Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
This trip was the perfect amount of time and an excellent way to travel around the Mediterranean. I have to say our tour manager Enzo made the trip extra awesome with his stellar upbeat attitude.
Barcelona's night life will blow your mind so be ready for a crazy night out. The south of France and Monaco are some of the most beautiful places along the Mediterranean. There was just so much to see in Italy that you wont be disappointed.
I took part in all the extras and was very happy. Some of the hotels were far out from the city centers but usually they were right near a transit station so it was easy to get wherever you wanted to go.
The people you will meet on this trip really make the experience. You become a family when your out there travelling together. So many good memories.
This was an excellent trip....time to start planning my next contiki adventure.
I just retuned from my Octoberfest Contiki and unfortunately i do not have a good thing to say about my experience. No socialising area to meet other guests, no music being played at the campsite unlike other tour groups (Top Deck, PP travel and Stoke), the staff members were rude and did not involve themselves with the campers. I was 10 minutes late for breakfast and was told i could not have a juice and should be happy l could eat what was left over. Buses were not regular and no buses ran during the day to the Octoberfest grounds as they were 'being cleaned'. When they did run we were dropped of far from the venue and were only given verbal directions before getting off the bus, we had to pay for our own toilet paper, hot water tokens to have a shower and wifi. I heard great things about Stoke and i absolutely loved the actual Munich Octoberfest event but would not recommend doing Octoberfest with Contiki.
Meet heaps of people great time!
You do and see SO many things in those 17 days. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, paraglided in the Austrian Alps, ate amazing pizza and gelato in Rome, and snorkelled in the Greek Islands + so much more. Every single person on our tour had a fantastic time! Our TM Bec and Driver Christian worked so hard to ensure we all had the time of our lives. I definitely recommend this tour!
I chose to go on a Contiki tour because I was already going to Europe, but had no idea what I was doing. I figured Contiki would kind of introduce me to how Europe works! I never expected the trip to turn out how it did though. I was kind of nervous because, before we all met up in London, I had already been there several days and enjoyed my free time to do with what I wanted. Although, once the tour started I didn't really worry about that much. I loved spending time with everyone and we got enough free time too.
I'm not sure if it's how Contiki is or if my group just got lucky but our Contiki family was amazing! We all got so close extremely quickly. I never worried about partying in Paris or Florence because I knew if something bad were to go down, one of the group mates would be there! We looked out for each other and had a fucking blast.
Now, onto the tour manager and driver. Rhett was our TM and Rasto was our driver.. They are bloody awesome!! Honestly, I miss them! They were super rad dudes in general and brilliant at there jobs. My friend, that came with me on this tour, got really drunk in Florence and when I ran into her I saw right away she needed to go home. Right away, a guy from our tour came over to help me and then Rhett saw me with her and helped me. He just snapped on and got shit done. Rasto and Rhett never crossed a line, they were A LOT of fun and did an amazing job as well, every day.
When we watched everyone go on the bus back to London from Amsterdam, my friends and I wanted to cry! It was so sad seeing everyone go right after we had gotten so close with everyone. I can't wait to do another Contiki let alone go to Australia this upcoming summer to visit so of my new Aussie friends! I HIGHLY recommend going on this tour, even if you're by yourself, don't be daunted. Everyone befriends each other! Two of the best weeks of my life! Miss my Contiki fam, Rhett and Rasto!! You guys rock C: XX-- Jaq
I spent 7 weeks in Asia and this tour was the highlight and the perfect way to end my trip.
Our tour manager, Muffin, was great. He always knew where we were headed and where the best parties were. We weren't in Koh Phangan during a Full Moon/Half Moon/Black Moon party but our TM and the staff at the resort held a private Moon party for us in the bar of the resort and it ended up being totally out of control, it was probably for the best that we didn't go far from home that night!
Koh Tao is beautiful, and Koh Samui is a great party. I challenge someone to do this tour and not have a great time and make lifelong friends.
I only wish that I had planned extra days at the end of the tour, our group got really close and I left early on the last day- meaning I didn't really get proper goodbyes with the whole group.
This tour was absolutely breathtaking! Worth every single penny.
Our tour manager, Phoebe was great. She was very laid back and extremely helpful with whatever problems or questions we had. I ended up getting sick in Vietnam and had to see a doctor and she went to the Pharmacy for me and picked up the medications that he had prescribed.
Asia is fairly cheap, however I found I spent a lot of money in Cambodia, since they use the american dollar, my bank account depleted a lot faster than the weeks previous.
Do as many optionals as you can, I did everything that is listed on the website and more, since our TM organized additional add-ons for us. It's so cheap to do, so even if it turns out to be crap you've spent less than $30 dollars on it at the very most.
Make sure you pack a travel pillow/neck pillow! I had one, but forgot it in the hotel in Nha Trang, it was the saddest day of the entire trip!
Overall, a great experience for my first solo trip and my first contiki tour! I'm hooked!
i was on this tour from 9th september to the 18th september 2014, it was so much more than i could ever want, met amazing people, saw amazing sights, although we didnt stay long in each country our tour crew were amazing and ive made some lifelong memories would definately not change my experience i had 10/10 would recommend
I went on this trip almost a year ago now, and I still can't stop thinking about it. It was incredible. Everything lived up to my expectations and so much more!
I went by myself, at the ripe age of 18 (I was the youngest of the group but I couldn't tell). The trip opened my eyes to a completely new culture and introduced me to new people from all over the world who had similar goals and values as myself and with whom I generally just got on really well.
Like I said, it's been almost a year and I am still in contact with some of the friends I made on the trip.
The sights were beautiful, the trip was so well organized and sooooo much fun. The accomidations were really good, no complaints at all. Wifi is a little rought though.
Transportation was great, our bus driver was awesome. We spent a fair amount of time on the bus, but I found that that was where we bonded as a group a lot. We always had music going and we always switched up who we were sitting with so it was never boring. Also...just looking out the window will keep you pretty entertained.
I recently went to France by myself (not on a tour), and I found it qutie difficult. At this point in my life I much prefer a tour group and Contiki offered it all.
I find myself missing Contiki. The people, the energy, the experiences. I hope to book another trip very soon.
Extremely Good Value, Amazing Times, Amazing People and One Flipping Amazing Adventure.
Where do I start ...
The tour is an amazing one at that. Amongst spending 37 completely fun filled days with your new best travel buds, the tour offers you the exposure to the best places in Europe.
Firstly, I want to say that choosing a longer tour rather than a shorter one, is an extremely good choice. I spoke with many others on shorter tours and they seemed to go too quick. Additionally, you don't have enough time to get to know others on your tour - which is a big shame.
If you are a solo traveler this is also the trip for you, most of the people on our tour were solo and found it extremely easy to make friends - by the end, we all were close mates, ones who will be till the day we die.
The value is amazing, all breakfasts were included, and some weren't fantastic but it definitely exceeded my expectations as to what I thought I was going to get. 37 days to have included breakfast, travel, accommodation and extras such as free shots and guided tours is unreal. Straight up you will not find better value and inclusions for the same amount of exposure to so many countries than you will on the Contiki European Adventurer.
As a first time traveler, my goal was to see as many countries as I possibly could, on a budget, within a six week time-frame. The thing that I loved about this tour, is that it gave me a snapshot of Europe's best, so that I could both say A) I have been there and B) I knew which places I wanted to go to and spend more time when I went back.
The one massive misconception about Contiki trips is the accommodation. Yes, you do stay in hostels, however European hostels are fantastic, they are clean and obtain decent facilities and amenities - and we had at least 10 nights in Hotel upgrades! My tip is to take a sleeping bag (which they ask you to buy/bring anyway) and in the 3 or 4 places out of 37 where you sleep which are dodgy line your mattress with the sleeping bag.
Countries which are AMAZING and I highly loved:
UK, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Croatia, Greece.
Negatives / Recommendations:
- Buy and take sunscreen from Australia! European sunscreen is extremely expensive!
- Make sure you purchase an international Sim-Card from the post office before you leave. There is no WIFI on the bus (unless you pay for it - expensive). In saying this though, it was great to get back to basics and talk to people!
- The coffee is Sh** in Europe. If you are a fan, I am sorry to disappoint you, you're in for a bad time! Hahaha
- The WIFI is also scarce and slow in the majority of camps/hostels where you stay.
- Needed more time in Munich and Barcelona. 1 night just wasn't enough! Really want to go back there! If you get a chance to go before or after the tour - go to Berlin!
- Take a GoPro and buy the pole and bike attachments.
- Take a DSLR or good camera - don't rely on your iphone!
- Some extra activities are not worth doing: Flamenco Show and definitely the cabaret show in Paris.
- Take and have more money than you need! THIS IS IMPORTANT. Experience as much as you can. If it takes you an extra year to save - do it. You need at least 100 euro a day for spending money. Depending on how much you drink maybe add a little extra. The good thing is in the travel days, your budget adjusts so it compensates for the days you have overspent. Around $5000 - $7000 AUD spending money is fairly achievable.
- Take a power board and universal charger! Lol the amount of things you need to charge along with others in your room on one power point is crazy!
Look, I could keep going on, but all in all this trip is one hell of a ride!
Let me start by saying I had a great time - the people I met were fantastic and I hope to see a lot of them again someday. Our tour guide, Chloe - was so amazing - such a great person to have leading us along. The itinerary is also great - Italy is wonderful and Switzerland was so incredibly beautiful - I probably would have never made an individual effort to visit it, but am so glad I discovered it on this tour. Paris is another world - so incredible.
With that, the tour happens very very fast. You're going to be tired, you're going to get sick and at times you'll probably feel overwhelmed. Everything is happening so fast. You're visiting 4 cities in 8 days - it's a lot to take in. On one side, it's a great way to get an idea of where you'd like to return - and socially, it's a fantastic time. However, if you're really looking to sink into the culture of these cities, I would advise going to each for a longer period. This tour is just so rushed. I was so grateful that I decided to extend my trip to spend more days in Paris after the tour - otherwise I would left without a true appreciation of what the city has to offer.
On top of the sheer rush of it all, the fact that you're joining the tour at the very end of a much larger tour is a downside. The people you meet up with already have made bonds and memories and it's hard to assimilate into the group. Don't get me wrong - I definitely did and I too made friends, but the people I was closest to were those who joined the tour at the same time as me (which isn't a bad thing), but there was a lingering feeling of being mildly left out on some of the stories shared and inside jokes that kept popping up.
As this is a budget tour - you must know that these are not going to be the best accommodations. I booked this trip literally 2 weeks before I boarded a plane, so I took what was available without knowing what to expect. I'm not a princess, but walking into the first hotel really made me take a moment to realize what kind of situation I was going into. 4-5 people in a room at most places and shared bathrooms. Meals were generally a means to an end, etc. Also, the locations are usually a bit out of the way and in seedier parts of town, but as they say - you get what you pay for - and you aren't usually in an unsafe position, it's just a matter of knowing what to expect and being ok with hostel type accommodations.
Altogether, I had a wonderful, memorable time - however, I don't know if I would do this sort of tour again. Maybe I'm just at the age where I like things a bit more comfortable, but it wasn't necessarily my cup of tea. I would think this would be an awesome tour for a college student who has a break from school and wants to party in Europe and get the Cliff Notes version of various cities in a short amount of time and on a tight budget - and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. A few years ago - this would have been perfect for me.
My bf and I endured this painful trip together. First thing first, the people you meet via Contiki Tours are great! It's an easy way to make new friends BUT everything else is pretty awful. There are other sites like TripAdvisor that will give you reviews very similar to what I am about to give you. The amount of money you pay for this trip is not worth it. The one thing that is more disappointing than the food are the hotel accommodations. Here is a break down of my complaint I submitted directly to the company. Which they did nothing about.
1. In Rome we stayed at the Regent Hotel Rome the address is Via Filippo Civinini 46 A Rome, RM, 00197. On hotels.com the price for this hotel is $54 a night (Hotel Regent Cost). Considering that I paid $1565.65 and my bf paid $1633.61 that comes out to $400 a day for room, board and activities.
Upon checking in at the Regent Hotel we discovered fecal splatter on the wall behind the toilet as well as maggots in the ceiling light. I realize that this is a 3 star hotel however, that kind of hygienic carelessness is unacceptable. When we called to request another room we were advised that we couldn’t move because the hotel was full. If we had booked this hotel on our own I am sure I could have put a stop on charges via my credit card and moved to another hotel. Therefore, considering my bf and I each probably paid $100+ , we obviously overpaid.
2. In Florence we stayed at the BBhotel Firenze Centro located at Viale Amendola 34, Lungarno del Tempio, 50121 Florence. On hotels.com the price for this hotel is $71 a night. (B&B Costs). Compared to the hotel Regent Hotel this was a huge upgrade. However, although aesthetically this was a better accommodation, our room had this weird smell, almost sulfur like that permeated through our luggage and gave our clothes a weird smell. You can image our discomfort walking around in Florence, in the heat smelling as we did.
3. In Venice we stayed at the Michelangelo Hotel Mestre located at Via Forte Marghera 69 Mestre, VE, 30173, Italy. On hotels.com the price for this hotel is $105 a night. (Michaelangelo Costs). We were here for the last two days of our trip, which happened to be the hottest days. Well, conveniently our air conditioner didn’t work. You can bet that we didn’t get much sleep those last two days since it was about 80 degrees in our room and we were sweating through our clothes. When we called to get a different room they said various rooms were encountering the same situation and they couldn’t do anything about it.
If I would have known that this is the kind of experience we were going to encounter using Contiki I would have preferred to take our chances on scheduling our own itinerary. The group tours move so fast through the sites that my bf and I lost our group several times. Towards the end we found that it was a better experience to buy site seeing books from the local vendors hopping onto wifi and trip advising our way through suggested spots.
Don't use Contiki. Be adventurous, take chances and use the ton of resources out there.
I 100% recommend this tour for anyone who wants to see the most of what Europe has to offer in a flash. Tour is 10 days and hits most major Western European destinations. I am an avid traveler having lived in Spain and Australia in the past and have traveled Europe prior to this to a large degree. I decided to go with a friend who had not seen Europe at all and I was not in the mood to plan it all for us. Contiki did a great job of leaving the planning out of our hands. Even for some one whose seen Europe and is well traveled this tour wasn't too 'touristy' and didn't bother me like I thought it might. Everyone on the trip was respectful and super fun. Many traveled alone, some couples, and some friends. It was great to go out and do things on your own during the day and meet up with everyone at night for a good time. Its super easy to make new friends on this trip which is what everyone ended up doing.
London, Day 1: London on this tour is a quick stop. Arrive early if you want to see London as you really just meet up in the morning the tour starts and are off to Amsterdam. My friend and I came in the morning before the tour started and saw as much as we could. The day the tour starts you basically get on a bus and travel down the UK over the English Channel and to France and eventually through Belgium to get to Amsterdam by dusk. Its actually not bad because I was tired from traveling from NYC to Europe so the bus time allowed me to rest. That night you take a night cruise through Amsterdam and this is really fun. Its the best way to meet your fellow travelers. After we explored the red light district and saw a sex show. Everyone on our tour pretty much did it and it was all a harmless laughable experience to share.
Amsterdam Day 2: Amsterdam is gorgeous. Our tour manager gave out maps and let us know what we should see if we had no plan. Most people ended up checking out Anne Frank's house and then heading out to shop, wander the canals, or go to a museum. My friend and I ended up going to the Heineken museum which was a blast. It was quick so it didn't take too long. After we wandered the streets and ended up getting some food. Bus to Germany was in the late afternoon. At night you do a wine tasting tour in the Rhine Valley which is super nice.
St. Goar Day 3: Day 3 is spent mostly on the bus. We started off the morning in St. Goar at a small little German town which was picturesque and had some shops. From there we took a LONG bus ride down to Munich. It seemed like it took forever but we hit a bad accident on the highway which tacked hours onto our commute. You play bus games and can sleep so it really isn't the end of the world. That night we had limited time in Munich because of our delay but we went to a beer hall and had lots of fun in Munich for what we had time for.
Day 4: We ended up waking up in Austria. Our tour had to make a detour because of our traffic mishap and we got to spend a night in Austria, which was bar far my favorite place! Today is a bob sled trip in the Austrian alps. Super fun but if you don't like roller coasters this isnt for you. Its fast. We had a rainy day so we couldn't see much of the Alps either which was disappointing, but, its Europe, and it rains. A lot sometimes. In the afternoon we made another long bus journey down to Venice. This bus ride was long but the views of the Austrian and Italian alps are an event in themselves.
Day 5, Venice: Venice is glorious! We started out with a quick train to Venice for a full free day in this city. We literally did everything. Got lost in the streets, climbed the tower in St. Marks. Saw a royal palace. So much fun! We stuck around with most the group this day to hang out. At night you eat a Italian restaurant with the group before departing by ferry and train back to the hotel. Party at night of course near hotel.
Day 6, Lucerne, Switzerland: Bus ride from Venice to Switzerland is long, but, like previous rides the views are gorgeous. We passed by Lake Como and into the Swiss Alps. It was rainy when we arrived in Switzerland so we missed out on going to the top of the Mountain but it gave us extra time in Lucerne to hang around and see the sites. Still lots of fun. At night everyone went to a local bar for some fun. You stay in a jail this night. Kinda bizzare and not my cup of tea but its one night and its kinda funny.
Day 7: To Paris! Today is another long bus ride to Paris. Painful but worth the ride! You arrive at Paris late afternoon and go to the Eiffel Tower with the group to go to the top. Super gorgeous views. At night we all took the metro back to hotel together.
Day8: PARIS! Full day in Paris. I had seen Paris many a time. You start off with a group photo in front of the Eiffel Tower. BUY THIS. Its like 8 euro but its a fun photo. Then my friend and I went to the top of the Arc de Triumpf and walked down the shopping street to the louvre and eventually went into the Notre Dame Cathedral for fun. Night time is the Moulin Rouge show. This show is expensive. Most everyone in our tour did but from my perspective (having been to Vegas many times and seen many shows) I really wasn't that blown away. If seeing 'shows' isnt your favorite thing I would skip this. They tell you its classic French culture and you can't miss out but I thought it was kinda dull. 1 or 2 acts were interesting. Afterwards is the last night party so its worth attending just to go to the bar with everyone after!
Next morning was depature!
I'm sure I forgot some things. So much happens on this trip but my main take aways are .. Most people were traveling alone and made friends immediatley so dont worry. If you are an experience traveler.. no worries.. this wasn't a 'touristy' trip that makes you roll your eyes. If you've never seen Europe or never traveled this is also perfect for you because its all very taken care of. Overall, amazing trip! Shout out to our tour guide Steve E. who was awesome.
Deff would do Contiki again! :)
Where to start! This contiki was 13 days and it was the best thing I have ever done! We had a group of 49 and everyone got along so well and we bonded so quickly. The ages ranged from 18 to mid 30s.
The trip was so flexible and allowed us to do what we felt like. There were a bunch of optionals you could chose from or you could do your own thing. The islands were amazing, they were beautiful and so relaxed! Food was great, you could find cheap alcohol and the activities were awesome, things such as the beach party, the boat, water sports and more.
I made life long friends on this trip and it was so sad to leave it because of the connections we made!
Last but not least our tour manager Courtney went above and beyond! She was a gem. Instead of just telling us where to go for certain things she would walk us there, she was so organized and such a cool person! The group got along really well and she if definitely the perfect person for the job! From making sure we were safe to enjoying a day at the beach, and doing water sports with us, you could tell she put everything in to her work and absolutely loved her job! Rock on girl!
The only thing I would say is that I could have definitely done 5 more days! It was so good we never wanted to leave!
This tour is the first European Contiki I have done, so having said that it definitely was on par with the tour I did in the US and Canada. You get to see a lot of cities a little more in-depth with this tour than with other Contikis since it is two nights per destination. For the optional extras I did all of them except for the concert in Vienna, which according to everyone in our group who went was well worth it. The only optional extra I would not have done looking back is the nuclear bunker tour, you can rather spend that extra time exploring Prague. I spent two extra nights in Berlin and got to go to The Carnival of Cultures which was extremely fun, the hotel in Berlin that we stayed at wasn't great, no air-conditioning and the hotel faces East which means you either get a lot of sun first thing in the morning or in the afternoon which literally bakes the room so it was not ideal for mid-summer. Other than that the rest of the hotels on the tour have air-conditioning, the best hotel we stayed in was in Vienna which had spacious rooms. But all the hotels are worth the money you will be paying.
My favourite parts of this tour were definitely having lunch in Bratislava, such a cool city actually, and then I absolutely loved Budapest and Krakow. I would say for shopping your best options are Prague and Budapest, I got some really nice items for good prices. A note for vegetarians, the pierogie dinner in Krakow did not make a very good vegetarian meal so maybe check with your Tour Manager before booking that one. Otherwise this tour will pretty much consist of a ton of amazing sites and activities, and is definitely one for the foodies. Our Tour Manager, Dani was fantastic and so was our bus driver Pete who took us to Prater Park and even went on the rides with us. Contiki always provides the best service and gets the most out of the time you have to see your destinations, this tour definitely upheld those standards and it was money and time well spent.
This was my first Contiki and I travelled by my self.
Contiki was the best decision I made especially if your travelling solo as you make friends so quickly.
My favourite part of this trip was
Vegas oh it's such a wicked experience.. so much to do and see. I recommend seeing a show I went and seen criss angel and my mind was blown was incredible, look around the casinos so much to see and do in each place. Shopping I recommend the southern outlets in Vegas so many cheap deals..
A MUST is the Grand Canyon helicopter tour trust me it's amazing you will not regret it..
LA - universal studios is so so fun as you can see my pic with the Simpsons you need a whole day here and I recommend getting the VIP pass, you do not need to wait in line for any rides you see so much more in a universal tour it's a bit more pricey but me and the girls wouldn't do it differently..
The first night in LA we attended the Teen choice awards if this is Your thing I'd recommend attending one..
San Francisco need to do Alcatraz it's awesome to see and go to bubba gumps for dinner and also the cheese cake factory has amazing food, best garlic bread ever :)))
In New York of course the Statue of Liberty and a helicopter tour amazing views of the skylines..
The hotels were pretty good Vegas had the biggest room, LA hotel was pretty small but hey you only sleep there..
The only thing I can say negative about the tour was needed more time was rushed a lot but still got to see amazing things.. I suggest using your time wisely and be prepared to have a busy busy couple of weeks but you will love this tour and make some incredible people :)) if your Australian everyone will say I love your accent so be prepared to talk a lot haha...
DO THIS TOUR :)
I chose this tour because it suited my budget as a uni student, it was my first time overseas and I was a little hesitant to do one of the longer tours and finally because it ticked of 90% of Europe's well known, must-see sights. And it was probably the best decision of my life!
This was my first trip overseas and I travelled solo, which was quite daunting and I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. But everyone is so friendly and all there for the same reason and there were many other solo travellers as well. I found myself making new friends the night before the tour had even begun.
Our tour manager Sophie and driver Sergio were incredibly fun, so knowledgeable and would do everything they could to ensure you had the time of your life. On the first night they even broke the rules and let us hope off the bus for a 10 minutes photo opportunity at the Eiffel Tower during our sightseeing coach tour. Everyday is something different and there is a good combination of included sights and activities, optional extras (which I suggest you do them all!) and free time to see a few things of your choice. There is quite a bit of travel time involved in this tour, but time on the coach is a good chance to relax and recharge the batteries.
I mostly enjoyed the accommodation, it is budget quality and you do stay in rooms with up to five other people but you're only there to sleep. That's another thing - sleep - don't expect to get too much of it. But if you're only in Europe for two weeks you are mad if you don't seize every opportunity to have fun and explore your surroundings, you can sleep when you get home! The included food was wholesome and usually more than you could eat.
If you're thinking about doing this tour, just do it! Every moment will become a lifelong memory and you won't be able to stay away from Europe for long after you'd had a taste.
I have travelled all over the world but Contiki Egypt is one of the favourite trips I've ever done - what an amazing trip! The history and culture that we saw in just 7/8 days plus our 3 day 5 star Nile cruise and day snorkelling in the Red Sea - just incredible. I can't believe we saw so much in such a short time.
Sherif is an amazing tour guide - hard to see how this trip could continue without - his knowledge is limitless and nothing is too much trouble for him. What an amazing guy!
Now is a great time to see Egypt as the troubles over the last few years mean that (except for the Red Sea resorts) Egpyt is incredibly quiet at the moment - terribly sad for a country so reliant on tourism - but also great for any tourists that do visit at the moment - we didn't find any crowds or queues - and were able to get photos of the amazing temples, pyramids etc without any tourists getting in the way!
Just do it - you won't regret it.
Book directly through Pro Dive Cairns, as Contiki adds no value by booking with them.
Note that the 'Learn to Dive' trip page on the Contiki website states that the hotel you're staying at is Rydges Esplanade - this is not true, the Contiki accommodation is Gilligan's (backpackers). Meals are not included when you stay at Gilligan's.
Contiki didn't communicate to me where I needed to meet the group - I had to phone Pro Dive to arrange it myself.
Overall, a disappointing experience with Contiki. I booked through Contiki because I wanted my whole trip arranged for me - this was not what happened.
AMAZING trip though, but book directly through Pro Dive and choose your hotel (or backpackers) yourself - you'll also save a lot of money doing it this way.
This trip was amazing! Highlights included:
The adventure! From ziplining and white water rafting in the Colca Canyon, to kayaking in the Amazon.
The animals! Loved feeding alpacas and llamas and seeing endangered vicunas (their relative) in the wild. We woke up early in the morning to see macaws and parrots eating clay adjacent to the Amazon river. We were fortunate enough to see a female jaguar cross the Amazon river right in front of our boat. We spotted all sorts of night creatures including caimans in the river and tarantulas in the trees (but luckily no snakes).
The architecture! From the Inca masterpiece of Machu Picchu to the colonial splendor of Lima, Arequipa, and Cuzco.
The food! From ceviche, guinea pig, and alpaca meat on a volcanic stone, to all the delicious, exotic fresh fruit.
The diverse landscape! Snow-capped volcanoes, stunning nature reserves with flamingo flecked lakes, and man-made islands consisting of reeds (Lake Titicaca).
The people! Our guide, Clarissa, was fantastic. She was knowledgeable and passionate about her country, plus a lot of fun. Everyone we met was welcoming and warm (Taquil Island especially - even when we beat them at soccer).
The schedule was packed tight with fun things to do, like participating in a blessing ceremony by local shamans and tasting chicha, an alcoholic Inca beverage.
The logistics were arranged well, the buses were comfortable (and almost always included a restroom), the drivers were nice, and the local guides in Arequipa, Puno, and Puerto Maldonado (Wasai Tambopata Lodge) were interesting and engaging. The included meals offered plenty of options (one highlight being the dinner show in Lima! Wow!) Hotels were comfortable, centrally located, and were often unique (a former Inca palace in Cusco and a place in the middle of the Sacred Valley with stunning views and a pet llama).
This was truly an incredible adventure!