Disability Accessible Travel

Travels are often challenging for the average person, and more so for someone with a disability. Whether visible or invisible, the physical limitations of a person’s ability to keep up with the typical day to day activities of a travel itinerary would sometimes make the trip less enjoyable. The mainstream travel and tour industry has disregarded the Disabled traveler in the past but have been making amazing strides to make travel more disability friendly in the USA. However, overseas is a totally different world for disability travel.
The American Disabilities Act was passed by Congress in 1990 and has dramatically impacted the support and equality needed for people with disabilities for travel and employment. Nearly a quarter of US citizens are disabled, according to a recent study. Additionally, that number escalates to almost half of residents over the age of 65, making the ADA essential in establishing safe and enjoyable travels.
Here at Condor Tours & Travel, we have recently met the requirements for being a licensed travel agent for the disabled. What does this mean? It means we have the skill and know-how to create trips that are accessible for all. We are certified “Accessible Travel Advocates”.

Before we plan your next big adventure, we suggest you take a moment to review these tips:
• Discuss Your Travel with Your Doctor. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your travel plans. Your doctor will help you prepare with additional medications, mobility recommendations, and recommend possible physicians in your travel areas if needed. Be prepared if they suggest avoiding travel at this time due to the level of challenges you may be facing.
• Discuss Your Disability Needs During Scheduling. Always plan your travel with the airlines, hotels, buses, travel guides, & other transportation or housing in advance with an open discussion about your disability needs. Some of the adjustments needed for a person with a disability can take a little extra time, so definitely include that in your planning. Make sure that your description of your needs is clear and well explained, as many people do not know all of the “lingoes.” Also, call 24 to 48 hours before the trip to verify the requested arrangements.
• Consider Coordinating with a Travel Agent. Receiving assistance from a focused travel agent can help you find the accommodations required for your disability needs and plan your best travel experience.
• Travel with Extra Medications and Tools. It is recommended you travel with double the necessary medications in case of an emergency so that your essentials meds are always on hand. Also, do not pack your medicine in the suitcases. Always keep them on hand in your carry-on bags. Tools and spare parts will help you keep going if your mobility equipment has a minor break-down during your vacation.
• Travel with Medical Alert & Doctor Contact Information. Traveling with easy to find medical alerts will assist any physician in treating you properly during an emergency. Also, bring your physician’s description of your disability and medical needs with you. Make sure it is on professional letterhead with their contact info to help you receive quick, proper care if needed.
• Know Your Disability Rights. By knowing what the rules are for TSA and how the process works to get through security for people with a disability allows you to have a smoother trip.
When you coordinate a stunning tour with Condor Tours & Travel, we will schedule your adventure with your needs and limitations in mind. Contact us today to set up your future vacation with a tour of your choice and explore the world! We can be reached via phone at 77-339-9961 or email at info@condortoursandtravel.com

Why a Spring Break Cruise May be the Answer to Your Kids Problems

Spring Break Cruise to the Caribbean

Admit it. Your student spends most of her time with a phone in her hands or a laptop at her fingertips. If you’re lucky, you may catch her flipping through an actual old-school text book. Her day is filled with screens, papers and projects. Friendships have been reduced to social media feeds filled with emojis and movie clips. Actual face-to-face conversations have become more and more rare. Shouldn’t school be about exploring and learning? Wasn’t the college experience meant to be so much more?

Classes and schedules can be overwhelming leaving your student so busy they don’t have time for anything else, even real friendships. They have no extra time or energy, and if they do, it’s probably spent scrolling through social media on their phone. It makes quality friendships nearly impossible. Beyond the degree, college as well as high school is the time when you are supposed to make friends for life, create lasting memories, and learn how to actually socialize so you are better prepared for the work environment.

Millennials and Gen Z’s want real connection. They just don’t know how to go about creating it. Grades are important and may get your student through college, but almost every job in the world requires that you be able to communicate and socialize well. Employers have noticed that millennials who are entering the workforce are already having trouble communicating. Later generations are likely to face this problem to an even greater degree.

A Truly Social Connection

A spring break cruise may just be what your student needs. Spring break offers the opportunity to disconnect from their busy schedules and do some real socializing. How about a seven-day Caribbean cruise on the Symphony of the Seas? It’s the perfect balance between adventure, relaxation, and quality socialization. A cruise gives your student the time and atmosphere to unplug and create memories they’re never going to forget. It’s not only a gift for them but also a gift for you. Wouldn’t you like your student to learn how to socialize instead of being trapped in his or her phone?

In addition to their desire for true connection, Millennials and Gen Z’s are on the search for new experiences. The more activities for them to partake in the more likely they are to set their phone aside and make some real memories. On the Symphony of the Seas, there is a little something for everyone no matter what their interest. It may even stretch your son or daughter beyond his or her normal limits, making them a more well-rounded person.

From Ziplines to Sushi to Broadway

On the cruise, they have the opportunity to experience fine art in new ways. They can discover a live orchestra, Broadway plays, ice skating shows, aqua theater, live bands, and more. They may also come back with an expanded food palate. It’s no secret that Millennials and Gen Z’s are foodies. They love to experience new cuisines. There are no limits with pizza, seafood, and imaginative cuisine prepared by master chefs, many ways to experience new foods. There is plenty of opportunities for your student to unwind and have some fun with laser tag, giant water slides, sports courts, karaoke, a zipline, an arcade, mini-golf, and ice skating just to name a few. Those who are a little more adventurous may want to participate in the Latin dance classes, cupcake making, jewelry making, fitness classes, or sushi-making experiences.

A Spring Break Cure

Buying a cruise for you son or daughter not only makes them feel loved, but it also shows you acknowledge the hard work they’re putting into school. No breaks create burn out. A cruise is just the thing your student needs to come back refreshed and ready to work. Talk about winning the best parent of the year award! Not only will your kid love the vacation, but it will benefit their overall character, college experience, and social skills. Set your student up for her best future with a seven night Caribbean cruise.

If you would like more info about the Spring Break Cruise on the Smyphony of the Seas or any other spring breaktrip contact Condor Tours & Travel at info@condortoursandtravel.com or call us 770-339-9961.

Why you should use a travel agent

We’ve probably all known someone who considered themselves “handy” and able to take care of things on their own. You see this commonly with people who own houses and take it upon themselves to “fix” problems without really knowing what they are doing. The end result is often pipes that leak, electrical problems, tiles that buckle and crack and so forth. There are some situations in which it is just better to hire a professional and let them do their job. This is true of home repairs but it is also true when it comes time to plan that dream vacation. Many times, we think we can save money by planning our trip ourselves, only to find out that we have wasted time and money and unfortunately had a less than stellar vacation experience. So, what are the benefits of having a travel agent in your corner?

Travel agents are experts in all things vacation and travel related. They know what the travel market is like and will listen to your needs and concerns. A good travel agent can match you up with a superior product, better than anything you can find with a cursory search of the internet. Even the best planned trip doesn’t always turn out as expected. When this happens, a travel agent can act as an intermediary for you, even if it is something that was your fault. They know how to work with the hotel chains, resorts, airlines, and cruise companies to help get your vacation back on track. Travel agents are your friends and allies, so don’t leave home without one in your corner.

Ecuador Oct 2007 009Travel professionals also have access to a variety of tools that the average customer either doesn’t have or is not aware of. They can sometimes get you a better seat on the airplane, extra amenities, tickets for events, or a cruise package upgrade. If you want, they can even plan out your whole itinerary for you. Travel agents can save you time and make things more convenient for you by matching you with the vacation package you really want. Some slickly packaged destinations may look good on TV but they may not really meet your needs as a traveler. By using the same travel agent repeatedly, you will develop a personal rapport as they become your trusted friend and advisor. Eventually you may get to the point where a simple phone call or email is all that is needed to plan your next vacation getaway.
Everyone likes to save money, right? By leveraging their supplier relationships, a travel professional can, at the very least, match the lowest price you might find online while saving you time and effort. They can also book transfers for you and include them in the final price, making the overall experience cheaper. Travel agents also add value in other ways that the general consumer may not be aware of. They may get you free upgrades such as champagne on arrival or a room with a view. Travel experts have inside information on the best times to visit crowded destinations and they have the inside track on new up-and-coming spots; they can get you in before everyone else discovers the same locale.

Maybe you are a person that has a taste for adventure? canopy-tour-arenal-paraiso-3-cablesOr likes to go off the beaten path? Many exotic tours and experiences are only available through a travel agent. Many exotic travel companies want to make sure their customers are the right fit for the experience. Jungle treks, hidden waterfalls, and private jets are often only available through an agent. Denali Whitewater Rafting 1Finally, travel agents are just all-around great people. They are friendly, personable, and eager to work with you. They come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and bring a wealth of knowledge to help you plan the perfect vacation. They are passionate about sharing their knowledge with discerning customers like you. Call our caring and experienced team at Condor Tours and Travel today and let us make your vacation dream a reality!

Why You Should Have Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance Destination Tourism Vacation Concept

Even the best-laid travel plans can sometimes go awry. Unexpected events or accidents can derail what was otherwise a dream vacation. However, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself, such as purchasing travel insurance to protect you and your loved ones in the event of illness or accident. There are several things that travel insurance can do for you. One is to provide peace of mind so that you can enjoy the trip of a lifetime without fear or worry. Travel insurance can also provide a financial backstop if you need to cancel your trip due to illness or family emergency; this is known as trip cancellation coverage and will allow you to recover your out-of-pocket expenses if the cancellation is for a covered reason.

Let’s suppose that you are on your trip and get to the airport only to face delays due to weather or mechanical issues with the plane. I encountered this very situation in Toronto once and had to pay the cost of a hotel out of my own pocket. I certainly wished I had missed connection coverage to take care of this added expense! This type of coverage will also take care of any fees or charges that result from your needing to change flights. Traveling during the summer months also exposes you to risks from weather such as severe thunderstorms and hurricanes. Maybe an approaching storm has cancelled all flights into New Orleans. Trip interruption coverage will refund any prepaid expenses or allow you to stay in a comfortable hotel until it is safe to continue your journey.

A couple of years ago Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and caused widespread devastation. Many hotels and resorts were severely damaged or destroyed. Some of them were out of commission for a year or more. Travel protection for weather damage would have come in handy in this instance. It would have allowed you to recover your costs and even help you arrange a vacation in a new destination once the storm had passed.

One of the most common forms of travel insurance is for medical reasons. An individual with health issues or those traveling to regions where the quality of care is poor will definitely want to carry this type of coverage. Imagine being in some distant land and becoming violently ill, and you don’t speak the language or know where to turn for help. Medical travel coverage can assist you in your own language and keep you from being stuck with a huge bill. In many countries, payment in advance is required even for medical emergencies; you don’t want this to happen to you. Medical travel insurance can also provide for an emergency evacuation. Suppose you fall seriously ill while on a South Pacific cruise, for example. With the proper insurance, you can be medically evacuated to an appropriate care facility. Transport of this sort will often cost tens of thousands of dollars if you end up paying for it out of pocket. Medical travel coverage will keep your loved ones and your wallet safe in instances such as this.

There are other reasons for having travel insurance that are not as commonly known. For example, you may lose your passport; travel insurance will help pay for the costs of getting it replaced and will help expedite the process. In addition to weather-related disasters, there is also insurance that will protect you and reimburse your expenses in the event of man-made disasters such as war or acts of terrorism. There is also the more everyday sort of inconvenience such as lost or delayed baggage. You can get money to help replace the items that were lost or stolen, and you can even be reimbursed for the cost of a new suitcase. Another lesser-known reason for travel insurance is to protect against default or bankruptcy in the event the touring company or cruise line you booked with declares bankruptcy and goes out of business.

As you can see, there are many different reasons to have travel coverage. The experienced travel experts at Condor Tours and Travel are happy to work with you to help identify the right level of coverage for the trip you have planned. Give us a call or contact us through our website today!

Wine Tourism Argentina

 

Mendoza Enemigo 7 vineyard LR

The 20th century was a tumultuous time for Argentina. In the early 1900’s Argentina was one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but this soon came to an end as a result of political and economic instability. Periods of dictatorship alternated with democracy, and economically, the country was prone to hyperinflation and currency devaluations. However, as the 21st century dawned Argentina seemed to find its footing with a more stable government and greater economic vitality. As we approach, the start of the third decade of the 21st century Argentina is open for business and for tourists who bring much needed hard currency. One of the many reasons tourists come to Argentina is for the wine as the wine industry has deep roots here.Wine field LR
Viticulture was introduced to Argentina during the period of Spanish colonization. In 1556, Father Juan Cedron established the first vineyard in Argentina using cuttings that came from the central valley of Chile. Other vineyards soon sprang up in the provinces of San Juan and Mendoza, which became the birthplace of the wine industry in Argentina. During the 1800s a provincial governor named Domingo Faustino Sarmiento had the first Malbec grape cuttings brought to the country, and even today Argentina is known mostly for its Malbec wines. The best wine growing regions in Argentina are in the western foothills of the Andes Mountains. However, the largest population centers were located in the east, near the capital of Buenos Aires. The distances involved made transporting wine difficult, and this helped to spur the construction of the first railways in the 1880s.
For most of the 20th century, Argentine wines were mainly consumed domestically and were considered not fit for export. A bout of hyperinflation in the 1980s led to a favorable currency exchange rate; as a result, Argentina began to focus on developing a wine export industry. By the end of the 20th century, Argentina was exporting more than three million gallons of wine a year to the United States and was well on its way to becoming a powerhouse in the global wine industry. Today there are over 1500 wineries in Argentina. The wine industry has expanded from Mendoza to now wines are produced about 1.5 hours from Mendoza in the Uco Valley as well as a bit more North East near Salta.
Most wineries in Argentina are located at varying altitudes in the foothills of the Andes and depend on either snowmelt from the high mountains or underground aquifers to keep their vineyards well-watered. Because of these locations, many vineyards are in high mountain valleys with spectacular snowcapped peaks providing a beautiful view in the background. Local villages offer opportunities to purchase traditional handicrafts and to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture that is modern Argentina. Many of the wineries have built accommodations on site and offer complete packages to explore their vineyards as well other vineyards throughout this region.
Under Argentine wine laws, if a grape name appears on the wine label, 100% of the wine must be composed of that variety. The early Argentine wine industry was dominated by pink skin grape varieties such as Cereza, Criolla Chica, and Criolla Grande, which still account for about a third of grapes planted today. These grapes have very high yields and produce inexpensive sweet red wines that are sold in bulk quantities domestically or exported. Nevertheless, the most famous wines today are produced from the Malbec grape. Malbec wine is characterized by deep color and intense fruity flavors with a velvety texture. The quality of the Malbec wines of Argentina has overshadowed their source regions in France and Argentina has become the leading producer of these varietals in the world. Roughly, 60% of wine production is in the form of red wines; the high temperatures of most regions contribute to soft, ripe tannins, and high alcohol content.Mendoza wine grapes LR
The Pedro Gimenez grape is the most widely planted white grape varietal in Argentina and is known for producing full-bodied wines with high alcohol levels. Other white grape varieties include Chenin blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat, Semillion, Ugni Blanc, and Vognier. The Torrontes variety produces some of the most distinctive white wines in Argentina, characterized by a floral Muscat-like aroma and spicy notes.
You can travel this region year around to experience the wines. Keep in mind their season is the opposite of the US season so traveling in our Winter is their peak growing season and our Spring is their Fall when the vineyard harvest is going on. The best way to get the is via Buenos Aires so stay a couple of days then head to Mendoza.

Are you a connoisseur of fine wines? Do you have a sense of adventure? Then an Argentine wine tour might be just the ticket! Contact Condor Tours & Travel today, we can help you plan every step of your dream vacation as you explore the exotic scenery and wonderful wines of beautiful Argentina! Our web site offers 6 different wine tour packages to fit just about any budget or we can customize a trip for you as well. Check out all your options at www.condortoursandtravel.com or send an email to info@condortoursandtravel.com so we can help you plan your wine experience.

Australia Best Beaches

Australia is a remarkable land full of unique plant and animal life, which has developed in isolation for millions of years. The island continent is roughly the size of the continental United States and has the distinction of being the oldest, driest, and hottest of the major landmasses on Earth. However, as a giant island, Australia has some unique and beautiful beaches to fit a variety of tastes. So, if you are a person who is into surf, sand, and fun grab your sunscreen and beach towel as we set off for the best beaches in Australia!
One of the most famous beaches in Australia is Bondi Beach in New South Wales; in fact, it is often said that Australian beach culture originated here. Bondi Beach is located just a short distance from the gleaming towers of downtown Sydney and is adjacent to a trendy café district. The beach has a rich history, which includes the world’s first Surf Life Saving Club. During the mid-1900s the beach was the site of protests which paved the way for the ultimate acceptance of the bikini. At that time, any swimsuit that showed the navel was considered simply scandalous. It doesn’t hurt that Bondi Beach is simply gorgeous with a fine, rich golden sand. A beach vacation Down Under should undoubtedly include a stop at Bondi Beach.
Lizard Island is a fantastic tropical getaway in Queensland, located in the Great Barrier Reef; it offers unparalleled opportunities for diving and snorkeling. There are 23 different white sand beaches to choose from, all with their own unique flavor. Lounge around in your private villa as you soak in the tropical splendor. However, be advised that it will not come cheap; a trip to Lizard Island is definitely a luxury item.
Byron Bay sits at the easternmost tip of the Australian mainland and is home to the iconic Byron Bay lighthouse. The community has come a long way from the small hippy town it was a few decades ago to a popular resort, with restaurants, and other amenities being built in recent years. One thing that hasn’t changed is the quality of the beaches which are simply superb. A less crowded and more relaxed alternative to Bondi Beach, the pounding waves of Byron Bay also make it a great surfing destination.
Even Byron Bay might be too busy for some travelers; if you are looking for a really off the beaten path experience, you should consider Mandalay Beach in Western Australia. Located south of Perth near the town of Walpole, Mandalay Beach features white sand, rocky headlands, and untouched natural beauty. A few miles offshore, you can see the greenery of Chatham Island which provides a nice counterpoint to the deep blue ocean and the white wave crests. This is a great place to visit if you are looking for solitude or quiet contemplation.
Wineglass Bay in Tasmania is another rugged but magnificent location which features fabulous natural scenery. Located in Freycinet National Park (about three hours from Hobart), it includes pink granite peaks, lapped at their base by turquoise waters along the curved shoreline. A visit to Wineglass Bay requires a bit of a hike, but there are options for snorkeling, kayaking, wildlife watching, and more. Your efforts will be well rewarded when you visit this unique location.
Fraser Island in Queensland is encircled by a 75-mile beach, one of the longest sandy beaches in the world. The island is not recommended for swimming or surfing due to the presence of tiger sharks and dangerous currents, but there are nearby freshwater lakes on the island where you can take a dip if you so desire. An interesting feature of 75-mile beach, besides its length, is the fact that the sand changes color and hue as you walk around the island, so you are treated to a constantly shifting mosaic of color.
Cable Beach in Western Australia has been gaining steadily in popularity over the past few years. You can sit in the pure sand and watch the orange glow of a spectacular sunset over the Indian Ocean. Visitors can also take a camel ride along the beach, and there are numerous chances to take a photograph. Despite its distance from the main population centers of the country, most would agree that a visit to Cable Beach is something you should experience at least once in a lifetime.
A poll of Australians conducted in 2018 voted Whitehaven Beach in Queensland as the most beautiful in the nation, and it is easy to see why. Vivid blue waters and white silica sand create an unforgettable vista. The sand at Whitehaven is very soft to the touch, and the natural beauty of the place will leave you entranced. The beach stretches for about four miles along the coast and includes several lagoons, coves, inlets, and scenic lookouts. Even during peak tourist season, the beach is rarely crowded, and one visit will show you why this is the most iconic and beloved beach in Australia.
Planning a trip to Australia is a significant undertaking and involves considerable logistics and preparation. However, you don’t have to do this work alone! The trained travel experts at Condor Tours and Travel are willing and able to assist you in putting together your Australian dream vacation package. Contact us today at info@condortoursandtravel.com  or 770-339-9961, the beaches of Australia are waiting for you!https://www.condortoursandtravel.com/

Off the beaten path: traveling off the grid

IMG_6783Costa Rica header 1 (2)

The airwaves are full of ads that talk about exotic destinations complete with pictures of beautiful people frolicking in the sand on some tropical island at a five-star resort. Nothing wrong with that image, of course, but for those of us who like something a little more off the beaten path and adventurous there are other options. Off the grid travel is a growing segment of the travel industry and may include such options as an eco-lodge deep in the Amazonian rainforest or a boutique hotel high in the Peruvian Andes. There are many examples of such destination travel, and each one comes with its own local flavor. After all, that’s the point! We are going to highlight just a few of the options that are available.

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The rugged landscape of Patagonia in southern Chile has beautiful scenery and can make for an unforgettable cultural experience. Why not have a unique hotel stay while you are there? The Singular Hotel began life in the early 20th century as a cold storage facility for frozen meat but has since been converted into a luxury hotel. The hotel was designated as a National Monument in 1996 and has been magnificently repurposed. The Singular includes a museum in the lobby that displays many original artifacts and equipment and overlooks the Fjord of Last Hope with the spectacular peaks of the Andes Mountains in the background. Guestrooms are oversized and comfortably appointed, and the natural beauty can be appreciated from behind six-meter high floor-to-ceiling glass windows that will afford you an unparalleled view. The hotel’s two restaurants include a variety of locally grown products. There are also many guided excursions that will allow you to explore the beauty of the surrounding area.
The Galapagos Safari Camp on the Galapagos islands off the coast of Ecuador, is the ultimate “glamping” experience. The Safari Camp is immersed in nature and designed to blend iExterior campn with the surrounding landscape. The main lodge is built on a hill with panoramic views and includes a lounge, library, fireplace, and bar. The dining room features local and international farm-to-table dishes created by our chef. Outside of the main lodge are family suites, which are ideal for families with young children. Down the hill are luxury three-layer tents; these tents are on raised wooden platforms and will keep you safe from sun and Land Iguana on rockrain alike. There are a variety of land and sea-based safaris that will allow you to explore the unique ecosystem and wildlife for which the Galapagos Islands are famous. Galapagos Safari Camp is a camping trip like no other on earth.

elements-travel-pacuare-lodge01The cool jungle highlands of Costa Rica are home to Pacuare Lodge. Pacuare is the premier eco-lodge in Costa Rica and is sure to be an experience you will not forget! The adventure begins even before you arrive when you decide what mode of transportation you want to take to get there. For those with enough stamina, there is the option of traveling to the lodge by white water raft. Otherwise, you will take a 4X4 vehicle up jungle roads to the lodge. There are many different adventure packages you can take at Pacuare such as a trip up the canyon that allows you to test your climbing and rappelling skills! There is also the ancient trail and hidden waterfall hike which takes you up on of the main routes used by Cabecar Indians to travel through the highlands. At Pacuare you can learn about sustainability and the fragile ecology of the rainforest while experiencing the local color of village life in the Costa Rican highlands. Regardless of what package you choose you will return with enough memories to last a lifetime.
Machu Picchu 5In Peru you can stay in the Skylodge Adventure suites, located in the Sacred Valley of Peru. These suites are designed to make you feel like you are sleeping in a Condor’s nest high up the cliff side. You sleep in a completely transparent hanging bedroom with great views of the Sacred Valley. How do you get there? You just climb 400 meters up the side of the mountain, a vertical ascent. There are three suites, each of which can sleep up to eight people, and each has a private bath. The suites are powered by solar panels. If this interests you, but not for staying overnight, you can actually go there just for lunch. Climb up, have lunch, then zip line back down!
These are just a few of the many options that are available to those with a sense of adventure. Do you yearn for something different? Are you a person who favors the “road less taken”? If so, we, at Condor Tours & Travel, can put together a personalized vacation package to suit your taste. Life is short and full of things that we have to do. Why not leave all that behind for a while and do something you really want to do? Contact Condor Tours & Travel today at 770-339-9961 or info@condortoursandtravel.com, and we will work with you to find just the right adventure to suit your taste. You can also visit our web site for many other options. We will customize your trip to what you want to do on your next unique vacation destination experience!

Experience the Amazon in Peru- Puerto Maldonado vs Iquitos

IMG_8164 (640x427)When folks think about the Amazon, they think specifically about the Amazon River. The Amazon River is the main large river that dominates through Brazil, but the Amazon basin or region is actually much larger and encompasses numerous South American Countries. I have visited the Amazon region in Brazil, Ecuador, and most recently, Peru. It is tough to pick which is my favorite, as each experience was remarkable. Both the Peru and the Ecuador Amazon regions are more pristine as they have not experienced as much urbanization and there are many protected areas for endangered wildlife. In the Peru Amazon, there are two areas most commonly visited and offering great lodging options as well. Depending on what your interest is either should fit the bill. Most people think of Machu Picchu when they think of Peru, but the country is more than 50% rain forest. Machu Picchu is actually on the outer edge of the start of the rain forest.

My first and second adventure in the Peruvian Amazon was to the Puerto Maldonado region. You can get here by flying into Lima and then connecting in country to Puerto Maldonado. The flight usually makes a stop in Cusco, so this could be a good way to combine a trip to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. The largest reserve here is called Tambopata National Reserve where you can find a few nice lodges scattered throughout the river and inlets. When you arrive to Puerto Maldonado, a buzzing town with great local culture to experience, you will already feel the vibe of nature. Here you are met and taken to your respective lodge office in the city. Depending on the lodge, you may repack to a smaller bag and leave your suitcases behind so you only take what you need while at the lodge. Then you will board a boat. I do suggest at least three nights minimum, and everything is included – meals, daily adventures, accommodations. The nature guides are locals that grew up in the jungle and have become educated in guiding. IMG_8364 (640x427)Their ability to spot wildlife on the hikes or skiff boat trips is amazing! You are taken by boat on the Amazon tributary called Madre de Dios, or Mother of God. Nature is at your fingertips, and I was able to see the endangered river otters in Lake Sandoval where we could hear them munching on fish and being busy at all times. If you are bird watcher, we saw plenty of shore birds along the river banks and especially along the banks of the lake. On our jungle walks we also enjoyed many birds, plus primates, sloths and some reptiles and spiders. You will not be disappointed, but do use a professional company to make sure you are matched to what your goals are for this trip.

My third Amazon adventure was to IquitosIMG_8161 (640x427), Peru. This is also a flight from Lima, but is a bit further trek as it is located in the North East region of Peru. You are going to need the overnight in Lima, so stay a couple of days to experience Lima and its amazing history and gastronomy. Two restaurants in Lima have made the top ten list for best restaurants in the world. Once you fly to Iquitos you will know you are experiencing a different way of life. The Iquitos region is considered the head waters of the Amazon. The city of Iquitos is the largest city in the world with no road access. You can only get here by boat or plane. The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is located just up the river from this city, and during the rainy season, 85% of it flooded, making it only accessible by boat. Depending on what lodging you have chosen for this region, you will likely need to be transferred at this point by land to Nauta. When you arrive to Iquitos, you still have a way to go by land to get to your Amazon experience. We boarded our boat in Nauta to begin our expedition, which is a highlight for nature lovers. You will experience wildlife such as the elusive and often mentioned pink dolphins and unique primates. We did this region by boat on a sleep-aboard that was top of the line. Here we recommend four nights. The advantage of the boat is that you get to experience a larger region of the Amazon without having to move around with your luggage. Just unpack on day one, and enjoy all the experiences of the rainforest and local river communities. During the rainy season, these communities are surrounded by water and all have small dugout canoes to get to and fro. I had first timer experiences in the region that included IMG_8155 (640x427)the Monk Saki monkey, the yellow and blue macaw, a tarantula swimming in the river, swimming with pink dolphins, as well as spotting many different birds, mammals and reptiles. One of the fish found in this river is called Paiche and is quite large (it can grow to 16 feet). Although they do practice catch and release, they also are allowed to use the fish for sustenance, and we enjoyed Paiche in a meal while on board. Those living in this region have learned how to live a self-sustaining lifestyle and are now realizing the importance of protecting the rain forest and all it has to offer. At the end of our cruise, we returned via Nauta to Iquitos, where we visited an animal rehab center where they specialize in the river Manatees. Although we did not see them in the wild, we did have an opportunity to learn about the conservation efforts to preserve these gentle giants in the Amazon.

If you want to experience nature at its best, I can highly recommend a visit to the Peruvian Amazon. Condor Tours & Travel is a company based in Atlanta, GA that specializes in travel to Latin America. We can arrange any type of Amazon adventure for you and know the many lodge and boat options that will fit what you want to experience. Contact them at info@condortoursandtravel.com or visit their web site for more information at www.condortoursandtravel.com, or by phone at 770-339-9961.

Why you should use a travel agent

IMG_6783The internet has wrought tremendous changes to all aspects of society, and the travel industry is no exception. With a few clicks, you can book a hotel or flight, rent a car, make dinner reservations in a distant city, and more. Therefore, it is reasonable to ask the question, “Do you still need to use a travel advisor (formerly called travel agents)?” At the risk of spoiling the end of the story, we will jump ahead and say the answer is an unequivocal yes! However, there are some very specific reasons why this is so, and we are going to take a few minutes to talk about some of the most important.
Travel is more complicated than ever these days. New cruise ships and resorts are coming online all the time, and keeping up with all these changes is a full time job. It is also more common for groups of family members and friends to travel together, which increases the level of complexity and planning needed for a successful trip. Working with a professional can affect both how much you spend and how enjoyable your vacation experience is.
Your travel advisor will also be much more knowledgeable about what is new and exciting in the coming year. Maybe you want to travel to the desert and star gaze in Chile but don’t know best times to go, or you want to experience a safari during the best weather or migration times. Travel professionals have access to the latest and best tour packages and events as well as a working knowledge of regions. They understand how to coordinate planning to make sure you have a great time. Keep in mind that travel advisors are professionals; they know more than you do about this topic. After all, it’s their job! Sure, you can cut your own hair, mow your own lawn, or provide other services yourself. However, a travel advisor can do it better and more quickly than you could and can quite possibly save you money in the process. Simply put, they know more than you do, that’s why you hire them!
A travel advisor can assume the hard work of planning your trip. If they haven’t personally been to where you want to go, they most likely know someone who has or have been trained on the destination or property. Let them deal with the stress and worry of trip planning so you can sit back and enjoy! Travel advisors will also have your back when something goes wrong. They will help you deal with cancellations, problems with check in, travel delays and other issues. A travel professional will be your friend and advocate, and, if necessary, will make alternative plans for you in the event of a problem.
Keep in mind there is no do-over for a failed vacation. Your vacation time is a valuable commodity and you don’t want to waste it sitting on hold with an under-staffed airline or resort. A professional travel advisor adds an element of trust and friendship that is lacking when you deal with large impersonal corporations like airlines, hotel chains or rental car companies. They will be with you before, during, and after the trip and will get to know your likes and dislikes and help you adjust your plans accordingly. The goal of your travel advisor is to make sure you have the perfect vacation experience.
Travel advisors are also your foot soldiers on the ground. They travel the world and bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. How has Puerto Rico recovered from a hurricane? What is the risk of terrorism if I want to travel to Egypt? What kind of documents do I need to visit Russia or Cuba? A travel professional can answer these questions and more, and their research and experience greatly reduce the risk of a trip going awry.
A travel professional can offer unique services for clients with refined tastes or those wanting something a bit more unusual and off the beaten path. Many unique destinations or properties may never market their product as they don’t want to be overrun by “tourism” but prefer to keep a more intimate traveler experience. Travel advisors attend trade events to learn about these hidden gems that the common traveler may not know even exist. In addition, they can often save you money, and even if they don’t, they will add a lot of value. Cruise lines and resorts often get the majority of their business through travel advisors and they reward those advisors with benefits that can in turn be shared with you. Upgraded accommodations, included meals, discounts, or complimentary services are just a few of the benefits that could be available to you. The expert travel advisors at Condor Tours & Travel stand ready to assist you in planning your bucket list travel experience. Contact us via our web site at www.condortoursandtravel.com or call us to today at 770-339-9961, and put our knowledge and research to work for you! Don’t be fooled by web sites that talk a great story. Who puts a bad picture of their property on line? Our travel advisors have connections worldwide to be able to offer that professional advice you need to insure a quality trip that meets your expectations. As winner of the Pinnacle Award for 2018, you are in good hands booking travel with an advisor at Condor Tours & Travel. Pinnacle photo

Why are there almost no Boutique Luxury Hotels & Resorts in Panama?

BungalowWhen you do a search for “Luxury Hotels and Resorts in Costa Rica”, there is a long list of boutique hotels that a visitor can choose from along the Pacific coast. Among them Arenas del Mar in Manuel Antonio, Kura in Uvita, Latitude 10 in Santa Teresa and the Harmony Hotel in Nosara is just a small list of them in Costa Rica. But in Panama, the list is very short. Why is that?

Panama’s economy has been very focused on the Panama Canal, the Banking Sector and Real Estate development in and around Panama City. And the few hotels and lodges on the beach are either large all-inclusive hotels that have a connection to the Panama Business Hotels or small two to three-star hotels, resorts and lodges scattered along the coast. The fact is that tourism and especially sustainable and boutique tourism has not been on the agenda of the Panamanian government as there were ‘bigger fish to fry’ for them in other sectors. But this is changing as more investors look for new places to grow their collection of quality luxury and self-sustaining lodges.

Island hopOn the one hand, this was great news when Cayuga collection decided to develop Isla Palenque as a Boutique Luxury Island Resort near David, Panama in an area referred to as Boca Chica. Almost no competition. But on the other hand, it became a problem as there are only very few places in Panama that our visitors could combine with a stay at Isla Palenque. So we found that a lot of guests actually combine this new option with a visit to Boquete, Panama. The area of Boquete is a bit more mature with tourism and offers some nice options to combine with Isla Palenque. Clients would fly to Panama City and likely overnight at a nice hotel in the old city called Casco Antiguo or some great luxury options in the modern city. Then fly to David Panama – either via the domestic airport in Albrook or out of the international airport. You need to count on at least 6 nights 3 at each location – Boca Chica and Boquete. You can experience the Pacific Ocean and the Cloud forest. Depending on the time of year –whales are seen in and around Boca Chica and in Boquete, a birders paradise, the resplendent quetzal.Isla Palenque Amenities Private Beach Dining -low res 2

And in case they decide to stay only in Panama, we recommend them to visit El Otro Lado in Portobello on the Caribbean Coast and stay in the Casco Antiguo of Panama City at La Concordia.

If you were wondering on “How to get to book Isla Palenque?” or any Panama travel, reach out to Lori Snow of Condor Tours & Travel, Inc. Lori was born in Panama and grew up in Panama City. Her knowledge of Panama is extensive and she is often called upon to do lectures on Panama and the Canal. She was educated in the Canal Zone but grew up on the streets of Panama City and speaks Spanish like a true “Panamanian”. Her company has been selling tourism to Panama and all of Latin America since 1991. Although their offices are US based, they operate an office in Panama to handle all incoming travelers and can custom create a package that meets all your travel expectations while in Panama.