Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

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Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby spn400z » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:57 am

If there is anyone out there looking to goto Peru for a holiday your safer going to Mexico and drinking toilet water than you are going to Peru and eating the food. I travelled with GAP on the "Taste of Peru" tour. Which is quite an ironic title for the trip considering that almost half of our group have gotten violently ill. It was not one isolated incident in one restaurant either. All of our group of 16 traveled over Peru and have gotten sick in different towns. The worst was one kid about 21 who ate some fish at a recomended restaurant. He was so sick he could not make it out of bed and our GAP leader had to call a doctor to the hotel. They did some blood work and he was so sick they confused his blood sample with him having apendicitus. Which wasnt the case. The Doctor called his condition "Fairly Serious". His mom was no help to him either because she was just as sick from eating tainted produce from the rainforest lodge that GAP had booked us 3 days prior. She also had the doctor called and was given antibiotics, spending the next 2 days in bed getting sick. My girlfriend on the trip was also another one who had eaten some of the tainted produce from the rainforest lodge and it ruined her whole trip. We were 4 days in and she became ill. She was sick for the remainer of the trip, which ruined her trip, and when we got back home to Canada had some blood work done because she was still feeling sick 7 days after. The doctors we a little puzzled and was brought back in for a 2nd round of testing. By this time she developed a nasty rash all over her body that oozed a yellow. The medication they gave us ended up having an allergic reaction and we had to goto Emergency. Thanks GAP, great lodge. I considered myself lucky by only having diarrhea for one night every hour from eating the trout that was reccomended by the waiter in cusco. I felt like I got punched in the stomach the next day and missed the tour. But at least I spent the day with my girlfriend sick in bed. The other 4 members that ended up getting ill (3 in cusco and 1 in lima) were sick for about a day or so. But rejoined the group later. You cant really call it a group because there was always someone sick so there never was a full group. I think its funny how there are over 100 schools in Lima but they cant teach people about bacteria and food conditions, only how to peddle to tourists. It was worse than Mexico for peddlers at every stop. But I digress, if your going to Peru bring some granola bars and some safe food to eat. As our group leader has said "In Peru it dosent matter if its a nice restaurant or a average one. You can get sick at anyone of them" so dont roll the dice in this country, if you dont believe me goto the local market place and youll see the conditions. Bring safe food and this warning from me. Spend the 2 grand on a nice TV and watch some Peru videos with a safe meal. You have been warned.
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Re: Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby coqui14 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:22 pm

Thank you for your advise. Many people has travel to Peru and don't have the same experience. We were a group of 8 family member traveling buy ourselves and we did not get sick with the food. You mention that people got sick eating "tainted produce"... Well, if you travel abroad the first rule is that you don't eat anything that it isn't cook... produce is a NO-NO (no salads, no fruits, no juices). Eating fish...did you ever watched the movies "airplane". The main learning lesson of the movies is that "you never ask for the fish" specially in places far away from the coast... Now, it is bad you had a bad experience, but don't blame everyone else for some of our own mistakes. Conditions in Peru, Mexico, India, South Asia, etc. are not the same as in some develope countries... stay at home next time.
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Re: Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby sinecure » Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:23 pm

Wow sounds like you guys got the short end of the stick.

I believe you got the exception vs. the rule, but still that doesn't make for a good trip at all.

I've notified GAP's customer service folks of your post. I hope this doesn't turn you off a GAP trip in future.

Cheers,
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Re: Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby DanielBMe » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:17 pm

Wow definitely sounds like you had a horrible experience. But I do think your group is the exception more than the rule. I know quite a few people who have been to Peru and only one got Travellers D that I know of.

I'm doing Peru in August. I'll be taking all the necessary precautions. Medication for ecoli prevention such as Dukoral, wash hands before eating, non dairy probiotics, eating well cooked meat, chasing all meals with alcohol to kill the germs ;-) etc. No different then when I went to East Africa. Although once there, after a few days, I was eating everything and anything and didn't get sick whatsoever unlike some in my group.

It's really a shame though, cause I can see how something like this can totally ruin a trip. But it is a risk when travelling to undeveloped countries.

I found this in regards to travelling to Peru

Avoid getting sick in Peru
Do not drink tap water - only bottled water
Do not eat salad and only eat fruits that you peel yourself.
Only eat thoroughly cooked food
Do not drink beverages with ice
Do not swim in standing waters
Do not handle animals
Avoid dairy products
Use mosquito repellants
Have some steralizing bandages and solutions
Making sure to not get water in your mouth when showering
Rinse toothbrush with bottled water.
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Re: Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby jimshu » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:17 pm

Good warning spn400z.Hey did all you guys fill out your trip evaluation forms and report all this?Hopefully GAP take note and take action against the lodge.Sounds like they can do a lot more to avoid this.
GAP guides, now called Chief Experience Officers, can do a lot by talking with restaurants about the need to do their all in avoiding food poisoning.They should be out the back in the kitchen, checking on food preparation.Are they using bottled water for food prep?Using hand sanitisers?Are food prep staff washing their hands with sanitisers after they have been to a toilet?
Our guide in Vietnam 8 years ago was!And he spelt it out to the restaurants that any of his clients get sick, he never brings a group back to them.
There is a lot GAP guides can do to help avoid these events.By being proactive, rather than passively accepting it.
But ultimately it all comes back to us also,as the points Daniel has outlined.
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Re: Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby Zuleika » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:35 pm

oh dear what a shame - and a horrid experience for your group.

I did Absolute Peru and have wonderful memories of a magical Peru - its still one of my most favourite trips/countrys. No one on my tour got sick, and it included a stay at the same lodge as you.

Lots of good advice already posted above. One thing I would recommend to avoid unless you have a very strong stomache would be the cerviche - although supposedly very tasty, this is actually raw fish - so a bit of russian roulette!
But mainly i always recommend good hygiene - you must ALWAYS wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before eating anything. People do tend to forget this a lot and are always quick to blame the food - not that I'm suggesting this was the case on your trip of course, but just generally.

It is good that you have pointed this out to GAP as hopefully they can do something about it.
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Re: Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby jimshu » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:49 pm

You have to also consider the possibility that someone joining the tour, has brought with them a bug.....
Norovirus is violent and may match those symptoms you describe.Only takes 1 person.Then it puts everyone down.Last winter whole day care centres, hospital wards, even schools shut because of that nasty bug.
Did they ever actually diagnose the bug ?
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Re: Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby Zuleika » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:31 pm

jimshu wrote:You have to also consider the possibility that someone joining the tour, has brought with them a bug.....
Norovirus is violent and may match those symptoms you describe.Only takes 1 person.Then it puts everyone down.Last winter whole day care centres, hospital wards, even schools shut because of that nasty bug.
Did they ever actually diagnose the bug ?


Oh lordy yes - a whole cruise ship from the UK went down with it a year or so ago. 100's of poor folk.
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Re: Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby jimshu » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:12 pm

I think I'm going to be down with violent dioreaha tomorrow.It's high season for plums, and my machinist has given me a bag of huge fat juicy plums!Can't help myself.
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Re: Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby TravelFun » Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:53 am

Gosh, what a terrible experience but please don't bring down a country for one bad experience. I have travelled many a times across South America and have never been violently sick like yourselves. I do hope that GAP will be proactive and isolate the issues and take the corrective steps.

As mentioned by DanielBMe, there are many steps we can take ourselves and be responsible for. Also, do remember to take the right vaccinations and keep them maintained if travelling frequently.

Yours was a one-off situation and definately not the regular occurance and hope this doesn't stop you from travelling...if it does then that is a shame for South America has soooooo much to offer. I have had many amazing experiences here and absolutely love the continent and just keep going back.

Safe and happy travels to all !
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Re: Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby Customer_Service » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:01 pm

21 January 2010

Interesting post here. Of course, we will investigate the conditions of the lodge.

I have personally done a very similar trip with us, and had no issues. In fact - had an amazing time. I can only really re-itterte the advise posted by DanielBMe above in regard to hygiene and avoiding obvious pitfalls.
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Re: Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby graybeard » Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:30 pm

What a nasty experience. I did get violently ill for 24 hours on my Peru trip last year. HOWEVER, I have also got this ill in Mexico AND at home. I realized it was a stomach virus, which, depending on type, can be contagious. I've seen it spread in groups like dominoes. It was not food poisoning. But, the symptom profile is very similar to food poisoning, so it is easily confused. Either way one feels just awful. Good luck with your next tour.
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Re: Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby voidczech » Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:21 am

On our Galapagos/Inca Discovery tour ... 10 out of 16 of us got sick in the Galapagos (one ended up with a parasite). I was personally sick on our last Galapagos island day and even had to have the airport doctor on Baltra take a look at me... and my mom was a couple days behind me on the Lima-Cusco flight. However, it only lasted less than 2 days. Also, last month I met a fellow-GAPee here in T.O., who told me she also took the same tour as I had (we even had the exact same staff), and "the sickness" hit her on while she was actually hiking the trail (brutal).....anyhow, this illness started in Galapagos not Peru ....

Having said that ... I look at Daniel's list on "avoid[ing] getting sick in Peru", and although he is correct, I broke a lot of these rules once I was there ( I figured after my Galapagos sickness, I was covered!) lol...

In Cusco, I had the most amazing salad with walnut crusted goat cheese and lobster ravioli... I drink everything with ice (when available) ... went horseback riding... didn't use bug spray ...most likely accidentally drank shower water, and rinsed my toothbrush under the tap.... and I was not sick at all.

Now having said all this... I still HIGHLY recommend the trip! In fact, it still remains the trip of a lifetime! I would do it over again... and I even plan to go back to see more of Peru ...

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Re: Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby DaveRodriguez » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:40 pm

Sorry to hear you had a bad experience! I did the Gourmet Peru tour in June 2008 and ate every kind of Peruvian food I could get my hands on, including the aforementioned ceviche (which was delicious) and trout. I was pretty careful about only drinking bottled water, and I took an Imodium every morning just to be safe. Everyone in our group did get sick one day, from some bad homemade chicha (corn beer) at a picnic held at someone's house. I was feeling pretty low for a day or so, but I got over it and had a great rest of the trip.

Our GAP guide was very concerned about the situation and called the owner of the house where we had the bad chicha to tell him not to serve it again.

As other people have mentioned, these are the chances you take when you travel and eat. The occasional bout of travel sickness sucks, but it's not going to put me off trying some very good food wherever I go.
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Re: Peru is worse than Mexico. Stay away!

Postby jimshu » Sat Jan 30, 2010 6:09 pm

Our GAP guide was very concerned about the situation and called the owner of the house where we had the bad chicha to tell him not to serve it again.

That's the sort of guide that I admire.A guide who will take actions to avoid repeat events like this!
And why your trip evaluation forms are so important, so GAP can follow up and if patterns are showing up from similar evaluations, actions can be taken.

From some of the above postings,it may very well be a Norovirus outbreak that is hitting some groups.I mentioned earlier that schools, daycare centres and hospital wards here in NZ have been getting hit with this.
Well , last week, my wife , who works at a daycare centre,was hit very hard with a stomach upset, vomiting, nausea etc.It's doing it's rounds again here.All because 1 child was not kept home, and teachers and kids have been progressively getting it.
So she's had it again, but this time worse.
We've got Ethiopia coming up in August, and she reckons anything she catches there, could never be as bad as last week! :D
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