Category Archives: Travel by Holiday

The Conscientious Traveler Series: Inka Terra Asociación

Welcome to The Conscientious Traveler!our blog series focusing on vendors with projects that support the environment, wildlife and local communities. Did you know that there are tons of opportunities to combine your love of travel with a good cause? In our series we highlight tour operators, hotels and tour guides who play such active roles in their community. 

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Today’s Highlight: the Inka Terra Asociación

Inka Terra is a Peru-based partner of Willamette Intl Travel and a pioneer in ecological research and conservation funded by tourism. They have a number of quality hotels in Cusco and Madre de Dios, which together host more than 200,000 travelers every year. 

Inka Terra’s nonprofit offshoot Inka Terra Asociación (ITA) is a far-reaching foundation that supports scientific research for the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable development of the community. Since its establishment in 1978, ITA has devoted its efforts to the conservation of Peru’s biodiversity, encouraging scientific research in the Amazon rainforest, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and many more locales across the country. ITA believes that learning about ecosystem dynamics and key species leads to better conservation strategies and education. 

Principal among their projects are: 

  • The Andean Bear Rescue Center, which studies the only bear species native to the Southern Hemisphere. 
  • The Inkaterra Canopy Walkway, a hanging bridge system to study wildlife in the rainforest canopy.
  • The Cabo Blanco Technical Study to justify the creation of Peru’s first marine reserve in the tropical sea off Cabo Blanco. 

For more info, check out their website: http://www.inkaterra.com/inkaterra-asociacion-org/

Support by Spending a Night in Luxury at an Inka Terra Hotel

Willamette Intl Travel has had a lot of success for clients staying at one of Inka Terra’s five hotels. We’ve received rave reviews of their cabins and eco-guides. Patrons of the hotels really feel like they are contributing to ecological efforts. On their blog they keep a journal for wildlife sightings at their hotels: Sunbittern bird, Andean Spectacled Bears, Jaguar, Harpy Eagles, Puma, Tapir, Deer. Last year, legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog visited three of the properties as part of Inka Terra’s 40th Anniversary. Send us a message to learn more: info@wittravel.com or 503-224-0180. 

From the desk of our client Julie V., who stayed at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel in 2014:

“…we were treated as royalty. What an incredible place. After our little orientation with nice, cool tea we were told that we were being upgraded to a suite. And…it was spectacular. The room was huge, the bathroom included an indoor or outdoor shower, and we had our own garden Jacuzzi. We checked into all the activities and signed up for the orchid tour, the evening tour with lanterns, and the spectacled bear visit. The first two we had that afternoon and evening and they were excellent. We enjoyed time just relaxing in our suite and tasting the Pisco that was included. Dinner at the restaurant that evening was one of the best ever. We had a delightful server that we are staying in contact with, as we want to follow her career. She is outstanding. 

The next morning we had arranged to take the Andean bear tour. These are endangered bears that are being kept on a part of the Inkaterra property to ultimately prepare them for returning to their habitat. While it wasn’t quite what we expected we were glad we had taken the tour and learned a great deal about these bears. Breakfast was next and it was delicious and I even got the recipe for their quinua (English quinoa) pancakes.

Suggestion: Anyone going to MP must stay at least one night at Inkaterra. It is almost indescribably wonderful, relaxing, and beautiful. Truly a must do.”

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Filed under Conscientious Traveler, Peru, South America, Travel by Holiday

Christmas in Europe

Christmas is a magical time in Europe, when cities bloom in soft lights and decorations abound along windows and roads. And it’s never too early to think about spending holidays with your loved ones  abroad. These three capitals know how to do Christmas right.

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Christmas Market at Schonbrunn Palace, flickr CC Otto Schlappack

VIENNA

The weeks from late November to the end of the year transform Austria into a special wonderland. Charming Christmas Markets pop up in historic town centers, the smells of Glühwein (mulled wine) float through the air, and young and old taste their way through roasted chestnuts to yummy Christmas sweets. Be enchanted by the Kunstkammer, Vienna’s realm of overwhelming gold, bronze and ivory pieces—and don’t forget to stop by the Christmas Market just in front. Need inspiration for gifts? In Vienna’s city center, the elegant store Österreichische Werkstätten offers a wide selection of handmade products such as jewelry, glass design, furniture and accessories. The Museums Quartier in Vienna becomes synonymous with a different kind of Christmas atmosphere. Just think ice pavilions, artistic light installations, DJ sounds, ice curling rink, and fun Punch variations!

Two hours south of Vienna, the city of Graz also turns into one giant Christmas spectacular. Glowing decorations, a massive ice crib, and a gigantic Advent calendar projection are just the beginning. Did you know the carol Silent Night originated in the small village of Oberndorf near Salzburg. Visit the humble and most charming chapel where the story began.

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Zagreb’s Ilica Street, flickr CC rom@nski photo

ZAGREB

Christmas in Zagreb, Croatia, is a time of festivities and food. Stands crop up everywhere in the city, selling goodies and delicacies certain to delight. Wrap your fingers around a steaming cup of mulled wine, grab seasonal candies and take home some special wooden toys and ornaments as souvenirs. Often bands will set up to play a few traditional tunes under the frosty lights. In recent years, Croatia has seen a reemergence of open-air ice skating, and in December rinks are installed near the main train station and King Tomislav’s Square. It’s truly a magical time in Zagreb!

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Christmas Market in Bratislava, Flickr CC fortysix_vie

BRATISLAVA

The Slovakian capital of Bratislava’s many historic buildings are testaments to the country’s intriguing history. Travelers can tour the Old Town, with landmarks such as Roland Fountain and the Old Town Hall, and stop by an outdoor market to sample traditional dishes, such as grilled sheep cheese, dumplings and the Bratislavsky rozok, or sweet roll.

Chat with us about spending your holidays abroad. Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Crash Course in Montreal

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Montreal makes a great destination for North Americans looking for a taste of Europe for a long weekend. With a wealth of crepe cafes, sidestreets and cosmopolitan atmosphere, Montreal is a major attraction for those looking for some old world culture not far from home.

WIT Agent Wailana took the morning flight out of Portland via Dallas on American, arriving at 7.30pm in Montreal. The 747 bus takes you straight downtown, where most major hotels and the metro are located.

The best evenings are spent strolling around romantic Old Montreal, with its collection of historical buildings and 17th-19th century architecture. At night the city streets are mostly quiet, and the cobblestones are lit up with the soft glow from streetlights. You can even ride in a pink and white horse carriage!

The old quarter is lovely enough to splurge for dinner—look for the lively Modavie Jazz Bar—but for breakfast and lunch, I recommend heading up to the Plateau and Mile End for some tasty local treats. Snack to your heart’s delight on flaky Lebanese baklava and freshly-cut merguez sausages at the Jean-Talon Marche, the largest outdoor market in North America. Afterwards, beat the heat and sample the tasty microbrews at Dieu du Ciel. For some of the best international food, try one of the delicious menus on the historically immigrant Rue de Saint-Laurent. There’s a plethora of Hungarian meats, Spanish spices, Chinese desserts, and Jewish sandwiches to enjoy here.

Take your goodies up to Parc Mont Royal for a beautiful vista and a picnic. You can usually spy some soccer games, live drum music or circus acts here. Did you know that Montreal is one of the world’s top circus arts destinations? Book a bike tour to explore Montreal’s neighborhoods and history like a local. For a different perspective, head to the Underground City. This 20 mile-network of subterranean tunnels are a labyrinthe of shopping malls, subways, hotels and banks. You can also check out the Grevin Museum downtown for realistic wax images of Michael Jackson, Albert Einstein, Obama and more.

The next major attraction worth a stop is Olympic Park, which houses the Stadium, Insectarium, Jardin Botanique and the Biodome, once the home to the 1976 Olympic summer games and now an environmental museum. Check out the spectacular view in a funicular elevator up to the top of Olympic Tower. Bring your swimsuit to plunge in one of the seven swimming pools at the tower’s sports center.

If you’re lucky enough to be in town during one of the festivals, don’t miss the world-renowned Jazz Festival, the Just for Laughs Festival that celebrates comedy, and the International Festival of Beer that attracts breweries from all over the world.

We recommend spending at least 3 nights in Montreal, especially if you’re going to add a daytrip into Quebec City. The capital of Quebec has been lauded as Montreal’s smaller, quainter sister. If you have some extra time you could even go for a day trip to Niagara Falls, Ottawa or New York City. For a special delight during winter, try a unique tour to discover one of the region’s most world-renowned, unique products—ice wine.

If you’re in Montreal this summer, don’t miss the botanical garden for the exhibition of 50 remarkable garden sculptures. For a sneak peak, click here.

Several WIT Agents have traveled to Montreal and beyond. Popular itineraries among our clients include multi-day rail trips from Vancouver to Halifax via Montreal, and New England cruises through the St. Lawrence River. Call us to book your Canada trip today or to find out more about available packages: 503-224-0180 or info@wittravel.com.

an old man and his dog

an old man and his dog

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Filed under Canada, North America, Travel by Holiday, Travel by Taste