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Longtime VBT Travelers Take Their First Walking Vacation to Peru

Helen and Ken
Ken and Helen B. are avid active travelers hailing from the Midwest of the US. Although bicycling is their main passion, they said they’ve been getting into hiking a lot more recently. After 5 memorable biking vacations with VBT they decided to go on our Peru: Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley walking tour last March. “We have enjoyed all of our biking vacations with VBT so much that we wanted to see how VBT handled a walking tour and we’ve always wanted to see Machu Picchu”. The couple enjoys taking vacations on their own in the summer months so the fact that a warm winter vacation with VBT allowed them to escape the cold of a Michigan winter while not breaking the bank appealed to them.

OrchidThey were able to reserve pass for the Inca trail which made the approach to Machu Picchu a hike they would never forget. Helen also recalled the beautiful flora—particularly the renowned area orchids—as well as how interesting the locals’ relationship with their animals were. “The alpacas used as pack animals—which we knewAlpha Alpaca—were given offerings and decorated,” Helen said. “We saw one local farmer turn his alpaca into an ‘alpha alpaca’ by giving it their homemade beer and then dressing hit’s ear with red ribbons.”

Besides Machu Picchu, what really resonated with Helen was the walk through the Visiting Nursesvillage of Cuyuni. “Being able to witness some of the ceremonial processions—the ceremonies thank Mother Earth— where they would offer items that would be burned, buried or floated down a stream was really a great experience that I won’t forget,” Helen recalled.  She was also introduced to a local woman who was also a nurse and they had a lively conversation comparing nursing in Peru vs back in the US where Helen is a nurse herself.

Helen and Ken finished their vacation with the VBT post-trip extension to the Peruvian Amazon where Helen conquered a fear of heights on a canopy walk in the jungle. She added, “at first I thought to myself ‘why did we decide to go to the jungle’ after being at Machu Picchu, but  in the end I wished we had more time there to do more great adventures with the rangers!” .

Their recent adventure to Peru was just the tip of the iceberg with the couple’s travels. Helen and Ken first began Canopy Walkorganized group trips with a Bike Riders tour almost 12 years ago. After a couple of tours they wanted to check out some other companies to see what different destinations and experiences they could find. It turns out that a simple internet search lead them to VBT and back in 2006 the couple took our Ireland: Galway & Connemara Coast vacation. Helen said the pricing was the first thing that caught her eye—as well as how easy the flight and travel arrangements were—but it’s been the attention to detail and the amazing Trip Leaders that have brought them back to VBT year after year.

Since their first trip, they have also biked with VBT in Holland, Acadia, The Czech Republic, Germany & Austria​ and Croatia. As avid cyclists they are more inclined to seek out a more challenging rated trip. Helen mentioned Croatia was somewhat hilly but it was a “fun challenge”. She only wished the early May departures left her more time to prepare back at home. “We only got about 3 rides in before that vacation,” Helen recalled. “Ken was able to do all the rides but I stuck to some of the flatter seaside rides in the last few days of the tour.”

Ancient Terraces at Moray

Helen and Ken are off to Italy for the first time on our Sicily: Biking the Southern Coastal Villages​  for 2014 as they wanted to visit Italy and chose Sicily due to its price and moderate rating. Looking forward they said they planned to stick to biking but want to “sprinkle in” some walking vacations. “We want to go to Hawaii, National Parks and Vietnam in the future” Ken said, “During this time of year we’re really like the idea of another warm winter escape!”

Meet Debora, a VBT Trip Leader in Puglia

Debora Trippetti Puglia TL #4

If you ask any traveler about their VBT vacation you’ll undoubtedly hear praise of our expert, local Trip Leaders among Debora Trippetti Puglia TL #3their remarks, so it’s no coincidence that 95% of our travelers rate their Trip Leaders “excellent “.  You see, our Trip Leaders are more than just tour guides—they are friends, partners, caregivers, teachers, and bilingual residents of the region you are discovering. Since each leader is a resident of the country they lead in, they know the local customs and traditions, as well as inside information about reliable places to shop, eat, explore, and relax while on a VBT vacation. They’ll also be able to answer any questions you may have about the history or native flora and fauna of your surroundings.

Last week, Debora, a native and Trip Leader on our Puglia: Italy’s Undiscovered Coast ​ vacation sent us an email along VBT swimmer, Pugliawith some pictures of a traveler swimming in Port Badisco Bay and also some wild cyclamens growing along the road.  We thought we’d share some of her pictures as well as let you get to know her a little better with the following interview. We want to thank Debora for another great year of leading trips and we, like her, are looking forward to another great season in 2014!

IMG_4894What are some hobbies/interests of yours other than leading trips? I’m a swimming instructor and scuba diving fanatic who also loves free diving. I also enjoy painting and reading.

What are some of your favorite things? I believe music is the expression of the soul! And travel, travel, and travel because it helps to keep an open mind and always be learning something new. Oh and, gelato before everything!

Do you have any messages for people considering travel to your country? Come by bike to discover a genuine and still undiscovered region! Puglia is a tongue in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea where all cultures have left their trace over time…a treasure is waiting for you .

Anything you would say to convince a person to come join one of YOUR Roadside flowers in Pugliatrips? I feel like an ambassador and will be happy to help you discover my region and all the “locals” adventures that you can have here!

Do you have any final words for our readers? Please continue to travel by bike. It helps our small planet to be less polluted and it’s a perfect way to really discover another country and culture.

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