Panoramic view of Machu Picchu (all photos by Colin)
Colin Whitehead recently took a Peru trip with us to Machu Picchu while on a cruise around South America. Although living in South Africa, he was joined in his travels by two friends, Barb and Sheila, both living in Canada. We were intrigued and asked Colin how he arranged it. Here is his story!
“I visited the region once previously, for a marvellous trip to Argentina, and a cruise to Antarctica that was nothing short of spectacular. In 2011 I made a trip to Turkey and Greece where I met Barb and Sheila. We ended up on the same pre-cruise tour to Cappadocia, prior to boarding our ship in Istanbul. There were a bunch of people on that tour, and only 19 of the 2000-odd cruise passengers elected this tour, as it was quite expensive. But it certainly was not dull!
I recall that at one of our dinners, a glass of wine had been included with our meal. One of the couples did not drink at all, and asked if anyone wanted their wine. Both Barb and Sheila instantly put up their hands, and my heart warmed to them immediately! Then, later during our journey, our tour director asked if anyone would be interested in going hot air ballooning – again, Barb was the first to put up her hand. We hit it off pretty well on the 5-day pre-cruise tour. After we boarded the ship though, we were assigned to different dinner tables. They were miserable once they met their new dining mates, so I arranged to have them join my table…. we have been firm friends ever since and they are great company and lots of fun!
Colin with Barb and Sheila
During the course of last year, I had considered the South American/Canal Cruise, and also investigated Celebrity’s Machu Picchu pre-cruise tour options. Their 5-day pre-cruise tour amounted to almost double the cost of the 15-night cruise! I was mortified! So I began researching alternative Latin American tour options online. Your company came up quite by chance during a Google
search, and I then decided to check out your credentials with the Better Business Bureau of Florida
after studying your website with great interest. Suffice to say, your company passed with flying colours! I think you earned an A+ rating, which is as good as it gets! So I started discussions with Latin Discover
and pretty soon established an excellent online relationship with Mauricio.
Fountain in Sacred Valley
With his expert guidance I was able to custom design the perfect tour, which fitted into my rather tight schedule (as I had to navigate around flight bookings which were already confirmed). We certainly squeezed a lot into the few days at our disposal. I recall that there were several non-negotiables… one of which was a trip on the Hiram Bingham
train. I had seen a documentary on TV, and was instantly sold! I know it was a rather expensive indulgence, but we all agree that it was a major highlight. (The only possible itinerary change we might have made, would be to have spent a night at Machu Picchu at the rather comfortable hotel they have there… this would enable us to do both train trips during the daylight to capitalise on the magnificent scenery en route).
Machu Picchu rail route
Suffice to say that during this planning process with Mauricio I was in pretty regular e-mail communications with Barb and Sheila. At some point they enquired of me what my travel plans were for 2012. I indicated that I was not travelling during that particular year, but early in 2013, and relayed to them my plans… they were most excited at the rather adventurous nature of my itinerary and asked if I would mind if they ‘tagged along’… and the rest is history!!! In actual fact, I had originally enlisted your services, as I planned on doing the pre-cruise tour on my own. Not speaking Spanish, I thought it would be a good idea to have the assistance of a guide. By having Barb and Sheila join me, it not only brought the price per person down considerably, but also added huge value/fun in having their excellent company, as well as that of the guides and drivers.”
Colin made a brilliant photo album of his whole trip using Blurb software and copied it to fellow expedition members. It can be seen by clicking here. The Peru trip we arranged for him and his friends was based around our Essential Machu Picchu tour. Other marvels in Latin America, such as Costa Rica, Mexico, or Ecuador and the Galapagos, await Colin and his friends – if they can break away from exploring other parts of the world!