Machu Picchu is unfortunately canceled – and as it's the main reason that people come on this trip that's only slightly devastating. I understand – roads are inaccessible, act of god, be thankful I wasn't killed as a few people were in the floods – but that's really all this trip is. So now, instead of a four day trek, and a day at Machu Picchu, and to days in Cuzco I now have seven days in Cuzco. Seven days in a small overly tourist city. An overly tourist city that people only go to to access Machu Picchu. I have terrible thoughts of this being like a week in Siem Reap with nothing at all to do. Well, I have my books. I'm oh so glad I have paid for a guide, and all that to get out here and spend a week in a town.
Not only that, but a number of meals were supposed to be covered on the trek – meals which will now have to be paid from our own pockets.
It's true – GAP is refunding 400USD (in theory) because the site is closed. But honestly, is that anything more than insulting? I'll take my money – but please Gap Adventures, understand that people may have paid thousands to fly here and 1300USD for the trip itself, 400USD doesn't seem like a lot to get back. Not when the only reason anyone would ever take this trip is to see that site.
It's like going to see a Mike Tyson fight, and having the fight be canceled. “But you still got to see the opening fights,” you may be told. Right. That's enough to make up for it. Especially if you flew around the world to get to the venue.
At the least, the very very least Gap Adventures, you should cover all meals associated with this trip. Perhaps you may even improve the accommodations (not that that's even an issue for me – as I see a hotel/hostel/camp site as a place to sleep, not a place to hang out). Perhaps you could even go so far as to offer 50% off of a return trip at a later time (most people probably wouldn't use this anyway).
I understand that this is not your fault. And I understand that you are covered by indicating that things don't change, and that you don't even have to offer the 400USD to us. But, you are supposed to be a company that cares, that puts the traveller first, and that is a different kind of company. Sometimes it's worth taking a financial hit so that people will talk about how great you are, how well you performed in these hard times, and how they'd love to travel with you again knowing that if there's a problem, yo, you'll solve it (check out the hook as my DJ revolves it.) But you have not.
Luckily for you (also, making it even easier and less financially constraining to offer these things) there are not many people who are affected. Just myself, a couple from Vancouver, and two guys from England. And the two guys from England look like they may bail on this trip anyway.
Gap, I shake my finger at you, and question if you are such a different company, why no greater effort to take care of your patrons? There are lots of things that could be done. The 400USD refund is cute, but there are so many little things that you could do as well. Honestly, even something as small as covering meals for travellers could go a long way, and in this part of the world that would hardly be ten dollars a day – 150USD (sorry, if we're being truthful 130USD) per person. Is that really going to bankrupt your company? Probably not. It's the little things that make all the difference, and it seems that that's been forgotten.
I'm sure I'll have much more time to think on it while I spend my week hanging out in a hotel in Cuzco, Peru.
I would like to state in closing that I do like GAP Adventures quite a lot. My Africa trip was fantastic, and I have no doubt this will be a great experience as well. I would even go so far as to recommend GAP to anyone looking to take a packaged tour. Just because one issue wasn't handled as well as could be doesn't mean anything. Gap is an excellent company offering a wide number of fantastic tours. And I'll probably be travelling with them in years to come. Like everything in this world, they can't be perfect all the time.
[Edit: Information about the refund was emailed to me by Gap Adventures-
"If Machu Pichhu, The Inca Trail or The Lares Trek is inaccessible at the time the tour is scheduled to travel there, travellers have the option of staying in Cusco for the time that would otherwise have been dedicated to visit Machu Pichhu, The Inca Trail or the Lares Trek and receive accommodation provided by Gap Adventures. A refund of USD$400 per person will be provided for the lost time."
If you are having the same problems I suggest you contact them.]