New Zealand. Wow. We road tripped around South Island and North Island for 6 weeks. I think the photo above really says it all. That's me at the top of the Roys Peak Track celebrating the climb. New Zealand hikes are amazing, and the scenery is stunning. Colin and I combined forces to write a detailed blog here. I hope it helps your trip! Also, you'll definitely want to take a look at the photos we have from South Island here and North Island here.
Iguazu Falls is amazing, and if you're visiting another area close-ish to it, then I say go. To me though, it wasn't enough of a destination to be its own trip. It's not cheap, and it's not as cool as going to Victoria Falls.
Southern Patagonia, while majestic and beautiful, was a letdown for me. Maybe I built it up too much in my head; maybe it was from hearing so many wonderful [possibly exaggerated] stories from other travelers; maybe it was how hard we tried to do it on a budget. Whatever the reason, I was disappointed.
Colin and I rented a campervan and road tripped around the Southern Patagonia, from El Chaltén to Ushuaia, for 16 days, September 1 – 16, 2017. We had trouble finding information about how exactly to road trip around Patagonia, so we wrote about the details of our trip in our how-to blog, McPatton Manual. See that post here.
At the bottom of this post, there are photos of each of the major parts of our trip. To see even more photos from the trip (which I highly recommend), check them out here, and for an EVEN BETTER visualization of the trip, see our YouTube videos on the playlist here.
Everyone tells you that you need to book WAY in advance to do Machu Picchu (MP). You also never really hear about doing anything except the typical 4 day trek. We didn’t make the time for that, so we did it in 1 day using trains and buses. There’s also an option to do it in 2 days using a car (the road the car uses is longer than the train tracks). We also didn’t book until a few days in advance.
Rainbow Mountain is very beautiful (see some photos below), and it only takes 1 day to see. I suggest going for the scenery even though there will be a lot of tourists and the hike is difficult because of the altitude. What I don’t know about is Red Valley. Keep reading for what I do know about it, but if you’re thinking about doing Rainbow Mountain, Google Red Valley first and see if it’s something you’d prefer to do.
Manu National Park is part of the Amazon located in Peru. It includes diverse ecosystems such as lowland rainforests, cloud forests and Andean grasslands. There is a cultural region where you see some wildlife but not a ton, and there’s a reserve area where you supposedly see a little more wildlife. There aren’t a lot of tourists in Manu, so while you’ll see a few other groups, it isn’t swarming with gringos. I didn't exactly love it though... to put it nicely.
Yep, we hiked some more volcanoes. Central America is just full of them! I actually never knew that until we came here. We did a 2 day trek with Quetzaltrekkers León. You can see more information on our specific trek here, but the summary is: We hiked up Volcán Cerro Negro and volcano boarded down (more on that later), and then we hiked through the Las Pilas – El Hoyo volcanic complex. We camped near a giant crater, and then the next day continued on to Volcán Asososca and swam in a crater lake before hiking through the jungle to get down.
Semuc Champey is so beautiful. It's a hell of an adventure to get there, but it really is gorgeous. If you go, I'd be sure to do the caves and the tubing as well if you have time just to make the trip all the way out there worth it.
We came to Guatemala with the main purpose of learning the basics of Spanish. The schools in Antigua are pretty cheap (only a little more expensive than in Quetzaltenango), and it’s still not too far (about an hour or an hour and a half) from the airport in Guatemala City (whereas I think that Quetzaltenango is about 4 hours from Guatemala City). It was $525 for both of us to have 5 days of one-on-one tutoring (from 8 AM – 1 PM with a half hour break at 10 AM), and that includes our lodging and almost all of our meals. Unfortunately, it didn’t include our beer :(
We got to visit my grandfather, Baba, in Payson, AZ (about an hour and a half from Phoenix and more mild weather). Payson is in the Tonto National Forest which has a lot of stuff to see / do, and the landscape is beautiful -- lots of cacti and big rocks. I love it! Payson is a small, quiet town, and it was very peaceful. We drove south from Payson to visit the Tonto National Monument and cliff dwellings of a group of people known by archaeologists as the Salado. We were only able to visit the Lower Cliff Dwellings because the Upper ones are only open from November - April. The Upper ones are more intact and larger, so maybe someday we'll get to visit those.
Hi, I'm Sara Monica Patton. I love animals, traveling, and eating. Read more about me in my first blog post here.