First off let us say that we completely enjoyed our time in Ecuador. The people of Ecuador were very gracious hosts and the country is very beautiful.
All hosts (Jorge, Christian), guides (Danny, Juan David) and drivers (Ariel, Christian) were outstanding. Jorge was waiting for us when we arrived, assisted us with check in for our Galapagos flight and made sure we got to the United counter on our departure. Christian met us when we returned from the Galapagos in Guayaquil and provided us with a good overview of the area around our hotel so we could venture out after checking in. He was very knowledgeable in American culture.
Danny was great throughout our trip/tour. He provided us with a vast amount of data/knowledge about each area of Ecuador as we traveled. He continuously looked out for us whether it was our safety while walking in the cites, our health while hiking (4500m is a tough hike for people that basically live at sea level) or making sure we had plenty to eat (which we did).
Throughout the trip Ariel made us feel safe while driving through the mountains and city traffic. He was a very helpful and polite young man.
Accommodations: All accommodations were very good. We especially enjoyed Hotel del Parque in Guayaquil, Hacienda Zuleta, Cruz del Vardo in Cuenca and Hacienda San Agustin del Callo. Hotel del Parque had an exceptional room and dining area and is in a great location for walking/shopping. Hacienda Zuleta is a lovely place and a great place to relax (would have been great to stay here at the end of the trip for relaxation). The staff were exceptional and we especially enjoyed our chat with Margarita (one of the owners, youngest daughter of President Galo Plaza), she sat with us at the fireplace one evening and told us about the Hacienda and her family. A very lovely lady and gracious host. Cruz del Vardo in Cuenca was in a great location that allowed to walk the streets of this wonderful city. Hacienda San Agustin del Callo had a charming rustic fell with fire places in the sitting room, bedroom and bathroom. The dining room was in an original Inca stone structure. We got to feed the baby calves, milk the cows, and feed the llama’s during a llama parade in the courtyard. Hacienda Zuleta and San Agustin del Callo both had great dogs (Bronco at Zuleta and Lady at del Callo) that followed us everywhere.
Highlights: Visiting the rose plantation, Hacienda Zuleta, visiting a traditional home/family enroute to Quilota Lake, the market in Cuenca and the many stunning views of the Ecuadorian landscape. The food was good and plentiful at all locations. We especially enjoyed the final dinner at the restaurant in Quito, it had a very nice atmosphere and great food.
The Galapagos was a very good trip. We got to swim with sharks, dolphins, and penguins (although they are so fast it was hard to see them). We saw many different birds and the sea lions were so entertaining with their playful personalities. The Alya had good accommodations, a great crew and very good food. The small size (14 passengers) allowed us to get to know each person. There were four from Switzerland, four from Mexico and six including us from the US.
Again, thanks to everyone for coordinating our trip and hosting us while in Ecuador.