trip report: French Polynesia – final impressions & budget, March 2019

Over the course of just over a week, we racked up a bill that rivals some of our longest trips and by far exceeded our cost per day than any we’ve done before. That’s not even counting the point redemptions used and the amount we save through the travel enthusiast game. In the end, we were indeed left with an unforgettable experience. Some of which I am good with not return to, such as the resorts on Bora Bora. While others I would love enjoy again, like the underwater wonderland at the passes on Fakarava.

19_3_fp2-614

This is the conclusion of the French Polynesia trip series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

Read More

trip report: Fakarava, March 2019

Did someone say a wall of sharks? That was our draw to visit the island atoll in the middle of nowhere and what we found was my most memorable scuba diving experiences to date. Oh, the beaches weren’t too bad either.

19_3_fp2-47

This is the third entry of the French Polynesia trip series covering our experiences on Fakarava (4) and getting out (5). You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

Read More

trip report: Bora Bora, March 2019

Bora Bora is one of the premier resort islands in the world and probably the most traveled to island for tourists in French Polynesia. On the other hand, it also has the nickname “Boring Boring” in the backpacker world for the lack of unguided adventure available and the isolation of the resorts on the perimeter atoll islands. The truth, ofcourse, is somewhere in between.

19_3_fp2-200-3

This is the second entry of the French Polynesia trip series covering our experiences on Bora Bora (3). You can navigate to the other parts in the index below.

Read More

trip report: French Polynesia – decision, planning, & getting in, March 2019

In the travel enthusiast game, change happens quickly. The best deals out there tends to go away or change quickly once more and more people learn of it. With the growing popularity of the game itself, the increase number of travel websites, and how technology information today can spread, it has lead to more people able to take advantage of great deals to travel the world but also subsequently lead to the death of many of these deals as well. This evolution of the game has caused many heated arguments on travel forums and comment sections. The future direction of the travel enthusiast game isn’t the purpose of this post, but rather how we put together a trip based on several expiring deals to visit a few islands in the middle of the Pacific. Specifically to experience an over the water bungalow and to swim with the sharks.

19_3_fp1-1-7

This is the first entry of the French Polynesia trip series covering our pre-trip planning (1) and our travel into our first destination in French Polynesia (2). You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – final impressions, top 5, & budget, January 2019

At the end of our third trip to Patagonia, I feel that we’ve seen and experienced plenty of what Patagonia has to offer. It’s enough for me to call it my favorite region in the world I’ve traveled to so far. And also enough for me to publish a top 5 list. But at the same time I know I haven’t come close to experiencing all that is Patagonia, so I’m publishing my future trip ideas at the same time. Hopefully my experiences will inspire and help you in your planning to visit this amazing area of the world.

19_1_CA_final-100

This is the conclusion of my 2019 Patagonia trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – getting out with Mexico City layover, January 2019

With many cheap airfares or award redemption, the flight routing it takes to reach the final destination maybe very roundabout and bad in general. The business class error fare we book this time around involved a long layover in Mexico City. The attitudes each of us has toward travel, similar to all aspects of life, can shape the experiences we’ll have. We can treat these are long laborious layovers as durations of time to waste or go search for some street tacos.

This is part 9 of my Patagonia trip report series. We pick up the trip report after 19 days traveling up the Argentinian Ruta 40 and then driving along the Chilean Carretera Austral (see part 3 of the trip report for the overall summary). You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – Parque Pumalín Douglas Tompkins, January 2019

Parque Pumalín Douglas Tompkins is result of Douglas Tompkins conservation efforts starting in 1991. Today it is managed by CONAF as a national park that covers 988422 acres. Within the bounds of the park, there are enough maintained day hikes (parquepumalin) to keep you engaged for a couple weeks. While we didn’t explore every single hike, we did four of them on day 6, day 15, day 17, and day 18 of our travels on Ruta 40 and the Carretera Austral.

parquepumalin.JPG

This is part 8 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – Futaleufú, January 2019

Before our trip, I had heard that one of the best white water rivers was in Patagonia. While Río Futaleufú and the town named after the river are not on the Carretera Austral, it was a well worth sidetrip to see and experience this magnificent river.

This is part 7 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – Parque Nacional Queulat & Ventisquero Colgante, January 2019

The vastness of Patagonia contains many spectacular mountains, valleys, glaciers, and lakes. Many of these areas are untouched by trails and very difficult to access without extensive skills. It may be one of the hopes of the Chile’s Route of Parks initiative to eventually expand accessibility for hikers and tourists to these hidden vistas. But for now, we would only catch a glimpse of the glacier spilling out between the rock faces. That sums up my descriptions of the popular Ventisquero Colgante, one of the only established and open hikes in the area around Parque Nacional Queulat.

This is part 6 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – Mirador Laguna Cerro Castillo, January 2019

Cerro Castillo is one of the rare multi-day backpacking (trekking) opportunities that is well established along the Carretera Austral. We had tentative plans to do just that, but lingering health issues and the logistics in planning a point to point backpacking trek that would rely on hitchhiking or buses when we didn’t speak Spanish brought us to the alternative day hike options. In the end, I don’t feel like I missed out and at the same time, I look forward to returning to do the trek.

19_1_CA5-13.jpg

This is part 5 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.  Read More

trip report: Patagonia – Marble Caves & Glaciar Exploradores guided tours at Puerto Río Tranquilo, January 2019

Our southern most point on our Carretera Austral drive was the town of Puerto Río Tranquilo. While we typically don’t partake in guided hikes or tours, we did here to see the highlight of the town, the Marble Caves on Lago Gral Carrera (Lake General Carrera).

19_1_CA4-27.jpg

The other tour here is the guided glacier hike onto Glaciar Exploradores, spilling off the Northern Patagonia Ice Field. Having endured the last few days through sickness and car issues, we made the decision at this point to just enjoy ourselves and splurge on both tours. We did not regret it one bit.

19_1_CA4-1074.jpg

This is part 4 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – Ruta 40 & driving the Carretera Austral, January 2019

My current struggle in life is the constant feel of needing to optimize my time. It’s the feeling that I need to be productive whenever possible, but I don’t think I am actually any more than before in the overall scheme of things. Maybe I started to feel this way because of the combination of how easy I can waste a day and just the never ending to do lists. Whatever the reason, it makes it very difficult to relax as anything nonproductive comes with a feel of regret in the end. This specific struggle carries over into the realm of traveling as well when it comes to unplanned and free form travel. It is hard not to feel the need to do something at every minute. But at the same time, unplanned free form travel is the cure as you don’t have anywhere to be but to relax and immerse yourself in the beauty out there. There is no place better for me to relearn that than the remote regions in Chile on the Carretera Austral.

19_1_ca3-1-141.jpg
carefree zone

In the spirit of free form travel, the hikes and activities we throughout the rest of our trip wasn’t really in any organizable order. This is due to a few travel restrictions and situational parameters that are explained in the post. So this part of the trip report will cover our decisions as we went, the specific route that we took, and our driving experiences on the Carretera Austral. Subsequent sections will delve into the different hikes and major activities that I will mention in this overview of our trip.

We pick up this trip report the day after our Huemul Circuit hike (see part 2 of this series). This is part 3 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below. Read More