My sister and I recently toured Bolivia with guide Gery from the Expeditours company. This is a review of their services.
Bolivia is a fantastic country to visit, and I highly recommend Gery and Expeditours.
We contacted Gery based on his glowing reviews on tripadvisor and told him where we wanted to visit (Salar de Uyuni, Madidi Amazon jungle and pampas, death road, Tiwanaku, Copacabana). At the time we had been doing some research on our itinerary so we knew what to budget. Gery offered us a discount rate to take a few tours offered by Expeditours, with Gery as our guide for each tour. The price wasn't that much more than our estimated figure for getting from place to place ourselves. A little bit more cash for a vastly improved experience! Our own dedicated guide and private transport for the whole way.
Bolivia is the sort of place where a good guide / tour company makes all the difference, both in terms of logistics and of the experience.
There are setbacks in bolivia. In our 11 days, we saw 2 unscheduled road closures, a traffic jam of epic proportions, and recently-changed procedures at the border crossing with Peru. Any of these events would have thrown us off schedule without Gery. With him, we made every major stop in our itinerary and only missed one minor stop on the day when we were delayed by both the traffic jam and the border.
On the day when we drove death road, we found that the advertised schedule of road closures had been changed. The section of road from Coroico was scheduled to be closed overnight for works, but instead it was closed during the day (Expeditours had phoned the local road works office two days before, but the change had happened last-minute). If we were travelling by ourselves this would have cost us a day and we would have missed our next tour. As it was, it still cost us 6 hours. So, we had 6 hours to kill at a road block... how did Expeditours handle this? They threw in an impromptu afternoon tour of Coroico and the surrounding hillsides (with lunch) for free!
Gery is a top notch guide. Very professional and competent, always thinking about safety, unbelievably polite, but also great company and very fun to hang around. Getting around Bolivia involves some long drives (12 hours, or sometimes more with the road changes), so it makes a huge difference having a guide who you enjoy spending time with. Normally after spending 11 days with a new person you find it a releif to get away from them, but we found it terribly sad when we had to finally say goodbye.
I learned so much about Bolivia and got all my information in context as we visited or drove through places. Lots of information on both the ancient cultures and the modern history. All the while listening to Bolivian music!
Gery has done various jobs/studies in the past that contribute to his skills as a guide. Some of them include archeologist (how often do you get a guide with an archeology degree? Especially in a place like Bolivia with such rich archeological sites to visit), police & army (invaluable finesse for getting through all the checkpoint bueraucracy as you travel), paramedic, death road truck driver, and spanish teacher. I am working on my spanish, and I had done a couple of weeks in a school earlier in my travels. Gery was as good as the best teachers in the school!
There were also various "surprises" along the way. I won't disclose these and ruin the surprise for you, but some of them were very impressive.
One more item that I must mention is Gery's driving skills. Some of the roads in Bolivia are very dangerous. Following the road closures come the subsequent re-openings when all the built up traffic gets released so the place is like a racetrack. When the Coroico roadblock on death road was finally opened we had the most amazing drive of our lives. Dusty dirt road (a few times we had a total dust white-out), sharp blind curves, unforgiving cliff wall on our right, certain-death fall on our left. With six hours of built up traffic jostling for position. Crazy locals, trucks, buses. And the safest way to drive it is to get out to the front of the pack where there's less dust so you can see. This is an inherently dangerous drive, but Gery got us through it without a scratch. This crazy stretch lasted for two solid hours. It was the most dangerous part, but there were plenty more dangerous roads along the way.
To summarise, I recommend Bolivia as a great travel destination, and I highly recommend the company Expeditours and the guide Gery to anyone who travels there.
Gery's contact details are:
Gerardo Arce Hartman
I have the following contact numbers for Expeditours:
xx591 2 2285174