Q – My husband and I usually go on tours with Tauck. We have really enjoyed all our trips. This particular trip we are going on is to Peru. Our travel agent has set us up with Sita Tours. I am questioning them because my search has not showed that name at all. My search keeps coming up with Ambercrombie & Kent, Kensington.
Can you please let me know if we should be leaning torward A&K instead. (or someone else that you recommend) We are going to Peru(LIMA) and we want to go to Cuzco, Arequipa, Machu Picchu, (walk the 8 mile inca trail) and Valley of the Condor. The quote we are getting is $5,000 per person, plus internal airfare $610 per person (for flights Lima-Cuzco-Arequipa-Lima) Of course, insurance will be approx. $500 each for my husband & I.
As we have stated we have traveled with Tauck. You definitely pay for what you get. However, we are a concerned. My question is that first and foremost, we are not sure about this Sita tour. We cannot find any reviews on it. Should we look elsewhere? We are hoping you can give us any feedback as soon as possible. Thank you in advance for your recommendations to us for our Bucket List trip!!!
A – There are dozens of so-called “Worldwide” tour operators and SITA is one of them. They started out in 1933 in California doing student bicycle tours and were purchased by Roger Mahal an accomplished engineer from India in 1982. They have added many destinations since Roger took the helm but their primary strength remains travel to India where they are well-connected to the government and have won numerous awards. Your travel agent has recommended a well-regarded company with a long history of serving the needs of its clients. No fault there.
That said, we would not use SITA for travel within South America. Things can and do go wrong in South America and we prefer to work with top-tier firms in that part of the world who are truly connected on the ground. SITA would, however, offer better pricing than, say, an A&K, a Cox & Kings, or a top consortium On-Site office.
One of the key questions to ask when you see a company that claims to have worldwide tours is “Exactly where do you have fully-staffed on-site offices and full-time guides?” There are part sof the world where we would not recommend even the top-rated tour operators because they are just not equally good everywhere in the world. If you get seriously hurt while traveling, we want to be certain that the company in charge of your welfare is fully equipped to handle any emergency.
So our bottom line is that if you are seeking a moderately-priced experience, your travel agent’s recommendation strikes us as fine. SITA is a reputable company. But if you are seeking a more upscale and truly memorable experience, you might want to consider alternatives. We say this because you have mentioned several upscale firms in your question and you don’t seem to be fazed by the high likelihood of significant cost increases to “Do South America Right”. There are three continents where we strongly urge travelers to travel with the very best operators on the ground. South America is one of them.
Given your background with Tauck and your complete satisfaction, we would not take your money for any tour operator we feel may not be able to meet their standards. We have to wonder why this did not occur to your agent unless you indicated budgetary restrictions.