What a Fantastic journey! We went to Jemez Pueblo for their corn dance. Dan Gibson and Mark Swazo gave an informational tour of Valles Caldera National Monument, historic and comprehensive with humor and fascinating background, plus photo shoot opportunities. After a visit to a sculptor's studio above Jemez Springs we arrived at Jemez Pueblo and were welcomed to a native feast in a pueblo home, we felt like family! You must do a cultural adventure excursion with Southwest Odyssey Tours if you come to Santa Fe! Take the tour with Mark and Dan to have your own amazing adventure. It will truly be the highlight of your trip!
FABULOUS! Wow, what a fantastic day we had with Mark Swazo and Peter Hughes. It was an excursion like no other we had ever experienced. From the time these two men picked us up from our hotel we had non-stop running narratives of pueblo culture and arts. We experienced petroglyphs scribed by human hands hundreds to thousands of years ago, toured Carson National Forest, walked the bridge over the Rio Grande Gorge, tasted magnificent hot Fry Bread in the Pueblos, enjoyed an excellent lunch in Taos, and took a peek into Earthships.
The entire tour was not only fun, highly entertaining, but extremely informative. Mark and Peter set the pace for the day but we never felt rushed or on a tight schedule even though we had a tremendous amount of area to cover. Mark and Peter were able to share and show us so many fascinating sites of the culture of the Ancient People and the arts of Northern New Mexico. Because of Mark's Indian Heritage, he was able to provide us with an up close and very personable experience with many of the Pueblo people. By the end of the day we had come to conclusion that there is not anyone in the Santa Fe area that does not know Mark or Pete.
These men are not the typical tour company guides. We not only gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from them, but we gained two new friends! Thanks to the both of you for our memorable experience!
Thank you! My wife and I recently took a private tour and its was an amazing day. We had to adjust the morning of the tour due to snow so we did wonder what we missed. But what we saw was still really cool. Our tour guide Mark Swazo-Hinds took us all over NM. We went to indian villages, saw amazing art and also beautiful scenery. Mark had really great stories and kept the vibe up for the whole 7 ish hours. We were able to get the personal treatment you can not get from a big group tour.
I want to thank Mark Swazo and Dan Gibson for the wonderful Southwest Odyssey day excursion in the Jemez mountains. I have lived in Santa Fe for years and they showed me places and ecosystems that I did not know existed in New Mexico. Mark is a Native American artist and he generously shared with us his story and his vast knowledge of the region and connections to give us access to experiences not commonly available. We learned about the history and geology of the Valles Grande Caldera area, visited hot springs then dropped by Chippewa sculptor Rollie Grandbois' studio in Jemez Springs. Next, before being guests at the Corn Dance at Jemez Pueblo we were warmly welcomed to a traditional Pueblo feast at the home of renowned Jemez Pueblo artist Estelle Loretto, where I enjoyed my very first Jemez Enchilada...incredible!
These were not the typical staged tourist events and would not have been available without their connections
and the generosity of their many friends. My thanks to all of you. Mark and Dan grew up in Northern New
Mexico so they gave us a lot of local color. They are extremely professional, fun and easy going. Call them for
an unforgettable experience!
Excellent and worth every dime!!! Today I went on the Northern New Mexico excursion facilitated by Mark Swazo Hinds. The trip was fabulous! We started out by stopping to see Indian pottery, paintings and sculpture just north of Santa Fe. Mark seemed to know most of the artists personally which brought the work to life and added to my understanding of the artists and their culture. We journeyed toward Abiquiu. On the way through one of the small villages we stopped along side the road to see ancient petroglyphs. I cannot remember the exact order of events but hawks flying overhead, huge colorful land formations, the rio grande, many photo opportunities ..... In Abiquiu; seeing where Georgia O'Keefe lived and what inspired her, walking into their
oldest church, visiting the local general store and talking with locals, eating their apples.
Mark was relaxed, flexible and talkative. He slowed down by an old cemetery when he sensed our interest in it. Took us to see and wander about the old log cabin used in the film City Slickers. Identified many of the flora and fauna of the area for us upon request. A highlight for me was being able to walk into a natural amphitheater with our group and to hear Mark creating echos for us from down below. This seemed to add another dimension to our experience! The best came last. After a jaunt through Carson National forest and lunch in a very local diner in El Rito, NM we were taken to Ojo Caliente to soak in the natural arsenic and iron mineral baths. There was nothing left to do but ride contentedly back to Santa Fe. In fact it felt like we were all on an adventure together rather than a canned tour. We even got a taste of what it must be like to be a local when at a traffic light on the byway, a car beeped and rolled down their window to greet Mark. I highly recommend seeing Northern New Mexico with Southwest Odyssey Tours and through the eyes of Mark Swazo Hinds.
“I had a lovely time on my trip! I want to thank you again, Pete, for the great tour and insiders’ look you showed me of the magnificent Southwest. I so enjoyed seeing the ruins and landscapes of Canyon de Chelly, Chaco Canyon, AND the petroglyphs outside Winslow (!). Thank you for sending on Brantley’s greetings. Yes, I remember him too. Quite a character and definitely so interesting with all his experiences and background. I also enjoyed seeing all the wide open spaces along the roads we took, the spectacular rock formations and geology, our outdoor picnics, discussing the remarkable history of the peoples, and the hotels you picked, especially La Posada in Winslow and the El Rancho in Gallup.
I did enjoy my stay in Santa Fe. Thank you again for having Swazo pick me up at the Lamy Amtrak station. He is a very knowledgeable man and took me to Las Palomas on the scenic route plus for a tour around the streets of Santa Fe, pointing out restaurants and galleries and scenic streets and history. Santa Fe is such an enchanting place with all it’s adobe architecture! Las Palomas is a wonderful hotel and I enjoyed my adobe cottage with stone floor, vigas and latillos and made a fire every night in my kiva fireplace. We did a one-day trip to Taos and also spent a morning on a walking tour around downtown, but otherwise spent my time viewing museums, shopping, wandering around town and eating New Mexican food.
Wow, I really did enjoy our trip together and learned so much and saw so many sites. I really appreciated your knowledge of the land and traditions and history and archaeology. When I think back, I learned so much and saw so much in such a short time. You really gave me a wonderful tour! I still remember many of the gorgeous ruins and landscapes we saw as well as the beautiful lodges, the one in the Painted Desert (I can’t remember all the names right off the top of my head, but I can see the images right in front of me). I really had so little knowledge of the Southwest and the ancient peoples before our trip. It was eye-opening for me. And also all that driving in the middle of nowhere to get to Chaco Canyon. Seeing the beautiful Canyon de Chelly early in the day and hiking down to the bottom and meeting that native woman and her family and driving around with her and seeing those petroglyphs. Crossing the continental divide (twice!), standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. Lots of good memories! You are a great guide and I had a super time!
Last year I also went to the Alps. 5 countries all around the Alps (Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy). The culture, no matter which country, was very similar: window boxes with geraniums, great reverence for cows (and cheese and milk), and most spoke German no matter what country. Also went to Holland and Belgium. Very interesting too. Very flat. Amazing how the Dutch became a superpower of the time with no natural resources of their own and no aristocracy. Belgium and Holland were the only countries not to get The Plague. That was because they drank beer for water (instead of wine). Beer is good for you! In a month I’m getting ready to go to Bulgaria. I am looking forward to this old country that has been run over by everybody due to it’s strategic location between the Black Sea and the Adriatic and the Alps: the Greeks, Venetians, Romans, Huns, Celts, Turks, Austrians, Russians. So it must be a great place. Looking forward to going!
Wishing you and your family the very best, and much success!”
Testimonials - Tucson, Arizona Custom Day Excursion:
“Well worth it! On a recent visit to Tucson, Patrick, Concierge at the Hacienda del Sol, recommended Southwest Odyssey as a tour operator. At first I was surprised by the rates, which were far more than your average Grayline Tour, but soon discovered this was not your typical day tour.
Peter Hughes came highly recommended and I will share with you why he made this tour one to remember. The tour was customized for me and we set off from the resort at 7 am for a full day of activity. Peter was well
prepared for the Arizona Desert, packing his vehicle with lots of water, fruit, granola bars, first aid kit, hats, walking sticks, etc. He thought of everything! Moreover he checked my water bottle every half hour to ensure I was hydrated. We drove down to Tombstone (my choice) and then took the scenic route on our return through Sonoita, Patagonia and wineries and other scenic byways that I had no idea existed. His knowledge of the flora and fauna helped me understand and appreciate the changing landscape of the Sonoran Desert. I wanted to spend time at the University of Arizona and coincidentally Peter had in depth knowledge of the University due to his expertise in architecture and photography. We had a picnic with the U of A stadium in the
background. Next we went off to the Desert Museum where I enjoyed the animals, hummingbirds and desert landscape all in bloom. It was a wonderful day and great way to explore Southern Arizona.
With expeditions in New Mexico and Honduras and other Latin American destinations to his credit, Peter Hughes and Southwest Odyssey Tours is highly recommended!”
Testimonials - Tucson, Arizona Geo-Photographic Adventures:
"Over the past five years, I have had the pleasure having Southwest Odyssey Tours' Peter Hughes put together weekends of photographic workshops in the Tucson area. Due to my own work schedule, I could only work with Peter on certain weekends. So Peter was more than happy to put together a lengthy list of places where we could work on photography. This was not just places to go and snap photos, but was basically instructional in nature. We have visited several places within the Saguaro National Park, mountain ranges in the Tucson area, as well as city and religious venues, with a variety of snow, rain, and hot sun.
Peter not only knows the area extremely well, but knows the time and season to be there! And, he knows photography! He is always willing to share his ideas on composition, lens choices, or gear. He will point things out in the field that perhaps I have forgotten about, or, just not noticed. He will go the extra distance and give image reviews and critiques, and point out how to make images better during the next field session.
He is also completely open to what the client would like to do when in the field. For example, he will make a schedule for sunrise and sunset, moonrise, flower blooms, or what have you. If you want to photograph it, and it is in the area served by Southwest Odyssey Tours, all you have to do is sign up and ask. Peter Hughes will make
I am extremely happy with my weekends spent with Peter in the field and look forward to continuing my desert photography journeys with Southwest Odyssey Tours. I especially look forward to longer field trips and further away from Tucson.”
Testimonials - Central America and The Original “Maya Odyssey Tour”:
“I can honestly tell you this was one of the finest history-archaeology tours I´ve ever experienced. The itinerary was an ideal mix of the “must see” sites and additional special sites, several of which we could not have reached without the 4x4. The lodging choices were absolutely wonderful, from the luxurious Marina Copán to the thatched tree house at Hacienda Tijax and the rustic cabins at Clarissa Falls. Every meal was a wonderful experience as we were treated to gourmet-quality renditions of traditional local dishes served with obvious pride and delight at our enjoyment. The real secret to the success of the Maya Odyssey is host and guide Peter Hughes. His enthusiasm, flexibility, local knowledge (especially of the more remote sites), dedication to archaeological and natural preservation, and his easygoing friendship with people all along the route made this trip a real joy. I would- and have- recommend this tour to anyone who views travel as an opportunity to be challenged and stimulated by history and cultural experiences.”
"It was a great trip leaving many splendid memories. Peter has done an excellent job of plotting a comprehensive tour and his enthusiasm shows. Peter has the perfect personality for a tour guide. He is invariably positive and unflappable. He has made himself knowledgeable across a broad range of social, historical, natural & archaeological topics and shares his knowledge readily. Most importantly, he is tuned into his clients, anticipating their needs in an unobtrusive way. He keeps his vehicles clean and his clients well cared for. He really stretches himself to deliver all that is promised. I watched Peter as he dealt with the various guards and functionaries along the way. He has a warm and personal approach that leaves them smiling. I am sure that if he ever needs help along the way there will be few who won't be delighted to respond. I was fully pleased and recommend the Maya Odyssey unreservedly. It is a very good value.”
"Dear Peter, We would like to thank you for the wonderful trip we took with you last month. The trip exceeded our expectations, especially the side trip to Naj Tunich and the wealth of information that we learned about the Maya. The trip was made even better by our getting to know you and exchanging ideas on politics, food, utility vehicles, mules vs. horses and cigars, as well as travel notes. We had a great time! Be sure to let us know when you expand into Mexico. We would like to take that trip with you, even if it involves mules. (Correction: Ruth says no more mules but she speaks for herself. She also complains that she gained 2 pounds, even with all the exercise.)"
"I've been back from my Maya Odyssey trip for just over a week but my head is still swirling in Central America! Though the trip lasted only 9 days, I saw and learned so much that I feel as though I was away for several weeks. Peter Hughes is incredibly well informed and well travelled in the region. It is clear that he has developed an extensive amount of knowledge during the years he has lived there. I felt completely safe and well attended to. The trip he designed is rich in ancient culture as well as exposure to modern Latin American culture. Because we were a small group, we had very individualized attention and had the ability to make some changes along the way when possible. The trip is an adventurous one! I am happy I went. I was fascinated by the things I saw and all that I learned. For my own personal reasons, I actually returned home feeling a bit changed by my experience!"
"As advertised, the tour was an adventure unlike any I have experienced before. Peter speaks excellent Spanish and is extremely knowledgeable about the Maya culture. He was able to answer nearly every informational question we presented. We were taken to see extremely well known and relatively unknown archaeological sites, and got a feeling for the lives of the contemporary Maya. The travel experience on the road was quite adventuresome and the accommodations were all quite interesting and clean. The trip was an unforgettable adventure."
"The journey fulfilled our expectations. As a guide Peter proved to be congenial, knowledgeable & super patient. While it was great to see the major sites, the true strength of the Maya Odyssey was the chance to see many of the lesser sites by-passed by more traditional tour companies. The exposure to a present-day culture of friendly people and beautiful scenery was an adventure in itself. We wish we could have prolonged the trip for several more days. Our sincere thanks for a wonderful experience"