Rick's tours are a bit
different than other organized trips I have gone on as he has another
life as an ethnobotanist and only does trips rarely.
My first trip with him was to Venezuela just before Mr Chavez was
elected as president. We saw a lot of Venezuela in 2 weeks and not
always did things go as planned.... we were late arriving at a
beautiful place in the mountains... about 2 AM but had a lovely place
to stay and great scenery. He always has the trip organized and has
local guides in most places. One of the best things is that we go to
places that most tourists haven't visited. Before we went I asked him
if he had ever lost a traveler and that everyone had come back alive
and all the other things that you might ask an infrequent travel guide.
The second trip I took with him was in 1999 and it was across the
continent of South America.... 23 (I think) days long and my personal
favorite of all the trips I have gone on with him. Often there are
little surprises like when we were in Arica, Chile and were going
through the Atacama Desert. Passenger train service had been
discontinued 6 years before we went but Rick went to the train
station and arranged for a passenger car to follow the freight train
with just our little group inside it. The engineers for the return
trip rode with us and near the end were singing songs in Spanish
about the romance of the rails. We were met at the end of the line by
the bus we would have ridden on. We stayed in very nice hotels and
some so small that it took 3 hotels to put up the 19 of us. We slept
on simple beds with straw mattresses.
The places we stay are always clean and the preparation of the food
we eat is always personally supervised by Rick so he knows that it is
safe to eat.
There are people who have been on all of his trips and we have become
good friends over the years and I look forward to traveling with them
The pace of the trip is usually fast but one can pass on some of the
hikes and take a day or more of rest if needed. I have had hip
problems and have passed on many of the long hikes without being
treated like a 'wimp'.
I have been on 3 other trips to South America, two sponsored by the
San Diego Zoo and I much prefer Rick's because they are not so rigid
and you are not in a little 'bubble' with the locals on the outside.
And ..... the little surprises are great memories.
-- Leonora, San Diego, CA