My husband and I were in Ecuador in March and did Andes tour 10-16 March organized by Zenith Travel. Before contacting for quote, I read all the reviews of Zenith Travel in this forum that affected and worried me. There are lots of good reviews and also many bad ones from all over the world but mainly by first time posters. These reviews were not good enough for me to do the judgement of Zenith Travel and making decisions to use this company was really hard. Now we are back at Perth Australia and I would like to send here my true voice of our experience with Zenith Travel and our wonderful Andes Tour.
PLANNING IN ADVANCE – We already decided majority of what we wanted to do before asking for a quote to several companies. Cotopaxi (1 night) – Quilotoa Lagoon – Banos (2 nights) – Chimborazo – Riobamba (1 night) – Devils Nose Train – Ingapirca Ruins – Cuenca (2 nights) – Cajas National Park. Total 6 nights. As our schedule in Ecuador was packed, there was no flexibility to change days. Although asking travel agency to organize our tour, I wanted to choose hotels by ourselves. We don’t need luxury 5 star hotels but only want to stay in the tourist class hotels. I am a review reader and already chose hotels before contacting travel agencies. My desire to choose our own hotels was very strong as I know exactly what we want and what we don’t want. By this way, if the hotel fails, we don’t have to complain to travel agency as it is my choice.
PLANNING WITH LILIANA – Liliana was the only person I dealt with. We first contacted Zenith Travel 10 months in advance in May last year. To get a quote, I used their 5 days Andes Tour package by adding 2 more nights and telling her our choice of hotels. At this stage, after having read all the reviews of Zenith Travel, I was a bit suspicious and very careful. Her email response was very fast, normally she replies within same day. I started to like the way she replies my questions. I always present my questions as dotted points or with the numbers. She always put her answer just next to my questions, simple way but very efficient. So she never missed my questions and always gave me a direct answer. My questions went on and on but she had patience to answer until I was satisfied. I started to feel very comfortable to communicate with her. Also it was a surprise that the quote she gave us was cheaper than their standard option for 5 days. But I became more careful because another tour agency gave me 50% more expensive quote to the same itinerary and hotels. Is it too cheap? Something wrong? These things were always in my mind but I decided to trust her. By that time, I could see she was a well-organized person, smart, genuine and honest.
DEPOSIT PAYMENT – When we finally decided to take her tour, we paid 50% deposit in September. I could pay with PayPal with 4.2% charge and that was very convenient. Soon after we paid, she sent the contract by email. The balance was due in January, 2 months before the tour.
AFTER PAYMENT – There were still nearly 6 months between deposit payment and the actual tour. I read in the review that once we pay, communication stops and it is hard to get a reply. I was very scared of it. So what I did was, as we had a long wait (6 months), I gathered all the questions and one day in December I sent them to Liliana by email. It was a relief that she responded right away without any delay. I was very glad.
BALANCE PAYMENT – We paid the balance with PayPal in January. Zenith Travel (Liliana) sent the final contract including itinerary, e-ticket (Cuenca – Quito), contact details of the hotels and name of the guide.
We kept communicating to each other after January because I also asked her to book our day cruise tour in Galapagos. By this time, I believed Liliana’s professionalism and honesty but I had to admit I still had a concern about if all the promises were going to be met and also if we have a good guide/driver. We committed ourselves with such a big money with the travel agency in the other side of the world, I couldn’t stop worrying. My decision of choosing Zenith Travel was also going to be judged.
We had a very nice week in Andes. We also had a good guide and all the promises that Zenith Travel put in the contract were all met. We had a wonderful time. I will write details of our trip in Part 2.