I'm planning on going to South America, on my own, first time traveller, in September for about 5 months, starting in Buenos Aires and working my way up the west coast. I've come across some organised expeditions (e.g. GAP Adventures and Budget Expeditions) i.e. you join a group of people and go from say Rio to Lima with a guide, see all the sights etc. What I wanted to know was, is this a good idea? Have any of you done one of these before, and what did you think? Waste of money or good investment? Or can anyone recommend any other companies?
I did it once, and didn't like it. Independent travelling is more interesting; however, you will need to speak some spanish to do so successfully, or hook up with a travel buddy who does.
In general, the "complaints" about group travel like this are:
- You don't get to see anything off the "tourist" path, and therefore don't get a great idea of the true culture of a place
- You get sick of seeing the same people over and over and over again
- You don't save much money, as you can usually find cheap accomodation and transportation yourself.
- You don't have the ability to adapt your travel schedule along the way to do the things you want to do and see the things you want to see.
All that being said, I know of GAP Adventures and know people who have travelled with them, and everyone has spoken highly of them. So I would think of using them for short trips, or short parts of a trip (say using them to see the Galapagos or Antarctica as part of a larger independent trip through South America). For the reasons stated above, I wouldn't use them for a multi-month trip.
Lots of people go on group tours, some persons are just not "independent" travellers..a far better forum for you would be tripadvisor (dot com), a lot of the members stay in upscale lodgings, rent cars and go on guided tours, writing excellent reviews. However if you plan an independent journey you'll have a lot more fun, go at your own pace, all you require for a multi month journey is a travel companion who speaks or gets by in Spanish and is abloe to handle all the details....pay my airfare, food and lodging and I'll be your guide!!!!!!!!
I went on a walking holiday with a travel company. It was brilliant, the guide was great and luckily we had a nice small group (4 people). Although I really enjoyed it, it was only for 10 days but I wouldn't go on an organised trip for longer. I prefer being able to do my own thing. It just depends on what you personally think you would enjoy the most.
If you do decide to go with a travel company, I can't tell you about the longer trips, but the short one I did was with Guerba and I would definately reccomend them.
Idependent travel is the way to go. You have no restrictions and can do whatever you want whenever you want. Plus you meet more people. It might not be for everyone but I don't see any other way to go. Go Solo it is worth it, trust me.
Hi Liz, I always travelled as an independent except when i went to South America as I was going with my younger sister and was a bit worried about what can happen to her.
We did met some great people on the tour but the majority was pretty awful including the tour leader. My sister and myself were the only one who spoke spanish, even the tour leader could not say three words
The tour company we choosed was a famous one and not really cheap, we finished to write a letter of complaints as few others did and we even got some money back.
Trust me, put yourself to learn the basic of spanish and make your own way. You will meet people on the way for sure.
Personaly you wont see me on a tour again.
I lived in Brasil for many years and made already more than 30 trips in the forest (Pantanal and Amazon forest).
This trips are real expeditions more than 2000km away from Manaus.
Look at the pictures on my site: www.bloggen.be/erico
You will see that this expeditions are not luxurious.
We have the real contact with the forest and do what we want.
Each year I organise two of this expeditions and the members pay only their part of the expenses. That is the only way to organise these types of expeditions.
I would say that is not expensive, more or less 1800,- Euros all included: flies and taxes, hotels, guides, motors, gasoil, food and drank.
Finaly, the hole trip takes about four weeks.
For more informations, please contact me