WORDS BY MEGAN HERMANN
PHIL HOFFMANN TRAVEL BAROSSA VALLEY
South America is a such a diverse destination and Megan Hermann from Phil Hoffmann Travel Barossa was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to experience some of its many highlights recently.
Flying into Santiago from Melbourne with Latin America we hit the ground running with a short amount of time in the continent, but so much to see!
After a restful night from our first pisco sour, we experienced a winery lunch and tour at Santa Rita Winery followed by a walking city tour of Santiago with our local guide.
We flew to Quito and drove to our unique stay at Hacienda Zuleta.
Zuleta is a colonial working farm of 4,000 acres that belongs to the family of Mr. Galo Plaza Lasso – a former president of Ecuador.
The hacienda has 14 beautifully decorated bedrooms, all with their own fireplace; spectacular antique gardens along with cosy living and reading rooms all combine to create a truly peaceful atmosphere.
While there we enjoyed hikes, cooking classes, and horse riding to Condor Sanctuary, all the time enjoying locally home made food.
A short flight from Quito to Guayaquil Airport took us to a once in a life time Galapagos experience onboard La Pinta.
La Pinta carries a maximum of 48 guests – small ship cruising at its finest. We had morning and afternoon zodiac landings on our five day / four night cruise where we got to discover the highlights of this incredible part of the world.
We visited South Plaza Island, Santa Fe Island and Cerro Colorado, Punta Pitt and Cerro Brujo on San Cristóbal Island, and Punta Suarez and Gardner Bay on Española Island.
Never in my life would I have thought I would be standing just metres from a Galapagos iguana, snorkelling with sea lions and watching the blue-footed booby do their mating dance.
My favourite moment though – spotting a sea turtle.
Back to Quito to stay at the stunning Casa Gangotena Hotel – not that we had much time in them but they had some of the most comfortable beds, and it was a joy to have dinner served with locals dressed in traditional embroidered clothing.
High Tea here is a must in the beautiful atrium or just have an afternoon drink – not to be missed.
To this point the trip was amazing so I couldn’t imagine how it could get any better…but it did with a two night stay at National Geographic Mashpi Lodge.
Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve, which extends across the surrounding 1,300 hectares, is a haven for wildlife and biodiversity.
You meet the naturalist guides for a short briefing about the upcoming activities during your stay. If you are a twitcher (bird watcher) this is your place.
Early morning, day and evening activities depending on your level of fitness will allow you to maximise you stay and experiences.
It was back to Lima for the conclusion of our trip with a cocktail making session at the iconic Hotel B.
If you would like to find out how you can experience South America for yourself, contact Phil Hoffmann Travel Barossa Valley on 8562 3411, visit the website or drop into the branch.