Warrenton businessman Tony Tedeschi traveled with Sunny Reynolds on BioTrek Adventure’s first trip to Costa Rica 25 years ago. When a small group of travelers left for Sicily last week, Tedeschi and his wife were on board. He’s one of many repeat customers.
Reynolds said that Tedeschi wanted to visit a small town where his grandfather was from. “We’re going to make that happen,” she said.
It’s one of the advantages of traveling with small groups (usually 10 to 12 people). “We can tweak the itinerary. If someone is interested in weaving, I’ll see if I can find a weaving demonstration.”
Food — and wine — are integral to any trip, said Reynolds. “We’ll search out fusion restaurants; we’ll find a cooking class.”
Susan Payne of Casanova wanted to take her 9-year-old son Brandon to Costa Rica, but BioTrek Adventures does not usually include children. Reynolds said, “I asked her to come by and she brought Brandon. He knew all the Latin names of the animals of the rainforest, so Brandon came with us. He’s 34 now.”
Payne said the trip was the beginning of a love affair with travel for her son. He’s since been all over the world, including a working trip to Guatemala with Reynolds.
Martha and David Marshall of Haymarket were seasoned travelers, but their trip to Tanzania with BioTrek in 2019 was unique. Martha Marshall said, “If you want to do something different, to have a sequence of incredible, curated experiences, that’s what Sunny is best at. … Your travel time is precious. She’s already maximized how you are going to get to particular places that offer the best experience. … ” She added of their safari, “We were in the vans by 7 a.m. and the whole day was choreographed.”
David Marshall agreed, “We were hopping the whole time.”
The Marshalls described watching the great migration -- a herd of wildebeests crossing a river, zebras accompanying them, watching for crocodiles. Martha Marshall remembered, “There were thousands of them, it’s something you can’t imagine the scale of it. And you’re so close, you are right there seeing it all.”
David Marshall said he was amazed at how close they were able to get to wild animals. “We saw a pair of lions from about 100 yards away and the guides asked if we wanted to get closer. … We drove right up beside the two lions, within 5 feet of them. It was quite a thrill for us.”
David Marshall said it happened repeatedly; they saw elephants, cheetahs, baboons traveling with their babies on their backs.
The group visited the Hadzabe tribe, a nomadic tribe in northern Tanzania. “They were very hospitable to us; they communicate through a series of clicking noises, so we needed a special translator,” said David Marshall.
The guides were amazing, he said. “They were very well-schooled in the environment; they knew where the animals like to hang out and where all the best watering holes are.”
Martha Marshall said that even though they were out in the middle of nowhere, their “camp” met all their requirements – “a shower, cozy bed, our own toilet and a restaurant in the next tent. … When it was time to go to the restaurant tent, we’d have to call a guard over because they didn’t want you walking on your own at night.”
Reynolds said a slightly greater proportion of her clients are women, but she has lots of couples too. “Women who travel on their own want to do it safely.” BioTrek Adventures provides a good option.
Tours range from $3,500 per person for some destinations, to $8,800 for the safari trip to Tanzania.
As a professional photographer, Reynolds can help clients who want to capture their trips digitally. She has thousands of photographs from her travels, some taken with her Nikon, others with her always-handy iPhone.
The Marshalls and Susan Payne agreed that one of the best parts of their trips was the people they met and the friendships they formed. Martha Marshall said she and her husband have had Zoom calls during the pandemic with people they traveled to Tanzania with.
And sometimes, magic happens. On one trip to Chile, the travelers bonded so completely that they wanted to travel together again. The group filled up Reynolds’ January 2022 trip to Namibia.
Reach Robin Earl at email@example.com