G Adventures review08 April 2013
After a year on the road behind the wheel of an over-sized hot dog, I needed a break. A break from the constant stream of predictable questions, the regular following of inquisitive onlookers, and the limited ability to separate from the billboard on wheels. Despite having the thrill of a lifetime crisscrossing the country on a paid road trip, I exhausted myself somewhere along Route 66.
I finished my last days on the job with imaginations of jetting off to Peru, excitement radiating from every inch of me as I dreamed up this exploratory bucket list trip. But after an entire year adjoined to two coworkers I came to know almost as well as myself, I had reservations about traveling alone. It was as foreign to me as Peru itself. After a few Google searches and some help from STA travel, I elected to travel with a group. And just days before departing, a childhood friend reluctantly joined me for a spontaneous getaway.
Group travel isn't something I'd dabbled in before teaming up with a small group tour company in June. In my previous group travel experiences, I've learned it's often a lot more like corralling cattle than enjoying an adventure. I was such a skeptic! My doubts were high, so I left it to travel forums to make up my mind on traveling with G Adventures or touring with Intrepid. The reviews were—as expected—filled with former G Adventures and Intrepid goers detailing a prospective travelers' worst nightmares. I should have known. Most review forums are stacked with complaints. In the end, I considered those reviews but made a point to keep an open mind. And I'm glad I did because—again, as expected—my trip with G Adventures was nothing like theirs.
It wasn't perfect; I won't lie. But truthfully, I don't have many stories worth sharing that don't twist or turn with unforeseen challenges. That is, in part, what travel is all about! Without further adieu, I present to you a few thrills and fore warnings on traveling with G Adventures Machu Picchu Adventure tour. And yes, I would travel with G Adventures again.
- Immediately out of the gate, G Adventures failed to arrange our pre-paid pickup for us at the airport.
- They booked rooms for my friend and me (going on the same tour) at two different hotels for our first two nights in Lima. Thankfully, her hotel had space for both of us. It turned out that my reservation was incorrect, as all of the other travelers in our tour group were also staying at her hotel. Ultimately, G Adventures never let me know there was an itinerary change. I would've been on my own if it wasn't for traveling with a friend! It shouldn't have to come to this, but I suggest emailing G Adventures for confirmation before leaving. And don't print your documents until heading out the door.
- We checked in at 5 a.m. but we didn't booked a room for our evening arrival. To avoid this mistake, call the hotel (or email) to reserve a room for the night before you arrive. We needed the sleep!
- We made plenty of friends; the group had a wide range of travelers with different backgrounds, ages and agendas. There was a mom and daughter from Washington, a retired politico from Canada, a college girl-friend reunion, a solo male vacationer, a first-time female traveler, childhood best friends from Sweden, siblings and even a pair of honeymooners.
- Our guides were great storytellers, engaged our group, and provided alternatives to the pre-planned "schedule." (Note, the schedule is built fairly loosely and—of course—subject to change based on travel times.)
- Many of the tour stops mentioned in the itinerary were extremely brief, sometimes just a few minutes for photos or a five-minute shopping trip at markets. Time allowances may change based on travel time and group movement. This wasn't ideal, but it's part of the trade to squeeze in so many sites.
- Optional excursions made our trip better than we could've imagined. Look into them!
- Restaurants were often recommended based on your guide's relationships with the owners, which is common while traveling anywhere. Though, we were welcome to eat wherever we wanted.
- Hostels and hotels offered everything we needed and were centrally located (about 2-3 stars).
- G Adventures requires you carry only a day pack after Cusco. I suggest packing minimally from the get-go so you don't have to leave your belongings in locked storage in Cusco.