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Trip Report MOTO - PERUVIAN TOURS - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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We took a 4 week trip to Peru in September/October 2013 and spent roughly 2 weeks with Moto-Peruvian. We combined the "Machu Picchu/Lake Titicaca" and the "North of Peru" tours, as well as two other tours from other agencies and time on our own. As others have noted, traveling with Moto-Peruvian was definitely a mixed bag, so I have divided this review into 3 sections:

THE GOOD

Throughout this trip we saw some incredible stuff. They engaged excellent local guides who were very knowledgeable about the area. Our principal goal was Machu Picchu and we were not disappointed. We had a private guided tour, so we pretty much saw everything in one day. Ditto for Sillustani. Other times we were put in a larger group; often a full tour bus, but the guides were all good. The only problem was sometimes we were in an "English only" group, and other times a mixed "English/Spanish" group. The "English only" tours were far better, as the guides in the mixed language tours jumped from language to language so quickly that you missed much of what was said. Many tours included lunch, which was always good, and often sufficient that we skipped many evening meals. Perhaps we could have arranged local tours in every location on our own, but we never would have found the "right" guides ourselves. We made the right choice to combine two Moto Peruvian tours, as the scheduling caused us to incur three extra hotel nights not included in the individual tours, which they added at no additional cost. The North of Peru was particularly interesting as it is the only part of the country never conquered by the Incas, so many of the pre-Incan relics are pretty much intact. Puno and Lake Titicaca are also "must-sees". Throughout the planning process Moto Peruvian was excellent to work with and they made many changes to accommodate us multiple times.

THE BAD

Be aware these are "unescorted" tours, which, having never done before, we did not appreciate the significance. What this means is that we were the only people following our itinerary; there was no "group" we were with. So, while they had planned everything, we were much more "on our own" than we were accustomed to, and, particularly when problems arose, there was no one else to help out. In addition, many specific problems increased our general anxiety and prevented us from ever feeling "warm and fuzzy" about anything:

1. Despite having been promised all documentation before we left home, we received absolutely nothing, even after several emails requesting same. When we boarded the plane in the US, all we had was an assurance that someone would be waiting for us in Lima. Which they were. But instead of receiving all our trip documentation and vouchers at that time, we only got a few things there, and an assurance that we would be picked up at the hotel at ___ time the next day. Then we received only airline tickets to the next city and another assurance that someone else meet us there. This pattern continued throughout; we never knew any specifics until a day or two before.

2. For reasons unknown, but presumably to save a few bucks, Moto-Peruvian did not make any reservations, purchase any tickets, or book any tours until just before we left. Some tickets at the end were not purchased until after we were already enroute. This was inexcusable, given that we paid 60% 4 months ahead, and the 40% balance 6 weeks ahead, and resulted in much confusion. They also made many last-minute changes; much to our detriment. We had 4 flights within Peru, and not one was at the time originally promised. Our first flight was changed from a sensible 9:30 AM departure to an insane 6:00 AM departure, resulting in having to leave the hotel at 3:45 AM and, of course, missing breakfast as well as most of the night's sleep. Several days before we left I contacted all the hotels to confirm our reservations. Several did not have any reservation, either because they had changed the hotel, or not yet made the booking.

THE UGLY

We had an internal Peru flight scheduled to arrive at 7:15 PM. It was changed to much later. When we arrived no one was there to meet us. After considerable time, someone from a different hotel came over, asked for our names, and said we were to go with him. We were extremely uncomfortable with this arrangement, but as it was now quite late we had no choice. It turned out that the hotel we had been promised was now a hotel/casino under a different name. Of course these events caused great confusion. While checking into the hotel, my carry-on bag was stolen, and the video surveillance tape showed that the hotel security guard had abetted the theft. The hotel did replace some, but not all of the items, and everybody assured us that everything would be "taken care of". After returning home I sent several emails to the hotel and to Moto Peruvian, but nothing was done. So I filed a credit card dispute for the amount of my loss. Initially Moto Peruvian agreed I was owed that amount and assured me they would work with the hotel to get it refunded to me. Nothing happened until over 3 months later when they or their bank responded to my credit card company. Moto Peruvian now claimed they had no liability, but agreed to refund just over a third of my dispute "as a courtesy". At that point the credit card company rolled over and played dead, and refused to do anything more until I filed a complaint with the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Board. This got the attention of top management and they agreed to refund the balance of my dispute, again, "as a courtesy", not admitting I had any rightful claim to anything. It appears that the credit card company did not collect the remainder of my dispute from Moto Peruvian, but refunded me that from their own pocket.

So the moral of all this is, yes, you MAY have a good experience traveling with Moto Peruvian. We certainly did enjoy the trip, even given all the hassles. But do expect to be "baited and switched", and to be subjected to maximum confusion throughout. Which is really unfortunate, as Moto Peruvian has excellent contacts in Peru and could be a really first class operation if they got their act together. And don't assume you have any real protection from your credit card company either; apparently there are different rules on international transactions that give consumers considerably fewer rights.

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