Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A 2nd Open Letter to GAP Adventres: Let's Still Be Friends, 'Kay?

Gap Adventures, thank you ever so much for the phone call, as I was sandboarding in the Peruvian deserts. Who would have thought? A phone call, just for me, in the middle of a very literal nowhere. It was as delightful and unexpected and receiving a handwritten letter in this day and age.

I'd just like to say, let's still be friends ok? As I wrote, I know the tour will still be good. There will still be lots to see. And your guides? They're always top notch! This is why I said that I'd still travel with GAP, and that I'd still recommend GAP. But it doesn't mean everything you do is perfect, nor will I agree with every choice. And I feel that I should write the good and the bad with tours, just like when I visit cities. Remember the floating marking in Bangkok? Skip it. No good. But that's just my opinion. That's just how I feel. Others may disagree.

It's nice to know every now and then you pop by my site when the company name is thrown down, which I assume is what led to the phone call making sure that all was well out here in the wonderful country of Peru.

Just as a reference I will post the original itinerary with the updated one so that those following along at home can see some changes.

Days one to seven are the same – 1. Lima, 2. Nazca, 3. Nazca, 4. Arequipa, 5. Arequipa, 6. Arequipa 7. Cusco

Day seven is where it changes. I'll mark #O for original and #R for revised.

8O Ollanataytambo
8R Cusco

9O trekking
9R trekking

10O trekking
10R trekking

11O trekking
11R Ollantaytamb o

12O trekking
12R Cusco

13O Machu Picchu
13R Cusco

14O Cusco
14R Cusco

15O – Fly out
15R – Fly out

You will notice that there are a number of more Cusco days in the revised. Now I'm willing to accept that maybe the February Trek is much shorter than the trek the rest of the year, and that those Cusco days would have always existed. It's possible.

Even still, when told on the phone that I was “only missing out on Machu Picchu” that almost made me giggle. But no, I did not. You see that would have allowed the blowing sands to enter my mouth, and the sand already on my face a chance to be sucked in through the laughter.

Again, you're a corporate entity, and I understand that you need to spin things, and by saying one is “only missing out on Machu Picchu” is an excellent way to spin it. It does make one pause and think, yeah, only one day out of a 15 day trip is altered. That's not so bad, is it?

It's like saying that Machu Picchu is just the cherry on top of the Sundae. But that's not entirely true is it?

Machu Picchu is a UNESCO world heritage site, it's one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, It is one of the most visited sites in Latin America; it is the most visited site in Peru. Cusco receives nearly one million tourists a year, and it's not to enjoy the historic capital as much as it is to make their way to Machu Picchu.

All spin aside, Machu Picchu is the sundae, and everything else is just topping.

Still – don't get me wrong, I'm left with the cherry and the chocolate sauce, and I would defy anyone to claim that a chocolate covered cherry is less than delicious. There is still more in this country, of course, but claiming that one is “only missing Machu Picchu,” well that's a bit of an understatement.

The words I've heard thrown around in response to this news are “gutted.” They are gutted to be missing out on the main reason that they signed up for this trip. They are gutted to not visit the one thing in Peru that makes the country stand out to travellers the world over.

I still have my chocolate covered cherry, and for that I'm greatful. But lets not kid ourselves. What I really came here for was the sundae.

And flights, tour costs, and other expenses considered this was a $4000.00 Sundae that I'll never have the chance, in my life, to taste. Yes, I'm left with a $3600.00 cherry – but somehow it doesn't leave quite as sweet a taste in my mouth.

And I know – you needn't have done even that. And I thank you for the monetary kick back we are to receive.

And while the trek is still a go, rather than thinking of the beautiful sunrise over the ancient city at the end of it, the tall drink of water at the end of a long dusty road, if you will, at the end of our two days of our hiking through the mud and rain and cold rather than receiving our drink, we'll simply be sent back to the beginning of the path, thirsty.

Once more I'd like to point out that I know that this was an act of god, if you will, and beyond all control. I know that there are worse things going on in the world right now – like the situation in Haiti that you are donating to – and that to you this may all seem small and insignificant.

But to me? This is my world. I don't live anyone else's life but my own. And for me? I'm gutted. Yes you do so much for the world at large, and you are a wonderful travel company, and I suggest people cancel their contiki vacations and pick up with you instead. But at the end of the day, right here, right now...

I'm still gutted.

I hope we can still be friends?

Sincerely Yours,
Michael Barltrop

feel free to contact me at oneyeartripblog@gmail.com


  1. Can I ask why you're doing a tour in the first place? That price is obscenely expensive compared to how much it would cost to do it yourself, and doing it yourself (with the help of a lonely planet) is exceptionally easy, and so easy to meet other people along the way too, I did pretty much the same route on my own last year and was never alone for even one day, for about a quarter of the price.

  2. That is what I keep wondering, why are you doing tours?

    I am in my third year of traveling, currently nesting in Bulgaria and I did a one day tour throughout traveling the middle east, turkey, greece, and Bulgaria.

    I followed itinerantlondoner through south america, from reading his blog and learning a person can do just about everything on their own. The LP is all a person needs.

    Everyone has their own style of travel, but dude, going solo, independent, and a little slower is much better, but maybe not for you, I don't know.


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