Holiday review by Mrs. Carole Herries
Name: Mrs. Carole Herries
Date of trip: 14/05/2016
Number of people: 2
There are so many special 'WOW' moments we have committed to memory (and photographs) including: The view from our room at Patio Andaluz on the first night was stunning - on the top floor overlooking the old town. Seeing and hearing the vast range of hummingbirds at Bella Vista was truly great, but to hold them on our fingers and let them feed from our hands was magical! Seeing and being able to photograph the 'cock of the rock' - one of Ecuador's most magnificent birds, was amazing Having a 'fly past' of 2 wild condors only 3 metres below us was truly magnificent - it took our breath away. (especially having climbed to a height of over 10,000 feet to a viewing area!) Having pre-dinner drinks with one of the owners of the hacienda and hearing of some of the history/experiences of the presidential family whose home it is was very special Log fire in our room and hot water bottles in our bed at the hacienda we will recall for many years Seeing the wildlife 'for real' on the Galapagos is so amazing - the marine iguanas snorting and blue footed boobies 'dancing' (Carole called it the 'boobie boogie') was unforgettable and seeing the boobies and pelicans diving like torpedos is unbelievable! Snorkelling amongst sea lions, sharks, manta rays, turtles and some amazing fish was awesome. Watching a 'shark feeding frenzy' from the back of the boat was jaw dropping. Just relaxing on our private balcony on the boat whilst travelling between islands, being closely followed by a frigate bird was special. We could go on and on.............
The holiday from start to finish has been fabulous - the country is stunning and the people so welcoming, especially after the recent earthquake. The mainland cloud forest and hacienda we stayed at were both fascinating places and for bird and wildlife enthusiasts are a 'must' to visit. The Galapagos was truly amazing and a unique experience. Overall the whole trip far surpassed our expectations and we wouldn't hesitate in recommending all of it!!
From start to finish, Guy has been brilliant - he listened to what we wanted and delivered a programme that exactly met our needs. He was extremely patient with all our questions about photography, and recommended a boat that was suitable for someone who does not have good sea legs!!! The catamaran was perfect! The itinerary details were really good especially for the Galapagos part of the trip as it gave clear details of each island and the activities that were available on them. It was all presented in a very professional way and in a folder which we took with us and which was easy to refer to. All in all we are extremely pleased with Tribes service and look forward to our next trip with you!
All the local guides in Equador and the Galapagos were brilliant. Our guide in Quito, Raul, was extremely knowledgeable and had many stories to tell of its history which he made interesting and relevant to our trip. Natalya, our guide in the cloud forest at Bella Vista was also extremely knowledgeable about the birdlife and together with other local guides managed to find some reasonably rare birds for us to see and photograph. She went the extra mile for us and we had a brilliant time there. Jimmy, our guide in the Galapagos, was fantastic - he was very patient with the group, who had differing needs and wants, and he catered for all professionally and with a sense of humour. His knowledge of the islands was great and he kept us together as a snorkelling group extremely well!
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
The cloud forest accommodation at Bella Vista was very eco-friendly and sympathetic to the forest surroundings in the way it is built and employs local people, cooks local food to a high standard, and is conscious of the environment. It encourages the humming birds to feed at the feeding stations but also ensures they still have to find local nectar to sustain themselves.
The hacienda is virtually self sustaining - it has its own organic garden which produces most of its vegetables etc, and uses its own beef, lamb and trout in cooking. The hacienda also employs local people and has a project to help sustain local crafts, along with a project to recue and re-introduce condors into the wild. Fantastic!
The Galapagos island visits are carefully scheduled and choreographed to ensure only small groups are on each island at one time, and the boat was extremely careful to wash down feet and footwear after returning from the islands so cross contamination did not occur.
We both felt really happy at the extent of the social and environmental responsibility shown throughout the trip.
The places you stayed
Great location in the heart of the old town of Quito. Very helpful staff, welcome drinks, good food, relaxed atmosphere makes a great start to a trip, especially after a long flight.
Such a relaxed and friendly place to stay, rustic in appearance but extremely comfortable and would recommend to anyone who wishes to spend time with birds and wildlife. Each evening small mammals, olinguito, tayra and kinkajou visited which was very special. A photographers dream location!
This is a 'must visit' hacienda, it is truly special. The accommodation is really comfortable and log fires and hot water bottles in each bedroom make it really cosy after a day trekking in the mountains. The owners are related to previous presidents of Ecuador and want guests to treat it like their own home which is easy to do. Huge fireplaces in the lounges and fantastic home cooking make it a truly exceptional accommodation. The surroundings are so beautiful and the condor project inspirational. The resident biologist is so knowledgeable and passionate about the condors and spectacled bears, you cannot help but admire all the work that is going on there. The horses are all beautiful and so well cared for, and know their way around the mountains you feel very safe with them. All in all, a fantastic place.
This is such a special boat - not only accommodation wise but the crew and guide are both individually exceptional and as a team, nothing short of exemplorary. The rooms are very spacious and each have their own balcony and each day the towels are arranged in such an artistic way to represent animals on the Galapagos - penguins, manta rays, sea lions etc!!!! Food was fantastic, service brilliant and all take pride in what they do, and go the extra mile to make sure everyone had a memorable trip. They are always concerned for the guests' safety but also want to make sure everyone sees and experiences this magnificent part of the world. We cannot recommend this particular boat highly enough.