It was a dream come true when personal travel manager Karen Doyle, representative for South Yarra in Victoria was personally invited by the Ecuador Tourism office to attend a recent Ministry of Tourism famil to Ecuador.
Hosted by Mischelle Montenegro and Alejandro Romero from local ground operator Camon Travel, Doyle together with four other Australian participants discovered on their 16-day action packed famil, this small country offers so much.
“Although Ecuador is the second smallest country in South America there are few places on earth that have so much natural diversity and stunning scenery and landscapes. Every day was an adventure and we were privileged to see the well-known points of interest such as The Amazon and Galapagos Islands but also the lesser known but equally thrilling sights of the Andes Mountains, the Pacific Coastline and many interesting cities including colonial Quito.”
TravelManagers’ personal travel manager Karen Doyle meeting with Ecuador suppliers during the workshop day in Quito
Quito, Ecuador’s capital situated high in the Andes offers a dramatic setting and was the logical place to start the famil.
“I was fascinated by this city and was constantly in awe of the many beautiful churches, colonial buildings and architecturally designed museums and art galleries. The nightlife is spectacular with many salsa clubs dotted around the city. I can highly recommend the Levoe Salsa Club, – what a fun night we had! You know the saying though what goes on tour stays on tour,” laughs Doyle.
Next stop was the Galapagos Islands and the excitement for Doyle started shortly after takeoff.
Karen Doyle (second from right) enjoying traditional Ecuadorian cuisine of Llapingachos (mashed potato with cheese fried pancakes), grilled corvina (sea bass) and steak at La Choza Restaurant in Quito with fellow participants and local Ecuadorian hosts
“On route to the Galapagos Islands we flew over the Cotopaxi Volcano at 5,897 metres above the ground. Seeing the volcano peeking through the clouds, covered in snow and billowing white smoke high into the air was a truly awesome sight.”
A highlight for Doyle was the breathtaking experience of being up close and personal with the amazing bird and animal life in the Galapagos Islands.
“Nothing can prepare you this most incredible experience of having baby sea lions come up to you just wanting to play. With no predators, they have no fear of humans so the animals are very close to you. This was such an incredible experience and one I will never forget and will recommend to all my clients.”
Personal travel manager Karen Doyle up close and personal with sea lions at Galapagos Islands
Tortoises are synonymous with the Galapagos Islands yet as Doyle pleasantly discovered there are many more animals that call these Islands home.
“We saw so many beautiful birds which included the Blue-Footed Booby, Frigate Bird, Great Blue Heron, Brown Pelican, Flamingos, Egret, Eagles, Hawks, Kingfishers, Albatross, and Lava Gulls. Everybody knows about the tortoises but it was such a thrill to see Iguanas, Sea Lions just happily going about their business. I really think they see us as mere paparazzi with our cameras out and happily just watching their antics for hours.”
For Doyle, this was her fourth visit to the Amazon, this time with a difference.
Personal travel manager Karen Doyle captures the spectacular aerial view of Cotopaxi Volcano, one of the world’s highest and most active volcanoes on route to the Galapagos Islands
“On previous visits I stayed in a jungle lodge but this time we were on a cruise aboard the MV Manatee Amazon Explorer. It was a fantastic way to see the amazing flora, fauna and animals from the comfort of our ship. With only 20 passengers on board we were treated to extremely personalized service and the food and wine was sensational.”
The famil ended with a full day workshop where the participants had an opportunity to meet with local tourism suppliers face to face.
“We had up to 50 tour operators visit our desk during the day. Each session was seven minutes in duration where local suppliers enlightened us about their products and in return we talked a little about what we do and our companies. It was a successful but very tiring day.”
An iguana happily suns itself oblivious to the attention and excitement from the group as they visit the Galapagos Islands
The ability to share her personal experiences with clients is important to Doyle.
“Having direct access to suppliers and being able to soak up all their local knowledge makes such a difference to the sort of experience I’m able to put together for my clients. This famil allowed us to experience the local cuisine, take public transport and immerse ourselves in the Ecuador way of life and I’m now confident I can give my clients accurate and up to date information.”
Doyle attributes the behind-the-scenes support received from TravelManagers giving her the freedom to go above and beyond for her clients.
“The support I receive from my local business partnership manager, access to support from the national partnership office combined with TravelManagers’ collective buying power and increasing sales volumes gives me peace of mind that my customers will receive competitive pricing. This gives me the confidence to focus on sharing my firsthand knowledge and travel tips that I know will make their travel the absolute best it can be.”
Galapagos Island wildlife happily play together
Ecuador’s landscape, culture, diversity, natural wonders and history captured Doyle’s heart and it won’t be long before she makes a return visit.
“It’s an amazing country with so much on offer. If you’re an adventure seeker, animal lover, history enthusiast, enjoy nice cuisine and love to shop then Ecuador is the place for you. There is still so much more for me to discover and I can’t wait to return. I love Ecuador so much so, I want to live there!”
For more information or to speak to someone confidentially about TravelManagers please contact Suzanne Laister on 1800 019 599.