Thanks for taking the time to review your holiday on the website. I'm glad that you had some very memorable experiences on the trip, but I'm sorry that you felt that there were several shortcomings at the same time. I've asked our local agents to provide some feedback on your comments, and would like to address the issues you have raised.
You have mentioned the standard of the hotels used, and I was surprised to read that you felt they fell below the expected standard. Our London staff and the local agents continually monitor the hotels on all of our Peru trips, and although on this particular trip we do not use the most luxurious hotels available (in order to offer the best price possible for a two-week holiday to Peru), we still expect all properties to be clean and comfortable. I have asked our local agents to assess the hotels and ensure that the rooms provided meet our usual standards. Our tour leaders are trained to ask all clients to report any problems with their rooms, and wherever possible they will try to arrange a change of rooms if you feel that the room you are given is not suitable or has any issues with cleanliness. Hot water can be a problem in Peru since the hotels are not always as advanced as those we are used to in Europe, and supplies of hot water can be somewhat limited. Most hotels, especially in the highlands, have extra blankets available for guests as central heating is not very common in Peru but nights can be very cold, particularly during the dry season.
I am unsure why you were advised that you would not get altitude sickness. Although the trip is designed to climb gradually into the highlands and incorporates some free days to aid acclimatisation, it is impossible to say that no-one will suffer the effects of going to the altitudes reached on the trip. Our leaders have excellent first aid training and can easily recognise the symptoms of altitude sickness, and there are facilities in most places visited on the itinerary to treat those who are suffering. We receive regular updates from the local agents if any clients do suffer and require treatment, and so I was surprised to see that we had not received any such reports in your case if you were suffering as you describe.
It's certainly true that the itinerary demands a lot of early starts and long drives, and that the roads can be quite windy in the highlands. The majority of roads are of a good standard, however, and all the drivers we use on our trips are fully registered with the Peruvian government to drive tourist vehicles, thereby offering the best security and safety for our clients while travelling.
With regard to the optional extras, prices continue to rise in Peru, and as you have noted the current exchange rate can make some of these activities more expensive than you may expect given the country's economic status. Peruvian law allows local companies to charge tourists higher rates than Peruvians would pay, and in many cases excursions and site entry fees are at a similar level to those in Europe and North America. The Nazca Lines overflight is definitely not recommended for anyone who suffers from motion sickness, but the tight turns are necessary in order to provide the best view of the lines, and this is something which can only be achieved in a light aeroplane. It is also possible to view the lines from specially constructed platforms, and I would suggest this option for anyone worried about the flight.
I am sorry that you felt the tour leader lacked enthusiasm during the trip. Arturo has led many trips for Exodus over the last 5 years and consistently receives very favourable reports from clients, and so I have asked the local agents to see if there were any circumstances before or during the trip which may have led to any lack of attention provided to the group. Whilst I appreciate that the group of students in the Colca Canyon must have caused annoyance and may have led to the condors being frightened away, it is unfortunately not the role of our tour leaders to control the behaviour of other groups. I imagine that the student group also had a tour leader, and it should have been their duty to manage the noise levels from that group.
I have checked through our records to see if we were notified of the fact that your money was stolen, and can see no reference to the theft. If this was highlighted to the tour leader at the time, then he would have provided you with assistance in order for you to make a full police report for your insurance claim. When stops are made for photos, the vehicles are either locked or a member of the local staff will remain with the bus for security reasons, but I would always advise that cash is not left unattended and should ideally be carried on your person at all times (in money belts or hidden pockets if possible), since opportunist petty crime can be a problem in many parts of Latin America.
Lastly, we use a variety of airlines for our Peruvian holidays, most often Continental, Iberia and KLM since they operate daily services to Lima. If you prefer not to fly on the group flights for any reason, then our sales staff should be able to offer alternative airlines for your trip, either at the same cost or for a supplement, subject to availability which can be quite limited during peak seasons. We can always arrange transfers in Lima if you are arriving on different flights.
Again, many thanks for posting your review - your feedback has been very useful and I am sorry that the holiday did not live up to your expectations. As you will see from the majority of reviews below, this trip, although our most reasonably-priced Peru holiday, generally gets very positive feedback from our clients. We always aim to provide the very best trips possible, and so I have asked our local agents to review your comments and see if there are any areas where we can improve the itinerary and accommodation without having a negative impact on the cost of the holiday.
Tim Fearn (trip manager)