Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

We just returned from a fabulous 10-day trip to Peru planned with the help of Allie. The trip was a long time coming (postponed 3x due to Covid (twice) and political instability early in 2023). Our original trip included both Peru and the Galapagos, but we broke it apart into 2 pieces as it kept getting postponed. As a result, we were able to make this trip slightly longer than our original Peru plan which we would highly recommend, and Allie was wonderful to work with and adjusted with us to finally make this trip a reality…and it was SO worth it! She helped us to find wonderful hotels, and probably the best guide in all of Peru!

Our guide Nick met us in Cusco and was with our group of 4 the entire trip. His English was impeccable, and he quickly determined our interests and made wonderful trip adjustments, as well as museum and restaurant recommendations. His extensive network of contacts made it seem like he knew EVERYONE in Peru, which became a running joke. However, it became central to the success and ease of our trip as he networked us to the front of lines for access to everything (including the line for buses up and back from Machu Picchu). To Allie’s credit, she had just returned from a trip to Peru a month before we left, had Nick as a tour guide, and personally selected him to be the guide for our trip for which we cannot thank her enough!

Allie’s hotel recommendations were also spot-on! We liked each for different reasons, but they far exceeded our expectations for the country. Her local partners also provided a van and a wonderful driver for the trip, and we felt very safe when driving on the very narrow, twisting roads of the Sacred Valley and the mountains around it, which was not an easy feat! Allie also provided very helpful recommendations for what to bring (ponchos for rain in MP, which we experienced for an hour our first day) and found walking sticks we could borrow rather than schlepping them with us.

We also had the opportunity to do the full-day experience at MIL, which we would highly recommend! As much as the food there is fabulous, the learning experience by hiking into the hills behind the restaurant with a knowledgeable local guide provided a fabulous addition to better understand the Peruvian culture and food presentation at MIL. It was a highlight of the trip and books up months in advance, so be sure to get reservations online as soon as trip dates are established! The people of Peru, the Andes mountains and the Inca ruins exceeded our expectations! Also, don’t skimp on time in Cusco at the end as it is a wonderful city!

We just returned from Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands celebrating our 50th Anniversary. We shared with Allie our desire to focus on the Galapagos Islands: the variety of wildlife, geography, and culture. We were interested in cruising on a small ship but were also concerned about seasickness. Allie suggested we select a catamaran and recommended the Elite, one of the newest ships in the Galapagos and the itinerary dates included our anniversary. Since our focus was the Islands, not the Ecuador mainland, she suggested we stay at the Hotel del Parque in Guayaquil rather than in Quito. This eliminated an extra flight (and expense) between Quito and Guayaquil.

Three weeks before the start of our trip, we received disconcerting news from Allie that the Elite would be in drydock and would be unavailable for our trip. My heart sank, but Allie already had options. There was another larger ship sailing the same dates, or we could sail on the Endemic, Elite’s sister ship. The drawback was that the Endemic sailed 5 days earlier, which meant changing domestic and international flights and lodging. We selected the Endemic because we wanted the intimacy of a smaller ship. Allie handled all of the changes in Ecuador and the Galapagos (including reimbursement from the operator for extra airline charges) while we changed our airline reservations and domestic lodging (since we made those arrangements).

The trip was wonderful. Celeste, our mainland guide, met us at the airport and checked us in at the Hilton Colon Guayaquil. Our room, on the executive floor, was decorated with rose petals covering the bed and an assortment of chocolates in celebration of our anniversary (thanks Allie). The following day Celeste showed us the culture and history of Guayaquil.

The following day we flew to the Islands and boarded the Endemic, a 16-passenger catamaran with floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies in each large stateroom. There were 10 passengers and 12 crew members. The crew were all extremely helpful and made us feel right at home. The food on the Endemic was exceptional: the presentation, preparation, and quality of ingredients rivaled the best restaurants. The Chef was an artist, creating works of art on our plates.

Carlos, a native of the Galapagos Islands, was our naturalist guide. Carlos was a terrific and very knowledgeable guide who reveled in sharing his knowledge and experiences of the Galapagos. We visited the islands of Santa Cruz, Santiago, Bartolome, Isabella, Fernandina, and Rabida. We snorkeled with marine iguanas, crabs, sharks, penguins, green Pacific turtles, flightless cormorants, and sea lions. We also saw land iguanas, flamingos, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, giant tortoises, pelicans, hawks, frigatebirds and many other endemic species. We took numerous hikes learning about the geology and geography of the Islands and viewing wildlife. Carlos kept us very busy with four planned activities each day, including hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, and panga rides. Guests were welcome to stay and relax onboard if they wanted to skip an activity.

Celeste escorted us from the Guayaquil airport to the Hotel del Parque on our return to the mainland. We were greeted in our suite with a bouquet of five dozen roses and a bottle of wine in celebration of our Anniversary (thanks again Allie).

With Allie’s advice and help, this a was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Another fantastic trip thanks to our travel planner, Allie, found through the Wendy Perrin’s WOW List. We just returned from The Galapagos Islands with our adult children, our 6-year old granddaughter and our adult nephew and his partner. It was a trip we will all remember.

Working with Allie was a pleasure. She responded quickly and thoroughly to every question asked and, whenever we threw her a curveball (i.e. we’d like to add two more people to our group; or could this trip be done more economically), she just made it happen. At each stop, we were met at the airport by local guides and escorted to our destination. Allie fully prepared us for what we would need at the airports, and her people on the ground negotiated the airport transfers smoothly.

Our trip started in Guayaquil, where we had one day before heading to The Galapagos Islands. Allie sent us to La Danesa, a gorgeous, working hacienda! We visited the cacao plantation and participated in making chocolate from start to finish. Delicious! We also milked cows, went horseback riding and bicycling, and had a wonderful lunch. The grounds are beautiful and luxurious and we could have spent much more time there.

We traveled to The Galapagos the next day, where we met our wonderful guide, Viviana. She was truly one of the highlights of the trip. As a native of The Galapagos, she was knowledgeable and could share information in a way that was interesting to all of us. Even our 6-year-old peppered her with questions! We stayed on land at the Ikala Hotel, which had nice rooms, a lovely breakfast and restaurant area and a pool and lounge area which we all enjoyed. In our five days on the islands, our time was filled with varied and fascinating activities. We went to the Giant Tortoise Reserve; saw the lava caves and tubes; spent an incredible day walking along the beach at Tortuga Bay and snorkeling in the calmer area. We were met there by a photographer who spent an hour taking photos, which will be made into an album. We had days of boating to areas where we could go snorkeling and there we saw turtles, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, iguanas, pelicans, baby sharks and schools and schools of fish. One of the standout activities was a morning at Las Grietas, which is a swimming hole at the bottom of a lava-created crevasse. It was completely private and truly one of the highlights of our trip. On our last day, three scuba-certified family members went diving and they absolutely loved their day! I could go on and on because every activity that was planned for us was incredible. My only regret – we should have stayed longer!

We typically have planned our own trips and after reading the posts on this website for many years, we decided we would use a Wendy Perrin specialist for our bucket-list trip to Ecuador, the Galapagos and the Ecuadorian Amazon in late spring. We could not have made a better decision than working with Allie. Our trip was perfect and we did not have a single hiccup despite several flights and transitions. Every guide, driver, flight, restaurant, lodging were excellent as were the ship Allie suggested (Endemic) and the lodge in the Amazon (La Selva). Knowing someone else (Allie) had planned this trip, trusted the guides/lodgings and that we had a contact if needed for any issues took away the various concerns of making your own arrangements.

Allie recommended we base our trip dates on the Galapagos dates. For us, there was no question that we would do a water-based trip vs land-based. We initially had difficulty settling on a sail date and boat due to availability (we planned the trip 5 months out) and our request for a boat with a balcony off the room. Following Allie’s advice, we also wanted a two-hulled catamaran to help minimize potential seasickness. Allie was patient and continued to come up with suggestions until we found a boat and itinerary that worked.

Once the boat was selected we were able to plan the rest of the trip around those dates. If you are headed to the Galapagos, most travel planners suggest allowing at least a day in Quito in case of any travel issues, and we decided to add on a 2nd day in Otavalo before heading to the islands. Allie arranged our day in Quito (altho we could have made changes of course with our guide) visiting the Teleferico, Old Town, the Equator and a lovely restaurant on the edge of a volcanic crater. In Otavalo, we visited a number of locations with the guide and on our own including the fruit market, the craft market, a family that designs and makes their crafts in their home and a sacred waterfall that we were able to walk to from the hotel and felt very safe. We were concerned about the elevation at Cotopaxi or we may have gone there instead, altho we loved our overnight in Otavalo which gave us a bit more time to explore on our own.

Our guide (Henry) and drivers (Patricio and sons) the first 2 days were gems. Our guide shared interesting and relevant information non-stop about Ecuador, Quito and Otavalo and the driver drove expertly thru the narrow and crowded streets and windy highways of Quito and its environs. Our lodging in Quito, Mama Cuchara, was a beautiful restored Spanish Colonial home with great staff, a fun rooftop bar area, an incredible breakfast buffet and delicious, traditional dinner items. In Otavalo we stayed in a sister hotel, equally as beautiful with dedicated staff, serving another round of tasty meals.

The date for the Galapagos we ended up with was a bit later than we had planned to go and we were a bit concerned about the weather/water temperature but ultimately the timing was right. The weather in the Galapagos in early June was a perfect temperature (high 70’s/low 80’s). The water temperature was warm enough that some fellow passengers chose not to wear the full-length wetsuits we were given. Most of us wore them to aid in the buoyancy that they provide. Every member of our crew on the Endemic were excellent and very attentive. The bed was very comfortable and the rooms were very spacious due I guess to having a wide double hull, as were the communal areas, allowing us to relax and share stories with fellow, friendly travelers ages 32-75. The ship was immaculate and the chefs and crew worked extremely hard to make sure everyone was happy. The post-excursion refreshing juice, treats and washcloths for cooling off provided were a delight.

Our Naturalist guide, Harry, born and bred in the Galapagos, was very knowledgeable, very patient and made each excursion entertaining. You can’t go wrong with any itinerary. We had been told that but now that we have experienced it, I would agree. We swam with sea turtles, penguins, sea lions, sharks and an array of fish. On our hikes, we observed tortoises, flamingoes, iguanas, sea lions and several varieties of boobies and birds. We were briefed the night before so we knew what to expect the next day.

Our next stop was La Selva Lodge in the Amazon. We had done our own research and decided if we were going to visit the Amazon, we would like to do so in Ecuador. Allie helped us decide where to stay. This was a fascinating adventure from the moment we landed. The transportation to the lodge, a motorized large canoe (water taxi) on the Napo River followed by a smaller canoe, is an adventure in itself. The accommodations and food were excellent, including the box lunch we were given on our way to the lodge from Coca. The staff at the Lodge as well as our Naturalist Guide (Danny), who was from the local indigenous community along with his uncle who worked with him, were all amazing. They could spot the smallest of creatures even in the dark of the jungle.

The Amazon is naturally hot and humid and you definitely have the feeling of being in the jungle. We rarely saw a mosquito as Ecuador is working with other countries to eradicate malaria. Unlike the Galapagos, it is much more hit-or-miss with wildlife and somewhat dependent on time of year but we were lucky to see diverse selection of flora and fauna including a sloth, caimans, spiders, several varieties of monkeys, birds, tree frogs as well as a large variety of interesting plant life and trees. A highlight was visiting the local indigenous community and seeing a snapshot of their life.

As with most wildlife excursions, you are up early almost every day both in the Galapagos and the Amazon. In both locations we had time midday when the sun is at its strongest to read, rest (or have an amazing massage at La Selva). We both have a gluten intolerance and at every location, we were expertly and tastefully accommodated. Allie made sure our hotels, the Endemic as well as La Selva, were made aware in advance. The clothing lists suggested are essential – quick dry, long sleeves, long pants, sun hats etc as well as hiking shoes, water shoes and a pair of flip flops and you are set. Enjoy!

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