With quite a tight budget, Gisel managed to keep within it, yet get me to the Galapagos and Easter Island, both inherrently pricey destinations, due to geographical isolation, as well as including my Amazon lodge stays in two different eco-systems and extended stays in a number of iconic locations and cities.
How did we work together?
I gave Gisel a starting point around which she could work:
- Animals, birds, botany and all things ecological
- History, culture and art
- Food and wine
- Small boutique hotels that are on the low to mid range price scale, with the occasional splurge on somewhere special!
- Extended stays in cities rich in galleries, museums and local cuisines.
What Gisel brought to the table for me:
- Exceptional knowledge and experience of the countries I was travelling within, as well as accomodation and attractions she was able to personally recommend.
- Personal experience of the animals, wildlife and cultures of the countries I was visiting.
- The knowledge of places I knew little about that she believed would fit within the brief I gave her, to enrich my trip and experience.
- Experience in acclimatising me slowly to altitude's physical demands, not just landing me straight into the extreme altitudes of Cusco and Machu Picchu.
- The ability to clinch fantastic deals on some wonderful hotels
- Skill in negotiating an extended "naturalists" Galapagos cruise I could afford, on a small vessel that berths only 12 people
- Reducing my airfares and costs by a third by minimally changing my departure dates to shoulder, rather than high season.
- Recommendations about restaurants, foods and wines I would likely enjoy in the places I was travelling to.
- Places to check out on my "days at leisure" in the key cities I am visiting.
Organising this trip has taken way more than a quick visit to a travel agent, grab a brochure and select a package deal. None of them quite fitted what I wanted, despite having many excellent existing packages. Gisel was keen to "mix and match" to meet my needs and aspirations.
I had begun by researching destinations and ran Gisel over this when we first spoke on the phone. A number of long phone conversations later were required to ammend details and reschedule some places as we juggled the itenary to fit both my budget and wishlist. We also communicated by emails, as well as had one meeting, with a final one scheduled in a week or so, prior to my departure.
It was a process undertaken over some months.
A six week dream itenary, that I can afford. My adventure will include not just my original wish list but enhancements such as "the poor man's Galapagos", Ballestas island and Nazca lines, Cruz del Concord, visiting the floating island settlements on Lake Titikaka, Isle de Sol and even meeting some Andean bears, a visit to Valparaiso and tours of Vina del Mar vineyards, with wine tastings. I am also seeing many archeolgical sites as rich and impressive in history as Machu Picchu, but less well known as yet, so with many less tourists!
I am thrilled with the results of my final itenary and am already packing..... but that is another blog post!
And just in case you are wondering... this is not a sponsored recommendation of Gisel's skills and abilities. Just the impressions of a twice satisfied client of Melbourne's Four Corners Travel!