Cotours IATA Peru may be the same company as
or not. Both claim home offices in Miraflores Peru on the coast near Lima Peru. I have researched but not been able to confirm if they are indeed the same. The office picture and address shown in miraflores for both companies is remarkably similar but I cannot find the exact people who "helped" us.
The story- We flew into Lima airport from Miami for 10 day vacation. We have traveled extensively in Latin America before but had never seen this one. We flew in late and were "directed" by two official looking people with Cotours IATA Peru badges and other official papers from State tourism agencies in peru some of those are as follows:
DGTUR : Peruvian Government Tourist Office
APAVIT : Peruvian Association of Travel Agents
APOTUR : Peruvian Association of Tour Operators
LATA : Latin American Travel Association
IATA : International Air Transport Association
ASTA : American Society of Travel Agents
USTOA : United States Tour Operator Association
SITE : Society of Incentive and Travel Executives
I made a note of the paperwork and assumed they were legitimate. It was midnite and we were told hotels etc very full for weekend in Summer 08. So they called several places and placed us in a metered, marked taxi, the safe ones according to our research. We went to hotel it was pricey for peru, about 90 US dollars but decent enough.
The next morning our "guide" came for us and we went to office in Miraflores to discuss travel plans. She paid for and seemed to know the taxi driver. I noted she only tipped him but did not pay full fair (Taxis are expensive in Lima these days with 4$ gas a gallon and lots of propane use). At office we were handed off to other specialist and told the same thing about getting to Cuzco and Macchu Picchu, it would be busy and impossible if we did not book ahead. The office was in a guest hostel similar to the one in the COLTOURS photo though the address does not match the one listed at the COLTOURS website. Both are in Miraflores but...
To shorten story, we felt hard sale tactics were used to try to get us to book through "official" company of the state. Not sure they were. The price was outrageous, almost 2000 $ for Cuzco flight, hotel, transport, and train to Macchu Picchu for two people and only 3 days!!! Of course we said no way but were stuck at that hostel and stayed there for several days. We explored Miraflores on our own and let it be known we were not happy with the tour company approach. I then went and negotiated a new place to stay Inkawasi (highly recomend it) nearby. We noticed many international student travelers at the tour hostel were getting the same treatment we got. So we enjoyed staying a couple of days and warning others.
In the end we booked a bus trip to Nazca and saw the Nazca Lines via plane flight. The trip was ok though not organized well on the Nazca end. The trip took 8 hours by bus (we were told 4), no one picked us up and we had to walk to hotel. Hotel lost then found our bags only after we called back to tour company. Spent half the time waiting at Nazca flight aeroport for ride that never came. Were supposed to get access and tours of other archaeology sites but drove right by some of them and could not get the drivers hired by tour company to stop! Yipes!
Worst of all, other than the railroading was the purchase "technique." The tour company insisted on making copies of front and back of credit card. Charging almost half in cash up front then the rest on credit card. It was about 1000 $ just for this brief trip of 3 with a few sidestops on the Ballestos Islands and Paracas peninsula. Same for passports etc. As you all know, security and safety have to negotiated somewhat when travelling abroad. But this was ridiculous. Never had anything close before like this in a decade of taking two or three international trips every year! I eventually canceled my credit card etc. upon return to states.
MANY of the things advertised to us for the tour were not available or no longer existed. Pisco tasting rooms in ICA that were actually shops, museums on the Paracas peninsula in ruins from an earthquake the previous year, etc. etc.
I usually travel independently but wanted things to go smoothly with my new fiancee, instead I got this.
I really think this is an official state sanctioned tour orginization, but they have no idea of how to deal with foriegn travelers and wasted much of our time and money.
We stayed near the area of Larcomar in Miraflores for only 30$ a nite with private bath and balcony view of ocean at INKAWASI. Set up driver for tour of Pachacamac temple complex (50$ plus tip for whole day) and it went great!!! So we know not all others operate like this.
AVOID CoTours IATA Lima Peru or COLTOURS if that is what they are called. We basically felt hijacked at the airport and for our first day or two and then did not like the tour they did set up.