Read on as Toby shares his experience with Zoom in Southeast Asia.
As we mentioned last month, Sam and his husband Lou have been on several Zoom Vacations tours over the past many years, and since they were booked on our Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia tours, we decided to change things up by interviewing Sam both before and after the trip!
This was Kent and Will's first Zoom Vacation, and they were so much fun to have on the trip, we certainly hope it will not be their last. Kent shared with us his thoughts on gay travel and Peru.
Zoom: Why did you decide to take this trip with Zoom Vacations?
Kent: It was a kind of last minute decision to go to Peru after our trip to Puerto Rico was cancelled because of the hurricane. Peru is someplace we had wanted to visit and we liked the idea of a pre-planned trip.
Zoom: Was this your first time in Peru?
Kent: Yes it was - we have a good friend who had fallen in love with the country years ago and he had really piqued our interest in a visit.
Zoom: Was coming during American Thanksgiving a good choice? Why?
Kent: For us, we were not loving the idea of spending Thanksgiving in the U.S. - we typically host a big event so the idea of NOT doing that and letting someone else worry about it was an appealing change from our routine.
Zoom: Did having a Zoom Concierge (Bryan) make a difference in your trip?
Kent: Bryan was really fun to travel with and he was a great resource during the trip if any problems came up and we needed help with something. Having made the trip before, he was a great source of information and in addition, he was charming and funny too.
Zoom: Did the hotels live up to your expectations?
Kent: We found all the hotels to be really nice and definitely the kind of places we would look for when we travel. They were all a little different but definitely comfortable and luxurious.
Zoom: How about Machu Picchu?
Kent: We found it to be a wondrous place and really enjoyed the trip, although I have to say I enjoyed some of the other sites we visited just as much. I feel like we would have missed a lot of out-of-the-way spots if it wasn’t for our Zoom guides. Everything was really effortless and I didn’t really find it to be too much - there were plenty of opportunities to skip excursions or stops if the mood struck you.
Zoom: What were your favorite parts of the trip?
Kent: We enjoyed Cusco very much and definitely the food - I had heard that Peruvian food was good and I was not disappointed. Very good quality and lots of opportunities to try things that featured local ingredients and traditions. The coco and muna tea was really refreshing and kind of nice change from coffee drinking.
Zoom: What were some of your biggest “wow” moments?
Kent: We found the whole sacred valley was pretty amazing with lots of incredible vistas of cities built on the tops and hanging off the sides of mountains, and so on. Personally, being a little afraid of heights, it was a little dizzying at times but that could have been the altitude.
Zoom: How were the other people on the trip?
Kent: We met some very interesting and charming people in our group and I really enjoyed the size - we only had 12 on our tour and it was a good number. I definitely met some interesting people that I wouldn’t have an opportunity to meet at home.
Zoom: Will you be taking another trip with Zoom Vacations? To where?
Kent: For us, I think Zoom is the perfect trip to make to places where the logistics of travel might be a little daunting. We both have busy jobs and getting time off is always a challenge, so having everything pre-arranged with so much attention to detail is a real luxury and well worth the money.
I like the fact that the company is a 'pop&pop’ operation and we like supporting gay businesses. I also felt confident that Bryan would keep us out of trouble. We’d like to try a trip to Africa and India in the future.
We interviewed our feature traveler a little bit differently this time around. Last month, we interviewed Rick before his Zoom Vacations Southern Africa trip. Rick has now returned home from his southern African adventure and below are his thoughts as he reflects on the tour.
Zoom: Did this tour live up to your expectations?
Rick: The tour surpassed my expectations. I was ready for fabulous hotels, and informative tours. What I also got, was an engaging and enthusiastic tour guide in Cape Town (Tim), who was informative, engaging, and with whom the group easily established a rapport, an over-the-top safari experience beyond anything I could have imagined, from the 5+ star lodge to the fabulous meals (oh, those 8 course lunches!), incredibly friendly staff, unforgettable walks with well behaved lions and cheetah, and an exciting ride with Mary the elephant! In addition to the safari at Krueger, the activities in Livingstone / Victoria Falls were thrilling! Not to mention the fabulous property with wildlife walking on the grounds freely!!! I could easily have added an extra night or two on my own there.
Zoom: You said you were hoping to have an incredible and unforgettable cultural experience, and appreciation for the miracle that is the animal kingdom and nature. Did this happen?
Rick: From the unique fauna in Hermanus and the Cape Town botanical gardens we got to see, the baby elephant in Krueger mocking a charge to our jeep only to be frightened at the sound of the engine starting up and running to its mother, the giraffes staring at us with curiosity as we drove by, and the exciting close encounters with lions and cheetah, I can certainly answer yes!
Zoom: What was your highlight of the trip?
Rick: For me, the entire safari experience. The luxurious 5+ star lodge in the middle of Krueger National Park, where equally wonderful meals were served along with excellent South African wines, our knowledgeable, friendly, and welcoming safari guides, who took us on twice daily game drives, the two swimming pools for afternoon cool downs, all made for an experience I will always remember.
Zoom: There were some other Zoom Vacations travelers with whom you have traveled in the past, did you enjoy seeing them again?
Rick: I loved seeing Bob, my roomie for this trip, and John again. They made the trip that much more fun and special, as I consider them my friends.
Zoom: You said you were anticipating making new friends on this trip Did that happen, and in the way you expected?
Rick: I absolutely loved meeting the other travelers. Several reside in the NYC area, and I look forward to keeping in touch with them, as well as those who reside in other states.
Zoom: Did you do as much shopping as you planned?
Rick: No. Now I have to go shopping in NYC to make up for it. I still have availability on my credit cards.
Zoom: How do you think that Zoom vacations tours are different from going on your own? How are they different from other companies?
Rick: For one thing, I could never have organized such an ambitious itinerary on my own, and thus, would have missed out on several activities. I think Zoom selects the activities it knows are interesting, and must-sees! All of our activities were coordinated efficiently to make the best use of our time.
I think Zoom differentiates itself from other companies by limiting group sizes, which allows for a very personal touch, and through the final product it markets. Tours are designed for travelers who want to experience their time away from home in style. The fact that there is a Zoom escort on the trip to ensure all is going smoothly is also a plus.
Zoom: Zoom Vacations owners, Joel and Bryan accompany almost every tour. Does this have an impact? How?
Rick: Yes. For me, it is comforting to know that a Zoom escort is on the trips to ensure the itinerary is being followed, to handle any changes to the itinerary that might arise, or other unforeseen situations. It also adds the very personal touch to the travel experience.
Zoom: Was the tour better, worse, or as you expected it would be?
Rick: Much better. The group of 19 were a delight to be with; logistically, there weren't any hiccups; and we had great weather each and every day!
Zoom: During the trip, you decided to sign up for Zoom Vacations’ India tour, 2017. What made you decide to sign up for this trip?
Rick: India has been on the bucket list for several years now. For one reason or another, I've postponed it, but 2017 will be the year! It is also nice to know that a fellow traveler on this trip plans to book the Zoom India 2017, as well.