We were connected to this travel agent through Zicasso. We were clear in our expectation of a customized independent itinerary. He told us that he had considerable experience delivering exactly that and prepared our itinerary. In the end, we did not receive an independently curated trip, but found ourselves passed over from one local tourist agency to another and fitted into large group tours. The itinerary in no way reflected this, and in many of it’s descriptions was out-right false. Compared to our travels over the years throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, this trip was the most expensive and the most “tour-bus like”, and left us receiving the poorest value. We take full accountability for this miss – we should have asked many more questions and penetrated the vague responses we received from our travel agent (in spite of his insistence that all was good, and that we needed to lighten up, be more Latin, and go with the flow). I’m documenting this so others might make better decisions with their money, time and choice of supplier.
Some specifics…- The agents that met us at each location were unable to answer our questions about the logistics while we were in their location. We never fully understood what their point was. They simply provided us with vouchers for upcoming activities but could provide no details. We were to get a call each night on the next day’s activities. Sometimes we got the call which told us nothing but pick-up time, often we did not.- There was a constant struggle to understand any details for what the next day’s agenda would entail… what kind of outer-wear we would need, whether lunch was possible on the trip or we needed to bring one, whether we should carry water, what the timeline for the day would be, etc.. What information our itinerary provided was often-times wrong. This might seem like a small issue, but when faced, for example, with a difficult (22km distance, 800 meter climb,) 12 hour remote hiking day, and an itinerary incorrectly saying lunch was to be provided, it suddenly became a real problem.- I may be expecting too much here, given that we could not get information for the specific tours the agents represented, but there was so much local information that would have been immensely helpful that they must be aware of, but did not share. For example, in the town of El Chalten, restaurants do not accept anything but local cash (no credit cards) and there is only one ATM, located at the Tourist Info at one extreme end of town (which we stopped at when we first arrived… had we only known!). Sometimes we had to pay the national park entrance, sometimes not. This required considerable sums of local cash. Again, our itinerary provided outright false information on this. - We were more often than not put into large group tours. Waiting for a bus load of other travelers, moving from hotel to hotel picking up and dropping off, often running late, sometimes almost an hour. We could not sit together at times. What information was available was often focused on the Spanish speakers. We found ourselves being herded from one transport to another, with little to no understanding of what was coming when. Again, this was in no way presented as such in our itinerary.
Certainly, it was not all bad. We had some outstanding experiences…- Our expreience in BA, a collective group dinner creation with lots of wine, stories and ineraction was great. - When we did have a specialized, dedicated guide, it was a great experience. Huge shout out to our guides in Torres Del Paine, Tierra del Fuego, and for our BA tour. They were informative, fun, curious and completely engaged – no questions were too sensitive of off-limits. They provided wonderful cultural immersions. By the way, our Torres del Paine guide learned that we had no lunches (the itinerary wrongly talked in detail about the lunch that would be provided) and were about to embark on a demanding day long hike, he insisted on detouring to a location where we could get some basic provisions.- The kayaking tour in Torres del Paine was great. As I said, we should have better penetrated what we were getting and how everything would work. Shame on us. My hope is that others learn from our mistakes, and understand that even a well regarded agency and its representatives will have individuals who are not altogether professional and transparent.
TRAVEL COMPANY COMMENTS
I am very disappointed we did not meet your expectations for your trip to Argentina & Chile and as owner of this company, I sincerely apologise for that. As a custom tour we booked all your preferred Accommodation, transfers, guides, excursions, flights on your behalf at the different destinations you wished to visit.
We as a Destination Management Company, have a range of preferred local suppliers that provide each of the services you requested at each location. I believe there was a serious disconnect between what you thought you were going to be provided with and what you were provided with, and I do take responsibility for that. All services were provided on a “regular” basis, i.e. the daily excursions were taken as part of a group. I think you would have preferred a “private” service whereby it would be just you and your family and a guide. At the planning stage of the trip, I should have explained in greater detail the difference between the 2 levels of service. Patagonia as a destination is very remote and hard to get to. Private services are rare and logistically difficult. For instance, in the case of visiting Perito Moreno you are inevitable part of a group whilst taking a cruise on the lake or ice-hiking on the Glacier itself as part of a small group. I will endeavour to explain to our potential clients that most activities in Patagonia are taken as part of a group – regular basis (normally medium size max 25 or small size max 12 people) and the associated characteristics of this: different hotel pickups & drop-offs and sharing a bus/minivan.
I do apologise that you found local information lacking and will endeavour to incorporate more local information in our “before you travel” template such as ATMS, Park entrance fees, appropriate clothes for each day and where lunch can be got.
I am grateful that you have also identified that parts of the trips that were particularly enjoyable for you.I hope that despite the important points you have identified where we did not meet your expectations, you had an enjoyable & memorable family holiday. I will endeavour to correct the points you identified.
Each review is written by a verified traveler who was matched by Zicasso to the reviewed agency. Traveler must have purchased and traveled.
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