This is the year of my sixtieth birthday and my wife decided that she wanted to celebrate it with a travel adventure. We researched options, considered risks with travel in today's world, and we carefully determined that a South American trip, to places where we had only previously dreamed of going, would be the best choice for us.
The second consideration, then, was, do we sign on to travel with a tour company, or do we do as we have always done in the past, and buy plane tickets, rent a car, and when our feet hit the ground, take off in whatever direction we choose?
But...the sixtieth birthday, in my case, at least,
doesn't tell the whole story. I am disabled from a bicycle accident many years
ago and we didn't want to slow down any group of people who had spent a lot of
money to take a trip that many of us had dreamed about taking for many years.
After much discussion we decided that we would book with Journeyou, and if I
couldn't do a given activity, then I would just stay behind and make the best
The booking procedure was simple and professional, and once we arrived in the Galápagos, we were met by a wonderful young man named Peter, who had been born and raised in Puerto Ayora. Peter insured that we made it to our hotel without incident, gave us suggestions for restaurants, and told us our agenda in the Galápagos and what we could expect over the next several days.
We boarded the Sea Finch the following morning for a
trip to several islands, and were in the very capable and knowledgeable hands of
Luis, who I think knows everything that there is to know about the Galápagos
Islands, and the wildlife that can be found there. He has a calm, easy manner,
with a bit of humor thrown in, and led us across several islands, and into the
water for a snorkeling adventure where we encountered sharks, sea turtles, sea
lions, coral structures, and other sea life.
The next day we were entrusted to Ghandy, no
relation to the original, for another trip to more islands, a grotto pond full
of sharks, and lastly, to the "Love Canal", a beautiful inland spot
where we were able to swim and cool off.
The following day it was back with Peter for the
trip back to Baltra for our plane ride back to Guyaquil, and then on to Lima
for some much needed rest. We then had an afternoon tour of Lima, a very
beautiful coastal Peruvian city, where we were treated to both old and new
Lima, as well as to an ancient archaeological site within the city.
After our Lima experience, it was back to the
airport for a flight to the ancient and beautiful city of Cuzco, where the
architecture of its cathedrals and public buildings can only be described as
stunning. It was here that we were placed into the very capable and personable
hands of Fred, who got us to the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo by bus on our
first full day in Cuzco, and on to Machupicchu by train and bus on the second.
We then had a full day of rest in Cuzco before returning to Lima for the flight
For me, given my physical limitations, I was
thoroughly exhausted by trip's end, but I cannot say enough about the almost
mystical nature of the experience. Journeyou exceeded my expectations in every
category throughout the duration of the trip. We never felt unsafe. We never
waited for any transfer anywhere. The hotels can only be described as luxury,
and the services and cuisine made us feel as if we were traveling royalty; but
the one 'Extra' that Fred arranged for us at Machupicchu, surpassed everything
that I could have imagined, and was also something that I didn't even ask for.
Upon our arrival at Machupicchu, our guide, Fred,
introduced us to a lifelong friend of his, by the name of Edgar. Fred offered
that he had noticed the day before, in the Sacred Valley, that I was unable to
keep up with the group. I think, perhaps, that I could have kept up, but if I
had attempted to try, I knew that I would be 'toast' for the all day trip to
Machupicchu, so I decided to hang out near the bottom of the mountain, since
Machupicchu was really the highlight of the trip for me, and I wanted to
maximize my ability to enjoy the experience to the extent possible.
So...as I began above, Fred introduced my wife and I
to Edgar, and allowed that Edgar would stay with just us on our Machupicchu
tour. Edgar explained that he has had a life-long relationship with the
mountain, and as we began to move upward, Edgar's encyclopedic personal history
with Machupicchu began to pour out of him. He gauged his pace by my ability to
keep up, and we took plenty of rest breaks, but by the end of the day, I had
seen all of Machupicchu, and had been treated to a thorough history of the site
and its former inhabitants by a charming fellow, who in no observeable way
displayed any impatience with our pace, or with the fact that he had been
relegated to spending the entire day with an old married couple. He offered to
take pictures of us frequently, so we would have keepsakes, and all of this, as
I have previously stated, was arranged not as a result of any request or
expectation on our part, but simply because an astute guide made an
observation, acted on that observation to meet the needs of the group, and our
individual needs, and as a result, it was an outstanding opportunity for me to
move at my own pace, yet see all there was to see.
So, in an effort to encapsulate the totality of the
experience, I can only say that Journeyou planned our trip with what could only
be described as expertise. They anticipated our needs, insured that there were
capable and personable individuals with us at every stage. There were never any
questions or mix-ups with any of our bookings, whether for lodging, meals, or
travel, and those who were entrusted with our education, transportation, and
safety were eminently qualified and pleasant. For us, it was the trip of a
lifetime and we will never forget it.