trekking in Bhutan

I’ve long been a fan of


I asked editor Rogier Gruys when Bhutan would open to “independent hikers”. Not soon, he says.

As for trekking in Bhutan … you do have to go through a local travel agency. They are not likely to change that …

… you can go with one or two people, and set up exactly the itinerary you want with the agency. The only thing is that you pay US$230/day (for less than 4 people in a group). … But that does include all meals, all local transport, hotel/tent etc. So compared to a typical trip to NY city it is not all that bad!

If I could afford $200 / day I would be booking my next holiday to Bhutan, for sure.

The most famous hikes in Bhutan are the Snowman Trek and Jhomolhari-Laya-Gasa, but Rogier points out there are other great hikes that you can do year round.

Even the hikes out of the capital Thimphu are excellent. In particular, Rogier recommends walking to Tango/Drolay goempas. Or radiotower to Phajoding. “Great views, and a beautiful monastery along the way.”

A Trekker's Guide (Cicerone Guide)
Bhutan: A Trekker’s Guide (Cicerone Guide)

Rucksack – Exploring the Inca Trail

Exploring the Inca Trail is the latest in the excellent Rucksack hiking guidebook series. It’s a perfect format for a guidebook you can carry on the trail. (waterproof, lightweight, open-flat with built-in map).

But are the authors expert?

I’ll say. It’s written by Roy Davis, editor of the most comprehensive Inca Trail website, and Jacquetta Megarry, founder of the Rucksack series.

That’s all we needed to know. The Rucksack Guide instantly jumps to our most recommended guidebook for the Inca Trail. It’s also the lightest and most durable.

That said, the Inca Trail is far over-rated. Our advice is to take the train to Machu Picchu and save your hiking days for one of the many, many other wonderful South American hikes. For our reasons why, check Inca Trail –

“Explore the Inca Trail (Rucksack Readers)” (Jacquetta Megarry, Roy Davies)

great website for hiking Paine, Chile – Vertice Patagonia

From our last post on Paine:

But organizing an independent hiking adventure in that far off part of the world can be frustrating. Management of the Park is convoluted & confusing. Two private companies (Andescape & Fantastico Sur) share responsibilities with the federal government & run the mountain huts (refugios). A third company Vertice Patagonia runs one large Lodge and campground. Pathagone has some role, as well.

Some of these companies have websites, but none are particularly helpful — unless you want to sign on for a guided trek.

planning for The Towers of Paine

Alex von Bischhoffshausen took the time to write and point out that their site — Vertice Patagonia — is never down.

When I went to take another look, I was impressed. So impressed that we are now going to recommend Vertice Patagonia as the first site hikers check when booking on-line.

Published in German and English, it could not be more clear on how hikers can book accommodation. Rates are clearly posted and very competitive.

I’m personally embarrassed because in 2004 I actually toured their immaculate Paine Grande Mountain Lodge and had lunch in their terrific campground facilities. Everything was first class.

Vertice Patagonia rents all the gear you could possibly need to hike Paine. In fact, Vertice Patagonia is all you need to get organized.

My apologies Alex for slighting your fine organization. I have Canadian friends looking to come down for the 2007 season and I will recommend they contact you first.

details on how to get to Paine –


Aconcagua in Argentina – highest peak outside Asia

Aconcagua is known mainly as one of the Seven Summits, a trekking peak for climbers. But we are recommending hiking in the region rather than climbing the peak.

This gets you up close and personal to the mountain without the danger of climbing to 6962m (22,841ft). And Aconcagua is dangerous due to altitude and volatile weather.

There are dozens of climbing companies which provide guides and pack animals. However, hikers with high altitude experience could do Aconcagua independently, carrying their own packs.

larger version of this photo – William Marler on SummitPost

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