it, hiking up one of these two peaks is highly recommended. But which one will it be? Huayna Picchu is much more popular among visitors, and despite the fact that only 400 visitors …
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The eternal lightning storm of Catatumbo

The eternal lightning storm of Catatumbo

Receiving lightning strikes 28 times per minute, 10 hours per day and 280 days per year, Catatumbo, Venezuela is far and away the most electric place on earth. Residents near the spot where the Catatumbo River flows into Lake Maracaibo have grown used to the phenomenon which has continued unchanged for centuries and is known locally as El Relampago de Catatumbo. No one is completely certain why it occurs, but current consensus seems to be that it has something to do with the meeting of the hot, humid coastal winds of Maracaibo meeting the arctic air from the surrounding Andes. Photo: Fernando Flores Photo: Ruzhugo 27 In addition to the one-of-a-kind lightning storms, Lake Maracaibo - an enormous brackish inlet which used to be South America’s largest true lake – is also home to so fantastic birds, wildlife and scenery...as these photos attest. Photo: Fernando Flores Photo: Fernando Flores Unfortunately the Relampago takes place in a notably unstable region of an …
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VIDEO: The jawdropping beauty of Uyuni in the rainy season

VIDEO: The jawdropping beauty of Uyuni in the rainy season

The Salar de Uyuni in Southern Bolivia is the world's largest salt pan. In the rainy season it is transformed into an enormous natural mirror which is every photographer's dream. Watch and enjoy... It's been a while since we blogged about one of our newest and most exciting itineraries, but when this incredible video of Uyuni in the rainy season popped up, we knew we had to break the silence. Spanning a total area of more than 10,000km², the Salar de Uyuni near Potosi is one of the trippiest places you'll ever go, and this is ramped up a couple of notches between December and March, when the region receives most of its rain (January is usually the wettest month). In addition to showcasing the natural marvel which is the salt flats in the rainy season, the video is also gives a really good visual summary of all the other aspects of a classic Uyuni itinerary. The only thing it doesn't show are the epic Airstream camper vans that most SA Expeditions guests choose to stay in. Big up to …
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All you need to know about Argentina’s Cueva de las Manos

All you need to know about Argentina’s Cueva de las Manos

The enigmatic Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands) in Argentine Patagonia is one of the finest examples of ancient rock art on the planet. Read on to find out more... What is it? The Cueva de Las Manos Pintadas (Cave of the Painted Hands) is not so much a single cave as a series of rock overhangs at the base of a cliff-face in the remote and spectacular Cañón de Río Pinturas in Patagonia. The site is most famous for its breathtaking collage of more than 800 black, white, red and ochre handprints, painted over 9,000 years ago, but there are also excellent depictions of guanacos (a relative of the llama and the artists’ main source of food), rheas (a large flightless bird that still roams the Patagonian plains), puma prints and human beings. In addition to living creatures there are also representations of geometric shapes, zigzag patterns, red dots, the sun, and hunting scenes. Photo credit: David Of the 829 handprints most are male, one has six fingers and only 31 are of right …
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Qhapaq Ñan – Third Expedition

Qhapaq Ñan – Third Expedition

Qhapaq Ñan – Day 1. Third Expedition. The team departed this morning from Jauja with 12 llamas heading along a transversal Qhapaq Ñan towards Pachacamac, 200 miles west, near the Pacific coast in southern Peru. At the height of the Inca’s reign, 600 years ago, Jauja was a major administration center, serving the empire’s expansion northward from their capital, 480 miles to the south at Cusco. Pachacamac in its own right was an important religious center going back two millennia and influenced successive cultures leading up to the Incas. It makes sense that the road linking these two ancient centers would be an equal in its planning and grandeur. It’s an example, as impressive as any other large scale public work of the empire. In three days by foot west, we’ll arrive to the great Inca stairway in the shadows of the great Apu Pariacaca (mountain deity). The set of 1800 steps will be the entry to another three days on some of the most spectacular Qhapaq Ñan anywhere on the 25,000 mile …
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