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7 Things To Do In Coron

If you are reading this, you’re either planning a trip to Coron, or are probably sitting in a café somewhere in Coron town trying to add some action to your holiday. Either way, we’ve drawn up a list of things to do in Coron that we think you shouldn’t miss – or at least should tick a few off your list while you’re there.

Climb the 700 steps up to the top of Mt. Tapyas

Take an hour – or two if you include the rest and panting along the way – to climb up Mt. Tapyas and get a stunning view of the town and Coron Island. It’s 700 steps to the top with markers at each 100 steps so you know how much further you have to go before your legs can give in. The best part, it’s FREE! Bring plenty of water (and maybe a beer) and watch the sunset from the top of the town. For those feeling a bit more adventurous, you can hire a guide and hike up Mt. Dalara, about 20 minutes from Coron town. It’s a 3-hour hike to the peak through tropical rainforest. The summit gives you an unparalleled view of the surrounding Calamian Islands.

Take a dip at Maquinit hot springs

Slightly on the more touristy side of activities, but it is well worth it. The hot springs are only 10 to 15 minutes from the center of Coron town. It is all natural geothermal heated water that flows into man-made pools that are right on the coast. Go on a weekday to avoid the crowds and grab a cool drink while you soak – the contrast of the hot and cold is unreal and really relaxing.

Rent a kayak and explore the island

Things to do in Coron - kayaking Coron island

Coron Island has insanely stunning lagoons and rock face cliffs, so don’t just admire them from afar. Get on a kayak and get up close to explore the ins and outs of the rock formations. With a kayak, you can get closer and maneuver into places that the local motor boats can’t access, such as little caves, shallow mangrove forests, and the rock cliff undercuts. You can do an ultimate Coron day tour and see all the tourist highlights of the island, or do a kayak tour with support boat to explore beautiful uninhabited beaches. If you have, are feeling adventurous and want to explore for a bit longer, try circumnavigating Coron, camping on the white sand beaches and meeting the locals.

Rent a motorbike and explore Busuanga

Many get blinded by the hype about Coron that they forget to explore what Busuanga has to offer. As public transport around Busuanga is limited and hiring a private van to take you around can be pricey, the best way to get around independently and on a budget is to hire a motorbike.  Rent one from Coron Town and head north. A good halfway point is Palawan SandCastes in Cheey. It’s about an hour and a half from Coron Town and is and jump-off for some activities which are part of our list of things to do in Coron. For budget travellers, Camp Calauit is rustic and affordable option, located within Palawan SandCastles.

Dugong spotting

Once you are in northern Busuanga, take the chance to go Dugong Spotting. We say “chance” as it’s not guaranteed that you will see them as they are shy creatures and move around to feed. However, if you do get lucky, they are beautiful and graceful animals and the experience to swim with them is nothing short of amazing! 

Mountain bike the awesome single tracks

Bike

As you travel further north of Coron town, the roads turn from wide concrete highways to small dirt roads that then split off into single tracks through local communities. With a mountain bike, you can go just about anywhere. Take a relaxed ride to go through the villages and meet the locals, or go for an exhilarating cross-country ride through rivers and streams. You can rent mountain bikes from Tribal Adventures and choose to have a  bike tour with a 4×4 support car to  shadow or meet you at the end of a trail –  so you don’t have to bike all the way back after having fun on the tracks.

Feed the giraffes at Calauit Wildlife Park

Lastly, a fun and educational experience is a trip up to Calauit, which is at the northern-most part of Busuanga. The wildlife park has some local wildlife but is highlighted by its giraffe and zebra population. You get to meet the African animals up close and feed the giraffes, who bend down to your head height to munch on branches of leaves you hold. Seeing the giraffe tongues come to grasp and then yank the branches out of your hand is an experience will put a smile on faces both young and old. For a bit more adventure, check out our Calauit wildlife safari trip, that includes some kayaking into the mangrove channels at Calauit.

giraffe

That puts an end to our list – for now. There are lots more things to do in Coron, but these are a few highlights that you can do on a quick visit. We’ll put together a list of things to do in Coron and the neighboring islands for travelers staying a bit longer and looking for even more adventure! Check out the day-trips Tribal Adventures offers as well as some of the longer expeditions.

Duterte = Trump? Answer’s in a photojournalism tour to the Philippines?

Tribal Adventures has a photojournalism tour called Follow The Foreign Correspondent that might just answer the question: Is Rodrigo Duterte the Philippines’ equivalent of Donald Trump?

Parallels are being drawn by the media: A June 2016 New York Times article made such a comparison with Trump, but did the writer draw too long a bow if, as seems apparent from the piece, he had not cared to visit the Philippines, not interviewed Rodrigo Duterte, not dug into his background, or the history of his administration of Davao City when mayor, or looked closely at his cabinet appointments and policies?

Ever wanted to slip into the shoes of a foreign correspondent, learning how you can parachute into an unfamiliar environment and quickly get a cogent lay of the political, economic, social and cultural landscape?

It is a skill that will come as a consequence of sudden and intense immersion into a foreign country when your mission is that of the objective observer and reporter — that’s the traditional role of the foreign correspondent. It is what sets the likes of journalist and tour operator Greg Hutchinson, who originally learned the ropes as an international Reuters correspondent, from the wider, more sensational and subjective, tabloid-style journalism and blogging community.

Do you wish to get up CLOSE & IMPERSONAL to the movers and shakers of the Philippines under the new Duterte Administration and get a better, clearer picture of the country going forward to impart to your readers or bosses?

 If so, you might want to write to Greg Hutchinson and get more details on his Follow the Foreign Correspondent expedition to the Philippines.
Email him at greg.tribalmedia@gmail.com
Greg is a member of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, a published author, and founder of Tribal Adventure Tours.

Going back to Duterte. The man brings to the presidency of the Philippines a tough-guy image uncannily reminiscent of former President Joseph Estrada, who’s term was cut short by angry people pouring into the streets, and a military siding with the popular uprising and dumping their commander-in-chief.

Greg co-wrote  a best-selling book on Estrada’s unceremonious departure in 2001 called “Hot Money, Warm Bodies: The downfall of President Jospeh Estrada.

He wonders if there’s a sequel in the wings:

Estrada was a city mayor before he entered the national political arena like Duterte, who as Mayor of the Mindanao city of Davao, boasted about killing people he branded criminals during his term. (Estrada got his tough-guy image mainly from his killer roles in films, though there had been rumours his hands were dirtied by the killing of publisher and PR consultant Bubby Dacer while he was president.)

Duterte says he’ll sleep till midday and then work through to midnight, something Estrada did consistently and for which the country paid a heavy price. Erap, as the former actor is known, kept diplomats waiting till he rose and in the evening it was not official cabinet meetings that took place but gatherings of his so-called “kitchen cabinet” of rich friends and business cronies carving up the booty of political patronage. Estrada racked up an astronomical bill for $5,000 + a bottle  Petreus wine — the preferred drink of Estrada and his buddies.

The jury’s out whether Duterte burns the midnight oil productively.

And inevitably there will be differences–with Estrada and Trump.

Together we can assess if these pluses as we could call them can outweigh the negatives and punt that the Duterte administration will indeed survive its 6-year term, proving the naysayers wrong.

Email me, there might be a book in it for all of us!

 

Taytay, Palawan — a town literally built on eggs

What do millions of eggs have to do with Taytay’s fort? A lot. Eggs are to blame for the fort taking 71 years in the making. Or should that read “baking”?

More about that anon.

Meanwhile, a little about Taytay, a neighbouring town and municipality to El Nido, occupying the far northeast of Palawan island. El Nido faces the far northwest of the main island.

El Nido accommodates hundreds of tourists a day, Taytay just a handful.

Taytay though has a comparable draw-card–some exquisite limestone islands–but with an added extra: Natives still have say.

Granted, the lagoons of El Nido probably outshine those of Taytay and even Coron but El Nido’s Small & Big Lagoons are being loved to death with hundreds and hundreds of visitors daily. And, what is conspicuous by their absence: Native inhabitants!

Indigenous Filipinos are seen and heard in Taytay and Coron: they harvest birds’ nests from the precipitous craggy cliffs and caves and sell it on by the gram to be served to Chinese diners for more than the price of gold.

At a cost of 7 million pesos, the indigenous people have won back their right to harvest their birds’ nests, principally from Elephant and Pavilion islands–islands that can be viewed from the old Spanish fort that stands at the entrance to Taytay town.

Construction began on the Fort in 1667 but it took 71 years and millions and millions of eggs — mainly from hens — to construct.

The whites of the eggs were mixed with lime and coral excavated from in front of the island the fort was being built on. As with cake, the recipe for the Spanish fort called for egg-white as binding agent. It really took decades to source the millions of eggs needed, according to Lycel, a former tourism officer who speculated that the locals 350 years ago got fat on leche flan made with those millions of egg yokes.

Saw little evidence of enduring obeisity as she walked me to a neighbourhood where I was shown a 200-year-old well. ” Ah, this is the dividing point of the town.” To the left of the well–it is Posuelo, literally meaning “well”, to the right “Calero”, the meaning of which escaped me–and her!

Farther out from the town is Palawan’s largest lake, Lake Manguao, and the Island’s sole surviving volcano that left a trail of stunningly black rocks scattered for kilometres some 30 million years ago when it erupted. Yes, the volcano is extinct, but it has an awesome crater. Palawan is one of the few geologically stable regions of the Philippines, disturbed by neither volcanoes or earthquakes.

Near the volcano and Lake Manguao at Sader, is a beach with sand whiter than Boracay’s: it’s probably on a par with sand south of Sydney at Jervis Bay.

And how much whiter the sand looks against the black volcanic rocks of this beach at a resort called Paraiso Roberto–named after former mayor Roberto “Toto” Rodriguez!

If you want to stay, there are three other wonderful places:

1. The Tubog Ecolodge in a forest just minutes walk from the bus station at Taytay (ask at the station for Toto or his sidekick Mari Nieto)

2. Casa Rosa, which is situated overlooking the fort

3. Pem’s Pension, which borders the grounds of the fort

Best food? Casa Rosa hands-down.

I arrived from El Nido after finishing the 5-day banca cruise with kayaking and snorkeling from Coron with 4 lovely Spaniards.

Are you a “glass is half-full” person? If so, you are right with us. If not, beg off

IMGP0093 (2)

Families featured prominently over Christmas paddles and biking adventures in the Calamianes.  The members of these French and American families were glass is half-full participants and took to the expeditions with gusto, adapting to changed circumstances that may mean unscheduled and sudden changes to a program. It was due to weather and sea conditions. But with every change came a silver lining: a town fiesta, unexpected encounters with wildlife, a pristine beach camping experience even further off the beaten track.

Decidedly half-empty glass people were 4 Austrians who at the Christmas dinner table at the end of their epic sea safari, having hitherto voiced only joy and happiness about their trip, announced they would refuse to pay the balance owed. This amid kids roasting marshmallows, their parents sipping wine and enjoying roast lamb with all the Christmas trimmings, including plum pudding. Why? They complained about their boat running into mechanical trouble. Our contingency plan kicked in with a second boat shadowing the first boat stepping in. But freakishly it ran aground, causing Tribal Adventures to hire a third boat. WHAT OTHER ADVENTURE COMPANY OPERATES WITH A CONTINGENCY PLAN LIKE THIS? There was never a safety or even an experiential issue: Paddlers and guides got in to their kayaks and the adventure continued to a quaint village, a night in a resort instead of in camp and with the support of a third boat. We shouldered the extra costs. Such persons as the 4 Austrians pushed the envelope and tried to unfairly win concessions? If you’re interested in doing a Tribal Adventures’ expedition kindly ask yourself: DO YOU CONSIDER THE GLASS  HALF-EMPTY or HALF-FULL? If half-empty, you might consider not doing an expedition with Tribal Adventures or any genuine adventure outfit for that matter.

Meanwhile, two Americans from Seattle who probably see a glass overflowing earlier joined the Tribal Adventures’ crew for a bloody lovely paddle from Palawan SandCastles Busuanga to Coron from October 29 to November 6, 2015. On the final day, French couple Veronika & Olivier took a parallel paddle with me across to Coron Island via Siete Pecados, the marine park en route to the limestone wonder that is Coron Island. Next trips? El Nido 16-20 January; Dugong watching 20-22 January; Ultimate Snorkel and Kayak Coron everyday.

PROFOUND SOUNDS OF PATAGONIA: Teatro del Lago

IMG_6974Profound Sounds of Patagonia

By Greg Hutchinson,

Frutillar, Chile – We’re told the acoustics are as close to perfect as any concert hall, attracting the likes of cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Proof is in thousands of hand-made, curved wooden panels lining the walls and ceiling of the main hall of the Teatro del Lago and in the fact that the 1,178 seats have progressively steeper wooden backs the further out from the stage, a formula for acoustic perfection that apparently fell on deaf ears for the designers of the Sydney Opera House. Why Sydney went rogue and not Frutillar is answered by my Teatro guide Cecilia Mena when she says ego had “nothing to do” with the construction of her building. More about that later.

Built over water like Sydney’s icon, the true benefit of The Theatre on Lake Llanquihue (pronounced Yankee-way) in the northern Patagonian region of Chile is not the appearance of classical music’s heavyweights – or even the fact that the structure appears to float miraculously like a ship with a picture-perfect backdrop of Mt Osorno – an active snow-capped, cone-shaped volcano.

The impact of this, the southernmost opera & concert venue on the planet, is what it means for the community of Frutillar, population 15,000. Cecilia makes the qualification: the actual urban dwellers of Frutillar number just 1,500; the rest live on farms beyond. Many of these people have never ventured out of Frutillar, Cecilia tells us. Staying initially one night and extending another four in what Cecilia calls “paradise”– I can understand perfectly the appeal of the place.

Yet, local young and old musical novices and maestros number well over 1,500, an unrivalled participation rate – borne of six generations of Germans making Frutillar their home away from the beer halls of Bavaria . Quickly they were singing the praises of their new Alpine-like home in churches and schools that sprung up as forest gave way to farmland and a small, vibrant, cultural community:

“The Theatre is reinforcing what they already have here and going deeper and deeper,” says Montse Otonel, a descendant of 19th century German migrants who now owns the Amadeus Hotel in Frutillar. She’s proud the Germans have kept their culture alive and brought cultural diversity to Chile. Economic prosperity has also followed, creating arguably the most productive farmland in Chile, the Lake Llanquihue area now its principal source of dairy products.

And though there are murmurs that at one time the area might have been in the ambit of the native Mapuche people, the Germans insist they did not push out any natives when they were granted land in exchange for making the journey from the motherland.

Recognising the contribution of the 650,000-strong German community in Chile–which is predominantly in Patagonia–Berlin continues to underwrite education in the Lake Llanquihue region.

The teatro is however private, built by the local Schiess family this century for US$44million. I came across the theatre when taken there for the opening on 6 October of the Adventure Travel World Summit. Gracing the event unexpectedly was Chilean President Michelle Bachelet but her thunder was stolen by a children’s choir and a series of dances depicting some of the peoples from the diverse nation that is Chile, a narrow country bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Andes on the east, and stretching 4,000 kilometres from north to south.

Such superb performances underlines the fact education is the mainstay of the theatre, a goal echoed by local colleges of music and other classical arts, which are also German-founded: one is accredited with the Royal Academy in London which yearly tests scores of musically-minded kids. This October all 70 girls tested passed.

And it’s no fluke. The Kopernikus and Richter colleges, as well as the Teatro, are responsible for a 1,600-strong local contingent steeped in the arts. Where on earth asks Cecilia, do 10% of a city’s population sing in choirs?

And it starts early: The teatro has a kindergarten to be proud of.

Nearly 2/3rds of the Frutillar residents pay nothing, the theatre and the colleges surviving on the generosity of patrons, donations and sponsors from Patagonia and beyond. Yes, income is also earned from events, like the Adventure Travel World Summit.

On the Summit, the Chilean hosts missed the perfect opportunity to showcase Frutillar and the Teatro to the world: Scores of writers and photographers and 700 travel industry practitioners were so holed up in the coaches en route to Teatro that no one saw the town or teatro beyond the reception area and concert hall. We assume we waited stationary for 1-1/2 hours in the coaches for misguided security reasons on account of the impending arrival of President Bachelet.

A lesson to event organisers: Never make captives of would-be converts.

Returning to the Sydney Opera House, a building enduring two architects with distinct visions, but neither seeing the building from the inside out and consequently missing the wood (panelling) for the trees:

“The architect in charge had no problem with his ego. Everything was dictated by the sound – acoustics,” exclaims the Teatro Guide Cecilia.

The Teatro del Lago is a magnet for some 20,000 students a year from around Chile, arriving for mentoring and immersion in the world of music and the arts.

The theatre also draws prominent performers and orchestras for the Semanas Musicales music festival running yearly for 10 days from January 27.

But the Teatro as educator and link in strengthening and nurturing the community’s German links trumps any cudos — or snob value — it gets from its passing maestros and undeniable status as a world class music and performing arts venue.

Nicola Bier, a visiting German from Munich who took the Teatro tour with me, comments about Fruitillar:

“It’s really like a small German village”.

As I walk its handful of streets, I am struck at how in tune everyone is to music and the arts:

I look up and see a gentleman reading his sheet music and playing his cello from his apartment above. Further along the street I hear a piano. In the basement of my own inn, Paraiso del Lago, a lady sits tirelessly practicing her piano routine, over and over again. And, outside the Teatro del Lago, I ask a young Chilean backpacker with a guitar if he will be performing in the teatro: “Someday,” he says.

Such passion for the classical arts so close to the end of the earth is indeed music to anyone ears!

The Adventure Travel World Summit: More Play, Much more Business

The annual Adventure Travel World Summit officially kicks off a week after the Conference proper begins.

How can that be you might ask?

Well, delegates like me opt for a Pre-summit adventure, in my case a 4-day adventure cruise of Tierra del Fuego with Stella Australis, a luxury ship with under 100 berths and a fleet of zippy zodiacs dropping passengers on Cape Horn, a bay made famous by naturalist Charles Darwin, a glacier with picture-perfect credentials and an island of king penguins and elephant seals.

And, on and off the ship, delegates—sellers, buyers and media—meet, socialise, exchange business cards while politely sussing each other out ahead of the conference proper that begins after yet another sojourn by delegates in to the wilds of the host country, which in 2015 is Chile. In what is called a Day of Adventure, all but possibly a handful of the 800 registrants span out from the conference venue in Puerto Varas in Patagonia, Chile—to do one of 42 activities from skiing, to kayaking, biking, climbing, fly fishing, hiking, to learning to cook seafood the native way.

I opted to hike in and around the village of Puella—a coach ride of an hour followed by a cruise on a catarmaran for two hours on mist-shrouded All Saints Lake from which drains a white water river where other delegates took to rafts and kayaks.

The lake is surrounded by 2,000 metre snow-capped mountains; waterfalls cascade down the slopes.
The lake with its rare temperate rainforest with beech wood trees estimated at over 2,000 years old gained notoriety when Teddy Roosevelt passing through on his way across the Andes to Argentina recommended that the area become Chile’s first national park. The government did just that, upon his recommendation.

In the village of Puella, population 120, delegates split into groups to do a four-wheel drive safari, to ride horses or to do a canopy zipline activity. I took a walk on my own with a very knowledgeable guide, Eduardo. He showed me how the community generated its power by river turbines, and I was able to touch a tree that was a sapling at the time of Christ. I visited the elementary school: teacher-student ratio 1 to 6.
But the real benefit was the 6 hours of travel – with half of that time made up of eating the food of Chile and sampling its wine and its Pisco Sour—a drink made with lemon and a special grape grown in only one very special place. Lots of contacts were made and business cards exchanged, the stage set for a productive Buyer and Seller session at what is called the Marketplace midway during the conference.

I met a Chilean man from the tourism office who helped with the ground work that won for Chile the right to host this prestigious event, which puts the country firmly on the adventure and ecotourism map. Crucially they hosted a dinner at the event. But more significantly they learned the tricks needed to secure the bid from the Irish at the 2014 Summit held in Killarney, Ireland. Ireland was not shy to share their experience. Yes, it was partly a matter of money: 1.5 million US dollars I was told. But Chile had to show it had the wherewithal to host the event.

A conventional capital city wouldn’t do but neither could a quaint town without sufficient infrastructure, conference facilities for 1,000 participants in a pristine and adventure-rich location. And, there had to be local operators who could run trips in the Summit location and others spread throughout Chile—and beyond. (In my case, my cruise started in Ushuaia, Argentina and proceeded into Chile to end at Punta Arenas.) And, lastly the government had to be on board as an active participant to ensure that everything would come together without a hitch.

Curiously, no summit has ever been held in Asia or Oceania. Every other continent bar Antarctica has had at least one.

The dividends are substantial and clear in terms of business that can be gained.

But the real plus lies in exposure: it is no secret the Chileans are more interested in the media mileage of the Summit than the business potential of the Summit.

They see how strong the profile of Ireland is since the Summit and how strong it continues to be as Summit exposure spawns yet further media interest in turn. Ireland is squarely on the international adventure trail as a result of the Summit it hosted. Chile will surely follow.

Alaska is the next cab off the rank, being the venue for the 2016 Adventure Travel World Summit.

Get on board Asia or get left behind in the race for the adventure dollar!

Ape to Englishman: Retracing Darwin on an adventure cruise of Patagonia

Save for the Polar regions, we’re led to believe there’s no-where more remote and inhospitable than Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America.

The view from the air of rugged, snow-ladened mountains cut by a myriad of fiords confirmed the impression I had that southern Patagonia was inhospitable if not downright uninhabitable.

Arriving in the bustling town of Ushuaia that acts as the gateway to the Antarctic changed all that.
As did hearing accounts of the remarkable inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego as I took the Stella Australis down to Cape Horn and back through the islands of southern Patagonia until the famed Straits of Magellan and disembarkation at Punta Arenas, made famous by Polar explorers Robert Scott and Ernest Shackelton who used the town for supplies, communication and R&R.

By the most conservative accounts five distinct tribes lived in the wilds of Tierra del Fuego for 7,000 years, admittedly eking out a mainly subsistence living by hunting and fishing in what was then a land of plenty for these people.

One of these groups was the Yamana or Yaghan, a people Charles Darwin considered truly “primitive” – fuel no doubt for his eventual theory of evolution, such that in his mind he was now able to position the Yamana squarely between the ape and the Englishman.

Ah, but within a generation of Darwin’s visit another Englishman—Anglican missionary Thomas Bridges—put egg squarely on Darwin’s face with a dictionary he published of the Yamana language: He counted 35,000 words in the language, a number rivalling the English language at the time of Shakespeare.

But dying is the language of the Yamana, reflecting the plight of the people since contact with the white man, who left them diseased, devastated by alcohol and devoid of their sea lions, so needed for their oil which when smeared over their bodies kept them warm.

So well insulated by the oil, the Yamana could—and did—go naked in this region of sub-zero temperatures and bitterly cold winds often exceeding 100 kilometres per hour.

However, the days of the Yamana as a living culture are numbered.

Only one native speaker of the Yamana tongue survives. She is Christine Calderon, 85, who lives in Port Williams near Ushuaia. She has offspring. While they understand the language they don’t converse in it. Schools in this region have never taught the language: both the Argentinian and Chilean governments which have divided control over southern Patagonia, which includes Tierra del Fuego, have accorded no special rights to their first peoples–certainly not full land or sea rights–aiding their descent into oblivion, becoming a mere historical curiosity.

The disciples of Charles Darwin might still have the last laugh, pointing out that the plight of the Yamana just confirms the theory of the survival of the fittest. Or should that read the meanest?

PEDDLING GREAT YARNS IN SANTIAGO, CHILE

If you’re a dog lover, you’ll love Santiago, the capital of Chile.

The city’s awash with so many noble and good natured dogs — stray dogs — and it’s all due to people power, relates my bicycle tour guide Marcela Guttierrez, who tells me and an American couple on her Parks & Politics tour:

“In 2008 there was a big scandal because of a huge dog slaughter in the pound and lot of money was lost. “
The people of Santiago strongly protested and the pound was closed and many dogs were released and went back onto the streets.

“There exists, nowadays, many pro-animal associations, who take care of dogs. Also there are some government programs to vaccinate and to fix stray dogs. Also many people give them food and water. When a puppy is found, it is taken away by these associations, vaccinated, fixed and then given out for adoption.”

A lot of the dogs wear coats, and you’ll see them resting on mats placed on sidewalks. And the strays are known to in turn adopt tourists and accompany them safely back to their hotels.

On occasions they turn on humans, explains Marcela, but only on those who deserve it like motor cyclists, taxi drivers and politicians. I saw one stray dog bark aggressively when a car stopped illegally in a pedestrian mall in the city. The driver quickly moved his car on.

And an hour into our tour after traversing some of the city’s parks and taking coffee at a café we then peddle into the dark and terrifying past of militaristic Chile: First stop the GAM Center. Now named after a turn-of-the-20th century lesbian poet Gabriela Mistral, the imposing building had been the Army’s HQ after the 1973 coup. Our guide remembers being led by her mother to walk on the other side of the road from GAM. There was talk that people were tortured in the building.

The military took charge of the building as a statement against the democratically elected President Salvador Allende, who they overthrew on September 11, 1973. Why? Marcela says the army had to rewrite history: President Allende built GAM for the inaugural meeting of UNCTAD, the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development. It took just 9 months to build a structure that had a 12-month deadline. Experts had reported the building would take two years minimum and Allende shouldn’t bother.

Allende called for volunteers: Thousands of workers poured in from around the country and so did funds from citizens to support the workers.

Second stop is where Allende ended his life after the Palacio de la Moneda where he was holed up was bombed by his military, heralding the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Thousands were tortured and many of those disappeared following the coup, financed and organised in part by the United States.

The tour is run by bicicletaverde. Ask for Marcela, great guide who grew up in the dark years of Pinochet!

Profile of Tribal Adventures + links to videos, articles

Tribal Adventures

Resorts.
Eco-retreats.
Day trips.
Expeditions.

Based in the Philippines and focused in and around Boracay, Palawan and the Cordillera Mountains, Tribal Adventure Tours Inc. is the recipient of the Kalakbay (National Tourism) Award for its cultural immersion “Panay Adventure” tour.
Specialising in river and sea kayaking, hiking, mountain biking and sea & land safaris, it also offers absolute beachfront living at its 4-star Boracay SandCastles The Apartments and at its 3-star Palawan SandCastles The Beach Houses.
Its beach camps and its Kayak Inn, Camp Calauit & Dalara mountain & sea view inn eco-retreats deliver a million heavenly-star experience.
Led by veteran Australian journalist Greg Hutchinson, Tribal Adventures is the pioneer remote destination tour operator and accommodation provider in the Philippines.
And for something truly unique, why not join him on one of his Follow the Foreign Correspondent photo safaris?

https://www.facebook.com/tribaladventuretours/videos/755164114532574/?video_source=pages_finch_main_video

http://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/article/1788138/sea-kayaking-pristine-palawan-philippines

http://www.divergenttravelers.com/36-photos-that-will-make-you-want-to-visit-the-philippines/

http://www.lemisstache.com/2015/07/03/tibiaos-secret-kawa-hot-bath/

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/695367/a-rare-glimpse-of-panays-endemic-birds

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'A genuine adventure experience that honors the country's rich tribal heritage'