While traveling through the Patagonian region of South America, I encountered many a befuddled traveler who was a bit miffed by the planning process required to enter Torres del Paine National Park. I will go ahead and include myself in this stack of confused, well-intentioned hikers. For years I have fawned after photos of Torres del Paine, but it wasn’t until I actually started the process of researching how exactly to pull off a visit, did I meet the gut-sinking moment of “Oh, no. I’m too late.”
It’s really an awful feeling to have as a traveler. The stars have finally aligned in life, and you are on the cusp of departure, only to stumble across this one little detail that has the potential to derail everything. Reservations? You need reservations? I simply was unaware. Now, with that said, the 2016-2017 season is the first year to see the implementation of required reservations prior to entering the park. I was not the only one caught in the crosshairs of a new system.
Torres del Paine National Park is one of the premiere hiking destinations in all of South America, and with the influx of new visitors, restrictions on how many people can enter the park are being put into effect. It is understandable, and long term, definitely a good thing to protect the fragility of the park. I am hopeful that as word spreads, more travelers who wish to enter the park will be aware of the requirements, and less headaches will abound for everyone.
With that said, I was able to finagle dates in the tail end of February to make my “O” trek a reality. Below I’ve put together a guide that will hopefully streamline the leg work required to visit such an incredible destination. Take a gander, and hopefully it will allow you to spend less time planning, and more time enjoying your visit!
Forever and always, I have travel ideas floating around in the furthest recesses of my mind. Sometimes they collect dust in a corner, sometimes they come to fruition with a bit of foresight. For most of us, the struggle is finding that proverbial sweet spot where the rivers of time and money coalesce, and we let their sweet brackish waters wash us over.
Someone once told me, that if you write something down, you are more apt to stay the course, and complete/accomplish it. In keeping with the whole, New Year, rebirth, phoenix rising from the ashes (I don’t think anything burnt down?), huzzah this year is going to be different mentality, I have compiled a list of destinations that have rattled through my mind at some point or another.
For those that are curious, here is my list from last year. And here are some of my personal highlights from what actually happened in 2016. It’s neat to look back, take a breath, and say, “Wow, that did happen.”
Enough staring at the clouds, let’s talk travel!
With the new year upon us, I thought I’d take a moment to put together a list of trip ideas. Sometimes it’s fun to not think too hard, and simply brainstorm a big ol’ batch. That’s how anything starts, right? Below you’ll find a list of 20 or so you can use as idea kindling.
- Visit a Caribbean Island. Inspired by recent photos that friends have shared, along with the fact that I will be between living arrangements come March, maybe this is the perfect time to make a jaunt. Added bonus: warmth.
- Go skiing. My sister and brother-in-law were the first to introduce me to this most excellent activity. Many moons have passed since I last found myself on a pair of sticks. If you have a Swiss friend who happens to know the ins and outs of comped Zermatt visits, now is the time to make that introduction.
- Drive the 101. Having been able to experience segments over the last few years, it never disappoints. 1540 miles of open road beckoning your name. Washington, Oregon, California. Yes, please.
- Visit Maine. I feel like this is a hidden in plain view kind of destination. Maybe those who reside in Maine like it this way? Coastal road trip up to Nova Scotia? Count me in. General itinerary consists of lobster roll stand to lobster roll stand while on mooseback.
- Drive to Key West. Perhaps the stars will align, and cheap airfares will allow a visit to Miami for a bit of sunshine and art exploring. While there, why not rent a car and dip down to enjoy a photo-op and slice of key lime pie? Plus watching the hues of the ocean change color while driving sounds quite enticing! Hemingway wants you to visit.
- National Parks. You don’t have to twist my arm all that hard to get me to one of these. It’s quite easy to find inspiration these days while online or hunched over your phone scrolling through Instagram, but I assure you the feeling you get while there, without any cell signal, is infinitely better.
- West Texas. This area of Texas has been calling my name over the course of the past year. I’ve had quite an affinity to see Terlingua and Big Bend National Park with my own eyes. Sprinkle in a bit of Marfa, and I think we’re on to something.
- Time spent with dark skies. It was recently brought to my attention that astro-tourism is very much a thing. Having gazed at a number of astrophotography websites over the past year, I want to start creating my own photos. The Atacama Desert in Chile is currently peaking my interest.
- Drive from the lower 48 up to Alaska. In my mind I envision a motorcycle or a Vanagon meandering up through British Columbia. Of course, upon arriving in Anchorage, it would only make sense to go and visit Denali.
- Motorcycle Ruta 40 in Argentina. One of the most remote roads in the world. This adventure would take a fair amount of research and planning, but I feel like it would be well worth it. Takes the idea of self reliance to a new level.
- Hike to Havasu Falls. Is this place even real? I’m not sure if it is. I should probably go to where it is purported to be, and investigate.
- Trail systems of America. Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, American Discovery Trail, Trans-America Trail. Obviously these would be longer term trips, but who says you can’t enjoy a section?
- Travel locally. You are somewhere, aren’t you? Discover the redeeming aspects of where you are right now.
- Find the best damn gas station in America. Where is it? I want to know about it. What makes it special? Why do I need to see it?
- See the Northern Lights. I will never forget driving across Saskatchewan on a tour, and looking out the driver side window to see the Northern Lights, suspended in iridescent warble. I wish to experience them again.
- The Bronx. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Have a friend who grew up in the Bronx? Send me their way.
- Patagonia. I’ve had a map of South America on my wall for the past two years. Every day I am home, I look at it with wonderment. For the longest time I’ve wanted to travel to Patagonia, and soon I will. The spires of Torres del Paine whisper to me in my dreams.
- Madagascar. Africa is massive. MASSIVE! I know very little about it, but would like to know more. Perhaps I could connect through Johannesburg on the way. The Avenue of the Baobabs looks absolutely otherworldly.
- Japan. My understanding of this country clocks in at around zero. Having recently read a Murakami novel, paired with a viewing of Enter The Void, I dare say I have a skewed perception of what Japan is or is not. I would like to demystify through experience.
- Let me plan your trip. This is something I’ve been knocking around in my brain for a while. An outgrowth of tour managing has been a fascination in creating trips for others. I’ve spent a fair amount of time researching routes, flights, rentals, logistics, you name it. I’d like to take what I’ve learned and apply it to bringing your trip to life. Email me.
So, in no particular order. This is where my brain is at currently. I thrive on talking about this stuff, because it eventually leads to action. Obviously there are considerations such as time and money, but I feel like if you really want something to happen, you figure out how to make it happen. Some great advice I received a while back was to look at how you currently spend your time. Those are your priorities. What are your priorities? May everyone have an excellent start to your New Year!