Meet the Team - Dawn

Meet the Team: Dawn, HA Destination Manager

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What’s your role at Holiday Architects?

I’m a Destination Manager at Holiday Architects, designing holidays to Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.


Why do you love travel?

I’m in my happy place when I’m lost in nature. The dawn chorus makes my heart sing, and the Howler Monkey alarm clock always makes me smile. Walking through the rainforests and not knowing what you could see next is pure joy! I love all things nature, adventure, and learning about different cultures, cuisines, and languages. The world is an incredible place, and it’s just waiting to be discovered. Why would you not explore?


What do you love doing when you’re not designing holidays?

If I’m not overseas in Central or Latin America, you will usually find me hiking in nature in the Welsh mountains or walking Toby the family Cavachon. I love cooking up a Mexican banquet for family and friends, reading a good book, and watching a drama on TV with lots of twists and turns.


We’re big foodies here at HA. What would be your dream three-course dinner?

Easy and simple: fresh fish ceviche to start, pozole for the main, and a large slice of ”Tres Leches Cake”.


What’s your karaoke tune?

Tina Turner ‘Simply the best’. It’s like she’s in the room!




Tell us more about Costa Rica…

What makes it special?

Where do I start?  The nature, the spectacular landscapes, the outdoor adventures, the people… Costa Rica is special. The country has deservedly earned its reputation as one of the world’s best destinations for a wildlife holiday, with an impressive 25% of the country now protected national reserves.

Its dense rainforests, rolling cloud forests, lush mangroves, and stunning coastlines are hard to beat. Plus, it’s home to an incredible 5% of the world’s biodiversity, which includes over 800 species of birds, 250 species of mammals, and even a quarter of the world’s recorded butterfly species.

The country’s genuine commitment to preserving the environment means you can enjoy an intense wildlife experience safe in the knowledge you’ll be leaving minimal impact. This isn’t somewhere you go to discover ancient ruins or colonial cities; towns and ‘people-made’ things are simply not what Costa Rica is about.

You go to completely immerse yourself in the country’s wildlife and volcanic scenery, get a dose of adventure, and then unwind after it all on a jungle-fringed beach. And I can’t get enough.


Dawn in Costa Rica

What’s your favourite memory of your time there?

I was so excited to head to the Osa Peninsula for the first time.

This is one of only four tropical fiords around the world and is home to a variety of marine life forms, including cetaceans. Two species of dolphin spend their whole life cycles in the Golfo Dulce, so I was hoping I’d get a sighting of those, plus the sea turtles and marine birds who often make an appearance.

Little did I know that this day would be forever imprinted in my brain as one of my favourite ever moments in Costa Rica. As we flew across the Golfo Dulce, we were greeted by humpback whales and their calves playing in the millpond-like water. Honestly, I’ll never forget it.


Dawn in Costa Rica

Where’s your favourite spot in the country?

Every visit to Costa Rica is enriched for me by popping in to see my friends at the Caribbean Sloth Sanctuary, Selvatura Park – the perfect location to study rescued sloths up close.

On you’re visit, you get to observe all the rescued sloths as they roam among the trees and foliage of the sanctuary. Selvatura Park supports education and promotes environmental conservation, as sadly, these beautiful mammals arrived at the sanctuary having been rescued from the effects of poaching, habitat destruction, illness, and accidents, among other reasons that now prevent them from being reintroduced to their natural habitat.

Anyone who knows me, will know that sloths are without doubt my favourite animal. I have sloth mugs, teatowels, cushions…. you name it.

I challenge you not to fall in love after visiting!


Tell us something people don’t know about Costa Rica…

Although best known for its tropical rainforests, miles of sandy beaches, and stunning variety of exotic wildlife, Costa Rica is also a richly cultural country.

With many historic and artistic influences, the culture of Costa Rica has been heavily influenced by Spain but has a rich history of its own.

One of the world’s oldest democracies, Costa Rica was inhabited largely by Mesoamerican and Andean people until the Spanish colonised it in the 18th century. This blend of native culture and European influence is evident today, from the architecture in San Jose to the art in the capital’s many galleries.

Traditional music in Costa Rica was largely shaped by the Mayan cultures of Nicaragua, the country’s neighbour to the north. Deriving further influence from the Afro-Caribbean cultures of the East, Costa Rican music has grown and changed, taking on a unique sound and cultural history.

Dawn Costa Rica adventures


Tell us more about Peru…

What makes it special?

Peru is South America at its most iconic: with breath-taking landscapes from the Andes to the Amazon, colourful indigenous markets, colonial cities, vestiges of ancient civilisations and, of course, the mighty Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.

Despite being a country known for its active pursuits, the majority of Peru’s attractions are remarkably accessible, meaning that travellers of all ages and fitness levels can enjoy the delights on offer here.

Machu Picchu, for example, can be reached by a scenic train journey through a pristine mountain valley if trekking the Inca Trail does not appeal, and there are some other superb rail journeys to be enjoyed across the country.

Compact colonial cities such as Arequipa and Cusco can be easily explored on foot, and you can marvel at magnificent architecture, the Andean peaks, or simply watch the world go by in elegant pavement cafes.

You’ve even got the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest, ready and waiting to be explored.



What’s a stand-out memory from your time there?

This has got to be my visit to the stunningly beautiful Colca Canyon. It was such an early pick-up, and I was rather chilly until we reached the Condor’s Cross, a dramatic lookout point over one of the deepest sections of the vast canyon.

The journey was spectacular, but I was not prepared to witness the magnificent condors with wing spans up to three metres flying on the morning thermals.

It was a majestic spot and I felt so teeny tiny perched on the edge.



Where’s your favourite place to visit in Peru?

Crossing the waters of Lake Titicaca by boat to the unique floating “islands” of the Uros is always a step back in time.

The Uros are an ancient culture that lives on these artificial islands built on a base of reeds growing in the lake itself.

It’s the perfect place to take in the ancient traditions of the local people and explore Amantani Island. This island is inhabited by Quechua-speaking natives still governed by their ancient traditions, whose main occupation is the production of ceramics and textiles.

I hugely recommend factoring in an overnight stay at the house of a local islander to enjoy the hospitality of a typical Amantani home. This really is a treat and such a brilliant opportunity to get a real, authentic taste of what life on Amantani Island is really like.



Tell us more about Ecuador…


What makes it special?

I might be biased, but Ecuador really is one of the most enriching travel destinations in the world.

Often overlooked by visitors for its more famous neighbours in South America, colourful Ecuador is as diverse as it is fascinating. Similar in size to Germany, it might be relatively tiny by South American standards, but don’t let that fool you. It’s brimming with wonderful sites and contrasts.

Pretty colonial towns nestled on the doorstep of astoundingly biodiverse rainforests and dramatic landscapes.

It’s also the gateway to another place very close to my heart: The Galapagos Islands! If you’re visiting Ecuador, you simply must spend some time exploring the unique, otherworldly and wildlife-packed islands of the Galapagos.


Ecuadorian Amazon


What’s your favourite memory from your Ecuador adventures?

This has got to be my time spent in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Staring in the town of Coca (a fairly uninspiring gateway to the astonishing biodiversity in the Ecuadorian Amazon) I took a motorised canoe and headed down the magnificent Rio Napo.

As we travelled deeper into the Yasuni National Park and Amazon basin, I remember continually reminding myself of how lucky I was to be visiting such a special place.

The Ecuadorian Amazon is home to indigenous populations as well as over 300 species of mammals, more than 350 types of reptiles, and over 800 species of fish. Deep within the forest, I witnessed lurking caiman, playful river otters, howler monkeys, and the elusive jaguar, along with a huge array of birds, including toucans, macaws, and tanagers. It was simply spectacular.


Where is your favourite spot in Ecuador?

The lesser-known city of Loja is one of Ecuador’s oldest cities and sits within the southern Cuxibamba valley.

Loja doesn’t often feature on visitor itineraries, perhaps because the city does not quite match the standards of beauty found in Cuenca to the north. However, sections of Loja are really beautiful and there are plenty of examples of traditional colonial architecture and pretty plazas to explore.

I always feel like I have the city to myself, away from the crowds. And we love getting you off-the-beaten-track when you visit a country!

What’s more, the region surrounding Loja is renowned for its coffee plantations, so it’s a must for coffee lovers too!



Tell us more about the Galapagos Islands…


Why do you love them so much?

I’m with Charles Darwin. His theory of natural selection, along with tales of swooping blue-footed boobies, lumbering giant tortoises and bobbing marine iguanas have all contributed to the Galapagos Islands’ status as one of the most prized wildlife-watching destinations in the world.

Even with sky-high expectations, the first-time visitor to the Galapagos is never a disappointment; it’s almost impossible to anticipate what awaits before experiencing it for yourself, with your own eyes.

Located more than 600 miles from the coast of Ecuador, each of the 13 remote volcanic islands has its own unique landscape. Moon-like lava formations, lush highlands, tropical beaches and cactus forests are home to an abundance of often endemic creatures.

What’s more, the wildlife here appears to be almost fearless. Simply stand and watch as they inquisitively approach you rather than the other way around. Time spent on the Galapagos Islands will gift you some of the closest animal encounters possible with nature.


Dawn Galapagos

Tell us about your stand-out Galapagos memory?

Without a doubt, seeing the magnificent giant tortoises in the wild.

The highlands of Santa Cruz are one of the best places to see these incredible creatures in the wild. South of Santa Rosa is El Chato Tortoise Reserve, where I was able to see them in their natural habitat for the first time.

These virtually catatonic, prehistoric-looking beasts extend their accordion-like necks to feed, it’s such an impressive sight. It was almost surreal, they were so large, peaceful and playful. A memory cherished.



Where is your favourite place to visit in the Galapagos?

A must if you are going to these remarkable islands would be a stop at the Charles Darwin Research Station, located in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island.

In 1964, the scientists used the station as a base for their research on the Galapagos Islands. Their mission has always been to tackle the greatest threats and challenges to the Galapagos through scientific research and conservation action. They’re working to safeguard one of the world’s most important natural treasures.

For decades, it has worked on conservation, restoration, and sustainable development projects to ensure that the archipelago is well-managed. A visit here makes you feel a part of this really special place and the work done to protect it. it’s not to be missed.



Dawn and the rest of our travel-loving team are at the end of the phone ready to talk holidays. We love nothing more than chatting to you, listening to what’s important to you, and then designing the perfect tailormade adventure to match. Give us a call on 01242 253 073 or request a quick, free quote to get the ball rolling on your next holiday today. We’ll be so happy to help!




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