10 Tips for Making Better Travel Films

10 TIPS FOR MAKING BETTER TRAVEL FILMS

10 Tips for Making Better Travel Films

Travel films are more popular than ever. From YouTube, to Vimeo there are a lot of talented and inspiring filmmakers out there. Many people are fooled into thinking expensive gear is the key to achieving the look of the filmmakers they admire but a lot can be achieved with even the simplest equipment if you follow these 10 tips.


1. STORY ALWAYS BEATS TECHNIQUE

Don’t get me wrong, technique is important and can enhance your films and help you tell a better story. But technique alone will never make a film worth watching, unless it’s purely instructional. If your film has an engaging and worthwhile story, viewers will be much more forgiving of your technique, than if you have technique and no story.

2. CHEAP CAMERAS CAN NOW DO MORE THAN YOU THINK

Don’t under estimate the abilities of your cheap camera. Even camera’s like the Sony RX100 or RX10 can capture stunning images. If money is holding you back from getting creative realize that you may already have an amazing tool at your fingertips. From incredible frame rate choices to 4K video capabilities, you have no excuse to not be sharing your perspective on the world. Believe it or not, smaller and cheaper gear can actually be an advantage as it will draw less attention and in many cases be smaller and lighter than more professional gear allowing you to document more discretely and even create more innovated and nimble camera moves.

This proves tip #1 AND #2. Check out this short doc shot entirely on an iPhone. Yes it looks good, but the gear is cheap AND the story is great.

3. YOU ARE NOT THE STAR OF THE SHOW

Of course you can be in your film and of course you can be a piece of the story but you’re a travel filmmaker. People didn’t hit the play button to just see you. They hit play so you could show them a place, a people, an experience or an activity they’ve never seen. Let your destination and its people be the star and if you wan’t, join in as a supporting role.

4. MAKE YOUR FILMs RELATABLE

Are you making something people can connect with? There are lots of ways to do this. It can be through the humanity of faces, the beauty of the landscapes or your personal perspective on a culture. No one cares (outside your family and friends) about your 15 minutes of footage hanging out by the pool.

During my first and only trip to Portugal, the thing that impressed me the most was its people. The spirit and joy of the Portuguese stole both Marta’s and my heart so this was the most important thing to me to capture in this film.

5. MAKE YOUR FILMs RELEVANT

Does your film serve a purpose? Does it offer something that changes peoples perspective, teaches them something new, opens their eyes to the now of a situation or a place. This doesn’t mean it has to be journalistic but make sure it leaves your viewers knowing more than before they clicked play.

6. MAKE YOUR FILMs PERSONAL

If it’s not personal, why should people be following you or watching your films? Again, this doesn’t mean it has to be the “me” story. It means you felt something when you traveled. You connected the people or a place and you put your heart and soul into capturing what you felt. It’s through your passion and own emotions that you will craft your story and connect with your viewers.

Jose Pando Lucas makes this beautiful short film in honor of his father and grandparents who are Portuguese, using a cast, culture and country he is not from.

7. EDITING TRUMPS CAMERA TECHNIQUE

Editing is not only the key to making good footage great, it’s also the key to making mediocre footage watchable. If you can crack the code on crafting a good story and flow in the editing room through pacing and shot selection, you will hold your viewers’ attention from the first frame to the last. If you’re just getting started, for every minute of filming you do, you should be spending 20x that at your computer playing with it in your editing software. For every tutorial on camera technique you watch, you should be watching twice as many on the art of editing.

8. THE RIGHT MUSIC CAN MAKE OR BREAK IT

Make sure your music counts. Ask yourself why you’re choosing it and how it enhances your story or helps transport your viewers to that land. Music taste is of course very subject but choosing with location and culture in mind, will help you tell better stories. You are making a travel film after all and not a music video…

9. GOOD SOUND WILL TRANSPORT YOUR VIEWERS THERE

Get creative with your sound work. Film is a powerful tool in the sense its multi sensory. It’s visual and auditory. So think about how you can use the power of audio to give your viewers an even more intimate experience, whether it be recording sounds from your destination, enhancing with sound design or recording interviews or maybe even a personal voice over.

Friend and filmmaker Rod Gotfried takes you on this beautiful journey through Turkey. He filmed this two weeks after the attempted coup and terrorist attack in 2016. His subtle and beautiful use of news sound bites, music and sound design make this film a fantastic example of tips #5, ,#6 ,#8 and #9.

10. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

This may be obvious, but absolutely true. The more you shoot and edit, the better you will get. Don’t underestimate the power of practice. Are you home and your next trip isn’t for six months? Great! Find something to shoot at home. Find a local story. Always be filming, always be practicing, always be telling stories.

There’s no excuse not to shoot. There’s a story waiting to be told right out your front door.

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: AS AN AMAZON ASSOCIATE WE EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES.


LEARN HOW TO MAKE TRAVEL FILMS

If you’re feeling inspired after reading this and want to learn more, you’re in luck.

A Beginner's Guide To Travel Filmmaking

Nathaniel Connella is an award winning professional travel filmmaker who has been featured by National Geographic, BBC Travel, Lonely Planet and more. His eBook titled, ‘A Beginner’s Guide To Travel Filmmaking’ is an easy, to the point read that explains all the essential tools and ideas you will need to take your travel films to the next level.

Available for purchase HERE

5 Reasons Why You Should Start Making Travel Films

5 Reasons Why You Should Start Making Travel Films

We’ve all experienced a moment of envy for those beautiful travel videos you see on YouTube and Vimeo. I’m not talking about Instagram Stories or those crappy home videos we’ve all made with our GoPro and selfie stick. I’m talking about the kind of travel videos that transport you to another world with jaw dropping cinematography that captures the authentic beauty of the exotic locations, local people and cultures. Wouldn’t it be awesome if on your next vacation you could make something worth sharing? Here are 5 great reasons why YOU need to step up your game, and start making travel films on your next trip:


1. PRESERVE YOUR MEMORIES

We are living in a golden age of travel. More than ever are people are realizing the value of experiences over material things. After all, things will come and go, but experiences will stay with you forever… or at least we hope they will. But even if they stay with you for a while, eventually memories can fade. So why not capture your experiences in a way that will not only preserve the most important visual moments of your life, but might also inspire others to do the same?

Preserve your most precious travel memories.

Preserve your most precious travel memories.

2. GIVE YOUR TRAVELS PURPOSE

Whether you’re heading out on a two-week vacation or doing what I did, leaving your job for a long term adventure, creating travel films gives your experience a whole new sense of purpose. It’s easy to get side tracked, especially the longer you travel. Having that much freedom to do what you want and go where you want can actually become overwhelming and eventually, you can feel lost. 

3. CONNECT WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES

Creating travel films gives you a focus that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Sure, you can always be making your list of next “top 10 temples I need to visit”, but a film just about temples is something few want to watch. So what if you don’t just go to the temples, but you go there and meet with the monks? What if you go there to film daily life at the temple? Suddenly you have a greater purpose that will not only carry you outside your comfort zone of just sightseeing and reading informative plaques, but connect you with the local cultural community, which is what travel is really all about. Ten years from now, good luck remembering temple #23. But that monk, who invited you in for tea after filming him, and told you his life story, while you told him yours, is something you will remember forever. 

Making travel films brings you closer to the people and places you visit.

Making travel films brings you closer to the people and places you visit.

4. MAKE LAYOVERS AND LONG RIDES MORE FUN

Shooting travel films also gives you “busy work” when you don’t know what else to do. There can be a lot of downtime when you travel. From overlays at airports to 14-hour train rides… at times you need something to do! So why waste your time watching reruns on Netflix for the 100th time, when you could be busy creating your own incredible visual masterpiece to share with the world?

Give yourself something to do on long rides and layovers.

Give yourself something to do on long rides and layovers.

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5. DISCOVER NEW OPPORTUNITIES

Making travel films might not just give you a new hobby. It could also lead to new opportunities. You may discover a talent you never knew you even had and could lead to a career change. Sick of your day job? Practice videography on your vacations and who knows, maybe when you get home you’ll feel inspired to start a new career as a wedding videographer or local commercial production company. Even if you don’t decide on a complete career change, you never know what other opportunities could present themselves while you are filming such as exclusive access to events or monuments.

Filmmaker Nathaniel Connella capturing the opening shot to his National Geographic Short Film Showcase, ‘Rhythms of Peru’.

Filmmaker Nathaniel Connella capturing the opening shot to his National Geographic Short Film Showcase, ‘Rhythms of Peru’.

LEARN HOW TO MAKE TRAVEL FILMS

If you’re feeling inspired after reading this but don’t know where to begin, you’re in luck.

A+Beginner's+Guide+To+Travel+Filmmaking.pngA Beginner's Guide To Travel Filmmaking

Nathaniel Connella is an award winning professional travel filmmaker who has been featured by National Geographic, BBC Travel, Lonely Planet and more. His eBook titled, ‘A Beginner’s Guide To Travel Filmmaking’ is an easy, to the point read that explains all the essential tools and ideas you will need to take your travel films to the next level.

Available for purchase HERE

The Ultimate Travel Filmmaker's Kit

The Ultimate Travel Filmmaker’s Kit

The Ultimate Travel Filmmaker's Kit

Travel films are becoming ever increasingly popular these days (See 5 Reasons Why You Should Start Making Travel Films). With technology getting cheaper and better every day, the choices are endless and sometimes, overwhelming. There really is no right or wrong combination of gear as it just depends on your style and needs.

But we are often asked what’s in our camera bag to help us make our growing list of award winning and internationally featured travel films. Therefore we’ve created what will be a constantly updated list of what we are currently using.

DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

  1. SONY A7III - This mirrorless DSLR camera is the perfect balance of price, size and features. Its small size makes it a less obvious target to thief and gives you the perfect balance of performance, features all in a packed into a small, lightweight body.

  2. SONY A7SII - This has become my backup camera. If you can afford it, I can’t stress enough the importance of traveling with two cameras. If one gets lost or breaks you will be left with nothing to capture your memories or finish you film. This camera is called the “king of low light” for its superior low light performance over any other DSLR. Although it lacks the drastically improved AF-C of the A7III, this camera is still a professional industry standard and my go to in low light situations.

  3. SONY 16 - 35mm f/2.8 GM - This is probably my most used and versatile lens. With a great focal range and a fast f/2.8 aperture, the lens rarely comes off my camera. If the price tag of the f/2.8GM is too intimidating, an alternative is the cheaper f/4 version.

  4. SONY 55mm f/1.8 - This is probably my second most used lens. Fantastic for portraits and great bokeh, it’s just enough zoom for some compression but also wide enough to be useable in most environments.

  5. Batis 85mm f/1.8 - This lens is an absolutely beautiful b-roll and portrait lens. Rarely do I use this on a gimbal as the telephoto is too extreme but portraits and bokeh look absolutely beautiful with this lens.

  6. Ronin S Gimbal - The Ronin S is my current gimbal of choice for it’s features and weight limit. Although larger than I’d like and not the easiest gimbal to fit in your camera bag. It’s easy customization via the app and build quality are outstanding.

  7. Zhiyun Crane v2 - This was my main gimbal until I got the Ronin S but now it spends most of its time at home. It has a lighter payload which can’t handle heavy lenses like the 16-35mm GM but it’s smaller than the Ronin S and will fit in my camera bag.

  8. Mavic Pro - Although I still travel with the Mavic Pro, I recommend you get the new and drastically improved Mavic Pro 2. If you need to save a little, the Mavic Pro is still a phenomenal drone that will fit in your camera bag.

  9. Accessories

    1. Batteries - You MUST have extra batteries. Be wary of third party batteries as they can often times be deffective or even cause harm to your camera. OEM batteries cost much more but it’s not worth the risk of damaging your camera going with generics.

      SONY: Thankfully the battery life has improved on the newer Sony camera’s but you should at least have one backup to get you through the day.

      MAVIC PRO / MAVIC PRO 2: I’d recommend having at least two extra.

    2. Fireproof Battery Bag - Some airlines have battery restrictions so placing your drone batteries in a fireproof bag can insure they aren’t taken away.

    3. ND/UV Filters - Cut down on light and protect your lens.

    4. Microfiber cloths - These are a must to keep your lenses clean

    5. USB Card Reader - If you have the Mavic Pro you’ll need a card reader to download the footage.

    6. Travel Hard Drive - Don’t forget to have a place to backup your footage. I’ve been using these hard drives for years and have yet to have one die on me.

    7. Sony Battery Quick Charger - If you have one of the newer Sony Alpha’s that use the NP-FZ100 batteries, you’ll want a quick charger as these things can take up to five hours to charge internally using USB.

    8. Power Converter - It’s not just about adapting to the right country plug, it’s also about converting to the right voltage (220v, 110v) so you don’t blow your gear!

  10. CineBags CB25B Revolution Backpack - This has been my main camera bag for years now. With room for two camera bodies, multiple lenses, my Mavic Pro, a gimbal (depending on model) and my 15” laptop, means I can fit all my expensive gear in the planes overhead and not risk anything being stolen or broken.

 
The CineBags CB25B fits a lot of gear. Featured here: 2 Sony Alpha cameras, 3 lenses, Zhiyun Crane v2 gimbal, and DJI Mavic Pro drone, plus room for batteries, accessories and 15” MacBook Pro.

The CineBags CB25B fits a lot of gear. Featured here: 2 Sony Alpha cameras, 3 lenses, Zhiyun Crane v2 gimbal, and DJI Mavic Pro drone, plus room for batteries, accessories and 15” MacBook Pro.

 

LEARN HOW TO MAKE TRAVEL FILMS

A Beginner's Guide To Travel Filmmaking

Want to make travel films but not sure how to begin?

Nathaniel Connella is an award winning professional travel filmmaker who has been featured by National Geographic, BBC Travel, Lonely Planet and more. His eBook titled, ‘A Beginner’s Guide To Travel Filmmaking’ is an easy and to the point read that explains all the essential tools and ideas you will need to take your travel films to the next level.

Available for purchase HERE

I Dream of Ecuador

This film was made as a proof of concept for a tourism campaign that never came to be. Compiled from b-roll from another shoot, a script was made and the film was edited to hopefully reshoot, with better logistics, storyboarding and planning. Despite its non-perfect execution, I like this film because I love Ecuador and I think a lot of people don't realize how much this country has to offer. The script was crafted as a love letter to this country and is supported by imagery that hopefully shows this as well. Music for this film is provided courtesy of our subscription with MusicBed. Almost all of the songs to my award-winning films have come from them. If you need music for your own videos, get a free trial here using this link! http://share.mscbd.fm/thetipsygypsies

20 PICTURES THAT WILL INSPIRE YOU TO VISIT MOROCCO

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN MOROCCO
Moroccan man walking in the Medina Marrakech
Majorelle garden Morocco
Morocco Animals
Marrakech
Spice Market
Pottery
Marrakech sunset
Moroccan Musician
Blue City
Rugs
Shoe shop in Morocco
hammam
Moroccan Mint Tea
Moroccan Food
Waterfall Morocco
Sahara desert

Morocco was one of the first few countries we traveled to when we started backpacking in 2016, and for sure it was the most exotic destination for us. We spent about a month total in Morocco traveling from the big cites, through the mountains to more off the beaten path places. We truly enjoyed our time in Morocco and we can’t wait to go back one day. We hope that these 20 photos will inspire you to visit Morocco. 

Why visit Morocco?

Morocco is a country with a deep culture, a mix of African, Middle Eastern and some European influence. Although Morocco is located only 13km from Europe, it’s culture and environment is totally different.  It’s unique in its ways and has withstood invaders throughout history. To some extent being in Morocco feels like stepping back in time, especially when visiting the old cities like Marrakesh or Fez, where the same buildings have been there for centuries.

Many tourists travel to Morocco because they want to experience the “authentic” culture, and perhaps a bit of mystery, and that is exactly why we decided to travel there too.

Morocco offers many unique experiences that you won’t find anywhere else. During the day you can walk through the markets tasting exotic spices and food, shopping for hand woven rugs, and at night you will sleep in a beautiful riad. A riad is a house with a garden and or central courtyard inside. These homes are often very quiet inside unlike the street just outside the wall. The temperatures are also much cooler than outside on the street. No A/C needed, riads are engineered for hot climates. You can find riads to stay in throughout Morocco, and they are usually chique and trendy. If you are visiting Morocco in the summer, make sure the riad you are staying in has a pool!

 

Morocco cuisine is absolutely delicious. Tajine, a stew cooked with meat or vegetables, is a staple dish at every Moroccan house, and restaurant. If you get tired of Tajine you can also try some French food, which is very popular in Morocco. Another common food item is the mint tea, which locals call “Moroccan Whiskey”. This tea is often served sweetened with lots of sugar, but you can ask for no sugar, and its tasty and refreshing especially on hot days. The mint tea is offered as a welcome drink at hotels, and even street vendors will invite you for a cup of tea before they conduct any business with you. You never refuse the tea., even if  you have already drank several cups that day.

 

You should also try visiting a hammam, while you are in Morocco. Hammam’s are pubic bathhouses, separate for women and men, where you can relax and get a body scrub. Many local homes don’t have showers or baths, so instead people go to the hamman to bathe. It’s a popular place for the local women to socialize, since they don’t socialize in public cafes or restaurants like men do.

 

You can easily relax spending your time in large cities like Marrakesh or if you like adventure, you can hike in the mountains like the Atlas Mountains or Rif. Of course, the biggest reason why tourists come to Morocco is to visit the Sahara desert. Riding on a dromedary and sleeping under the stars on the desert will make you feel like you are in some kind of fairytale movie. There is nothing more romantic than watching the sun set on the Sahara.

 Need help packing for Morocco?

Women’s Packing Essentials for Morocco

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Amazing places in Morocco
MOROCCO
The most beautiful places to see in Morocco
BEAUTIFUL MOROCCO

Hiking Colca Canyon in Peru (2019 Updated)

While we don't consider ourselves hiking pros, we like to add a hike here and there while we travel. So when we heard about Colca Canyon, one of the most recommended hikes in Peru, we added it to our list. Although this trail is super popular amongst tourists, we feel that many decide to hike it without realizing the conditions of the trail. We laugh about it now, but we were almost in tears a few hours into hiking down the canyon, and we want to save you before you get yourself in the trouble we did. This guide will help you prepare for a 3 day hike in Colca Canyon.

Trekking in Peru

What you should know about hiking Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon is 11,155 ft (3,270 m) deep. This is one of the deepest canyons in the world, and you are about to hike it both down and out. If this doesn’t scare you, nothing will!

How to prepare for the Colca Canyon trek

Like we mentioned before, hiking Colca Canyon is not easy! A steep grade, loose gravel and no shade make this trail extremely difficult. But we did it, so it’s not impossible.

Hiking Colca Canyon is absolutely stunning and you should not cancel your plans yet. You just need to get yourself ready. You will be hiking down for hours to get to the bottom of the canyon, and you need to be in very good physical condition. It’s not a bad idea to hit the gym at least a month before, to strengthen your quads before you do this hike. Also, try the StairMaster, and get used to walking with a bit of weight on your back.

What to bring to Colca Canyon (3 day trek)

 Bring enough clothes for a three-day trek. That way you don’t have to spend time renting or buying new stuff when you get to your destination. Be prepared for very high temperatures during the day, and cold nights in the canyon. You need to have proper layers in case it get’s chilly.

 Packing List for Colca Canyon

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

1.     Money

You need money to buy cold drinks, pay for lodging or a mule to get you out of the canon unless you’re apart of a pre-paid tour. Even then, have some cash.


2.     Map

Print a map, bring a GPS, or have a map on your phone. You just need a back up incase you lose one of these.


3.     Phone

It’s useful to bring a phone with you for light, and if you have an offline version of maps on your phone.


4.     Phone charger


5.     Converter
In Peru there are two types of power plugs and sockets ( the one that looks like in the US, and one like in Europe). The Standard voltage in Peru is 220 V, which is higher than in the United States of America, which is 120 V. You can not use your US devices in Peru without a converter to protect your devices from frying.

 

6.     Portable Battery pack

Power outages are common in Peru especially in remote area. If you want to charge your phone, camera batteries etc, you will need to bring a portable battery pack with you. Make sure you fully charge if before you leave on your hike.

 

7. Day Backpack

A small day backpack is enough for a 3-day trek. We were able to fit all our clothes, and camera gear in it. You don’t need to bring a lot with you.


8. Sunscreen

You will need good sun protection while hiking. This hike has no shad,e so we highly recommend to bring sunblock with good SPF. We love this Neutrogena sunscreen. It’s non greasy and it smells nice.

 

9. Fast drying towel

You will need to bring a towel with you to Colca Canyon. There are numerous hot springs, and rivers where you can swim and relax. Guest houses typically don’t have towels so you will need to have something to dry off after shower. Microfiber towels are great for travel. They dry fast, are absorbent and portable.

 

10. First aid kit (bandages, and disinfecting cream, gauze, elastic bandage)

Defnitelly bring a first aid kit with you while hiking. You might get blisters, scratches, that you wil need to properly take care of so your wouds wont get infected. Even a simple blster can get badly infected, not to mention how miserable you will be hiking with a blister on your foot.

 

11. Refillable water bottle

If you run out of drinking water you can always refill your Lifestraw water bottle. We have been traveling with these bottles for years. You can refill them with water from a stream, or pond and the charcoal in the filter will kill any harmful bacteria. By using refillable water bottles, you reduce the amount of trash created from plastic bottle drinks.

 

12. 2L of water per person for the hike down. 

You can buy more once you’re in the canyon.


13. Lip balm with SPH

Your lips will get fried and cracked from the sun, so don’t forget to add some SPF not only on your body but your lisps as well.

 

 

Surfer's Salve

Dry air and sunburns can crack your skin fast. We always travel with this ointment that helps with insect bites, sunburn skin and it’s also moisturizing.



16. Pain killers

After the first day of hiking we were absolutely wiped. Painkillers relaxed our muscles and helped us sleep. Having painkillers with us really saved us!


17. Imodium

In case you have stomach issues or get a diarrhea.

 

18. Small bar of soap, travel size shampoo and conditioner.

Use travel size containers for liquids like soap and shampoo. This will save you a lot of space in your backpack. These are also great when you are flying and you only have a carry on luggage.

 

19. Travel Insurance

You should purchase travel insurance before you go on a hiking trip in Peru. Hiking can be dangerous. Stuff happens, and you don’t want to get stuck at the bottom of the canyon, injured and needing any assistance when you get out. It also gives you piece of mind. If something bad does happen you are covered and will get medical help.

Make sure you read all the terms and condition of your travel insurance policy before you purchase it. Not all insurance companies are equal. World Nomads is the most popular health insurance for short-term travelers. Some of the biggest travel bloggers use it, and they have very good track record. We have being using IMG health insurance for years, and we are very happy with their services. You want to read more about travel insurance plans read this full article. 

 


Clothes Packing List

  • 1 pair of shorts

  • 1 pair of long stretchy pants

  • Thermal shirt (long sleeve)

  • 2 T-shirts

  • Light Jacket

  • Waterproof jacket

It didn’t rain when we went, but it can happen

  • Hiking shoes

Make sure your shoes are broken in, and you have enough toe room! You will be hiking down a lot, and the constant pressure on your toes could lead to getting black toenails. Yep, it happened to us (we both lost nails) and it was terrible because we still had 2 more days of hiking. The trail is covered with gravel and it’s very easy to slip and get injured, so make sure your shoes have proper soles.

  • Light jacket

  • Hat

  • 4 pairs of Socks

Having the right pair of socks is so important! Too thick socks can cause blisters, and too thin will make your foot slide around.

Tips for preventing blistering. Wear two pairs of socks. Put the first pair on normal and the second pair inside out. This will prevent your foot from sliding around, which causes blistering)

  • 1 pair of wool socks

Wool socks will keep you feet warm at night.

  • Gloves

It can get cold at night even during summer, having a pair of wool gloves really helps. We also wore them during the day to keep our hands from sunburns.

Bring something war to keep you warm and dry at night. You don’t want to get hypothermia. Most guesthouses aren’t heated, but they provide warm blankets.

  • Flip flops

  • Underwear

Optional Items:

Hiking poles

Camera and camera lenses

We are a couple who is passionate about photography and film, so naturally we each had a camera, but we limited ourselves to the necessities. 1 camera, 2 lens each. No tripods. Our backpacks were already quite heavy, and we are glad we didn’t pack anymore. It would have been nice to have more, but this was more about hiking and surviving, than photography.

You don’t need to bring food with you but if you like snacking bring some trail mix with you.

the-tipsy-gypsies-Colca-Canyon-Peru

The trail 

The trail is covered in loose gravel. It is steep and narrow - which means danger. Make sure you know where you are stepping and pay extra attention when you start getting tired because that is when most accidents happen.

Can you hike Colca Canyon without a guide?

Depending on your hiking experience and personal preference you can hike Colca Canyon independently or with a guide. The trail is in general very well marked and we chose to hike without a guide, and it went smoothly.  

Trekking without a guide is the most economical and it will give you more independence. We saw many guided groups along the way and honestly their pace was a bit too fast even for people from those groups. We saw a few hikers struggling to catch up with their group.

It is necessary to have a good map with you all the time. Have a printed copy as well as a digital version on your phone, or a gps. You can download free maps from Treeking Peru.

Familiarize yourself with the map before the hike because you will be relying on your abilities to read the map in order to get in and out of the canyon safely. It is always a good idea to trek with a companion, so try to find a hiking buddy if you can.

 The hike is one of the most popular hikes in Peru, and you won’t be alone on the trail. Along, the way you will meet locals selling various goods, and you can also pay for a donkey to carry your bags up the hill. This option is especially nice when you are hiking out of the canyon.


Permit and Fees for Colca Canyon

 You can book your trek from the local tourist office in Arequipa. They offer a similar service, pick up form the hotel and transportation from town to the trail, but shop around for the best price. You can purchase the permit to hike Colca Canyon from the Official Tourism Agency in Arequipa. 

 Lodging

You will be staying in various guest houses in the valley. There aren’t enough guesthouses for every hiker, especially during the high season, and beds fill up quickly. Nobody will turn you away but in the worst-case scenario you might need to sleep on the floor or in a shared room.

3 day Itinerary Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon Peru, the tipsy gypsies

If you decide to hike the Colca Canyon your itinerary will be something like this: 3am-pick up from Arequipa. 3.5h drive-arrive in Chivay for breakfast. Stop at the view point to watch the Condors fly. Start your hike around 9am, either from Chivay or Cabanaconde. We started our hike in Chivay because we were told it's an easier hike down the canyon.

Tips: If we had to do this a second time we would want to arrive the night before our hike and stay at a guesthouse near where the trail starts because by the time we started hiking we were already awake for 6 hours and the trail ahead of us was not easy. We also didn't start hiking until almost 10am and you want to start your hike as early as possibly, due to the strong sun and no shade on the trail.

 

Day 01

Colca Canyon is the 3rd deepest canyon in the world, so hiking down hill in one of the steepest trails is brutal. Funny enough, when we started the hike, we even said "oh this isn't so bad", only to cry a few hours after we said that.  We couldn't wait for the torture to end. Yes, the first day felt like torture. Our knees were giving up and the sun was beating down, making the sandy trail very dusty. The loose gravel that covers the trail, was constantly slipping from under our shoes giving us a heart attack that we might fall off the cliff.

Colca Canyon Peru, the tipsy gypsies

When we finally reached "the bottom" and the suspension bridge, about 3 hours later, we were exhausted. We know that 3 hours of hiking doesn't sound that bad, but we would take a 15 hour moderate hike over this anytime. There were some locals waiting on the bridge for the thirsty tourists, with cold drinks at a very hefty price. At that point paying triple price for ice cold water, that would prevent us from over heating and fainting didn't sound so bad. 

After a short rest in the shade, we had to keep moving to find a comfortable bed for the night before everywhere got full. Not too far from the bridge, we found a nice, clean room with a bathroom and food for $18 in the small village of San Juan de Chuccho. We stayed at La Casa de Roy Colca, and we highly recommend this guesthouse. The family who runs it, is incredibly sweet and we got know a bit about them. Apparently, with the little money they earn they managed to support their daughter and her language studies. The daughter is now living and working in Germany and studying to become a doctor. Wow!

At dinner we met two German hikers, that concured how difficult the hike was. They decided to catch a local bus the next day instead of continuing with the hike. Quit honestly, this was also very temping to us.

 

Day 2 in the Canyon

Colca Canyon Peru the tipsy gypsies

A good night of sleep made us feel much better and despite the sore muscles and bruised toes, we decided to continue our hiking adventure. The German hikers were gone to catch the bus before we ate our breakfast. We thanked our hosts for their  hospitality and started our hike at 7am. We joined another hiking couple, with whom we explored the nearby villages selling honey, regional clothes, and even a healer who treats people with herbs concoctions. The second day would have been actually very pleasant if it weren't for our sore feet and legs and our new beautiful black toenails! Yep, our nails later did come off... Luckily, the trail was a mix of flat and just small uphills.

Colca Canyon, Peru, The Tipsy Gypsies

We decided to skip Sangalle also know as "the Oasis". We've heard that the place became a sort of party town, with a bar and many backpackers, and being around loud people was the last thing we had in mind so we headed towards the Llahuar village and the hot springs.

Colca Canyon Peru the tipsy gypsies travel blog
Colca Canyon, Peru, The Tipsy Gypsies
Colca Canyon, Peru  The Tipsy Gypsies

By 3pm we reached our final destination Llahuar lodge, which was the highlight of our trip. This place had natural hot spring pools, which worked like a miracle for our tired muscles. We spent the whole afternoon soaking in the hot pools and drinking cold beers. In the evening we had a warm dinner with other fellow hikers, who told us that we could catch a bus at a nearby town if we didn't want to hike anymore. (ask for directions at the Llahuar lodge). At this point, we felt a bit defeated and we told ourselves that we had enough and wanted to get out of the hot canyon.

 

 

 Day 03

As planned, in the morning we hiked about 1 hour up the same hill we came from, to the nearest road to catch the bus. We waited with some locals for a while, but there was no sign of the bus. Unfortunately, the only bus that drives everyday through the canyon to Cabanaconde broke down, and nobody knew when the replacement was going to show up. We tried to stop a pick up truck, with plenty of space in the trunk, but the driver speeded up and all we saw was a cloud of dust after him. It was heartbreaking. Eventually, the replacement bus showed up, but it was going the opposite direction. We still got in, fearing that it would be totally full by the time it returned for us.

Colca Canyon, Peru, The Tipsy Gypsies

Although we technically didn't hike the full 3 days like we planned, we knew it wasn't going to be a pleasant hike out on the exposed, hot and dusty trail. We are definitely not trying to discourage anybody from hiking in Colca Canyon, but you should definitely know that there is no shade on the trial, at least hiking in and out of it, and the path is very steep. Definitely bring a hat, sunscreen, and make sure you have plenty of room in your shoes, so you toes don't get smashed like ours. Depending on your exit route there, is also the option to hire a donkey to get out of the canyon. If you take care of yourself in the beginning with these easy tips, the rest you hiking advenure in the Colca will probaly be much more pleassant that ours was.

 

Cheers!

Hiking Colca Canyon in Peru
What you need to know before you hike Colca Canyon
Trekking in Peru
Colca Canyon

20 PHOTOS THAT WILL INSPIRE YOU TO VISIT MACHU PICCHU

MACHU PICCHU
Machu Picchu Site View
Machu Picchu, Peru
Inca Chief offering coca leafs
A VIEW OF MACHU PICHU
Machu Picchu
Llama at Machu Picchu, Peru
Kissing a Llama in Machu Picchu, Peru
Huayna Picchu, Peru
View from Huayna Picchu
Machu Picchu Trail, Peru
Machu Picchu ruins, Peru
Llamas
Llamas picture at Machu Picchu
Llamas at Machu Pacchu
Hiking Machu Pichu
Huyana Picchu
Machu Picchu
Train to Machu Picchu
Peru Rail train to Machu Pichu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, an ancient city of the Incas, is one of the most visited sites in the world and for a good reason. It’s absolutely breathing! This site should be on your bucket list and here are 20 photos that will inspire you to visit Machu Picchu.

 One way to visit Machu Picchu is by hiking the Inca trail, which takes a few days but you will explore the countryside like the ancient tribes did. Plus you will meet friends along the way. You will be walking on paved stone paths through the mountains and you will see other ruins like the citadel Runturakay, before you reach Machu Picchu.  

If hiking isn’t the right way for you, don’t worry because you can take the train from Ollantaytambo, and then a bus from Aguas Calientes that will drop you off at Machu Picchu.

When you finally arrive at the site you will be able to walk on the designated paths where you will explore and learn history about this site.

Still to this day historians are unsure what was the purpose of this site, and why it was abandoned. Many scholars speculate that is was a place for the ancient Incas to worship gods, study astrology, and a home of Inca emperors and nobles. One thing is for sure, the site is well hidden in the mountains at 2,300 meters above sea level, and often covered in clouds, which is why when the Spanish invaded Peru they were never able find it. The city was abandoned and left for nature to take over and it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham, an American explorer and archeologist, in 1911.

Incas were very skilled craftsmen. The entire city was built of massive stones, which had to be transported to the site from the mountain they were chiseled. Like the Great Pyramids, it remains a mystery how the Incas were able to accomplish this. The blocks stacked on top of each other, fit perfectly together without any mortar. They were cut so precisely that in some places you can’t even fit a toothpick between the blocks.

 The Incas worshipped the sun, moon, earth, and mountains. They built temples to worship these deities, with the Sun being the most important. The Temple of the Sun at Machu Picchu has the most intricate stonework, but this temple was not only used as a place of worship. The Incas used it to observe the sun and its rotation, which gave them the knowledge to become excellent farmers. Knowledge is power!

The city is surrounded by terraces, where food was grown for the entire community.

Fresh water from the mountains was brought into the city through intricate canals, and was collected at the base of a series of fountains. No other civilization in the world at that time had the knowledge to build anything this great.

The genius of the Inca engineers is used in many modern technologies.

In you want to read more about Peru check out our next article here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Buenos Aires. A city guide to the divine capitol of Argentina

Buenos Aires is perhaps the most beautiful capital in all of South America. The city is full of splendid architecture, green parks, with many social and cultural activities. The Tipsy Gypsies traveled here with a tour guide, but we made sure to customize our itinerary to our needs. Here is a list of our FAVORITE things to do and see in Buenos Aires.

 

 

Tango Show

Tango is the number one dance in Argentina, and it seems that all Argentines know how to tango. The dance originated in brothels and bars near ports, but it has since became a classy, yet seductive dance. You can see a great show with professional dancers and musicians at La Ventana, accompanied with dinner and wine, but if you want to save some money you can watch locals dancing tango in parks. We actually enjoyed this more than the formal show. In some large squares, like in San Telmo, strangers meet to dance together every Sunday evening. Men and women, young and old, bring their best shoes, and dance the night away to passionate tango tunes. 

 

El Ateneo, the most beautiful bookstore

Although it doesn't look like much from the outside, this building holds a beautiful gem inside; a historical theater converted into a bookstore. The ceilings are covered with frescos, intricate freezes ornate the balconies and the red velvet curtains drape over the old stage. They have a massive collection of books, mostly in Spanish though, but this is definitely a place worth visiting.

El Ateneo, Bookstore Buenos Aires

 

Parks

Buenos Aires has over 250 parks and green spaces in the city, and locals definitely take advantage of it. On any given day, you can see people hanging out in the parks with blankets, while others come here to exercise.

Floralis Genérica is an aluminum sculpture located in Plaza de Las Naciones Unidas, near the corner of Av. Figueroa Alcorta and J. A. Biblioni, La Recoleta. It was designed by an architect Eduardo Catalano, who gifted it to the city, as an act of gratitude for receiving his education here. The petals of this art piece are designed to work with the sunlight. They close at night and open up with the first sunlight. The sculpture is notorious for breaking, and unfortunately it wasn't working when we visited a few months ago. We have heard that is has been fixed since. Despite that, we still enoyed looking at it.

6A3A1104-3.jpg

 

Street Art

Buenos Aires has some of the best street art, that we have seen. Many artists are commisioned, by the city to create beautiful murals, on otherwise boring concrete structures. The artwork usually represents something related to the culture and the neighborhood it's located in, like in this case, the tango dancers from La Boca. You will see a lot of drawings with soccer players and such. The mural below was painted by a very famous artist, Ron Martin, known for his large scale realistic paintings. It is located in La Boca, near a soccer stadium (299 Martin Rodriguez, and 20 de Septiembre). 

"Tango & Rock" mural by Ron Martin

"Tango & Rock" mural by Ron Martin

 

Horse Race Track

It's a tradition in Buenos Aires to meet at the Hipodromo, horse track on weekends. This sport is highly popular, and although gambling is illegal in B.A, you sure can place a bet on your favorite horse totally legal. Sundays entrance is free of charge. Since this activity is so popular, there is no need for fancy hats and pompous clothes. People dress casually, except when the most prestigious event takes it's place in November, during  the Gran Premio Nacional. 

Hipodromo, Argentina, The Tipsy Gypsies travel blog

 

Choripán

This is the best street food in Buenos Aires. Choripan is a type of sandwich with grilled chorizo sausage, and chimichurri (a spicy, herby sauce). You have to try it! 

*One of us doesn't eat meat. Although it sounds funny, we got one of these with just bread and chimichurri. No refunds!

Choripan, The Tipsy Gypsies

 

La Boca

This used to be a working-class neighborhood, so the rent was cheap. Therefore, artists flocked to this neighborhood bringing lots of color with them. El Caminito street is the most lively in the neighborhood, with street vendors and art performers. It's very busy and touristy, but it is worth walking around. It's a nice place to grab lunch or drinks, and visit some art galleries. Definitely make sure to watch your belonging here, as we were warned many times about driveby bag snatchings. This area is notorious for pickpockets too, but you shouldn't have to worry about violent crime.

Boca

 

El Federal Bar

A cafe located in San Telmo, with fantastic atmosphere. El Federal, is a classic establishment, with a charming interior with wood details like the ornate counter and bar, and stained glass windows. Although it feels like it's been here forever, we were surprised to learn that some of the architectural elements have been moved here from a run down mansion, when the bar opened. Despite that, this is one of the oldest cafes in Buenos Aires and it's a great place to hang out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We came here in the morning, when it was still slow, for coffee and medialunas. 

El Federal, The Tipsy Gypsies
El Federal, The Tipsy Gypsies

 

Calle Lenin

A cute little street where the houses are covered with colorful mosaics. It all started when one artist, who still lives there, adorned the exterior wall of his house. The neighbors quickly asked him to design their houses in the same style. Nowadays, the whole street is covered with these beautiful mosaics.

 

Day trip to Colonia, Uruguay

If you have the time and want to visit another country, you can catch a quick trip from B.A to Colonia in Uruguay. We went early in the morning but found it was too much time for this small town. We recommend a half day excursion, leaving about noon or one, so you can walk around and have a nice sunset dinner before heading back to Buenos Aires. 

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Boskie Buenos Aires, Kora-Maanam

Did you know that a famous Polish singer Kora, wrote and sang about Buenos Aires, way back in the 80's, back when Polish weren't allowed to travel much? The title translates into "Divine Buenos Aires". Kora was a goddess to me. The essence of a strong, yet feminie woman, and so unique. Even though this song debuted in the 80's, the era I was born, it's timeless like all her music. I grew up listening and admiring this beautiful woman since I was a child. If you wonder where I got my sassiness from, it's because I imitated Kora, and I am still inspired to be as honest as she was. Kora passed away, on 28 July 2018.

Zegnaj Kora!!

Epic travel movies & shows to inspire your next adventure

EPIC Travel Movies and shows The Tipsy Gypsies

The Tipsy Gypsies are big film buffs and although we don't watch much TV, we love cinema. Here is a list of our all-time favorite travel movies. Get you popcorn, your favorite drink and get watching! 

1. Lost In America

This classic 80's comedy is probably our all time favorite. David and Linda, a couple from LA decide to quit their jobs and travel across America in an RV. They have hilarious adventures along the way, and the topic is still so relevant today. If you are thinking about purchasing an RV, definitely watch this first!

 

2. The Beach

This might not be an Oscar winner, but so many millennials wanted to travel to Thailand, and many actually did, after watching The Beach with Leonard DiCaprio. In this movie Leo, goes on a crazy adventure to Thailand, where he learns about a secret beach. 

 

3. Vegas Vacation

Chevy Chase aka Clark Griswold takes his family to Vegas. Clark wants to renew his wedding vows and spend some quality time with his wife and kids.  Unfortunately for them, things don't go as planned but that means lots of great laughs for us.

 

4. Into the Wild

A beautiful movie based on a true story, about a young graduate, who despite feeling the pressure from his parents to pursue a career, decides to go on a life changing adventure. A beautiful story and imagery. You will probably cry watching this, we sure did. 

 

5. La Gendarme de Saint Tropez

This is a 1960's comedy with Louis de Funès, and it takes places in France. De Funes plays the role of a hilarious police officer, whose task is to make sure the beaches of Saint Tropez remain respectable. Louis de Funes was a comedic genius and after watching this movie you will want to book your next vacation on the French Coast. 

There are also more series of this movie: "Le Gendarme à New York"

*These movies are a bit hard to find. They have never been on Netlix or HBO ect. You might want to buy it on Amazon. It's worth it!

 

6. European Vacation

Another classic with Chevy Chase. This time the whole Griswold family goes to Europe to find out about their roots. What could go wrong?

 

7. Around the World in 80 days 

A 19-th century inventor from England wants to prove that he can travel around the world in 80 days. He goes on a crazy adventure in a gas balloon, but due to the weather ends up in the wrong countries. He constantly has to convince others to help him get back to where he started. This movie is based on a famous novel by Jules Verne. There are re-makes of this movie, but we like the original the best.  

 

8. Rat Race

6 team members need to race from Las vegas to New Mexico. The winner can collect the prize of 2 million dollars. Who will arrive first? *spoiler: It doesn't matter because what happens along the way is absolutely hilarious.

 

9. French Kiss

Yes, it's a romantic comedy, but it takes place in Europe and Meg Ryan, an American who follows her fiancé to France, is learning how do deal with the cultural differences. 

 

10. Eat, Prey, Love

A newly divorced woman decides to step out of her comfort zone and search for what is important to her in life. We probably liked it so much because in her character Julia Roberts, travels to one of our favorite places, India. Also, pretty much anything with Julia Roberts is great!

 

11. Leap Year

Surprise, another romantic comedy! Wanna guess who wrote this post? We would love to travel to Ireland someday, to explore the countryside and drink as many beers at the pubs as we can. 

 

12. 127 Hours

Based on a true story, starring James Frano, about a young guy from Utah, who gets trapped in a canyon, when a boulder falls on his arm and traps him. 

 

13. Wild

Base on a true story, about a woman who hikes along the Pacific Crest Trail, to help her figure out her self-destructive behavior and trying to piece her life back together.

 

14. Y tu Mama Tambien

A fantastic story of two young men traveling with a female companion throughout Mexico. This movie shows a lot of rural areas of Mexico and reflects on life and the political system of this country. Great characters and overall a very well done movie!

 

15. Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The holiday season is usually stressful enough, but when your flight has been canceled it can turn quickly into a nightmare. John Candy who is an easy going, chirpy fellow offers to help Steve Martin get home for thanksgiving, but he quickly gets on Steve's Martin nerves.

Why don't the studios make these types of comedies anymore? They were the best and the humor is timeless!

 

17. Samsara

Incredibly beautiful visuals! You will fall in love with the diversity of our planet.

 

18. Touching the Void

This is a true story of two alpinists, and their survival for life in the cold, icy mountain. We were on the edge of our seat watching it!

 

20. An Idiot Abroad (TV series)

Karl is a good friend of Ricky Gervais, for real, and Ricky enjoys sending his friend to far away places to experience other cultures. Karl doesn't care too much for traveling. You know there is a bit of Karl in you too. It's a funny show!

 

21. Departures ( TV Series)

We got hooked on this show before we even knew that we were going to travel around the world. Two friends from Canada, take you on a beautiful, very honest adventure around the world. We love the interactions between the two men and the locals.

 

22. Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown, or  No Reservations

Oh, our heart aches writing this. Anthony Bourdain had such a huge impact on our life, and definitely the way we travel. To us Parts Unknown and No Reservation were more about travel and life than food.

23. The Trip

A food critic and his best friend travel and dine throughout England's finest restaurants. Their conversations are hilarious and the food looks delicious! 

 

24. The secret life of Walter Mitty

The main character played by Ben Stiller, works for a Magazine and he often days dreams about wild adventures. He finally gets a chance to escape the routine when he is sent on a photo assignment.

 

25. 

 

Let us know, what are your favorite travel movies? We are always looking for new movie recommendations.

Cheers! 

 

 

The World Cup of Drinks: 16 Countries, 16 Drinks

The World Cup of Drinks: 16 Countries, 16 Drinks
Written by PartyAroundTheWorld18


The World Cup in Russia is finished, and it has been a tournament to remember. In honor of the 16 teams that made it out of the group stage, we take a look at the drinks that define them. In other words, 16 countries, 16 drinks. Strap in as we’ll be taking you all around the planet for the World Cup of drinks.

The world cup of drinks
 

1. Uruguay – Grappamiel

Extremely popular in Uruguay is the grappamiel, which is a concoction that contains grappa, a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy; spirits obtained from various grains; a sprinkling of honey, and some water.

 

PhotoCredit: ristorant italiana magazine

PhotoCredit: ristorant italiana magazine

 

2. Portugal – Ginjinha

Ginjinha (or simply Ginja) is made by infusing ginja berries in aguardente, plus lots of sugar. It is often served in shots, with a berry at the bottom of the cup. For the best ginja, head on over to The Ginjinha Bar at Rossio, near the Teatro Nacional Doña Maria II. 

Read more about Ginjinha here

 

3. France – Mimosa         

Photo Credit: https://www.liquor.com/recipes/mimosa/

Photo Credit: https://www.liquor.com/recipes/mimosa/

Champagne has long been a French favorite, and the idea to mix it with orange juice came from a bartender in The Hôtel Ritz Paris in the 1920’s. The result of this concoction is Mimosa, a tangy beverage often served during breakfast. 

 

4. Argentina – Fernet con Coca 
The liquor for all occasions in Argentinafernet is made from flower extracts and tastes like black licorice without any sugar. Downing pure fernet, therefore, can be bewildering for the first-time drinker. But mix it with Coke and throw in some ice and you’ve got fernet con coca, a tasty and refreshing beverage that is easy to digest.

Read more about Fernet here

 
Photo Credit: Laylita's Recipes

Photo Credit: Laylita's Recipes

5. Brazil – Caipirinha                             
Brazil’s national drink is a sweet and refreshing cocktail made by mixing cachaça (sugarcane rum), sugar, and lime and often served with a wedge of lime. If you prefer a more fruity taste, you can opt for the caipifruta instead, which is basically the caipirinha plus crushed fresh fruits and ice. 

 
Photo Credit: http://bsinthekitchen.com/the-paloma/

Photo Credit: http://bsinthekitchen.com/the-paloma/

6. Mexico – Paloma

Mexico is tequila country, so it comes as no surprise that its national drink — the Paloma — makes use of tequila. The Paloma is a mixture of tequila, grapefruit-flavored soda, and a lime wedge, and is served in a glass rimmed with salt. 

 
Photo Credit: BuzzFeed

Photo Credit: BuzzFeed

7. Belgium – Black Russian

Created by the Belgian bartender Gustave Tops, the Black Russian is so named because it uses vodka, that popular Russian spirit. The Black Russian is a cocktail of 3 parts vodka and 2 parts coffee liqueur. 

 
Photo Credit: Brick House

Photo Credit: Brick House

8. Japan – Sake         

Made by fermenting bran-less rice via a process akin to brewing beer, this Japanese rice wine is Japan's national drink, and it is often served in special occasions. Its taste is just the right tinge of sweet, bitter, and savory. 

          

 
Image credit: Wikipedia

Image credit: Wikipedia

9. Spain – Sangria      

Sangria is a sweet wine punch made up of wine, chopped fruit, a splash of brandy for that proverbial kick, and either honey, sugar, syrup, or orange juice for that tinge of sweetness. Perfect for the hot Spanish weather. 

                 

 
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Photo credit: Wikipedia

10. Russia – Beer

Russia’s beer is vastly underrated, and very affordable. Ladbrokes in a feature detailing the cost of being a World Cup fan state that authentic Russian beers can be had at £1.15 ($1.52) a pint. Foreign brands, on the other hand, are 100% more expensive, starting at £2.20 ($2.91) for a pint of the same size. That means $20 will get you more than enough Russian beer to celebrate a victory or mourn your nation’s dashed World Cup hopes, whatever the case may be. Worth trying, in particular, are Russian craft beers, and the Culture Trip has a list of some of the best.

 
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Photo credit: Wikipedia

11. Croatia – Slivovitz

Made from distilled, fermented plum juice, Slivovitz is the national drink of Croatia, and it is a strong alcoholic drink that is very similar to brandy. A word of caution, though: Slivovitz is the strong stuff, so drink very moderately. 

 
Photo Credit: Aligra Wine and Spirits

Photo Credit: Aligra Wine and Spirits

12. Denmark – Gammel Dansk

Gammel Dansk (Old Danish) is a bitter dram made from 28 different herbs and spices, and was created fairly recently despite what the name suggests. Again, a word of caution: This is strong stuff, as it is 38% alcohol. 

 

 
Photo Credit: hg2 Magazine

Photo Credit: hg2 Magazine

13. Sweden – Brännvin

Distilled from potatoes and grain, Brännvin is usually plain and colorless, and certainly strong, with an alcohol content in the 30–38% range. A small glass filled with Brännvin is called snaps (from the German schnapps), and a shot is often accompanied by a drinking song known as snapsvisa.

 
Photo by rez-art/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by rez-art/iStock / Getty Images

14. Switzerland – Absinthe

Absinthe was once banned in Switzerland as low-grade varieties carried lots of negative side effects. But it has made a comeback, and you can sample the best absinthe at the Absinthe Trail where 16 distilleries are waiting for you. 

 
Photo Credit: Sweet Paul Mag

Photo Credit: Sweet Paul Mag

15. Colombia – Aguardiente                        
By far Colombia's go-to drink, aguardiente, the Colombian version, is derived from sugarcane and flavored with aniseed. Its alcohol content hover right around 29%, and the most popular brand is Antioqueño. 

 
Photo Credit: Good House Keeping

Photo Credit: Good House Keeping

16. England – Gin and Tonic

Leave it to the Brits to make a medicine more palatable by turning it into the highball cocktail we now know as gin and tonic. Made up using tonic water — whose quinine component was once used by the British East India Company to prevent malaria —and gin, then poured over ice, the iconic G and T is traditionally served with a slice or wedge of lime, which is usually squeezed lightly into the drink. 
 

 

The World Cup may be over, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider Russia as your next destination. You can still use our budget tips on Russia, as these will help any future travelers thinking of visiting this great country. Furthermore the next time you are abroad in one of the above countries we hope that you sample their world-famous drink, and toast their success or failure at this year’s World Cup.

 

Cheers!!

"Live a Better Life"-documentary featuring travel director Karl Rhainds

This 20-minute documentary short introduces Karl Rhainds, an independent director on a quest to live a better life. In order to find his greater purpose, Karl quits his job as a director in a large company and takes off traveling for 6 months through several countries. While on this adventure, he encounters many inspiring people, exploring his query with them in an effort to understand their vision of what makes a happy life.

Check out more work by this great filmmaker on his blog Rain & Sunshine

Girls Gone Camping. How my friends and I accidentally crashed the Rainbow Gathering Party

Mt. Shasta, Rainbow Gathering 2017.

I went on my first camping trip with my husband and his family when I was in my mid 20's. My family, who still lives in Poland, was never into sleeping in tents, but as I later found out, I was. Unlike my family, my husband's American family goes camping at least once a year. Their garage is like an REI store, full of camping gear and they have extras of everything. What they call a camping meal, is better than what I ever make at home in a real kitchen, and I am not even a bad cook. We always have plenty of great wine, the perks of living in California and beers, an essential of camping. We tell stories by the fire, listen to live music and play hide and seek in the pitch dark of the night. After a few of these trips, I finally got the confidence I could camp on my own. I invited two of my girlfriends from San Francisco, and we headed on a camping adventure, not knowing what was to come... 

First of all, I never thought three girls could bring more shit with them than a family of 15. By the time we finished loading our stuff in the car, there was barely any space for my friends. We managed to get on the road by 11am, instead of our planned 8 am departure. We headed out towards Mt. Shasta, a beautiful mountain in Northern California that's very popular amongst hikers and hippies from around Cali. 

The First Contact

It was a warm late afternoon, when we stopped to check the availability at the first campground. It was fully booked, and the rest of the nearby campsites either had no bathroom, running water or we just missed the last spot. Of course, we didn't make any reservations in advance because online it looked like there were plenty of campsites. We decided to drive about 40 minutes up the road, to the last campground at the base of the mountain. As we raced towards our destination, the sun was setting and the cold wind blowing from the mountain was signaling the cold night ahead. Our journey came to a screetching halt when we reached a barrier blocking the road. All three of us in the car read the sign out loud, spelling it slowing syllable by syllable, like a preschooler "RO-A-D CL-O-SED", followed by an adequately appropriate adult response, "FUUUUCK!!!". Apparently, the road and the campsite ahead were closed due to the cold weather and snow still lying on the ground. We felt devastated and as we were about to drive off to the nearest town, just a few yards from the road we spotted some people in the woods, who clearly had been camping there. They explained that we could pick any spot that we wanted and could camp there as long as we wanted. No fees or reservations were required and as a bonus, dry bathrooms near the parking lot. Free for all? Well that was good enough for us, plus returning to look for another camp so late was out of the question. With the last remaining light, we quickly set up our tent and started a fire. We sat comfortably near the warmth, passing a bottle of Capitan Morgan and laughing how lucky we were. In the distance, somebody with an angelic voice was singing "The Dog Days Are Over", and after drinking a bottle of Cpt. Morgan, we didn't need much encouragement to introduce ourselves to the neighbors. We climbed over a deep ditch and we saw about 50 plus hippies (perhaps our drunken double vision multiplied them...) dancing around a huge bonfire. It is not often that you see a group of 50 people camping together, but having been to Burning Man before, this gathering looked totally normal to me.

 

The Glorious Morning

"We love you..., we love you..." is what I consider a strange wake up call, especially when you wake up hungover and are trying to figure out why the hell you are in the forrest before you remember it was your idea to connect with nature. I crawled over my friends to unzip the tent and saw a bunch of naked people making this commotion. My girlfriends woke up just in time to hear the nudists calling everyone in the forest to come for coffee and oatmeal. No questions asked. We grabbed our coffee cups, stripped naked, and ran to join the nudists, at their campsite. Just kidding. We didn't take our clothes off but we DID join them for coffee! Everything and everybody looked different in the daylight. What appeared to be a dance floor around a bon fire the night before, was a kitchen area with a huge pot of slushy oatmeal cooking over a firepit in a large medieval pot. A lovely man dressed only in his birthday suit with a friendly smile, served us some coffee and was kind enough to answer our many questions. What seemed to us like a bunch of hippies camping in the woods, were in fact the Rainbow Family and apparently, we just crashed their annual gathering in the woods (technically they were on their way to a much bigger festival). For the next 3 days, the Rainbow Family and the three of us girls, became good friends. 

Somewhere over the Rainbow

The Rainbow movement started in the 70's, and somehow I'd never heard of them before. In my defense, I grew up in communist Poland and we didn't get the memo... The Rainbow gathering is now a worldwide project and the "family" meets once a year, each time in a different place but alway close to nature. The general movement carries a beautiful message of love, peace and creativity. The Rainbow People believe that the mass media, and our culture that's dominated by capitalism, creates an unhealthy and unnatural life style. The movement went through many changes since its start, for example it's not as strict on being vegetarian as it used to be, and it's more open to mainstream ideology but the general idea of love and peace is still at its core. Of all the places we could have camped, we just happened to be there, to learn and participate in this interesting event. Nudism... peace... parties... drugs... nature... What's not to love???

Out of respect, we didn't take any photos of the Rainbow people, but imagine a bunch of people looking like a cross between The Kelly Family and The Rednex bands. Although many were naked, most were wearing something in the boho, grungy style. 

We thanked them for the coffee and went back to our campsite. A few minutes after, we heard some people getting in an argument about the sanitation and clothing rules around the kitchen, which was to be discussed during a circle meeting, a type of hippy a conference. 

Over the next couple of days, the Rainbow people frequently stopped by to chat, or to trade various goods. We traded some of our "adult" gummies for "magic rocks". When they said "magic rocks", we were hoping for something more than literal rocks, as we have yet to find their magic... oh well...

We also met some odd characters. A strange male visitor, dressed all in camoe clothes came to our camp with a huge white dog. The interaction started normal and quickly became a bit scary, when he started talking about secret passages in the Bible warning of the End of Days. Also its not the best idea to pick up chicks while you wear cameo clothes because you look like you might be hunting them instead...

Luckily, there was no armageddon that night, but we did dance till the break of dawn at the coolest dance party with an old school bus, DJ, and laser lights, all in a parking lot overlooking Mt. Shasta with its white peak, shining in the moonlight. I don't know what your summer plans are, but I sure am going camping in Shasta again this year!

Cheers!

 

Chasing the Sun with Peter and Michelle. A story of two expats who have been living the dream life on a small island in Cambodia.

One of our favorite things about traveling is meeting new people on the road. But lets face it, most backpackers are in their 20's, and we are waaaayyy older than that. When people find out our age, they always ask us about kids. Nate and I have been together for nearly 14 years, and we decided a long time ago, that having kids was not our lifetime goal. Even some of our friends, and family back home can’t understand why a "healthy" couple would choose to live childfree. The answer is simple: Not everyone wants to have kids!

I recall the time, when we used to live in LA. Every year our circle of friends with no kids became smaller. Friends, we could hang out with and do adult things like day drinking and vegging out on Sundays. Sorry, parents. We still love you, but your sexy stroller, baby and bottomless mimosas just don't pair well. Prove me wrong, but somebody might call child services on you.

The reality was hitting us harder everyday and we decided to do what every other adult couple in their late 30's would do. We sold our belongings, packed our backpacks and well, ran away. 

This is a story dedicated to those who love to wander the world, to the powerful women that prove that having kids is not their only role in life...and to the believers in unicorns!

Michelle +Peter

When we arrived in Cambodia and met Michelle and Peter, a couple much older than us, living a nomadic life style for more that 25 years, without kids, we felt like we found two unicorns. We needed to capture them (at least in pictures), and share their story with the rest of the world.

Maybe it was the 4 hour long boat ride from the mainland to Koh Rong island, or the homemade Baileys that Michelle welcomed us with at the restaurant, but I (Marta) felt immediately connected to her. She was extremely nice, happy and she was just the right person to be greeted by.

I assumed she was in her 50's. Every time I spent time around Michelle I was wondering if she had any kids of her own. I fell into the same stereotype that I hated so much, where people assume that a woman obviously has kids. One day, I finally got the courage to ask her about it, and to my "relief" I found out not only that Michelle didn't have any kids, but she also is like me and she never wanted to have them.

I realized that I had much more in common with this woman than with most women I meet. We both loved Baileys and don't want kids! Like Michelle, I also have always been very career driven and loved working. Michelle is responsible for overseeing the house keeping staff at the resort, amongst many other miscellaneous jobs. 

 

From Germany and England to Africa

In 1964, a 20 year old Peter moved from Germany to Zimbabwe, to work in a refinery. He said, “it was an exciting time to make money quickly there” and as a young guy, he grabbed the bull by its horns. He said that he was able to afford a new car after only working at his new job for only 3 weeks. Peter recalled, “I was so proud to buy my first car and there was only one problem… I didn’t know how to drive.” Luckily, his two colleagues were former taxi drivers, and taught him how. Peter said, “It took them the whole night to teach me how to reverse and drive forward and the next morning, only driving 20 miles, I drove to home.”

Peter was quickly promoted at work to a CEO, and was making great money. He married his first wife and had 2 kids, but his family soon fell apart. He admitted the reason his first marriage failed was because he was a workaholic, and wasn’t a good father or husband.                                                   

Michelle is originally from England. She moved to South Africa, with her parents when she was a teenager. Around 1991, a grown Michelle lived with two roommates, one of whom worked for Peter. The roommate decided to set Michelle and Peter up on a blind date. 

At that point Peter was in his 40’s, and although his career was at its peak, his romantic life was pretty much non existent. Michelle on the other hand was a brilliant, young woman with dreams of her own. She wasn’t exactly looking for the company of another man, but she agreed to go out on a bind date that her roommate arranged. Despite the 18 years of age difference, the two clicked right away. They were a great match because they both had similar passions for traveling and neither of them wanted to have kids. Disclaimer: Peter had already fathered two kids with his first wife, but Michelle made it clear that it wasn’t her dream to ever become a mother.

One morning some years later, as usual, Peter was making tea in the kitchen when he saw a blooming rose outside the kitchen window in the garden. At that moment, Peter decided he wanted to propose to Michelle. While Michelle was still in bed, he served her the freshly brewed tea, with the rose in his mouth, and for a final touch of romanticism, he was completely butt naked. But as he bent his knee he saw how surprised Michelle was, and at the last minute he chickened out turning the whole thing into a joke. Peter said that from that moment on, he knew in his heart that he wanted to be married to her but he was afraid of rejection.

Finally on June 4th 1999, they both decided to get married. There was no formal proposal, it just happened naturally and mutually. Their wedding was small (only 5 people), but it was perfect and it didn’t cost them anything. There was no big dress and fancy diamond rings. Michelle wore white pants and a top she borrowed from her friend. Their only wedding gift was a honeymoon vacation from all their friends at work.

“Home is where I put my head on the pillow”

Some time after their wedding, Michelle and Peter both got tired of their corporate life and decided to follow their passion of traveling. They both wanted to work in hotel service. Michelle took a job as a head of service in a hotel in Cape Town, and Peter was pursuing a career as a professional chef.

Eventually South Africa became too dangerous as crime was rising, and after losing too many friends to that very crime, in 2000 the two decided to move to Scotland, where they worked in a castle and later on, they managed a pub near Liverpool. They also went to the Butler Academy to become professional butlers.

After a while, they get got sick of the dreary weather in Scotland, and decided to find some sunshine. With the last of their money, they bought an old Audi at an auction for 400 pounds. The car wouldn't start shortly after they bought it, but somehow they managed to drive it all the way to Spain.

In Costa del Sol, they bought a local newspaper and found an ad: “an a English man and his dog looking for management to look after him and his villa.” They applied and got the jobs right away! They worked for him for 2 years.

Their jobs were always exciting and sometimes even dangerous. While working for an American businessman in Granada, they discovered that his bookkeeper was fudging the books. There was a lot of hostility towards Americans in Granada during that time and the newspaper quickly picked up the sensational story about “an American, who hired two South Africans to help with his shady business”. Michelle and Peter were held hostage in the house where they worked, but luckily a local friend helped them to escape potential jail time or even death. They fled in a boat and hid there till it was safe to buy a flight to Venezuela.

Nowadays, Michelle and Peter are living quietly in Cambodia on the small island of Koh Rong. Besides their work at the resort, they also run a small school for kids from the nearby village. They teach young kids the basic subjects: English, geography, math and train the older teenagers to work in the hospitality business.

When I asked them how long they will stay in Koh Rong, their answer was, "how long is a piece of string”? and that was followed with, “we are not planning on a family, so instead we are just committing ourselves to each other. We don’t have to prove anything anymore. We are trying to help other people to achieve their goals”.

Meanwhile The Tipsy Gypsies are currently still traveling the world, staying in cheap hotels, eating street food and measuring time by "beer o'clock". You might be at home, cooking dinner or cuddling with your kids. We clearly live our lives differently but no matter what you do or where you are in your life, with or without kids,  I want you to remember: Never stop chasing your "sun"!!!

GET TIPSY ON: PERUVIAN MOONSHINES & SPIRITS

Of all of the Latin American countries, apparently Peru has the highest consumption of moonshines, which is why we loved this country so much! Go Peru! The national Peruvian beer, Cosqueña is very good, but we always try to find what the locals are drinking and we are proud to share it here with you.

Peru couple, www.thetipsygypsies.net

 

1. Pisco

Let's starts with the drink most Peruvians are very proud of - Pisco. Pisco is a strong alcohol, usually more than 40% proof, made from grapes. It's no wine, so if you think you can sip a glass of Pisco in the afternoon and not get wasted, you are wrong. Peru and Chile have a bit of a rivalry about this liquor and constantly argue who invented it. Although after visiting Chile and talking to them about it, they give Peru full credit for inventing Pisco. There is even a town in Peru called Pisco, where supposedly this sprit originated. It's very interesting to visit this place and learn how Pisco is made.

How to drink Pisco?

You can enjoy a shot of Pisco by itself, or like most Peruvians you can order either a Pisco Sour or Pisco Chilcano (recipe below)

Chilcano
2 oz Pisco
10 oz ginger ale
half a lime

2 drops of Angostura bitters

Ice

Instructions: In a tall glass, add ice, pisco, squeeze the lime and top it with some ginger ale. Add the bitters at the end. Cheers!

 

2. Chicha

Drinking chicha in Peru is like drinking water. Chicha is made from fermented corn and is often called a Peruvian beer. A lot of people make it at home as it's a part of the Peruvian diet and consumed daily. Fresh chicha is not very strong, it has only about 1-2% alcohol and is commonly drank with food and even served to kids. The tricky part if finding chicha because it not sold in restaurants. If you want to drink some chicha look for a house, where you see a stick with a plastic bag or sometimes a colored cloth, attached to its end.  

This house sells chicha!

This house sells chicha!

A typical Peruvian kitchen with guinea pigs being raised in a household. They will eventually end up on a plate :(

A typical Peruvian kitchen with guinea pigs being raised in a household. They will eventually end up on a plate :(

3. Abejado

In northern Peru, you can find a moonshine called Abejado. This moonshine is made from sugar cane and flavored with real honey. Abejado moonshine is even stronger than Pisco and you want to drink it as fast as you can since you will feel a small burning sensation in your throat as you drink it.

Other moonshines popular in norther Peru are: Zauco - elderberry and rum, and Cańaso - pure sugar cane alcohol. All of these moonshines can be found in local grocery stores made by their owners.

Please be careful consuming any moonshines and do so at your own risk. Moonshines can be distilled wrong which can sometimes lead to poisoning or death. We always try to verify the source before we consume anything, but even that is not 100% guaranteed.

 

4. Cervezeria del Valle Sagrado

One of the best artisanal breweries we have tried in Peru is located in the Sacred Valley. Make sure to stop by at the Cervezeria del Valle Sagrado to try their beers. These guys know what they are doing and these beers are delicious!

Cerveceria del Valle Sagrado, Peruvian Artisanal brewery www.thetipsygypsies.net
Peruvian Artisanal brewery www.thetipsygypsies.net
Peruvian Artisanal brewery

Peruvian Artisanal brewery

Cheers!!

 
the tipsy gypsies peruvian moonshines
 

How This Frugal Couple Booked a Trip to FIFA World Cup on Points and Miles

Guest post by FBZ Elite and Travel Points

FBZ elite travel and points

My wife and I are well-versed in traveling for cheap – in fact, it’s kind of our thing. Using points and miles, we’ve been fortunate enough to visit over 57 countries without forking over a lot of cash.

Now, we’re on our way to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia using points and miles and couldn’t be happier! Seeing this part of the world has been on our bucket list for a while and we’re excited to explore it.

As for total costs, we’re planning to spend less than $900 in total.

Now I know what you might be thinking, and you’re right! Attending the World Cup usually costs a small fortune (somewhere in the ballpark of $5,000 or more) but since we travel almost exclusively on credit card rewards, we never spend that type of money.

Plus, it helps that we like to explore off the beaten path.

It’s takes time to learn how to travel around the world on points and miles, but for us, the time invested is completely worth it.


I want to share some of the details of our trip with you, but before I jump in, I think it’s important to mention – if we can do this, anyone can do this. Traveling on points and miles isn’t rocket science, but having the right resources to learn what you’re doing can go a long way.

Here’s what I estimate we’re saving:

  • Airport Parking – $96 (friends will drop us off/pick us up)

  • Flights – $3,2000

  • Entry Visas - $320

  • Transportation - $200

  • Hotels - $400

  • Total savings = $4,216

 

Finding Flights

Our flights could have cost $3,200 altogether, but after redeeming a stash of American Airlines Miles, we paid around $225 out of pocket (taxes and fees).

We always fly economy to keep costs low. And, since American Airlines offers economy Award Saver tickets (tickets purchased with points) from the West Coast to Europe, I focused my search on finding airfare to Europe to start.

Booking Flights

After narrowing down our dates, we booked our tickets to Poland because it offers two easy layovers and helped us avoid some large fuel surcharges.

Here’s my valuation of the flights we booked – I was happy to be able to book them for over 2.5 cents/point.

$1,400 (flights value) - $23.76 (10% instantly credit back to my rewards credit card) = $1,376.24/54,000 miles = $.025xx/point

In case you’re curious, here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of how we found the flight deal, along with some other details.

My wife and I each earned 60,000 miles from signing up for the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard and earning the signup bonuses (we both signed up).

Poland to Russia On Points

After booking our flights from the U.S. to Poland, I worked on finding airfare from Poland to Russia.

One of my favorite resources to use is Momondo because it features a +/- 3 day search feature, which in this case, scored us flights to St. Petersburg from Krakow for under $200 one-way.

Since we had already decided to take a train from Gdansk to Krakow to explore along the way, this option was perfect for us.

For round-trip, these flights came out to just over $600, which we paid for using points from my Capital One Venture card. It’s not a credit card that’s often top of mind for a lot of travelers, but in my opinion, it’s a solid card to have around. You can easily redeem points by making any travel-related purchase with the card and then “erase” the expense on your account.

World Cup Visas (For Free)

Our visas could have cost $320 ($160 each), but since we have FAN IDs for the World Cup, our visa fees were waived! We put the savings towards buying our soccer match tickets.

Usually, the visa process for Americans entering into Russia can be difficult and expensive, so we really lucked out on this one. We learned from a Russian couple we met in India that people heading to the World Cup would receive waived visa requirements by the Russian Federation.

Buying World Cup Tickets

World Cup match tickets start at $105 and using the money saved from the visas, we purchased tickets to watch England vs. Tunisia for $105 each. The cost was further justified since transportation is included in the cost (more on this in a bit).

After our tickets were issued and sent via email, which took a few hours, we registered our FAN IDs which entitles us to a Russian Visa upon arrival, plus free public transportation between the cities hosting World Cup matches.

We’re planning to use the free public transit a lot, and already have plans to visit and explore Moscow during our trip!

Where We’re Staying

Going along with our philosophy of traveling for less, we don’t typically spend a lot of money on high-end hotels. Since it’s our first time in Russia, however, I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as hotel rates go – especially during peak season.

Reading through reviews on Tripadvisor led us to the Original Sokos Hotel Olympia Garden at $51 per night. It’s in a good, walkable location, close to the airport and railway stations, and offers free Wi-Fi.

We booked the hotel using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points directly through the Chase Travel Portal.

Getting Around Russia


Since free public transportation is included with the match tickets we bought, getting around should be a breeze.

Our T-Mobile ONE plan offers unlimited text and data (yes, even abroad) and we’ll use Google Maps to help us navigate to wherever we want to go.

Getting Home on Points

We haven’t fully booked our flights home yet, but purposely chose a longer, windy route to stretch our trip across a few more place we’ve wanted to visit. Thankfully, booking one-way tickets using points typically costs the same as booking a round-trip ticket, so it’s easy to plan out each step of your route without paying more.

So far, we’ll be flying from St. Petersburg to Estonia and then make our way up to Prague for a few days.

From there, we’ll fly American Airlines from Prague to Washington D.C. using my wife’s stash of 60,000 miles earned with her AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard.

These flights cost us 54,000 miles plus about $186 in taxes and fees. Taxes and fees are higher since we couldn’t flight flights avoiding the U.K., which usually has higher fees.
From Washington D.C., we’ll travel around the East Coast for two weeks, then jump on a Southwest flight home to Portland for $5.60, thanks to the Southwest Companion Pass I earned earlier this year.

Is Russia Safe For American Tourists?

People have asked us if we’re crazy for traveling to Russia. Our answer? We’re super excited! The ease of booking the trip helps as well. The fact is, we’ll probably spend less than $900 on this one in a lifetime event and that makes the minimal risk worth it to us.


If you’d like to follow along on our trip, we’ll be posting a lot of pictures in the FBZ Elite - Travel and Points Community. Hope to see you there!

TEMPLE OF THE SUN & MOON

We had a private tour of the amazing Temple of the Sun & Moon in Trujillo, Peru. No one had any interest in excavating these important archeological sites until private funding came along in recent years. They’re still restoring and discovering new things here although a lot was lost to colonial treasure hunters centuries ago. The Temple of the Moon was used primarily for religious purposes including human sacrifice and has these beautiful colorful reliefs throughout. The before and afters of this project are pretty amazing. You never would have known any of this was here...

DESTINATION: North of Peru

We've recently had the pleasure of traveling in Peru for the second time. On our first trip to this country, in 2017 we toured mostly the south, which is the more common tourist route. This time we visited the lesser known parts and sites in the north of Peru. Here are some highlights from our trip.

the tipsy gypsies

If you are the type of a person, who loves archeological sites you will enjoy this area of Peru. We recommend getting a good guide, which is essential when visiting many archeological sites mentioned in this post, since most of them don't have proper signage. If you go on your own, you will not learn the history of these ancient cities and powerful civilizations. There is enough information about Machu Picchu you can read prior to visiting, but some of the archeological sites in the northern parts of Peru that we talk about, didn't have any signage at all. So again, hire a guide in an advance! 

 

Kuelap, "A city in the clouds"

Kuelap is often called the Machu Picchu of the North, but unlike in Machu Picchu you won't find crowds of tourists here... yet. This ancient city, located in the cloud forest of the Amazonas in Peru, was built in the 6th century, by the Chachapoyas. Later this culture was conquered by the Incas, and you can see the differences between these cultures, in the architecture built by these different inhabitants. The Chachapoyas used ciricular shaped designs to build their homes, versus the Incas structures, which were more rectangular. Many dwellings were designed with reliefs mimicking the surrounding nature, like jaguars and snakes as well as geometric shapes. In its glory, approximately 3,000 people lived here. The are three narrow entrances to the city, surrounded by a 10-20 meter high wall, suggesting that the Chachapoyas were warriors prepared for invaders. This site, like many others in Peru was abandoned with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, only 70 years after they were conquered by the Incas.

Kuelap, Peru, The tipsy gypsies

Nowadays, you can reach this site by a short and comfortable 20 minute gondola ride, over a deep valley to the top of a misty hill, which adds even more mystery to this beautiful site.  But it wasn't always so easy to get here. It used to take a full day to get here, first driving for hours on a treacherous road, barely hanging on the cliff, following a steep hike up the hill. We are predicting that as word spreads about this site, it will be as popular as Machu Picchu, so hurry up to beat the crowds and visit before it gets too busy. It is spectacular!

Peru, The Tipsy Gypsies
Peru, the tipsy gypsies
 

Gocta Falls 

A nice hike throughout a lush forest to a spectral waterfall. It takes about 5 hours in total to hike this trail, with a lot of elevation, but the view at the end is totally worth it. A lot of people choose to hire horses, but we think if you are healthy it's not an extremely difficult hike. Yes, there are some steep hills, especially on the way back, but take your time and you will be glad you did it without any help.

The Tipsy Gypsies
www.thetipsygypsies.net
 

Revash

This archeological site, with small miniature houses carved in a cliff, is actually a mausoleum of the Chachapoyas people, also known as the Cloud Warriors. There isn't much information about the Chachapoyas besides the artifacts founds in their settlements. The early written records by the Spanish describe them as white skinned and tall people, which may suggest that these people were Caucasian descendants, perhaps Vikings. Some records suggests that the Vikings reached South America way before the Spanish, in 1000 AD. The life of the Chachapoyas and this site remain a mystery to this day.

Revash, The Tipsy Gypsies
 

Cajamarca

A town in the highlands of Northern Peru, with typical Spanish colonial architecture. It's most famous for the Cajamarca battle, and capturing of the Inca emperor Atahualpa. You can visit the ransom room where Atahualpa was captured and held. On the wall of his cell, you can see the mark from his hand. The Spanish told Atahualpa to hold his hand strait above his head and said that if the room was filled with gold to reach it, he would be freed. The room was filled with treasures and gold but unfortunately for the Atahualpa, the Spanish conquistadors did not keep their promise and murdered him.

www.thetipsygypsies.net
Peru, the tipsy gypsies
6A3A6196-2.jpg
 

Leymebamba

We stopped here for lodging and to rest overnight before we reached our next destination. Leymebamba is known for its great museum, with over 200 mummies on display. We stayed at a beautiful hotel, across the museum, where you can watch hummingbirds from your porch. 

Ketikambo Lodge, Leymebamba, Peru

Ketikambo Lodge, Leymebamba, Peru

 

Trujillo

A relaxing beach town on the coast of northern Lima. It's a popular stop for people who want to explore the nearby archeological sites, and backpackers enjoy the always sunny weather. Near the pier you can find beach front restaurants, bars and if you are lucky there will be some kind of performance. We saw a couple performing the traditional Marinera dance.

Peru, The Tipsy Gypsies
 

Chan Chan, Sun Sun

Is the largest pre-Columbian city in South America, and if we remember correctly from our tour, only about 5% of the site has been excavated. This abandoned city was completely covered, and some parts still are by the sands, unknown that it ever existed. Chan Chan city was built and occupied by the Chimu culture, and like many other civilizations in Peru they were also conquered by the Incas. The Chimu people were mostly fisherman and you can see many aquatic decorations incorporated in the thick adobe walls.

www.thetipsygypsies.net
www.thetipsygypsies.net
 

Huacas de Moche

Huacas de Moche is a complex of temples: Huaca de La Luna and Huaca del Sol, built by the Moche civilization, before the arrival of the Incas.

Huaca de La Luna, aka the Moon Temple looks like something out of this world, hence the name Temple of the Moon. This is a huge site, and archeologists have been working here for more that 20 years now, excavating the site. The most difficult process about excavating this temple is its structure, which is build like a Russian doll. In other words, imagine a layer or walls that were built around the first temple, expanding outwards. Nobody knows how many walls reaches the center. We asked our guide why the Moche built it that way, and she explained that they believed temples live and age like people and when they get old they need to rest and they get buried.

Since the climate in these parts is so dry, the drawings are very well preserved. We stopped at a site where our tour guide told us a crazy story. When she was starting as a young guide, she guided 3 older ladies from England. During the tour the 3 ladies stopped near a small mountain of sand and started to cry and prey. When the guide asked them what happened they responded that one day she will find out why this spot was so important! The guide thought to herself that all white people are crazy and she carried on. Fast forwards a few years, the archeologist uncovered a burial with sacrificed bodies that nobody knew was there, in the exact spot where the old ladies were praying. Yes, the ancient civilization in Peru, were the ones that sacrificed many people, children and even animals. Nobody was speared, sorry spared!

www.thetipsygypsies.net

Have you been to Peru? If so what are your favorite places in Peru? Leave us a comment below.

Cheers!

GET TIPSY ON: FERNET

Although Fernet is not originally an Argentinian liquor, it is widely popular there. It's probably due to the large influx of Italian's in Argentina during the 80's that to this day, it is the most popular alcoholic drink in this country.

Fernet is a bitter, made with a variety of herbs and spices, and it is often served as a digestive after food, and also mixed with coffee. There are many bands and flavors, but the most popular in Argentina is Fernet-Branca. Interestingly enough fernet was allowed during prohibition times in America since it was considered a bitter and not an alcohol.

How to drink Fernet?

Fernet is often served mixed with Coca-cola. The sweetness of Coca-cola balances well the bitterness of Fernet. Fernet has a very strong, herby distinct taste and you will either love it or hate it. A lot of people say that Fernet reminds them of medicine, which it kind of is. 

If you are in the States, especially in the Bay Area you will see people drinking Fernet as a shot and chasing it with ginger ale. In fact, one of our friends introduced us to a mint flavored Fernet in San Fransico and we have been drinking it ever since. 

Fernet, cocktail-www.thetipsygypsies.net