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One of Goway’s veteran globetrotters, John McGonigle has travelled all over the world. He recently added Ecuador and the Galapagos to his list of globetrotting adventures, and has some insights for travelers heading to the land of the tortoises and marine iguanas, as well as the agents helping to get them there.
1) What cities/places did you visit in Ecuador & the Galapagos?
Quito (mainland Ecuador), the first city to be named a world heritage site by UNESCO. I then travelled via the M/V Legend through the Galapagos Islands of Santiago, Rabida, Isabela, Fernandina and Santa Cruz.
2) What was your highlight and why?
Quito was a refreshing stop for the night and I was enamored of the many churches in the old town, the friendly people, the amazing food, and the chocolate. In the Galapagos, visiting the islands themselves is always the highlight, seeing all the wildlife, both marine and land-based.
3) What was your favorite property and why?
As I was aboard the M/V Legend for my 4 nights, 5 days in the Islands and I thoroughly enjoyed that experience. I got to view a few properties in Quito including the Swissotel, in the business district where I stayed. But I would say Plaza Grande Hotel, a 5-star property on the main square of the old town offered the best location. I also liked the 4-star La Casona de La Ronda, a beautifully, converted old home in the old town. “Mi casa, Su casa” come to life. Besides, they make a mean Pisco Sour for guests.
4) What are some interesting excursions or itineraries you would recommend?
It was all very interesting, but I would certainly recommend a chocolate tasting at Republica del Cacao in the old town. Did I mention they make chocolate in Ecuador? This was a true education in chocolate and the role it plays in Ecuadorian life. On a free night, consider exploring Cumbaya’, a suburb of Quito near the airport. La Bricciola is a great inexpensive pizza restaurant, or check out the Otava de Corpus restaurant back in town. An eclectic, old world meets nouveau menu reminded me of my grandmother’s house complete with the bric-a-brac, but with modern art and a wine cellar!
5) Finally, what are your ‘top tips’ for those visiting (or selling) Ecuador & the Galapagos?
Plan to have clients spend as much time on land as on the water while in Ecuador & the Galapagos. A cruise can be very active and physically challenging, given the many snorkeling and hiking excursions often involved. We frequently see agent’s wanting their clients to visit the Galapagos and Machu Picchu in the same trip. If that’s you, remind guests that they’re traveling from at and below sea level to 11,000 ft. above. They should plan to include a few days in Quito and/or Lima, Peru in between, just to acclimatise. Or consider visiting Ecuador and Peru in two separate trips. They’ll want to go back, again and again.
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