5/26/2014

Mountain Biking in Peru is Not for Softies

To the headline above, Outside Magazine published this photo about mountain biking in Peru:


And, for obvious reasons, we have to agree. Around the legendary city of Cuzco alone, there are major mountain biking routes that can not be missed. Yuncaypata, Pumamarca Ruins, and the course of the world-famous race "Megavalanche", a very steep and technical downhill race which gathers riders from around the world. A few years ago, I had the pleasure -without knowing it at first- of traveling with a couple of riders from California, on the same flight down to Peru, and back to California, who were on their way to Megavalanche. As you can imagine, on the flight back I asked them a million questions about their experience in the race. All I heard about how thrilling and awesome it was, even though I could spot a few bumps, bruises and scratches along their arms, necks and faces!

If mountain biking is your sport you can contact us for superb guides in and around Cuzco.

7/17/2013

What Outside Magazine Says About Colca & Cotahuasi Canyons

Somebody posted a question to the editors of Outside Magazine. It was: "I’m a fan of the Grand Canyon, but I’ve visited there a few times now and I’m looking for something new. Where can I find a canyon that puts the Grand to shame?"

Quickly, Outside Magazine (Eva Holland, more precisely) came back with their answer: "In the Peruvian Andes, these two canyons are a two-for-one deal. Both are located near the city of Arequipa, and within striking distance of Machu Picchu-bound travelers; both are more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.


The Colca is more famous and much more frequently visited—it’s known for its Incan and pre-Incan history and for the presence of the otherwise rare Andean Condor—but both are accessible to travelers. The town of Chivay is the local jumping-off point for Colca Canyon, but tours and local buses also depart from Arequipa, where rental cars are available too. The small rim-side village of Cabanaconde is a good spot for a short, tough hike down into the canyon itself."
 

What are you waiting for? Time to get up and book that long-desired trip to Peru, where the adventure awaits!

9/24/2012

Technology in the Outdoors

As technology evolves in all aspects of our lives, we are increasingly seeing the use and dependence of tech devices in the great outdoors. Even as purists try to resist the use of technology it has even become a matter of safety. Devices such as GPS and cell phones -or smartphones- have been credited with saving lives.

With the proliferation of social networking sites we, outdoor enthusiasts, are increasingly eager to share our experiences via photos and videos that we upload to the world wide web. Thus, to GPS units and smartphones, we add video cameras, digital photo cameras, tablets, and whatever else we need to keep these devices charged up. With this mind, we have evaluated a small unit called the Power Bank 6000.

This compact external battery manufactured by myCharge -RFA Brands- has 6000mAh and is capable of charging 3 devices at the same time. It has a built-in Apple 30-pin dock connector to charge and iPhone, iPod or iPad. It also has built-in mini and micro USB connectors to charge other devices such as cell phones, e-readers, bluetooth earphones, and more.
Besides all the great charging capabilities that the myCharge Power Bank 6000 has, what's more important for the outdoor enthusiast is the feather-weight feature. In our packs, not only will it take minimal space, but it also won't weight you down. It comes in at 0.32kg, so its packing features are great.

 Now, the Power Bank 6000 will charge an iPhone roughly 4 times, so if you happen to be exploring the outdoors beyond a period of time in which your Power Bank's charge will last, you're out of luck. We will soon evaluate other options for extended periods of time in outdoor traveling.

 Keep exploring!

4/17/2012

Peru's Coast on Minimal Packing

Truth be told, I have to make a confession. Prior to starting my trip I was extremely nervous about being able to fit everything into the Tom Bihn Western Flyer. I had downsized from another brand's travel tote with 2,200 cubic inches of volume to the Western Flyer's 1,600 cubic inches, just to test myself -and the Western Flyer- about possibly traveling 9 days with a bag designed for a maximum of 3 days.

I had combed forums extensively, even participated in asking members about their longest trips with the Western Flyer. The responses I received were nothing short of stunning. 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 10-day trips were the norm for owners of this very intriguing bag. Based on that I told myself, "you can do it!"

As I prepared for my trip packing well in advance -more than 3 days ahead of time- I kept going back and forth on the content of my Western Flyer. I had read a couple of forum posts advising on color-coordinating every item, so that, mixing and matching garments while abroad, would allow for less items to pack. Keeping this in the back of my head was the reason I kept adding and subtracting items from my already packed bag. As the time for departure approached my doubts increased about whether I was going to be able to pull this off. Fitting everything I was bringing into the Western Flyer was not as big a worry as the return flight was. Inevitably, I am one of those travelers who always comes back with more than what I left with.


The day before departing I had made up my mind and decided the Western Flyer was NOT being open one more time. Everything in it was traveling with me and that was that!

Inside the Large Packing Cube, also manufactured by Tom Bihn in their Seattle, Washington factory I had managed to fit quite a bit -or so I think-. One pair of linen pants, three pair of shorts, 4 t-shirts, 8 pairs of socks, 4 boxer briefs, two swimming trunks, and two button-down shirts. The packing cube took all of the front compartment of the Western Flyer.


In the rear compartment I fit a small Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder 15 with 3 button-down shirts, a pair of indoor soccer shoes in one of the square pockets against the back wall of the rear compartment, and a pair of flip-flops in the other pocket. Also, a Tom Bihn 3D Clear Cube and an Eagle Creek medium Pack-It toiletry bag.

On one of the front zippered slash-pockets I put a leather personal tray, which opens completely flat. I did not use any of the other two pockets remaining in the front of the bag -one of which is advertised as a water bottle compartment, and the other a smaller zippered pocket-, nor the 2 open slash pockets in the rear of the bag. As it was, the Western Flyer looked pretty much to capacity.

With all the electronics I run around with, chargers, plus smaller odd-ends I did end up switching my choice of a personal carry-on bag. Originally, everything was inside the Tom Bihn Co-Pilot, which fit everything, but did not leave any room for anything else -or error for that matter-. I decided the night before my 6:00 am flight, I would switch for a TravelPro Crew 5 Tote I have had for years. The tote, although small in looks, fit absolutely everything -and then some- with lots of room to spare. I even decided to pack my Tom Bihn Ristretto for iPad -empty- inside the TravelPro, which I couldn't have done if decided to stick with the Co-Pilot. The Ristretto was going to be my around-town bag, plus the bag for a couple of business meetings I needed to attend.


As I was walking around two airports before reaching my final destination, I realized what a wonderful shoulder strap the Absolute -by Tom Bihn- is. The Western Flyer, filled to capacity and equipped with an Absolute Shoulder Strap was a delight to carry. I can honestly say I did not feel the weight of the bag -approximately 20lbs- on my shoulder. The TravelPro tote however, being much smaller and lighter, was a real nuissance to carry because of the strap. The Tote felt heavy and kept sliding off my shoulder constantly.

The Western Flyer also served as our luggage for a 4-night/4-day beach-trip for my son and I. We packed everything we both needed into the bag and it not only performed very well, but had plenty of room for the both of us.

All in all, the Western Flyer was a superb bag to bring on a 9 day trip. Although I consider myself a minimalist, I ended up not using 3 of the garments I brought and the pair of sneakers, so it would have performed even better had I not traveled with the extra stuff.

One thing I really missed from my previous travel system was the organization-rich feature of the Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes. I was used to packing socks and underwear in one cube, t-shirts in another, and so forth, but the Large Packing Cube by Tom Bihn -made especifically for the Western Flyer- had to carry everything -pants, shorts, socks, tshirts, etc- so managing to "live" from a single cube was not all that comfortable.

If I could only now find a personal carry-on bag from Tom Bihn it would be ideal as I have also adopted their wonderful pouch system. In the TravelPro Travel Tote I took with me, I had to throw all the pouches in different pockets, so reaching for them was a challenge. All of Tom Bihn's bags come equipped with "O" rings, which are ideal for hooking the pouches onto. The search is on...

3/28/2012

Traveling To Peru? Don't Fly United!

If you are planning a trip to Peru any time soon, you definitely do not want to miss this piece of information. After all, there are more than a couple of ways to get there.

Since the merger between Continental Airlines and United Airlines, nothing has gone smooth for these 2 major U.S. carriers. Continental Airlines was my go-to carrier for traveling to Peru, South America and Europe. But, things have changed. Booking my latest flight to Lima, Peru was nothing short of a nightmare. "Computer System Merger" they now call it. 3 days, 15 hours of talk-time on my cellular, more fees and charges than expected, and really nothing to show for.

Customer Service representatives kept blaming each airline's prior system for the mishaps. They were unable to perform tasks that once upon a time seemed basic, such as transfer of miles between one account to another -in the same family and household-, booking a reservation, or issuing a refund for Pete's sake. Again, the whole experience was nothing short of a nightmare.

My prefered carrier nowadays between San Francisco, California and Lima, Peru is LAN Peru Airlines. They have a direct flight between those two destinations, unlike any other carrier, unless you were flying out of Miami, Houston or Newark. That's it. They are still in the "old-school" airline mode: complimentary adult beverages and above-average meals, not to mention more personal space around you. However, not everything is rosey, as you might expect. Carry-on luggage can not exceed 8 kilograms -17.5 lbs-. But if you are like me and travel only with carry-on luggage, that could be a challenge.