Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

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...
Judy Wimpfheimer | September 6, 2023

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 could not have made a better decision than working with Allie — Sailed on the Endemic
Martha Rubenstein | June 27, 2023

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!

Took great care of me, shared a depth of knowledge that I would never otherwise have found on my own, and showed me points of interest that only a local would know
Tracy Wharton | May 13, 2023

I went to Ecuador, visiting Quito and the mountains near Otavalo in April and early May 2023. I contacted Allie to expand a pre-arranged trip to the Galapagos islands that I had booked with my sister previously. Initially, I was hesitant to have someone else make all the arrangements, but I am so glad that I did this! Although I met my sister on the islands, the first part of my trip was by myself. I speak very basic Spanish and had concerns as a female adult traveling alone. Allie listened to my concerns and found amazing guides and locations for me to visit. I felt safe the entire time and had incredible local guides who showed me places I never would’ve found otherwise.

Allie called me on Friday afternoon just to make sure I was ready for the trip and see if I had any final questions.

After a bit of a rough start to the day with the airline, I arrived in Quito and Patricio met me at the airport. He gave me a great mini tour of the area on the way to the hotel. Casa El Eden is just a beautiful spot. The room is beautiful and the building is fascinating. Mario met us at the door and carried my suitcase upstairs. He welcomed me like family. I met some other lovely people who were staying at the hotel and traveling to interesting places, and spent some time chatting on the roof terrace.

Alejandra gave me a tour of Quito. We saw the presidential palace and the horses being prepared for the changing of the guard. I learned that Lady Liberty is not blind here; she carries a torch and an ax. We visited a number of churches, and the architecture was not only stunning, but we observed how the artwork has changed through the centuries. We had a short stop at a museum of cacao, where I learned about how broad this industry is in Ecuador, and we also visited a hat maker who showed me reeds woven as fine as fabric. Amazing artistry. Ecuador is known for its coffee and its chocolate, and both have been exciting to learn about and taste. I’ve decided that I could really like a country where roses, chocolate, and coffee are the main exports!

We visited the top of the mountain with a ride on the Telefèrico. We walked a bit at the top, but altitude exhaustion is very real! I was too lightheaded to be able to walk all the way to the swings, but we did get to enjoy some wonderful views at roughly 13,000 feet. We visited a restaurant, hidden away on the edge of a volcanic crater. The food was amazing and the views were stunning. Then we went to a museum at the center of the earth. The tour guides were hysterical and shared history of Ecuadorian provinces as well as some science about being at this particular location. There were some hands-on exhibits where we got to move a small sink between the northern and southern hemisphere, and watch how the water changed just 10 feet apart, and we got to balance an egg on the head of a nail on the 0° line. It was a lot of fun.

Alejandra dropped me at the Basilica at my request, where I spent some time looking at the gargoyles, which are animals, and the amazing stained glass windows filled with flowers. The next morning, she shared some of the history of why these images were chosen at the Basilica.

After an excellent breakfast at Casa El Eden, Alejandra picked me up and we drove to Otovalo. We stopped at the condor park, where I saw the almost extinct Andean condor, harpy eagles, falcons, and even a bald eagle named Blanca. The condors were magnificent and the park was beautiful and filled with flowers. On the way, we stopped so that I could take photos of some nearby volcanoes and a mountainside glacier. The landscape in this part of Ecuador was simply stunning. In the Otovalo area, we visited a family of traditional weavers and learned about backstrap weaving. They dye their wool with natural dyes, and her spinning wheel and spindle were amazing! I was fascinated by their work and how beautiful it was. We went briefly to the market before we got caught in a downpour, so we did not spend much time there and rushed off for a wonderful lunch instead. I spent a few days at Hacienda Cusin. The grounds were beautiful, and the staff were very kind. I went horseback riding, although we stayed at a fairly low altitude (relatively) for my benefit. I made it back to the market and spent a few hours there, haggling for gifts and having a blast. I also asked the hotel to get me a taxi to take me to Cascada de Pegucha, a local waterfall that is sacred to people in the area. Absolutely gorgeous and worth a side trip.

My guides picked me up and brought me to the airport for a trip to the Galapagos, which I had pre-arranged with my sister. I highly recommend visiting the Galapagos! The guides have a depth of knowledge that is truly amazing and there is no place else on earth like these islands. Patricio met me at the airport when I returned to Quito and brought me to the hotel, making sure I was all set for my trip home.

From start to finish, they took great care of me, shared a depth of knowledge that I would never otherwise have found on my own, and showed me points of interest that only a local would know. I’m so glad that I made the decision to work with Allie. Everything was arranged beautifully and it was the trip of a lifetime for me.

A couple of surprise birthday celebrations — one overlooking a stunning caldera for lunch and another on the boat in the Galapagos... — Sailed on the Natural Paradise
David Keith | April 28, 2023

We planned our trip to Quito and the Galapagos, Ecuador in mid-April with Allie Almario. It was my wife’s 60th birthday bucket-list trip. Allie was very attentive and responsive throughout the planning process, during the lead-up to the trip and afterwards with follow-up. She did a great job of planning arrivals and pickup at the airport, the hotel and day tours in Quito and the surrounding areas, and helping us choose a boat and itinerary in the Galapagos. Everything went off without a hitch. Unbeknownst to us, Allie had a couple of surprise birthday celebrations — one overlooking a stunning caldera for lunch and another on the boat in the Galapagos that were much appreciated — she really made me look good :). It was truly one of the best trips we’ve ever taken.

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