- Trip Ideas
- Adventure Travel
We asked six trailblazing tour operators to map out exclusive T+L itineraries on six continents—and found 14 more ways to travel the world with new eyes.
Galápagos and Peru with Abercrombie & Kent
20 Life-Changing Trips
Galápagos and Peru with Abercrombie & Kent
Why We Love It: There’s a level of exclusive access and environmental respect we’ve come to rely on from Abercrombie & Kent, but this trip exceeds even our expectations. For T+L they’ve dreamed up a Galápagos tour timed to commemorate Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150-year anniversary of The Origin of Species—and tapped his great-great-grandson, Randal Keynes, to lead the way. In Peru, your guides will include an expert investigating Incan environmental practices, and you’ll see art and textiles through the discerning eyes of locals who have amassed an impressive collection.
Where It Goes: After two days in Quito, you’ll board a 48-passenger cruise ship for seven days in the Galápagos. The Peru leg (seven more days) loops from Lima to Cuzco and the Sacred Valley, then back to Lima.
What You’ll Do: A tour of Quito’s colonial architecture zeroes in on Independence Square, the Archbishop’s Palace, and El Sagrario Church. Galápagos island-hopping begins on Santa Cruz, where sea turtles nest, then continues on to the red volcanic Rábida Island and its sea lion colonies and Galápagos hawks; La Cumbre Volcano, home to rare island species like flightless cormorants and Galápagos snakes; Black Turtle Cove and its saltwater inlets and mangrove swamps, accessible only by panga (motorized fishing boat); Isabela Island, for blue-footed boobies and marine iguanas; and back to Santa Cruz for a private tour of the Charles Darwin Research Station and a seat at the inauguration festivities for its new Darwin Facility. Peru highlights: the famous weekly art and crafts market in the colonial village of Pisac, in the Sacred Valley; lunch with the Lambarri-Orihuela family at their Huayoccari Hacienda, where you’ll see their renowned colonial- and folk-art holdings; a tour of Machu Picchu with archaeologist Alfredo Mormontoy; and a last stop in th
Some travel to change their lives, others the world. But, a truly transformative trip has the power to do both. Just ask Claire Russo, who last year spent her holiday vacation with Habitat for Humanity in the La Ceiba, Honduras, where she cleared a site, poured cement and laid the foundation for a home for a local poverty-stricken family. “We were all there because we genuinely cared about helping others, and it was wonderful to connect with both Americans and Hondurans during such a physically demanding experience.”
There’s growing evidence that the Volunteer Vacations trend is blossoming into a bigger phenomena. A 2007 Travelocity survey found that 17.7 percent of respondents had taken a vacation that incorporated volunteering or philanthropy—a number that’s up 13 percent from the previous year and expected to rise even higher in 2008. But tour operators and travel companies, new and old, are one-upping that trend through new programs and products, tapping into the feel-good Zeitgeist and our collective desire for something more from our adventures abroad, and at home.
And that “something more” depends entirely on individual interests, causes, and world view. For some eco-conscious travelers, investigating the Incan environmental practices in Peru under the guidance of Charles Darwin’s grandson may be the trip of a lifetime. For others, a journey to Cambodia’s temples and then to its villages to meet the custodians of the sacred sites is rewarding.
But lest you think the movement is more medicine than pleasure, think again. Today, creative companies are mixing such traditionally appealing activities as biking and wine-tasting in France with classes on biodynamic viticulture in an attempt to broaden travelers horizons even further—and it’s working.
Even something as simple as supporting local economy by returning with a suitcase full of crafts purchased from a local artisan can having meaningful and lasting impact. Ultimately, travelers today are seeking a connection-be it with nature, destination, culture, people—in hopes of returning home with the ultimate souvenir: a memorable one-of-a-kind experience.