Guest writer Mauricio, a Travel Agent from Australia travelled on his first group tour to South America in 2019 and shares why it might be the right way to travel for you.
Over Christmas 2019 I travelled with Journey Latin America on the Nandu: Peaks and Plains of Patagonia tour which was my first group tour in South America and it was amazing.
Our 3-week tour started in Santiago for a few days. Then, we flew to the lakes district and visited Pucón, Puerto Varas and Chiloé. From there we continue south towards southern Patagonia and explored Torres del Paine, El Calafate and Ushuaia. After Ushuaia, the tour continued north with a flight to Buenos Aires where the tour finished after a few days in the elegant city.
Every morning we had breakfast included and then off to an adventure. I was happy to know the itinerary wasn’t rushed as we had enough time to experience each place. The itinerary was quite comprehensive, so we always had something to do. After each excursion we would have time to ourselves in the late afternoon/early evening to rest and go for dinner or drinks.
South America is a big continent and travelling through different countries sometimes can be a bit overwhelming. There are different languages or accents, currencies, food, costumes and so many forms of transportation. Sometimes it’s nice to just lay back and enjoy the journey with the assistance of a group leader that can connect all the dots.
Journey Latin America works with small group tours of max 20 people which is small enough to get to know everyone and enjoy group activities without having to wait on large groups of people. The tour leaders that work with Journey Latin America are extremely knowledgeable and experienced in the areas the company operates. Our tour went on without any major problems and any hiccups were quickly fixed by our group leader.
But why book with Journey Latin America when there are so many other group tour operators out there? And even more so, why book a group tour at all when you can perhaps book your itinerary in bits and pieces online?
Journey Latin America has been around since 1980s selling holidays to Latin America. Their tour leaders are English-speaking guides who have lived, worked and/or travelled extensively throughout Latin America. This way you are ensured to get the best knowledge and assistance throughout your trip. Journey Latin America is of course a fully bonded tour operator, registered with ATOL, ABTA and AITO. For some extra peace of mind, they have 24/7 emergency contact to their headquarters beside the 24/7 assistance from your tour leader.
If you haven’t been to South America and don’t have friends or family to take you around, then I would suggest booking a group tour to make the most of your holiday. Even more so, if you are a solo traveller I would recommend that a group tour is a great option. With Journey Latin America you can avoid the classic “single supplement” by sharing a room with another group member of the same gender. If you still prefer your own room, then a small single supplement would apply. Whether as a solo traveller or not, you will still enjoy the company of like-minded people in beautiful destinations.
I found that having a group leader throughout the tour made us feel safe in each new destination. They were also able to provide us with great insider knowledge on each location. For example, one day we were supposed to explore a volcano when the tour leader made a few phone calls to local contacts and decided, due to weather and crowds, we would do a different hike first and see the volcano later. Anyone who booked this day trip by themselves wouldn’t have known this without the local contacts and knowledge of the area, so we were very happy about how the activities of day developed. This also shows how the tour leader has the flexibility to change things around to provide the best experience.
Hopefully this blog provided some motivation to take the first step towards a great adventure! Thanks for reading!