Indagare members Christina Reik and Tony Guida journeyed to Ecuador and Peru for three weeks. Here are their impressions.Contact Indagare for assistance with a Ecuador and Peru adventure. Our specialists can organize a customized itinerary with expert guides and special access.
We began our Ecuador and Peru adventure with a very long day of travel, flying from New York to Bogota to Quito. Finally, we finally met our guide in Quito who was fabulous and gave us a quick city tour. He spoke excellent English, was extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of Ecuador and was very engaging. We stayed at Casa Gangotena, which is an excellent hotel with superb service, lovely rooms and innovative food (we really enjoyed the llama spring rolls with edible flowers for lunch!).
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Next, we headed out on the Eclipse ship for a Galápagos cruise. What an experience! We loved seeing so many unique animal species up close, and the days were filled with spectacular sights. However, the daily agenda was like boot camp, so we were glad we began our journey with the cruise. The guides were superior, and the food delicious and abundant.
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We returned to the fabulous Casa Gangotena in Quito where the staff treated us like regulars on our second visit. We dined at the Theatrum restaurant inside Quito’s national theater, which was superb (theatrum.com.ec). We recommend the tasting menu including the local delicacy, guinea pig.
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In retrospect, we would have enjoyed two consecutive days in Quito. The two days we spent there on either end of the Galápagos cruise were exhausting travel days. We didn't have the energy to properly appreciate the city (it is at a high altitude and we felt it), but we did our best. Before going to the airport, we drove to the Equator outside of Quito, which was a cool excursion.
Next, we were off to Peru. We began in Lima where dinner at Cala was lovely. We enjoyed excellent food on the terrace overlooking the Pacific. Our hotel, Hotel B, was housed in a beautifully restored building and decorated with antique art and furnishings. The staff was excellent, and we enjoyed the breakfast and complimentary afternoon tea.
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In Cusco, our driver was with us for six days and was very skilled at navigating somewhat treacherous drives. It was unbelievably difficult to drive up and down mountain roads (which are more like trails) to the Belmond Rio Sagrado. However, we were rewarded with a lovely property. The staff was very engaging, pleasant and helpful. The hotel boasts a wonderful riverfront setting, and baby alpacas graze on the lawn. Our suite was so comfortable with vistas of the river and mountains beyond.
Our wonderful guide, another Ambassador of Peru in waiting, was with us for five days touring the area. She was incredibly passionate, knowledgeable and hard-working, and taught us so much about the region’s history, art and customs. We embarked on morning tours of the salt mines and Incan agricultural ruins followed by idyllic picnic lunches. We also had a lovely lunch at a beautiful, secluded hacienda and a special dinner in the wine cellar of Wayra.
Afterwards, we headed to Machu Picchu where we stayed at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge right by the gate. We appreciated the convenient location because buses had two-hour long waits in the early morning (despite it being off-season.) Machu Picchu is breathtaking, and we learned so much Incan history from our guide. The views were well worth the trek up and down the steps of the entire Incan citadel, but it was a grueling day.
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After lunch, we boarded the Belmond Hiram Bingham train to go back down the mountain (belmond.com). The train was a fun experience and the dining unique.
Back in Cusco we stayed at the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, which was our favorite property of the trip and a fantastic place to end our vacation. Thanks to Indagare, they upgraded us to a master suite with a balcony. The entire staff was helpful and gracious, and we enjoyed breakfasts and lunch at the poolside cafe. We are very impressed with the Belmond company—we had five-star service across the board! However, we both felt sick from the altitude in Cusco, the highest of the trip.
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The tour companies Indagare uses in Ecuador and Peru are excellent. All tours were interesting and well planned, and we always felt safe and well cared for. Airport departures and arrivals were effortless as our guides provided boarding passes, helped with bags and walked us to security checkpoints.
We fell in love with both countries and their people, history and customs. This was our first expedition-like trip and while we welcomed all the five-star accommodations and care, the journey was a real workout and hard on us. We arrived home enriched but exhausted.
Contact Indagare for assistance with a Ecuador and Peru adventure. Our specialists can organize a customized itinerary with expert guides and special access.
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