There are hundreds of tour companies out there, and many of them specialize in South America travel packages. How to choose from all those South America tour companies? Here’s a quick list of things to keep in mind when making your decision.
Why You Might Need a Tour Company
Even if you want to go solo, often times you need to book some travel arrangements through a tour company. For instance, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is highly regulated, and a guide is required. Also, in order to take a Galapagos Islands Cruise, you need to book your cruise or island-hopping adventure through a tour company. The travel industry on the islands is highly regulated by the government – did you know that all tour guides on the Galapagos must be native Ecuadorians? The same goes for cruises to Antarctica, Amazon River cruises, Amazon Jungle Lodges, and around Patagonia.
In other instances, a tour company may not be required, but their expertise might be highly valuable. If you take the trouble to visit Machu Picchu, for example, which is located in the remote cloud forest of Peru, you would be remiss to skip out on going with a guide. A Machu Picchu tour guide could explain the history and significance of the ruins, and show you all the hard-to-reach spots in this amazing city in the sky.
A reputable tour company will also be able to guide you in planning your itinerary, advising you when you are missing out on important places, or if you are trying to cram too many destinations into too short a vacation time frame. Booking with a South America tour company is especially smart if you are a first-timer to South America and don’t speak the local language. They will arrange professional tour guides who speak your language, and who can recommend great restaurants and shops.
Find Out What Others Say About Them
Before you book, look in travel guidebooks, online forums, and ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations of good South America tour companies. Oftentimes, you can do a quick search for the company you are considering on these websites:
Yelp.com (you need to know the city that the tour company is located in)
BBB.org (Better Business Bureau)
Get Familiar With the Tour Company
You can also research the tour company in question by requesting free promotional material from their website. Many South America tour companies offer free e-book downloads, catalogs, brochures. You also might want to sign up for their email newsletter, follow them on social media, or contact them directly. All of these actions will help you determine how professional and responsive they seem to be, while also allowing you to familiarize yourself with their travel packages.
Keep a file on your desktop with all the relevant brochures and material from each company you’re researching, or use an Excel spreadsheet to compare and contrast companies.
The tour company may also have client testimonials posted on their site. Browse these to see if they are relatively recent and seem like detailed accounts. Is there information about where they traveled to, their names, and where they are from? These are indicators of accurate testimonials.
Consider the Cost/Value Ratio
When you are comparing South America tour companies’ tours, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Are flights included or not? What kind of hotels are included? Many times, a tour company will offer a much lower price than another company, but the hotels are in a lower price category. Make sure you get what you pay for by doing your homework.
Give Them A Call!
One of the best ways to get a feel for how professional and responsive a South America tour company is to simply give them a call! Speak to a travel consultant about your travel plans, and see whether they seem to know what they are talking about. Can they answer your questions in detail? Do they seem interested in helping you plan your trip? A good travel consultant will be knowledgeable about your destination and will be genuinely interested in helping you.
Questions to Ask a Tour Company:
- How long have you been in business?
- What is the typical group size of a trip?
- What is included in the price of the trip?
- What type of hotels do you offer?
- Can I customize my trip?
- How do you choose your tour guides?
- Do you run your own tours or outsource to others?
- Do you offer trip insurance?
- What is your cancellation policy and refund policy?
Read more ideas about how to choose the right tour company on the travel blogger Nomadic Matt’s site.
SouthAmerica.travel is a South America tour company that specializes in 4* & 5* quality South America tours. We can customize any tour package to suit a traveler’s time frame and budget. Read more about our South America tour company here, or try out our fun trip planner tool & get a free quote on a customized trip itinerary.