Travels in Peru & Ecuador
13 October 2021
Rachel McGuire, one of our expert travel specialists, has just returned from the journey of a lifetime around South America, where she had the incredible opportunity to explore the highlights of Peru and Ecuador. She gave us the insider information on what it's like to travel at the moment, the best experiences in each country, along with the favorite places she stayed during her time in this wonderful part of the world.
After sending countless guests on trips over the last year, helping them jump through hoops, arrange Covid tests and make last minute changes, I finally had the chance to experience the beautiful chaos for myself as I ventured on my first international trip since the pandemic began – a 3.5 week trip throughout Peru and Ecuador. I slept in the beds, explored with the guides and ate the food so that I can relay this information to my guests and continue planning unforgettable holidays. Simply put, it feels so good to travel again, masks and all.
First let’s address the elephant in the room – Covid. Though we sadly cannot predict the future, I can say that both countries are diligent in keeping both their citizens and their foreign visitors safe. The vaccine rollout in both Ecuador and Peru is progressing quite nicely, and wearing a mask is still very much common practice. In Peru, double masks are required in airports, and on public transport both a face mask and a face shield are mandatory. The travel industry in both Peru and Ecuador has been hit hard by Covid but the arrival of tourists seems to have breathed new life and excitement into the air.
Now onto the fun stuff! From tasting local cuisine in the Peruvian highlands, to snorkeling amongst penguins in the Galapagos, to getting my first glimpse of Machu Picchu after trekking part of the Inca Trail, this trip was chock-full of incredible moments. Picking a favorite is nearly impossible, but I’ve managed to pick out a few of the highlights. Below are some of my favorite places that I stayed, each one completely different from the next.
Aqua Nera, Peruvian Amazon
The newest member of Aqua Expedition’s impressive fleet, Aqua Nera was the epitome of luxury on the Amazon. With only 20 cabins and a 1-to-1 guest to staff ratio, the service was personalized and the guiding was exceptional. Spotting anacondas, caiman and pink river dolphins was unforgettable!
Explora Valle Sagrado, Peru
Seeing the highlights of the Sacred Valley in a unique, adventurous way is what Explora excels at. With countless hiking trails exclusive to Explora guests (ranging from beginner hikes to expert, full-day treks) often it was just me, my guide and the great outdoors. After a full day of trekking, a deep tissue massage in the spa is a must.
La Pinta, Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands have long been on my bucket list and cruising the dazzling blue waters on board La Pinta put me in the best position to explore them. The naturalist guides were extremely knowledgeable and we were able to spend hours outside each day on land or in the water. My highlight: snorkeling with sea turtles, penguins and sharks.
Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
With plenty of hiking trails, stunning waterfalls and absolutely breathtaking wildlife, Mashpi is a nature lover’s dream. The night walks were my absolute favorite way to discover the forest’s unique species like the Mashpi Torrenteer Frog. The lodge’s floor-to-ceiling glass windows immerse you in nature throughout your entire trip, even while inside enjoying a glass of wine and a delicious meal.