Dear Advisor Partners,
With the start of summer, everyone is back to enjoying outdoor festivities and celebrating with friends and family once again. But let us not forget to take time to also remember those who put their lives on the line to ensure we have the freedoms to do so. Thank you to all those who have served and are still serving our countries. To our neighbors to the north, Happy belated Victoria Day and to our neighbors here, Happy early Memorial Day.
Dear Advisor Partners,
By now you’ve heard the exciting news, Peru has removed the antigen test requirement for arriving guests. This is certainly a step in the right direction and the reopening is picking up momentum with each day. As some of you know, I have been traveling in Peru since May 10th, exploring unknown areas in the north and now traveling through the Sacred Valley and Cusco, experiencing some of the lesser-known ruins. As an added bonus, I am traveling with a few great travel advisors who are funny, curious and definitely happy to be here. Together we are checking out how ready Peru really is, firsthand. Around each corner seems to be something new and each new story we have to tell begins with the infamous line, “what had happened was”.
I was planning a visit to my favorite eco domes, only to end up surrounded by dogs at a local farm. See, what had happened was…the road we wanted to take was closed, so after visiting the ruins of Tarawasi, we decided to break for lunch. We were in an avocado region, so naturally, we skipped the restaurant, bought some tomatoes, onions and peppers and handpicked some avocados, (we’ll say “borrowing”). While trying to choose where to stop and eat, we were invited to a farm by a lovely lady and her dogs. It was here that I learned just how much dogs love bread, as I somehow ended up serving an impromptu canine buffet line (who says no to big brown-eyed dogs?). The day ended with the best avocado sandwiches I have ever had, whether its because the were “borrowed” or just how hungry I had become, I’ll never admit.
As for Peru being ready, I can tell you, or I can show you in this week’s video. First what is required to get here – a PCR test 72 hours before arrival and the health declaration form completed electronically. Masks are only required in crowded or indoor areas and social distancing outdoors has become natural for most people, so often masks are safely not needed. Once in country, our team takes every precaution while ensuring you are immersed in Peru.
I have to share one of my more personal experiences encountered here, with our long-standing sustainable partner, Awamaki, that the Spirit of Big Five proudly collaborates with to support micro entrepreneurship for women from five Andean communities through weaving. Due to Covid, these women have not seen travelers in over a year and the tears they shed were real, their struggle over the last year has been real and their joy in seeing visitors again, very real. Everywhere you go, there is gratitude for your visit, welcoming smiles and open arms, tears of joy, and a passion and pride to share their country with visitors, all magnified to a much higher level than all my previous repeated visits to Peru.
Dear advisor partners,
You know the phrase, getting off the beaten path? Well, I am writing this from Illescas Reserve in northern Peru, 300 km/186.4 miles from the Ecuador border, 900 km/559.2 miles from the Galapagos coast. Here, there is no path. There is no industry standard route, or Peru hotlist tourist spots attracting crowds of people. Here, at Illescas, there is an adventure not yet discovered full of raw nature, adrenaline rushes and welcoming locals. My trip has been full of surprises and left turns, and this is only day four.
When I set out on this adventure, I had our high school graduates on my mind, finishing up their final year in 2021, during interesting times. Whether they finish through virtual learning or in person learning, tomorrow’s leaders are about to embark on their next chapter. However, there is a gap between those chapters where most grads head off for a summer internship, a job, summer school, or in most cases, an ultimate ‘leaving the nest’ family vacation. Precious Journeys College Edition was born specifically for this gap, and where I am standing presents new opportunities for our grads.
Imagine heading to a reserve in Peru, where you can go kite surfing, hike to see endangered condors in the wild (the true wilderness), encounter migrant sea lions and birdlife that have arrived here from the Galapagos Islands, and even see species such as the Andean Cat and the desert fox just to top off the experience. There is only one hotel, with four rooms serving 76,000 hectares (1 hectare = 10,000 sq meters for fellow math nerds), and it’s a hidden gem. I can’t even call it a hotel because frankly, it does not feel like one. It’s so much more, it is a home away from home. Not to mention, getting here was an excursion in itself. A trip that saw us pushing a 4×4 to its limits, testing each facet of its abilities, crossing deep soft sand, rocks, mud, and compact beach sand. We even managed to get the 4×4 stuck a few times, including once with the rear axle bending in a way Toyota likely never intended. If you want more of that story, you can head over to my Facebook page.
There are no groups here, no cruise ships, no transit cars – just pure wilderness, amazing food, and warm smiles. Some 3000+ people visited Machu Picchu each day in 2019. Just 1100 people visited Illescas in TOTAL, in all of 2019. This is the perfect setting to take in the known history of Peru, featuring Machu Picchu, and merge that with the climbing adventure of Sky Lodge and Turawasi in the Sacred Valley, then top it off with the Illescas Reserve in northern Peru for the grand finale. The new Precious Journeys College Edition adventure to Peru is here.
Dear Advisor Partners,
Travel advisor day is normally one day, however, after the year we just had, I think you earned the whole week. This video is dedicated to you. Happy Travel Advisor WEEK!