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Holiday review by Billy Newton

Name: Billy Newton
Date of trip: 26/11/2012
Number of people: 3
Country: Galapagos Islands

Overall level of Satisfaction

 
Tribes Overall: "The holiday was our honeymoon and it was the trip of a lifetime. Billy worked with Tribes to get our schedule organised in advance, and we found Tribes really accommodated our personal requirements and created a schedule specifically for us. One of the excellent things about the holiday was that we always had someone to meet us at the airport. This worked seamlessly and we were never let down. This was such a perk as after a flight into a new place, we personally hate the process of having to find a (safe) taxi, work out where we need to go and negotiate a price (sometimes after a long flight). However, we never needed to worry about that, and all our meets and greets had excellent English, were polite, and even more of a benefit, would tell us about the place we were visiting informally on the way to our hotel, or formally as a pre-arranged tour. We really felt this meant that we had a greater understanding of where we were visiting - including the historical, cultural, social and political elements. We had several parts to our holiday. The first was the Inca Trail, via a visit to Cusco. We loved Cusco and could have easily spent longer there, had our schedule allowed it. We must admit the Inca Trail was far harder than we could have imagined. We considered ourselves to be fairly fit, and on reflection the literature from Tribes had described things like \"a steep/stiff climb...a challenging day...\" but we had no idea it would be quite as demanding. Also on reflection, we probably should have allowed ourselves more time to acclimatize - this seems very important, which we know for next time!! However, the views on the Inca Trail were stunning. Also we had a private guide, Santiago who was extremely knowledgeable and great company in general. Also his English was superb. We had a fleet of porters (5 plus a chef) just for us and this was amazing and we felt very spoilt. The food that Mario the chef cooked was OUTSTANDING - we couldn\'t believe the quality of the three course meals we were having - all up the side of a mountain! The dining tent and the toilet tent especially were very welcome additions! The porters couldn\'t d enough for us, and one evening, knowing that we were watching a film on our Ipad, they even brought us popcorn! Reaching Machu Picchu was a real achievement for both of us and it was a stunning site! We also loved the luxurious train-ride home - the quality of the train was on another level compared to our UK trains as it is owned by the same people who own the Orient Express! We hugely enjoyed other visits to our cities, but our next main event was a week in the Galapagos Islands. Our guide David was excellent - very accommodating with excellent English and a great sense of humour. He was also very knowledgeable and very good at spotting the wildlife. Again the crew on board the Cachalote boat were fantastic and the origami with the towels by front of house Richard was a lovely touch! Another lovely touch was that David would take photos of us each day and then show a slideshow at dinner. He also gave us the photos at the end if we had a memory stick, and/or emailed them. "
 
Tribes Service: "Polly and Paul always replied very quickly if we ever had a question. Their responses were always very eloquent and clear. I felt they were always going the extra mile with the information they gave us, and they were always very thorough."
 
Guides: "All our guides - especially Santiago on the Inca Trail were exceptionally knowledgeable. In addition, everyone spoke excellent English. They all knew a lot about where we were and it was fascinating to hear them speak about the place - even just informally. This made us feel we were understanding far more about each place than we otherwise would have."
 
Social & Environmental Responsibility: "The local people in Cusco especially in Peru are wonderful. They are friendly, happy and welcoming. We were always alert, but felt we could really relax in Cusco. In addition, people selling things on the street were not at all pushy - if you said no thank you, they would accept it."

Accommodation

 
Wyndham Costa del Sol Lima Airport
A little expensive, but very clean and comfortable with excellent food, and right next door to Lima airport, which was very handy for us and we were flying again early the next day.
 
Casa Andina Plaza
We loved this hotel! We had the best view ever from our balcony, overlooking the street/plaza. The staff were really helpful and friendly, and it was a nice touch to have coca tea available each day in the foyer. They were even thoughtful enough to tell us to avoid it in the afternoon as it could mean we have trouble sleeping!
 
Casa Andina Private Collection Miraflores
A nice hotel, close to restaurants and the hubbub.
 
Cachalote
A lovely sailing boat. It looks like it could do with a clean on the outside, but inside it is very clean and fairly plush. It was a nice little bar area and a nice place to have meals all together. The rooms are VERY small, but I assume this is to be expected onboard a boat. However, each had a nice ensuite with a good shower, toilet and basin. We were very lucky as we had a double-bed with a single bunk above. That meant we could lay our clothes out on the top bunk. I was worried I would be sea sick, but I was not - even when it was very rocky one night (lying down is best I found! And we were sailing mainly in the night so that was fine). The staff were friendly and helpful and the chef was good. It was a nice touch to always have snacks ready for when we came back from an activity.
 
Hampton Inn
I really liked this hotel. It is a business hotel which some people may not find quaint. but I like it as it is clean and efficient. Breakfast here was the best we had - pancakes, wafles made to order as well as the usual on offer. Also I liked the way the wifi in the rooms was free, and we could use the computers if we wanted downstairs. It was a treat to be able to have room-service too as it seems most hotels in Peru and Ecuador do not provide this.

Our Memories

"Our visit to the Galapagos Islands will probably be the most memorable experience I will ever have! As an animal lover, swimming closely with sea turtles, cheeky penguins, and marine iguanas will be something I treasure forever. Every day was the right side of busy, and the amount of wildlife we saw up close was astonishing - including sea lions, giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, land iguanas and more. "
"One of the best moments was when we were sunbathing on the top deck of our boat, the Cachalote. The captain, Jose thought he saw something, so we all stood to attention, Suddenly, we were close to about 20 dolphins who were just leaping high into the air and then diving back into the water. It was like they were leaping for joy. The whole spectacle lasted for about 15 minutes and was absolutely incredible!"

customer rating

5/5 from 49 reviews

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facts and information

Time: GMT - 6 hours

Flight time: Flights to the Galapagos Islands leave from Quito and touch down in Guayaquil en route, taking about 3 hours from Quito or 2 hours from Guayaquil. The flights land either at Baltra or San Cristobal.

Language: Spanish is the official language in the Galapagos Islands.

Visas: Not required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.

Health: There are no compulsory vaccinations.

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Tribes Travel, The Old Dairy, Wood Farm, Ipswich Road,
Otley, Suffolk, IP6 9JW.
Office hours: Monday - Friday: 9am to 5.30pm
Telephone: 01473 890499

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