Huaraz, Mony Tours, Santa Cruz
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Jul 7, 2012 2:37 PM Last Post By: deeve007
Jul 5, 2012 3:38 PM
Huaraz, Mony Tours, Santa CruzHey guys,
we finally paid the "Gringo Tax" here in Huaraz. We did the Santa Cruz Trekking (4days, 420Soles) with the "Galaxia Expedition" tour agency. The Tour, people, guide and well, everything about the tour itself was incredible - the only thing that really pissed us off was the price. All the other tour participants paid around 320, 330 for exactly the same service.
Now, the problem here was not the agency but 2guys who apparently earn their money ripping off travellers. Theyre called Ricardo (or Richard) and Max. They work together and offer tours, pretending them to be planned by an agency called "Mony Tours". Especially travellers staying at the hostel called " Casa Blanca" seem to be their main targets. So, whatever you do in Huaraz - do the tour, stay at the Casa Blanca but do NOT get in touch with those guys and buy the tours directly at the agencies. Again, the normal price for the Santa Cruz Hike is around 320Soles.
You should also be careful when getting off the Bus in Huaraz. We got the impression that they work as a cartell, offering a nice hostel at a good price and then ripping you off by selling tours. They also pretend to work together with Casa Blanca but when we asked the guys at the reception, they told us that they were only there to sell tours and were in no way related to the Hostel.
We found out about the way-to-high price when we were about to pay one day before the tour started. We then confronted Richard (or Ricardo) and asked him why all the other travellers paid 320 at the agencies. He gave us some bullshit about better service and that it was impossible for him to cancel "his" tour (at galaxia they didnt even know him) and we had to pay about 100soles more each. We met some other travellers at the "Casa Blanca" hostel, they also had their problems with Mony, Ricardo and Max.
Jul 5, 2012 5:29 PM
Jul 5, 2012 8:02 PM
2Galaxia got a lot of bad reviews on Tripadvisor, as did Mony tours, in the Huaraz forum on Tripadvisor. Sorry to hear about your bad experience with them.
I do want to add that after researching this before my trip to Huaraz and avoiding them to the best of my ability, I still did somehow find myself in a combi organized by Galaxia Expeditions leaving Chavin. I had booked my ride to Chavin in a combi from a shop where all the locals book at for 30 sol. When I was dropped off at Chavin, I found myself arriving at the same time a Galaxia tour group had arrived from Huaraz. They invited me to join up with their English-speaking tour guide, which I did.
When we left Chavin to have lunch, two gringos; one an Archeology History professor and the other one a llama farmer from California invited me to join them at another restaurant, one from which Galaxia would not get a kick back from. It was obvious the Galaxia tour guide was not happy about our choice, but we were, and I was along with them...at this point.
The tour guide charged me 30 sol for the ride back to Chavin, which was what I paid for the ride over, so I personally did not have any problems with them. He did not ask me for anything for the "free" English-speaking tour guide I had at Chavin.
But still, if you check Tripadvisor...they get a lot of bad rap on there.
Also, the Lonely Planet guidebook does caution travelers about the bus station and it's "illegitimate" touts. So do all the local papers and brochures in Huaraz (but, by the time you would read them, it would be too late)
Just something to remember, to those of you, who will be coming into Huaraz on bus...
And once again, I am sorry to hear about your bad luck.
Jul 5, 2012 11:23 PM
3OP: The way you describe your experience it sounds like you were approached by two middle man, Ricardo and Max, and made a deal with them. I would not say that you paid a "Gringo Tax", whatever that is. You simply paid two middle men, on top of the price of the agency. Do I understand this correctly? Especially in a country like Peru, with a lot of unemployment, you have to be wary of people approaching you who wish to provide (almost) useless services. After spending some time in Peru one gets used to being approached regularly and avoidance becomes a habit.
Jul 5, 2012 11:29 PM
4At #2 I read a lot of bad reviews by them after I had booked (a group of travellers at the hostel had asked me to come along with them). I'm not entirely sure why though as the time I had with them, they were nothing but good. Everything was exceptional and nothing bad went wrong.
The only negative I could say was that they didn't drop us back at our hostel in Huaraz (but then again the streets were blocked off for Good Friday).
Jul 6, 2012 7:02 AM
5It's quite naive of you saying that the fact that you paid more than other people on your trek has nothing to do with Galaxia Expeditions.
As a matter of fact I know that they sell their treks in their own office at different prices. I met two French tourists recently who told me that they had paid far more than everyone else on their trek, and that included some people that had booked through their office just like them.
As for buying treks from people at hostels, in the street or at bus stations, you should know never to do that but to always buy directly at the agency, and that goes for all over the world not just Peru.
Agencies like Galaxia Expeditions, and admittedly the great majority of agencies in Huaraz, have a huge responsibility towards the fact that their customers pay different prices for the same service. They choose to work with these "captadores", as they are called, and frankly that is why the tourist industry in Huaraz is such a disaster. In reality the agencies have the power, because if they refuse to work with captadores, the captadores soon will be out of work and that will be the end of it. But somehow no one has figured that out yet and prefers to work in that dodgy, illegal and irresponsible way.
I'm telling you very frankly that an agency has the choice not work that way, and yes admittedly it is very difficult but not impossible, because I myself have an agency and me and my husband never work with captadores and make sure that everyone on our treks pays the same price (including people who book ahead through the internet). It is extremely important to us, because simply it is the fair way to do business.
So don't be quick to judge a couple of individuals, who are of course bad news, agencies have to me the greatest responsibility. It's too easy to always blame it on somebody else. When you consistently accept a transfer at US$90 for the Santa Cruz trek for an Israeli customer and are happy to charge customers in your own office almost twice as much, I think quite clearly there is something wrong in the way you are doing business...
Jul 6, 2012 8:15 AM
6they had paid far more than everyone else on their trek, and that included some people that had booked through their office
This seems to be a common theme at most tourist/trekking agencies around Peru. It happened in Huaraz some paid 100 soles more than us. In Arequipa, some people paid 100 dollars (Yes DOLLARS) more. And, in Cusco, some paid 200 dollars more.
The sad truth is, that this happens, and it happens regularly.
The best way to defeat this kind of thing is to do research. Find out prices, go around to different agencies and find a ballpark price. Find an agency that is well established and then you know what price to pay, and you can haggle a bit.
Jul 6, 2012 8:20 AM
7I used Galaxia Expedition for the Cordillera Huayhuash trek in 2009 and they were very good. i paid $40 /day plus and additional $10 /day to for the use of their land to camp on. The service was very good, the guide was excellent and safety minded. The food was ok, but plentiful.
I did not use a middle man, nor would I ever use one, Anyone approaching yo at a bus station or on the street shod be ignored at al costs. That is an invitation for trouble I contacted the agency directly prior to arriving, since I had a tight schedule.
When you are going on a trek, it is very important to do your research. It is not only about price. of course you want to get a decent price,. The most important thing is safety. Trekking in high mountains ahs many risks, you don't want to be a bad guide service to be one of them. For me safety is top priority
As for a different price, i am sure that is encountered everywhere. I may have paid more or what everyone else paid, but a few Sols extra hardly matters if I had a great experience in a place I will never see again.
Jul 6, 2012 1:49 PM
8#6 is spot on. This happens all over the world, not just in Peru or developing countries. In my country, Australia, the travel industry is just as dishonest. I know because I used to work in that industry. We were taught to charge what you think you can get away with. Gullible customers are the best customers. Always do your research and shop around.
Another good way to find the best price is to ask some Israelis what they paid. Your not likely to get it any cheaper than that.
Jul 6, 2012 7:23 PM
9Hazzdawg - Two danes paid 500 dollars for the Inca Trail through a travel agent in Denmark before leaving. There trip got cancelled, and they got put on a 'jungle trek' for the same price (which was at least half of what they paid for). Its happens in all countries, developed or not.
I guess people just have a mindset that when in a developing country that they can 'whinge' about being ripped off.
And lastly, don't just ask Israeli's. Ask anyone in the hostel who has done it. Find out that median price.
Or if you don't want to be ripped off, do it yourself.
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