Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

This trip—to Quito, Ecuador and the Galapagos—was my husband and my 5th WOW List professional experience, and like all of our previous trips, it was exceptional. We worked with Allie Almario, and Allie and her team guided and supported us start to finish, planning the perfect, individualized itinerary for us exploring Quito and then placing us on the fabulous Horizon trimaran ship for a 5-day cruise in the Galapagos. Our charming hotel in Quito—Casa El Eden—was delightful. The owners treated us like family and we lacked for nothing. Our guide and driver took us to places and activities that we never would have been able to research and discover on our own, translating effortlessly so we missed nothing from the local artisans we met.

The Horizon was so much more than what we requested: a small and stable ship. We had a crew of 13 for 8 passengers. Our naturalist was incredible. All of the equipment—snorkeling and hiking gear—was top flight; the food was sensational and the accommodations luxurious and so comfortable. I had tears when it was time to leave.

Allie made sure that we had EVERY conceivable detail and information that we needed before we departed the U.S. and she always answered any of my questions or concerns with crazy-fast speed and thoroughness. Also with a wonderful sense of humor.

I can’t imagine EVER planning a bucket list trip without the aid and assistance of a WOW specialist. Next June we’re off to the Maldives—thank you beyond words Wendy and team!

We wanted a balance of active adventuring and some much-needed downtime for a spring break trip as a family and Allie more than delivered! Between a delightful boutique hotel in Quito’s old town, Casa Eden, with proprietors who fussed over our kiddo like their own grandchild, to a 300-year-old hacienda in Otavalo that seemed like it belonged to a dear family friend (with the family’s friendly horses wandering through to say hello to visitors, and the chef happily teaching us how to make empanadas or offering samples of freshly made local gelato), we had ample time to relax.

Allie set us up with fantastic drivers/guides throughout Ecuador, with special shout-outs to our guide who took us to see artisanal chocolate being made, to eat bizcochos at a super-local non-touristy spot, and to meet a weaver whose family has made award-winning textiles in the same manner for hundreds of years, as well as set us up with great hiking and exploring by foot and horseback, incredible meals, and a stop at the equator (I was skeptical of the museum but it’s a hidden gem and great for families). Every transition/driver/logistics happened seamlessly, even on some roads that were definitely not easy to drive!

Allie also connected us with a breathtaking week in the Galapagos on the Ocean Spray: There was just one other couple on the boat besides our family, so we had incredible small experiences snorkeling, kayaking, and on some of the smaller islands, where our naturalist, Enrique Silva, really took the time to interact with us and point out things for our kid (who was a first-time snorkeler but by the second day was cruising everywhere thanks to his help). The catamaran was very comfortable and the rooms quite large — but the real highlight was the warmth and kindness of the staff and crew (and the food — which was phenomenal).

Overall, likely due to there seem to be far fewer tourists than normal right now in Ecuador (and even in the Galapagos, though more people there) — we were the only ones staying at our hacienda and at the boutique hotel for several of the days — but we felt safe under Allie’s team’s care. She also was very responsive in adjusting our schedule and responding to concerns before the trip. Her knowledge of the situation on the ground and her frequent updates hit the right balance on keeping us informed and we appreciate her attention to detail and her team’s considerations.

This was a trip of a lifetime. From the magical lodge of Mashpi in the cloud forest to the beautiful Galápagos, every arrangement was catered to our wants and needs.

Allie Almario did not miss a beat. Traveling to another country is stressful enough, but through Allie we always had a friendly face greeting us and ready to transfer us to our next adventure. Our local guides were knowledgeable and proud of their country. The accommodations were top-notch and the suggestions she made were right on. My husband is a detailed-oriented man and Allie was always a step ahead of him to lower his anxiety. Mashpi was magical. The Elite yacht was perfect. The size was just what we wanted, very personalized and the boat was stable in the water. Allie suggested we do 4 nights on the cruise, and afterwards we agreed it was the perfect length of time. There was not a glitch in any of the transfers or accommodations. Allie is on top of it all.

Pertaining to the unrest in Ecuador: There was increased military presence in Quito, mainly around the presidential building. Other than that, the locals and tourists went about their usual activities. In speaking to the locals, they felt there was no danger to them. They said if anything, the cartel presence would be closer to the coastal cities. We actually felt safer with the increased police and military. We saw none of this on the Galápagos Islands. The locals felt that the media had exaggerated what was happening. There were no road closures. Thank you for a fabulous, memorable trip.

My granddaughter and I just returned from our latest adventure, this time in Peru.

This was our third New Year’s adventure organized by Allie Almario. Our other two experiences being the Galapagos Islands and Santiago/Easter Island, Chile. This trip’s primary objective was the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Allie did not disappoint. We had a great 11 days. We were greeted by our guide Nick and driver Eduardo at the Cusco Airport. The guide and driver were a perfect fit for us. We had been given a heads-up about our guide. It seemed as if we already knew Nick and had been friends in the past, he was very kind and knowledgeable.

We promptly departed to the Sacred Valley, where we spent the next 6 days. Our base in the Sacred Valley was the Sol y Luna Hotel. Could not have asked for better accommodations. We visited many Inca sites. Nick explained the purpose of each. We also had a day of white water rafting. The Urubamba market is open twice a week, so we took the opportunity to shop with the locals. Being the new year, the flowers were aplenty, yellow, a color of note to the Peruvians at New Year. The highlight of the trip was Machu Picchu citadel. Pictures do not do it justice. The vastness of the site in the clouds and the river far below. It was beautiful!

On New Year’s Eve we had good intentions on staying up to ring in the new year but Allie had other plans, gratefully and thankfully. The next morning we returned very early to the citadel. Allie was able to obtain tickets for Huayna Picchu. Tickets are in a limited number. We were very fortunate as many people are disappointed when they find out tickets are not available. Allie had procured ours well in advance. My granddaughter climbed Huayna Picchu, also known as “the stairs of death,” an experience she will never forget.

We returned to Cusco for a day, then it was off to the Amazon. Our flight was from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado, gateway to the Peruvian Amazon. That was followed by a 45-minute powered canoe ride to the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, an eco lodge and our home for the next three days. We had a riverside cabana on the Madre del Dias River. In the mornings, we could hear howler monkeys and other unknown critters. It was the rainy season, so we had rain and thunderstorms daily. The weather did not hamper our activities, actually the weather was part of the experience. Although we had a twilight boat excursion and jungle canopy walks, our highlight was fishing on Lake Valencia. An optional tour again arranged by Allie well in advance. We went Piranha fishing followed by a shore lunch. This wasn’t a typical fish trip shore lunch. In addition to the fresh fish we had a buffet of fruits, beef, veggies, salads and dessert.

Unfortunately, our time had run out, we had to get back to the States. One night in Lima and then a long day of traveling back home. I said earlier that this was our third New Year’s adventure organized by Allie, which was my favorite. All were unique, different experiences and introduced us to some great people. Before deciding on Peru, we had looked into going to Costa Rica, neither myself nor my granddaughter could get into any of the proposed itineraries, something was missing. At that point I said e-mail Allie! Let’s go to Peru! I am glad we did.

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