Good afternoon Tannya and Gabriela,
I am a bit sad today as I leave Ecuador, but I am very thankful for the wonderful experiences we have enjoyed. A tribute to your thoughtful planning. I think I wrote to tell you of our successful experiences in the Galapagos.
Here are some comments from the past 15 days.
Starting from Guayaquil, we appreciated very much the experience and knowledge contributed by our guide Javier Marin.
Elvis our driver was also fabulous. Driving in all the different conditions in Ecuador requires great skill. We felt very safe at all times, and Javier and Elvis make a great team.
I will mention a few highlights for your information and feedback.. we were so busy every day on the tour that I did not have the energy to write ! But I think that Javier kept you in touch.
For us, the most outstanding and personal thing was to have the continued support for our travel experience from Javier and Elvis. We were not expecting this deluxe attention and it was a great pleasure and always interesting to have the benefit of a personal guide.
The other important features for us were the individually arranged tours in the local areas. It is a real privilege to meet people working and hear them talk about their lifestyles. We can tell that you seek out these very personal and informative tour experiences to help us understand and appreciate life in Ecuador. We were engaged and involved in all of these experiences.
Highlights for us
El Morro. Great boat ride, birding, dolphins, watching the crab fishermen at work and the exceptional frigate bird colony. Also a great ceviche con camarons lunch. Not to be missed !
Also, we completed the experience with a crab restaurant lunch the next day – and saw the crabs being delivered
We enjoyed very much the lunches at smaller local restaurants. I will comment later on this.
Ecuasal / Bird Life International – salt ponds and bird refuge
This was an outstanding tour and so interesting to meet Ms Ana Agredo. Again, thank you so much for creating this as a special feature for us. Ana provided so much information – she also seemed to enjoy the experience for herself ! I will send her a card from Vancouver.
Malecon and Cacao museum – excellent guide at the museum and all places of interest including the arisanal market.
En route to Cuenca / Cuenca
Another great day. Our local guide Simon, happened to have lived in Canada. Quite a coincidence, and it made it easy to exchange information. The jungle experience ( howler monkeys and killer mosquitoes ) and the cacao / chocolate experience very good. We much preferred this experience to the Middle of the World – which seemed very touristic and “Disneyfied ” by comparison . The lunch was delicious and the surroundings beautiful.
We did not undertake a big trek !! But we could still appreciate the wild beauty of the Andes. It is incredible to us to see the colours and variety in the plants and lichens growing at high altitudes. Javier provided lots of detail for us, and we were amazed at the variety we found, when looking closely. It is not just green and brown grass.
We also encountered a family group of llamas, including 2 very young ones. Amazing !!
Orchid research and retail
This company is doing amazing things and the tour was very informative. Nice to meet a red and a blue macaw.
Ingapirca, ceramics and silver filigree
So interesting. Javier gave us so much background information re Ingapirca.
This is a magnificent site and another beautiful road trip through the mountains.
The chance to meet and see in action the artisans in their workshops is a great way to meet and see how people live. Creating a tour in this format is very interesting to us. And conveys an example of real life much better than a tour of a large commercial enterprise
We really appreciate the work you do to find these opportunities.
So much to see !! The day trips are well planned and so many features…. Tasting different fruit at the markets, seeing the rose industry and Mindo and Cotopaxi all outstanding.
The hacienda was wonderful and a lovely lunch experience. Definitely recommended as a tour feature. I did not make a note of the name, but it was an outstanding example of an historic colonial hacienda.
The restaurant on the return road from Cotopaxi was warm, friendly and a chance to sample delicious bbq
In general, we preferred the more simple, friendly dining places, all places serving ceviche !! Although I know many of your clients would prefer the first class dining at La. Mercato in Cuenca, or the trout specialist restaurant at La Cajas. I just note this as a personal preference of ours.
Hotels – these were all perfect for our needs. We were not expecting such beautiful surroundings at Ikala ( Galapagos ). So charming at Los Balcones ( Cuenca ) and thank you so much for arranging Casa Anabela -another outstanding place. At all the hotels we found interesting and friendly people on staff and were able to talk and meet local people. This aspect was a real plus.
Also important, at the restaurants and stops en route there were always immaculate toilets for us. I know this must sometimes present a challenge for you.
Javier may have mentioned that I had a particular interest in the artisanal markets. I have had great success in finding small ( easy to carry back to Canada) beautiful jewellery, ceramics, handicrafts, embroidery, art works. Our church has a Fair Trade Market sale before Christmas. I am sure that our members and visitors will be delighted to inspect these pieces and contribute to raising funds for our work in the community. In most cases I have taken photos of the artisans and vendors. I will try and create a display which shows these talented people of Ecuador with their products !
In short, many, many thanks for an outstanding experience. We will certainly recommend Ecuador as a rewarding and exciting travel experience.
With best regards
Robyn and Frank
Robyn and Frank