Intro: Asia is arguably the region where I can add the most value on this site; I grew up there and have been traveling around the region since childhood. The first time I visited Bali was in 1988 and I’ve had the good fortune of returning many times since, including most recently last summer. 25 years later, much has changed thanks to development, a growing population, and sadly, terrorism. Locals and longtime Baliphiles may tell you that they long for the good old days or that the place to be has moved on to nearby Lombok or beyond. But if you can accept the higher prices, the rush hour traffic, and the growing pains that come with rapid development, the “Island of the Gods” still offers a rare combination of stunning natural beauty and infectious energy.
By now you’ll have heard the news that the US is moving to normalize relations with Cuba for the first time in over 50 years. This is huge news. For Americans, this is a new, unexplored destination just a short shuttle flight away from Miami. For non-Americans, this is your last chance to go before the big multi-nationals move in and “spoil” the place. The great news for both groups is that I’ve already been and I’m here to help!
-Don’t worry if the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu is fully booked- take a car part way
-Book your Huayna Picchu climb for 10am
-If you have extra days, spend them in Cusco or around the Sacred Valley
-Follow us on Instagram this week @thegentlemanbackpacker and submit your best Peru photos using #gentlemanbackpacker_peru to enter our photography contest and be featured on our feed and on this website.
One of the things I learned from my 14-country Round-the-World trip in 2008 was to be efficient. This was true whether it came to packing or travel planning. I can now plan a nice 3-day weekend in Buenos Aires, for example. Sometimes, you just can’t spend as much time in a country as you would like. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go at all. The Sacred Valley of Peru, a popular destination that usually begins in Cusco and reaches its climax at Machu Picchu, now one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, can be done in a variety of ways.
The famous Inca Trail is extremely popular with backpackers and college students. On my way back from Machu Picchu, I shared a train booth with some young ladies from the University of Florida, who apologized (unnecessarily) for the fact they hadn’t showered in 5 days and, upon hearing I lived in Tokyo, knew about and longed for the use of a Japanese washlet, given their time spent “roughing it with a leaf and a shovel.” But there I was, determined to go to Machu Picchu on a trip where I was also going to the Galapagos to cruise around by boat, visit museums in Spain and attend the opera in Vienna, oh and cruise the Nile in Egypt as well; I couldn’t lug around the appropriate equipment for camping in the mountains. So, after some careful and annoying planning, I came up with an itinerary that ticked all the boxes I wanted to tick, but was doable in just 4 days. Read on to find out how.