“1) Kuoda works with you for custom and private tours of South America, their customer service is outstanding, and they make traveling during COVID easy and worry free.
2) Now is the time to tour the world as things open up and crowds are limited.
3) Ecuador is very safe and a fantastic place to visit. The people are wonderful and there’s a lot to see.
The Planning –
I have been working with Kuoda for the last three years on planning my South American trips. I reached out to them in 2018 to set up tours of Ecuador and Peru in 2020. From the start, they were extremely focused on what I wanted from the trip, the things I wanted to see and do, and they tried to find additional items along the same lines. We had a discussion about my wants before they even started to plan. Our travel designer Urpi was profoundly kind and patient, helping to answer questions and coordinate all throughout the preparations. We adjusted the itinerary back and forth multiple times, and as guilty as I felt about adjusting Urpi never waivered in kindness and accommodation. We were all set in March of 2020 to leave in June but then the pandemic struck and the trips for 2020 had to be postponed.
During the interim, Kuoda provided regular updates on the state of things in South America and the status of their business. Urpi made sure to remain in contact regarding our plans.
Early in 2021, things started to improve with the release of vaccines, and we set about reviving our travel plans. Urpi worked with me to revise the itinerary to limit our trip to only Ecuador and the Galapagos (due to Peru restrictions) and to add time to allow for COVID testing to return to the United States.
The Trip –
What a fantastic trip! One of the best vacations I’ve ever had and we travel a lot. Kuoda took care of everything from start to finish. We were picked up at the airport when our flight landed at 1:00am, our guide Javier, for Quito, was one of the best and made sure we were well taken care of, the hotel, the Ikala Quito, was excellent in a good location with staff that was very attentive and kind. Javier was very knowledgeable and kept our visit to Quito at a good pace, not to fast not to slow and always ready to answer questions and go into detail when needed. The gourmet restaurant arranged for lunch, La Gloria, was wonderful, the meal included in our package. The restaurant was so good even the new Tourism Minister was dining there with his staff for lunch! We then spent the late afternoon playing on the equator at Mitad del Mundo before back to our hotel for a nice dinner on our own.
The following day, for on our journey to the Galapagos, Javier had taken care of everything in advance, handling the paperwork to get our Galapagos travel permit. All we had to do was show up at the airport with our luggage and we were good to waltz right up to check-in and through pain free.
The Galapagos cruise Kuoda booked for us with Archipel was amazing. I have a separate review of Archipel, but Kuoda definitely knows which vendors to use. The itinerary, food, the crew, the ship, everything was beyond par. Trust that Kuoda only works with the best and they will always ask for your feedback to make sure it stays that way. From the moment we cleared baggage claim in Baltra, our guide Fabian took care of us straight through to when we left from San Cristobal.
Our journey back to Quito after the Galapagos was as equally seamless. Javier picked us up from the airport and back to the Ikala hotel. The following day we visited Otavalo, Cotacachi, and Cuicocha for shopping, a brief hike, and an amazing lunch at the La Mirage Garden Hotel and Spa. Javier made sure we also made it back to Quito in time to buy authentic Panama Hats from Homero Ortega in Quito and to make it to our dinner at Zazu.
The next morning Kuoda had arranged for COVID testing at our hotel in Quito to allow us to return to the United States. The nurse arrived on time at 8am and we had our test results quickly for only $35 a person. We were picked up that evening and taken to the airport where again, Javier helped us up to check in and we were off back to the United States.
The Future –
Kuoda did such an excellent job that I plan to use them for my future South American in the countries they cover. We already have Peru booked and will most likely go in 2022, but their sample itineraries for Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Bolivia do not disappoint, and we are excited to keep travelling with them!”