I’ve made it no secret that I’m an avid follower of the ArtofManliness.com blog, and I find no shame in saying that I’m always working on my manliness. If you follow the blog, you know there’s far more to it than the physical aspects detailed in popular posts like “On Taking a Punch,” and “Learn How to Shave Like Your Grandpa.” In fact, the better part of the blog is dedicated to virtuous characteristics like industriousness, self-reliance, honor, and courage.
I’ve been reading Brett McKay’s “Manvotionals” book, which details each of these virtues by reflecting on writings throughout the centuries, and it’s inspired me to test my mettle with a physically challenging adventure – a “Manventure.”
You might recall the story of “My Fight with Mount Kilimanjaro,” which is probably the closest thing to a “manventure” that I’ve done in some time. It was physically and emotionally taxing, exhausting, even. It was the kind of journey that made me feel painfully alone, and yet buoyed up in brotherhood. It pushed my limits and gave me time to be introspective on a level that everyday life never allows. And it’s something I need to do again.
A Manventure in Peru
Deep in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon lies the city of Iquitos – a city, which despite being entirely inaccessible by roads, is home to nearly 400,000 people. This year, for the 16th year in a row, tourism authorities there will host “The Great Amazon River Raft Race.” Teams of four from the world over will compete in a race that requires participants first to construct a raft from logs of balsawood, then to float the mighty river some 118 miles over the course of three days.
That’s an awfully short description of a monumental challenge that will no doubt test the wits of many. If you’re as intrigued as I am, and you’re tempted to test your toughness and testosterone, too, you can learn more by reading the description from the Dawn on the Amazon blog which is promoting the event.
But, knowing me, you’re also aware that I wouldn’t be on board with something like this if there weren’t a way to do it almost for free. So let me tell you how I’m doing it. Booking my trip to Hawaii shaved off 70k AA miles, but, having accumulated them “a-la-chubby-kid-under-the-pinata,” I still have about 38k left. If you need to top off your account, there’s an offer for 50k AA points on the Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard® and an offer for 100k AA points on the Citi Executive® AAdvantage® World EliteTM MasterCard®
Not only is AA the points-cheapest airline out there, their availability is also phenomenal. I looked at the dates in September and I could fly to Peru almost any day for a mere 15k each way.
But the one wrinkle is that those flights only take me to Lima, and I need to get to Iquitos. LAN is, of course, the go-to airline in Latin America, due to the fact that I can make bookings with British Airways Avios through their partnership. Because it’s less than 649 miles away, it will only cost me 4500 Avios each way. I have some Avios, but to get more, I’ll just transfer some Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
I could spend some time in Lima, too and call this a full-scale manventure, but there’s something about visiting Peru that just doesn’t seem right if I don’t make it to Machu Picchu, so I thought I’d see if I could pull that off, as well. Sure enough, I can book flights to Cuzco the same way and spend only 9k more Avios for a flight that would otherwise cost me $338.
I’m still weighing whether I’ll be able to pull off the 4-day trek up the Inca trail, or if I’ll have to take the train to Aguascalientes to cut the journey down to 2 days, but either way, on top of a trip down the Amazon on a self-made raft, this is going to make for an epic tale of manly accomplishment. If I’m able to do the Inca trail trip, I’ll wind up spending at least $600 on that part, but if I shave it down to the shorter trip, I should be able to get it done for less than $300.
As you might expect, I’ll stay in a free hotel in Lima – probably the Sheraton Lima Convention Center, which I can book for 3-4000 SPG points. In the end, I’ll spend no more than $700-1000 for a trip that would normally cost 2-3 times that, and that way I’ll get to prove my manliness 2-3 times more often.
What “Manventure” would you like to take? Can we help you plan to do it almost-free?
Disclosure: The number of cards for which we’re offered a commission when people apply through our site are fewer and fewer all the time. What that means is that any more, we’re pretty much just running this blog as a hobby. The only way we’re paid is in seeing your satisfaction when the ideas we talk about are transformed from Wanderlusting to Wandering. If you’d like to write a guest post for us and tell the world how you’re traveling almost-free, please email [email protected] and let’s arrange to make it happen. Thanks for wanderlusting with us!