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0 In Airlines/ Bucket List/ South America/ Travel

13 Things to Know: Visiting Patagonia and Hiking Torres Del Paine

1. Airfare: will run you a pretty penny. Look for deals. The first part of the trip was booked when I found a flight from NY to Santiago for $490. The flight stopped in Atlanta on the way and flying from Atlanta to Santiago was over $1600 and Delta does not let you miss a leg to get a cheaper fare – they will cancel your flight.

Now we needed to get to New York and from Santiago to Punta Arenas. The NY flight was around $250 (paid with miles) and the flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas was $300 per person. Again, not cheap.

Flights on the way down:

Delta 5893: 8:53 AM – 10:43 AM CMH to LGA

Delta 2210: 5:59 PM – 8:38 PM LGA to ATL

Delta 146: 8:50 PM – 5:38 AM ATL to SCL

Latam 283: 3:23 PM – 6:45 PM SCL to PUQ

Flights on the Way Back:

Latam 12:08 PM – 3:33 PM PUQ to SCL

Delta 147: 8:50 PM – 5:38 AM SCL to ATL

Delta 2933: 7:30 AM to 9:47 AM ATL to LGA

Delta 5888: 1:42 PM to 3:43 PM LGA to CMH

2. Transportation

Once you get to Punta Arenas, there are buses that will take you to major cities however there were a lot of little finds I wanted to check out so a rental car was the best option $450 for 6 days. Keep in mind limited rentals available so book early and renting a car for a day might be $200 and has to be returned by 6 pm so plan ahead (Europ Rental Car)

3. Plan ahead know what you want to do.

Day 1: arrival and driving 2.5 hours to outside the Torres del Paine Park. The Hotel CostaAustralis was perfect and absolutely a highlight to the stay. (This hotel is highly recommended)

The bus was perfect for day 2 as we rode and slept a lot on the bus and they stop for scenic things. Restroom and food options. The bus tour was from Chile to Argentina visiting Perito Mereno Glacier and seeing El Calafate

Day 3: from the hotel. We took a boat ride in the Patagonian Icefields and I loved every minute of it. It was a bit cold but beautiful. We were served a Chilean bbq. We were supposed tondo the Balmaceda y Serrento Glacier but there was a fatality so all zodiacs were cancelled but we did the boat ride that was quite lovely.

Day 4: We drove 2.5 hours to Hotel Torres – a beautiful hotel in the midst of Patagonia (Highly Recommended) . This hotel was not cheap but privately owned and absolutely stunning. The hotel had wonderful food and close parking to the trail for Torres del Paine. While here, did a horseback excursion in the afternoon and planned for Hiking Torres del Paine the next morning.

Day 5: we hiked Torres del Paine while mom went to the spa for the day. The hike was good – long- 13 hours of hard hiking. I am not kidding. Returned about 4 pm to the hotel and went for a drive to see the Grey Glacier.

Day 6: We drove around Patagonia inside the park for a few hours then headed out to Punta Arenas – a 6 hour drive from the Park. When arriving in Punta Arenas – one of the last places in South America before Antarctica – we visited a few of the cemetery markers – beautiful largeresting places. The city is quite lovely.

Day 7: Drove to the airport to catch flights home.

4. Weather

The weather can change on a dime so be prepared. April is considered a good- pleasant temperature time to go. 40-50s and at night 20-30 degrees. All I can say is we had the best visit and weather when we went. The winds can be extremely strong – come prepared for rain, wind, and cold – bone chilling weather.

5. So much to do in Patagonia

The list of things to do is plentiful. For starters – hiking and driving will consume a lot of your trip. For those reading this, I am really not a hiker – I don’t particularly enjoy walking in the wilderness while animals can potentially get me. You will not normally find me on a hike when back at home. The hikes in Patagonia are hard – they are for people who exercise (which I do) and have endurance. I found the Torres del Paine hike to be the best part of my trip. I was proud that I did it and so thankful that it was clear when we arrived. It was the hardest thing I have done and the half marathon I completed did not compare.

For those non- hikers, my mom found that the spas were nice and enjoyed reading, relaxing, and no cell phone service a welcomed part of the vacation.

Horseback riding, boating, guided tours of glaciers or tours of the landscape are some other options. Hotel Torres had a collection of options they provide and the list was incredible!

6. Food in Patagonia

The food is terrific. Barbecue is popular and culinary experiences are wonderful. The steak, mushrooms, lamb, seafood are all very popular. Sharing food is very popular in Chile and Argentina. People are family oriented and spending time barbecuing in the yard is popular. Three hours of cooking and tender meat will be upon you.

Many restaurants do not accept credit cards

Service is really slow amd dinner is late starting at 8 pm

If you see a large group- inclination is to keep movong on but instead join in – you don’t want to miss the amazing food

7. Language

Most people in Chile and Argentina speak Spanish but as a native English speaker, everyone we encountered in Patagonia spoke Emglish without a problem. The hotels had a lot of employees from New Zealand and Australia as well as Europe. Google translate can help

8. Cell Phone Service

Cell service is limited in parts of Chile and Argentina but when you have service – the Verizon cell phone only charges $10 a day for unlimited service but make sure you have this turned on before leaving the US

9. Things You Need to Bring

A. Sunglasses

B. Socks

C. Hiking Boots

D. Hat or Beanie

E. Sunscreen

F. Travel Insurance

9. It is expensive in Patagonia

I am pretty sure nothing was cheap in Patagonia – the food was expensive, clothing – expensive, wool- expensive, accommodations- expensive transportation – expensive

10. Patagonia is Huge!

A. Travel is slow, border crossing is easier said that done (unless your rental has the right paperwork; you cannot go) – you must plan the details because it can range 3 hours to 15 hours throughout Patagonia.

11. Patagonia is Environmentally Conscious

There is no trash on the side of the road or in the wilderness. Everyone is environmentally conscious and makes an effort to keep things need and organized. Wildlife is unique – views are incredible and everything is pristine

12. Come Prepared

You must come prepared with clothes, extra battery charges, food, snacks, water.

13. A recap of what you need to know:

– Patagonia is expensive

– well worth the visit

– The views are incredible

-Pick accommodations wisely

-Rent a car in advance

-Be environmentally conscious

– Weather is crazy

– internet? What is that?

– Bring warm clothing and put items in ziplock

– Sunscreen, sunglasses, hiking boots should be brought

– Patagonia is safe

– If hiking Torres del Paine – consider Hotel Torres when you do the hike

– Travel Insurance

Costs: for 3 people

El calafate: $311.94

Boat Ride: $432.89

Car Rental with Insurance and all Gas: $636.79

Bags: $168.16

Hotel Torres $940 (2 nights)

Food, Horses $225.73

Hotel Costaaustralis: $507.47 (3 nights)

Hotel Cabo Hornes $184.51

Travel Insurance per person: $81

$50 per person per day – maybe less depending.

Flight to NY: $386 per person

Flight to santiago: $579.03 per person

Flight to Punta Arena: $350 per person

**some of the costs were paid with miles**

$2,000 per person would include all food, car, hotel, excursions, and flights

0 In Airlines/ Bucket List/ Budget/ Couples/ Family/ Female Travels/ Itinerary/ North America/ Travel/ Travel Advice/ Travel Gear/ Travel Tips/ United States

4 Days Visiting Yellowstone & Jackson – What to Know!

My first visit to Yellowstone was circa 2012 and it was incredible. Having the opportunity to return to Yellowstone is a quick…..ABSOLUTELY! I had some airline miles on Alaska Airlines to use and the flight was completely free!

Left Thursday after work and flew from Columbus, Ohio to Seattle, Washington onward to Bozeman, Montana.

The arrival was scheduled for midnight in Montana, but based on plane troubles arrived around 3 AM. It made for a short night of sleep, but getting to the park is the highest priority. Yellowstone is a large park.

Friday morning around 9 AM left Bozeman, Montana for Yellowstone National Park. There are a couple of ways to enter the park, but drove into West Yellowstone taking the route north to circle the park ending at the Yellowstone Lodge.

As you enter Yellowstone from West Yellowstone, you have a few choices…..the option of going toward Mammoth Springs (North) was the path taken. There are a ton of pull offs to see waterfalls, paint pots, geysirs, and Mammoth Springs is an excellent spot to take a lunch break. During the stop, watched the Elk walk around the city area; these animals are beautiful but you really need to stay back as they are known to be quite aggressive.

The drive continued with stops at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and lookouts.

Several locations have animals that are close to the vehicles. It is important to know that these are wild animals and you need to keep your distance.

The bison walk next to the cars, but will become aggressive if you get too close. The same with bears, elk, deer, etc.

During this trip, I was amazed at the number of people trying to get the right picture of the animal; willing to risk their lives for a picture.

Since I have been home, there are have been two people attacked by bison and one guy ran across the Grand Prasmatic Pool – use your head and do not ruin these opportunities for everyone. If things like this continue, they will put up fencing and limit access.

Finished driving for the day and ended at the Yellowstone Lodge located on Yellowstone Lake. It is absolutely beautiful. Yellowstone is at a high altitude and even when it is summer….it can still be quite chilly. There is a lake and many people end up the hospital because of hypothermia from the lake…keep this in mind. Visiting the park in June, it can be 70 degrees one day…..and can change the next….

Woke up Saturday to snow on the ground! Based on the elevation and driving conditions several roads were closed so we drove from the Yellowstone Lodge north to the bypass and then visited the southern part of the park. Drove to Old Faithful and had lunch right after the eruption. The park service posts the time and the app (when you have cell service) will also let you know the approximate next time.

On Sunday, we drove down to Jackson, Wyoming meeting some friends and exploring the areas. This is where we saw the first bear on the trip! We drove to our hotel and checked in at the Jackson Lake Lodge. This is between Yellowstone National Park and Jackson, Wyoming.

The Jackson Lake Lodge was located pretty close to Jenny Lake (a hidden gem) and Colter Bay (another hidden gem) that are in the Tetons. The hotel was expensive but was at the base of the Tetons and had fantastic views. On Monday mid-day left the Tetons and drove back through Yellowstone on the way back to Bozeman….a few shots on the way back.

If given the opportunity to visit Yellowstone and/or Jackson, Wyoming – definitely take the opportunity. If the weather is decent, I would highly recommend white water rafting in Jackson Hole. This trip did not have time and the weather was a bit cold, but the last time…it was one of the major highlights!


Costs for Yellowstone:

Rental Car: Alamo: $560

Quality Inn Bozeman: $185 per night

Lake Yellowstone Lodge: $390 per night

Alaskan Airlines Flight: $450 (my flight was paid with points)

Jackson Lake Lodge: $400 per night

0 In Airlines/ Bucket List/ Budget/ Couples/ Female Travels/ Travel/ Travel Advice/ Travel Tips/ United States

72 Hours to Visit Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Bryce, and Zion National Parks–Can it be done?

72 Hours to see Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Antelope, Bryce, and Zion National Parks

Grand Canyon Visiting Las Vegas for a whirlwind out west in 3 days! I had limited time and companion airfare on Southwest that allowed me go on a quick adventure and I can never say no!

Las Vegas is such a fun place to visit. Back when I was doing my dissertation, I spent 3 weeks out in Las Vegas writing my paper and booked 3 weeks in Kauai to finish….yes, you read that correctly. I have always enjoyed Las Vegas and while living in Ohio, the phone constantly rang and friends wanted to go to lunch or do this and getting away was perfect for writing that paper. There was motivation to accomplish goals.

For the Las Vegas Trip, it was meant to be a quick trip….Leaving Ohio after work and flying to Las Vegas staying at the New York New York for the first night. After a long day of work and travels- arrived around 10 PM Vegas time or 1 AM Ohio Time. The first stop was In N Out Burger followed by a stop down in Old Vegas.

Saturday morning; got up super early to be at the Hoover Dam before the major traffic. It has been a couple of years since I was out there, but thankfully the new highway makes the visit much more enjoyable. If you have not been to the Hoover Dam; I highly recommend visiting.

From there, trudged on to the Grand Canyon…there are a lot of options, but purchased the Park Pass for a year (National Park Service for more details) there is a Desert View Drive that has a lot of pull offs and is perfect for a short stay at the Grand Canyon….

Mind you, we are still trucking because we have booked a 4:30 Antelope Canyon tour in Page, Arizona.

The goal was when finished to see Horseshoe Bend but this trip, parking was full and fines were high for parking along the highway.

The next morning we got up early and drove to Bryce Canyon to see the Hoodoos and then to Zion National Park. With it being the height of summer..definitely busy. In order to hike the Narrows. Get there early and plan on a 45-1 hour bus ride. After driving through the park, headed back to Vegas.

We arrived back in Vegas around 2 pm stopping at In N Out when coming back to the edge of Vegas. The rest of the evening was spent walking the strip and stopping at cafes. Our last night was spent at the Venetian. Definitely worth the splurge!   

This was a quick 72 hour trip and you definitely need more time to see each of these spots, but if time is limited; I would go for it. YOLO!

– Heidi


Rental Car: $230

New York New York Hotel: $250

Best Western: $230

The Venetian: $350

Antelope Canyon Tour: $65 per person (morning is better than evening)

National Park Pass (year) $80 for the car – already purchased

Flight: $250 (free as I was using Southwest Companion Fare)

0 In Africa/ Bucket List/ Travel

African Safari on the Cheap…is it possible?

Let me preface this with….this is one of the most expensive vacations I have taken for a few reasons:

1. Did not want to use all of my airline points for this trip.

2. Wanted to visit multiple destinations maximizing the time in each location without compromise resulting in higher costs for direct flights

3. Wanted to have all inclusive experiences so it streamlined experiences.

4. Shots were expensive. We also went to Peru so T-Dap, Yellow Fever, Flu, Malaria, Antibiotics just in case. Visit a Travel Clinic 3 months before going.

A Few Picture Highlights

Major Costs:

Airline: direct ATL to JNB ($2230.21)

Travel Insurance: $215 for 2 people

Outlook Tambo Lodge $51.28 outside Jo’burg and was fabulous

Tydon African Safari $1007 per person (4 Day Luxury Tent Package

Outlook Tambo Lodge $51.28

Airline: BA : JNB to VFA: $171 per person

Vic Falls and Chobe Safari Tour: $1147.67

Airline: VFA to CPT: $490.04 per person

Hilton Capetown: $151.00

Rental Car: $140.00 gas and all fees

As I said, definitely not inexpensive.

Trip Details:

June/July Travel: Winter in Africa

Vic Falls waterfalls at a peak

20 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning and 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the afternoon.

Arrival in Africa

Arrival into Africa was around 4 PM. We were picked up by Outlook Tambo Lodge and had dinner there. Free hotel pickup; dinner $20 per person but fabulous. We used this same hotel when leaving Capetown going to Vic Falls.

This hotel has a large dinner table and smaller tables; opportunity to meet people from all over and the food was fantastic. Breakfast was included.

We went in June which is winter; remember heat and air are not part of every hotel stay so it can get cold but heated blankets were provided. Mosquitos are also not as prevalent.

Safari 1: Tydon Safari (highly recommended) we went through African Budget Safari to book but would book directly through Tydon.


Tour Transport

3 Meals per Day

Accommodations on Safari

Safari Drives in Sabi Sands and Kruger

Day 1: Johannesburg to Safari Camp and Night Drive in Sabi Sands Reserve

Pick up in Jo’burg and stopped for lunch on the way in Nelspruit (cost not covered) then to safari camp located at Shaw’s Gate.

After checking in to room (or tent) at the safari camp; time to freshen up and then embark on the first thrilling sunset safari game drive. The evening game drive takes us in search of wildlife in Sabi Sand Game Reserve, renowned for its abundance of leopards.

An inviting camp fire awaits you back at the Safari Camp after dark, where you will have a well prepared dinner served under star-studded African skies in the Boma or main dining area at the bush camp.

Day 2: Kruger National Park

After morning tea served at the camp reception area, you set off on a morning safari drive in Kruger National Park in search of Africa’s wild animals

Arriving back at the safari camp in the mid-morning, a hearty breakfast will be served. After breakfast, there is rest at camp, relaxing by the pool during the heat of the day or taking a leisurely walk around the safari camp and enjoying some of the exciting activities offered at camp.

Light lunch is served between 12:30 pm and 2:00 pm in the main Camp Lodge area and at about 3:00pm we head back into the bush on an afternoon Safari Drive in the world famous Kruger Park. Wildlife Safaris offer great opportunities to gain knowledge about Kruger Park with its wildlife, bird species, fauna and flora: which promise to leave you feeling enriched and rewarded.

On our Kruger Safari drives we explore the best routes for game viewing and photographic opportunities. Dinner included around the Boma after the Safari Drive.

Day 3: Sabi Sand Game Reserve Safari Drives

In the morning a refreshing tea or coffee is served at the camp reception area, before we head out on out morning safari drive in Sabi Sand Game Reserve with an experienced local tribesman and guide. On your game drive the safari guide is happy to share his extensive knowledge into the local Sabi Sand bushveld, giving you insight into African wildlife as well as Fauna and Flora; Sabi Sand is renowned for its excellent leopard, lion, buffalo, elephant, and rhino sightings, providing excellent photographic opportunities.

We return to camp for breakfast after our successful game drive in Sabi Sand. Breakfast is again followed by free time to relax at the camp during the hottest part of the day. This is the ideal time to retreat from the heat of the African bush and take a refreshing dip in the camp pool or participate in some of the energizing activities available at the well- run safari camp.

After a light lunch served at camp we make our way back into the wilderness in search of Africa’s wild animals, big and small. Our afternoon safari drive in Sabi Sands Reserve takes us exploring along routes in search of the iconic leopard, lion, rhino, and buffalo. A camp fire in the boma welcomes you back to the Camp after dark, where dinner and drinks will be served. Then dinner is served in the outdoor dining Boma surrounded by the African bush and the sounds of its nocturnal creatures stirring.

Day 4: Transfer to Johannesburg via Panorama Route

Today you will leave the Safari Camp, heading back to Johannesburg via the scenic Panoramic Route. We travel through one of the most scenic parts of South Africa stopping to admire the stunning views at God’s Window, Lisbon Falls, and Graskop, passing through beautiful mountainous areas and small towns.

Arrival in Johannesburg around 5:30 PM

Things to know about this Safari:

Exhilarating game drives

Luxury Tent is incredible.

Shower and Toilet in the back of Luxury Tent

Transportation to and from Safari in SUV

Open Game Drives can be cold. Pack for 30 degrees and for 85 degrees. Temperature in Africa varies often and quickly

Safari 2: 4 Days / 3 Nights Victoria Falls and Chobe Safari Tour Package Highly Recommend – Work with Joseph Moyo – African Coast Travel and Tours

Day 1: Arrival in Victoria Falls

Meet and greet at Victoria Falls Airport and transfer to 2 nights stay. (Victoria Falls Safari Hotel) and in the afternoon embark on afternoon Sunset Cruise on Zambezi River and dinner at the hotel following.

Day 2: Early morning visit to Zambia for Microlight over Victoria Falls. ($280)

After that, a drive to the rainforest for a guided tour of Victoria Falls

Transportation to the The Lion Walk ($150)

Boma Dinner

Day 3: Transfer to Victoria Falls Hotel (did not want to change hotels but fell in love with this hotel)

At 7:30 AM drive toward Kasane Botswana for a full day excursion; 2 – 3 hour activities in the famous Chobe National Park (4×4 game drive vehicle and boat cruise). Boat cruise includes the opportunity to see waders and water birds along the river and the ever present crocodiles and lurking hippos. After 3 hours, a satisfying lunch is provided at a restaurant along the river. Guests then head off for a game drive for 3 hours.

Chobe has the highest elephant density in the world. Frequent lion sightings along with various giraffes, antelope, and warthogs and monkeys – will return to Victoria Falls hotel by 6:30 PM


Day 4: Transfers to Victoria Falls Airport (flight around 1 pm)

Following this, we flew to Capetown.

Arrival 4 PM in Capetown

Drove directly to Table Mountain. High winds did not allow for a cable car but the view was incredible.

After this, drove to the Capetown Hilton which is directly across from Bo-Kaap (famous colored buildings)

Dinner drove to the Capetown Waterfront. Huge Mall, Outdoor Experience including a Ferris Wheel.

Day 2: Drove around the Best of Capetown sites that take you all around the coast and took all day ending in the wine country (8 hours) – Map Below

After this trip, I have been asked…what would I do differently….the only thing is add more days but honestly, this was perfect for a first visit to Africa.

What we were not aware of:

1. Water is safe. We drank bottled water.

2. Food is delicious. Safari food is amazing!!

3. Temperatures range – pack accordingly

4. Dusty everywhere. Brown, khaki, green – no neon or bright colors

5. June/ July were cooler but loved that it was not super hot – also minimal mosquitos and snakes

6. US cash is hard to get especially in Zimbabwe. ATMs do not always work and cash even in South Africa was challenging as it was rejected for fraud even with a call and travel warning given from me prior to the trip.

7. Cell phone service – check before you go. On Verizon, with an international plan, South Africa was unlimited call and text $10 per day. Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia were much more expensive. We waited to use wi-fi in hotels when we entered the other countries.

8. Zimbabwe – again bring US cash – do not expect to get cash from a bank or machine. Food is expensive.

9. Zimbabwe and Zambia: It is highly recommended to take a tour across the border as renting a car can be complicated in this area.

Questions? Just ask!