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Trip Doctor Series: Trekking, Walking, and Hiking (Peru)

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This month, travel to Machu Picchu and the Peruvian Andes is almost in full swing: if you’re headed to the region and haven’t already asked an outfitter to wrangle your Inca Trail passes, you may be out of luck this season. Luckily, there are plenty of other delightful ways to reach Machu Picchu, which we outline in our Trekking, Walking, and Hiking guide (May 2013). Here’s one of our favorites:
 
SALCANTAY TRAIL

Best for: Creature comforts.

Known as the back door into Machu Picchu, Salcantay is also the area’s highest path (it reaches 15,200 feet). Mountain Lodges of Peru, a string of stone-and-timber inns along the trail, is the only lodge-to-lodge way to reach the lost city of the Incas: take this route on a trip with Wildland Adventures (11 days from $3,800).

Jennifer FlowersJennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.

Photo courtesy of Mountain Lodges of Peru and Wildland Adventures

"How Did They Get Here?" Q&A with Lonely Planet Founder Tony Wheeler

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Few people can claim they personally changed the way an entire generation sees the world. Tony Wheeler, who co-founded Lonely Planet with his wife Maureen in 1973 could easily take that sort of credit were he not such a modest and unassuming guy.

Last week, Wheeler stopped by T+L's offices to discuss Lonely Planet and other topics. For a man who sold millions of books worldwide and made a lot of money (The Richest, a site that tracks celebrities' net worths, estimates he and Maureen are worth $168 million), Wheeler, 66, comes off as an unpretentious guy with a backpack and comfortable walking shoes. If you saw him on the street, you'd never know he started an internationally-recognized publishing company based on the diaries he and his wife kept as they traveled from London to Asia in a van during the early 1970s. (The New Yorker's Tad Friend profiled Wheeler in 2005, which you can read here.)

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Trip Doctor Series: Trekking, Walking, and Hiking the Dolomites

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Today I’m daydreaming about Europe—more specifically, about the magnificent Dolomites in Italy (read all about it in this compelling feature by Adam Sachs). The itinerary below from Whole Foods Market’s new travel arm is one of the standout trips we highlight in our indispensible Trekking, Walking, and Hiking guide. It’s sure to whet your appetite for a foodie adventure in this iconic region.

DOLOMITES

The Draw: Gastronomy rules in northern Italy’s Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site with dramatic limestone formations, crumbling castles, and Austrian-influenced cuisine.

The Trip: On an itinerary from Whole Journeys, the new travel arm of Whole Foods Market, you’ll visit a farm where cheese and yogurt are made and hike past ancient shingle-roofed farmhouses. Seven days from $4,595.

Jennifer FlowersJennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.

Photo credit: Rick Strange / Alamy

"Inspire, Educate, Raise Awareness, and Transform": Q&A with the Founders of Epic Road

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Mark Lakin and Marc Chafiian believe that travel can not only change a person, but the world. Longtime friends and world travelers, Lakin and Chafiian saw a major hole in the luxury travel market: High end packages that combine philanthropy with luxury. Together, they created Epic Road, a New York City-based luxury travel boutique that creates customized holidays combining adventure travel with charity and conservation work in Africa and the Arctic.

We sat down with the Lakin and Chafiian in their photography-filled gallery in Greenwich Village to talk about distributing solar powered lights to locals in Africa, transformative travel, and running from wild elephants.

What makes Epic Road different from other travel boutiques?
We try to blend experiences. Our clients will go on an incredible safari, and then on top of it they’ll have a humanitarian or conservation experience that’s meaningful for all parties. We find that people get very excited about it. Our real hope is that our clients' trips become a catalyst  for understanding, for empathy, and that we can create a movement for the issues we’re addressing when clients come home. Our thing is about positivity. It’s about going into a place and having fun, having an adventure.

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Introducing: T+L Trips with Sponsor Cox & Kings

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Ever wanted to book a trip to a destination featured in T+L? Starting in June, we've made it easier than ever. We're announcing a new promotional partnership with luxury adventure operator Cox & Kings. Here's how it works:

• Every month, T+L editors work with Cox & Kings to develop two trips inspired by destinations we love. 
• Each itinerary is designed to offer insider access and unique experiences—whether it's a stay at an exclusive hotel, a behind-the-scenes tour, or dinner in a private residence.
• Limited-time savings for T+L readers.

June Specials

Zambia
The Highlights: A walking safari in South Luangwa's National Park; night game drives in the remote Chamilandu Camp; and spotting crocodiles in the Zambezi River.
The Details: 10 days and 9 nights, from $10,565 per person—includes intra-Zambia airfare**

Croatia 
The Highlights: Tour the vineyards of Hvar Island and the beaches of Korcula; explore the cobblestone streets of Dubrovnik; and head to Ston for taste of the local dish—oysters plucked straight from the Adriatic. 
The Details: 7 days and 6 nights, from $4,795 per person**.

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Ritz-Carlton Expands Award-Winning Environmental Program

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This summer, Ritz-Carlton guests will have more to look forward to than just sunbathing. The luxury hotel company will expand its ecological program, Ambassadors of the Environment, to three of its properties. The program, created by award-winning environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau, emphasizes education and sustainability through various Caribbean eco-adventures.

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On the Other Side of the Ice: 5 Questions for Adventurer-Filmmaker Sprague Theobald

The Other Side of the Ice (Teaser) from HOLE IN THE WALL PRODUCTIONS on Vimeo.

In the summer and fall of 2009, Emmy-winning director, writer, and veteran mariner Sprague Theobald took on one of travel's greatest challenges: sailing through the fabled Northwest Passage, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic Circle. Only 24 other personal craft have completed the harrowing, often ice-bound journey since explorer Roald Amundsen did it in 1903. Untold ships and hundreds of lives have been lost in the attempt. So when Theobald and his crew set sail in the 57-foot trawler Bagan on the five-month, 8,500-mile sea-trek from Newport, Rhode Island, to Seattle, there were no guarantees that they would succeed--or even live to tell about it.

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Tourists Are Flocking to North Korea… According to North Korea

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In case you thought firing off a nuclear test might be bad for a nation’s global reputation, North Korea has some exciting news: according to its Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), foreign tourists are flocking to the communist state

Sure, officials don’t provide any actual numbers, only saying that the visits have grown since 2000, and markedly so since 2009, with the biggest spike coming from European visitors. Tourists are dazzled, the news agency claims, by the range of “shining, socialist accomplishments” credited to the ruling Kim family.

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Tour Operator Goes Over the @#$% Line?

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No doubt, the typical hipster might not be fired up to go on a backpacking tour after looking at a brochure with pictures of people who look like his Uncle Larry and Aunt Karen.
 
Geckos Adventures totally gets that, bro. The tour operator just released a new brochure that, to plenty of travelers, might seem refreshing: According to a post on Travel Mole, it uses photos taken by actual customers—like their target audience of ages 18 to 35—and speaks in a language that, Geckos assume, their clientele understands.
 
Actually, pretty much anyone can understand it. One part of the brochure reads, “may your heart be light, your step swift and your stories @#$%ing epic,” except, well, they didn’t use the funny symbols found on more family friendly travel sites.
 
While some industry folks are already raising eyebrows, the company defends its strategy: "We are not trying to be controversial for controversy's sake,” says the tour company’s managing director. “Our new branding has been carefully thought through to speak to our travelers openly and cutting out all the usual marketing fluff."
 
Fair enough, but the danger here—beyond offending a few Uncle Larrys and Aunt Karens out there—is that those coveted 18-to-35-years-old might just see it as a bit of calculated marketing... Hey, “just sayin.’”  (That is what the @#$%in' cool kids say, right?)
 
What do you think: Is this campaign smart, or will it f-bomb?

Photo by iStockphoto

Eternal Sunshine: EX-PATS Extends its Stay in Panama

While most people take a vacation to escape their jobs, the Reserve Channel’s new YouTube series, EX-PATS shows how an island retreat can turn into a full-time position.

In the sixth episode, former Wall Street lawyer KC Hardin is so inspired by the vibrant culture of Casco Viejo, Panama that he tosses his career to help revitalize the neighborhood. Now founder of the organization, El Conservatorio, KC’s days are spent restoring the eclectic architecture of this 350-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Host Savannah Jane Buffet follows KC and his wife, Patrizia, as they renovate music halls, plant community gardens, and pour tall glasses of wine at their home’s rooftop. Press “play” to watch the inspiring tale.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

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