Deciding on a Tour
Sylvie and I are flying in to Cartagena, Colombia on Aug 18th. We had originally planned on spending a few days on the beach and then travel around Colombia. Sylvie had been reading some US travel advisories and got a little nervous about our safety while in Colombia (the recent Vice episodes on the gangs in the area didn't help either). Check out the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN).
The safety issues coupled with the obvious benefits of starting a long trip with pre-arranged lodging, transit, and activities Sylvie and I have decided to kickstart our RTW with a tour.
Picking a Tour
I looked into Intrepid Travel and G Adventures for tour options in Colombia. I have traveled with both companies before and they offer very similar options. We found a tour with G Adventures that starts Aug 18th in Cartagena and ends Sept 5 in Quito, Ecuador.
About the Tour
The tour we landed on was a 19 day tour from G Adventures called Cartagena to Quito on a Shoestring and includes a 5 day trek in the Lost City of Teyuna, an overnight excursion to Tyron National Park, 2 flights, and all other busing and transportation, a homestay in Ecuador, half a dozen breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and some walks through the cities. Bussing in Colombia can be a little dangerous especially the bus route to Quito from Bogota (via Cali). This tour eliminates a lot of overland travel with the two included flights. Click the links below for a full itinerary:
The retail price for the tour was $2,499/person. Since we booked it last minute G Adventure was offering a 15% discount--plus an additional 5% discount for all prior G Adventure trip takes. Unfortunately I never filled out my end-of-trip survey last time so I do not quality for that promotion. However, I was able to further reduce the cost of the tour.
How we saved $1,123 (22.5%) off the price of the tour...
In addition to the 15% G Adventure offer, I was able to score another 4% discount by booking through a zero-fee 3rd party website (Tour Radar) using the promo code "4THJULY". They also gave me a 3% credit ($122) for future tours booked through them. Add on top the 2% cash back my Travel MasterCard provides and the savings really add up. They add up to $1,123 to be exact.
A side note about Tour Radar: This website offers a plethora of different tours with hundreds of different providers. They have price assuring, charge no fees, and are very prompt in their customer service. Most importantly, you can save $$ when booking through them since they offer promotions on top of the lowest price offered on a tour. Make sure to check them out before booking another tour.