Travel Agencies, Contacts and Places to Stay

Foreign travel for the adventurous

On this page I've listed contact information for the agencies I've used to arrange my various adventures. If an agency or individual shows up on this page, it means that I was happy with their services and they have my recommendation. Unfortunately, not every agency I've used has made it here.

Peru
My trek on the Inca Trail in Peru was arranged with Explorandes. They provided camping gear, food, cook, porters, and guides. I highly recommend this trekking agency because they were very conscientious in cleaning campsites and providing good, safe food. Narcisso, a native Peruvian was our guide and provided good information.
Explorandes

My trip down the Amazon River in Peru was arranged through Amazon Tours & Cruises. The accomodations on the boat were comfortable, the food was good, and the activities they arranged were interesting. Beder Chavez was our guide and I highly recommend him. He was very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna in the region.
Amazon Tours & Cruises

Nepal
My trek into the Himalaya Mountains of Nepal and my trip to Pokhara and Chitwan National Park were all arranged through First Environmental Trekking. I changed travel iteneraries a couple of different times during this trip and First Environmental accomodated me at every turn - in some cases on very short notice. Mani Barokoti was my guide - a very friendly, good-hearted person. Since I made the trek in Nepal, Mani has started his own guiding company. I can wholeheartedly recommend either First Environmental or Mani as a guide in his own new company. Mani's guide service can be contacted through his website at:
Nepal Tours

Or you can contact Mani directly by email at: cmbarakoti@hotmail.com

Here's a link to First Environmental's website:
First Environmental Trekking


Thailand
My trek in Thailand was done with Udom Inthomya, managing director of Survival Ltd. Partnership. Udom has been very politically involved and interested in developing the trekking industry in such a way that the poor people living in the Thai remote villages can benefit. Udom's email address is:
udom_inthomya@hotmail.com


Hawaii
For scuba diving in Hawaii, I'd strongly recommend B&B Dive Shops for your arrangements. They arrange dives around Hawaii for small groups of divers. This assures a safer dive with a more personal service. In my group, we had 7 divers accompanied by 3 divemasters. For diving Molokini, they leave early, which assures diving at Molokini before the larger boats and crowds of divers arrive at this famous site. See their website at:
B&B Scuba Inc.


My condo in Makaha on Oahu was the Makaha Surfside. It's an economical condo, but clean and comfortable. For information, see:
Makaha Surfside

To fly a glider on Oahu, contact the Honolulu Soaring Club, Inc. in Waialua. You can get more information from their website at:
Glider Rides


Ottawa, Canada
I bungee jumped "The Rock" with the The Great Canadian Bungee Corporation. This jump is claimed to be the highest in North America. The Rock is located about 30 minutes north of Ottawa. The site is a rock quarry with nearly vertical limestone walls on three sides of your drop to clear greenish water below. Safety is well attended to. Visit their website at:
The Great Canadian Bungee Corporation


New Zealand
My heli-hike on the Franz Josef glacier was arranged through Franz Josef Glacier Guides, Ltd. Small, six-person choppers are used. Hikers are supplied with crampons and ice axes and, if necessary, extra warm clothing. Visit their website at:
Franz Josef Glacier.

My tour of the Milford Sound was arranged through Eco Fiord Tours. They supply a small mini-bus that makes the roundtrip from Queenstown to Milford Sound, with stops in Te Anau both on the way to the Sound and returning to Queenstown. Stops are also made at various scenic locations on the way. Lunch is provided on board the boat, which is included with the cost of the tour (NZ$135 from Queenstown). See the website at:
Eco Fiord Tours.

I rented a car from Omega Rental Cars Ltd. They're much cheaper than the larger international car rental companies and although the vehicles are just a little older they seem reliable. They will arrange for you to drop off a car at one side of the ferry crossing between the islands and pick up a different one on the other side to continue your journey. This is much more economical than taking a car across on the ferry. In Wellington, transportation is provided to the ferry dock. In Picton, the car rental is at the ferry dock. See Omega rental cars at:
Omega rental cars

I stayed in assorted accomodations while in New Zealand, including hotels, motels, and Bed & Breakfasts. I'd like to recommend the following B&B's: On the North Island, The Country Garden Teahouse near Whangarei. This B&B is not only perfectly situated for anyone planning to dive the Poor Knights Islands, but it is also superb. It's situated about halfway between Whangarei and Tutukaka. The B&B is surrounded by many acres of some of the most beautiful gardens you can imagine. And the accomodations are excellent and the hosts very pleasant and helpful. I'd also recommend Kohinoor, located in Ohakune on the South Island. This B&B is also very nicely landscaped and offers a wonderful view of Mt. Ruapehu. Again, great hosts. Finally, I also recommend Lincoln Cottage in Picton. I believe all of these B&B's have websites and I'll be searching to find them to add to this page in the future. If you're making a trip to New Zealand, any of the information centers will gladly direct you to these or other B&B's in their area.

Laos
Laos isn't exactly a tourist mecca, so don't expect to find premium services here. But if you're considering a trek into the mountains, maybe you're not too sensitive to that. Nevertheless, there is a big difference in quality of guides, their ability to speak your language, and the quality of the food. Still, I think the luck of the draw in fellow trekkers makes all the difference between a good and bad hike. On this one, the food was adequate. Our guide, Mr. Jay Thao, made a sincere effort to be informative and was pleasant company. My trek was arranged through Action Max Laos and I would recommend them if you're wanting to hike into the mountains of Laos. Unfortunately, they do not yet have a website, but their email address is: actionmaxasie@yahoo.fr

Egypt
There's a piece of advice that I found very useful when dealing with hawkers of goods and services in Egypt. If they are satisfied when you've left, you've paid too much. The merchants, felucca captains, caliche drivers - all of them will pressure you endlessly for your business - and offer services at far less than they want to accept, expecting and insisting on more than you offer. Baksheesh is the order of the day. Be prepared. Be specific in what you want and what you're willing to pay. And expect to pay for any deviation. All of that said, the Egyptians are extremely social, and despite their aggressive business focus, they are a very friendly people. Take care of business first, then be friendly in return.

If you need a driver in Luxor, I heartily recommend Mahmoud. He is a jovial companion and, I think, a truly nice man. He drives taxi number 1260 and can be reached in Luxor at telephone number 400223. Mahmoud's card reads "best taxi driver in Luxor". He can usually be found outside the Gaddis Hotel.

In Cairo, I recommend Saeed El Lord. My last day in Egypt was spent with Saeed, driving down to Dahshur then back up through Saqqara and Giza and from there back to my hotel for luggage and then a roundabout trip to the airport as he gave me a mini-tour - showing me Sadat's tomb and the City of the Dead (a place I'm still sorry to have missed during my short stay in Cairo). Saeed can usually be found outside the Golden Tulip Flamenco Hotel in Zamelek. Although his card doesn't say so, he says he's the best taxi driver in Egypt. Saeed, too, is a nice fellow. He can be reached by mobile phone at 012/3468949.

And now a plug for a friend....
If you'd like to customize a bike helmet or need a sign painted, I strongly recommend Brian Diver for the job. He's done some great work both locally in the Seattle, WA area, but throughout the US as well. I met Brian and Donna on the trek to Machu Picchu and these are some of the really good people we're happy and fortunate to meet. See Brian's website at:
PDQ Signs


If you're interested in knowing a little about me, see my site at:
A Bit About Me


Here's a page with a few pics
Some my non-travel photos



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