Full disclosure, I have enjoyed every guided walking tour I have ever taken, and will take tours wherever they fit into my budget. I am probably more easily impressed than most people.
That said, Apullacta exceeded my expectations and put together two very good tours of the relatively modest-sized Inca site Ingapirca (the largest in Ecuador) and the misty and beautiful Cajas National Park (June 2012). Both times I joined a group tour, and both tours were led by the young and enthusiastic Patty. The tours were roughly day trips that included 2-3 hours of driving and 2-3 hours of walking, as well as EXCELLENT lunches in well decorated restaurants (the restaurant outside of Cajas was basically a well-furnished greenhouse built into a mountain).
While it is near impossible to not enjoy Ingapirca or Cajas National Park, even without a guide, Patty brought a personal touch to both sites that would be absent if you did either on your own. My group was relatively small on both tours, and Patty effortlessly moved from person to person answering individual questions about Incan history, bird species, and plant life. Apparently part of a tour guide’s training is learning bird calls, because Patty had a crazy ability to name and point out birds before they even appeared. I think the thing that impressed me the most though was that Patty and the drivers provided by Apullacta really made you feel at home. There was never that tour guide/tourist divide that I frequently find. It was very fun and casual, and you could tell that Patty was very passionate about Ingapirca, Cajas, Ecuador, and meeting people from abroad. Everyone in the group were friends by the end.
Two other things that I should mention. First, I am told that tour length and maybe quality can vary depending on the age, fitness, and interests of those in your group, especially in Cajas, so plan accordingly. My Cajas tour was shorter than usual because it was a little rainy and a couple of the other people on the tour were out of shape. It is a good thing that Patty paced the tour based on how far the least fit could enjoyably walk, but I would have enjoyed spending a little more time at the park.
Second, the price is a little steep if you are traveling on a budget, although both tours are well-worth it in my opinion. You can visit Ingapirca easily and cheaply on your own if you are willing to skip the interesting site by site commentary (blasphemy!), but Cajas is another matter. There are heavy restrictions on where you can walk there without a tour guide, and while there are multiple paths, they are split up and it is a hassle to travel by car from one to another (or so I was told by a traveler at my hotel). Plus, don’t you want to know what you’re seeing? I really enjoyed these tours.
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