We received a great review from client, R. Smyers, on Wendy Perrin’s The Secret to Extraordinary Travel: Here’s Proof That The WOW List Works. It’s a little long for our review section, so we decided to post it here as well!

We just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime family trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Allie was our true partner in the planning of this special experience. Allie is a great listener. She really learned the kind of trip we wanted and the diversity of activities and pacing we needed with three teenagers (ages 19, 16 and 16). As a consequence, Allie made great selections for us. We loved all of our hotels on the trip, including Hotel Mama Cuchara in Quito and Golden Bay Galapagos hotel in San Cristobal. She also made practical restaurant recommendations.

One of Allie’s best decisions was selecting Gustavo Cabezas as our guide on the mainland of Ecuador. He was the perfect guide for our family – deeply informative, fun, and energetic. Gustavo’s special connections enabled us to have special and unique experiences and his love of his country was contagious. Highlights of our time on the mainland include a visit to La Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world at the equator line) and taking the TeleferiQo cable car up the Pichincha volcano.

Our time in the Galapagos Islands was flat-out incredible. We saw sea lions (including hundreds of newborns), giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, pelicans, iguanas, sally lightfoot crabs, parrot fish, sharks, sting rays, eagle rays, sergeant fish, sharks and green turtles. We really enjoyed our hikes, snorkeling and kayaking. We also enjoyed the Coral I, the 35-passenger ship, selected by Allie. We met wonderful people from all over the world and our teenagers made friends.

One area in which Allie and her team really shine is logistics. Every pick-up and drop-off ran perfectly, including one pick-up at 3:15 a.m. The help at the airport at numerous points of the trip was outstanding too. The airport in Quito is strangely confusing and we were happy for the assistance. At one point, we decided to change a scheduled activity and Allie was responsive at 6 a.m. in the morning and helped us make some adjustments. Overall, the trip was an A+. We will be forever grateful to Allie and her team for a priceless experience.

Thank you R. Smyers for the kind words, we’re thrilled you had an amazing time.

You can see the review for yourself at: https://www.wendyperrin.com/the-secret-to-extraordinary-travel-heres-proof-that-the-wow-list-works/

By Allie Almario

Our most common request is for overnight accommodations in South America that reflect the culture and traditions of the region with local artisans contributing to the design. Of course, it’s a bonus if the hotel or lodge boasts unusual architecture. For that reason, you’ll rarely find us recommending big, corporate hotel chains like Hiltons or Marriotts — unless it’s located close to an airport for late arrivals or early departures.

In more remote areas, we have a carefully curated list of our favorite estancias, haciendas and fincas.  Many are still operating ranches or farms with organic products that are literally grown on their own grounds. Don’t be surprised if the coffee and fresh fruit offered at meals are plucked straight from the backyard, or the chocolate you just enjoyed at dessert was grown behind the guest house.

What’s the differences between the three?  Not much, if not merely by name.


Estancias are former cattle ranches that have opened up guest houses, lodge rooms or small casitas for guests.  Often they provide tasty barbecues on site and opportunities to mingle with gauchos or cowboys. Never miss an opportunity to join in on a horseback ride, even if it’s just for an hour or two. Most horses are carefully chosen to match your own experience (or lack there of), and the gauchos are terrific company on rides into off the beaten trails.


Haciendas are grand estates founded on agricultural land or farms that now open their doors to guests. Not quite a home stay – most are a bit more upscale than a bed and breakfast. Many haciendas offer quarters with fireplaces in each room, often lit at night to warm the bedroom as guests return for dinner.  You may even find a hot water bottle tucked into the foot of your bed when you climb in for the night.


And then there are fincas, which are similar to estancias in that often they are still working ranches, though usually fincas are referred to as a “plot with or without buildings.”  These days, fincas strive to offer organic and sustainable practices. You might find yourself chatting with the gentleman who oversees the local cheese production line. Whatever you choose, you WILL enjoy!

By Allie Almario

For travelers who are looking for one of the most isolated islands in the world with a magical landscape and a fascinating mythical history, Easter Island needs to be on your bucket list. It is most famous for its iconic collection of massive stone statues called Moai.

You’ll need to fly into Santiago, Chile, and then overnight before taking off on a 5-hour flight to Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui.  Once you step off the plane, you’ll be embraced with Polynesian warmth and friendship, complete with a heavenly-scented flower lei placed around your neck.  And just like that, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another world. Its population is tiny, just 5,000 or so inhabitants.

With only a handful of luxury boutique hotels, it’s best to think ahead and book your trip as far in advance as possible.


The most popular time is its summer season, from January to March, where the average daily temperature will hover in the 80s.  From June to September, cooler temperatures in the 70s will abound and is generally mild.  April and May can be a bit rainy, though it also means more lush gardens and even fewer travelers. Travelers in the know are prepared for windy conditions no matter when you go.


Built to honor the dead, chieftains, leaders and heroes of the Rapa Nui, these incredible megaliths can weigh up to 90 tons. There are an estimated 1,000 of these statues that dot the island from coast to coast. Some can be seen in full length, while many others are still buried deep into the volcanic earth and may only have their shoulders and heads showing.


We recommend staying at least five or six days due to the length of time it takes to travel here each way. You’ll need at least three days of guided explorations to explore most of the island’s highlights, and of course, consider one day to take advantage of its world-class snorkeling, scuba or surfing opportunities.

By Allie Almario

Traveling to a destination as remote as Ecuador’s Enchanted Islands, the Galapagos, is on the bucket list for many. We’ll provide you insider’s intel on what you should know about this fascinating archipelago so that you can make the right choices for the perfect wildlife adventure.

Travel requirements change often, so check in with our country experts to help you navigate the many different regulations, especially during COVID times.

Ecuador Entry Requirements:

 A valid passport, with at least six months remaining before expiration, is required to enter Ecuador.  Visas are not currently required for visitors from the USA for trips up to 90 days.  If you are arriving into Ecuador from another country other than the USA, please check that country’s departure / entry  requirements for Ecuador as it may differ from the above.

COVID REQUIREMENTS:  All international travelers will need to show proof of a negative RT-PCR COVID test within 72 hours of flying into the Galapagos. (Effective September 2021).  Finally, a negative COVID test within 72 hours of returning into the USA is also required. 

GALAPAGOS REQUIREMENTS: Upon entry in the Galapagos, you may need to show proof of mandatory travel and medical insurance (effective April 2021).

Time Zone:

Ecuador is in the Eastern Time Zone (GMT-5). Daylight savings time is not observed. Galapagos is one hour behind mainland Ecuador. Some, not all, ships, follow the time change.

Local Currency & ATMS on the mainland:

US Dollar is the monetary unit. Be sure to bring small bills ($1, $5, $10 are best). ATMS are found in most major cities.

Credit cards in the Galapagos:

Businesses in the Galapagos prefer cash whenever possible but many only accept smaller bills under $50. On Santa Cruz, Visa and Mastercard are accepted at many businesses. On San Cristobal and Isabela, cash is much preferred.  In general, AMEX is not accepted throughout most of Ecuador.

Flights to Galapagos: 

The airlines allow one checked suitcase (maximum 44-50 lbs.) and one carry-on bag per passenger.  Airlines are required to spray inside the aircraft with a special process once doors are closed and is preparing for take-off.  This is considered common procedure for flights bound to fragile island eco-systems that are susceptible to prevent any invasive species or virus being accidentally transported to the islands.  If you are flying on inter-island flights on small planes, you’re limited to 5 lbs  for carry on and no more than 20 lbs for check in luggage. Excess fees apply.

Galapagos Cruise Dress Code:

Most Galapagos cruise ships have a very casual dinner dress code. You can generally wear what’s called “resort casual.”  For men, no jackets or ties are required. For women, no heels or dressy shoes are necessary. If you are invited to join the captain for dinner, you’ll usually receive advance notice and you may want to dress up a bit for that because s/he’ll wear his uniform whites. As always, with any questions, we are happy to assist you with your travel plans.

Galapagos Fields Report and Video

What’s it like to travel in the Galapagos right now?  Check out this quick video our VP Allie Almario made from her recent trip to Ecuador to scout out the latest and greatest from Darwin’s Enchanted Islands. Click the boat to view video.

Here are four things you need to know about the current state of adventure luxury travel in the Galapagos:

  1. The wildlife is thriving! As one naturalist guide said, “For some of the animals here, you just might be the first human they’ve ever met!”
  2. You only need a negative PCR test within 72 hours of flying into the islands.
  3. All travelers and cruise ship staff are vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID upon arrival. The small human population in the Galapagos are 99% vaccinated and due to its isolation, have had very few COVID cases.
  4. No masks are required once you’re on board your ship *.

*  COVID rules and regulations for each ship will vary.

If you have flexible dates, great rates are available for last-minute travel and for 2022. Call Allie now at (800) 545-1910, ext. 434 for the latest deals.
Allie E. Almario

By Allie E. Almario

At Premier Tours, our top Amazon destinations are in Peru and in Ecuador. We’ve gathered some insider’s intel so that you can decide on the perfect itinerary – how long to stay, how to choose between a land-based lodge versus a cruise tour, and when to go to the rainforest.


If the Amazon is your primary destination, allow yourself at least a week in the rainforest. Remember that it will take at least half a day to travel from a gateway city to the Amazon in either direction.  If the Amazon is just one of several stops on your itinerary, we recommend a minimum of three or four nights to make the most of your daily hikes and excursions.


Depending on your travel style, you can choose to stay at a rainforest lodge or hop onboard a small ship to explore the Amazon.  Most travelers feel that if you stay at a lodge, the naturalists provide an in-depth experience of the flora and fauna that they know intimately within the area.  If you travel by boat, then you will have the opportunity to see different ports.  No matter which mode of accommodations you choose, you’ll still have an incredible wildlife adventure.


In the rainforest, it can rain all year round and there may be high temperatures and lots of humidity. Generally speaking, from November to May, rain is heavier (it’s the rainforest, after all), and rivers rise. The bonus? You’ll be able to travel on more river routes not normally accessible during dry season.  From May to September temperatures are generally milder.  Of course, considering the vastness of the Amazon region, weather will vary from region to region.


We’ll provide you a detailed packing list, but it’s a good idea to wear lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect you from biting insects and scratches from trees and bushes.  Most lodges and ships will provide waterproof boots so you can happily splash in the mud.  Some preserves and national parks will require yellow fever vaccinations, and of course the CDC website will offer other vaccination recommendations in order for you to stay safe and healthy.

By Allie E. Almario

4 Great Destinations in Peru - Lake Titicaca

Can’t decide where to go to in Peru? Here are some of the most in-demand highlights of Peru, known for its amazing Incan history, culinary offerings and colorful culture.


The largest city in Peru and its capital, Lima is the entry point for most arriving international guests.  Save a day to spend with your private guide to enjoy some of the most highly acclaimed museums in South America, including the Larco with its jaw-dropping collection of gold artifacts.  And as one of the gastronomic hubs in the continent, you’ll find some of the top chefs have created culinary experiences raved over by Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain. You’ll find its mild climate similar to San Francisco. We love the Miraflores district, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is home to some of the most beautiful boutique hotels in the city.

Sacred Valley:

Better known as Valle Sagrado, anyone heading to Machu Picchu should demand at least an overnight here. If you are coming 12 miles away from Cusco, its lower elevation (9,800 feet) will help you adjust to the Andes. Some of the must-see Incan sites include Ollantaytambo with its impressive terracing, the vibrant market centers of Pisaq and Chinchero, and the salt pools of Maras, an Instagram-worthy photo stop.

Machu Picchu:

No trip to Peru is complete without seeing Machu Picchu, the legendary Incan citadel perched on the east slopes of the Vilcanota mountain range. Its elevation is surprisingly only 8,000 feet.  Timed entrances ensure crowd control.  We recommend an overnight here and if you prefer warmer temperatures, dry season is from April to October.

Lake Titicaca:

The highest navigable lake in the world and the largest lake by volume in South America.  Make sure you’re well acclimated by the time you arrive here since its elevation is just over 12,500 feet.  One of the most interesting facts about Lake Titicaca are the floating islands of Uros, man-made islands created out of layers of a buoyant reed. The islands are constantly replenished with the weeds by its inhabitants to keep them floating.

As always, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask our Peru experts at Premier Tours.

And don’t forget the Peru travel tidbit essentials:

US citizens do not require a special visa to travel to Peru for short trips. A passport is required to have at least six months of validity beyond your anticipated return date.  We will always ask for a copy of the photo page of your current passport to make sure this requirement is met.

A favorite website we recommend to look up current weather forecasts in Peru: https://www.wunderground.com/

By Allie E. Almario

If you’re intrigued by our most popular South America destination, the Galapagos Islands, here are five fascinating facts you should know about Darwin’s Enchanted Islands.

  1. Annual number of visitors – 270,000 as of 2019, compared to about 4 million people who visited Yellowstone National Park.  Just about 70% of international tourists come from the United States, UK, Germany, Canada and Australia. By law, only small groups of 16 passengers or smaller are allowed on daily island excursions, ensuring an intimate natural experience.
  2. Number of ships which operate in the Galapagos: Roughly 75. The majority of ships carry less than 48 passengers, and most ships are categorized as superior tourist class, first-class or luxury.
  3. The average age of travelers is 52.  We do see a lot of families traveling, but know that we recommend that kids be at least seven years old in order to join a Galapagos cruise. That’s to make sure they understand the importance of following safety rules on board the ship and on nature hikes with wild animals. At that age, they can also better handle the physical activities on daily excursions.
  4. The average cruise length is eight days, though we’ve been seeing a trend of more people choosing five-day sailing itineraries due to timing or budget constraints.  Five days should give you enough time to enjoy a variety of islands. On Day 1 of your cruise, you’ll embark just in time for lunch. On the last day of your cruise, you disembark after breakfast.
  5. The average cruise length is eight days, though we’ve been seeing a trend of more people choosing five-day sailing itineraries due to timing or budget constraints.  Five days should give you enough time to enjoy a variety of islands. On Day 1 of your cruise, you’ll embark just in time for lunch. On the last day of your cruise, you disembark after breakfast.
  6. While most people choose to sail around the Galapagos, land-based tourism is growing in popularity. But you won’t find any high-rise hotels here. As of 2019, the maximum capacity of hotels is just 35 rooms. We highly recommend booking as early as possible to guarantee your top choice for accommodations. Santa Cruz Island has the largest number of hotels, with just over 140. Floreana only has a handful of hotels, about nine.

By Allie E. Almario

Our Favorite Destinations in Argentina - Iguazu National Park

Argentina is one of South America’s hottest cultural, culinary and wildlife destinations. And why not?  Here are some of our top highlights of this immense and diverse country.

Tierra del Fuego

Located in the southwest province of Tierra del Fuego, this national park has the bragging rights to being the furthermost point of South America.  The nearest city is Ushaia, the gateway to many expedition ships headed to Antarctica.

How to get there: It’s about a 3.5 hour flight from Buenos Aires to Ushaia.

Things to do: Great hiking in the Andean – Patagonian forest with glacial lakes and unusual forests. Nearby bays offer kayaking and small boat excursions. We recommend a minimum of three or four days in the area.

When to go: High season is December to March.

Los Glaciares National Park

This is the largest national park in Argentina, encompassing 2,800 square miles of wilderness. The ice cap in the Andes is the largest outside of Antarctica, Greenland and Iceland. Some travelers cross into Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park from here.

How to get there: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate. Other flights from Ushaia or Bariloche are also available with less frequency.

Things to do: We recommend a minimum of three or four days in the area, perhaps staying a day or two in the town of El Calafate and another few nights within the park.  There are a multitude of world-famous treks in the area but a must is a catamaran ride for an up-close look at the glaciers. You can even strap on crampons to try a bit of climbing.

When to go: High season is December to March.

Iguazu National Park

By far, one of the most beautiful World Heritage sites in the world, this national park is located in the Misiones Province of Argentina and hosts just over 1.6 million visitors a year who come to enjoy the spectacular waterfalls. The park actually consists of two different national parks, one in Brazil and the other in Argentina.

How to get there: Fly to Iguazu airport, 16 miles from the waterfalls.

Things to do: Birding, hiking, boat trips. When to go: Anytime, but shoulder season promises great weather and less crowds (July to October or February to April).

Our own Premier Tours South America and Galapagos Expert, Allie Almario, was quoted in Liz Cantrell’s interesting Travel+Leisure piece “7 of the Best Places to Work Remotely, According to Travel + Leisure’s A-List Advisors

If you’re thinking of moving temporarily to continue working remotely, totally adapting to the digital nomad lifestyle, or planning a family vacation where you might need to fit in some work, check out these tips from Allie and other A-List Travel Advisors.

Read the full story.