Brief Escapes – Costa Rica, Galapagos, Amazon, Guatemala

Making plans for spring vacation yet? Consider a few of these options; all are based on an efficient flight schedule, generally overnight flights to reach your destination.
These kid friendly trips are interesting, colorful and fun for the entire family!
Surfing, jungle lodges, deep sea fishing, horseback riding, river rafting, canyoning through the treetops. Costa Rica is a quick overnight flight and in seven days you can traverse two different diverse areas, enjoy a luxury beach resort or untamed treetops eco-lodges. Take a private hike through the largest Pacific Coast mangroves in Central America- chill out for a week or enjoy super activities every day. Vast tropical rain forests, four percent of the earths wildlife species are here in Costa Rica, visit active volcanoes. Swing along through the jungle on an exhilarating zip-line, all the time looking for monkeys, toucans, and sloths in the treetops. Take an insider’s eco tour to learn why Costa Rica has become world renown for its efforts to conserve its incredible diversity of wildlife and stunning landscapes. Climb a volcano, visit a coffee plantation, whitewater raft through swift rivers.
Costa Rica is a superb escape for families.
Ecuador Galapagos
Begin in Quito, visit Sister Cindy’s local mission and meet her families- Madre Cindy runs the only total family development program in all of Latin and South America where the focus is on the family of the working child. They attack poverty as a spiritual problem where the poor person has to become an agent of change and acquire the values necessary to become a productive member of society. A look at local life offers kids perspective; as I always encourage meeting local children wherever my clients land.
First night in Quito at Plaza Grande, the grandest, most stylish and also historically, the most interesting of all Quito’s delightful 5 star hotels. While in Quito, explore the city to meet local artists and craftsmen.
Board La Pinta for a 4 -5 or 8-day excursion day through the Galapagos Islands. La Pinta is a classic luxurious yacht hosting only 48 passengers. Lying 600 miles off Ecuador’s Pacific Coast, the Galapagos Islands emerged approximately five million years ago. As the young islands were cooling off some two million years later, a few species gradually started to arrive. And, wonders of nature, they developed into species unique to the islands, with features not seen in past ancestors.
The Galapagos Islands archipelago consists of 13 major islands, 6 smaller ones, and scores of islets that are all part of Ecuador’s National Park system. In 1835, the naturalist Charles Darwin visited the islands and discovered this ‘living laboratory’, which inspired his writings on the theory of evolution. Many of the animals on the Galapagos Islands have developed into different species from their continental relatives, and because they have never experienced man as a predator, they show no fear of humans. Enjoy day trips and shore excursions on the islands.
Return to Quito and drive to the countryside to Hacienda Zuleta. The Hacienda is a delightful private property set on a working estate of over 4000 acres just two hours north of Quito and surrounded by the rich natural beauty of the Andean mountains. Hiking, horseback riding or spa days! And don’t miss a visit to the ancient Caranqui pyramids on the property.
On your return to Quito visit villages known for their local mestizo and indigenous Indian populations, their weaving is a work of art. Leather goods are also available in the village of Cotacachi.
Fly to Lima, spend the night and charter flight to Nazcca lines or Ica and board the luxurious 130-foot-long, M/V Aqua. Aqua is the first true luxury cruise ships on the northern Amazon River in Peru and was custom built for Aqua Expeditions, it offers an extraordinary level of comfort for guests. The M/V Aqua accommodates a maximum of 24 cruise ship guests plus crew. This luxury cruise ship is the perfect size to sail along the Amazon River. Up close views of life on the Amazon, the highlight of each day’s journey on your luxury cruise down the Amazon will be experiencing by small ship, the pristine wilderness areas teeming with the Amazon’s wildlife and amazing plant life, such as the colossal Victoria Regia water lilies. You will also encounter—and have the chance to interact with—local people living in villages along the Amazon River, as they have for centuries. When the day’s sightseeing is over, the comforts of your luxurious floating hotel await you.
After a few days on the Amazon, fly back to Lima and Cusco. Cusco is a very interesting and is the historic capital of the Inca Empire- you can learn to make basket weavings, meet locals and hike and enjoy a spectacular look at local indigenous cultures. Cusco, “a little city of such supreme interest and historical symbolism, of such variety and punch,” Jan Morris has written, “that it combines the compulsions of Stonehenge, a small Barcelona, and a Kathmandu.” You will tour its ruins and wander its charmingly narrow streets, many of which are walled with the Incas’ exquisite, inexplicably exact rock work.
You will also have time to explore the fabled Urubamba Valley ruins in the shadow of the Andean snow giants that rise above the sacred valley. A variety of options include hiking, mountain biking, and visiting local markets. Train to Machu Picchu, the crown jewel of Incan civilization, hike for the day if you like. Stay at the fabled Pueblo or Sanctuary Lodge and enjoy the next morning hiking around the ruins or the Inca Trail.
Catholic holidays are colorful and richly celebrated in Antigua, a colonial town. Processions, celebrations parade everyday through the town center. After witnessing the processions, helicopter to a coffee plantation and enjoy a picnic lunch. One more night in Antigua before you zip off to Tikal. Imagine a few days in a hillside villa in the middle of a teeming rain forest. Historic sites are nearby. Depending on weather, I can also arrange a private excursion to a Global Heritage Site, Mirador Basin with Dr. Richard Hansen. Sleep in a small tent and by day, walk the jungle teeming with the cries of wild parrots, climb the ancient steps of the highest Mayan pyramids, seeing this ancient, private city with Richard is a rare treat!
Many prefer to escape to Hawaii, but in Hawaii, have you:
Sailed on America’s Cup yachts?
Hosted a private dinner in the large underwater aquarium room at the Maui Ocean Center Aquarium, feed the fish, see special dive demonstrations.
Private fishing, sailing, biking and hiking excursions are available.
Short list of excursions for a quick break, plan seven to nine days.