You’re on a cruise ship that features an outdoor jacuzzi and exercise room. Your meals are cooked by a gourmet chef. And your cabin is the equivalent of a five-star hotel room. But you aren’t sailing the Mediterranean. And you aren’t cruising the Caribbean. You are in Peru, on the Amazon River, deep in the heart of darkness, aboard the M/V Aria, on a luxury experience from Aqua Expeditions.
There’s something amazing—and perhaps a little unsettling—about being able to experience this much luxury in such a remote location.
After thousands of years of hindsight it seems maybe rice wasn’t the best choice for humanity’s most popular food staple. Yes, it tastes great with sushi. But growing rice is very water and labor intensive. And it requires a flat field that farmers can flood during the planting season.
Rice is particularly labor intensive in hilly areas where farmers must create their flat field by carving floodable terraces into hillsides. We find even a single terrace impressive when we contemplate all the work involved, work usually done by hand. The sight of multiple rice terraces, stacked atop each other as if to form a giant’s staircase, is truly awe inspiring.
Spot Cool Stuff has been a longtime fan of rice terraces. We once flew round trip between San Francisco and the Philippines specifically to spend a single day in Banaue, supposedly the site world’s most grand rice terraces. Supposedly. After nearly two decades of rice terrace travel we’ve formed our own opinion on such matters. Here’s our list of the top 10 rice terrace destinations:
The Inca Trail is probably the most renowned trek in the world. It sits alongside Everest Base Camp, The Annapurna Circuit and Kilimanjaro a must do for traveller bragging rights. But with spaces limited and busy trails, what are the alternatives for the growing band of anti-populist travellers who don’t like to follow the crowds? How can you get to Machu Picchu through the back-door?
Back in 2008 entry to the epic Inca Trail became controlled by a limited permit system. These permits tend to sell out at least three months in advance and the problem is exacerbated in the peak summer months. Even if permits are available not everyone relishes the prospect of trekking such a well-worn path in the company of so many others.
Luckily Machu Picchu is surrounded by fantastic trekking and the Inca Trail isn’t the only option on the table, there are now an ever growing number of alternatives for your dose of Incan culture and mountains. And although none of them can serve up the wonder of crossing through the Sun Gate for that first glimpse of the majestic ruins, they are all worthy alternatives.