Send the Travel Writers to Hell! or Nothing like a Rip Off to Ruin a Trip

greg's picture

After having some great times living in Argentina we wanted to end our trip on a travel binge (note the important difference between living somewhere and travelling somewhere). So, we headed north on the so-called "Gringo Trail." After spending months reading various travel books and getting excited about the trip we set off. Who knew that in a few months time we would hate those travel writers for the inaccuracy of their data and the exaggeration of their prose? Who knew that we'd be adding Do Travel Writers Go to Hell to our wish list hoping that the answer was yes?

So, without further ado, our list of top rip-offs during this trip:

Hotel Inti Wayra on Isla Del Sol, Lake Titicaca

She showed us a beautiful room (270 degrees of windows atop a ridge line). She told us the price was US$20. Great. We stayed. One night. We woke up. We paid US$20 (we were running out of Bolivianos and wanted to get rid of the relatively useless dollars). She told us that we have to pay an extra 5 bolivianos "because the value of the dollar fell over night." What? On this island which barely has electricity you are monitoring the exchange rates? And even if that's the case, when you quote a price you should quote the final price.

Private Boat Ride on Isla Del Sol, Lake Titicaca

The hotel told us it would be 160 bolivianos for a boat to the other side of the island. A fellow traveler reserved a boat at 6:00AM on the same day we were traveling for 200 bolivianos and we were astonished the price changed so much from the hotel to the reality. Then we went to get a boat and were told it was 220 bolivianos. When we asked why the difference we were told it was because gas prices had gone up. The gas prices and the exchange rates seem to fluctuate a lot on this island.

Isla Del Sol Ruins Tour, Guide Required

We only overheard this event, but all the same...a gentleman purchased a ticket in town to go to the island and view the ruins. Once on the boat he was informed that in order to see the ruins he would have to get picked up from the "ruins dock". In order to walk to the "ruins dock" from the main drop off point he simply had to go with a guide. The guide was an additional 20 bolivianos.

More Lake Titicaca Fun - 10 Bolivianos To Get There...

Are you sensing a pattern yet? Isla Del Sol appears to be the epi-center of all rip-offs. We got a ticket to Isla Del Sol for 10 bolivianos. No problem. Once you're there you find out that the return ticket is 20 bolivianos. Sweet. This is almost as good as New Jersey where it is free to drive across a toll-bridge into New Jersey but you have to pay to get out. Crazy.

Hotel Confort in Cafayate, Salta - "Extra Breakfasts"

The stay included breakfast. We ordered extra coffee. We were served. When we checked out we found out that the extra coffee would cost us an "extra breakfast" charge. In spite of the fact that when we got the extra coffee we declined the refill of day-old bread and tang, we still had to pay the 20 pesos for the "extra breakfast".

Swimming Pool in Tupiza $20 to swim, only $15 Para Nadar

The Tupiza swimming pool had a sign in English and Spanish - It's 20 bolivianos to swim and 15 bolivianos to Nadar. So, if you speak Spanish and know that nadar means swim then you get to pay 5 bolivianos fewer. Sweet.

I get it. We're tourists. The difference between the normal situation and "rip-off"situation in all these cases was never more than US$5 (i.e. never more than a few minutes worth of work in the USA). Even so, it never feels good on a personal level to be ripped off. It's also amazing how so many of these rip-offs were located in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

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