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Tucan Travel

4.3 | Great
Tucan Travel
Premier
  • 371 Tours
Tucan Travel Reviews & Ratings
4.3 out of 5

90%

recommend

860 Reviews

Excellent 472 Great 259 Average 75 Disappointing 29 Terrible 25

Rating Details

Value:
4.3 Guide:
4.3 Activities:
4.3 Lodging:
4.3 Transportation:
4.3 Meals:
4.3
Tour Reviews

Jungle to the Andes tour

Tucan Travel Company Reviews

2.0 June 2017 Recommend: No
This is a very long explanation of why I found this tour to be sub-par, but I think it is worth demonstrating the facts.

Per Tucan's own words on their site, "We have set high standards for our itineraries and we take great care to ensure that all of the ingredients are right, not just the price. Our accommodation is tried and tested, our expedition vehicles are the best on the road and our staff is second to none for enthusiasm and experience. Many of the included excursions in our tours are the result of years of careful research to get the right balance of quality and value." I did NOT find the quality of this trip to be aligned with the price. Most of the issues are because we were not provided a detailed itinerary (i.e., time tables, hotels, etc.) at any point before or during the tour (even after asking!!):
1) Tucan would not release the accommodation detail, even after I paid for the trip. I reached out about this, and they claimed it was against their policy. I learned my lesson here and will not book a trip without knowing this in advance. Although I was very happy with the Amazon Lodge and was ok with the others, I was extremely disappointed with the Cusco accommodations. Cusco was so bad that I and many other people on the tour paid out of pocket to get a nicer hotel (the hotel was unbearably noisy, there was no way the hotel was considered 3 stars with the lack of quality of the rooms and bathrooms, and a couple woke up covered in bug bites after their first night's stay). When we brought this up to the tour leader, he did not do anything. It wasn’t until we already booked alternative hotels that he got Tucan to agree to put us in a different hotel (we were informed of this an hour before we were to return to Cusco; we all booked something new by dinner time to ensure we had a place to stay for the night). After following up with the tour company about this, they refused to give me a refund because "alternative arrangements were made." As a side note, the hotel I booked in Cusco to replace Tucan's choice was amazingly nice, and only cost $215 for 3 nights (which was split between two people). There ARE really nice options out there, and I felt like they took the cheapest route in Cusco.
2) We did not have a good understanding of how much time we would be spending in transit. I went into this trip knowing that I would be travelling a lot, but there were a lot of instances when I found the travel unnecessary. If I had a detailed itinerary, I would have been able to notice this, realized it wasn’t a good fit for my wants, and picked a different tour. There are two specific examples of this:
-The bus from Cusco to Puno is a 7.5 hour day trip. Tucan did not book the tourist bus, which takes a few hours longer, but also includes stopping to visit a few ruins, churches, and a museum to break up the long trip. I found this to be a ludicrous decision. If we weren't going to take the tourist bus, it would have been better to take the overnight bus to Puno. With an arrival time of 5:30AM, it would give us plenty of time to check in to the hotel and still make it to the Floating Islands around 8AM.
-In Lake Titicaca we visited Tequile for about 3 hours (including lunch), which included 4 hour (round trip) of travel time. The island itself was pretty, but not unlike the areas surrounding Puno. Also, the main attraction of this island is the knitting expertise of the male population. They talked about this a lot on the boat ride over to the island, but once we were there, we didn’t get to see any real demonstrations or explanations of the art. We just went to shop to give us an opportunity to buy the finished products, and after lunch, we got a (this is not an exaggeration) 20 second knitting demonstration. Visiting this island was not worth the time.
3) The Amazon Lodge experience was not communicated properly. It was actually way better than they explained. I am not sure why they would sell themselves short here, but here were the discrepancies:
-the transportation is not a canoe per the itinerary, it is a motorized boat with a top for shade
-there is hot water at the lodge for showering
-you can charge your electronics (power turns on at sundown until about 10PM, and then turns on again about 5:30AM until daylight)
-Tucan did not mention that the lodge has a swimming pool
-They provide towels
Because of the lack of proper communication, I did not bring a swimsuit and packed things I did not need (like a towel and backup charger for my camera and phone). However, this was the highlight of the trip for me and our guide was amazing!
4) According to Tucan, "People travelling on adventure tours expect more from their travel plans than just accommodation, transport and itinerary. They want genuine experience, unexpected wonders and cultural understanding. Adventure holidays can offer amazing photos, incredible scenery and the camaraderie of travelling in a group adventure." I did not get the level of cultural understanding that I wanted. In fact, I barely got ANY detail from our guides.
-Our Machu Picchu guide failed to mention that it was the Emperor's country place, the purpose of all of the plazas, the slaves and metal workers brought to Machu Picchu, the mummies found at the site, information on the rituals and customs of the people that lived there, etc. I only know this stuff now because I went to a museum on my own in Cusco and read up on it. It was VERY disappointing that I had to learn the details after the visit.
-Nobody took the time to go into the past and present customs and beliefs of the people that lived in most of the areas we visited (Lake Titicaca was the exception here, our guide was great). This is something that I find very important in gaining an understanding of a country and its people. I had to ask so many questions, but I felt like that should not have been necessary. And with a place so different than your home, you might not even know what questions to ask!
5) Tucan did not make it clear that you would not be with the same group of people for the duration of the trip. It made it harder to connect with people because of this. Luckily, I was not travelling alone and didn’t really need to make friends. I would have been very disappointed if I made some connections in the first few days only to be separated for the rest of the trip.
Read more
  • Value 2.0
  • Guide 2.0
  • Activities 2.0
  • Lodging 2.0
  • Transportation 2.0
  • Meals 2.0

Tucan travel in Eastern Europe

Tucan Travel Company Reviews

5.0 June 2017 Recommend: Yes
I have done two tours of Eastern Europe with Tucan Travel and enjoyed the combination of having a guide to give an orientation tour of every new city and then being left alone/with the group to discover the highlights we wanted to see. It's a great way to travel around a part of the world which is open to tourism but not yet flooded with tourists. Read more
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Great group tour

Tucan Travel Company Reviews

4.0 June 2017 Recommend: Yes
Great group tour. Nicely organised. Interesting locations and interaction with locals
  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0

Enchanting Iceland

Tucan Travel Company Reviews

4.0 June 2017 Recommend: Yes
Circuit of Iceland was just that. We travelled around the entire island nation. Saw most of the major sites. Did not feel rushed through anything we saw or did. Accommodations were very comfortable and clean. Transportation was reliable and comfortable. Food all over the nation was pricy but our guide did make plenty of stops at stores for us to shop. Wonderful country, wonderful memories. Read more
  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0

Comments on our Peru trip

Tucan Travel Company Reviews

5.0 June 2017 Recommend: Yes
My wife and I had a great trip with Tucan Travel - fun and friendly group and Tour Leader. Only one minor gripe - some of the hotel rooms that we stayed in were rather cramped, with very little space to put our luggage and move around. Otherwise everything was great! Read more
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Stride Take

Founded in 1987, Tucan Travel specializes in adventurous, immersive travel experiences.

What Makes Them Stand Out?

Tucan Travel are passionate about adventure, and all of their tours are designed by travelers for travelers. They are all about going beyond the resort style of travel for adventure trips that let you experience another side of the country you’re visiting. They offer no pretense either, stating that their style of adventure travel is not for those seeking a chill beach vacation. Tours include the main highlights of the region whilst equally having free time, giving passengers the flexibility to make the most out of the destinations.

The four main travel styles you can choose from include Adventure Tours, Overland Tours, Budget Expeditions (specifically geared toward 18-35 year olds), and Add Ons, short side trips.

Who Travels With Them?

People who want a genuine adventure and who are seeking a local feel for the places they visit. Travelers come from all walk of life, with ages spanning from 20 - 70, usually more heavily weighted on the younger end. 

Where Do They Operate?

Tucan Travel operates tours in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Eastern & Central Europe and Antarctica.

Why Travel With Them?

Tucan Travel is the perfect choice for an adventure with young, like-minded travelers. They highlight the value of adventurous travel and their guides are enthusiastic and experienced. They emphasise the community aspect of group travel and encourage solo travelers to join their groups (and don’t require a single supplement).

Visit Tucan Travel site >
From Tucan Travel

Tucan, Toucan, Tucán, Tucano; what's in a name?

When Tucan Travel was formed in 1987, co-founders Pip and Liliana Tyler named their company Tucan Travel because, as they were Latin American specialists principally operating tours in South America and Central America, it made sense to use the local spelling.

Here at Tucan Travel, we often get people thinking that our name is spelled Toucan Travel. The name 'tucan' actually derives from the Latin American (Spanish) spelling 'tucán' or Brazilian (Portuguese) spelling 'tucano'.

Tucan Travel is named after the distinctive South American toucan bird with a large brightly coloured beak The toucan comes from the neotropics - the tropical regions of the Americas. They are bright, striking birds renowned for their large, colourful bills. Some large species of toucans have bills that are at least half as long as their body, but they are very light and strong so don’t weigh the birds down.

There has been a lot of scientific debate about the function of the toucan's distinctive bill. Some argue that it is necessary for recognition, while others believe its function is wholly practical in the process of gathering food and seeds. There are also claims that the bill is necessary for defence, while some scientists believe that it could be a mechanism to intimidate smaller birds so that they can more easily plunder their nests.

You may see toucans in Mexico and Central America, particularly in jungle areas and tropical ruin sites such as Tikal in Guatemala. In South America, you will find them in the Amazon Jungle (our tours visit areas of the Amazon in Ecuador, Peru and Brazil), in parts of northern Argentina and all across Brazil.

The toucan family includes around 40 species, the most popular being the keel-billed toucan. Related species include mountain toucans, aracaris, and toucanets. Scientists speculate that there could even be species of the toucan that have not yet been documented as there are areas of rainforest which remain unexplored.

Toucans are very intelligent, social birds and are very noisy in groups. Their bodies are heavy with short wings and their first and fourth toes are inverted. Toucans prefer to hop between branches rather than fly. They are usually found in pairs or small flocks, and they do not migrate.

Toucans are frugivorous (fruit-eating), but will also eat bird eggs and small prey such as rodents and insects. Toucans swallow fruit whole and then regurgitate the seeds. Toucans have a good lifespan and can live for about 20 years.

Privately owned & passionate about adventure travel

Travel addicts Pip and Liliana Tyler founded one of the first ever South American adventure tour companies in 1987 and named their business Tucan Travel, after the famous South American bird with its traditional Spanish spelling. As their reputation for offering excellent adventurous public transport tours spread and demand increased, the Tylers decided to expand and joined forces with fellow tour operator Matt Gannan in 1997, and with his fleet of expedition vehicles the company started pioneering many of the first overlanding routes in South America.

The directors’ formidable combined knowledge and ongoing passion for adventure travel drove Tucan Travel’s expansion to worldwide destinations in the early 2000s and in 2003 Budget Expeditions was developed as an independent youth brand for 18 to 35s. In 2008 the youth brand was amalgamated back under the parent brand as a travel style. Tucan Travel now offers more than 470 adventures in 72 countries across  destinations including Europe, Asia and Russia, East and Southern Africa, Latin America and Antarctica.

Although Pip and Liliana Tyler fully retired in June 2014, we are proud to still be independently owned by Matt Gannan and staffed by equally enthusiastic adventure travellers at our offices in London, Sydney, and Cuzco, at our operations base in Bangkok, as well as our tour leaders and drivers on the road. When you’re researching who to travel with and only the best will do, look no further than Tucan Travel!

We can proudly guarantee the high standard of our tours because in 95% of destinations we operate them ourselves and do not sub-contract to other operators. On occasions where we use local guides, they are trained and supported by us and are expected to adhere to the top quality service our clients have come to expect. Staffed by a team of avid travellers, the company shares and encourages its clients’ exploratory spirit and the desire to see the world in an authentic way.

Tucan Travel owns a fleet of comfortable, modern Mercedes Benz custom-built vehicles which comply with European emissions standards and are well equipped to deal with the demands of the varied terrain on tour. The company is committed to offering exciting and adventurous itineraries while encouraging responsible travel practices on the road and in its offices. We offer our clients the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions of our tours and pledge to reduce our company emissions by managing our energy efficiently and offsetting business travel

Taking part in the 'Adventure of a Lifetime'

We are delighted that you are considering enjoying a Group Tour with Tucan Travel. In order to ensure that you have the best possible experience, we would like to draw your attention to some aspects of our group tours to make sure that you are fully aware of the nature of the travel which you will be participating in.

Our tours are designed to let you get under the skin of a destination, so you receive an authentic experience. If you enjoy meeting and interacting with local people and are willing to occasionally encounter basic infrastructure and facilities in order to experience the path less travelled, then our group tours will be just what you’re looking for.

On your tour, you may encounter some long travel days. These are usually unavoidable but please be assured our itineraries have been designed with the benefit of our clients in mind in order to maximise your free time in each destination. Please also note that when travelling way from the beaten track in these more remote areas, you may find that road conditions can be rougher than you may be used to at home.

Our tours are of a modular nature meaning that our smaller tours fit together to form longer tours with the longest being 199 days in length. During this time, some passengers may join or leave your tour at different times. One of the advantages of this system is that we can offer you greater flexibility. We have carefully chosen departure dates to allow you to combine tours. This flexibility means you can get the best experience out of the time you have and see as much of your chosen country - or continent - as you want to.

We kindly request that our clients bring along a positive attitude and an open mind. These are most certainly invaluable when travelling in a group. Despite the very best intentions and planning, things can and do go wrong and occasionally we encounter problems beyond our control, such as delayed public transport and adverse weather conditions, in such situations we ask for your patience and we will endeavor to keep as close to your scheduled itinerary as possible.

The accommodation we use are generally locally owned and are chosen for their proximity to local attractions, their cleanliness and customer service. However, in some of our more remote destinations you may encounter basic facilities and on occasion you may not have the luxury of hot water, laundry facilities, local shops or amenities. Our guides and leaders will do their best to forewarn you if this should occur.

Participation in our tours requires a certain level of fitness. The tours are fast paced, packing in plenty of sights into short periods of time. It is also sometimes necessary for all our clients to carry their own luggages. This includes being able to lift your possessions on and off various forms of transport and carrying them up and down flights of stairs in train stations and hotels where there may be no lift available.

Due to the nature of our group tours, we don't allow children under the age of 12 to join them. This is just in case the children are unable to keep up with the rest of the group. The accommodation, transport or excursions offered may not be suitable for children under this age. For children aged between 12 and 18, we ask that each child is accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Please note: No children under the age of 13 are able to do the Inca Trail Trek. A minimum age of 16 is accepted on group tours to China. There is no minimum age for our Tailor-made tours.

As some of our tours operate at high altitudes or in malarial zones, we would recommend you consult with your doctor prior to travel. If you have any pre existing medical conditions, travel in these regions may be difficult. Furthermore, we recommend consulting with your doctor at least 6 weeks before your departure date regardless of your present health.

During our Overland Tours and Budget Expeditions you will be required to participate in the successful running of the group. This means that to ensure the happy continuation of the tour you will all be expected to help the tour leader and driver with the setting up of camping equipment, the cooking of meals, pitching of tents, washing up and packing up the vehicle when leaving a campsite facility. It may also be necessary to stop off at a supermarket on the way to your next destination to pick up supplies. Here you will have some time to do your own personal shopping.

We sincerely hope that we have given you a good insight into what travelling on a group tour may be like. We highly recommend that you read the Pre-departure Information Booklet, Tour Dossier and Travel Style description, for more detailed information specific to your tour. You should also read section 9 of our booking conditions if you are in any doubt about the above information.

** If after reading this information, you don't think this particular tour is right for you, remember Tucan Travel has a large range of tours, products and services which can be tailor-made to suit your requirements. Please don’t hesitate to contact our offices to discuss alternative travel styles or if you require more information.

Associations:

Association of Independent Tour Operators, Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Ltd, Association of British Travel Agents

Awards:

British Travel Awards

    • 2014 Bronze - Best Small Escorted Adventure Holiday Company
    • 2012 Winner - Best Escorted Experience Tours Operator
    • 2009 Winner - Best Small Tour Operator of the Year
    • 2008 Silver - Best Tour Operator to Central/South America

 

My Adventure Travel Expo

    • 2014 Winner - Best International Tour Operator

 

e-travelblackboard Readers' Choice Awards 

    • 2009 Winner - Best Tour Operator to Asia
Quetzal Highway tour
10 days
Group Tour
Basic - 2 star
Physical :
From: $ 1,025

Highlights

  • Rio Dulce boat tour to Livingston
  • Guided tour of Tikal ruins
  • Caye Caulker
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Peru Completed tour
21 days
Group Tour
Basic - 2 star
Physical :
From: $ 3,158

Highlights

  • Two nights in the Amazon Jungle in Peru
  • Guided tour of Sacred Valley of the Incas
  • Inca Trail Trek
  • Guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • Day trip to Lake Titicaca
  • Entrance to & guided tour Colca Canyon
  • Visit Huacachina Oasis
  • A boat tour of the Ballestas Islands
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Peru Explorer tour
16 days
Group Tour
Basic - 2 star
Physical :
From: $ 2,168

Highlights

  • Guided tour of Sacred Valley of the Incas
  • Guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • Day trip to Lake Titicaca
  • Entrance to & guided tour Colca Canyon
  • Visit Huacachina Oasis
  • A boat tour of the Ballestas Islands
More
South America Express tour
26 days
Group Tour
Basic - 2 star
Physical :
From: $ 4,657

Highlights

  • Guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • Guided tour of Sacred Valley of the Incas
  • Full day excursion on Lake Titicaca
  • Drive on the Salar de Uyuní salt flats
  • Entry to Laguna Colorada National Park
  • Guided tour of the Valley of the Moon
  • Argentinian Winery
  • Entry to Iguazú Falls in Brazil
  • Entry to Iguazú Falls in Argentina
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See All Tucan Travel Trips >

 

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