There’s always been this debate of whether going on a scheduled tour is the best way to travel. I’ve heard the arguments – and after years of doing bus tours with my parents, I know firsthand some of the pros and cons. As with anything, it’s all a matter of perspective. Traveling is very individual and dependent on one’s needs and wants during their vacation.
For our family trip this past summer to Peru, my parents decided to join a tour. Although we signed up with a Chinese tour agency in Toronto – we were warned that we would not be able to get a Chinese-speaking guide. This factor may be important for individuals like my father who would prefer a guide who speaks his mother-tongue, but it wasn’t a big factor for the family as a whole.
The way it worked on this particular tour was that we were actually signed up, along with another older couple, through Tour East Holidays. But when we got to Peru, it was clear that we were going to be guided by Condor Travel, a specialized travel agency for Central America and South America. We had different guides that transported us to locations and specialized guides for particular landmarks or city tours. It was a 9-day tour, taking into account the day of travel to Peru.
The following lists are for traveling in Peru with Condor Travel based on my personal experience with them.
- Having someone else figure out the tickets and transportation between places was less of a burden
- All the Condor Travel employees that we had contact with were very friendly and helpful
- The specialized guides were so knowledgeable that I learned so much about Peru, its history and culture; I particularly loved learning about Machu Picchu
- Having such a small group – 6 of us in total – made it almost like a private tour
- We were given choices at times for the things we wanted to do – whether we wanted to hike a certain part or do a certain attraction
- Spanish is not a language we speak – and being on a tour with English-speaking guides is an easier way to communicate with people in the country at times; though I did find that many people could understand English
- Compared to other tours I’ve been on, I quite enjoyed the restaurants that they brought us too; more local cuisine and establishments, unlike the typical Chinese restaurants and buffets that Chinese tour agencies always brings you to
- Having so many different guides made it hard for us to figure out what we were to do next or who was going to be getting/meeting us
- A lack of coordination at times between the guides
- We had an incident with a hotel where a dinner was on the itinerary but the hotel had no record of it. There was a lot of back and forth between the travel agency and the hotel to resolve this
- Having to wake up early during certain days – though this is to be expected since you want to make the most of your days
Go for it! For the more adventurous travelers (probably those who are not traveling with their parents), doing the Inca trail or just doing Machu Picchu can be so much fun. But if you like to take things a little more easier, then I do believe that Condor Travel is a great choice to go with. Tours can be quite nice – you have less to worry about and are still able to enjoy the main sights. For us, our priority was Machu Picchu and we had the most amazing, thorough, friendly, and awesome guide for that part of the trip — thanks, Jacqueline!