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48 HOURS OF SECRETS IN BUENOS AIRES

Truth be told, it's one of my favorite cities in the world. A dash of Spain, a bit of France, a dollop of Italy...and there you have it. A curious blend of culture, cuisine and a most unique zest for life. And, if you've only got a short amount of time, our BA 48 Hour Power Jaunt is for you.

On this whirlwind experience you'll be treated to incredible food & wine including dinner in a secret closed-door restaurant, a vibrant city tour experience, a day of polo, a Tango class and even entrance to a speakeasy!

Email us at info@explorateurjourneys.com for the lowdown...

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BASQUE IN 48 HOURS OF DELICIOUSNESS

Unique, curious, chic, and delicious- just a few of the many words we could use to describe the Basque Country. Truth betold, this is one of our favorite spots in the world. Simply because it feels like it's own little world...and if you haven't been, you need to get there now.  And aren't you in luck? We've just developed an amazing 48 Hour Power Jaunt to have you seeing/doing/eating the best of everything!

This short Basque burst includes such fun as an Urban Art Bike Tour, exclusive dining expeirences, a private tour of the Guggenheim, a visit to a cheesemaker, and lunch in a vineyard with special samples of Txakoli...even a gorgeous tasting event in Bilbao to top off your jaunt.

 This is delicious and we can't wait to tell you about it.   Call or text +1 973 420 8343 or email us now at

info@explorateurjourneys.com

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ICE ICE BABY

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ICE ICE BABY

For such a small country, Iceland packs a HUGE punch of adventure and wonder, and it's one heck of a sensory overload no matter where you go. We're just back from this curious land, all thawed out and ready to show you incredible itineraries that will have you pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and seeing some absolutely incredible things.

From glacier hikes to ice caves, dining on curious dishes to chasing the Northern Lights, we have awesome ideas that we can't wait to share with you.  Now's the time, airfares are low and we have access to several experiences that are a wonderful value.

 Believe it or not, we even have developed a 48 Hour Power Jaunt for Iceland as well!

 Feeling Icy? Call us and we'll tell you all about it at +1 973 420 8343 or email us now at info@explorateurjourneys.com

 

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WHERE TO EAT WITH A HIPPO

Confession: I'm a people watcher. I'm nosy, I can sit in a restaurant easily by myself, sipping on the same cup of coffee for hours and entertaining myself endlessly, casually observing what's happening around me. Who's dashing where and why, wondering what people's stories are, while I mindlessly play with my phone.  Not everybody's like that though, I know people that would rather hide and eat in their car than dare sit at a table unaccompanied and that's ok too.  However, someone in Japan has decided to take a stand on this and help those in fear of the solo dining experience by giving you a white stuffed hippo to sit with.  Really.                                                               

At the Moomin Café in Tokyo, a stuffed version of a famous Finnish hippo-like character happily joins you across the table as your dining companion.  It's not forced, you're asked first if you'd like some company which I suppose could be a bit odd if you really didn't know what this place was all about, and then it appears at the seat across from you. What's your take?  And what's the coolest or strangest place you've ever eaten at?   Tell us on Facebook...

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LONDON FOR THE WEEKEND

Why England? Traditional yet relaxed, this impossibly charming country delivers seemingly endless surprises around every corner.  It's a journey through time, from prehistoric Stonehenge to centuries-old castles all the way to futuristic urban structures and of course the ubiquitous pubs that all seem to await with a warm welcome and a cold pint.  History buffs are spoilt for choice here with so many heritage sites to explore, adventurists revel in endless walks and climbs through the hills of the countryside, and for those who love their sport, there's nothing like cheering along with the buoyant crowds at a football game.

Check out our Londoner Long Weekend journey which will have you covering some of the best of Britain even if you've only got a few days...

Fly in and we'll base you at a beautiful hotel in the city center to begin your explorations. We'll equip you with The London Pass, along with a preloaded Travel Card for public transportation and off you'll go! The London Pass is ideal for the freedom of exploration at your leisure- it is an exceptional key to FREE entry to more than 60 of London's top attractions andFAST TRACK privileges at sought after attractions.

Select your day within your trip to head out to the Cotswolds, where you'll be treated to a gorgeous full day tour through this impossibly scenic region including a walk through the cobbled streets of Oxford, a visit to Warwick Castle and Shakespeare's Stratford on Avon.

Soccer fan? Not to worry, if it's in season we'll organize tickets to a match and if not, we'll get you into a special access stadium tour.

Have kids? Let's add in a spectacular Harry Potter tour at Warner Brothers Studio...not to be missed which takes you behind-the-scenes and showcases a huge array of beautiful sets, costumes and props. It also reveals some closely guarded secrets, including facts about the special effects and breath taking animatronics that made these films so hugely popular all over the world. Plus, at night, perhaps even add in a medieval banquet experience!

For more information, contact us at info@explorateurjourneys.com


 

 

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TIPS: FLYING WITH KIDS

I've flown a lot in my life. I love everything about it- the thrills, the ups and even the downs, and it's only natural I'd be the type of parent that would always travel with my child.  It's led to some amazing experiences, and she even made AA Platinum Status at the age of 2! So, I get asked quite often what the "secret" is when people are planning to travel with their children. I get all kinds of questions, some of them I still can't quite even believe.  But, the truth is, there's no right or wrong way, just perhaps some advice I can offer from my personal experience of logging tens of thousands of miles with my own little one. Hope it helps!

0-6 months:  Take full advantage of that darn bassinette. There's a reason they make bulkhead seats and nail those ugly things to the wall- to save parents from going nuts and having every single limb fall asleep while holding a baby or a toddler.  And, it's about the only time in your life where every single person on the cabin crew is going to bend over backwards for you- especially if you're traveling solo with a kid. Take advantage of every loving look, every gesture to get you sorted and situated and to make you and the child more comfortable. You'll be paying it forward someday if you haven't already so even if you're like me and have resistance to accepting help, JUST DO IT. Trust me.

6 Months- 2 Years: Heaven help you. But after that it's going to be OK.  Breathe.

2 Years - 4 Years:  Now you're good, you just need to sort a routine.  I don't overpack at all, and in this stage I find they LOVE hauling their own bags or backpacks so make it a responsibility thing.  The iPad has been a savior and most long haul flights will have an in-seat entertainment system so either way it's golden. I'm not one to sit a kid in front of a screen for hours EXCEPT for in flight, so if it works, just do it. I usually bring 3 books including a massive activity book with lots of problems to solve, a pack of markers, a foldable map of where we're going, a deck of cards and some paper. That's it- easy to pack in my handbag or her bag and honestly, most of the time it's not even used.   Take walks too- get up, have them move around, go up and down the length of the plane, stretch, go to the bathroom, have them go pick out a snack in the galley. Activity helps.   So many people call me and ask if they should book a 2 hour flight around their child's nap time. No comment. Kids adapt- get out early so you can land early, relax and enjoy the day wherever you're going- trust me, they'll love the adventure. If it's mega early, let them fly in their PJs, whatever it takes to get out the door, in the air and where you need to be. Sleep will happen on the plane, or later. 

4 Years & beyond:  You've got this. 

 

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WAIT UNTIL YOU TASTE THIS PLACE

It's so easy to fall in love with Spain- so many of us have been, we've seen the sights, we've hit the major cities but what about traveling deeper? The Basque Country is truly one of our favorite sweetspots in the world....where everything feels like a delicious secret waiting to be uncovered.

And, have we got a beautiful idea for you. It begins in San Sebastian where you'll take a quick orientation tour before diving into a pintxo preparation course in the evening (yes, tastings included!)  Then, you'll be treated to a private tour of 2 classic La Rioja bodegas, you'll lunch in one of our favorite Riojan restaurants and move on to tastings of the gorgeous regional Txakoli, insider guides to take you through museums and special sights, and you'll even have some time to visit with a charasmatic cheesemaker who will show you his gorgeous creations that you'll enjoy with a lovely outdoor lunch.

And, so many more secrets to share...So get to Basquing- email us at info@explorateurjourneys.com 

 

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A DISH WITH A VIEW?

Just go up- up up the mountain- make a left when you see the shrine and go up all the way towards Monte Pertuso, you can't miss it", said Ralphie, my trusted waiter at a local eatery I'd become accustomed to during a stay in Sorrento who as I found out spends 6 months in Italy and 6 months in Brooklyn because "he's got his things here, and got his things there".  Funny that he was pushing meto try another restaurant other than his own so I took it seriously and embarked on a nailbiting journey over the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast in the dark AND the rain in a quest to find this "La Tagliata" eatery that he forbid me to miss.     

When I arrived, this gorgeous place looked more like someone's rustic Italian dining room rather than a restaurant and better yet, it was stark empty. Yet, the host looked around, eyed me suspiciously and asked quite seriously if I had a reservation. I laughed, he shrugged, and then profusely apologized about having to seat me near the kitchen.  In a place like thi I'm pretty sure I'd usually call this a JACKPOT. Though the nighttime views out over the hills are pretty magical, they're nothing compared to the magical sights of chefs on the grill, cooking a variety of meats and home-grown vegetables to a whole new level of perfection, or the ladies hand-rolling the homemade pasta using the freshest local ingredients. The dishes came out one by one, and kept coming...I didn't want to tell them to stop. By the time I left, this little home was packed to the hilt with a line of cars streaming down the side of the rocky inclined street waiting quite impatiently to park. Go early, DO make a reservation and do NOT miss this while on the Amalfi Coast (or anywhere near there for that matter). It's easy to find- just take the coastal road, turn, and go up-up-up the mountain- trust me, you can't miss it.  La Tagliata.

How about a customized Italy food tour filled with our hidden secrets on where to indulge in the best dishes the country has to offer? Contact us now at info@explorateurjourneys.com  

 

 

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AMAZON ON THE AFFORDABLE?

It's challenging to imagine exactly how large the Amazon Rain Forest actually is. The amount of ground it covers is astounding and Ecuador doesn't always come first to one's mind when thinking about this region. But...that's a good thing because it means that the special journey we've created will remain a guarded secret, open to those intrepid travelers that want to dive deep into this experience which takes place at the Siona Lodge.

During this 5 day trek, you'll explore the wonders of this side of the Amazon Rain Forest.... Spending time with the Siona Indian Community to observe their traditional way of life and even take part in the elaboration of their celebrated local dish.  You'l travel downstream in a wooden paddle canoe both day and night, searching for monkeys, toucans, caymans, tortoises, pink dolphins, not to mention the incredible species of plants and trees.  There is even a visit to a local Shaman- who knows what may happen?

Pair this with a Quito stay for the essential Ecuador experience- connect with us for more info at info@explorateurjourneys.com

 

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ONE OF THE GREATEST SHOWS ON EARTH

Norway is about as picture perfect as it gets, and in recent months it's surely moved up to the top of the family vacation bucket list, especially if you have a child who's seen the movie FROZEN (who hasn't!)  It's a nearly impossible task to accurately describe the natural beauty of the majestic fjords, the rich verdant landscape, the blinding white snowcapped peaks, the charismatic villages, stark urban design, and fresh air so crisp you want to spend hours just breathing it in.   Certainly not for the faint of heart when budget is concerned, but once you go you completely agree it was worth the spend.

Get in the know with Norway, we've got the key to this ice palace. We begin in Oslo with a tour of the city that opens you up to a better understanding of the rich Norwegian heritage, moving on to a flight up to the Arctic Circle for an exquisite view of the Northern Lights while overnighting in a traditional small lodge where you can snowmobile and dog sled til your heart's content. Meet and interact with the Sami tribal people, see how they maintain their semi-nomadic lifestyles and ancient rituals for an experience you'll never forget.

Don't get left out in the cold- connect with us for your perfect Norway experience at info@explorateurjourneys.com

 

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TAKE THE TANZANIA TEST

Close your eyes and consider how you imagine yourself exploring on an African safari...
OK- greatAre there endless plains, wondrously diverse herds of wild animals roaming freely, seemingly unaware of your presence, is the air impossibly crisp and do you feel exhilarated breathing in the crisp air as you drive through this other-worldly experience exploring places you never thought you'd actually see?  Then welcome to Tanzania.  From the legendary safari-fabulous Serengeti to majestic Mt. Kilimanjaro, the astounding Ngorongoro Crater to sexy, sultry Zanzibar, this IS the Africa of your dreams. Raw, natural, inspiring and indescribable.
Now, imagine yourself doing any number of the following

Immerse yourself in the palpable pulse of the wild of the Serengeti with an unforgettable safari experience with a top guide

Laze about during the day in a 1920's style explorer camp, permeated by a sense of nostalgic adventure and listen to the amazing sounds of your surroundings...animals calling to one another, birds singing, tall grass whistling in the wind

Try the exhilaration of safari by mountain bike

Descend into the Ngorongoro Crater, the 8th wonder of the world and discover this unique biosphere of grasslands, forests, swamps, saltpans and fresh water

Take an interpretive bush walk whilst on safari, before being escorted to a cultural village by an elder who will regale you with stories of tradition maintained even in this modern age

Snap unbelievable photos at gleaming Lake Manyara, shimmering in a cleft within the Great Rift Valley and sit along a riverbed just steps from an animal coming to have a drink.

Do you dare? Mt. Kilimanjaro is the ultimate trek and surprisingly, it can be accomplished by nearly anyone of any level of fitness. Our expert guides will get you acclimatized and ascending higher than you ever dreamed you could climb

Connect with us at info@explorateurjourneys.com for your customized Tanzania journey

 

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IF YOU'RE HUNGRY, GO HERE

I've always found the Basque region so fascinating. Not really French, not entirely traditionally Spanish, the Basque have a culture and a deep rooted connection with the land all its own. They call their country "Euskadi", this breathtaking land of mythical contrasts and if you think you know Spain but haven't touched this part of the country, you're in for a special surprise.

Consider a Basque jaunt, privately guided by an expert who will take you to top art galleries for private tours, pintxo tours, insider access to wineries and the most special meals at top Michelin starred restaurants. Consider adding a master class with a top chef as well to really spice it up!

Savory Spain secrets ready to be dispensed to Basque and beyond, connect with us at info@explorateurjourneys.com for your customized itinerary.

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WHY ARE WE MAD ON MOZAMBIQUE?

  

It's one of those best kept secrets that you don't want to spill, but feel you have to.  Africa enthusiasts have loved its stark contrast to alternative offerings such as safari experiences in the region, as it boasts some of the ultimately purest beaches and crystalline waters you'll likely ever bear witness to.  Here. snorkeling is fascinating around the BazarutoArchipelago, off the beaten path wildlife experiences await in a series of unspoilt national parks and Portuguese colonial cultural influences abound in its cuisine, spoken word and architecture.  See it now in its most natural serene state and discover why Mozambique is so magical.

What do we suggest? So glad you asked...

Begin with a day in Maputo, with its Portuguese influences, colorful markets and small pop up restaurants serving some of the freshest catches like mouthwatering prawns and clams just harvested minutes before.... Call out your style and sit down to your food that's grilled to perfection before your eyes. Then, it's time to move to what may feel like an otherworldly atmosphere- one of Mozambique's special islands with lavish resorts, exceptional marine life and abundance of island adventures, all complete with beaches that appear to have never been set foot upon.

Mozambique is the perfect complement to a South African safari journey- and exceptional for honeymooners seeking total isolation in a purely blissful space. More on Mozambique whenever you're ready- link with us at info@explorateurjourneys.com

 

 

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CROATIA SELF -DRIVE ON THE CURIOUS

With more than 1000 islands off the Adriatic Coast, and eons of fascinating history, Croatia is a jewel of a destination. Ideal for active adventure with it's beautiful national parks, untouched clear rivers, dislocated canyons, rural households hidden in the beautiful hinterlands, incredible cuisine,  and a mild Mediterranean climate.  Simply put, it's perfect and affordable to boot...

Take to the open road on our self-drive, where you can do Croatia on your own creation...

Begin in Dubrovnik where you'll collect your rental car and travel all the way up north to Zagreb, with carefully curated stops in between and pre-booked accommodations along the way so all you need to do is move at your leisure and be guided once you arrive.  You'll cover the charm of Dubrovnik, cruise to the Elaphiti Islands in a small boat, saunter in Split with its Roman ruins and stunning palaces, dive into the ancient riches of Zadar and its unique architecture and gorgeous sunsets, breathe in the fresh air of the Plitvice National Park and round out in Zagreb to discover it's urban vibe. With a lovely selection of carefully curated properties and even a day jaunt to Montenegro, you have everything you need to thoroughly enjoy this region the way you wish, at the pace you prefer.

Easy and all yours to discover.  Get curious in Croatia with this affordable jaunt- contact us at info@explorateurjourneys.com

 

 

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THE BEST HOTEL AMENITY I'VE EVER SEEN

Focused. Head down, looking at nothing else but my laptop for hours, the streaming TV news on the wall next to me providing just enough ambient background noise to keep me in my work zone. I noticed nothing around me, as what happens when you've been out on appointments all day, only to return to find a mountain of what's managed to pile up in a few hours with an even shorter timeframe to get it all done. Type, respond, complete reports- repeat. For hours, I sat like this recently in every business traveler's hotel-based sanctuary, the club lounge. This time, it was the Intercontinental Sao Paulo, which happens to be one of my favorite business hotels EVER, even before this scene occurred. More on that in a bit.

The ultra bubbly, super helpful Brazilian concierge had been looking after me so well- ensuring I had everything I needed, telling me I was working too hard with a fun smile and after a few hours, she had completely had it with me and implored me to stop, for just a minute. I looked up, and saw she had a man with her that she said she would like to introduce me to, again with that wry fun smile and before I got any wrong ideas, she told me he was a magician. What? OK, I'll play along. She told me I was sitting there for too long and I needed a break, which I did, so he told me he'd like to do some tricks for me. Again, OK- let's see what he's got. This guy treated me to some of the most delightful, mind boggling things I've seen- wallet on fire, stole (and of course replaced) my jewelery, did some absolutely crazy things with multiplying spongeballs and just made me laugh. I felt like a wide-eyed child watching him with wonder and it was just so what I needed. 

To break out of a frozen work state, to sit and be forced to relax, and realize at that moment that it's actually alright if I don't answer an email until the next morning. We all need a bit of that from time to time.  I've never quite experienced an amenity in a hotel like this (and I've seen A LOT) and I am not sure I ever will again, until of course I return there the next time. That's just something that I have come to expect from a hotel like this- that has really cornered the market on slick, yet friendly, discreet yet proactive service with flair. They have a system here that, for me on my many stays, has been flawless and I commend them from the top management down. But the magician, that was just, well....the best.  Intercontinental Sao Paulo - HOTEL.  Rafael Bogo Moltz - MAGICIAN.

What was the best hotel amenity you've ever had?  Tell us at info@explorateurjourneys.com

 

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KEN-YA BELIEVE THIS DEAL?

Into the idea of Kenya? Well, yes you Ken.... with our spectacular limited time offer that is not only extremely affordable (SERIOUS SAFARI SAVINGS!), but also provides you an excellent, diverse journey through differing terrain, in pursuit of spectacular wildlife and scenery that is unmatched.

This special 7 day journey traverses through the Samburu National Reserve, onto Lake Nakuru and the Great Rift Valley and finally onto the famed Masai Mara....all the while guided by experts while you search for incredible sightings in this very extraordinary world of the animals.  You'll be based at lovely lodges throughout, offering warm hospitality and an authentic bush experience at every turn. 

Connect with us at info@explorateurjourneys.com for this very special limited time offer!  Valid for travel on select dates in 2016 and 2017.

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KING OF THE BEACH

He doesn't speak, his movements are quiet, he makes no eye contact with bewildered spectators, in fact sometimes you don't even notice he's there if your eyes aren't laser-focused on what he's doing. Once you see him you're transfixed, and you simply cannot move until you see what he's going to come up with next.  I'm not even sure what his name is, I just decided to call him the Sand King of Cascais... this beachside town in Portugal is one of my favorite places in the world, that I've been visiting since childhood but I've only noticed him recently.

Perhaps he was on another beach before, making incredible things for people to marvel at and leaving each day knowing he put smiles on hundreds of peoples' faces. It's one of those moments in travel where you see someone exactly where they must be meant to be, doing what they so evidently love, and not seeming to have a care in the world, and you then realize that you too are in fact exactly where you are supposed to be at that moment as well.  Sometimes we rush to see everything there is to see in a place, and we miss the things that perhaps are the most beautiful and special. This is the difference between a trip and an immersive journey... come and see the world through a different perspective. We look so forward to helping you plan your next journey- who knows what you'll discover.

Reach out at info@explorateurjourneys.com and let's discuss your next adventure!

 

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IS THAT AN ELEPHANT OUTSIDE MY WINDOW?

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IS THAT AN ELEPHANT OUTSIDE MY WINDOW?

There it was.  I heard rustling outside my tent as I sat and read after a beautiful morning game drive and a gorgeous breakfast.  I peeked out, hesitantly but full of wonder like a little child and there he was, my elephant friend coming to visit me again.  You can see how close he got, sniffing around and probably detecting my serious peanut butter addiction, carefully watching everything around him including me as I stood frozen, taking pictures and video and just saying hello.

This is what Africa does to you- it surprises you, jolts you, shows you things in an entirely new perspective and changes your life. There have never been better deals to Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa so if these places have been on your bucket list, 2016 is the time to check them off.

We know how to create the perfect Africa journey within your budget that fulfills your dreams. Just ask- info@explorateurjourneys.com

And, follow us on Instagram at theexplorateur for more fun travel photos

 

 

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THE DAY I ATE HALF A COW IN CHILE

I think I half a cow. Or at least that was what was presented to me at our table atop a small, still-smoldering portable grill about 15 minutes after we had ordered something akin to a mixed grill at La Vaquita Echa, a small country farmhouse-style restaurant in the Chilean winelands. The Maipo Valley is perhaps one of the most well-known in the region, an easy day trip from Santiago, and also where the famed Concha Y Toro winery calls home.  

The place is adorable, adorned with all sorts of handicrafts and positively full of folklore. Though welcome signs in multiple languages were strewn across the walls, giving us an "oh no, we just walked into a tourist trap" vibe, the hospitality right from the outset made us feel as though we were walking into someone's private home.

The food is incredibly fresh, but don't be fooled by the sides and the starters- the money is defintiely in the meat here. We ordered a mixed platter, and mixed indeed it was. Enough meat to topple the table including Waygu beef which was more delicious than we could have imagined. As if the food wasn't good enough, the waiters breaking into song, following the folk dancers and guitarist as they wove in and out of the tables was an absolute show. It made everyone smile, and certainly made it easier to linger a bit longer over another bottle of (very affordable) Carmenere.

It's not so much a secret find. We weren't terribly surprised to see how many day tours include lunch at La Vaquita Echa, and we usually try to stay away from these types of places. But, the food, the fun and the charm far outweigh any touristy factor here. Definitely go, and definitely wear your elastic-waistband pants.  

How about a customized Chile adventure? Contact us at info@explorateurjourneys.com

 

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WHAT'S IN THE FLOATING BOX?

It's midday, sunny, you're in the middle of Bariloche....the stunning Patagonian paradise of verdant forests, mystical mountains, crystal clear waters and a sense of peace. You embark on your kayaking adventure along Moreno Lake when suddenly you see it. A floating box near an isolated island at the foot of Mount Lopez. You're curious, what could it be? You and your fellow boatmates pull it out of the water, only to discover it's filled with champagne, a flower bouquet and artisanal chocolates just for you.

The day goes on as you paddle the inlets of Nahuel Huapi National Park and possibly disembark for a hiking experience, only to return and find a gourmet lunch specially set out for you along the lakeside

This is how we do Patagonia, and how we craft Argentina adventures. Find out what we can do for you- connect with us at info@explorateurjourneys.com

 

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