Today I moved into the beautiful Hotel Emperador and started my ‘Quark Expeditions’ experience. Excellent staff and services at this lovely hotel. Today we would meet and ‘check in’ with Quark before taking our charter flight to Ushuaia the next day. While Covid 19 was something that the world was aware of, there were no cases in Argentina at the time. Precautions were taken and each of us filled out a health form and had our temperatures taken. I was set to start my Expedition! Until then, it was time to check out the local community of ‘La Boca’ and by evening one of the best Tango shows in Buenos Aires: ‘Rojo Tango’.
La Boca is a working-class area with a cluster of attractions near the Riachuelo River. Steakhouses and street artists surround Caminito, a narrow alley flanked by brightly painted zinc shacks that evoke the district’s early immigrant days. A cauldron of noise on match days, La Bombonera is the home ground of Boca Juniors soccer team. Modern art museum Fundación Proa has temporary exhibits and views of the old docks.
Rojo Tango, a more cabaret style show, was the perfect way to spend an evening in Buenos Aires. Take a stroll along the beautiful waterways of the elegant Puerto Madero before making your way to the spectacular Faena Hotel. This property is a favourite of mine and absolutely takes your breath away. Host to Rojo Tango, as soon as you walk into the long hallway with a red rug and black horsehair bench, you know you’ve entered Faena’s fantastical world. From the Library Lounge, with its tufted leather sofas and crystal candelabras to the white-and-red Bistro Sur, with unicorn heads adorning the walls, the hotel’s restaurants and bars take theatrical design to new heights. Oh how I loved this property. Stay there or just visit. A glass of wine in the Piano bar is enough on its own for those who do not have the time to indulge 😊
YYC to Toronto via Santiago (Chile) for a quick stop I was now only hours from Argentina. As I flew over the Andes, I couldn’t stop thinking how very different they are to our own Rockies. Dry, baron and a rainbow of earthy colours.
On arrival into Buenos Aires I decided to start my adventure with a trip down memory lane. We all have memories of being young and vibrant backpackers once upon a time. This experience grows us and makes us into the people we are today. So I decided to spend my first night in the hostel I once loved so many years ago. It was a humbling start to my adventure and had not changed one little bit….Apart from the fact their was no longer a computer room or line up to send an email Haha
All freshened up now and it was time to find Luis’s home. A wonderful steakhouse experience in the home of a local Argentine. Always on the hunt for a unique experience to share…this is not your average steak experience. While it’s no secret what Argentine beef is worth around the world, visitors to Buenos Aires don’t always get the chance to experience an Argentine asado and its many rituals and traditions. Here at ‘Steaks by Luis’, they not only focus on high quality cuts grilled to perfection but also the entire experience. You participate in a typical Argentine asado and feel like you’re at Luis’ home. All while sitting around a big family table, and joining Luis alongside the grill or just kicking back, relaxing and enjoying the 5 course meal and wine pairing event.
This is where the journey truly begins 😊 I was dropped off at YYC airport with time to spare. I found a cozy little spot to watch the planes fly in with a beautiful mountain backdrop. Here is where I reflect and fathom where in the world I was actually headed…… 14 years ago I almost jumped on a ship to Antarctica, now the dream is really coming alive, the emotions are high and feelings of excitement all over my body!
While in Colombia Connor enjoyed a coffee tour which he says “was amazing! It’s located on Los Santos which is a table top in Colombia. It is based around a 130 year old “home” that has 6 rooms to sleep with a very colonial feel.
We continued on a plantation tour where they grow the top 10 coffee in the world, across 320 acres, all organic and pesticide free. It was really interesting to see shade coffee, which is grown under the cover of shade, and the bird life was quite extraordinary, with dozens of species coming up to eat right beside you as you travel through the plantation.
A few other highlights so far have been the “Chicamocha canyon” which is currently being looked at by UNESCO. With a maximum depth of 2,000 metres, an area of 108,000 hectares and a length of 227 kilometres it is the second deepest canyon in the world. We also went mountain biking and white water rafting through the canyon, which was fantastic!
Besides that the guides have been absolutely spectacular and the food, amazing”!
Well we made it to Machu Picchu…what an experience this has been!
After hiking the last few hours to the town of Ollantaytambo, we stayed the night and then took the train the next morning from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes – the end of the line. Once there, we found a bustling little town built along the railroad with seemingly 1 purpose – to get people up to the ruins of M.P.
We were fortunate enough to spend the day and evening at the beautiful Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, one of the Unique Lodges of the World properties in the Andean cloud forest. With 12 acres of natural beauty – hummingbirds, the iconic Andean cock-of-the-rock, orchids, and a tea plantation, we were in awe!
The next day we lined up with all the other tourists, climbed aboard a bus and made our way up to the site. It’s a busy spot with all the adventure seekers ready to make their pilgrimage through the ruins and to get their iconic photos of this incredible masterpiece. Believe me…it does not disappoint!
Our mountain lodges of Peru day 3 took us to a village visit and ceremony for the good health and blessing of the community’s sheep flock. We were able to hike up to an archaeological site of Pumamarka – a pre-Inca defensive Fort up on the mountain top with a picnic lunch overlooking the valley. After lunch it was time for our beautiful hike to Ollantaytambo- seeing the “half-moon “ terraces up the hillside and many stone granaries up high in the mountains to keep their grain and supplies cool.