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1982   -   Celebrating 36 Years of Superior Service!    -   2018

Traveler Comments
What travelers and travel critics have
said about LARC and LARC destinations
2000 - 2009 Archive


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Comments posted here are editorial in nature, are the views of the people who wrote them, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the management and owner of LARC - Latin America Reservation Center, Inc.® - which accepts no responsibility for their contents.  

Comments 2010 - Current  |  Top  |  Contact Us  |

December 29, 2009

Hi Judy,

We're back from a great trip.  The hotel switch - Mansion del Angel - worked out fine.  Great rooms for us in an empty new hotel.  Wonderful service people
there, btw.  Highly recommended. . . 

. . . thanks Judy!

   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

December 02, 2009

Argentina Trip Report by Jan and Jamie
- October 21 - November 05, 2009

We’d probably give this trip a 7 or 8 on a scale of 10.  Some real good stuff, excellent food and places to stay, some really fun activities and touring.  It was a more relaxing trip than some of our recent ones - less scheduled, less activity oriented.  So, definitely worthwhile and fun, but not in our top 10 trips.  

Overall, the trip came off without a hitch - planes were all on time. Eight separate flights and not a single one was late or lost our luggage. Nor was there a single empty seat on any of the flights until we headed back.  Flew American down (used FF miles for business class tickets), and then used Lan internally.  All of our arrangements were made through Judy Martin in FL who also did our Galapagos and Peru/Chile trips.  Once again, she and her South American associate, Ramiro Rodriguez, did a great job of providing recommendations as well as ensuring that everything went smoothly.  Read More. . .

December 02, 2009

Just thought you might be interested in Jamie's trip report. He restrained himself this time (only 13 pages) after last year's 36 page magnum opus on New Zealand plus Google Earth linked itinerary with all our photos.  

We really enjoyed Argentina. Not the spectacular trip Peru and Chile had been but we hadn't expected that. The Glu Hotel was fine; Mansion Vitraux was not, though its location was -- the rooms were just too small for us, though breakfast was quite good. Cavas Wine Lodge was sensational -- highly recommended especially for wine lovers. The food was great, service attentive and the room to die for. Absolutely huge--more like 3 rooms plus private plunge pool and incredible roof deck. We highly recommend people going to Mendoza do the drive to the Andes -- really the highlight of our stay there. The white water rafting would have been fine -- it was warm enough. The House of Jasmines was a special place. Surprisingly it was not fully air conditioned but we were upgraded to a junior suite, which was, because of the heat. The general manager is terrific. His advice was spot on for everything -- better guide and vehicle than we had for Humahuaca. We would strongly advise that anyone going to that area if they want to do the /puna /as we did and Humahuaca that they overnight in Purmamarca. We ended up back tracking 3 hours to Salta and then did the same route again to get to Humahuaca and another 3 hours to get back from it. There are nice places to stay in Purmamarca. However, we could have skipped Humahuaca -- the route we took to the /puna /came down to Purmamarca and Humahuaca was just more of the same. It's possible to drive the route yourself but it must be in a 4 x 4 since close to 200 km of the 500 + we did that day was on unpaved roads. We saw the Movitrak and were exceedingly glad we'd been advised by Adrian, the general manager at House of Jasmines, not to do it. The route is exceedingly dusty since it's desert and unpaved, they keep the top open on Movitrak and I would have been miserable with my dust allergy and asthma. It would be fine for twenty somethings because it's pretty party-oriented but was not our cup of tea. The guide we had to Humahuaca was a Movitrak guide and nowhere near as good as the guide Adrian had arranged for us for the /puna. /He was also the driver and frankly, there is no need for both. Plus the vehicle was a lot more spacious than when we went to Humahuaca.  

Estancia Juan Geronimo was incredible. It was the real deal -- not a tourist place at all but Florencia's home (aside from Buenos Aires). She's a wonderful hostess -- she loves the estancia and loves riding. She rode with us all three times we went out and enjoyed showing off the beauty of her estancia. How she runs it is a bit odd -- she will only open for 4 guests (max 6), only when the family isn't there, and only when she feels like it. So whether you can get in could be hit or miss. The place was so unpretentious we almost thought we were in the wrong house. The house is musty, which I knew would be a problem, and it was -- I came away with bronchitis, to which I'm susceptible, but it was worth it. The food was terrific, the other guests enjoyable, the riding incredible, the scenery spectacular. It wasn't until later that we discovered the wealth involved -- her family founded the grande dame of Buenos Aires hotels -- the Plaza. Really a very special place but right only for some people. I patted myself on the back for my choice of it.  

So thanks yet again for a great trip. We'll be back. Still have Patagonia, Chilean lake district and the Brazilian Pantanal to do.  

Jan   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

[LARC's Response:] 





November 02, 2009

Hi Judy,

Just wanted to say thank you for helping us with our travel arrangements.  Our trip was fantastic. We enjoyed our time with our daughter, and loved Ecuador.  Gustavo was an excellent guide. His knowledge and enthusiasm made our trip interesting, educational, and memorable.  The drivers, Hernan and Walter, were quite skilled, which was greatly appreciated!  

Thanks again,

  [Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

[LARC's Response:] 



August 28, 2009

Judy, just received my computer back.  I had to send it in for repair.  Therefore, I have not been able to email you.  The trip was fabulous from start to finish.  It could not have been more perfect!!!  Thank you.  La Mirage was posh and I loved Cotacachi.  The town was charming and the leather shops were a big hit with the group.  The setting in the Andes was intoxicating. While I was there, I wondered how everyone would adjust to the tent camp.  From pure luxury to a tent?  Hmmmm.  But, I must tell you that the tent camp was a HUGE HIT.  You MUST experience it.  I have not slept that well in years.  The tents were magnificent, the owners were very pleasant and bent over backwards to make our time there very special. The food was gourmet.  I am soooooo happy that we did not spend our time cruising around on a boat.  You were very correct, as always!  Staying on land ended up being a much better bet. I would give the highest possible marks to the Safari Tent Camp and would suggest that other clients would probably love it every bit as much as we did.  It was even better than anticipated. / Casa Aliso was charming and the staff very accommodating.  The beds were a little HARD and the rooms a little HOT and stuffy, but overall it was a good in-between stop.  Want to talk with you by phone to give you more info.  Still trying to get caught up at work. Just wanted to get something to you now to say THANK YOU and tell you just how fabulous it all was.!  xxxx

[Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

August 18, 2009

Getting ready to leave for The Galapagos in the a.m. OMG, everything has worked like magic so far La Mirage . . . the BEST yet. The transport services . . . the BEST yet. Casa Aliso . . . a CHARM. Everything working out great. THANK YOU for the bottle of wine and the birthday wishes! What a perfect evening, thanks to you!! The only missing was YOU! / The group is getting along great. I wish you were on FACEBOOK so that you could see the photos that I just posted there. WHAT will it take me to get you on there? Joe and Steve are nice . . .a little different than us, but it's working out just great. Can't wait to give you the little tiny details when we return.  

Hugs and kisses! (Oh, have you tasted that lavender cake at La Mirage?) 

[Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

July 17, 2009

Hi Judy, 

Many thanks for serving Linda and Alan Rogers so well.  They were delighted with their trip to Peru and Bolivia. It's always a gamble when you suggest to friends or acquaintances who you've used to plan a trip.  I knew you'd do a great job for them and I was so pleased they were so happy with the trip.  I know you'll hear from them again.  

Jamie and I are now back to thinking about the Argentina trip -- some variant of what we had planned earlier this year for April but ended up taking Caroline instead to Spain (where it rained 11 straight out of 12 days -- oh well.) I'm trying to work with frequent flyer miles for business class so dates are up in the air (and money remains tight) but I'm looking at October 29-Nov. 8.  Maybe later in November if you think that is better. We still want to do Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Salta (I think) and with 3 1/2 weeks last November in New Zealand and 12 days in Spain this April, taking a whole lot of time off to do Patagonia isn't in the cards.  So that will come later.  

[Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

May 27, 2009

Hi Judy,

We are back from Peru and Bolivia and we had a fabulous trip .... 
thanks very much for all the assistance!

Some comments:
Country Club Hotel - Lima .... prefer to be in the more active Miraflores area but a lovely hotel Really liked following hotels: Casa Andina Pvt Collection in Sacred Valley; Inkaterra Amazona Reserva; Inkterra Pubelo Hotel in Aquas Caliente Machu Picchu - Absolutely GREAT!!!; both Liberator Hotels in Cusco and Puno; Hotel Europa was an excellent location and worked out well

Catamaran was fun and very nice.

The guides were superb! Johanna in Lima; Christian in Cusco and Machu Picchu and Grace in La Paz

We are thinking about two more trips to Latin America in the next couple of years:

1. Possible family of as many as 12 to Quito, Ecuador, and Galapagos Islands for a total of 7-10 days. Would like to be on a small ship with just our family .... any idea on rough cost to do that?

2. Just Linda and me to visit Brazil, Argentina and Chile ~ 15-17 days ...
maybe 2010/11

Thanks so much,

   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

[LARC's Response:]







May 22, 2009

We recently stayed at the Mansion del Angel and would like to thank the management and employees for making our stay very memorable.  We arrived very late at night in the rain and was anxious to get some sleep.  Your rooms are very beautifully laid out and make the visitors feel very special.  

We left very early for our tour to Chimborazo and your employee made us tea and toast to send us on our way. We had to leave for the airport to head home at 3:45am and your employee again made us tea and toast to send us home.  This added touch made us very happy and we will recommend your establishment to any of our friends visiting Quito.  

We have also passed on good words to our tour company, Adventure Life, about your accommodating us.  

Thank you for a pleasant stay in Quito.  

Alice & Edwin     Room 302 

[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

May 22, 2009

Dear Judy, 

I am impressed how diligent you are about your work. There are not that many people out there take their job that seriously, more important, take their clients more seriously any more. As promised, I will send my friends your way.  

I will have an itinerary ready for everyone soon. Thanks to you for your big help as well.  

Have a wonderful weekend, 

My very best, 

Cindy  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

May 04, 2009

Dear Judy, 

We just returned from our South America trip.  It was fabulous, and I want to thank-you for your arrangements of our Cotacacchi, Ecuador leg of the trip.  From the moment we arrived, it was first class.  We loved the Mansion del Angels and were sad we only had one night there.  However, our stay at La Mirage was fabulous.  We were upgraded, and the room we had was just unbelievable.  We took advantage of all the spa opportunities and just luxuriated in the beautiful gardens.  The food was wonderful too.  We also appreciated our drivers.  We met the hotel owner, and were very happy to sing your praises.  Thank-you Judy for your impeccable arrangements.  


Katie   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

[LARC Response]: 




April 02, 2009

Hola Judy, 

How ironic to get your email now....Mrs. Papantonio just phoned me.  She raved about this trip and said it was one of the very best they've ever taken.  They really enjoyed the accommodations at Royal Palm (also, they were the only ones on the yacht excursions and the captain went out of his way to show them things most people don't usually see); La Mirage (including the spa and two chocolate massages for the girls!); their driver/guide was great; the Galapagos islands and animals; and the Otavalo Market which was an eye-opener for their daughter about life outside the U.S.  

I could almost see her smiling through the phone as she was talking about the trip!  Please thank everyone for their excellence.  


Karen   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

[LARC's Response]: 





March 13, 2009

[Forwarded by David:]

Hi David, 

Back from a fabulous trip to the Galapagos and the Amazon and just wanted to thank you so much for arranging the Amazon portion for us.  It was wonderful!  Quite the adventure.  Hamadryade Lodge was great and we were the only guests!  Sebastian is a nice guy.  He kept mentioning someone by the name of Judy - assume she works with you?  I will send you some pics when I get them loaded onto a photo gallery this weekend.  We did a 5 hour hike thru Sacha Reserve with Pepe who also runs the butterfly farm on the property.  Amazing the things he can spot.  The next day we did a full day white water rafting trip which was also fun but quite the adventure getting to the river.  Had a 30 minute hike down over rocks and lots of mud!  Finally got to sit poolside for a bit before we had to leave on Wed. L 

[Name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

[Response by David:]

Good news!! Muchas Gracias for the nice report.  Judy is a friend at LARC - Latin American Reservations Center - who reps Hamadryade among many other properties.  I book quite a few things with her & have for years.  She is also the one who told me about Hamadryade - nice to have another place to promote.  Ecuador has so much other than Galapagos

January 22, 2009

I wanted to say thanks for your help with my Galapagos travel.  The Beluga boat was comfortable and the staff was very professional.  The Guayaquil hotel was nice and in a perfect location for walking on my own.  The airport transfers were worth the expense on arrival, so that I could get a feel for the place without a language problem.  FYI - with the "four" day boat trip combined with an early flight off the islands there was no plan for me to see anything on the fourth day.  I was sorely disappointed.  Fortunately, the boat owner's wife saw to it that the naturalist got up early and gave me a solo tour of the breeding compound and George habitat before the other guests had breakfast.  Service above and beyond, in my opinion!

Carol K.
   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

January 09, 2009

Dear Donna and Miguel. 

I just wanted you to know our trip to Ecuador and Galapagos was great--exceeding our expectations. Gustavo and Enrique did a great job.  Thank you and them for working so hard to make this a memorable vacation.  

With best wishes, 

Baker Smith   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

 January 08, 2009


Most of all, thank you for planning such a fabulous trip!!!  You took such good care of us, and it couldn't have been better.  The accommodations, food, guides, transports all were wonderful.  You didn't miss a beat! Thank you for your patience and attention to detail...  We were able to be worry free and enjoy an amazing part of the world.  

Wishing you and your family a Happy, Healthy New Year! 

Julie   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

January 08, 2009


The best tour guide we had was our driver back and forth to Cotacachi.  Our driver, Rafael was terrific.  His English was great, and he provided so much information along the way, about the land, local foods, plants, things to do and such.  As I said previously, we had a wonderfully relaxing time at La Mirage, 3 days was the perfect length of time.  Enough time for a horseback ride, massage treatments, Otavalo, Cotacachi, and relaxation.  

I could obviously write a short novel about the Galapagos as you can imagine.  The only points worth noting is that the Legend was on par with our other lodgings, as the service was great and the ship was beautiful.  It was a little rocky at times, but Lisa and I had prescription seasickness medication, so we felt fine, despite being a little off balance. The food on the ship was average at best, but we were there to see the flora and fauna, not eat gourmet meals (La Mirage provided that!).  

All in all, it was a wonderful experience, we were very well prepared because of all the work that you did for us.  

Thank you, and feliz anno Viejo/happy new year.  

Judie M.  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

Comments 2010 - Current  |  Top  |  Contact Us  |

December 06, 2008

Now that we have returned, I would like to thank all of you for the efforts on our trip. Ramiro you should compliment all your associates for a job well done, especially Claudia in BA.  

Donna, if you have not heard, my wife tripped on a corner at the Llao Llao and as a result we had to cut our trip short by 2 days as she wanted her physician to checkout the stitches on her chin. All was fine. Ramiro is going to try and get us a refund for the days we had to cut short at the Emporador hotel and I assume, if he is successful, it will come through you.  

Happy New Year to all.  

FRED   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

December 06, 2008

Dear Donna and Ramiro, 

We returned home yesterday from our wonderful trip to Patagonia - it was a complete success thanks to both of you. Donna - many thanks for everything.  Ramiro - muchas, muchas gracias por todos.  

We will certainly happily pass your names on to any of our friends who are planning trips to Patagonia.  

With best personal regards, 

Miriam and Phil   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

December 03, 2008

Hi Judy, sorry for not writing earlier, but I wanted to give you feedback on our trip to Argentina.  

The trip was fabulous. Everything worked perfectly. The local guides were great, and the hotels very nice. Thank you for a great trip.  Here are some specific comments that you may use to recommend future trips: The hotel in Buenos Aires, Esplendor de Palermo is in a great location. Easy to walk to a huge number of restaurants, and easy walk to the subway. The rooms were very comfortable, and the breakfast outstanding. Would highly recommend. The stay in Buenos Aires was at least one day too long for what was there to do there, even taking into account the two day excursions to Uruguay.  

The day trip to Colonia was fine, but the day trip to Montevideo made for a very long day.  It would have been much better to spend the night in Montevideo instead of going back to Buenos Aires. One day in Montevideo was plenty, but it would have been nice to spend the night there and come back the following day.  

The Sheraton Iguazu was excellent for its location, but the restaurant was grossly overpriced, and I truly resented having to pay an exorbitant amount for Internet connection.  If you are willing to put up with that, the location was just great. Much better than driving in and out of the park every day.  Iguazu was easily the highlight of our trip.  

Mendoza was great, but I would not recommend Club Tapiz.  It was a very nice hotel, and the staff was great, but it is way out in the country and you are essentially trapped there.  If you want to just kick back and lounge by the
pool, it was great, but if you want to see anything else, it is no good.  I would have much preferred to have stayed the entire time at the Hyatt Mendoza.  We could have just as easily gone on the Andes and wine tasting excursions (both were great, by the way), but we would have had access to what the city of Mendoza has to offer in terms of restaurants and city life.  

By the way, I would strongly discourage renting a car in Mendoza unless you have brought adequate maps, and maybe a GPS unit.  We rented a car for a day and were thoroughly frustrated by the lack of maps and street signs. Driving was not particularly difficult, but you just couldn't find anything.  The maps supplied by the hotel and the car rental agency were worthless, but even with good maps it would have been difficult to find you way around because of the lack of street and road signs.  

But, as I said before, the trip was great.  

Look forward to working with you in the future.  

Frank   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

[ LARC's Response: ]



November 06, 2008


If heaven is anything like La Mirage I will be one happy camper!  What a gorgeous property with every amenity imaginable, a tremendous staff headed up by Clemencia who is the most lovely person, an A+ spa, gourmet food with fabulous presentation (Hugo is a tremendous chef) and some of the most gorgeous grounds I have seen.  From the moment we arrived and were greeted with warm hand towels and champagne, to the hot water bottles placed under our duvets each evening no stone was left unturned to make our stay the most comfortable possible.  Michel, the former owner of the hacienda, is such a loverly man.  One afternoon we went horseback riding and he helped make this possible at the last moment!  Happily, I had spa reservations when we returned from the ride and when I had completed my massage I left "walking on air."  

I can't imagine anyone leaving La Mirage without total euphoria!  It was a pleasure working with you.

   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

[PS:] We all had such a tremondous time and I want to thank you for the bottle of Malbec we enjoyed, with your compliments! In fact, it was so good we ordered more and more!!  What a kind gesture.  Muchas gracias para todos!!  

[LARC's Response:] 




October 25, 2008

Absolutely AWESOME service!  The hotels were terrific, the service at each was superb.  We loved Sauce and Prisma.  The Sumaq knocked off our socks and this one alone was probably the best 5-Star I've ever staying in...and I've had a few in my years.  They went out of their way in every respect, including arranging for our tickets for the next day at the park and hand delivering them.  The bus stopping at the front door was an added plus.  Our guide Fernando Alonzo was terrific.  Knowledgeable, cheerful, and most accommodating.  He stuck with us the whole time.  He had tears in his eyes when we graced him with a $400 tip.  It was very touching.  The touring coach was immaculate and beautifully maintained and Alex our driver was superb.  The restaurants included in our package were all top notch.  

Please extend our sincere thanks and admiration to your folks in Peru.  They did an awesome job and you and they will see much more business from us in the future.  As a tourism provider for over 20 years I have a lot more to learn about service as set by the example of the folks in Peru.  WOW!!!  

Thanks Judy. 

Tom  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

[Response from LARC:] 




October 03, 2008

We just returned from our trip in Ecuador/Quito, we absolutely loved Mansion Del Angel and were fortunate enough to have the suite on the 3rd floor!!  Thanks!  Do you guys work on trips other than South America or do you just focus there???  

Thanks again, Rick
[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

[LARC's response:]

HI MR. E.,  



June 30, 2008

Ellie and Judy, 

Just wanted you both to know that Nick and Eleanor got home yesterday, safe and sound. They had a fantastic time in Peru. Nick wished that he could have stayed longer in Peru and is eager to see more of South America. Of course, there were bits and pieces that, in retrospect, they would have done differently, but, all in all is was really a wonderful experience for them both. Travel and learn, right? During their volunteer weeks they took care of 1 - 3 year olds. They bonded with the kids and with their working (and very young) parents. Tearful goodbyes.  

Thanks to you both for all of your efforts, energy and help.  I'll send a handful of photos when I get them.  


Michael   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

April 02, 2008

Hi Judy

We are back from a fabulous trip. I wanted to thank you so much for all of your help. We had a wonderful time at La Mirage. I can recommend the Volcanic Mud Massage Treatment at the spa although it was a rather naked experience! We are both so happy that we ventured into the mountains. One of the things we enjoyed the most was wandering around the food and vegetable market in Otavallo. We were tired of crafts by then and found the market really exciting. I am sure we were safe. 

The funny thing was on the plan ride home they were showing a film called "Proof of Life" with Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe, well...... it was filmed in the Otavallo area and Old Quito. It is all about a kidnapping, glad I saw it on the way home!!!!   

Anyway, thank you so much. We would love to go back to South America again and will keep you in mind to help us with our plans. 

Kind Regards, 

  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

February 26, 2008

Judy, just wanted to let you know that we made it home safely after an absolutely wonderful trip. I wanted to thank you for all your help and the discount of course. 

We were overwhelmed by the excellent organisation and guides that we had in Peru. Everything was very well organised and ran smoothly even when I thought I had lost my train tickets to Sacred Valley. The guides were friendly, knowledgeable and so obliging, it was wonderful. 

I am glad we took your advice and stayed at El Pueblo in Machu Picchu. Such a nice hotel and such friendly staff. 

The Chile part of the tour was less well organised. Please do not take this as a complaint but we were so spoiled in Peru that anything less than superb was a wake up call. Driver in Santiago had limited English and he had us waiting at the airport for over 45 minutes on arrival. We ran in to a problem with a lack of a visa and trying to "smuggle" an orange in to Chile so we had to return to the airport the next day to pay the fine. The guide was very helpful and got us through the process much quicker than we would have managed on our own. Also the driver we had to drive us to Mendossa in Argentina, through the Andes, was very nice but had very limited English. Spectacular journey nevertheless. 

Our time in Mendossa was well organised with very friendly drivers and guides. 

Favourite hotels in order of preference 
El Pueblo, Machu Picchu - FIRST CLASS
Illarimuy Hotel, Sacred Valley - nice people and tranquil place.
Aconcagua Hotel, Mendossa - pleasant hotel, nice staff
Prisma Hotel, Cusco - clean and adequate
La Castellana, Lima - clean and convenient
Casa Andina, Puno - clean and friendly
Fundador Hotel, Santiago - clean and well located

The itinerary was perfect for our needs and we were delighted that everything ran so smoothly. As I said before we had NO complaints at all and my comments on the Chile portion should be read as constructive observations only. 

Again, our sincere thanks for looking after our unique itinerary so well. I have already passed on the name of LARC to a friend who is planning on a South American adventure. 

Best wishes, Graham

[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


[LARC's Reply: ]




February 21, 2008

Dear Dom 

Thank you for your welcome home message. We arrived late last night after a long journey home. All the flights worked out very well with only a couple of delays due to bad weather in Dallas which did not upset anything and we were able to catch our connecting flights without a problem. The luggage stayed with us all along until we rechecked it in at Johannesburg for Cape Town where one bag went missing (welcome to South Africa!!!!) 

We really liked the Nautilus Explorer but found the dive deck rather cramped and having to climb in and out of the skiffs was a problem at times when the seas were a bit rough. We did not see as many mantas as we had hoped and Roca Partida was very disappointing with only a couple of sightings of sharks. We heard that they had found a lot of nets when they returned after the down season. So very sad. 

Ecuador and the Sky Dancer far exceeded our expectations!! We were met at the airport on time and found the Mansion Del Angel delightful. The next day a really lovely driver picked us up and took us to La Mirage. He was very kind and helpful and managed quite well with his English. There was no need for an actual guide. We had had lunch at La Mirage in 2002 and were so impressed then. You can imagine our delight when we realized it was the same hotel. Our suite was magnificent, the staff were dedicated and efficient and we had a couple of good massages. Our journey back to Quito was great with the arranged stop at the Indian Market. We flew to San Cristobal where we were met by the Sky Dancer crew. Dom, no exaggeration, we have been on many liveaboards, as you know but these guys and the boat are SIMPLY THE BEST. They could not do enough for us including the Captain who was always on the dive deck helping us get on and off the boat as well as helping us undress and handing out warm towels!! We just wished the charter could have been longer. Our cabin was great and the food was excellent. The sea conditions were good though the vis at Darwin and Wolf was not good at all. There was loads of stuff out there but we had difficulty seeing it. We did enjoy a dive being circled by hammerheads and dolphins close enough to film. Gordons Rocks was the best with good currents and everything to see thanks to better vis. Water temperatures were comfortable ranging from 25 degrees C down to 18 in the thermoclines. Thanks for the tip about wearing two hoods, I was not cold at all. We were with a great crowd, mostly British, one American, one guy from St Lucia, a German, an Italian and a Japanese. The German and Italian shared a cabin and their English was not very strong, as was the problem with the Japanese chap but they all got on so well together and became the best of friends, looking out for each other at all times. We found them delightful and Karlheinz was happy to have a fellow country man to chat with now and then in German. We all exchanged mail addresses and hope to keep in touch or at least pass on a photo or two. Our guide, Edwin, was well informed and we enjoyed the land trips with him. We were on the skiff with a young dive guide called Natasha who was fantastic. We were so sad to leave the boat but are looking forward to reliving our holiday when we down load our pictures and edit our video. 

Dom, thank you for everything. This was certainly one of our best trips. 

We will stay in touch! 

All the best from Mary and Karlheinz  
[Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


January 31, 2008

La Mirage was more wonderful than I'd remembered it. On my other trips we only spent a night....that's what happens when you travel with Michele.  This time having 2 nights, we were able to enjoy the place and take advantage of the spa. I'm not as well traveled as some, but it's the most beautiful and special place I've ever been.  

[Names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

January 08, 2008


Thank you for organizing my trip to La Mirage.  My boyfriend and I had the most wonderful experience!  The service was impeccable and the views and ambience were unbelievable.  I especially loved all of the fireplaces and flowers.  We took advantage of every activity and spa treatment that was offered - our favorite being the shamon ritual and horseback ride through the countryside.  The food and wine was also fantastic.  I cannot say more positive things about La Mirage; I'm already planning a group trip back next year.  La Mirage is such an amazing and special place - and I have spread the message to everyone at Travel + Leisure.  

Thank you!  

Courtney  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

[Response from LARC:] 




January 07, 2008

Hi Judy: We returned yesterday from Florida where we spent a few days recovering from our vacation!  

We had a wonderful time and want you to know how happy we were with everything, especially the guides and meets and greets at airports, train, hotel, etc. Everyone was there on time and were extremely professional and competent.  

We also checked out of the Doubletree one night early, so we could return to the US. We were tired and ready to come home, plus New Year's Day things were closed. We did like the J.W. Marriott on the beach as a better choice for location in Lima. There was shopping and it was a very upscale neighborhood.  

We are still telling our friends about Inka Terra. The suite was fabulous and we thank you so much for that wonderful experience. The Royal Palm, La Mirage and El Pueblo were all special in different ways. The staff at La Mirage were extraordinary, friendly, helpful and the Chef was superb! The dinners were all memorable!  

We were OK at Liberador until we went to the Monasterio. Definitely heads above Liberador and we would highly recommend it to our friends.  

All in all, it was great. My husband doesn't know how much it cost, but he is raving that he has never had better treatment anywhere in the world! And whatever it cost, it was worth it!!!  

love and hugs  

Faye  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

 January 07, 2008

hi judy happy healthy new year just to say a very big thank you we had a great time your arrangements were tops and made everything easy and fun hope all is well with you and a great year ahead keep us in mind if something of [interest] comes your way/love and regards 

chester and barbara  
[Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

[Response from LARC:] 




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November 28, 2007

Well if I could make you smile as much as YOU have made me SMILE brighter then maybe ever before.. I am a GLOW in the Galapagos and for Debra it was bliss I ADORE YOU GUYS I have to work immediately on march The Party of 8 are wanting to change some of the schedule to include a zip line day in the cloud forest instead of the roller coaster and to check the prices of to offer the same suite 602/604 with the kids (3) zander/and his 2 sisters) with Marianne / 2nd suite is (I guess I may have to call if ok because I am very swamped is that OK for y'all.)  


Really it was a very enlightening Big SKY Country and such sweet gentle people I cannot maybe ever be able to thank you ladies and your team of angels enough I have really to write a proper letter of thanks to send for the walls of fame- to tell how I had the three year old in me awakened to allow the youth to "grow your brain" as [Seth's] email is.  Anything is possible if you try.  

With Love, 

Renate   [Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

[ LARC's Response: ] 




September 12, 2007

[regarding the Galapagos aboard the M.S. Cachalote]


Just a note, because I never followed up. It was wonderful beyond compare. Unbelievable. The best trip ever. We can't say enough good things. ONLY sorrow was that there was only allowed to be a total of 1 hour of kayaking the whole trip. Aside from that (and breaking my camera on day three) I am still, Daniel is still, beside ourselves. Thank you for bearing with us/me through the long process. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!  


Jennifer   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

July 30, 2007

We have just returned from a most perfect trip to the Galapagos, aboard the M.V. Beluga, 20-27 July 2007, on a photo tour with Arthur Morris.  The naturalist guide, Juan Manuel Salcedo, contributed so much to the success of the trip that we would like to specifically acknowledge this wonderful young man.  

Juan’s natural history knowledge is extensive, with a depth usually only achieved after decades of experience. He knows the islands as well as his own backyard. Not only is he familiar with the major animal species, but has a solid scientific grasp of plants, insects, marine and aquatic invertebrates, geology, history, and current management issues. He has excellent command of idiomatic English, and communicates effectively.  

His leadership skills were tested on this particular trip, as you are aware. From the initial injury incident on Española until the eventual resumption of our itinerary, Juan was extraordinarily patient and attentive to the passenger and to the rest of us. He exhibited an unusual degree of maturity for his age and we always felt that the situation was being handled well, given the resources available aboard the Beluga.  

On several occasions Juan was very helpful to us. One of our personal snorkeling masks leaked and he offered to locate a mask that fit better. It made all the difference in our enjoyment of the snorkeling experience. A leg of Steve’s camera tripod broke and Juan and the crew repaired it so well that no further repairs will be needed. When we dropped off the injured passenger in Puerto Villamil, her companions had accidentally packed Steve’s only pair of hiking shoes. Juan spent more than 2 hours in town locating the wayward shoes, not returning to the ship until he found them. We deeply appreciated his persistence since they were the only shoes that Steve, who has foot problems, can wear.  

We always felt well prepared for the daily activities due to Juan’s extensive briefings. He timed our landings and departures so perfectly that we actually managed to stay on schedule, no small feat when herding a group of photographers!  

In our opinion Juan Salcedo is a tremendous asset to Enchanted Expeditions and easily ranks among the best guides in the Galápagos. We will gladly recommend him to anyone considering a trip to Galápagos.  

Stephen and George-Ann
[Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


June 11, 2007

Hi Judy, 

Well, I've finally got myself back together after our fantastic trip. I can't possibly thank you enough for making such terrific arrangements for us. It was a special treat to actually meet you in Lima for dinner.  Everything went as planned- which is rarely the case when traveling in remote areas. The people at Chasquitour were wonderful. They even prepared a local foods picnic for lunch one day-instead of sitting in a tourist restaurant. The transfer men knew our faces after the first meeting and it was great to see them at every airport and train station ready to take our luggage. Machu Picchu is every bit as spectacular as you expect, but it is even better! We even had a sunny day. The Galapagos Islands were a wildlife enthusiast's dream. You just can't imagine how up close and personal you get with the animals. We were very impressed with the service on our boat The Eric. Every person knew his job and did it with amazing efficiency.  The food was abundant and delicious. Once again, thank you for making our 40th anniversary such a special celebration.  

Shelly and Les  [Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

May 29, 2007

You hit a grand-slam home-run, Judy , when you put us in the Hampton Inn in Guayaquil and the Doubletree El Pardo Hotel in Lima, and when you assigned us Victor Riera and Carman ?? as our cultivated and experienced guides in those two cities. I am a gold level Hilton card member, and we have never stayed at Hamptons or Doubletrees of such excellent quality in the U.S., and fairly priced in the bargain. Our guides spoke excellent English, and conveyed us in clean vehicles, and their commentaries were informative and fun. We recommend everything you arranged with enthusiasm. Guayaquil is a more interesting town than we anticipated, at least equal, we suspect, to Quito. Both hotels have perfect locations. We visited jewelry and alpaca/vicuna stores in Lima with Carman and made several excellent purchases. Thanks and cheers.  

H. P. B.    [Name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

May 09, 2007


So much fun meeting you in Lima! Thanks for coming to the airport to greet us.  Also, thanks for putting together a spectacular trip for us.  The air travel and accommodations were just exactly what I had envisioned. From your first word over the telephone, I knew that I had found the right person to help me plan this vacation to Ecuador and Peru. Your vast knowledge of the countries and your contacts certainly made it easy for us!  

Next on the list? Galapagos?  Puno and Manu’?  Calafate?  The options are endless and I will be in touch with you when the bank account and vacation time replenishes.  (As a matter of fact, I will be in touch with you way before then!)  I want to see everything there is to see in Latin America.  You will be just the one to help me do that! If I get the chance to refer anyone else to you, I will do handstands and shout cheers on your behalf. 

Please stay in touch and help me retain that Latin magic!  

Muchos Abrazos,  

Michael  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

March 21, 2007

I am happy to provide this report to you on our trip to Ecuador that was planned using the services of LARC. When we began planning our trip we knew that we wanted some advantages of a tour but also wanted an individualized travel plan. We worked with LARC tour agent, Judy Martin, who helpfully and pleasantly helped us to craft a travel plan that was perfect for us. 

Essentially, we designed 4 mini-trips within our overall tour of Ecuador using Quito as our base. Judy arranged lodging, guides and side trips for us, including transfers to and from airports and hotels, when necessary. 

First, we arrived in Quito for a few days where my daughter, Leah, is working as a teacher at El Colegio San Francisco de Quito. We stayed at the Mansion del Angel, which had a lovely rooftop cafe. 

Next, we then headed to the Southern Highlands to the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca. We stayed in the Crespo Hotel, which we loved. From there we took three main side trips: Ingapirca (Inca ruins), Cajas National Park, and the lovely villages and markets of Gualaceo and Chordeleg. 

After four fabulous days in Cuenca we flew back to Quito. We stayed at La Rabida Hotel, a quiet and clean place with a very helpful staff. While we loved Mansion Del Angel and Crespo for their ambiance, La Rabida felt "like home." 

Next; when we headed to the Oriente very near the border of Peru for a trip to the Amazon Jungle and Kapawi Eco-Lodge and Reserve. This was an amazing trip! After 4 or 5 awesome days we headed back to Quito. 

We took a day trip to Cotopaxi, the world's highest active volcano, and to the incredible hot springs of Papallacta. Back on Quito and La Rabida, we did several things on our own such as visit Quito's Old Town, the Golden Church, Cafe Mosaica high above the city for a cocktail at dusk, the Guaysamin Museum, and visited the markets and street venders. 

Lastly, we headed north, stopping at Calderon and other small villages arriving at our final destination of La Mirage, a gorgeous place with gardens, birds, extraordinary cuisine, and an amazing spa. We also visited the leather town of Cotacachi and the grand market town of Otavala. 

It was definitely a whirlwind 3 weeks but the plan was perfect for us to be able to see most of the country, stay in a variety of great hotels, have expert guides and efficient transfers, and be able to "tour" Ecuador just the way we wanted to. The tour guides were very professional and knowledgeable and fun to be with. Thank you Judy for your patience, humor, and perseverance in working with us to create the perfect South American vacation! You are the best - we felt like you truly took a personal interest in making our trip exactly how we wanted it to be. And it turned out BETTER than we expected as a result of all our planning together. Without a doubt, we will certainly use your services again. Thanks so much! 

[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


February 21, 2007

Dear Judy,

We have been home from Boca Raton, where we had a stop-over with friends and helped Stanley's sister, Judy, celebrate her 95th birthday on Feb. 3, since February 8. Our trip was a great, thrilling, satisfying experience, thanks, in no small part to you. We now realize how important the travel agent is--we used only one in the past- but your recommendations were the best! We are lucky that we took a chance on your website and that your recommendations turned out to be the source of immense pleasure.  

La Colina was just right for us. We had the best suite, I believe, in the hotel, on the fifth, top floor in the corner, as we had requested, with a magnificent view of Quito. We were up at about six or seven every morning and I took wonderful shots of the view under different atmospheric conditions to serve as a basis for painting. The hotel, itself, and our suite were really tastefully appointed in the style that reflected a lot of Quito. Although we did not intend to spend $1800.00 on an apartment, this suite was really much better for us, because it relieved us of having to concern ourselves with safety or any repairs we might have to make, like a stuffed sink or an electric bulb that needed to be replaced. 

We enjoyed the neighborhood and found the cleaner around the corner as good as, if not better than the ones we use here. The Supermaxi next to the Swiss Hotel was really super. We enjoyed the wonderful Japanese restaurant at the hotel and the three guitarists who came to entertain us at the delicious buffet Christmas eve. My three years of high school Spanish served us in good stead, and we established friendly relationships everywhere we went, albeit with limited, broken grammar. Great fun. The staff at la Colina was really very accommodating and quite friendly.  

Ditto the hotel in Cuenca, quite, quite charming, although we would have preferred a room overlooking the garden, which we had requested before we paid our bill on Nov. 2. I'm glad our room faced the inner lobby and not the street.  

And we can't find the words to adequately describe how pampered we felt at La Mirage! Unfortunately, I had a 24 hour seven day terrible cough, so could not use the pool or have a massage. We loved those peacocks, the service, the food and the extraordinary beauty of the grounds. The new year's eve celebration was extraordinary in its creativity. Regards were sent to you by one of the owners, not sure whether it was the taller of the two, and 
unfortunately, I don't remember his name.  

We have never seen such color as we saw at the market in Otavalo. Blew our minds away as did the culture and color of everywhere we went.  

Unfortunately, we had to cancel the Machu Picchu part of our trip. Upon our return to Quito from La Mirage we consulted a physician at the American administered hospital about my cough, and Stanley was advised not to go to Cuzco where he would run the risk of a heart attack because he has a leaky heart valve. Instead, we went to Lima and Trujillo.( My money belt was stolen from our room at the Posada del Inca Olivar. Fortunately, I had removed my credit card holder when we went to dinner, and there was no money in it, nor my passport; only my eyeglasses and all the keys to our luggage.)  Even the latitude at Quito affected Stanley's breathing and energy.  

All in all, it was a most wonderful trip. I loved speaking whatever little Spanish I knew, and we enjoyed Quito immensely, especially La Carolina park, where we went on several Sundays to spend the afternoon watching families and lovers enjoy the foot paddle boats in the lagoon. (I held a boa constrictor at the reptile house and we also went to the botanic gardens) We did not get to see all that we wanted to in the old town. There was a riot on one of the days protesting the corruption of the legislature. We had planned to go on the first sunny day; that turned out to be the Monday before, and all of the museums there were closed. You had better believe we tried the best places in town to have our lunch, which was the main meal of the day. A wonderful fish soup at the Hilton Colon for five bucks! Where can you get that anywhere!  

Anyway, the time went quickly, and I, if not Stanley because of the altitude, would go back, yesterday, if I only could . We came home with the most beautiful colored scarves and alpaca ones, too, very cheaply bought, at the market in El Ejido park on Saturday, among other things, to give as gifts, and it was hard for me to part with anything. Also found a truly beautiful old necklace of silver filigree, in a shop opposite the Swiss Hotel, with a peacock suspended from it to remind me of La Mirage, with matching earrings.  

We were not in Ecuador long enough. No one can imagine the impact our trip, which included the Galapagos, and the cultural history in the churches and museums, had on us. I took over 1,200 digital pictures and am busy editing a second set to show to friends. Even though the best are for viewing I would not delete anything from the entire set. I plan to make a picture book for my two and a half year old grandson with some of the pictures, like the one of the peacock with tail fully open, peering in the dining room window where we were having breakfast at the Mirage!  

Please feel free to use this email in your advertising.  

Thanks to you, again.

Bernice and Stanley   
[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


[ LARC's Response: ] 




February 12, 2007

Hi Judy,

Thanks for helping make this the best vacation both I and Andrew have ever taken. Every single arrangement was right on the money--no delays, no missed connections, no surprises. Everything went like clockwork, and for that we are grateful to you and your agents.

We had wonderful times in Patagonia, Guayaquil and the Galapagos. In fact you might say we left our hearts in So. America!!

All the Best,

  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

January 19, 2007

Our trip was fantastic. Every place we stayed was great and the guides were wonderful. We even sat next to Kevin Bacon, his wife Kyra Sedgewick and their kids at dinner at La Mirage. You really put together a 
memorable adventure.  

Lisa   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

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December 31, 2006


Here is another report from our vacation. I hope it's helpful and not too annoying.  

The flight to Guayaquil was easy and the airline was just fine. Even though it's six hours we thought of it as just a little longer than LA, so very doable. The Hilton Colon in Guayaquil is fine and our guide was great, took us to a nice restaurant etc. but Guayaquil is not a city worth hanging out in. I had heard nightmare stories about the flights to Galapagos but we found them, very efficient and easy.  

One note. We were never told of a $100 per person Galapagos entry tax. With six of us that's a lot of cash off the top so travelers should be warned. We were met by Rafael, our guide, who is very knowledgeable, calm, and serious. Strong accent, but we got used to it.  

We took a short bus ride to the harbor and took a dingy to the Sea Cloud. Our hearts sank when we saw the accommodations. Four rooms of the same size. 2 in front, 2 in back by the engine. Tiny cramped rooms with bunk beds, I had remembered pictures of the Rachel and remembered that it had 2 rooms with double beds and 2 rooms with bunks. In any event the Sea Cloud was just too small for even six of us and I can't imagine if we had brought 8.  

One suggestion, bring AS LITTLE LUGGAGE AS POSSIBLE. There is no storage space for bags etc. And don't come if sleeping with your wife or lover is an important part of your vacation. The crew seemed nice enough but we realized that there were 6 of them! Captain, first mate, engineer, cook, crewman and guide. So there were not enough beds for them. This meant that at any time of day or night we would find them sleeping on couches or on deck. This offered very little privacy and no chance to escape. Even the bow deck of the boat was not equipped with cushions for hanging out.  

The distances between the Islands are sometimes 6 or 8 hours so the plan was to sail, under motor, at night. But this made it impossible to sleep. Motoring in a sailboat is way more nauseating than sailing because of fumes etc. And sailboats can only motor at half the speed of a motor yacht and are much less stable. The girls all got sea sick and opted for sleeping on deck. We gave them the patch and told the captain that we would no longer be sailing at night.  

The bottom line is if you are not going to sail, don't take a sailboat. There are beautiful, fast, spacious motor yachts that get you between the islands in half the time.  

Now a few word about the Galapagos. AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, AWESOME, MIND BLOWING. We had some of the most memorable experiences of our lives. Encounters with animals unlike any other in the world. Everyone should go, but as Rafael put it, "the Galapagos is not an easy vacation" Up every day early to hike or snorkel, lunch and then back at it in the afternoon, but every outing was better than the last, and the memories will last forever. We tried to think of family members and friends that would have enjoyed the trip and they were few and far between. You have to be ready for boats and a lot of activity, but if you have the energy it's so worth it and very safe. The animals are very friendly because they are not threatened by humans. Even the SHARKS are friendly! We were very happy to have the Satellite phone as it enabled us to make calls as our plans changed. It worked very well considering that we were in the middle of the ocean in the middle of nowhere. We stayed in a cute hotel in town called Solymar. Brand new and inexpensive, but clean and comfortable and the owner, Renato, will do anything for you.  

So bottom line get a good boat, or stay on land and do day trips (although you will miss some amazing Islands) Get a good guide, because they know the secret places and how to avoid the crowds. Pack light and bring a good camera with an underwater housing if you can.  

We found the trip to Quito pretty easy but the landing in the Andes can be a bit bumpy. The drive to La Mirage really drives home the notion that you are in another world. La Mirage is a beautiful place. In a small town that specializes in leather goods. It has nice gardens and every room is different. Charming, cozy with fireplaces and hot water bottles in the foot of your bed at night. The food is fine, not great. The spa is OK. They try hard but they weren't the best treatments we ever had. Unfortunately the pool is indoor and the exercise equipment hasn't worked since the 80's.  

We went for a beautiful walk up into the mountains and found a little Indian village. The Indians are tiny. Barely 4 feet tall. But very friendly. It's great to explore Otavalo, the Indian market. They have beautiful handcrafts, rugs, scads, etc. for dirt cheep.  

Our guide Miguel was very knowledgeable about the area and took us to some out of the way villages. Guinea pig is the local delicacy but we passed on that one. The mountains are spectacular and we lucked out with the weather but either way tacking on an Andes visit to a Galapagos trip is definitely worth it.  

KB 12/31/06   [Name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

December 06, 2006

The Peru leg of the trip was outstanding. The Peru agents did a super job--deluxe personal service. While I know the Sanctuary Lodge and the Hiram Bingham train ride were obscenely expensive, we didn't regret it a bit. It really was a special experience and worth the money. They provided excellent food, lodging and service. I know you've seen Machu Picchu so know how great it is. Since it is the rainy season, we were concerned about the weather, but we actually had sun at Machu Picchu. Well, that is my report, Cindi. Thanks so much for your help with this--everything turned out better than expected.

    [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

November 13, 2006


I just returned from Ecuador and want to thank you for your suggestions and planning.  The trip was fabulous! Everything went smoothly and the hotels were perfect.  I will certainly contact you again for future trips and will recommend you to others.  

With much appreciation, 

Tina  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

September 28, 2006

Galapagos trip had a great boat (Aida Maria). The guide was an excellent naturalist.

  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

September 13, 2006


My husband, daughter and I would like to thank you for helping us to plan our trip to Ecuador.  The trip was truly memorable.  Everything went as planned, and we are safely home again, feeling we were privileged to see so much and such a variety of areas in Ecuador.  It was always wonderful to see Miguel waiting for us at the airport and hotel.  He was a great help and did a good job of coordinating everything.  The guide whom he arranged for us, Ricard Espinosa, was a delight.  La Mirage was a real treat, as you promised, and a lovely way to end our two weeks in Ecuador.  Our only regret is that Kevin Bacon didn't chose to come over Labor Day instead of Christmas!  (Miguel told us you are planning a trip for him.) 

Many, many thanks for your expert advice and suggestions.  We will call next time we plan a trip to South America, and we will, of course, recommend you to any friends, who express an interest.  I hope you have had a nice summer yourself!  

With thanks and best wishes, 

Martha   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

[ LARC's Response: ]




September 11, 2006

Donna - we had the BEST TIME EVER!  

The jungle was fun and Kapawi was quite nice and the Galapagos were just amazing. 

We couldn’t believe how nice the Evolution was and chock full of interesting people: A Member of British Parliament, Joan Didion’s Assistant, and Crazy-rich International Financier...It was too much fun. The guides were great and we snorkled almost everyday. We were going to go to Banos for a couple of days, but because of the volcano we went to the Hacienda San Augustin de Callo instead for 2 nights. It was terrific and Cotopaxi stunning (although I nearly died climbing up it - there’s no oxygen there.)  

Now I’m broke and must go back to work. Very sad. See attached happier time.  

-Sandy & Brian    [Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

August 01, 2006

We loved Ecuador and the Galapagos!!!  The land trip was just right and the guide, Henry Richard Espinosa, was terrific. We had a medical emergency and he helped us get through it wonderfully.  We really like Cochasqui better than Ingapirca because it's the real thing, not just some restoration.  Cochasqui is completely intact as the ancient people built it.  The Evolution is an excellent boat with a really nice crew, good food, and just the right number of passengers.

All in all, we'll certainly recommend this trip. 

 [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

July 14, 2006

Dear Janie, 

The trip was fabulous!  The Beluga was great and all the crew members were outstanding. The food delicious, all the crew members went out of their way to make us comfortable, and I must say, a group of photographers is a high maintenance group. They lugged our equipment safely in and out of the dinghy, had meals and snacks waiting for us. It was super. Our guide, Juan, was the best. He was so knowledgeable, and there wasn't a question he couldn't answer.  He was flexible, allowing us to do pretty much what we needed to, to get our photographs, within the limits of the Nat'l Park rules. 

We had a once-in-a-lifetime experience and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Metropolitan Touring was also great. The people we were in contact with went out of their way, giving us their phone numbers to contact them with any difficulties. They made the transition so much easier, being in a foreign country. They arranged for private transportation, and an individualized tour on two separate occasions, once in Quito and again in Guayaquil. A great experience. 

We also went to Sacha Lodge. Our guide, Miles McMullen was a bird expert and did a great job. We also had a native guide who was very adept at sighting birds and all kinds of wildlife. Every day was filled to the brim with adventure. Pirhanna (sp? ) [Piranha] fishing, jungle hikes, hikes to the top of the canopy, even a night hike to seek out tarantulas, bugs, and frogs. Wow. Will try to send you some images. We sure have a lot to go through and edit! Hope to meet you someday. Maybe an African tour??? 

David  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

July 14, 2006


Paul, Eduar and I had a great time and saw a lot! The Cartuja was lovely and well located. The trip down to Cuenca was spectacular, and our guide Hugo was excellent. Please pass along our thanks to Miguel, and thank you for your help.

 [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

[ LARC response: ]

The Crespo and the Abraspungo are lovely too.  Crespo is better located than the 5 Star option in Cuenca.

June 28, 2006

Dom: Thanks for contacting us!  

First of all, what is your new venture: ""? (I don't seem to get a web sit when I go to that address?)   

Second, Bob and I had a great time on the trip.  

Our time at La Mirage was terrific, and all of the plans went off without a hitch and as advertised. The Heils and we went horseback riding and took advantage of the spa facilities one afternoon. The food was good.  

La Cartuja had received all of our reservations accurately and were accommodating as usual.  

The diving was fantastic (this is our second trip to Galapagos): We were thrilled with a significant whale shark encounter on our first day at Wolf. She was a BIG girl. Unfortunately we had only one other whale shark sighting on scuba (a juvenile) and one sighting at the surface. That was my biggest disappointment but out of everyone's control, of course.  

However, the other shark activity was truly remarkable. During 8 full days at Wolf and Darwin, we had significant numbers of hammerhead sharks on every dive. In addition, at Wolf, the Galapagos sharks were everywhere, and we had encounters with black tips, white tip reef sharks, and silky sharks (too many in that case!) We literally dropped in looking at sharks from the first moment.  

Dolphin, turtles, schooling fish, and sea lions were all abundant depending on where we were. The water was warmer than I expected in the northern islands at this time of year; the southern/central islands were a mixed bag. Roca Redondo was freezing, with poor visibility and limited life. That was probably the worst diving, and I know it can be outrageous depending on currents and other conditions. Cousins Rock was awesome as always.  

Bob and I were very happy with the Sky Dancer's Captain Rafael, naturalist Jaime (who had been one of our naturalist/dive masters on the Lammer Law in 2002) and dive master Kike. Service overall was good. The food was fine, particularly the lunch and snacks. The housekeeping service in our room was excellent.  

Dom, thanks for all your help. As we said before, your detailed planning on our behalf was a significant relief for us. Again, we wish you the best, and please let us know about your new position.  

Kind regards.  

Jacqueline  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

June 28, 2006

Judy Judy Judy !!  Thought you might like to see this very positive feedback from Skip's clients who loved all your arrangements. 

Thanks, Dom



Well we had a most delightful time in Ecuador, thanks!!!!! I particularly wanted to thank you for all of your help in arranging our plans for the week prior to the Galapagos travels. I copied the notes you sent in reply to my various questions about hiking, etc & reviewed them on the trip to help us figure out where to go (you supplied enough details about hiking in Banos that our guide asked if he could join us . . .I got a map from travel shops in Banos which helped us determine various paths to take for our hike up to view the volcano there ... )   

We adored our guide!!  He was pleased to join us on the rafting trip . . . his 1st rafting trip!!  By the way, the raft trip was quite fun (& the folks leading the trip were both professional & heaps of fun!!!!!) We made two more hiking trips in the Andes (to the Refugio at Cotopaxi & then to Imbabura near Cusin's Hacienda . . with a guide from the area). After feeling rather good about having a fine mainland stay, we were actually swept away (i.e. all was so very easy) and arrived without any work on our part, in the Galapagos on board the Sky Dancer. What a great crew (all of them) . . .so very friendly, hospitable, with such caring attitudes . . . a wonderful place to be for 2 weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Loved the boat . . . all was made so very easy in all ways for us.  Oh my gosh, just a fairy tale!!!!  

The diving was quite fun; the surges and bit of current made it adventurous!!  Schools and schools of hammerheads . . . again unbelievable!!!!  Saw everything underwater possible . . . no complaints in this department!!  The only issue was that Skip couldn't get his itinerary approved; consequently, we had to forgo many of the intended land trips. I think that I would have preferred to take more land trips, although I was quite satisfied with the panga rides (we saw such wonderful things from the zodiac!!!!)   

Thanks for being right there for us . . . Are you still in this line of business??  If so, please let me know what trips you might organize as we would love to go to Indonesia as well as to Truk & Palau.  Arrange any trips in Australia??? 

We would love to stay in touch!! 

Thanks again!!!!! 

Joan & Marsh   [Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

June 27, 2006


Dave here. Just wanted to thank you for all your help with our Ecuador trip. Every part was truly wonderful. We loved the Cachalote and the Galapagos. Our guide was amazing and fun. That said, if we could do it all over again, we probably would not go back to Sani Lodge (which had been totally our choice). They didn't have a lot to do during the afternoons, no electricity in the rooms, and they were a four hour boat ride from Coca (other lodges aren't so far). We heard much better things from other travelers about Sacha lodge. Also, La Mirage was over the top fun, but we probably would only stay there one night, as those four course meals take a long time and it was expensive.

Thanks again,

- Dave  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

ps do you handle Bolivia?  I'd love to go there some day.

June 12, 2006

Hi, Judy and Miguel and Mike,

We made it home late last night. Thank you again for all your excellent work in organizing the trip for my students and others. Everybody learned so much and had a great time. For the evaluations they completed for the university, your logistical support and the travel and food and accommodations and guiding were all rated extremely highly.

One of the days in the rainforest we all went to 2 parrot licks downriver in Yasuni NP, then went to the home of one of the indigenous guides (Donaldo, in the community of Pilchi), where we interacted with his family and met the village schoolteacher and saw the school, infirmary, common building, etc.; and then took a 3 hour hike back to Sacha. This was a nice change from the regular Sacha guided tour sites, and the students especially liked the more strenuous hiking and seeing so many parrots.

Miguel: Jose was an excellent guide at Sacha Lodge. He was quite good at Otavalo and the highlands. And he was only moderately good for the old town Quito tour; I don't think old churches and art work are really his thing as much as birds. Also, I think he rushed things quite a bit to be done in time for the football game between Ecuador and Poland (which many in our group were also excited to watch).

Judy: special thanks to you for finding the San Jose. We had a very good experience on it. The free-lance guide they retained--Efrain Zambrano, a class III naturalist from the highlands of Santa Cruz--was terrific. And unlike other great guides from the past, he didn't proposition the women all the time, which saved me some headaches. I was really glad to see much more of Isabela Island than I had in the past (paddling in the mangroves at Bahia Elizabeth and seeing beautiful hawksbill turtles and large groups of spotted eagle rays was especially memorable), as well as Floreana Island, which was new to me. We experienced very rough seas on the south coast of Isabela all the way over to Floreana, and again from Floreana over to Espanola--which we were told was quite unusual for this time of year.

The San Jose fit the bill for us very well. But just so you know for the future, I'll offer a few comparisons with Ecoventura boats. SJ: except for guide Efrain and bartender/meal server Jefferson (both from Galapagos), all 9 other crew were from Guayaquil and spoke Spanish only; and only a few of our group were fluent in Spanish, so our group didn't interact with the entire crew as much as on Ecoventura voyages. SJ: the cabins were more spacious but less fancy in terms of woodwork, fittings. The food was equally good, but the dining room wasn't as formal on the SJ. And the SJ did not have chairs/benches to sit on up near the bridge for us to look for whales, dolphins, etc.--only the backwards-facing recliner lounges up on the sun deck.

So, all in all, a great trip, and I am very appreciative to you all for your terrific work in setting everything up.

Cheers, Tom
   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

June 02, 2006

Hi Judy, 

We are back from Galapagos, it was a great trip. Got to see all the animals on my list. Happy to be home to eat good tasting food and drink the water.  I met another one of your clients.  Nancy from Las Vegas. 

Thank you, 

Paula  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

May 22, 2006


Just wanted to sent a note to tell you thanks for all your help with the Galapagos / Ecuador trip. We all had an incredible time. Everyone involved with helping us was very kind. Our driver, Ernesto, was especially awesome and we all enjoyed him very much. 

Thanks again from all of us

Wendy   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

May 18, 2006

Hi Judy, 

as I promised you, here is my feedback on the trip to Ecuador. Sorry about the delay. It is amazing how much stuff piles up when you are away. Overall it was great. I think Ecuador deserves much better publicity than it gets in the US. The countryside is spectacular, the people are nice, and the variety is amazing for such a small country. Miguel's people did an excellent job. I would highly recommend them to others considering visiting Ecuador.

Some specifics. The hotels you recommended were uniformly good. La Mirage was probably the best hotel we have ever been in. The service was flawless and the food outstanding. It was one of the highlights of our visit. Mansion del Angel was just about perfect to visit Quito. We liked it much better than the Hilton or Marriott. The rooms were better, and the location was just about perfect to walk to restaurants in the new town. 

I am glad you recommended the train ride. I thought it was going to be a tourist trap, but it turned out to be great. There were lots of local tourists, and it was quite an adventure. The hotel Abraspungo in Riobamba was adequate, but just that. It was not in the class of all the other ones, and its location outside of town meant we couldn't see anything else. I would recommend a different one in the future.

Sachatamia was fine, but two days there was too much. Once you go for a long hike in the forest, and spend several hours looking at hummingbirds, there is nothing else to do. I would recommend just one night there. We were pretty bored the second day. 

Kapawi was amazing. We thoroughly enjoyed that visit. The only negative is that I wish we had known about the potential delays getting there and back during the rainy season. We had to spend a night in Shell (actually Puyo) because the weather in Kapawi closed the airport. The lodge operators did their best to keep us entertained during the delay, but there was really not much to do. It was touch and go getting back, also because of the weather, and it took all day to get back to Quito. These kinds of delays are inevitable given the conditions, but it would have been nice to know ahead of time instead of being surprised. Luckily, our connections after Kapawi were reasonably flexible, but it could really be a major problem if you made airline reservations, or other plans that couldn't accommodate a day or two of delays.

We booked our own trip to the Galapagos, but I would recommend Lindblad Expeditions to anybody going to the Galapagos. They did an excellent job. They were not cheap, but worth what we paid for the trip.

Thanks again for all your help. We are thinking about going to Argentina next year.  Do you handle travel in that country?

   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

[ LARC's Response: ]









May 10, 2006

Thanks for your help. The tour in Quito worked out well. The Rachel was special - 8 of us with our own boat with crew and naturalist.  Definitely the way to go. Unfortunately, Ellen broke her wrist on Santa Fe [Island] on our last full day, but she still raves about the trip.  My daughter, who states that she's anything but a nature girl absolutely loved it.

Hope all is well.  

Ira   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

May 02, 2006

Dear Judy,

First off, the trip went according to plan perfectly - there were no glitches whatsoever. We were met at the airport or train station at each new stop, by a person who was completely knowledgeable about what we would be doing and when and how, and who ushered us to transportation and guide, and on our way in jig time. The guides were all really good, and very helpful. Thank you very much. The drivers were also quite good, and as you know some of those roads are very challenging to drive.  

There are some observations I'd like to make in hopes they will help you in the future.  

Our trip to Paracas, Ballestos Islands, Ica, and the Nazca lines was without guide, but with two drivers. We were told that the law required two drivers if the drive was to be more than four hours - which the return from Ica to Lima certainly was.  However, the drive from Aeraquipa to Chivay was also more that 4 hours (close to 6 as I recall) and we had a driver and a guide, but not two drivers. It is a small point as there was very little need for a guide in Paracas; the Ballestos boat had an English speaking operator and the Nazca pilots spoke English. The drivers themselves were very personable and helpful taking us to a museum in Paracas and the Paracas National Reserve, neither of which require much explanation. And then, while we waited for the 11:30 flight, they took us to another museum in Ica, which also had English language placards by a good number of the exhibits and to the Oasis in Ica.  

For some reason, the vans we had in Lima and Cuzco were large vans - 15 passenger or so.  Nothing wrong with that, it just seemed a shame to be driving and parking such an oversized vehicle.  

We had some problem with altitude in Machu Picchu and Cuzco, which meant that we were not up to seeing or doing all there was to do.  As you may recall we had intended to spend half of December, all of January and February, and the first week of March at our Condo in Colorado which is at 9800 feet and would have acclimated us, but I took sick and had to return to Washington. So we were not acclimated and the Diamox does not solve all altitude problems.  Jan had caught a bug on the ship that escalated itself into what the Doctor (who our Cuzco contact, Americo, quickly found for us in Cuzco) likened to "walking pneumonia".  So Jan was completely "winded" in the first visit to Machu Picchu, and I made a separate second trip that ended up winding me too. By the time we got to Aeraquipa we were on the mend, and Lake Titicaca did not pose any significant problems.  

The soaring Condors in the Colca Canyon showed themselves just a little after we got there, and then, the guide told us to go to another spot, even though the crowds had gathered about 100 yards from there.  (We are not sure but believe that when the guide disappeared for a moment that she was running down to the bottom of the canyon to let the Condors out of their cages!  Could that be !?!)  Anyway, we had the perfect spot to watch the Condors soar and do their tricks.  A real thrill!  

One thing that, as you may recall, we struggled with in the planning was the schedules of boats and planes at Lake Titicaca.  As far as we could tell when we got there, there are a goodly number of boats that do take tourists out onto the Lake, none of which seemed to be on a schedule but were simply available for charter.  The one we took had no other passengers, and the boatmen would have been willing to bring us back earlier the next day in time to catch the afternoon flight to Lima rather than in the afternoon for the following morning flight.  (They did have a little engine problem a couple of times on the way to Taquille Island, but all went well crossing the Lake to Suasi.) Suasi was a wonderful attractive, peaceful and restful end to our full time trip.  But still we would have liked to have gotten back from Suasi to Lima without the extra night in Puno.  What we did was in accordance with the final plans, but in retrospect we think it would have been possible to schedule it the way you had originally laid out. The extra night and half day in Lima would have been nice.  The next time you schedule anyone to Suasi, you might want to press this issue a little more. My impression is that people you deal with in Lima or Puno tend to go back to the same people they have worked with before, and that in the process they do not search as hard as they might for a better plan. Incidentally, we met the Puno boss, who did not speak English, but we asked through the guide if he had been involved in the planning of our trip.  He may not have understood us, or we may have misunderstood him, but he said he had not had anything to do with the planning.  This is not to complain, because we did everything according to your well thought out plan - this is to suggest that you might be able to do even better for others in the future, if you get your Peru (Lima or Puno) contact to press a little harder.  

We had a great time, guides were wonderful, hotels fine and very convenient, three of them, Oro de Leon in Lima, Suasi and Aeraquipa, extra special nice.  

Many thanks for all your help, and best regards  

Jan and Ed   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

March 20, 2006

Hi Judy and Miguel, 

Thank you very very much for your hard work and dedication to my clients.  It means the world to me that you were there to assist with them during this crazy weekend.  

Thanks so much, Sharon
[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


February 28, 2006

Dear Judy,

Just a quick note to say that everything went very well. We had an amazing trip...  The people from Turisvision were especially nice and reliable.  The Swissotel made up for some issues on the first night by upgrading us on the
last night we returned.  Thanks for your help.  Best to you... 

Jan  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


January 29, 2006

Our trip was wonderful and exhausting and very educational.  All the arrangements you made were excellent and flawless.  Miguel is a very accommodating and responsible agent and tourguide.  The sites for meals (Cienega, Puerto Lago) and lodging (Fuente Piedro, Pinsaqui) were each unique and very hospitable.  Otovalo market is delightful (we could have used more time), with a few actual artisans interspersed among scores of secondary vendors.  Visiting the nearby crafts towns generally exposed us to a higher level of craftsmanship.  Miguel took us to the studio of a weaver in Peguche whose work was outstanding (and now well represented in our house in Ithaca).

Sacha is a delight, but is very different from the naive perspectives we had of the jungle.  We saw many fewer exotic species than we'd anticipated, but this was due to our lack of understanding about diversity and numbers. Outstanding staff, excellent food and lodging.  The trekking is a bit arduous - lots of getting into/out of canoes, the footing on the trails is often uneven, and there is some extensive climbing.  Mary Lee was able to keep up with most, and the guides were very accommodating to her special needs.  The 2.5 hour trip along the Napo is delightful.  If someone wants to see lots of species of toucans and exotic birds up close, they should go to Bush Gardens, but for an easy and enlightening adventure this is a wonderful place.  

Ecoventura is a first rate organization.  The ship was clean, the food and other service were outstanding, and all the staff were very friendly and helpful.  Everyday there were small extras provided, which added significantly to the individual and collective enjoyment of the passengers.  Here again, our guides and crew were very attentive to helping Mary Lee on/off of the pangas (twice daily) without disrupting the activities of the other passengers.  The uniqueness of each of these islands must be seen to be appreciated. 

Some of the passengers on the lower deck reported having air that smelled of diesel and also mentioned the noise from the engines as being disruptive, but our upper deck rooms were very airy and bright, and also more convenient.  I think some air purification system was not functioning properly, but you might want to mention this to future clients.  We were very glad to have paid the extra $$ for the upper deck rooms.  We are infrequent travelers to such exotic places, so a little extra investment to enhance the comfort is worth it.  

On our last day in Quito we hired a guide from Sacha (who was home on break in Quito) to take us to Bellavista and a nearby orchid farm and also a private hummingbird reserve (owned by Tony Nunnery, who leads tours for Victor Emanuael).  We were not especially impressed with the Bellavista lodge, but the other two sites were fantastic.  The bird house has recorded the greatest number of hummingbird species per day of anywhere on earth, and we saw about 15 species.  

That's it in a capsule.  Again, we thank you for all your efforts to make this journey easy and enjoyable for us.  We hope 2006 brings you much happiness.  Please let me know if you are ever coming by Ithaca.  Cornell has a very active herpetology club, and they might be particularly interested in meeting with someone of your experience 
and interests.

   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

January 26, 2006


I just wanted to let you know how wonderful both the Mirage and Del Angel were. We had a great time.

Sharyne & Mitchel  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

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November 22, 2005

We just returned from a week at the Royal Palm and were delighted with the magic of the place.  If you seek elegance and comfort and something quite different, the Royal Palm is a good choice.  We were upgraded to a Villa which is a four room house.  Besides the very large bedroom, living room (with a fireplace), enormous bathroom (separate rooms for the w.c. and large shower) there is an equally large [whirlpool hot tub] room with surround windows that overlook the surrealistic views.  We checked the Veranda room which we had originally booked and found it to be beautiful, just smaller, with a [whirlpool hot tub] outside.  The Royal Palm is a romantic and quiet get-away. The staff is attentive, and the setting amazing.  Being in the highlands it is subject to the Garua depending on the month.
It has a mystical mist. 

  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

November 21, 2005

Hi - thank you so much for organizing our trip. It was fantastic! Everything that you organized for us went perfectly. Our luggage did not arrive in Cuzco, and there were "issues" at the airport in Lima - I don't know what we would have done without the guides. They fought the airlines for us, managed to retrieve our luggage and had it waiting for us when we returned from Machu Picchu. The guide in Cuzco lent my son some of her son's clothes. Everything else went smoothly. Thanks again!

[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]
[ Judy's (of LARC) response: ]



September 19, 2005

Hi All...

Trip back was as always exhausting, but uneventful which is good....

The arrangements in Ecuador were excellent and the car and driver super..... Thanks so much.... Trip was terrific...... Everyone enjoyed everything immensely......

Kudos to Miguel for last minute fix-it on van to Guayaquil from Cuenca..... We had a good trip down but had hoped to have Oswaldo for the day and not just until 2:30 when we were dropped at hotel...but do understand he had to get back to Cuenca and check on Chevy Astro..........

I will be in touch up the road about Peru and perhaps Bolivia when the time comes...Could be a while as the list is pretty full, but I won't forget... Hope all went well for you in Peru, Miguel and thanks for everything Donna... Good job all around....... Robert...... 


I think Ernesto had HR in front of White outside customs at Quito on arrival 16 days ago........I knew that had to be the real thing!

Received: September 19, 2005

AUGUST 12-29, 2005

Friday, August 12th - Departure and Introduction

Jan and I left Washington National Airport around 2 pm on Friday, Aug 12. American Airlines flight to Miami (2 and 1/2 hours), followed by a short lay-over and a very long walk between gates and another American Airlines flight (3 and 1/2 hours) to Quito, the capital of Ecuador, arriving around 8:30 pm. We were met by our tour guide, Miguel, and taken on a relatively short drive to our hotel.

First, a few words about Quito. It's a large city (pop around 2 million), and the capital of Ecuador. It's around 30 miles long (north-south) and only 4 miles wide. Basically, it sits on a high Andean plateau, at around 9,000 feet, in the midst of several large volcanoes. It is a very beautiful setting. In the morning, we looked out our window onto the two large and still active volcanoes, the Pinchinchas. The most recent eruption of these was in the late 1990's and covered the city in ash. The whole area is very active, geologically speaking. Apparently, there are daily "earthquakes" in Quito, but none strong enough to even be felt. The last big one was around ten years ago, seriously damaging several cultural heritage sites. The altitude is high enough that you really notice it. Particularly when climbing stairs. There were mornings that I really felt the hike up and down the two flights of stairs in our hotel (no elevator). I don't think anyone on our trip ever got really altitude sickness (headaches, etc). But we all knew we were up pretty high. In comparison, it is about 1,000 feet higher than the village at Snowmass, Colorado where we have skied.

Our hotel was lovely. We used the same hotel (and actually stayed in the same rooms) whenever we came back to Quito. It was called Mansion del Angel. It was very comfortable. Large rooms, comfortable beds, large showers with lots of hot water, etc. Very nicely decorated. Very helpful and friendly staff. And not terribly expensive. Roses were everywhere. It turns out that, after petroleum products, Ecuador's largest export is roses. When you drive around the highlands, you see all these huge greenhouse complexes that grow roses for shipping to the US and around the world. In Ecuador on the streets, you can buy 25 roses for a dollar. As a result, our hotel was filled with huge bouquets of beautiful roses. And the odor of roses was everywhere. Whenever we were in Quito, we had breakfast on this wonderful, glassed in terrace with views of the mountains.

To read more of this account, Click Here

July 15, 2005

Dear Donna,

What a great trip.  All the arrangements you made came off with out a hitch.  Every time I arrived at the Quito Airport our car and driver were there to greet us.  Monica and Raphael were most gracious and brought two vehicles to carry all the baggage.  They also arranged dinner for us one night at La Ronda.  Raphael drove us over and picked us up.  Was reasonable in his charges and always prompt and on time.  The hotels were clean comfortable and offered very personal service. 

Del Angel always had our rooms available and ready.  Our luggage that we did not take out to the Galapagos was left in our room and they stored it and put it back in our room when we returned. 

La Mirage was wonderful.  We had the spa to ourselves and used it extensively.  I did a lavender soak and massage, a Swedish massage, and a facial. All were wonderful.  We thoroughly enjoyed La Mirage.  The meals were a treat in themselves.  The wine list was good and we have no complaints. 

The planning and reservations that LARC did for us were professional and crisply carried out.  We could not have ask anymore from you and Judy, the hotels, or the drivers. 

Thank you for making our trip such a success.

  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

Received: July 11, 2005

Galapagos and Guayaquil, Ecuador
June 12 to 24, 2005

Joan planned this exciting and educational trip with grandchildren to Ecuador and the Galapagos Archipelago. The travelers were Joan and I, Gage and Lily C., Hanna W., Florence D., and Michael I.. On Sunday, June 12, Joan and Tom flew to Houston and met Hanna, who flew in from Dallas, and Lily and Gage, who flew in from Denver. We met Florence and Michael, who flew from Boston to Houston. The flight connections went smoothly. We left Houston at about 7 pm and arrived at Guayaquil a little after midnight, June 13.  (Continued...)

For more read: A Personal Account of a Family's Visit to the Galapagos Islands and Guayaquil, Ecuador - June 12 - 24, 2005 
[Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

July 07, 2005

Correspondence between LARC and a happy customer: 


June 27, 2005 

Mr. F., 

I feel so ditzy.... think I neglected to inform you to look for the Mirage transfer person just outside of the airport, they will be holding a sign that says Mansion del Angel or your name.  All of the staff is very nice.



June 30, 2005

You may feel ditzy but the recommendations you gave me are not.  The plans have been running like a Swiss watch. La Mirage is everything you said and more.  It is beyond wonderful.

  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


June 30, 2005


We are thrilled, knew deep down that you were the special kind of people who would appreciate La Mirage. After all a fellow scotch drinker always has impeccable taste.  I hope the rest of the trip is just as wonderful for all of you.

Donna / Judy

PS May we post this (we will of course omit your name and email address to protect the innocent) on our web site?


July 01, 2005

By all means please feel free to post. We are back at the [Mansion del] Angel and everything continues to run right on schedule. I had a facial and a Swedish massage yesterday afternoon and it was wonderful.

Tomorrow we are off to the [Galapagos] Islands and will let you know how that goes when I get back to the USA

  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

April 21, 2005


We are back from Peru. Other than the slight hiccup on the return Galapagos flight, everything came off flawlessly. We actually got on the flight, although it was uncertain until we got to the airport. The Royal Palm has a lot of clout at the airport and with TAME.

Your colleagues in Lima, and Cusco were very helpful. And, we particularly liked Lucretia, our guide in Cusco/Machu Picchu. Both of us got the bug for 24 hours during the trip, but it didn't slow us down.

Thanks so much for your help in planning and pulling together the trip. You were very enjoyable to work with. I think we will return to South America in the coming years and we will certainly call you when we do.


  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

[ Response from Judy at LARC below: ]




March 21, 2005

Dear Judy;

Thank you, thank you, thank you for cabin 8 on Beluga! It really was the penthouse. It was strange, almost all the 14 people on the boat were tall and slim like us, so they envied the roominess of cabin 8. However most of them were comfortable, just found it noisy when traveling at night with the engine running.

Silvia, our guide, was really good. She is passionate about the islands and being from Switzerland, she talked freely about the government of Ecuador and how it handled (or mishandled) the Islands park. She is dead set against these bigger boats of 90 people. We saw one pull in at one anchorage and it really is an assault on the fragile islands environment. If you and other brokers can book passengers on the small boats only, maybe it would help.

I can't think of anything to change on the trip. We had two landings a day and snorkeling almost every day. The cook was excellent and was attentive to the few people who had dietary restrictions.

La Mirage is something else, isn't it? Wow. We spent too much money in the leather town and we really enjoyed those few days in the market towns. I must say we were glad we spoke some Spanish. We needed it in Quito.

Thanks again for helping us with a memorable trip.

Fran and Greg
  [Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


[Response from LARC: ]





February 22, 2005

[To Judy at LARC:]

Thanks for all your amazing work in taking such good care of my client Randy.

Cheers, Dom

[Dominick Macan]
[Reef & Rainforest France]


Hi Dom,

What do you think? Do I look like a vaquero?

If I could sum up this trip with one word it would have to be 'flawless.' I liked the country; I liked the people; I liked the culture; and I absolutely loved the diving. In the annals of my diving experience I have rated just 4 sites as the proverbial 10.

  1. The eastern fields of Australia
  2. Palau ten years ago
  3. The whale shark encounter off Myanmar last year
  4. The first two dives off Wolf and Darwin

customer Randy in the Andes mountains in Ecuador - volcano Cotopaxi is visible in the background

Wolf and Darwin far exceeded my expectations. On the first dive in the morning at Wolf we were greeted by schooling Hammerheads, Galapagos Sharks and a very close encounter with Dolphins. At Darwin, on the first dive in the morning, we saw a Whale Shark. Each dive was a truly unique experience where I saw something I had never seen before. The currents at both dive sites made for some wild drift dives but they were fun! The boat could not have been better. The crew was outstanding and so were my diving companions.

As I am sure you aware, there is usually one person who is voted the jerk of the week. On this boat there was no such vote because there weren't any!

I must commend you and Tuula for the incredible [I'm starting to run out of hyperboles] land package you put together. Once again, I don't think it could have worked out better. At Cotopaxi, where the picture of me on horseback was taken, I saw an Andes Condor [according to my guide] and an Ecuadorian Wolf with a rabbit in its mouth! LARC tours were absolutely fantastic! When I arrived Miguel, the owner and one my guides, explained to me the there were two different ways of keeping time, Regular and Ecuadorian. To his, and his employees credit, he adhered to the former.  They were never late. They were also very friendly and went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and welcome in their country. The ocean plus the land portion added up to a perfect vacation. I would not hesitate to visit the country again. It remind me very much of Costa Rica except with more variation.

So Dom I think you realize by now that as far as my arrangements for any future trips go there is only one company I need to do business with. I am not independently wealthy and am only entitled to one vacation a year because I have to work for a living. It is absolutely essential that I maximize the dollar value of my trips. I know with you and Reef and Rainforest that I get what I pay for. In the immortal words of the Governator "I'LL BE BACK!!!!!"

Your friend

  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

January 27, 2005

Hi Judy,

I wanted to tell you that the Arizona Audubon really enjoyed the Floreana, its food, and service. I received many good reports on it!

  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

January 14, 2005

Hi Judy,

Audrey and I want to thank you for all the hard work and effort you put into making our holiday in the Galapagos Islands so wonderful. The Royal Palm Hotel was fantastic and the people were so nice and friendly they couldn't do enough for us. We would have to say that it was by far the best place we visited and will always treasure the memories we have of the place and not forgetting the people.  Everything went according to plan and the flights with TAME were great.  If we were thinking of doing more Latin American holidays say Peru / Machu Picchu / Inca Trail would you be able to help us with that. Let me know as we would have no hesitation in dealing with you again.  Hope this note finds you well and eagerly looking forward to 2005.

All the very best,

Wilma/Audrey from Scotland
[Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


January 10, 2005

Hi Judy

Thank you for helping me with Galapagos trip.

I thought [Mansion del Angel] was a gem and enjoyed the hotel, one I will definitely recommend to clients.

I liked La Mirage and thought it was an excellent location. The room and food were excellent. The spa left something to be desired and I expressed this to the person in charge. The staff was excellent.

The Eclipse was wonderful and the food was excellent. Better than I had on the Isabella II. The staff, the ship etc. were excellent.

So you can see I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thank you

  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

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November 1, 2004

Just a quick note to let you know that we had the BEST honeymoon ever. We felt taken care of and pampered every step of the way. Thank you for making our honeymoon as perfect as our wedding.

I have to also RAVE about the Beluga yacht. The yacht itself was beautiful and the crew was outstanding!!! 

If you need any testimonials from travelers or info please do not hesitate to use Rob and myself. We will gladly answer any questions or just gush about the Galapagos.


[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

October 20, 2004

Dear Donna,
What a WONDERFUL week we had, and what a great place!  [Lighthouse Reef Resort]  If you ever need a reference, send them our way.  I can't say enough, the staff was great, the place was beautiful, the service was way beyond what we expected.


  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

October 01, 2004

This is what Frommer's (the travel guide) web site has to say about LARC

"Latin American Reservations Center, PO Box 1435, Dundee, FL 33838 (tel. 800/327-3573; If you're traveling from the U.S. to Ecuador, this should be your first phone call. Judy Martin who runs this excellent operation has the best deals with many of the hotels we recommend and knows firsthand some of the best guides in the country."  

Check them out at: 

August 28, 2004

Dear Judy,

I was thinking of you during the Hurricane and wondered how you fared, Les told me that he was having trouble contacting you. How are things now?? My son's school in Lake Wales was badly damaged and have delayed opening for three weeks. Well we had a wonderful time in Guatemala, Les and Carlos were just fantastic. The hotel in Guatemala city was very nice, we enjoyed our tour and time there. Tikal was amazing and we had a great guide, also the hotel on the lake was great. Antiqua is very special and definitely Hotel Santa Dominga is the place to stay, it's one of the most amazing places that we have ever stayed in, great food and service as well. I especially enjoyed Lake Atitlan and our tour around the lake, once again we had a great guide. It is amazing to see the local people still wearing their traditional costumes. ChiChi was fun but a bit of a tourist trap but I am glad we didn't miss it. The scenery is just gorgous and the people were very friendly and the trip went without a hitch. Les and Carlos provided amazing service, we really felt well looked after. And now to the fishing, we had a great time, I only intended going out once but ended up going out twice and actually caught my first sail fish (100lbs) which was a lot of fun, the boat guy actually hauled the fish up onto my lap for a Kodak moment much to my shock and amazement. the boys also caught sailfish, mahi and tuna and we had fresh ceviche every day. Thanks for organizing this holiday, I know my husband is dying to go back fishing there during the height of the sailfish season. Les and Carlos are great and we highly recommend them. Once again I hope everything is ok with you and your business.

Best regards

   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

July 12, 2004

Thank you, Judy. Your company has truly helped make my trip a lot easier. From the Quito/Loja flight to the Lima/Cuzco flight, you've done a great job of getting me the right flights and helping me to organize the trip.

Thanks again,

 [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

July 6, 2004


Thanks to you and LARC for all of your help in planning my trip to the Galapagos Islands. The trip was great. I would highly recommend the Cachalote and Enchanted Expeditions to anyone traveling to the islands. They exceeded my expectations and were far better than many North American outfits that I have traveled with. 

Unfortunately, I am ready to go again! Maybe Chile and Easter island in a year or so? 

Thanks Again,

[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


[ LARC Response: ]





June 18, 2004


We just returned this Monday from Ecuador. Our trip to Casa del Suizo was wonderful. We waited ALL day until 5:30 PM to fly to Tena because they had storms there, but at the last possible flight we managed to get there okay. It was a shame to waste the whole day in the terminal, but we managed and they were good to us. Our guide, Raul, was wonderful with us and we were so thankful to have him as our guide. He was great and we would recommend him to anyone. He knows a great deal and is constantly studying his guide book to find out more about Ecuador. Our native guide at Casa was good also. His name was Jose. 

We really enjoyed Casa.  It was beautiful and the service was great.  The place is beautiful and the food was great also.  I can't say enough good things about it. It was clean inside and outside.  My only complaint is that we didn't have enough time to enjoy the place.  Thanks for helping with the reservations and making our trip so nice. 

We had adventures on the way home in the van because of the bad roads caused by heavy rains, and also at Papallacta the pools were being emptied for cleaning.  So, we didn't have much time there.  So that was a little disappointing, but all in all we had a good and safe trip back to Quito.

The driver, Wilbur, was good and the van was very nice.  We felt safe in his car and in his care during our trip, although there were mud slides and difficult spots to get through.  All in all, I just want to thank you for making our trip a good one.  We would highly recommend it to others. 


  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]
(June 7-10 trip)


[LARC's Reply:]




June 8, 2004

Dear Judy,

Cathy K. and I are extremely happy with the way our trip of May 14-May 28 turned out. All of our guides and hotel people met us right on time at the airport and right on time to take us back to the airport. We had 9 flights! So, it is amazing that it all went so well.

When we flew into Quito we pulled up right before touching down--there were some bad winds. After making a big circle we tried again and this time we landed safely. Later, other flights had to go to Guayaquil instead. All of our pilots were wonderful. The airport tax was always sort of a pain. Our guide at Lima got us through that process. Later, at Quito we waited in one tax line only to find out that you had to have your boarding pass to be allowed to pay the airport tax---but fortunately American Airlines let us pay at the counter so we did not have to line up again. 

Our accommodations were excellent. The little Hostal La Rabida in Quito was wonderful and convenient to a big shopping street and within walking distance of the wonderful Galeria Latina. Cathy didn't like our guide very much, but I thought he was fine. He just wasn't as intellectual as our other guides. Our Cuzco guide knew everything, our Machu Picchu guide took good care of us and gave a great tour (and the Machu Picchu Inn was great--we had the best room with its own garden at the top of the steps). 

A funny thing--every hotel room seemed to be split level--a step up to the bathroom so we had to keep a light on at night so that we would not fall if we had to get up. 

The six-stop Cuzco afternoon tour was definitely grueling. Our guide was very knowledgeable and easy to understand, but I think three stops would have done it. Cathy was a little ill by the sixth stop and when we got back she threw up 3 or 4 times. The Hotel Prisma clerk said we should summon a doctor--but Cathy did not want to and she was fine by morning. But they did not offer oxygen, which many hotels do have. This hotel was convenient and lovely, with a big atrium, and the staff was very friendly and helpful--but the towels were on the raggedy side and the toilet broke twice--once I fixed it myself. The guide reconfirmed our flights for us. 

The Vista Dome train to Machu Picchu was wonderful.

When we got back to Cuzco our wonderful guide, Odelia, I think, unexpectedly and fortuitously met us at the top of the valley, so we did not have to do all the time-consuming switchbacks to get back to our hotel. 

The next day was our bus trip with a different guide to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with many sites to visit. 
We had a big buffet lunch at a lovely hacienda--but immediately afterwards we were expected to climb to the top of a 1,000 ft temple--very bad for people's health on a full stomach. Cathy and I decided to wait prudently at the bottom and we missed this opportunity. So, wouldn't it be nice if the climb could take place before lunch. The market town with 8 sq blocks of interesting artistic creations was marvelous. But we were definitely tired by the time we drove to see the village at 12,400 feet with more folk art--and more steps for us to climb. Then back to Lima for the Gold Museum and City by Night Tour--and where we hired our guide to come again the next day and take us to the museum of anthropology and to the Pachacamac archaeological site. 

Then on to Quito and the Galapagos. The boat Floreana was excellent. The crew was wonderful, the food was excellent, and we had both a sun deck and a shade deck and the most wonderful guide in the whole wide world, Jorge Campoverde--who knew everything and shared it with us with enthusiasm. And he also went snorkeling with us and made sure a panga was nearby if anyone had any trouble (no one did). We saw his "vegetarian" sharks, sea turtles, 3 or 4 types of sea urchins, sea stars, and many, many kinds of tropical fish including the most beautiful parrot fish-even schools of fish that formed rivers. And we had the thrill of having sea lions swim with us on several different occasions. Jorge took us wading in the surf on one island--and stingrays swam over our feet--caressing us with their velvety bodies!! 

We were so lucky to see nesting blue-footed boobies and the mating dances of these boobies, nesting frigate birds with their wonderful rituals of inflating their throat pouches--throwing their heads back and spreading their wings, nesting brown pelicans, and even nesting waved albatrosses with their wonderful mating ritual of loudly clacking their beaks together and then suddenly pointing to the sky. Then we flew back to Quito for a night and were lucky enough to see the largest hummingbird in the world! 

Our sincere thanks for arranging such a great trip for us!

Very Best Regards, 

Joanne G. and Cathy K.
[Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


April 28, 2004

Dear Judy,

We got back Mon pm. Everything you arranged worked out perfectly and was altogether excellent! We had a great time, both on land and in the Galapagos (even saw a pod of Minke whales on their way to the Antarctic).

Our compliments to you and the organizations you utilize.

J. P.
   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

April 16, 2004

Hi Matt - We are safely and happily back from Ecuador (actually it's been a week of readjustment). I wanted to let you know that it was an outstanding and very successful trip. The logistical arrangements were excellent and the stress level gratifyingly low. As you may know, the Galapagos cruise is quite busy with early wake up calls and twice daily expeditions, so it is more an active than restful event. The Explorer [Galapagos Explorer II] was a good choice. The cabins were indeed very comfortable and the guides excellent. (I gather the Metropolitan Touring boats may have a higher level of attention to service than Conodros, although we found it fine). In particular, the kids had a great time befriending one of the younger guides and will probably stay in touch with him. 

One of Alec's classmates was on the boat for the second part of the trip and we got to know her family, as well as a family from Florida with a girl Annabel's age and a number of other very nice people. The weather was great, the water warm for snorkeling, even at Isabella. I think the snorkeling, which literally included swimming with sea lions and turtles, was the high point. Lots of breeding activity among the boobies, frigate birds and iguanas made the shore visits very interesting. On the whole, I think this may be a better time to visit than the summer, when it's cooler and foggy.

The highland part of the visit was outstanding and we're very pleased to have done that as well. Mansion del Angel is a charming hotel in perhaps the best location for touring in Quito. They gave us the best rooms (as did La Mirage). The Metro Touring guide (Andrea) was very pleasant, knowledgeable and accommodating to our interests. The Old City has really been improved in the past few years and gives none of the impression of danger that the tour books suggest. We had plenty to see there on Sunday, including a procession complete with iconic statue and accompanying band. Two high school students introduced themselves to us and invited the kids to address their English class, which we did first thing Monday morning - 30 teenage girls who were very impressed
with Alec. It was a great opportunity to go beyond the normal tourist fare.

The Mitad del Mundo was definitely worthwhile despite our doubts. It came with a very nice lunch overlooking a volcanic crater and the ethnographic museum was worth seeing. Papallacta was a bit disappointing because of poor weather (it was of course the rainy season in the rain forest, but it was cold as well as rainy). The cabin was
charming and we enjoyed swimming the hot springs and a short hike. We left a few hours early given the weather and attractiveness of Quito.

La Mirage was outstanding. It really is one of the best hotels we've been to anywhere; very glad we arranged for three nights, which went very smoothly. We were the only guests on first night; some of our shipboard friends arrived the next two nights. The service was absolutely superb, the rooms and grounds were great, the food probably the best we had. Our shopping exploits were also a major success, topped off by Alec having a long leather "Matrix" coat (if you get the reference) custom made by an accommodating family shop in half a day for
$95. The hotel supplied another excellent guide/driver team and we all agreed this was the perfect end to the trip.

So thank you for all your efforts to pull it together for us on such short notice. I'm sure we'll continue to be in touch. Everyone sends best regards.  

D.   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

March 08, 2004

Read what happy traveler George Pike had to say about his visit to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands during February and March 2004 in:
It's Ecuador, By George! 

Text and photographs used with the permission of the author.  

January 20, 2004

Hi Judy,

Sorry it took so long to get back to you, but just wanted to say thanks sooooo much for all your assistance with our trip. We had a wonderful journey with absolutely no problems at all with any of your arrangements. Some of the other folks went through different agencies and all of them had some little thing go wrong, including one guy who arrangements had been made for the wrong date. It made Lex, Billy and I happy that we went through you folks. Thanks again!!!!!

Keep smiling,

S. B.
  [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

January 14, 2004

Read: On A Magical Journey to Ecuador 
- Story and photos by Sheila Shalhevet
Reprinted by permission of and the author.  

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November 18, 2003

Hi Judy,

Just a quick note to let you know that the trip that you arranged for me to Ecuador turned out to be fabulous.

Ernesto, the driver/guide from Turisvision was a delightful, charming companion for 3 days in the Cotopaxi volcano area and Latacunga.

I especially enjoyed the peaceful surroundings at Hosteria La Cienega.  The gardens were lovely, and the suites with a fireplace warm and comfortable.

Hotel de la Rabida in Quito met my needs for overnighting between transfers and on arrival and prior to departure. The staff were ready to help where needed and provided breakfasts and dinners at a reasonable price. I particularly enjoyed trading my paperbacks for a new supply in their library.

And La Mirage..., words cannot do it justice. I was sad to leave there. The elegance of the rooms and superb dining experiences were only a part of the picture. The staff, especially Rafael and Clemencia, were most gracious and kind. I enjoyed a Purification Treatment performed by the shaman, Esthela, at the spa (though, I acknowledge that it is not something that everyone might want to experience). The spa does offer a variety of more traditional options, and I highly recommend its services.

Cotacachi, the leather town; the Indian market at Otavalo; San Antonio, the wood carving town; and other points of interest made traveling this area most enjoyable. 

I can highly recommend this trip to others, including single woman who enjoy traveling alone.

Thanks again, Judy, for all your help!!!

   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

October 11, 2003

[Comments from a Continental flight attendant.]

Dear Judy,

Just a note of appreciation for convincing us to visit La was incredible!  Every aspect of the Hoteleria...accomodations, cuisine, and spa were perfect, and we will be sure to recommend it to friends...and "full-fare" clients we meet on the flights. I put an "All-call" on our Voice Mail system to crew working those flights to recommend it to clients in conversations, and gave your contact # and web site. 

I hope it brings some business.
Thank you so much - and NEVER go via IAH (as you told me); till they upgrade the aircraft to a 757!  I did make it - due to my seniority of over 25 years...only 2 of us were so lucky.  I will be sure to help you in any of your travels on CO.  

V. B.
   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

September 22, 2003

Travel Weekly Logo

Read the article Hand In Hand from the September 22 issue of Travel Weekly and see what they had to say about LARC.

September 15, 2003

Hi Judy
Many thanks for your help, great service and hope to work with you again sometime.
Best wishes
  [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

September 8, 2003 

Hello Judy,

I wanted to share with you a letter received from The B.'s [name withheld] during their travel, I am so glad everything is going exceptionally well for them:


I am A.B.'s [name withheld] assistant and she requested that I forward you the following note and she would also like you to pass on this info to Judy:

She wanted you to know that the people have been wonderful.  They have taken care of everything and been more than helpful.  In fact, they instructed them to get off the train at POROY rather than Cusco since its faster to the Monistario Hotel (something she thinks that both you and Judy would be interested in knowing for future travelers).

They also upgraded their room in Cusco to a suite and even got the hotel to lower the price.

Also, could you and Judy see if there is any way that they can get a suite at the hotel in Quito [Mansion del Angel] as P. [name withheld] would like that much better and its their last stop.  They would like the suite (if possible) for all of the days that they are there.  

Please confirm with me that you got this email and let me know about the suite upgrade in Quito.

Thank you,
S. J.
   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

July 23, 2003

[Regarding Lighthouse Reef Resort]

Hi Donna,

just a brief message to say thank you so much for the trip, it exceeded my expectations and the whole experience was fantastic. the staff were excellent as was the accommodation and I am looking forward to writing my article. I will send you some issues of the magazine and also a draft of the article pre press.

hope I wasn't too badly behaved !!

thanks again

S. E.
[name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

July 14, 2003

Hi Judy-

I want you to know that my trip to the Galapagos and Cuyabeno was great. Thank you for all your help. It was great to receive the vouchers at the hotel and have someone there to meet us when we first arrived. 

[name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

June 23, 2003

The trip was great.  The only problem is that it rained every day.  La Mirage is beautiful although I do not think there were too many other guests.  Mansion Del Angel was equally beautiful.

We never went to the restaurants you suggested but rather walked to an Italian restaurant near the hotel recommended by the concierge.  I do not remember the name but it was an intimate quaint place and the cook was very bubbly. I had the best pasta with the most perfect sauce.  Again we were the only diners there. I would recommend it and it is close to the hotel.

LanChile was great but i have to say the minute I walked into the terminal at JFK I felt as if I left American soil. Very weird feeling.

Thanks for everything.

  [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

May 27, 2003

Judy, we just got back last night from Ecuador and wanted to thank you for helping us put together what turned out to be a really wonderful trip!!!!

We want to call attention to the young Turisvision guide, Veronica (Salazar), and driver, Paul (Espinosa?), who spent the week with us.  Their warmth, enthusiasm and professionalism really helped us experience and enjoy Ecuador. We want to be sure that the folks at Turisvision are made aware of our appreciation and praise. for their efforts. Please forward these comments to the appropriate people there.

Thank you very much.

F. & W.
  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

April 19, 2003


I am at an internet cafe in Ecuador and looking to make arrangements for a trip to Cuenca (hotel, flights, etc) from Quito. But don't know if you are open today, Saturday April 19. If you get this message today, please reply to [email address withheld]... the way, the arrangements at Mansion del Angel were perfect! Great place!

A. D.
[name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

[Note from LARC's Webmaster:  LARC's office is open: 

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM    Monday through Friday.

However, there is usually a LARC professional in the office for at least part of  the day on Saturdays and Sundays to check email, phone messages, and to deal with any time-sensitive issues that might arise.]

April 14, 2003

Hello Donna,

our trip was great, I will never forget it and hopefully I can visit again someday. I have a question to ask you. I could not find the direct email for Lighthouse Reef Resort in Belize. Could you pass it along to me? The reason I`m asking this is because I want to send a little package with goodies along their way. All of the staff were so wonderful that I wanted to ask them if there is anything special that they wanted before I would send the package on it's way.  Please let me know.

Thank you and have a great day !

A. W.
  [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

[Later the same day:]

Hello Donna,

thank you for the super quick response and of course I do not mind it being shared. I am homesick for Belize, I wish I could have stayed forever and a day with my new friends. Sigh.

Thank you so much again,

A. W.
   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

March 7, 2003


I stayed at the Sacha lodge from January 13th -17th. I wanted to let you know I had a wonderful time. Please forward my email address to Paula (the naturalist).  
Yours truly,
M. B.
   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

March 6, 2003


Just back from a fantastic trip. We very much appreciated your recommendations and attention to detail in the planning. As expected, the highlight of the trip was La Mirage - worth the trip for the rose sorbet in candied rose petals! We also thoroughly enjoyed Mansion del Angel - delightful, helpful staff in a beautiful house in a terrific location.

The other place I can't recommend highly enough is Hacienda San Agustin [de Callo] -built on top of old Incan ruins, near Cotopaxi, it is magical.

And finally, you were right about Guayaquil. The bad press is outdated. The people were friendly, we did not feel unsafe, and the Malencon should be the envy of city planners everywhere. It puts our waterfront in Washington DC to shame.

(By the way, we had lots of scuba gear going to the Galapagos. Our concerns about TAME were unfounded - we were charged $10 in overweight gear on the way over, and nothing on the way back.)

Thanks again, 
   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

February 20, 2003


Just wanted to get back to you regarding our trip to Lighthouse Reef Resort.

We had a FABULOUS, RELAXING time!!  It really was great.  The accommodations were fine, food was good, people were fun. 

Thanks for all your help.  One question we do have is, if we were to go again as a family, how do you charge for kids.  We'd probably stay in the same size unit and do snorkeling only.  If you could let us know, we'd greatly appreciate it.

Thanks again,

[name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

February 13, 2003

Hi Judy,

Tracy has always wanted to go to the Galapagos -- I'm glad she's finally doing it!

Cheryl and I had a fantastic time. It was a very special and memorable trip. We loved our Galapagos guide, Hanzel, and the folks who helped us on the mainland couldn't have been nicer or more accommodating. We had that whole disconnect on the return from Galapagos and our itinerary not showing the Cotopaxi tour, but you all managed to straighten it out. And, since Cotopaxi was fogged in, they volunteered to take us to Banos instead, which was a great treat and so unexpected. I mean, how many times do you make arrangements and then the weather goes crap and you're told "oh well, tough break." Our guides were bound and determined to show off their country and show us a good time. It was absolutely fantastic. We still fondly reminisce and will warmly reflect on our trip forever! 

   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

February 3, 2003

Judy, you are a miracle worker! You and your organization are so efficient, well organized and friendly I could not have asked for more. I was met at every leg of the journey and did not feel "alone" or "abandoned" in any way, shape or form. The professionalism and knowledge of the guides (as well as their friendliness) made each day more rewarding than the previous. A new adventure around every corner, plenty of time on my own for exploration and shopping (I might have even snuck off for a cervesa or two) and general photo taking. I threw a Super Bowl party at the hotel next to the Casa del Abuelo in Puno. Several of the guides joined me for French Fries and beer in the lobby (the manager was the sister in law of Roberto-my guide that morning.  He arranged for me to see the game there. 

All in all, a glorious trip -- only the hotel in Puno was a bit below par. (... Maybe I pushed you a little too hard to save me money!!)

Your company is TOPS and I will definitely refer people to you and use you again myself. I think I would like to see the Amazon rain forest next time. Again, thank you profusely -- you made one of my life long dreams come true. 

Your grateful friend, J. M.

[name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


January 3, 2003

Hi Donna,
Just wanted to let you know that we had a blast !!!!  We are working to get a group of people to come back to light house [Lighthouse Reef Resort].  The people were the best and thanks for the villa we loved it and want to live there.  We are both Dive Masters and would be glad to help out if you need it.  I dove with the manager and he felt I could be of service because as he put I have the eye for finding the good stuff to show everyone.  I will send you pictures of shots I made with the under water digital camera.  We are also working to get some friends to come with us on a return visit.  Donna we are still so excited about the place we can hardly wait to return.  Our thanks to you and the staff. I hope Thomas stays as manager and Sharon is as fun as it gets, we fell in love with her.  We need at least a month on the place to see it all.  We invited everyone up to the Redwoods to see us and you are invited too.

Will send pictures a few at a time

Our Best Regards,
J. and S.
  [names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

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November 18, 2002

Dear Judy,

We are finally back home in Israel after nearly six months away from home.

I must thank you for sending us to La Mirage. It was absolutely perfect. We were the only ones there and George and Michelle treated us like royalty. They upgraded to a luxury suite and made us feel as if we were personal guest.  The accommodation and food was exquisite. We also totally enjoyed [Mansion del Angel] where we were also upgraded to a suite.  We stayed an extra two days in Quito.  In both places the service was impeccable and we have only you to thank for this.  Kevin and the other driver were wonderful.  Everything went as smoothly as we could want.  It was truly a dream vacation.  Unfortunately we then had to stay in a three star hotel that the University arranged and paid for us in Guayaquil where my husband was working.  Talk about making an adjustment.

So please accept our thanks for all your effort and know how much we appreciate it.  It was a truly memorable experience.


S. S.
   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

October 7, 2002

Hi Donna,

Let me tell you that we were fascinated about lighthouse reef resort.  It was absolutely great and the best diving I've been done so far.  The resort is beautiful and extremely well organized.  People were friendly and helpful, food was great and diving was perfect.  We even saw a huge crocodile swimming in the lagoon.  Diving the blue hole was "pure adrenaline" it was really like diving on a different planet. And I was really excited about seeing so many big sharks........

I can recommend this resort to everyone who looks for great diving and a romantic island.

 [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

September 3, 2002

Hi Judy, 

This has been a long time in coming, and I apologize. We had a fabulous time in Peru. Everything worked out well. Most of all we appreciated the guides Percy, in Puerto Maldonado, Jaime and Mary Carmen (a lifesaver) in Cusco, Beto in Puno, Alvaro and Ricardo in Lima, Ica, and Paracas.  What wonderful people!  All accommodations were good.  The food at the lodge in Lake Sandoval was especially good and the cooks are to be commended!  We loved the Posada del Inca in Yucay and the Macchu Picchu Puebla in Aquas Caliente.  The sites were spectacular.  We still can't believe the awesome gandeur of Macchu Picchu.  We've filled two albums with pictures of our trip and are ready to share them with anyone along with our recommendation for you and LARC Travel.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! 

C. F.
   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

August 26, 2002


Just wanted to let you know that we had a wonderful time in Ecuador, and that all the arrangements that you and Turisvision made for us were terrific. All of our transfers, airline reservations, and accommodations were great and went very smoothly. We especially liked the personal attention at Hotel La Rabida in Quito. Kevin was a fantastic guide in Quito and a valuable source of information. We will certainly avail ourselves of your services on our next trip to Ecuador (Spring, 2003) and will recommend LARC and Turisvision to other people we know who will be traveling there in the next year. Thanks again for all your assistance and professional attention. You made our first journey to South America almost effortless.

Sincerely, The A. Family

[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


August 17, 2002

Dear Judy, [President of LARC]
You are unbelievable. In my many, many years of travel I have never had so attentive and thorough a travel agent. 
 [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

July 9, 2002

Kevin, [of Turisvision]

     One more time I wanted to thank you for a great trip. Your services far exceeded our expectations. We will let all with whom we talk know of your group. ...

     Several of us are talking about brining our families to visit. If I put this trip together I will e-mail you and certainly work through your company.

     Thanks again for everything.

   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

July 3, 2002

[Regarding a visit to the Galapagos Islands]

Hi Judy, 

     what a wonderful trip we had!!  Thanks for all of your help in making it happen (only problem is that our bag with snorkel gear never made it on the TAME flight...)  But these days, that's a small problem!  What a beautiful place, swam with lots of sea lions and penguins!  

Best regards and thanks again, 

E.  [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

June 6, 2002

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know the honeymoon was wonderful. Mansion del Angel was great, as were La Mirage and [a rainforest resort whose name we aren't allowed to post for legal reasons]. At most of the places we were just about the only guests there, so we got more than our fair share of attention. Also, Kevin was a great guide and we were always glad to see him on our several arrivals to Quito.

Thanks for all your recommendations!

  [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

January 12, 2002

Hi Judy-

You may wish to pass along these compliments to the owners:

"However, Mansion [del Angel] was an exception. In fact, I am not sure I have ever received a better level of attention and service at any place I have ever stayed anywhere. And the way it was furnished, it was fit for a queen! "

[name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

"The Mansion del Angel was lovely "

[name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

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August 14, 2001

We wanted to thank you and tell you how much we enjoyed our trip to the Sacha Lodge that my uncle David. M.  set up with you. It is truly an amazing place and I'm sure we will go back there some day as well as recommend the trip to our friends and colleagues. I would actually like to enquire about the possibility of doing research at the lodge. As I think David told you, both of us are biologists and would be interested in studying some of the local fauna in the future.

We also wanted to say how impressed we were with the service in general at the lodge and the guides in particular. We were able to interact a bit with all the guides and were particularly happy with our two guides, Richard White and Washington. They were outstanding in their knowledge of the local flora, fauna and customs and could not have been more friendly or informative. We can not recommend them more highly.

I. and L.
   [names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

June 8, 2001

Dear Judy,

Thanks to you, we had a phenomenal time in the Galapagos and mainland Ecuador. Our naturalist guide, Franklin, was not only very knowledgeable about the flora, fauna and geology of the Galapagos, but also showed tremendous pride and respect for the islands. The crew of the Beluga was extremely gracious and attentive. When we came ashore at our first visitor site, North Seymour, and were surrounded by Blue-footed Boobies and Great
Frigates, we discovered that the batteries in our camera were dead and the spare ones we brought were dead as well. Franklin immediately contacted the captain on the boat, who found extra batteries in our room and personally brought them to us in another panga boat. We were extremely grateful and impressed.

We lucked out in that our boat was not full (8 passengers for the first four nights and then just four of us for the remaining three nights) and Jeff and another passenger, Alan, even had a chance to play soccer with the crew and the locals from Floreana.

Rafael, the driver for La Mirage, was very professional and we enjoyed the drives with him from the airport to La Mirage, the Saturday market at Otavalo, the local villages, and back to Quito, stopping for lunch at Hacienda Cusin.

La Mirage was the perfect place to come to after being on a boat for a week. We loved our suite, which exceeded the size of our Manhattan apartment. The La Mirage staff was very attentive. The new Shaman treatment at the spa was a unique experience and something I would recommend. Thank you for the lovely bottle of wine. We met a couple from California during our stay at La Mirage, and it was clear that their travel agent did not provide them with the caliber of service that LARC provided to us.

Mansion Del Angel was a welcome oasis in an otherwise bustling Quito.  Jeff came down with a bad stomach bug (requiring paramedics to come) and the staff went above and beyond for us - running to the pharmacy for medicine, walking me to bank (just to be safe) and showing great concern for us.

We have recommended your services to a number of people already and will continue to do so.

Thanks again!


   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

June 6, 2001

Dear Sir, 

On Sunday May 13th, 2001 my wife and I had the opportunity to have lunch at La Mirage's gourmet restaurant. Is it necessary to point out that it was something out of this world? The food, the service, the reception, etc... were simply perfect with a touch of friendliness that makes you feel a very special guest.  

We were one couple among a group of ten Belgians traveling with Metropolitan Touring, guided by a very charming young lady, speaking perfect French, whose name is Florencia Chávez. Our travel agent here in Belgium, called All-Ways, can also be congratulated for choosing the right correspondent in Quito who picked out the very best north of the line and certainly south too.  

Our only regret was not to be able to stay at least one night in La Mirage as we had other appointments.  I hope you will transmit our warmest congratulations to the personnel of the restaurant. 

Very sincerely Yours.  

   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

June 4, 2001


We wanted to thank you for your help in arranging such a terrific trip.  We thought that our guides were great, especially, William in Cusco, we loved the Monastario, and the activities and sights were lots of fun (hiking the Inca trail, Machu Picchu, Pisac market, white water rafting, Colca Canyon, and drinking pisco sours).

Just a couple of comments for your information:

1. Since rafting starts in Ollantaytambo, the rafting was only 3 hours versus the full day if we had been coming from Cuzco.  We probably would have scheduled something else for 1/2 day if we had known that.  Staying in Ollanytaytambo was convenient given the rafting since we did not have to drive to and from Cuzco.  It also allowed us to get on the Machu Picchu train at 8 am versus 6 am in Cuzco.  The hotel was very nice though a little quiet.

2.  Starting at KM 104 of the Inca Trail was a great climb and a wonderful way to see Machu Picchu for the first time from afar.  In addition, we missed the crowds as they are there from 10 to 2 because of the train schedule and we were there from 3 to 5 pm the first day and 6:45 until 10:30 am on the second day.   All this being said, we thought that it was a fairly rigorous climb.  This would be good to keep in mind for someone not as physically fit.

3.  Scheduling 1/2 day in Lima was plenty.  The crowds and weather made it so unattractive.  There was a lack of crowds and beautiful weather everywhere else.  We really enjoyed Cuzco and Arequipa.

Thanks again, H.
[name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


May 31, 2001

It’s not often that one comes across a bed & breakfast loaded with character in the middle of the hippest part of town, but that is exactly what Tiffany and I discovered upon checking into the Mansion del Angel in Quito, Ecuador. Having just arrived from Panama during week three of the Ultimate Honeymoon Adventure, this tastefully decorated converted mansion provided the perfect base from which to explore the bustling metropolis.

Decked out with Roman statuettes and elegant fountains, the Mansion del Angel just oozes old-world charm. It seemed to have far more character than most of the generic chain hotels we passed while exploring the city. Although we enjoyed every minute of our stay there, probably the highlight for us was eating breakfast in the rooftop atrium while watching the sun rise over the distant hills surrounding Quito. This was the life!

The Mansion del Angel offers the best of country living in the heart of Quito - a perfect combination for honeymooners.

[name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

April 27, 2001

Everything went exactly as (you) planned and we had a perfectly wonderful time. The La Mirage Spa was outstanding and the ship and guides were absolutely great. I think we were lucky to have the smaller ship. The group on the ship was very diverse - kids, young professionals, middle age people and a few older people. I think it is always more interesting to talk to people of all ages.

Everyone got along very well and really jelled after a while. Also, the guides were great - they were knowledgeable and funny and we could learn as much or as little as we wanted to from them.

We will certainly keep your company in mind for our next adventure. Thanks again.

[name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

March 31, 2001

This was recently received at La Mirage Garden Hotel and Spa:

"The service outstanding 

The grounds breathtaking

The food impeccable

The spa heavenly...

Thank you for the most enjoyable 24 hours I have ever spent in my life, I
will see you [again] very soon."

  [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

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November 24, 2000


Just want to let you know that I had a wonderful time at the Lighthouse [Reef Resort].
Accommodations, food, diving, dive masters and staff all were great. If anyone is concerned about the quality of the reefs since "Keith" they should not be. The reefs near the blue hole were untouched and magnificent.  

Some of the reefs near Lighthouse were covered with sand particularly "First Choice." In general any diver will be more than pleased with the diving.  I hope to return again as I feel your resort is the closet thing to paradise that I have found in my many years of diving.

M K   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

August 2000

Forwarded by a travel agent:

Attn: Judy / LARC

"Dear Sarah: Just got back and wanted to let you know we had a fabulous time. The trip to Sacha Lodge was a great adventure and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for an outdoor experience. The staff and personnel at the Lodge was excellent. Also wanted to have you pass on my compliments to the Tour agency in Quito. They were among the best I have encountered in my 30+ years of traveling. The guide was very professional, courteous and made our trip very pleasurable. In fact, when we had a plane change due to Avianca's delaying our departure for several hours, he was able to get them to put us on another flight thru Lima, Peru and still arrive in Rio only 30 minutes later than the original schedule. He also stayed with us until he was satisfied we would be able to make this connection. He was far and away a terrific person and please let his company know how much we appreciated all his efforts.


[name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

June 21, 2000

Thanks from me, Ken and all the participants on our Galapagos  (diving) trip last month. Everyone had a great time, and the side trips made it a great trip. The four who went to MP (Machu Picchu) thought it was a good trip. They took the train but decided to walk part of the way: they were told it was a 2 hr. walk, but it took them 6 hours. They laughed about it.  They report the hotel in Cuzco was first rate, as was the hotel at MP. We connected up with Aggressor Fleet without problems. They have a rep in Guayaquil now, who took care of all the transfers.

TAME had a baggage maximum of 20 kgs. One way, the rep talked them out of 400 lbs. of excess baggage charges, and we tipped her well. The excess baggage charge is $1US per pound. Coming back, they allowed us to air cargo the excess, which went on the same flight for a lot less money: 300 lbs. for about $30.

The only real problem we had was on the Continental flight home. They insisted they would only take 2 checked bags at 70#, in spite of the fact we pointed out to them that we had paid excessive baggage charges on the way in (the plane was half empty on departure). They gave us no alternatives. We finally talked to the supervisor, who quietly advised us to take the extra bag with us. Once at the airplane ramp, they said they were too big to go on the plane, and checked them for us (without charge).

The Sierra Madre Hotel was quaint and acceptable. However, they have 5 floors and no elevator. The hotel people were very nice and helpful, and allowed us to leave our dive bags there while we went to Otavalo.

La Mirage Hotel in Otavalo was superb. The hotel was empty except for one other couple. The hotel said that they had very low occupancy in May and June: most of their business comes in the summer and during the holiday season. The food was the best ever, and they had a good selection of Chilean wine.

La Mirage tells us that they also have a hotel in Quito, in the same area as the Sierra Madre, called the Mansion del Angel. It is small, with only 8 rooms, but the same quality.
The tour arranged by the hotel was great. We bought sweaters and wall hangings and blankets at the Indian Village (what a way to live). The Indian Market was fun to see. The leather shop had quality merchandise which would have cost hundreds in the US, and bakery shop was interesting. We bought and bought and bought.

Once again, thanks for a great trip, and for putting up with our complicated demands.

   [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


Fall 2000

Jack Hanna and his photographer recently went on an excursion to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, which was arranged by LARC Travel.  Material for "Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures" was filmed during that visit.  

RIGHT:  "Jungle" Jack Hanna sends his regards:  "To Judy, Best Wishes!" 
    --  Jack Hanna


BELOW:  Jack's Photographer, Rick Prebeg, gives high praise to Judy Martin (LARC's president) and LARC: 

"To Judy, Thanks for all the help in Ecuador & [the] Galapagos - LARC's the Best!"      -- Rick Prebeg

Rick Prebeg gives high praise to LARC Travel and Judy Martin

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