It became obvious after the past couple of arrangements for the Peru trip, that the country has an advertised tourist agenda on-line and attempting to divert from that goes initially ignored, or there’s just never any response. Arequipa was to be no exception.
Arequipa has some notable tourist attractions in the main city and two locations I just had to visit. Both the Juanita exhibit and the Santa Catalina Monastery are within walking distance of our hotel (La Casa de mi Abuela) and will be a perfect way to spend one of our days there. As we didn’t really have the luxury of spending more than a couple of days here, the usual tour of the Colca Canyon was bypassed, as it required a couple of days at least, to get a decent sightseeing tour. Something that caught my eye while checking out a few other websites, was a smaller day tour to a place known as the Sumbay Caves. The tour itself is the same across the websites with only the price differing so I’m assuming, the private tour is from the same operator. I tried to book through the hotel initially, just to see if we could get a better deal or at least a recommendation but the contact details they gave me, failed to respond for a few weeks, then when they did respond, the cost was almost double of what other operators were charging.
Scouring the net to find other operators for this tour, I eventually settled on Peru Adventures Tours who were only a few dollars more expensive than other guides. These were the first and only operators that didn’t give me a runaround with other options, so after checking Trip Advisor to see if there were any warning alarms about this particular group, I made the reservation.
I can only assume that the tour itself is not a frequent visit, which is why it’s a little difficult to book. I’m sure that I could have grabbed a guide when I arrived in the town and had a cheap private tour but this was something I wanted planned in advance. I can only hope that it’s an overlooked gem but nevertheless, it will be a great day out to see some Peruvian terrain, wildlife and volcanoes.
The reference earlier to the tourist agenda, was applicable to all the other operators I contacted, who sent me back a price for the itinerary from Lima to Arequipa and then a few days in the Colca Canyon, when all I asked for was a city tour and Sumbay Caves tour. This is despite my very straightforward Email, detailing the exact locations I wanted to visit. Even after responding with only wanting the Sumbay Caves, a couple of replies tried to re-price the Colca Canyon, without the transport from Lima. It can drive one a little crazy with the back-and-forth of the whole affair but I re-worded my Email, and made a list of places I didn’t want to see under the ones I did – this seemed to do the trick. Coming from a tourist nation, I’m just used to things being easy to arrange, and often forget than I’m communicating directly with companies that sometimes don’t speak much English, or even have a well developed infrastructure. That’s my own failing and a perception I’ll need to quickly change; I’m the first to state that going to another country requires you to do everything to make yourself behave as a local, and not expect the locals to engage on your terms.