Posts tagged adventure

Backpack Peru – With My One-Stop Travel Guide

What would I say about Peru that hasn’t been said before?

Raw-rugged Andes peaks, turquoise glaciers hung atop, deep canyons thriving with life, thick rainforests spread throughout the country, an arid coast bordering the Pacific and the land, giant vultures flying above in the sky, hundreds and thousands of ethnicities and languages and beliefs, roasted guinea pig sold as a delicacy, soft alpacas made into curries, a myriad of colors in a single piece of cloth, mix of Catholicism and indigenous religion flourishing in households, a series of rulers only to be paved out by the Incas and then the Spanish, rich produce of bright fruits and vegetables, vast reserves of silver, zinc, gold, and more, a lake as giant as an ocean and as blue as a sky, penis temples next to courtyards, hundreds of years old ruins worshipped by the indigenous and visited by the world, simple people with taut skin trying to make ends meet — these are the things Peru reminds me of.

Though most of the travelers started visiting Peru when as per an internet poll held in 2007 Machu Picchu was voted as one of the seven wonders of the world, now visitors want to see the entire stunning Perú.  During the entire five weeks that I backpacked Peru, mostly the South, I was trying to comprehend the stupendous landscape that kept unrolling in front of me wherever I went in the country.

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Hike Colca Canyon – My Honest Guide to an Excruciating Trek

I did not know that there is a Colca Canyon in Peru until I reached the Arica Chile border to cross over into Peru. When everyone in Arequipa asked me if I was going to hike Colca Canyon, I nodded. As a lazy travel researcher, I believe in improvised navigation.

I decided that I would do the Colca Canyon hike, but I didn’t realize that this Peruvian canyon was twice as deep as Arizona’s Grand Canyon. When the travel company with whom I booked a two day Colca Canyon tour asked if I had any trekking experience, I thought about my recent Villarrica volcano endeavor. I nodded while dreading the Colca trek for though hiking the volcano had improved my confidence, the 3,300 meters deep canyon hike sounded ambitious.

But without a trip to Colca Canyon, my Arequipa visit would have been incomplete. So I paid 120 soles for the 2 days hike, ate a heavy dinner, and hit the bed early.

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How I Survived the Villarrica Volcano Hike

The alarm rang at 3:30 in the night. I peeked out of my blanket into the dark dorm room and wondered why I had decided to hike the 2,800-meter high volcano. Just then Alison, my Canadian friend, who was sleeping on the lowest bunk bed opposite me, snoozed the alarm on her iPhone, mumbled something, opened her eyes for a second, and then pulled the blanket over her head again. She was the one who made me signup for the Villarrica Volcano hike, the active volcano which had erupted a year ago.

I shut the alarm and got out of bed. Alison followed me. Though November is a summer month in Chile, Pucon, a city in the lake region, wasn’t that warm, especially at that early hour of the day. After barely washing our faces with the cold water, we walked to the cherry tree in the hostel where ten other hikers were following the directions of the Volcan Villarrica tour guides. We wore a pair of waterproof trousers over our track pants and strapped our rucksack in which we carried the rest of the gear on our backs. Then the twelve of us walked to the minivan that was to drive us to Villarrica 30 kilometers out of town.

I don’t know if I felt secured or alarmed when Alejandro, one of our three tour guides, told us that after the eruption in 2015 the government had mandated that there should be a guide accompanying every four trekkers.

After driving for an hour, we reached the base of Villarrica. Even at that wee hour, the area was flooded with minivans and travelers who wanted to climb the volcano. Until then I didn’t know that climbing volcano Villarrica is the sole reason for some of the tourists to visit Pucon, the city which Lonely Planet refers to as the mecca for adventure sports. And why wouldn’t it be? You can do river rafting, kayaking, hiking, skiing, horseback riding, and so much more in the bustling lake town of Pucon.

Recommended Read: My experiential travel guide to Chile

I craned my neck to look up to the summit. The twilight was dissolving away the darkness of the night. A rotund moon watched us from above. From its base, Rucapillán, or the house of the Pillán, (the Mapuche name of Volcano Villarrica) indeed looked like a superpower, an undefeatable giant.

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Samaipata – A Bolivian Village You Must Experience

Samaipata is easily one of my favorite places in Bolivia. Why? Maybe this quaint village in east Bolivia showed me how to slow down. Or perhaps the Bohemian attitude of Samaipata made me think about life differently. Or maybe the German and the Dutch and the Arabs who have settled down in Samaipata taught me that home is where the heart is.

I cannot pinpoint on any one reason, but Samaipata, a lush town in the foothills of Andes, calmed me down. It is after all the resting place in the mountains (the meaning of Samaipata in Quechua).

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Why You Must Visit Santa Cruz –The City of the Rich in Bolivia

When I had stuffed myself with enough streetside potato empanadas, I flew from La Paz to Santa Cruz. The dream was to see the wild jaguars in the forests near Santa Cruz.

Drifting off through a one-hour flight and waking up to chew upon the dry fruits that the Boliviana de Aviación attendant served, I landed at the Viru Viru international airport and hopped onto the airport shuttle to go to the central plaza. My travel friend was staying in a fancy hostel there.

As always, I had not read much about Santa Cruz. But my curiosity to talk to the local people makes up for my lethargic online research, mostly. In a casual conversation, the manager of the Santa Cruz airport shuttle told me that Bolivia was still furious about losing the Pacific coast to Chile. He added that the elite businessman and politicians of that wealthy city we were in had stopped caring as they were busy securing their bank balances.

And that is how I was introduced to Santa Cruz, a city where you would forget that you are in Bolivia, if not for the cholitas selling sinful salteñas on the roadside.

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Golden Highlights of 2018 – A Year of Writing, Love, and Nomadness.

The whistles of a black kite which is hovering above me in the light blue sky are the only sounds that break my attention now and then. In front of me, a green parrot just flew by; I see more of them in the morning, when one after another they go, searching for grains and guavas and water and, maybe, more parrots. The coffee cuckoo, similar to the one that used to visit me in the earlier place where I stayed, also showed herself to me by flying from one tree to another in the jungle of the army campus, in front of which this rooftop one bedroom house of my partner is located.

I have stationed myself in one corner of this terrace on a chatayi or as we say a mat nowadays, and from here I write my heart out. In this nomadic life, you can find me on and off in Bangalore, for I always come here to be with my partner, and thus I pen down many pieces from his vicinity with a temporary feeling of home.

Having spent more than four months now as a nomad, I have realized that you don’t have to own or rent an apartment to be at home. Neither are you always on the go even if you are a nomad. At the end of the day when I think about getting back to home, I imagine a quiet place, where the bathroom taps do not drip and where I cannot hear the screeching tires or intruding honks, but I can only tune into the crickets singing songs to each other. Where I can lay on a bed or in a sleeping bag in a tent, preferably tucked away in the midst of trees, with a warm cup of tea and a book to read. From where I can make a phone call to my parents and family for they worry if I disappear for even a day. I imagine a home that is a window into the world, or it has a window from where I can see the world, which I like to have at a distance. And that is all.

Such are my preferences these days. I started penning down this article to tell you about how my priorities shaped up the year 2018, and so on I go.

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100 Days of My Nomadic Life – Highs and Lows of Living While Traveling

I haven’t gone out of my partner’s home, where I sit and write here in Bangalore, for three days, apart from a small walk that I did to the grocery store because I wanted to eat something better than lifeless noodles with invisible vegetables. Ironically, today I am writing about my 100 days of nomadic life.

I thought that being nomadic means staying on the road 24×7, and maybe, you feel that way, too. I will get to that, but first, let us go back in time a little bit to understand how my digital nomad journey started.

I chose this life for I wanted to be location independent. I wanted to be able to travel whenever I yearned to see a new place or live in a jungle where I could only hear the crickets whistle and the leaves rustle instead of the incessant blasting traffic of Bangalore or any other metropolitan. But having a rented apartment was sort of becoming a hindrance to free movement and adding up costs without adding any value, apart from providing me with a quiet writing space with a balcony.

I thought that I better spend the money which I paid for the apartment where people shut doors on each other as if they were enemies on gorgeous Airbnb’s or friendly homestays or rustic hotels in the hidden corners of the world. At least I would explore, meet interesting people and have some meaningful conversations, and live life at my own pace.

So I gave up my room in the Bangalore flat and packed my bags to wander freely while working online. The whole idea was to move slowly; I have never found any joy in visiting a place for a weekend or two days and then leaving it, while I didn’t even know what lay in my backyard though I saw all the famous attractions of that destination. And while exploring the world one place at a time, I could afford the lifestyle of a digital nomad because of my writing portfolio.

But I have come to realize that not having a permanent location is not about traveling all the time. It is about moving with a choice.

This nomadic life has put up all sorts of choices in front of me and let me be honest with how I feel about them.

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The Culture of Chile – 13 Chilean Conventions You Should Know Before You Visit Chile

While we strolled through the artistic arcades of the magnificent Angkor Wat temple, my Chilean friend Valentina, whom I had run into on a train from Bangkok to Siem Reap a month before my trip to Chile, asked me if I knew how Chileans greeted each other. I shook my head expressing my ignorance of the question and the culture of Chile.

I didn’t know anything about South America or Chile in that hot month of June, even though I was flying to Chile in July, if my visa went through, which I hadn’t applied for by then. Without noticing my obliviousness, Valentina went on telling me about Chilean greetings and other customs I should have known before going to her country.

While traveling in Chile, her insights helped me throughout my six-month-long solo adventure through the passionate land. Returning the kindness, I am aggregating all those unique conventions that left an impression on me so that you are prepared to visit this beautiful land of some even more beautiful people.

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A Day of Playing Around on the Deserted Nyang Nyang Beach of Bali– With Blue Postcards of Memories

When we descended the stairs of a cliff to reach this turquoise beach visible in the distance, my nut-brown eyes first quickly scanned through the different colors that had spread themselves onto the landscape, and then they insisted on exploring each hue for prolonged periods of time and stopped listening to me.

White cottony clouds floated in a light-blue sky, which gave way to a deep-blue sea, whose green waves rolled towards us, and then they washed over the brown moss to run into the fluorescent-green corals and mix with the ink-blue pools in which black and golden stripped tiny fishes darted to and fro from one rock to another.

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My Bali Travel Guide – Some of the Best Things To Do in Bali and Beyond.

 

Bali has been a relief from the chaos of the overcrowded and the ever-rushing world. Though I had heard really touristy things about Bali, I love the place.

I have spent most of my twenty days in Ubud, old Bali with a modern twist, a village called Laplapan, which is close to Ubud, and also biking my way to far away floating temples, hidden beaches, and rice fields whose pictures were able to enchant me enough.


best things to do in bali

 

Before I came here, I thought Bali would be a tourist jungle packed with hotels, restaurants, tour shops, yoga centers, and bike rental shops, along with some greenery. But Ubud and Bali are places that have all these things and also have artistic temples that the Balinese people visit every day, lush paddy fields in the heart of the city, cute ducks wobbling around in open pastures, deserted turquoise beaches, hidden jungles, a cool river cutting through the middle of Ubud, splashing waterfalls, a colorful underwater world, and all with the backdrop of a gaping volcano.

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