Holiday review by Jo and Mike Bassett

Name: Jo and Mike Bassett

Date of trip: 18/04/2013

Number of people: 2

AM I DREAMING?

I am sitting on soft white sands with two adorable baby sea lions tentatively sniffing my toes and watching me inquisitively with their big brown saucer eyes.  I am on the tiny island of Mosquera just off North Seymour in the Galapagos Islands, and have just been transported here by Zodiac from the beautiful three masted schooner, the Mary Anne.  We were greeted by dozens of sea lions, dipping and diving in the blue waters.  I want to stay here forever, but there are more islands to explore and more fascinating and friendly mammals, birds and sea creatures to see.  It is all quite unreal.

Tribes organised for us an action-packed four weeks in Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands and it is incredibly difficult to say which was the best experience.  Was it my first sight of Machu Picchu which quite blew me away, or the floating islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca, which may no longer exist a couple of generations from now, and then there were the birds and mammals on the Galapagos Islands which are unreal being so tame and unique.  However, our four days in the Napo Wildlife Centre totally exceeded all my expectations.  The tastefully furnished  lodges overlooking such a beautiful lake were a joy to stay in.  Our native Annangu guide, Delphine, had such in-depth knowledge about all aspects of the rainforest, we were totally fascinated.  Nothing can be more relaxing, yet exciting, than gliding silently along one of the many black streams in a canoe listening to the sounds of the forest.  Delphine would suddenly signal his boatmen to stop paddling and point with his laser beam to a tiny hole which he had miraculously spotted high up in a tall tree with the small face of an owl monkey peeping out, or an apparently dead leaf  hanging from a branch, which when gently pressed, forced a tarantula to make its appearance.  But my most vivid memory is when he heard before any of us the rustling in the water hyacinths followed by the barking of terrified giant otters as they were being attacked by an aggressive cayman.   We were so lucky to see these rare animals and even luckier to get a second sighting later on that afternoon in the lake when only yards away these characterful creatures were playfully popping their heads out of the water displaying large silver fish in their jaws. I shall remember these magic moments for the rest of my life.    

Tribes Overall:

We had a
wonderful holiday which totally surpassed our expectations. Everything
organised by Tribes went according to plan. The agents, guides and drivers were
totally reliable, helpful and knowledgeable (in the case of guides) and
skillful (in the case of drivers). Tribes' choice of accommodation was exactly as
we would have wished and we are most grateful to Paul for the way in which he
put the holiday together.

Tribes Service:

As anyone would,
we obtained a number of quotes and suggested itineraries from various travel
companies. We immediately felt that Paul from Tribes was on the same wave
length as us. We initially requested four different itineraries, which Paul
instantly produced in a clear concise format (none of the other travel agents
managed to do that!) Each time we made a minor alteration, which was quite
frequently, Paul was extremely patient and executed the change. Other companies
sent us a huge illustrated booklet each time we made an alteration - not
necessary!

Guides:

In general the guides and drivers were brilliant. Some went beyond the call of duty such as Gloria in Quito, who took us to a pharmacy on the way to the airport and assisted us in buying cough mixture for Mike's annoying cough. She also arranged to have his sunglasses repaired while we visited Napo Lodge. Her driver, Ivan, was also excellent. The other guide worthy of special mention was Antonio who accompanied us on Lake Titicaca and was particularly concerned about Mike's tummy upset and the effects of altitude. He tailored our activities to suit.
Delphine, our indigenous guide in the Napo Wildlife Centre was also incredibly knowledgeable and helpful as were his canoe paddlers.

Social & Environmental Responsibility:

Apart from tourism generally assisting the people of Peru and Ecuador to survive, it must be responsible for keeping the floating reed islands on Lake Titicaca in existence. The Napo Wildlife Centre is a prime example of maintaining the local community and hopefully saving the rainforest.


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