Pura Aventura Stripped Down
PURA AVENTURA STRIPPED DOWN
– UNIQUE ADVENTURES IN LATIN AMERICA AND SPAIN
Big names draw the crowds but it’s the smaller ones that are never forgotten. With this in mind, Pura Aventura, the tailor-made authentic adventure travel specialists to Latin America and Spain, have stripped back their programme for 2015 ensuring they only offer unique itineraries. If it’s offered by another operator, then generally it’s not ‘Pura’ enough.
Thomas Power, founder of Pura Aventura, commented on the move: “Our recent cull has left us with 50 of the very best, unrivalled trips to Spain and Latin America. Here at Pura Aventura, we don’t just go off the beaten track; we take another track entirely to discover the places that rarely get a mention in the guidebooks. Our knowledge of the destinations we offer and network of friends on the ground enable Pura guests to engage with the people and the places they visit – travel to us is not just about ticking off the major sites. And, for those locations that really are a must-see, such as Machu Pichu, we would always advise walking in an air pocket, well behind the crowds and arriving when the hordes have left for the day.”
Destinations covered include: Antarctica, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Galapagos, Nicaragua, Peru and Spain.
Although much of Pura Aventura’s offering is finely-tailored to individuals, here is a selection of sample trips:
Picos Inn to Inn: Step back in time on this rural inn to inn self-guided walking break through the Liebana Valley in Spain’s Picos de Europa mountains. Sleep well, eat well and relax into the way of life here. Listen to the sound of cowbells, watch shepherds leading their sheep to the high pastures and farmers scything the hay, and switch off from the whirl of the modern world. An arena of high mountains, meadows and woodlands, welcoming inns and a rich culture will accompany guests as they walk from village to village on this special route, exclusive to Pura Aventura. Among the many highlights are: the natural amphitheatre at Fuente Dé; a cable car ride high into the mountains to walk to the summit; walking in Valdeon, the most isolated valley of the Picos; and traversing the renowned Cares Gorge.
Price: from £980 inc. 7 nights’ accommodation, most meals, luggage transfers, walking notes, maps and local information, and return transfers from Santander.
Peru to Galapagos: Surely at the top of most travellers’ bucket lists, this trip crosses borders to combine the challenge of hiking to Machu Pichu with the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. After acclimatising in Cusco, set off on the Inca Trail for a uniquely paced four-day trek to Machu Pichu. Accompanied by a guide who identifies the most beautiful camping spots along the way, set off after the crowds and arrive when they have dispersed to enjoy the famous citadel in virtual privacy. After a short stay in Quito, it’s onward to the Galapagos Islands to board a boat for the week for wildlife watching without feeling regimented. Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, swim alongside sealions, snorkel at the distinctive Devil’s Crown crater, land at Post Office bay to hear how this informal sailors’ postal system has worked for hundreds of years (and is still effective today), and paddle through mangroves at dawn. Plus cross Floreana Island on foot to see flamingos feeding in a lagoon.
Price: from £4,705 inc. 18 nights’ accommodation, most meals, internal flights, permits and porters for Machu Pichu and guiding.
Costa Rica Uncovered: Collect a 4×4 and self-drive from north to south, on and off the beaten track, to experience Costa Rica’s extraordinary biodiversity. Not only will visitors see an incredible range of landscapes and ecosystems, but they will also have opportunities to mix with the locals and observe traditional lifestyles. Whether watching the cowboys of Guanacaste or exploring the footpaths, volcanoes and bubbling mud pots of the Rincon de la Vieja National Park – these are the regions least affected by tourism. Although the Nicoya Peninsula is popular, there are surprisingly large pockets of coast with little development and no tourists, including the quiet coast at Ostional. Here, guests who spend a few nights relaxing and exploring, can witness sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach – a world away from the busy resort of Tamarindo further up the coast. Other highpoints include wandering through the bird-filled cloudforest of San Gerardo; the fantastic wildlife in Corcovado National Park; a boat ride to Cano Islandaccompanied by a pod of dolphins; and a guided walk through the rainforests of Tenorio National Park to see the bright blue river, the Rio Celeste.
Price: from £1,860 inc. 15 nights’ B&B accommodation, scheduled activities and excursions, transfers and 4×4 rental car with GPS.
Atacama & Patagonia: This guided small group walking holiday refuses to squeeze in all of the main attractions, but instead concentrates on the two most scenic areas: the Atacama Desert and the Torres del Paine National Park. From Santiago fly north to the Atacama to enjoy various hikes, many at altitude. Walk among the lunar landscapes of the crackling salt mountains and along old Inca roads to visit the world’s highest geothermal field, the Tatio Geysers which, at first light, come to life with a spectacular display of steam. Take a bike ride across the salt flats to a small lagoon, home to a family of flamingos – other lagoons have swarms of visitors with cars parked all around, but this is a little-known gem with fewer flamingos and fewer onlookers. The fitting finale is a walk to the summit of Toco Volcano at 5,600m. This is likely to be the highest point at which most people will ever stand and it offers jaw-dropping views into Bolivia and Argentina. Onward to Patagonia, journey by boat to the Torres del Paine National Park to tackle a four-day ‘W’ hike. Starting in the glacial west, walk in the shadow of huge peaks and alongside lakes and streams, before completing the trail in the dry grasslands of the east.
Price: from £3,785 inc. 14 nights’ accommodation, most meals, guiding, internal flights, activities and entrance fees.
Northern Argentina: Leave behind the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires and head to the quiet and authentic Salta province in Argentina’s beautiful north-west corner, home to Argentina’s largest indigenous community. Expect a profound silence and a wilderness of salt flats, turquoise lagoons and black volcanic lands which give way to a colourful oasis packed with llamas and vicunas. Explore its raw beauty on a road trip through Los Cardones National Park, following the legendary Ruta 40 to Cafayate, where a wine tasting at a local bodega awaits. Then loop south and head off road into the Puna region, the most remote and undiscovered part of Argentina, where no other UK operator yet goes. Here, discover the amazing sand dunes, so white that they look like snow, and where there are no people, traffic or animals. Other ports of call include: Laguna Grande, a salt lake which, between December and March, is home to 16,000 flamingos; Red Labyrinth, a vast area of eroded red rocks; Salar Grande, Argentina’s largest salt flat which is still worked for salt today; and the Andean village of Purmamarca. This trip wouldn’t be complete without a few days at Iguassu Falls.
Price: from £4,215 inc. 16 nights’ B&B accommodation, internal flights, transport, guiding, activities, entrance fees and excursions.
All prices are per person based on two sharing. International flights are extra.
For further information contact Pura Aventura (www.pura-aventura.com, 01273 676712).