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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.  
 

April 01, 2014

Bueno, mi querida Sra:

Saludos y abrazos te manda Macario.  La Pinta... fenomenal!  love it!!!! los
hikes y el snorkeling son un poquito fuertes but worthwhile!  Want to go back
for the long itinerary.  Los guides buenisimos.  La cabina perfecta!  Acabamos de terminar de cenar en La Mirage... just when you think it couldn't get any better.... La Mirage is the cherry on the sundae!  El Sr. Colemere esta in heaven!!!!! The driver and guide, Antonio and Rafael...fantastico!!!!  Despues te cuento!!  I am tired and I am going to enjoy the fireplace :)  Gracias un millon por todo! Another dream vacation thanks to you!!!!! 

Besos y abrazos! 

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

 

January 17, 2014

HI Judy,

We returned from Ecuador on Sunday evening.

After we left the Hilton in Quito, we spent 8 days in the Galapagos.

We had a wonderful time and appreciate your excellent service.

If you provide other travel-related services, we would certainly get in touch when the occasion arises, so let me know.

Thanks for everything,

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

 

December 28, 2013

Hi Michael,

Arrived back in KS this afternoon, all 6 of us healthy and happy.  The upper Amazon, the Galapagos, and Quito were all simply highlights, each the best in their own way.  The combo was a kind of delicious sweet/sour gourmet meal. 

The jungle itself was much like Blue Creek site in rain forest Belize, but the addition of the Sacha Lodge was delicious.  I have a real good hypothalamic feeling about jungle, so this was like coming back home.  The guides, mostly indigenes, that took us around were simply superb: friendly, knowledgeable, energetic, yet patient with tenderfeet.  There was a nice mix of hiking and boat travel. Views from the two towers, lifting us above the canopy, were inspiring. Food was excellent.  We felt like we left friends behind. 

Miguel, who you had mentioned, turned his Quito guide duties over to Jon Paul, a very intelligent, low key, good humored guy, with stateside time in DC, and other places. We did go the the restaurant you recommended. It was the beginning of "Quito Days", and it was full of celebrating folks.  We were serenaded by a quartette musicians, and heard lots of singing on the main floor.  Gail did find some nice things at the Mercato.  Jon Paul spent more than his share of hours with us on the "half day trip" around the Old Town and the 00:00 line.  Jon Paul arranged for us to cancel our last nite at the hotel, due to an airline glitch having us change planes in Guayaquil, coming from Galapagos. The plane switch got our baggage lost, including several hours of time.  We decided to spent the remaining hours (before the flight back to US) in the airport.  This compromised the promised meeting with our Quito driver, who had planned to take us around.  But he magically appeared with some cash returned from the hotel, so we ate our last meal with the it.  No problem. 

Galapagos was the true biologist's Mecca! The Beluga ship and it's staff, i.e., guides, boatman, were truly faultless.  Darwin (given name, how nice!) Alvares was superb: very smart, with an extensive fund of knowledge and experience, very patient and good humored with duffers like us, who needed to hear an answer numerous times to the same question.  As you likely know, we were given opportunities for at least two activities each morning and afternoon, hiking and snorkeling alternatively.  Again, this took lots of energy and we all wished we were in better physical condition.  Guide Darwin was in great shape, keeping us from falling into the sea with every transfer from ship to panga.  The stark life and physical character of the islands was actually a shock, even after having read a lot about it. 

It was great to see Greater Daphne island, the site of the Grant's research.  I was impressed to see the Grant's 2008 book in the book collection of lounge of the Beluga.  Darwin, our guide, said it was his personal copy, a reflection of his depth of interest and commitment to continued learning.  Reflecting my teaching of genetics and evolution, one thing I found lacking in much of tourist-oriented literature about the Galapagos was more on the role of mutation, genetic heterogeneity and evolution in population genetics terms.  There is plenty of discussion and talk using the term "adaptation" but often it was couched in language of physiological, not genetic, terms.  Thus, the essence of evolution in populations, it seemed to me, easily escaped the attention travelers to the island.  The animals themselves, of course are interesting, but their key significance was often left hazy.  Again, the guides planned a nice mix of activities, and worked us pretty, and there were no complaints, but we finally needed to go home to KS to rest up! 

Lisa brought along an underwater camera that did stills and video. She is a high frequency shooter, so there are on record miles of video she took but has not seen much of. 

One general gripe about our air travel was that the midnight flight Quito to Atlanta was trying, especially with the tiny passenger space on the AirBus model used by Delta.  Sleep was difficult.  Different flight times and plane models might be considered. 

Michael, if there are specific items you would like me to reflect on, send me questions and I would be happy to give you my response by e-mail or telephone. 

Thanks so much for your being the real stimulus to realizing this great adventure.  Our group, with ages from 16 to 81, was agreed it was a delightful once in a life time trip.  Although it was the second visit for Lisa, and she sounded like she is already planning another trip there!

I hope we can keep in touch occasionally on items of common interest.  Gail, the printmaker and painter, has mentioned plans to do some art derived from the trip and that a piece of work might make its way to your address. 

In sincere appreciation, Wayne and Gail. 
[Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

 

November 18, 2013

Hi Judy.  The trip was amazing !!!  Absolutely amazing !!!!  Now I want to
plan a trip to the Galapagos ... Can we start with what is the very best
time of the year to go ??
Thank you !!!
Amy= 
[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]
 

[ LARC's Response: ]

HI AMY!

I AM SO GLAD YOU HAD A GOOD TRIP. I HAVE TO LET JACK HANNA'S OFFICE KNOW THEIR REFERRAL WAS WORTHY :)  YES, OF COURSE I WILL BE VERY HAPPY TO ARRANGE A TRIP TO GALAPAGOS FOR YOU! TO ME THE BEST TIME TO GO IS THE MONTH OF MAY IF YOU CAN DO IT.  THE WEATHER IS USUALLY PERFECT AND THE WATER IS CALM AT THE TIME (ALTHOUGH WE CAN'T PROMISE WHAT MOTHER NATURE WILL PROVIDE FOR SURE) LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK & KIND RGDS, JUDY
 

October 29, 2013

Hi Judy, we are back home, and before I forget, I wanted to send you comments on the trip so you can use them to improve the experience of your other clients traveling to Peru

The guides and transfer people were universally excellent.  The ones in Puno were exceptionally good.  There was some kind of protest that shut down access to the Juliaca airport.  They took us on a two and a half hour detour through side roads that bypassed the whole mess.  It was very impressive.  They also helped us deal with the Bolivia visa fiasco.  See below. 

The visit to Sun Island was fun, but NOWHERE in the information we got was there a mention that it was in Bolivia, AND that we needed a visa.  Once more, the folks in Puno did a great job of helping us, but we had some tense moments at the border when the $270 needed for the visa had to be paid in essentially brand new dollars.  We had the money, but enough of it was rejected for minor tears that we almost had to go back across the border and return to Puno.  Fortunately, they accepted the balance in Peruvian Soles so we were able to go. 

All the hotels were fine, the only exception was the hotel Samana in Arequipa.  The hotel itself was fine, but it was a very long walk to the center of the city along a busy and noisy street that was very unpleasant.  I would not recommend using it again. 

In terms of the schedule:

Posada Amazonas.  We had a great time but our stay was way too long.  The lodge is set up to do one or two day trips.  Three nights would have been sufficient, not four.  After that, you run out of things to do and start repeating things. 

Ollantaytambo was an excellent base to explore the Sacred Valley.  But out trip to Machu Pichu was too short.  After the two hour guided tour we had less than an hour to see the site on our own.  We should have taken an earlier train and returned on a later one. 

Arequipa.  Our stay was a day too long.  After a day and a half we had seen all there was to see. 

Chivay.  Staying an extra night after seeing the condors was a good idea.  There is not much to do in Chivay, but taking the bus to Puno that same day would have been very unpleasant and getting up at 5AM the following morning to tour the Uros Islands would not have been fun. 

Thanks for organizing this trip for us.  We both had a great time. 

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

 

October 28, 2013

Judy,

Back on Wednesday but has taken to this point to get time to send emails.  Trip was unbelievably incredible.  Mansion del Angel was unbelievable like being able to live in a museum from another time.. Our Quito guide, JP, was great and was able to get us to the changing of the Guard at the Presidential Palace on Monday.  Lunch at the Volcano was great but the mist didn't cooperate. 

The trip on the Galaven was awesome.  itinerary was fabulous and the boat and crew great.  Would highly recommend to anyone who wanted to experience the
Galapagos

The find of the trip was Su Merced in Puembo where we stayed on our return.  Not sure if you are familiar.  20 minutes from the airport which was great but the B&B is a 300 year old hacienda restored to its original character.  Made us feel like we were staying at a colonial governors residence.  Pablo was great and made sure anything we needed was provided.  Had what wife said was one of the best chicken dishes for dinner she had ever had.  The only thing that we regret is we didn't schedule an extra day to stay at Su Merced and enjoy its garden, hammocks and restful environment before getting back on a plane.. Next time. 

Thanks again for all of your wonderful help.  We will be talking to neighbors who want to do the Galapagos and I told them I would put them in contact with you.  When we go to Machu Picchu we will certainly call you.. 

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

 

October 28, 2013

Hello Clemencia -

It is a great pleasure to respond to your email. 

I had a totally unique and very special stay at your hotel.  The quietness of the off-season made my stay most relaxing. 

The service, staff and food was all wonderful and most attentive.  I have never indulged in a personal spa before but I would have to say that Janeth made it a very special and transcending experience! 

The Mirage offered everything I was looking for to finish up my trip to Ecuador, so it will always be memorable.  Thank you again, for the upgrade to the King Suite.  You all made me feel very special indeed! 

You have a very unique property in The Mirage which makes the experience more like a retreat. 

You may inform Mr. Espinosa that I congratulate him on his visionary efforts and I hope to return again someday soon. 

Please continue with your stellar efforts to provide such wonderful service.  You are all doing a fabulous job! 

Many thanks again and best regards -

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

 

October 09, 2013

[ Subject: La Mirage ]

Hi Judy, thank you again. The resorts is lovely more than I expected.
Everyone is courteous, gracious, very wonderful.
thanks went well.
Regards
Zoe 
[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

Fyi this is my email when I am overseas
 

October 02, 2013

For a small country the contrasts are exceptional. We aren't yet half red?, but have experienced the amazon jungle with extraordinary birds, piranha fishing and eating, extraordinary canopy acwalk above the level of the highest trees, spending the night in a tree house w/ candle lot dinner. Then 2 days in sac 

Sent from my iPhone
 

Sorry- in car on very bumpy rd on way to train for Machu Pichu. Regret not bring able to describe towns and ruins and most gorgeous mountains of sacred valley. more sometime.

The Quechua women are a feast for the eyes.

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

Sent from my iPhone
 

[ LARC Response: ]

AM SO HAPPY THEY ARE HAVING A WONDERFUL TRIP!  IT WAS WORTH ALL OUR WORK :-)
 

August 01, 2013

Judy:

I was pleased with the tour arrangements you made for us last year and the
accommodation you booked in Quito as well.  This year we would like to go to
the headwaters of the Amazon and sail all the way to Manaus in Brazil.  Is
this something you could help us with as well? 

thanks

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

[ LARC Response: ]

HI JON,

I REMEMBER YOU! SO GLAD EVERYTHING WAS GOOD LAST YEAR.  PLEASE LET ME KNOW HOW LONG YOU WILL HAVE FOR THIS TRIP AND HOW MANY ARE IN YOUR PARTY AND I WILL WORK ON THIS FOR YOU RIGHT AWAY.  BEST RGDS, JUDY
 

July 22, 2013

Dear Sharon,

I have been intending to write to you ever since my return from Peru to let you know what a wonderful trip we all had and to thank you for all that you did to make that happen.  It was everything I had hoped it would be in the many years I tried to make it happen and then some! 

I also, want to ask you a favor to please pass on to the people at Peru Chasquitur my highest compliments to the guides and drivers they provided us while there.  Most especially, I would like to single out our guide through the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and Cusco - Jaime.  He was exceptionally knowledgeable, flexible and thoughtful at every turn.  As the "weakest link" in the group from a physical standpoint, I don't think I could have done it without him. 

I will be forever grateful to you and Jaime for the wonderful experience and the many happy memories. 

Thank you. 

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

May 08, 2013

Hi Judy

Just returned from our trip and wanted to tell you that everything went very well.  The hotels and ships were fine, the guides ranged from outstanding to good but they were all smart, knowledgeable and helpful and all the plane connections worked.  Things went so well that on the Manatee we were the only passengers out a possible 30, so we had a private boat tour and the Manatee people were very nice. 

The only negative incident you should be aware of was in Guayaquil.  We had an early morning pick up at the hotel 3:40 AM for our 6:05 AM international flight.  The driver showed up at 4:15 AM, We had an anxious 1/2 hour having the hotel trying to locate him and waiting for him.  We made the plane on time. 

Again thanks for all your help

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

[ LARC Response: ]

HI HOWARD,

WELCOME BACK! I WAS DYING TO HEAR FROM YOU ALL.  I KNEW ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE IN GUAYAQUIL FROM FRED WHO RETURNED HOME FROM ECUADOR AND DIDN’T GO TO PERU.  THAT DOESN’T OFTEN HAPPEN, BUT IT IS ONE REASON I PREFER EVERYONE TO GO IN AND OUT OF QUITO, BECAUSE WE HAVE OUR OWN PEOPLE THERE AND I KNOW WE CAN DEMPEND ON THEM TWENTY-FOUR SEVEN. IN GUAYAQUIL WE HAVE TO BOOK WITH A DIFFERENT COMPANY.  I AM SO SORRY FOR THAT INCIDENT, BUT I AM RELIEVED EVERYTHING ELSE WAS FINE.  I WILL LET EVERYONE WHO WAS INVOLVED IN YOUR TRIP KNOW ABOUT THIS AND THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW.  HEARING FROM OUR PASSENGERS IS THE BEST WAY WE CAN IMPROVE OUR SERVICES.  BEST RGDS, JUDY
 

January 28, 2013

Hi Doris,

Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that Vicki & I had a fantastic time in Ecuador.  The crew on the Letty was great!!  Our guides were great, enthusiastic and full of information.  The accommodations on the Letty were very nice.  The meals were excellent. 

We also had a wonderful time at the Sacha lodge.  It was a fantastic introduction to the Amazon rain forest.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and truly enjoyed introducing us to all of the animals and plants in the rain forest.  The lodge was very comfortable. 

Thanks Again for all your help. 

We will definitely recommend you to anyone interested in going to Ecuador and the Galapagos

Mark  [Last name(s) withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]
 

January 10, 2013

Dear Judy,

This is late but as the saying goes: "Better late than never". 

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Quito, the Galapagos, Chinchero and
vicinities, Machu Picchu , Cusco and Lima. 

Thank you for making the arrangement for us to try the roasted "cuy" in Quito, Ecuador..  

We liked the La Casa Andina Private Collection Hotel in Sacred Valley, Peru.  For us, it was in the middle of nowhere but the view was fantastic.  The mountain, flowers and fruit trees around were just lovely. 

The cruise to the Galapagos on the Athala II was a lot of fun and adventure.  We met 14 well traveled and friendly people from U.K.  We were just like one big family.  The Athala II crew and the guide, Jorge Garcia, were all wonderful.  They all pampered us for the duration of the cruise. 

We were met by the affiliates there on time and we were taken to the airport
promptly.  The services were excellent except for some problems with the
staff at the Sonesta Hotel in Cusco [and] our group guide in Cusco, which
were beyond your control. 

We were, also, very impressed with the short amount of time it took you to make all the arrangements.  As you know, we travel independently and it was such a pleasure to have everything pre-arranged for us everywhere! 

We have told our friends about you.  We hope that they would give you a call
one of these days. 

We were so lucky to have found you. 

Deven and I hope to travel to some other South American countries in the future. 

Thank you so very much, Judy. 

Take care. 

Sincerely,

Tess and Deven  [Last name(s) withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]
 

January 04, 2013

Hola Judith,

We returned from Argentina on Wednesday, Jan 2 and had a great time!  We did lots of hiking in Patagonia and saw lots of wonderful sites! Everything went very well with the flights and the transportation and the transfers.  Out of all of the many transfers we had, there was only one that didn't show up.  On our way back from Montevideo to Buenos Aries at the pier, on Dec. 30, no one was waiting for us to take us to the Dazzler Suites.  We waited around for 30-40 minutes and took a taxi to the hotel, which was $70 pesos (about $14 US).  I called the transfer company, Trip Traslados, the next day, but she didn't speak English very well and didn't understand me.  The same transfer company took us to the airport on Jan. 1, but didn't mention anything. 

If you can relay this message to the tour operator, that would be nice. 

Other than this one mishap, everything else was excellent with the transfers!  Very nice to have someone waiting for you and not have to worry about the cost to get you to the hotels, especially when you don't have their currency and couldn't get money out of the airport ATM!  It was a great trip and everyone was very nice.  Thank You for your help with this and I will get Donna to put Argentina/Chile on our website to promote with my photos.  If you would like any photos, let me know.  I still haven't gone thru them yet, but will try to get to them soon.  feel free to use any of them for your website or whatever.  I will try to book people with you to get down there. 

Thanks again for all of your help on this wonderful trip!! 

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

[ LARC's Response: ]

HI KEN,

I WILL CHECK ON THE MISSED TRANSFER FOR YOU AND YES, PLEASE SEND ME THE PHOTOS WHEN THEY ARE READY, WE CAN PROBABLY USE THEM IN THE WEBSITE AND YOU ARE SUCH A GOOD PHOTOGRAPHER.  GLAD EVERYTHING ELSE WENT FINE.  HOPE WE CAN GET MORE BUSINESS FROM YOUR AGENCY AS WELL.  HUGS & HAPPY NEW YEAR,

JUDY
 

December 23, 2012

Hi Judy,

I just want to let you know that my trip was fabulous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Everything went according to plan, not a single hitch.  I loved the Galapagos and loved Peru!!!!!! 

I loved Hotel Mansion de Angel as well as Sol y Luna!  CAPC was lovely in both Cusco and Puno (not sure why the on-line reviews were not good).  Inkaterra was lovely too (especially the grounds). 

I can't wait to have you help organize my next trip! 

Thanks again. 

Happy holidays, and all the best for 2013

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

[ LARC's Response: ]

WELCOME BACK BEVERLEY,

I WAS WAITING TO HEAR FROM YOU, JUST IN TIME TO MAKE MY HOLIDAY HAPPY!
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND CAN'T WAIT TO PLAN YOUR NEXT TRIP.  HUGS, JUDY
 

December 09, 2012

Hi Everyone,

Here was our Galapagos Cruise group.  There were 14 Brits from London/suburbs and 2 Americans. The boat only had 8 cabins but they were very big cabins.  We had a great time.  Everyone was extremely nice and friendly.  We were like one big family. This picture was taken by our naturalist and guide, Jorge Garcia. 

The Athala staff was very friendly and attentive. It was the best cruise we ever had. 

We were free to see the captain at the bridge any time and he allowed us to pilot the boat when the water was calm!  We crossed the equator 6 times and we had a barbecue one night to celebrate that.  We were also, given certificates for crossing the equator.  We had lots of activities on board.  We had cocktail parties, lectures and videos each night, watched the sunset on board the zodiacs and having a picnic while watching the sunset.  Jennifer, our cruise director, was the bar tender on the zodiacs.  Jennifer was only in her 30's she was like our housemother.  She was the only female staff (total of 10 ).  We were sad when we had to say goodbye to everyone. 

Announcements were made when there was something unusual on the water.  One afternoon, the cruise director saw 2 humpback whales.  We all went out and saw LOTS of humpback whales just playing and feeding. 

This cruise was not a leisure cruise.  We worked hard daily - hiked, climb, snorkel, went to jungles, etc. It was a lot of fun but a test of our physical stamina. 

Love,

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

November 29, 2012

Hi Judy,

Thank you for forwarding the e-mail to Miguel and so promptly! 

I am actually considering a return trip to the Galapagos!  But, it would probably not be until Oct. of 2013 or even 2014. 

However, I am wondering if it is possible to hire a private guide for a day of sight seeing in Guayaquil? 

Once I learned more about it – there are things I would like to see. A lot of it would be walking distance from the hotel where I stayed, I think.  I could probably figure it out on my own, but it would be nice to have someone explaining things and probably getting me around more efficiently and using a car, when needed.  I don’t want to be part of a tour as I have specific things I want to see. 

Regarding the Galapagos: I would definitely stay in the same hotel.  I was soooooooo glad you chose that hotel when I saw some of the others there.   Silberstein was perfect. 

I would take probably only 2 boat trips (maybe 3) to islands I did not go to this time.  I would not repeat the walking tours.  I love them, but wouldn’t need to do them again. 

Anyway, if you have time to let me know the possibility of a private guide in Guayaquil I would appreciate it.  If it is possible, if you have any idea of approximate cost – I would appreciate that information.  Don’t spend a lot of time trying to find it out as this isn’t going to happen in the near future.  However, I do start planning trips...... wayyyyyy ahead. 

Thanks,

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

[ LARC Response: ]

HI DONNA,

I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW PLEASED I AM THAT ALL WENT WELL, SO MUCH SO THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO RETURN!  THAT MAKES ME SO HAPPY, WE LIVE FOR OUR PASSENGERS TO BE HAPPY WITH OUR SERVICES.  YES, OF COURSE WE CAN GIVE YOU A DAY OF SIGHT SEEING IN GUAYAQUIL, AND EVERYTHING WE DO IS PRIVATE, WE DON’T BOOK ANY BUS TOURS.  I WILL ASK MIGUEL TO GIVE US AN ESTIMATE ON THAT BECAUSE I STILL DON’T HAVE THE 2013 TARIFF.  I WILL SEE WHAT HE WOULD RECOMMEND AND GET AN APPROXIMATE COST FOR YOU.  THEN I DON’T REMEMBER, BUT DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ALTITUDE? BECAUSE I THINK YOU WOULD REALLY LOVE QUITO, IT IS SO COLONIAL, BUT THE ALTITUDE IS ABOUT 9,300 ABOVE SEA LEVEL. YOU COULD FLY INTO & OUT OF THERE INSTEAD AND THEN YOU COULD NOT ONLY SEE COLONIAL QUITO WHICH IS A WORLD HERITAGE SITE, BUT YOU COULD VISIT THE EQUATOR AS WELL AS SOME OF THE VILLAGES OUTSIDE OF QUITO SUCH AS OTAVALO, ETC. OTAVALO IS A VERY FAMOUS INDIAN MARKET NORTH OF QUITO, AND SOUTH OF QUITO YOU HAVE THE HIGHEST ACTIVE VOLCANO IN THE WORLD, COTOPAXI. JUST LET ME KNOW BECAUSE WE COULD WORK IT EITHER WAY, THROUGH GUAYAQUI OR THROUGH QUITO. 

I AM SO PLEASED THAT YOU APPROVED OF MY CHOICE FOR YOU IN GALAPAGOS AS WELL.  IT HAS SUCH A GOOD LOCATION AND AFTER GETTING TO KNOW YOU A LITTLE BY PHONE, I JUST KNEW IT WAS THE PERFECT FIT ACCORDING TO WHAT I COULD GLEAN FROM OUR CONVERSATIONS, AND WE WILL WORK IT OUT BOTH WAYS TO SEE IF IT WOULD BE LESS EXPENSIVE JUST BOOKING YOU ON THE NIGHTLY RATE AND ADDING A COUPLE OF DAY TOURS, OF COURSE YOU WOULDN’T NEED TO DO SOME OF THE TOURS AGAIN. 

I LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING AGAIN FROM YOU WITH YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT QUITO.

KIND RGDS, JUDY
 

November 29, 2012

Dear Miguel,

A very belated note to thank you for the superb service I received with the transfers during my recent trip to the Galapagos.  Each transfer went smoothly, the drivers were on time and very pleasant and helpful. 

My arrival plane was four hours late and I was concerned that no one would be there. But, he was and was very pleasant. 

The woman (I do not remember her name, sorry) that picked me up at the hotel in Guayaquil and took me to the airport for the flight to the islands was especially helpful with airport details when we arrived there.  She was very efficient in getting me through the process. 

When I returned to Guayaquil, the driver was very kind to pull off so I could get out of the taxi and take a picture of the large monkey sculpture. He was also very informative about Guayaquil. 

If I return to the Galapagos, I would certainly want to use your company for the transfers. 

When my first transfer went so smoothly my anxiety lessened and I could relax. 

Thank you so much. 

Donna  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]
( Trip was Oct. 14 – 21. )
 

[ LARC Response: ]

HI DONNA,

GREAT! I AM SO GLAD EVERYTHING WORKED FOR YOU.  IT WAS A GOOD DECISION WTO GIVE YOU ALL PRIVATE
TRANSFERS! KIND RGDS, JUDY
 

November 20, 2012

We have arrived from sea level of the Galapagos back to Quito and over 9000
ft. We are on our way to Cotapaxi National Park.  Cotapaxi is the tallest active volcano in the world at almost 20000 ft.  We horseback ride up part of the volcano tomorrow and then head to the jungle. 

Galapagos was great - swam with sharks fish beautiful sea floor and of course playful sea lions.  Saw all types of iguanas the blue footed booby the nasca booby many finches and the albatrosses were amazing.  We saw sting rays, sea turtles mating (swam with them a lot) giant tortoises mating and much much more. 

We loved Mansion de Angel and Quito.  Miguel and his group have been great.
Cormorant was first class - really only got two effective days on ship as were up at 5am on last day for 630 departure.  Galapagos Safari Camp was great. 

Couple of notes to pass on to Miguel - when go to Middle of Earth advise clients to have sunscreen and a hat when leave hotel or in itinerary.  There was a mix up either by Cormorant company or in the information they received from LARC - they apparently had us booked back on Aero Gal on Nov 17 straight from ship. I had asked Katrien at GSC to confirm our flights on Nov 18 and when we returned back that day she had pulled a rabbit out of the hat and got us on the last 2 seats today.  She saved the day! 

Anyhow all going great - looking forward to the rest of the trip. 

Happy Thanksgiving

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

November 19, 2012

Thank you both for helping to make our trip very special. We enjoyed your
planning and attention to detail. 

Besides having Barry's v. expensive camera stolen on the first day in St. Telmo, and then a 3am one hour riot with 40 drummers protesting salaries at the hotel next door in Ushuaia and a 2 hr. delay on our way from Punta Arenas to Torres because of a road race- we can say all went well. 

A few comments and accolades:
Buenos Aires: Hotel Esplendor - great location and nice room.  Receptionist
Esteban was a joy and very helpful by getting us in our room around 10:30 am
and by suggesting restaurants etc.  Carol was a good guide and helped us find a camera store but then needed to cut her tour short because of our shopping time.  

Ushuaia: Elizabeth was one of the best guides we had.- beautiful tour.  Nice hotel- great sites 

Stella Australis: Perfect cruise- large room with huge window.  Good food and wine and amazing service/side trips/ship lectures. Great sights. 

Hosteria Hotel Las Torres: Perfect location and great hikes/excursions.  This
day instead of getting in around 3:30pm, we arrived at 8:15 because we could
not disembark from the ship for 2 hrs and there was the road race which
closed down the highway near Puerto Natales.  Small but adequate room. If
you use this hotel in the future- recommend to your clients to eat dinner in
the bar as the dining room dinner is poor- in fact you could not cut into
the lamb at all. Tablecloths were dirty.  The Full Paine Tour was amazing. 
Check out from the hotel took 40 mins. as they tried to charge us for the room and when we gave them the voucher, they could not accept it until a manager came which took a long time.  This was the most disappointing hotel and service/food/cleanliness was poor. 

El Calafate: Hotel Esplendor was super- dramatic, clean and the only hotel during our entire trip with CNN in English- which was great as it was election day. Lucretia was our guide here. We cannot recommend her at all. I am not sure if it is her english, her shyness or what but she probably only spoke to us for a total of 1 hr during 3 days with her. She accompanied us to Perito Moreno and walked the boardwalk with us but did not speak unless I asked her a question and she usually knew the answer.  Then on the full day 9 hr boat trip to the 3 glaciers (Perito, Spegazzini, and Upsala) she sat us on the 2nd level and went to the first level for the entire trip.   Thankfully there was an english speaking guide one row away so we learned about the glaciers while she visited with her friends on the ship (she had previously worked on this ship). I cannot recommend her at all- she brought us brochures on the last day when we were on our way to the airport.  Gonzalo's car was old and not very clean without air conditioning that came to the back seat. Lagoon Nimez is amazing. 

Mendoza: Wonderful! Marta Rueda was our guide and she probably is the best
guide we have ever had... She is intelligent, inquisitive, filled with so much information that she is eager to share and just fun to be with.  We enjoyed her immensely and appreciated her knowledge of history, geography, politics, wine, food- she really is super! Hotel Executive was perfect- and we did have a suite which was wonderful. Wineries were super and our trip to the High Andes was spectacular aided by Marta's knowledge and beautiful blue skies. Ate at 1884 (thanks for making the arrangements) and at Azafran which was amazing. 

Back to BA: Not sure why we needed a guide and a driver to bring us back and
forth to city airport. Angel the driver drove fast, perhaps he was angry?  never smiled.

Overall it was a wonderfully planned trip and we thank you both for your help with it.
Best,
Maureen and Barry

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

November 09, 2012

On Sat Nov. 3, Eduardo drove us from the Cruceros Australis landing in P. Arenas.  We were supposed to be leaving the port at 11am, but left at 1pm
because of port issues.  Eduardo was very patient and waiting for us.  His car was immaculate and he took us as we requested to the Mercado.  Eduardo spoke to us in English and in Spanish and we so enjoyed his humor, smile and knowledge. He took us to a small restaurant for soup and helped us understand the menu.  When we approached P. Natales there was a road race
so again we were delayed for 2 hrs as the road was closed. Eduardo was patient and had us laughing while trying to talk to each other with our poor Spanish about difficult issues like culture, politics, familia.... He was v.v. kind

He is a safe driver and has a good heart. When we did get to Torres we said
good bye to Eduardo who by now had become a friend. 

I highly recommend Eduardo to you. 

Thank you,

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

[ LARC's Response: ]

HI MAUREEN,

SO FAR SO GOOD THEN...

ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR TRIP, JUDY
 

October 19, 2012

[feedback from recent guests at Sacha Lodge]

We can't say enough positives about all 4 naturalist guides who were part of our itinerary: Ivan Lopez & Harry Jimenez in the Galapagos, Luis Garcia & Pedro (last name unknown; our Kichwa guide) at Sacha Lodge.  We've not encountered that quality of guide -- knowledge, people skills, just plain enjoyable to be around -- anywhere in our other travels.  They had everything to do with making this our trip of a lifetime!  If you're in a position to pass on the heartfelt compliment, please do! 

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

September 03, 2012

Thank you Judy and Ramiro for this info,

Your ears must have been burning yesterday. We were talking with the Gordmans, the Sanderman's, Paluska's and Stollers all who were singing your praises about their trips.  Amazing that you have helped so many in our little county.  They are eager to hear about our upcoming trip, so maybe some will be making future plans with you. 

Speaking of plans, we hope you have been able to make dinner reservations for 1884 in Mendoza.  Our neighbors have been there and said it books out 2 mos or more in advance.  I have tried to do this online but have been unsuccessful... Thank you Ramiro for your follow up. 

Best,

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

July 05, 2012

Happy Fourth of July to you Judy.

Thanks for all of your never ending help.  The reward goes to you.  Will recommend you to the agency and my colleagues.  I am going to call the Silvers after the Fourth. I want to give them time to get settled in.

Regards,

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

May 29, 2012

Judy,

My clients came back from their trip and they loved Ecuador, the Galapagos as you arranged. I am very impressed. So, you will hear from me again form sure when I have people wanting to go there. I may also use you for Peru next time when I have clients want to go there.

Thank you again for the services you provided for my clients.

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

March 08, 2012

Hi Judy,

Sorry about the credit card.. I did not notify Visa that we would be out of the country and therefore they assumed it was fraud. I have talked to them this morning and the freeze has been lifted so the charges should be permitted. Had there not been a power outage we could have solved the problem right then.   Everyone there was so nice I feel very badly this occurred.  Please let me know if there is a further problem. 

We could not have been happier with all the arrangements you made.  The Hotel Silberstein worked out well and as I said , everyone there is so nice.  The daily trips were very good, though the bus ride got tiresome.  The hotel in Quito was so pleasant.  I felt like home and Gloria did everything she possibly could to make our stay there perfect.  Thank you for making all the arrangements and making sure our trip went off without a hitch!!  It was just GREAT!!! 

Thanks again, Kathie

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

[ LARC Travel Tip: Be sure to notify your credit card company before leaving the USA to avoid unwanted holds on your credit card purchases or other charges made while traveling abroad. ] 
 

February 13, 2012

Dear Judy, We’ve been home 21 hours and are re-acclimating.  Our flights home went very smoothly.  We thank you so much for arranging the later flight from Miami (we cleared customs at 4 pm, obviously too late to make the connection that I made), which was a smooth 2 ½ hours, boosted by tail wind. 

The highlight was our visit was the Galapagos.  The Explorer II was better than we expected, including room, crew, great food, well organized, polite.  The two naturalists we had were pleasant and knowledgeable, and spoke English very well.  La Mirage was charming and our local tour by Juan Carlos was quite interesting (including purchases for Xmas presents at Otovalo).  Quito was also interesting and the Gangotena quite beautiful.  We ate dinner there with one meal (steamed sea bass) great and one meal (pork) awful.  The meals on the boat and at La Mirage were uniformly good to great, especially the boat. 

We would like you to thank Miguel, whom we got to meet the last day and to especially thank Juan Carlos, who hung in there.  Please forward this e-mail to them.  We want to thank you again for your patience and untiring efforts, which we appreciate and got us over the rough spots. 

All the best, Mel and Martha 
[Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]
 

[LARC's Response:]

HI MEL & MARTHA,

I WAS JUST ABOUT TO CALL YOU TO SEE HOW EVERYTHING WENT.  I THOUGHT ABOUT YOU NUMEROUS TIMES OVER THE WEEKEND AND ASSUMED YOU MUST HAVE MADE IT OK.  THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW AND THANKS FOR YOUR REPORT, I AM COPYING EVERYONE THAT WAS INVOLVED IN TAKING CARE OF YOU AND THANKS FOR BEING SUCH GOOD CUSTOMERS. 

BEST RGDS, JUDY
 

January 14, 2012

Hi Miguel,

My wife, Janet, and I want to let you know how pleased we were with the services your staff provided us during our visit to Ecuador in November.  Your personnel were exemplary, professional, organized and personable.  They made us feel very comfortable and safe. 

The tours and the administrative matters, including vouchers and airline tickets, were seamless. We experienced no disappointments, no frustrations and no disappointments.  It's a credit to your organization that everything worked out so smoothly.  There is no question that we'd use your services should we return to Peru and will enthusiastically recommend your services if the opportunity presents itself down the road. 

Wishing you much continued success as you move forward. 

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

January 13, 2012

Judy, we had a great time and would like to thank you for all the effort you put into making the arrangements.  The guides and tours were great and we were always picked up on time and never had to worry about whether someone had forgotten us.  Earlier I sent you our comment regarding the Bartomle island and a couple of other items you may want to be aware of are as follows:

-The hotel in Cusco (TAYPIKALA) gave us the absolute worst rooms in the house. We were in the basement beside a noisy kitchen in rooms badly needed of re-decorating. Even though it was New Years our booking was well in advance so I think they could have done better.  Overall the rest of the hotel seemed to be more superior and it had a good location.

-On our final day the cab driver taking us to the Quito Airport from the Hotel La Rabida was a bit of a problem.  We gave him a $5 tip which was more than we paid for a cab fare to go all the way to the cable car in the morning and he insisted that $5 wasn't enough.  It was our understanding that the transfer was included.  Of course he conveniently didn't speak English so we gave him an additional $5 to get rid of him.  He seemed to be insisting that he wanted $5 from each of us ($20) but he only got $10 in total.  I think the staff at La Rabida may want to know about this as it was a great hotel and very homey. 

Rest assured, if we decide to do any more Latin American vacations we will be happy to contact you again or provide a reference to others as required. 

Thanks so much.  Enjoy your weekend. 

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

December 08, 2011

This was a surprising and wonderful trip. Oddly enough, however, there are only a very small number of relatives and acquaintances to whom we would honestly recommend this trip. 

In terms of the surprises, the biggest is that we left at all. Jamie had a very bad bike accident 10 days before we were scheduled to leave (serious concussion, 2 broken ribs, multiple bad abrasions and bruises etc.).  He wasn’t even able to sleep in a bed until after we left. Given that this was intended to be an extremely active trip (lots of hiking, horseback riding etc.), we weren’t sure whether he would be able to participate, either partially or fully, in our intended activities. As it turned out, recovering on vacation was better than staying home and going to work. By the time we got to our first destination, he was able to do almost everything. The only thing we excluded was horseback riding (for Jamie). Even a small risk of falling off a horse with broken ribs and a sore head made riding too obviously stupid to even contemplate...  for more Click Here

Jan H. and Jamie R.  
[Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

 

November 28, 2011

Rest assured you did an exemplary job organizing our Latin America adventure.  We had no surprises or glitches.  All went like a perfect Swiss watch. 

Though Janet immediately readjusted to Boston, I'm still experiencing some
adjustment issues, for reasons I don't understand.  Not a big deal. 

I'll call you in a few days to fill in the details. 

Hope all is well at your end. 

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

November 18, 2011

We completed the Ecuadorian part of our adventure about 11 pm last night when we arrived in Lima. 

Quito is a very interesting city, but sadly seemed old & tired.  It is nearly 500 years old after all!  Our Galapagos cruise was awesome.  Seeing the wildlife in their natural surroundings was very special, and the topography on the islands was neat. 

So far the weather has been very cooperative.  We haven't had any serious
issues with the altitude yet, and Richard avoided sea sickness on the Galapagos cruise

Do hope all is well at your end. 

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

[ LARC Response: ]

HI JANET & RICHARD,

THANKS FOR THE UPDATE!  HOPE YOU WILL ENJOY THE PERU PORTION AS MUCH. HUGS, JUDY
 

November 17, 2011

FYI had a great time.... Thank you so much for your help......it was an amazing experience and the lunch they provided was great.... We felt very safe... had a private zipline tour which was very nice.... I can't remember the guides name that picked us up from the hotel but he was a very nice guy ...Again Thank you !!!!!! your efforts are very much appreciated..... Thanks again Kim 

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

November 09, 2011

Judy-
Sorry for the late reply.

It was AWESOME!!!!  You had the perfect recommendations for us.  We love La Mirage and the area and La Rabida was perfect for us.  A step down from the luxury of La Mirage, but equally as perfect.  Judy and Sergio were very kind and welcoming.  Feels like family.  Haley spent a good amount of time talking to the staff after the Earthquake.  They were quite shaken up.  we thought it was exciting.  Only because no one was hurt and no damage. 

You ROCK.  I gave your info to a bunch of people on the trip.  A couple from Toronto and also one from PA who seemed very interested in more South American travel. 

We are your biggest fans. 

Thanks

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

November 07, 2011

Thanks.  Jamie's doing the trip report and will send it along when it's done.   Overall, it was a great trip with a couple of glitches at both the beginning and the end.  However, none of them significantly affected our enjoyment of the trip -- although getting up at 5 am for a birdwatching guide who didn't show and then waiting all day only to have to hassle with the hotel and agency to get them to set it up for late afternoon did affect that day.  However, when he finally showed up, we had a great time birdwatching with an excellent guide. 

And Ramiro, many thanks for all your assistance on this trip -- including willingness to respond to late night phone calls.  We loved Hotel Madero -- just wished we had had longer to enjoy it.  In fact, we enjoyed it a great deal more than Palacio duHau. The Loi Suites in Iguazu Falls has problems but once the manager finally got involved, she was the one who made the birdwatching happen. 

We absolutely loved Eolo.  It was all I had expected it to be. We felt we could have happily spent another day there.  We hadn't realized it was all inclusive so getting a bill with no food costs was a very nice surprise.  Wonderful service and better food than we had anywhere else.  Plus the setting is unexcelled. 

And Judy, your advice on the Stella vs the Via Australis was spot on -- especially when we ran into some bad weather.  It is a lovely ship. The size was perfect for us -- though it was probably only 60% full.  We might have felt differently had there been a full ship.  But the same was true for Explora. There were only 30 people there (and they were getting 80 in the day we left), so we had a small group and everyone got along exceedingly well.  Traveling in low/shoulder season really paid off for us.  The weather was not substantially different and prices were lower as were the numbers at each place.  We'd highly recommend this time for others to go. 

The key to enjoying Patagonia is being appropriately dressed for the weather. We spent money on new equipment and clothes and were very glad we did so. 

Thanks again to you both. 

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

September 11, 2011

Hello Judy

We returned from our Galapagos / Machu Picchu trip a couple of weeks ago. Here is a huge thank you to you and the Latin American Reservation Center for arranging an absolutely outstanding trip. 

We were delighted with the LARC arrangements throughout -- especially the Mansion del Angel hotel in Quito (at which we stayed 3 times during the trip) -- our stay was absolutely wonderful.  Please relay our thanks to the manager, Lupe, and staff – who made us welcome and superbly comfortable.  The hotel is absolutely beautiful and the service was excellent. 

Tours were outstanding and we had perfect weather through-out (I’m not sure whether that was your doing or not).  All tour arrangements were beyond expectations -- we were met at every stop, our boarding passes, etc. were pre-printed -- we had a private tour bus with driver and guide and the guides were entertaining and informative. 

Please thank David, our tour guide through Quito, for excellent service. 

A special note on the service by Peru Chasquitur – they were flawless and beyond expectations in every way. 

Our guide in Lima, Miguel, was terrific.  We did not have time for much beyond the Gold Museum, but Miguel was entertaining and engaging. 

Our guide through Cusco and Machu Picchu, Clara, deserves special attention. She was absolutely outstanding in every way.  My wife was walking with a cane (we put off her knee surgery for the trip) and Clara went out of her way to assist and allow time for each tour. Knowledgeable and informative would be an understatement – she was just wonderful throughout and handled every detail expertly and a positive disposition.  In short, Clara takes the experience from good to great.  She was outstanding and will be fondly remembered as a highlight of our trip.  Please relay our heartfelt appreciation and thank you to Clara. 

I would be remiss if I did not also mention Edgar, our driver in Peru. He was exceptional – after the first couple of narrow, winding roads up the mountains I knew he was a rare find – always patient, prompt and providing excellent service.  I can’t say enough good things about him – and was I happy when he showed up at 4:30 AM to take us to the Expedition Train – great service! 

On our second day at Machu Picchu, we were guided by Manuel, who hiked Wayna Picchu with us.  We pretty much knew what we wanted to do the second day and had our day planned, so we did not spend as much time with Manuel, but he was an excellent companion and we really appreciated his company and informative dialogue on the hike.  I do want to thank you all (especially Peru Chasquitur) for scheduling our second day at Machu Picchu – which gave us an opportunity to hike a little and revisit some of the sites. 

I think the best example of excellent service by Peru Chasquitur was when we boarded the bus for our trip to the airport in Cusco, the agent (Diego?  I think, but I am not sure) handed us our boarding passes for the flights to Lima and Quito!  This is just one example – the service was always great. 

We had a fantastic trip and wish we had spent more time in Ecuador and Peru. We found so many things we wanted to see and do – we will definitely plan a return trip! 

Again, thank you (LARC) and Peru Chasquitur very much for the terrific tour planning, arrangements and guides.  We were delighted with the service.  I would definitely recommend LARC!

Walt, Susie, Kiff, and Joy  
[Last names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

 

September 11, 2011

Hi there:

Off she went with a big smile to SA and her journey...I have enough info to keep a watch from a distance as fortunately we can communicate via our iphones...face time no less...

Glad she is staying at the Mansion as it is small and she will get to meet others..

Wish to thank you for all your help and advice...not knowing 1 thing about SA, I now have learned lots which is truly interesting...a world to explore maybe!

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

 

August 08, 2011

Thanks for a wonderful trip.

The hotel La Rabida was super.

Loved the Beluga and would highly recommend to any/all

Our naturalist was exceptional

thanks again for making this all work so well.

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

[LARC Response:] 

HEY PAULA!

IS HE BACK ALREADY? I LOST TRACK OF THE TIME. WELL THAT IS GREAT! I KNEW THEY WOULD LOVE IT, BUT IT IS ALWAYS NICE TO HEAR FROM THEM, THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW AND DON'T LOSE MY NUMBER, YOU CAN HAVE LOTS MORE SATISFIED PASSENGERS LIKE HIM BOOKING THROUGH US! :)

ALL THE BEST, JUDY

 

August 01, 2011

Judy, good afternoon. I've been remiss in not getting back to you after returning to CT. on 07.19.  My wife says you're a miracle worker.  Our trip went flawlessly. All the connections and flights were punctual and Aerogal is a great airline.  We
got snacks and drinks on the 45 min flight from Guayaquil to Quito, and beer and wine was no charge.  Our drivers and guides were courteous, very friendly and especially informative on the sites and sounds of Quito and Imbabura Province.  We actually hired them for a free day in Cotacachi and surrounding areas.  It was $10/hour.  I couldn't believe it.  They also, didn't drive like the local population does.  Thanks God for that.  The locals are wacked out drivers. 

The Beluga and the Galapagos were better than we ever could have imagined. The crew and food were worth the trip on their own, but our naturalist, Juan, had to be the best one in the Galapagos.  We, and and the 14 others on board, truly enjoyed our daily trips onto the islands as well as the snorkeling around the islands and the insight he provided before, during, and after every trip. Now that we've been there, I wish they'd close it down so no other tourists could go. 

Kudos again on the La Mirage and Mansion del Angel.  Our first two nights at the Mansion we were the only guests they had I finally realized.  Didn't matter, they didn't cut back on the staff or service or not open the kitchen as some other hotel might do, we had 4 or 5 people at our beck and call at all times. The bad part is now my wife expects it at all times.  I'm exhausted.  I need a vacation.  La Mirage was just the same.  What a beautiful setting, and the grounds...  it's like going to a botanical garden, and you get to sleep there.  Food and service, 1st class.  When we got home I suggested we should go backpacking for a couple of days.  Diane laughed, looked at me and said, go ahead, I'm calling Judy.  Thanks girl.  Where to next? 

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

[LARC Response:] 

I am still laughing at Diane's last comment!  You go girl!

I have lots and lots of places to send you, I can keep you busy traveling to South America for the next ten years and you still won't have seen it all! Thanks so much for the feedback, that is how we can assure our future clients of the top notch service we strive to provide. 

All the best, Judy

 

June 08, 2011

Hello Judy, hello Caleb,

I am glad to report that I am back in Germany safe and sound.  Well, actually not glad - I had a really really great time in Galapagos, I loved every minute of it and if it had been up to me, I would have stayed another 3 weeks J J.  

I'd like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to both of you for your help and support.  Especially with the sudden itinerary-change, really great that you helped me there so quickly!  I enjoyed my time in Isabella, you were very right to recommend it, Caleb!  We did the tour to Los Tuneles and had close encounter snorkeling with the penguins, it was great fun J  

The hotels were all great; especially the Aventura was really lovely.  Great to see how well it was all re-done after the blow it took with the Tsunami, really very nice.  Staff there was most helpful and very kind, so I had a great time.  

The diving was also nice. Just one question concerning that: From what I learned the way this works is that basically every operator connects with the other operators on the island and then one of them does the tour to a certain destination that day, correct?  It's just something we'd need to advice our customers of, that's why I'm asking.  Is there any way of knowing in advance who will operate the tour that particular day?  

It's too bad we didn't get a chance to meet personally. But if you do get by Bremen again make sure you let me know - I'll have a large Becks ready for you ! J  

As for the part in Quito, I absolutely loved the Mansion del Angel!! Really a very nice place, I'll make sure I'll promote it to by best ability J.  The tour was also very nice and informative, got a good impression on Quito and what to recommend for our clients.  

Thanks you very much again!  

Best regards from rainy Germany  

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

April 26, 2011

Judy: 

I just returned from my vacation in Ecuador and ended up being a guest of my friend's old school pal that still lives in Otavalo.  He treated us to a wonderful lunch there as well as insisting we stay as his guest for a spa treatment.  It was wonderful and such a treat.  I took several pictures of the grounds and the dining area which were exquisite.  To say the least, it was a memorable afternoon.  

I must add that I have been to several wonderful spas - the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Suites of the Gods in Santorini, Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC as well as the Biltmore Spa also in Asheville.  I rank La Mirage the top experience.  

Thank you for the information you sent me. I am writing an article of my experiences while in Ecuador and will definitely include my experience at La Mirage.  

My best to you and continued success.  

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

March 21, 2011

Judy, 

Thanks for your patience in arranging our trip.  This is our last night and we are staying in a fabulous room at Mansion del Angel.  The accommodations at all the hotels have been outstanding.  La Mirage was my wife's favorite.  She loved the country atmosphere and the small towns.  Galapagos was an adventure.  If I can advise another traveler interested in outdoor adventure I would recommend they do a cruise.  The Royal Palm was great.  Puerto Ayora was busy and fun.  Tortuga Bay beach is a must.  The walk to the beach in the sun was tough on the wife.  Enjoyed the Colonial Town area in Quito.  Heading out to a couple of museums.  Give you more when I get stateside.  

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

[LARC Response:]

F.Y.I.  CARL, TSUNAMI WARNING LIFTED FOR GALAPAGOS, NO SUSTAINED DAMAGE-HAVE A GREAT TRIP! 

RGDS, JUDY
 

February 20, 2011

Hi Judy, 

My stays at Mansion del Angel and La Mirage were the best yet.  

I tried the Cofan spa treatment in addition to the Equatorial Energy treatment and, of course, Esthela's purification.  All were fabulous.  

A special menu for Valentine's dinner was the best dining experience that I
have ever had.  

Thank you for all your help.  I told Jorge and Michel that I might come back
next February...  

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

February 17, 2011

Dear Judy, 

A VERY belated message to thank you for planning such a fabulous trip for Phyllis and myself. Has to be one of my best vacations ever.  After being delayed by a day due to the snow storm in St. Louis, it was pretty rushed and crazy Friday and Saturday.  But then the schedule provided a bit of down time here and there.  It was still anything but restful, getting up every day at 6:30 and not eating dinner until 8 pm (that was my only complaint with the schedule - it's too late to start a 4 course meal when you have to rise so early).  But we had a fabulous experience on the boat - I would recommend that one to anyone.  The staff were all so pleasant and helpful, and were lucky enough to connect with a wonderful group of people (mostly English) in our group - we all bonded and it was sad to leave!  But a week is definitely enough, particularly at that pace.  

La Mirage is as beautiful as you had said, and Mansion of the Angels was lovely also.  Again, we didn't have enough time in either place so it was a bit hectic, which is probably why I ended up coming down with a nasty bronchitis the day after I returned home.  We needed more time in both cities, but I needed to get back to class and Phyllis became very homesick.  I am hoping to return to Ecuador in the not too distant future - I loved it!  I had to laugh that all the people we met were going to the jungle, rain forest, etc before and/or after , and we went to a spa!  But I'm not sure Phyllis could have done those things - she found many of the walks too rigorous, although she loved the trip also.  

The guides, the people who transferred us, everyone was wonderful and took good care of us.  The young man who took us on our tour of Quito was very sweet, but he didn't seem to know much about what to see and do outside of the prescribed agenda.  It was a little heavy on churches.  I just have to remember to do more homework before doing something like that so I can be part of planning the tour.  

I wish that you were a travel agent for other areas besides Latin America, but when I'm ready to return, either to Ecuador or elsewhere, I'll be calling you.   Meanwhile I'm passing on your contact info to other people.  

Thanks again, Judy - you are fabulous to work with!  

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

January 16, 2011

Judy, 

Just to let you know we found the hotel to be amazingly charming, fabulous service; very luxury class and incredible food (dinner and breakfast).  Thanks for all your help and I'll do my best to spread the word. 

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

[LARC Response:] 

So happy to hear that Deborah!  Thanks!  
 

December 08, 2010

Dear Judy,

I just got a message from [
name removed for privacy].  He was really, really enthusiastic about the land program, he did with you.  Everything was more than perfect, he saw all the things and animals, he wished to see and the accommodation was lovely.  Especially he liked your personal service!  

There was a bit of trouble coming home, because the Air Traffic Control in Spain was on strike, but that was nothing we or you could change.  In the end he had a wonderful journey.  

Thank you very much for organizing this program in such a short time. Next time we will contact you earlier.  

Very best regards  

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

[ LARC's Response: ]

HI RAY,

WHEN I SAW YOUR MESSAGE COMING OVER I WAS A LITTLE AFRAID TO OPEN I, FEARING SOMETHING WENT WRONG WITH HIS LAST MINUTE PLAN.  I WAS SO HAPPY WHEN I DID LOOK AT THE MESSAGE AND DISCOVERED THAT ALL OUR EFFORTS WENT SMOOTHLY!  THAT IS WONDERFUL NEWS AND IT IS A PITY HE HAD TROUBLE CONNECTING EN ROUTE HOME, BUT I AM GLAD THAT WAS NOT OUR FAULT!  "ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL" 

RGDS, JUDY 
 

November 14, 2010

Fab work, Judy dahhhhlink!!!  

Hey --- you thought you were rid of us when we departed, didn't you... and really, your work just began!!! We really appreciate the tons of extra effort you, Arlene and Alvaro have done for the Rodenfels!  

First internet access since peru---everything there went wonderfully and will fill you in when I return.  

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

[LARC's Response:] 

HEY INDY DAHLINK, THAT'S WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT "SERVICE"!"  

CAN'T WAIT UNTIL YOU GET BACK SO I CAN HEAR ALL ABOUT IT! I HAVE TO REALLY THANK ADAM PUTNAMS (OUR CONGRESSMAN'S) OFFICE, KELLY WHITE IN PARTICULAR FOR MAKING SURE THE EMBASSY WERE PREPARED TO REISSUE JANS PASSPORT, OTHERWISE I AM NOT SURE THINGS WOULD HAVE RUN AS SMOOTHLY.  MAYBE WE SHOULD GET HER SOME PASSES TO GET INTO SEA WORLD (I'M JUST SAYING?) DYING TO KNOW HOW THE REST OF THE TRIP IN CHILE GOES TOO.  ARLEN AND ALVARO JUST LOVE YOU GUYS, I THINK IT WAS A SPECIAL TREAT FOR THEM, ALTHOUGH THEY COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT THE ONE BIT OF DRAMA. LOOKING FORWARD TO SPEAKING WITH YOU WHEN YOU GET BACK.   

HUGS, JUDY 
 

October 17, 2010

Hello Arlen, 

I wanted to tell you how wonderful your services were while we visited Peru helped my Judy Martin who organized our trip.  

Your guides were on time and spoke English very well and the drivers were safe and careful.  We had a tour with Edith in Lima, Americo in Cusco and the Sacred Valley and Manuel in Machu Picchu.  They were all good, but I want to single out Americo because he is exceptional.  He spoke beautifully and is well informed on many different topics.  He not only gave a thoughtful tour but he listened and directed his attention to our interests.  After having a health issue he offered to call a doctor for me and was flexible to reschedule our tour to a different day.  

I told him he should be a professor as his knowledge is great and his sense of humor wonderful while always trying to provide great service and care.  

I will highly recommend him when our friends visit Peru.  He is special!  and you are fortunate to have him in your employ.  

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

October 05, 2010

Judy, 

We are having a most wonderful time thanks to your amazing organizational skills and knowledge... thank you so very much... no problemos con el presidente and todo los tiempo en Peru was wonderful (except for some food poisoning in the Valley-but will chat with you about that after we return) 

Young Americo was the best.... the very best guide... and our time in Quito wonderful... Casa Aliso as you know is such a treat... all the lodgings have been special in their own ways..  

Just wanted to catch you up on our sincere thanks for a wonderful time.. Off to Galapagos manana..  

Muchos gracias Judy..  

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

[LARC's Response:] 

HI MAUREEN  

DON'T KNOW WHEN YOU WILL GET THIS, BUT SO GLAD ALL IS WELL! PLEASE GIVE ME A SHOUT WHEN YOU GET BACK AND LET ME KNOW HOW EVERYTHING WAS. HUGS, JUDY 
 

July 20, 2010

The highlands of Ecuador were as wonderful as we remembered, and it was nice to spend the time to see things.  The schedule worked great, the two days off at La Mirage was great.  The Hacienda HATO VERDE was wonderful and we really liked the family that operated it.  Cesar, the husband gave our guide some good suggestions for stop that we would like, so we got to a native market where we were the only tourists and we also enjoyed a village bullfight on our way to Crater Lake.  Our time in Banos was great, the clouds cleared the first afternoon and we saw the erupting volcano in all its glory, not threatening just large plumbs of steam from the top and as the sun went down we could see some rivers of lava.  The trip into the canyon and to the Devil's Caldron was very nice to realize we were seeing one of the prime tributaries to the Amazon.  We enjoyed the Otovallo market and happened upon a crazy native celebration in Cotacachi while staying at La Mirage. The rooms, food and spa at La Mirage were wonderful and the grounds are beautiful. 

Margo likes some of the high quality native art, so our guide took us to Olga Fische a shop in Quito which was exceptional not only for the beautiful hand crafted items, but the have a spectacular museum on the second floor of pre-Columbian and other ancient artifacts that are wonderfully displayed, we felt very lucky to have visited.  

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

June 10, 2010

Mike & Miguel, 

We arrived safely back in the US this morning.  I'm catching up on hundred of
accumulated emails, but I just wanted to send a quick note of thanks for all the hard work you both did in putting the trip together.  It was fantastic and the Hampden-Sydney students were thrilled.  Thanks too, Miguel, for all your help and hospitality in Quito.  I can't wait to come back.  

Regards, 

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

May 19, 2010

Here is an online photo show of my trip to Peru earlier this month.  

It's about 312 photos - so grab a glass of wine, click "Watch Now" and then
click on the "full screen" icon to get the best views of .....  

Lima, Trujillo, Cusco, Machu Picchu and so much more!  

I hope you enjoy my photos  

Gary Warning [Full name posted with the author's permission.]

Watch Now (Please Note: This link will open in a new browser window.  You may need to turn off your pop-up blocker to open the new page.) 

[This slide show was compiled by Gary Warning who was our guest in Peru in May 2010.]
 

May 17, 2010

Hi Judy,

This is just a quick note from Cotacachi.  We are having an *amazing* honeymoon at La Mirage Garden and Spa.  The staff is treating us better than great and we've had fabulous food, great spa treatments, beautiful room and grounds, a gorgeous hike around Lake Cuicocha (Laguna Cuicocha), daily chocolate covered strawberries (and-or other honeymoon treats) complementary of the staff, a fun day in Otavalo market and generally great time.  Weather has been perfect, too.  

If GSC is half this great, we'll be very happy!  

Thanks for everything!  

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

April 29, 2010

Hi Judy - 

Well, us girls had a ball!!  She's decided she'll only travel First Class for the rest of her life!!  Was mad about La Mirage which, as always, was a dream!  The altitude got to her at Inga Pirca - no surprise - but she did well in Quito.  Young David was most pleasant and Miguel took us to lunch, on arrival, at Rincon la Ronda - lovely place and such a nice thing to do!  Mansion is most elegant, but I would hope they do something far more agreeable with their little "Bistro".  I know it's just tiny and informal, but the food comes from outside and not at a good standard.  Low season at the moment - we were practically alone there and the stay was really lovely - No complaints, so please don't think I am unhappy!!  Many thanks for setting everything up - it was just a lovely part of the trip - at the end - AND - all flights on time or EARLY!!  What a treat that was!!  

Cheers, 

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

April 26, 2010

Judy- 

Thank you so much for helping us organize our stays at Mansion del Angel.  The hotel was absolutely beautiful.  I think we took pictures of every single room.  It was like a museum.  The people that work there are extremely gracious and attended to all our needs.  They arranged for taxis when we were in need and they were always very pleasant and priced reasonably.  

Our trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands was incredible and your assistance help to make it so.  

Warm regards, 

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

[LARC's Response:] 

BLESS YOU BARBARA & GEORGE,

IT ALWAYS HELPS US TO KNOW WHAT OUR PASSENGERS THINK ABOUT OUR PROPERTIES, AND IT IS OF COURSE VERY NICE TO HEAR SOMETHING PLEASANT. THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO GIVE US YOUR KIND FEEDBACK. BEST RGDS, JUDY

 

April 16, 2010

Judy--- 

The Mallory trip was PERFECT.  I just spoke with Mr. Mallory and he LOVED the trip and said they had a great time!!!!  

Do you have any brochures or stuff that you can send me?  I want to book this area again with you.  What else do you do????  

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

[LARC's Response:] 

BLESS YOU VICKI!  

YOU MADE MY DAY (AND IT WASN'T GOING THAT WELL EITHER!) I AM SO PLEASED YOUR PASSENGERS LOVED EVERYTHING.  

UNFORTUNATELY, HOWEVER, WE DO NOT HAVE ANY TOURS THAT ARE PRE-PACKAGED. 
EVERY ITINERARY WE PREPARE IS SPECIALIZED TO FIT THE NEEDS OF THE PASSENGERS WHO WE ARE DEALING WITH.  WE DO ALL OF SOUTH AMERICA FROM ECUADOR DOWN TO ARGENTINA, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF VENEZUELA AND COLOMBIA WHICH ARE NOT POPULAR DESTINATIONS AT THE MOMENT.  SO IF YOU HAVE ANYONE NEW GOING TO ONE OF THESE PLACES, LET ME KNOW WHAT THEY WANT TO DO, HOW LONG THEY HAVE, AND WHAT CATEGORY HOTELS THEY PREFER, WE CAN USUALLY PUT TOGETHER AN ITINERARY TAILORED JUST FOR THEM IN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS.  
 

April 05, 2010

Hi Judy!  

...so here's the update.  La Mirage was lovely (not sure if we were upgraded, but the room was beautiful regardless), albeit not an easy lodge to locate.  Driving in Ecuador was a breeze, finding things like the Mirage, not so easy, but we made it just fine.  

As to the Red Mangrove...it is a perfectly fine middle-of-the-road hotel group.   I'm not one who likes being on a schedule, so that aspect of it was a nuisance for me, but the trips were well organized, the guides were nice, the food was fresh...it was well done, just not luxe.  The "cabins" on Floreana were very basic...and hot (no A/C and no electricity after midnight, so not even able to have a fan). The hotel in Isabela was perfectly placed on a lovely beach.  We were upgraded to a suite (upon my request because our assigned room was not nice) at Aventura Lodge and that was well worth it.  I would encourage your guests to book the ocean front suites for the trip. Worth the extra few hundred dollars to guarantee the best rooms.  Basically, my feedback is that is a perfect way to see lots of stuff in the Galapagos, be completely directed to do things at specific times, stay in a clean environment d not think.  

Personally, my preference would be (and I might just return and do this) to stay at the Safari Camp (I am SO, SO happy we changed and booked a night there at the end...it was beautiful) and book a private scuba trip for 2-3 days max and relax at the safari camp at the beginning and end.  My favorite part about the entire trip really was being in the water and the tent.  

Thanks again for all your help and I promise to reach back out to you next time I head down that way.

All the best, 

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

April 03, 2010

Judy,

I absolutely agree with Miguel not to send it an expensive way.  There is no rush, so cheap is the way to go.  

BTW, we all really enjoyed the trip you arranged for us.  The rooms at the Hacienda Hato Verde were wonderful as well as the meal Maria prepared.  We all talked about her quinoa soup for the rest of the trip!  The MDA was great- (rooms and breakfasts) and the side trips to Quilitoa Lake, Otavalo, Mitad de Mundo and the Old City were fun too.  Richard was a excellent tour guide, really add some depth (culture and history) to his presentations that was very educational.  The folks at MDA suggested some very nice local restaurants.  

Only complaint would be that we wish Cesar had said something about taking the north road back from Lake Quilitoa to the PA Hwy.  Rye and Greg talked with him about the best way to go up and he suggested thru Latacunga, Pujili, and Zumbahua which was fine.  Then, they said they didn't want to come back the same way and wanted to make a "loop" back and Cesar looked a little funny.  I think he knew it would be a long way thru Sigchos and Toacazo but didn't say anything.  I think we drove 10 miles for every one that took us in the right direction due to all the switchbacks in the mountains!  Took us about twice as long (4 vs 2 hours) and we had to skip Cotopaxi on the way back to get to the MDA at a reasonable hour.  Minor problem though, the rest was super!  

Thanks again for all your help, 

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

March 07, 2010

Hi Judy, 

Back from Ecuador and Galapagos, and just wanted to say thank you for your help.  

The accommodations were excellent (Galapagos Safari Inn), and the tour guides and excursions were also great! What a wonderful trip.  

Thanks for all you did to make it possible. I would be happy to recommend LARC and your services to anyone who asks.  

Best, 

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

March 04, 2010

Judy ... Returned from Ecuador on Sat. night.  Both the Mansion and Mirage were outstanding.  Thanks for your help.  

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

March 04, 2010

Dear Judy,

You and Arlen organized a marvelous trip. We are very happy and thankful, nevertheless we missed Macchu Picchu, due to the heavy rains.  

The Sacred Valley was great.  The atmosphere, the scenery, the food, the lovely ( and beautiful) people, all was beyond imagination.  And last but not least: the guide Amerigo and the driver, Edward, were fantastic.  We never had before such a splendid couple!  Very service minded, never pushing, always aware of their job.  And very well realizing the difficulty we had with the altitude.  So doing slowly and giving us lots of time to get used to the circumstances.  Lovely people.  I am afraid my wife wants to return once, to see the things we missed, but under one condition: this couple should be in charge! 

We were also very disappointed that we could not fly to the Nazca lines, although they took us already to the airport and tried again to do that on Sunday morning.  But we refused, not being 100% sure if the flight would go on, which didn't.  Arlen was doing her best, she could not help it.  She really tried everything, but without result.  So finally we gave our tickets back and hope to be refunded one of these days.  

The hotels were different.  Sol Y Luna very beautiful, but extreme prices for food etc.  So we went to town for dinner.  They should not do that in these days when they're hardly are tourists.  35 soles for a sopas is ridiculous!  Their breakfast -on the other hand- was very much varied and splendid.  The best in years!  The room in Cusco was very poor.  Stinking bathroom ( which I made THEM CLEAR, AND AN UPCOMING NAIL IN THE FLOOR OF THE ENTRANCE OF THE BATHROOM, WHICH COULD HURT ANYBODY SEVERELY (THEY MADE IT OF COURSE).  A LOVELY TOWN.  

El Hacienda in Paracas was great again.  A lovely place to rest and enjoy the sea and sun.  Although we did not agree to have a guide, besides the driver, who did not speak any English, Julio Cesar joined us.  If you use him as an official guide, I am sorry to say that his English (and service; but we are severely spoiled by Amerigo) are too poor.  This is not a complain, but just a feedback.  

Judy once more, thank you and all the others , who made our trip unforgettable, so much for the wonderful time we had!!  

Give our love to Arlen.  

Best regards,  

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

February 25, 2010

Judy, I cannot begin to tell you what a wonderful experience Kimi and I
enjoyed. Everyone was so nice and the accommodations were way above my
expectations. We have made an agreement that we will return to La Mirage every year. The hotel in Quito is also beautiful and the staff is fantastic, but the spa was the cream of the crop. Thanks for all your help.   I need to write a note to Clemencia and Euphemia and also go to Trip Advisor
and write a review.   

What a wonderful way to spend a week or even two.  

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

[LARC's Response:] 

BLESS YOU PEGGY!  YOU MADE MY DAY!  I AM COPYING CLEMENCIA AND EUFEMIA, THEY WILL BE THRILLED TO KNOW THEIR EFFORTS HAVE NOT GONE UNAPPRECIATED!  WE WILL VERY MUCH APPRECIATE YOUR SPREADING THE WORD!  MY VERY BEST RGDS, JUDY 
 

January 23, 2010

Hi Judy, 
Now that we're back and past jetlag, I wanted to let you know how much we appreciate the arrangements you made for us.  Everything went smoothly, Peru was wonderful, the guides and hotels and sites were all terrific. Thanks for another masterful job.  
Best, Ron & Holly  

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

PS We brought and shared our wine at every restaurant in which we ate and had no problems in opening and sharing our bottles.  Astid & Gaston was particularly great, so we went back our last night in Peru.  
 

[ Judy's Response: ] 

HI RON & HOLLY,

SMASHING!!! SO GLAD TO GET A GOOD REPORT!  ASTRID Y GASTON IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES AS WELL  (DID YOU KNOW THEY ALSO HAVE ONE IN QUITO & ONE IN SANTIAGO AS WELL?)  I AM WORKING NOW ON A TRIP FOR RACHEL & HER FRIENDS TO CHILE & ARGENTINA, SO HOPING THAT WILL GO WELL TOO!  I KNEW YOU WOULDN'T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE WINES AT THE RESTAURANTS IF YOU JUST "DID" IT.  THAT IS GREAT!  DON'T LOSE OUR NUMBER AND TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT US! HUGS,
JUDY 
 

January 16, 2010

Dear Sr. Espinosa, 

My husband and I had a very wonderful visit to your country of Ecuador a few weeks ago.  Mansion del Angel is an elegant and most comfortable hotel. You and your staff were so kind to take care of us making recommendations and assuring us of an enjoyable and safe trip. 

We are hoping to return sometime and just wanted to thank you for your part in forming our favorable impression of Ecuador and its people.

Happy New Year to you.

Sincerely,

Angela and Brian  

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

 

January 15, 2010

Judy....just thought I would let you know that Mr. [*] told me that Safari Camp was one of the most beautiful places he had been and everyone loved every minute of it.  He also said he would go back any time as it was a wonderful vacation.  Quotes "accommodations spectacular, food was wonderful and activates perfect for my family and the service was top notch".  
So....just to let you and the folks down there know.  

I think I may have to go down and see it for myself. Might be good for an article or two for my blog let alone the newspaper I write for in Atlanta (Our Town Monthly).  I am going to be writing (hopefully) for another publication here in Flagler Co. (Florida) soon called The Observer (nationally syndicated from California).  So if any of your folks that need some publicity and its somewhere that I have visited or will visit in the near future....I am always looking for story ideas!
Thanks again for your help and the great suggestion of Safari Camp!

Pamela L. Walker, CTC, ATC, DS, LS

Member of the Travel Advisory Board - Saveur Magazine
Recognized by Conde Nast Traveler as "One of the Worlds Best Travel Agents"
for 5 consecutive years! 

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

 

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!

sherry  
[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:] 

HI JAN, 

BLESS YOU!  THIS IS MUCH NEEDED INFORMATION.  I WILL PASS IT ALONG TO RAMIRO AS WELL. HAVE A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR & I WILL LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROM YOU WHEN YOU ARE READY FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP TO SOUTH AMERICA.  

HUGS, 

JUDY 

 

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,

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

[LARC's Response:] 

HI ANNE,

THANK YOU VERY MUCH! I WILL MAKE SURE THAT THE PEOPLE WHO TOOK CARE OF YOU ARE RECOGNIZED. PLEASE TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT US & BEST RGDS, JUDY 

 

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,

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

[LARC's Response:]

HI ALAN & LINDA,

BLESS YOU FOR THE LITTLE "PICK ME UP" IT'S ALWAYS WONDERFUL TO BASK IN THE
PRAISE! AND BLESS YOU TOO FOR THE POSSIBLE UPCOMING TRIPS, I CAN'T WAIT! 

I REALLY APPRECIATE ALL YOUR COMMENTS, THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO LET US KNOW YOUR FEELINGS, BECAUSE IT HELPS US IN PREPARING ITINERARIES FOR FUTURE PASSENGERS.

FOR THE TRIP TO ECUADOR & GALAPAGOS THERE ARE A COUPLE OF 12 PASSENGER YACHTS THAT WE COULD CHARTER GIVEN ENOUGH LEAD TIME, BUT WHEN WERE YOU PLANNING TO DO THAT?  I CAN PUT AN ITINERARY TOGETHER WITH APROX. COSTS IF I KNOW WHAT MONTH & YEAR YOU WERE CONSIDERING THIS.  I CAN GIVE YOU THE ALMOST SAME TRIP AS JAN & HER HUSBAND HAD. 

FOR THE TRIP TO CHILE & ARGENTINA I ALSO NEED TO KNOW WHAT TIME OF YEAR IN
ORDER TO PUT SOMETHING TOGETHER FOR YOU.

GREAT STUFF! HUGS, JUDY 

 

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   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 
Room 302 

 

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.  

Sincerely, 

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

[LARC Response]: 

HI KATIE,

AND THANK YOU FOR SAYING SO.  IT IS ALWAYS NICE TO KNOW WE ARE DOING OUR JOB
RIGHT!  PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO PERU OR ANYWHERE ELSE IN
SOUTH AMERICA, WE LOVE BOOKING POSITIVE PEOPLE LIKE YOU!

 

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.  

Best, 

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

[LARC's Response]: 

I AM SO THRILLED TO HEAR THAT!  

THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW, AND NOW I KNOW YOU WILL HAVE THE CONFIDENCE TO USE LARC FOR ALL YOUR SOUTH AMERICA BOOKINGS.  

IT WILL ALSO HELP SO MUCH FOR YOU TO SEE IT YOURSELF, SO I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL YOU GO AND HAVE THE EXPERIENCE, IT MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE.  

THANKS KAREN & HUGS, JUDY 

 

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

Chuck, 

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

Judie, 

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.]

  

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  S.   [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 R.   [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: ]

HI FRANK,

THANKS SO MUCH FOR LETTING US KNOW ALL THIS VALUABLE INFORMATION.  IT REALLY
HELPS US TO "FINE TUNE" THINGS FOR FUTURE PASSENGERS WHO WILL BE VISITING
THE AREAS YOU'VE JUST BEEN.  THANKS ALSO FOR THE CONFIDENCE YOU HAVE SHOWN
IN OUR COMPANY HAVING JUST COMPLETED YOUR SECOND SUCCESSFUL TRIP WITH US.  I
LOOK FORWARD TO ARRANGING YOUR NEXT ONE.  BEST WISHES TO YOU & PEGGY FOR A
MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR. RGDS, JUDY 

 

November 06, 2008

Judy, 

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.

Regards,
Debbie   [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:] 

HI DEBORAH, 

MY ONLY REGRET WAS THAT WE WERE WITHOUT INTERNET FOR FORTY-EIGHT HOURS AND I DIDN'T SEE THIS WONDERFUL UPLIFTING MESSAGE SOONER! IT IS ALWAYS SO GRATIFYING THAT OUR BEST EFFORTS DO NOT GO UNNOTICED, AND I THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAISE. YOU MADE MY DAY! LET US KNOW WHEN YOU WOULD LIKE TO GO FOR ANOTHER VISIT IN THE FUTURE. WARMEST PERSONAL REGARDS-IT WAS A PLEASURE WORKING WITH YOU AS WELL! 

JUDY

 

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:] 

HI TOM  

CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ARE ALREADY BACK! YOU MADE MY DAY! I WILL CERTAINLY PASS ALONG YOUR GREAT COMMENTS TO PERU CHASQUITUR - THERE IS A REASON WE HAVE REPRESENTED THEM FOR OVER TWENTY-SIX YEARS. DON'T LOSE OUR NUMBER FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP! 

BEST RGDS, JUDY

 

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

 
[LARC's response:]

HI MR. E.,  

WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO? WE DO SPECIALIZE IN SOUTH AMERICA BECAUSE THAT IS
OUR AREA OF EXPERTISE, BUT LET US KNOW AND WE WILL TRY TO HELP YOU NEXT TIME
AS WELL. RGDS, 

JUDY / DONNA  

 

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.  

Best, 

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, 

Schuyler      [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: ]

HI GRAHAM, 

THANKS! THE FEEDBACK IS INVALUABLE AND I AM PASSING YOUR COMMENTS ALONG TO THOSE INVOLVED. CANNOT BELIEVE YOU ARE ALREADY BACK! THANKS AGAIN FOR TAKING THE TIME TO HELP US REFINE OUR SERVICES. 

RGDS, JUDY

 

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

Judy, 

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:] 

HI COURTNEY,

YOU HAVE CERTAINLY MADE MY DAY! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ARE ALREADY BACK THOUGH, BOY TIME FLIES. THAT IS MY FAVORITE TREATMENT AS WELL, I DON'T THINK THAT OFFER THAT ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD! THANKS FOR ALL THE P.R! HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU BOTH, 

JUDY
 

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 M.     [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:] 

HI BARBARA & CHESTER, 

THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW ALL WENT WELL, I AM SO PLEASED! HAPPY NEW YEAR
TO YOU TOO. HUGS, 

JUDY  

 

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.)  

XOXO  


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: 

WONDERFUL!  

TAKE YOUR TIME WITH MARCH, ONCE YOU HAVE GOTTEN BACK TO REALITY, WE WILL
WORK THAT OUT TO PERFECTION! THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THAT YOU HAD A
GREAT TRIP. HUGS, 

JUDY & DONNA  

 

September 12, 2007

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

Judy: 

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!  

Warmly,  

Jennifer J.   [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

Judy, 

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! 

Gera     [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:  

HI BERNICE,  

GOOD TO HEAR FROM YOU! I WAS A BIT UPSET TO HEAR ABOUT THE PROBLEM YOU EXPERIENCED IN LIMA, BUT WE DID NOT HANDLE THAT PORTION OF YOUR TRIP. IN ANY CASE, I AM GLAD ALL AND ALL, EVERYTHING WAS FINE AND AM HAPPY YOU ENJOYED BEST THE PORTION OF THE TRIP THAT I ARRANGED FOR YOU. BEST RGDS, 

JUDY 

 

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,

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

 

December 31, 2006

Ecuador  

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.

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

 

November 13, 2006

Donna, 

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.

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

 

September 13, 2006

Judy, 

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

 

Judy's Response: 

THANKS MARTHA, 

YOU MADE MY DAY!  THANKS SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO LET ME KNOW HOW YOU LIKED YOUR TRIP, IT REALLY MEANS SO MUCH TO US TO HEAR FROM OUR PASSENGERS.  

KIND RGDS, JUDY 

 

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 K. (& Brian F.)    [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. 

Gladys M.   [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

Judy,

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.

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


LARC responded: 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: "diveadvice.com"? (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

----------------

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

Judy,

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

Donna

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 Y.   [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?

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


LARC's Response: 

HI FRANK,

THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO LET US KNOW ALL THESE THINGS BELIEVE ME WE WILL PUT YOUR COMMENTS TO GOOD USE TOWARDS FUTURE TRIP PLANNING FOR OTHER PEOPLE. 

SORRY ABOUT THE TRANSPORTATION PROBLEM AT KAPAWI. IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE WE HAD A PROBLEM LIKE THAT, SO IT DIDN'T OCCUR TO ME TO LET YOU KNOW ABOUT IT. ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, YOU ARE GETTING 150.00 BACK! PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR ADDRESS AND I WILL FORWARD YOUR REFUND CHECK.

WE REPRESENT MANSION DEL ANGEL & LA MIRAGE, THANKS FOR THE GOOD COMMENTS, BUT ABRASUUNGO IS A HOTEL THAT COMES WITH THE TRAIN PACKAGE TO CUENCA AND WE DON'T HAVE ANY CONTROL OVER IT, ALTHOUGH I AM LETTING MIGUEL KNOW THIS. 

THANKS FOR THE TIP ON MINDO, I GUESS IF YOU ARE NOT A BIRDWATCHER, ONE NIGHT IS ENOUGH - POINT WELL TAKEN.

AS FOR GALAPAGOS, WE DO THAT TOO AND GALAPAGOS IS INDEED, EXPENSIVE!

FINALLY, YES WE DO ARGENTINA!!!!! WE WOULD BE VERY HAPPY TO PUT A TRIP TOGETHER FOR YOU THERE, JUST LET ME KNOW WHEN YOU WOULD LIKE A QUOTE. SAY HELLO TO PEGGY FOR ME & HUGS, 

JUDY

 

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 H. S.     [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 T.      [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 S. K.    [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.

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

 

January 26, 2006

Judy

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

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

 

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. 

Martha O.  [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!

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

THANKS SO MUCH SANDY!

YOU MADE MY DAY!

 

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...... 

PS

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

TRIP REPORT - ECUADOR AND THE GALAPAGOS
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.


Mack   [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.



Donna 


------------------------------


June 30, 2005
To: LARC

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.

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


------------------------------


June 30, 2005


Mack,

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
To: LARC

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

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

 

April 21, 2005

Judy,

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.

Regards,

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

 

[Response from Judy at LARC below: ]

HI DAN,

THANKS FOR THE REPORT. I WAS TRACING YOUR EVERY STEP FROM HERE. THE NIGHT WE SPOKE WHEN YOU WERE IN GALAPAGOS, I CALLED PERU TO HAVE THEM LET ME KNOW WHEN YOU ARRIVED, WHEN I RECEIVED THE CALL, YOU CAN IMAGINE MY RELIEF! ALLS' WELL THAT ENDS WELL!

I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR NEXT TRIP TO S.A. BEST RGDS, JUDY

 

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 president, Judy Martin: ]

HI FRAN,

SO GLAD YOU ENJOYED THE TRIP!  I LIVE FOR THOSE GOOD COMMENTS, IT IS WHAT MAKES MY JOB WORTHWHILE. 

BEST RGDS,

JUDY

 

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

Randy   [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!

Thanks,
Cheryl   [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

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

 

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.

Sincerely, 

Charlynn W. E.   [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.

Thanks

Addie W.   [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; www.larc1.com). 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: www.frommers.com/destinations/ecuador/0811010002.html 

 

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

Mary   [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,

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

 

July 6, 2004

Judy,

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,

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

-------------------------------------------------------------------

HI CHRIS,

WOW!  I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU ARE ALREADY BACK!

SAVE YOUR MONEY FOR NEXT TIME, EASTER ISLAND IS EXPENSIVE TO GET TO, BUT OF COURSE WE CAN HELP YOU IN CHILE AS WELL.  THANKS FOR LETTING US KNOW WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THE TRIP! 

BEST RGDS, JUDY
 

June 18, 2004

Hello,

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. 

sincerely,

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

-------------------------------------------------------------------

[LARC's Reply:]

HI LOIS,

WOW! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ARE ALREADY BACK! IT SEEMS LIKE I JUST ISSUED YOUR VOUCHERS. TIME FLIES! THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE REPORT, I WILL PASS IT ALONG TO LA CASA DEL SUIZO. IT IS ALWAYS AN ADVENTURE, BUT I AM SORRY YOU HAD TO WAIT SO LONG FOR THE FLIGHT. GOOD THAT YOU ENJOYED THE PARTS YOU DID HAVE. THANKS FOR WRITING. 

BEST RGDS, JUDY

 

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!    | Part-1 | Part-2 |

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 PostcardsForYou.com and the author.  

 

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!!!

Nancy   [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 Mirage...it 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.  

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

 

September 22, 2003Travel 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
 
T.   [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:

Hi,

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)
 

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.

F. (name withheld)
 

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

 

April 19, 2003

Hello...

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]...
Thanks...by the way, the arrangements at Mansion del Angel were perfect! Great place!

A. D. (name withheld)

[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

Hello, 

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

Judy-

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

February 20, 2003

Donna,

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,

C.
(name withheld)

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! 

A.   [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.]
  

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.

Regards,

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.

Regards
H.   [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

Judy/Donna,

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. 
  
Sincerely, 
  
S.   [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.

M.   [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!

D.   [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.]
  

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.

Cheers
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!

Best,

D G T    [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.  

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

June 4, 2001

Judy:

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 
   

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."

- S G (name withheld)

 

Fall, 2000

    "To Judy [Martin, LARC's president], Thanks for all your Help in Ecuador & [the] Galapagos - LARC's the best!" 

                                -- Rick Prebeg ( photographer for "Jungle" Jack Hanna)

 

    "To Judy, Best wishes!"  --  Jack Hanna

To see this in their own hand writing, CLICK HERE.  

 

November 24, 2000

Donna

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.]

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.]

   

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.

Sincerely,  

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

   

October 07, 1999


Greetings to the staff at LARC....

    I would like to thank you for arranging a great 11-day holiday to Ecuador for my wife and I. It was truly a wonderful experience. This was our second visit to Ecuador so we had some specific places that were important for us to see. We had missed the 'Oriente' on our first trip.

    Your office suggested the Sacha Lodge in the Amazon basin as a good place to feel our way through this rich region. 'Sacha' was a terrific choice. The staff did an outstanding job taking care of all of our needs. Food was excellent -- even accommodating a vegetarian like myself. The rooms were clean, comfortable, and highly-maintained by the staff. The guides knew their business and paraded all of us through the jungle without incident--oh, a rain shower or thunderstorm, only added to the experience!

    I would also like to note that the Quito hotel, La Rabida, that was suggested, turned-out to be pleasing as well. The owner and her staff made us feel like we were at home. They provided us with a great place to use as a base camp while in Quito. Again, as in the jungle lodge, La Rabida was first rate in the areas of comfort and hospitality.

   I would encourage you to forward this email to customers who would like verification that you provide great service and knowledge of Ecuador.
    Additionally, feel free to forward my email address to those who would like to correspond with me....
    muchas gracias..... J P (name withheld)

 

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