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Tucan Travel - Any feedback?

London, United...
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Tucan Travel - Any feedback?

Hi All,

I've booked a 3 week tour in March 2012 with Tucan Travel going from Peru to Bolivia and then ending in Argentina.

I am female and travelling alone so thought a tour would be a good idea to enable me to fit in as much as possible in the shortest space of time.

Having read some reviews of Tucan I am really, really concerned that I've made a massive mistake. All the reviews are pretty bad, am keen to know if anyone has had a positive experience on one of their tours in S. America?

Thanks

Sinead

Yorktown, Virginia
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1. Re: Tucan Travel - Any feedback?

I did a search for Tucan Travel on this forum -- reviews all look good: http://www.tripadvisor.com/SearchForums?ff=818&geo=294311&scope=2&q=Tucan+Travel&sub-search.x=0&sub-search.y=0&returnTo=__2F__

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: Tucan Travel - Any feedback?

Hi Sinead,

what date is your tour. Im also booked with them in March on the Andean Experience (Lima to La Paz). Most of their reviews (here and on other sites) are pretty good, other than their choice of hotel in Lima. Most of the complaints that I've read seemed to be from people who expected a 5 star everything done for you type of tour.

One of my colleagues toured with them last year, and whilst everything didnt go 100% according to plan (when does it ever?) they had a fantastic time

If you're departing Lima on March 17 dont stress... Ill be there with you and I'm sure we'll have a ball. Like most "adventure" type tours, I'm sure if we bring a good sense of humour and are prepared to go with the flow we'll have a great time.

London, United...
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3. Re: Tucan Travel - Any feedback?

Hi Calypso!

Thanks for the comments, feel more reassured now.

Unfortunately I'm on the Puma tour starting on the 25th March so we'll just miss each other.

I hope you have a great trip!

Central Coast, NSW...
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4. Re: Tucan Travel - Any feedback?

I did a couple of tours with Tucan, and will never, ever travel with them again. We weren't expecting 5 star luxury but we did expect minimum safety and health requirements, and that bookings would actually have been made.

Also, you'll hear plenty from Tucan about how you have to go with the flow in South America. That's fine, but shouldn't be an excuse for failing to make proper arrangements.

We did a Peru tour and experienced the following:

1) Failed to make bookings at one hotel (where we arrived at midnight with planned departure at 6am next day)

2) Failed to have enough seats for all people on return air excursion to Amazon

3) Airport transfer failed to arrive when we had to fly out of Puno (1 flight a day so it's a big deal to miss it)

4) In many cases the accommodation was poor and cheap. No other words to describe it. You can't expect 5 star on a budget tour (and that's what Tucan are, budget), but basics like doors that lock, and mattresses that don't sink almost to the floor would be a minimum.

5) The itinerary was cramped in places meaning late night travel on the deadly Peruvian roads. I did not feel Tucan had sufficient concerns for my safety.

6) There was a mix up over which meals were and weren't included in our tour.

Other things to be aware of:

1) Roadside lunches are a disaster waiting to happen. Some of the roadside stops are exactly that, side of the road, where you will be very close to Peruvian traffic. Also, the whole idea of everyone 'pitching in' basically means you are playing roulette with your health. I ate one lunch, and then made my own arrangements, and encourage others to do the same. Sure they set up sanitation bowls and hand-spray, but when 6-8 people are cutting up salad on the roadside (where they have also just stopped for a toilet stop), well, like I say, it's a lottery.

2) Tucan make a big deal about tipping and how important it is to the locals, yet they switched drivers on us while we were on an excursion, meaning we didn't have the opportunity to say thank you and provide a tip to the driver who did over 50% of the trip with us. We complained and only then did Tucan get the driver down for a farewell and tip.

3) We did Patagonia as well. On one day, we opted out of a scheduled day trip. We found the tour leader handing out money for entry fees to participants that went which obviously would have been part of the fee we paid. We didn't go and the tour leader didn't give us the money ... not sure what conclusion to draw on that one.

4) The cook on the Patagonia tour obviously got a budget to buy food. Not sure if they got to keep any amount left unspent but there was never enough food for 3 basic meals, and the menu was very plain.

A number of people in our group were complaining to Tucan, not just me. I understand some written complaints were sent in too. In Peru, our repeated complaints finally ended up with a senior person from Tucan coming to discuss the issues with us. He showed very little interest, offered no solutions or compensation for what we endured. We followed up with Tucan and still got no suitable response.

Overall Summary:

Tucan are a budget provider that you can use to get around but you get what you pay for. OK for a younger, budget conscious traveler. Seemed OK for younger singles too. Be careful with the food.

Happy to provide more detail if anyone wants to pm me.

Edited: 04 January 2012, 23:27
Yorktown, Virginia
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5. Re: Tucan Travel - Any feedback?

Wow.

London, United...
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6. Re: Tucan Travel - Any feedback?

Wow indeed.

That is very damning feedback 1800hammer; feeling a little confused as to what to do especially as I've had a number of private messages that have said that Tucan are excellent.

Central Coast, NSW...
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7. Re: Tucan Travel - Any feedback?

I understand you will get mixed reviews because the locations you go are so wonderful, but you will go to them with whatever operator you choose. A little more detail might help.

Tour Content:

3 weeks traveling Peru, and a couple of weeks traveling Patagonia, was brilliant. But that's no credit to Tucan, they are just amazing places. You will enjoy those places because of their beauty, variety and the local sights and people, regardless who you travel with. You'll find the excursions, (both included and optional) often have that touristy/tacky feel. I wouldn't say that's Tucan's fault. It's more a symptom of high volume operations where what you're seeing requires some travel, a simple sight (maybe 1 hr), then travel home again.

Tour Directors:

In the Peru tour, the TD was a nice enough guy. He was very helpful and seemed to do all the things a TD should do. However this is the tour where all arrangements weren't made properly and it seemed to be a disagreement between the local office and TD, ie TD should have checked/confirmed each booking, etc. There was one place (Puerto Inca) where our TD didn't even know the ruins were on both sides of the bay, and he'd been going through there for about a year, but apart from that he seemed knowledgeable enough.

Our Patagonia TD was poor. I felt as if she was a budget traveler who wanted to see the world and got a job with Tucan to do that. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as you're travelers come first, but I kept feeling as if we were an intrusion into her day and she couldn't wait to get away from the tour group as often as possible. She provided little information about each place we stopped, and didn't even attempt to pronounce the names of places properly. Like I said above, there was also the way the included tour entry fees were distributed that caused me concern.

Overall professionalism - I contacted the UK Tucan office, plus anywhere else Tucan trying to get someone to listen to me, It always seemed to be palmed off to someone else, and the final guy I spoke to never followed through with what he said he would do. Also, the disagreement between TD and main office about whose fault the booking problems were should have been transparent to me as a customer.

I spoke to another Tucan tour group and they seemed happy enough but they were on a different style tour. Interestingly though, one guy told me how he was on tour, and there were some internal staffing issues with Tucan, so he was hired on the spot as a Tour Leader. I can't confirm that, only what the guy told me.

Value for Money:

When you get there and see the street price for booking hotels, you'll know that you pay quite a premium for Tucan's services.

Optional Tours:

Optional tours were generally discussed amongst our group as letdowns on expectations, but up to you. If you're doing Machu Picchu, I would skip thr Amazon. The schedule to fly out and back was a killer, and I think impacts you're climatization at Cusco. I would stay the extra days at Cusco as there is plenty to see and do and you'll be far better off come the Inca Trail.

Convenience/Comfort:

You have the convenience of transport between each location, all (in my case most) arrangements will have been made, and the itinerary will hit the high points. In many places you go, the town may only have a couple of places to stay, so getting any accommodation that compares to what you might be used to is difficult, so you do need to adjust your expectations in those places. For example, Pisco is still suffering the effects of an earthquake some years ago, so you need to make allowances. However we stayed at far larger towns where the choices were wide and our accommodation was very much 'budget'.

Who are the trips best suited to:

South America is a bit of an adventure destination, so I think you naturally get an adventurous crowd, but that doesn't mean your fellow travelers will be under 30's. You'll find people in their 60's on the same trip to Peru, as they use it as an entrance into Machu Picchu. Similarly, if you go south, you'll find a wide range of travelers for the Patagonia trip as this was the entry point for Antarctic tours from Ushaia which had an older crowd component.

Bear in mind assessing my feedback I am a guy in my 40's who expects people to do the things they say, and I had the added concern of ensuring my wife was getting the tour we booked, hence why I approached Tucan when I felt they fell short.

While I personally wouldn't ever book with them again, a large part of that is the poor management response we had when things went wrong. I could have got past pretty much most things I raised as 'stuff happens' if they showed any interest in the issues.

Co Durham
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8. Re: Tucan Travel - Any feedback?

Dear Sinead13

I have just read through this thread and can see how you would have concerns after the very detailed comments and descriptions made by 1800hammer. However, I have just finished my third Tucan trip (Ushuaia to Santiago) and it was brilliant. My first was about 7 years ago to Costa Rica and Panama and the second one was to Peru (Lima to Cusco). All have been the Discovery tour type with a tour leader, a driver and a bus throughout and staying in hotels and hostels (with 3 nights camping on this one).

At no time in my travels with them have I had concern for my safety. In fact, at all times safety was paramount. In fact I chose them because I did not want to travel through the region on my own and to have the support of the Tucan team was a blessing.

That said, note the following:

1. Accommodations are not always on a par with other parts of the world. This region has a wide range of accommodations in both style and quality and the tours I have been on delivered such a range, depending on the location, availability, and even the duration of stay. There have been hotels/hostels that were quite grim, but they were usually one night stopovers and if you saw the alternative, well, let's say it was the best option for the group. But there have also been places I did not want to leave, they were so nice. Other tour operators may stay in "better" hotels, but their price usually relects this. I am happy with Tucan.

2. Transporation on Discovery tours is the Tucan truck. These are wonderful and are a tourist attraction in their own right. People have been taking photos of the bus during our trip. It is comfortable, tough (like the terrain) and driven by very competent and resourceful individuals. On my tours we have had flat tyres, exploding batteries and broken windows, but all were dealt with safely and as quickly as possible, bearing in mind the regions we were travelling through. (NB All of this did not happen on one trip!!!) Plus, considering the roads travelled, I cannot believe the trucks last more than a year before falling to bits. This is to the credit of the drivers.

3. Tucan leaders and drivers. I have now travelled with three different teams and as I said above, at no time have I felt unsafe. They worked tirelessly and are very supportive if and when you need it. These tours are designed to be for the independent minded who often want to do their own thing or do something special with some support. Again, the brocure and the initial briefing make this clear: the tour leader is the organiser and main support but is not a tour guide. Specialist guides are taken on locally if necessary. Plus, they always request feedback after an excursion or activity so that quality of service can be maintained. Drivers, I have mentioned above.

I'm not going to go through all of the issues in turn, you will be pleased to hear, and I do know that problems can occur in any trip, in any country, and at any budget, but I just wanted to try and reassure you with some positive feedback. I enjoy Tucan tours and have met many people who have used them repeatedly. Enjoyment can depend on the people involved (all parties, staff and passengers alike), on circumstances and on reactions to any problems that arise.

All I can say is that I have always felt safe, supported, have been given space to enjoy what I want to do, and had some brilliant stories to tell when I came home (like the exploding batteries- replaced immediately and replacements purchased ASAP and hotels with holes in the roof - an emergency replacement to the normal one as explained by the leader and not used again). I have had no contact with the "Management" but have met one or two when they were tour leaders themselves.

I hope you enjoy your trip in March and let us know how it went on your return.

Audles

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9. Re: Tucan Travel - Any feedback?

Audles....

Thank you I will be on the Adventure tour... April 27 -June 5 2013...the next one up from the Discovery...With nightly hotels,plus Amazon & train to Macchu Pichu.

I travelled on a tour[not Tucan] through Mexico in 2010 solo, with other Aussies who give an Aussie tourist a bad name if you understand,,They were complaining about the travel days.Where it was stated it was a LONG day..A hotel, where we only spent one short night - 8 hours plus other complaints, that if I believe an individual researched, they would be prepared......

I never stay in 5 star accommodation [though in saying that I am splurging on Miraflores Park Hotel for 2 nights at the end!!}

I guess people especially single travellers like myself, like to feel safe in their hotel rooms and know that connections/pick ups for flights will be guaranteed....... I have never had a major problem on tours in Turkey,Egypt, Mexico. SO I expect Sth America with Tucan wil be the same

Thank you for positive advice

Central Coast, NSW...
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10. Re: Tucan Travel - Any feedback?

I hope the reference to Aussies giving tourists a bad name and complaints because they hadn't researched isn't directed towards me because I'm Australian and dared say something negative. All I did was post my real experience to help others know what they can expect. Don't worry though, I'm not that offended.

I have emails from Tucan acknowledging some of the issues I've raised. They also advised me they would be revising the schedule for part of the trip to take into account the safety concerns which I raised.

The facts are there ... Tucan failed to make all necessary arrangements (including one flight, one hotel and one airport transfer), disagreements between TD and local management. were obvious to the travelers.

Also, don't assume that all Tucan travel is the same standard as it will vary from continent to continent. The parent company seems very 'hands off' and allows the local regional management plenty of latitude.