Thank you for all your help. Persis did go in the Estancia tour and had a good time. She also went to a soccer match and loved it.
Overall, we had a very good time!
We first learned about Say Hueque just from an internet search of Argentina vacations. Lujan immediately responded to inquiries and was very cooperative in planning the tour with Kashmira.
It was very pleasant working with Lujan and Say Hueque who agreed to our every request and let us book our own flights and hotels as needed. Some other travel agencies often want to book the hotels, themselves.
These were the highlights of our tour:
1. Iguazu Falls. Simply incredible and very good guide who took us everywhere
2. City Tour of Buenos Aires. Very nice city to visit and very knowledgable and friendly guide, Patty.
3. Changing of the Guard at Cabildo, Salta. Very nice to watch and we stumbled upon it only by accident, just before we were ready to catch a plane leaving Salta. Takes place at noon, every day, during the tourist season. Neither Say Huque nor our local guide, Ramon, mentioned this!
4. Live Open Air Concert in the town of Humahuaca. Again, this was just by accident. We were in Humahuaca during the last 30 minutes of the concert, primarily because we were late leaving our hotel for the trip.
5. Excursion to Cologne, Uruguay by ferry. Cologne is such a quaint town which has retained its charm and heritage. You must recommend that to your customers.
Our favorite hotel was the Sheraton in Salta. It was extremely nice. Relatively inexpensive, very spacious rooms, excellent food, and very modern, spacious, well equipped gym – the best I have seen in hotels. During my second stay, they were sold out, so they upgraded me to a giant suite with a separate study, kitchen, huge balcony, giant living room and dining area with a huge dining table with 10 chairs and complete tea service!
The best excursion was to the Iguazu Falls. Lot of sights, lot of walking in lush Green rain forests, lots of wild life. But the half-day tour of Buenos Aires was a very close second.
Of course we would like to mention Patty in Buenos Aires! Patty was excellent. Very knowledgeable, friendly, walked with us everywhere, and gave us enough time to do everything. Also helped us arrange other tours and recommended restaurants. We loved walking through the Recoleta Cementery and the Boca neighborhood, and the BA sights.
Patty, my only regret is that we didn’t get to see the Botanical Gardens. You said they would be closed on Monday but they were open until 5:30 p.m. on that day Unfortunately, we found that out only when we were driving past the Gardens at 5:25 p.m.
Our guide in Iguazu (I forget her name) was also very good. She escorted us everywhere and was very knowledgeable about the Falls, the river, the forest and the history.
The English-speaking guide at Buquebus was also very knowledgeable, very friendly, and walked with us everywhere in Cologne, Uruguay.
Sr. Ramal of Ramal Tours was very patient with my family who were always very late in leaving the hotel every day. He went out of his way to pick up and drop off my second daughter who was staying at a different location in Salta. He also rearranged the trip when he found out one of my daughters was sick on one day. So we did get to see everything, thanks to him. So we did give him good tips for his efforts (a total of about US $250)
What I didn’t like was that Ramal came to the airport to pick us up in a truck with an open bed (just like a pick-up truck but with 2 rows of seats) saying his other vehicle was in the shop! I was a little worried about our bags in the open bed of the truck being exposed to the tremendous amount of dust and also possible to the rain or somebody just stealing them. Every day (next 4 days) for our remaining excursions, he still brought this same truck! He should have arranged for the rental of some other vehicle if his van was in the repair shop.
Sr. Ramal said he had been in the tour business for 19 years. Although he was knowledgeable, he didn’t seem that enthusiastic about anything. He also didn’t want to accompany us anywhere where there would be any excessive walking or climbing (such as in the Inca ruins). He would walk with us up to a point and then tell us where to walk further and then go back to his truck.
Other than the town of Humahuaca and the Salt Flats which we liked, the excursions in Salta were not all that great. The Inca ruins were not worth visiting, especially in comparison with Machu Picchu. The food served at all places on our Salta excursions was of bad (with the exception of the hotel at Purmamarca where the food was very good). Although the mountains with their different colors are worth seeing, the drive to the mountains is not very pleasant because the roads are rough, the sun is very bright with not a cloud in the sky, and because it is so dry, it is extremely dusty with no trees or vegetation. Not fun driving through essentially a desert in a truck!
The town of Salta was probably the best part of our stay in Salta and the surrounding sites.
We never got the lunch promised us on the Buquebus tour. It was supposed to be a box lunch but the Buquebus guide said it would be at a restaurant and pointed out this restaurant when we were on the walking tour and then left us. When we went to the restaurant, the restaurant refused to honor the lunch vouchers that Say Hueque provided and said the vouchers were for a box lunch.
So we went to another restaurant which took very long to serve us and we had to pay for lunch out of our own pocket. Partly as a result of the long wait at the restaurant, we missed the ferry going back. While Buquebus allowed us to go on the next ferry, they said the regular class was sold out and we would have to pay the difference in fares between regular class and business class, which cost us an additional US $99 for the 4 tickets.
I will send some photos, later.