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johnturley

Astro Eclipse Trip to South America

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Posted (edited)

Has anybody else on this forum booked an itinery with the above company to see the Total Eclipse of the Sun from South America this July.

With only just over 3 months to the scheduled departure date of 28 June, I'm getting increasinly concerned that I've still not received any detailed information regarding flights, and hotels, or even which airport we will be departing from (I was planning on booking an airport hotel for the night prior to departure), and no further details of the itinery other than those when I first booked the trip about 18 months ago.

I keep ringing them up every couple of weeks, and they keep telling me that they will send me further details shortly, but that has been happening since January. I've already paid them more than two thirds of the cost of the trip, but at least they are ATOL protected, and all my payments were made using a credit card.

John

Edited by johnturley

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Sorry to hear about Astro Eclipse lack of communication. We used them last year for the Wyoming eclipse and found their service quite adequate (barring the quality of some hotels.... )

This year we've booked with Astrotrails, which is the company we have always used and they have been good in communicating with newsletters. We view the eclipse from Bella Vista which will be also the Astro Eclipse site, the difference I believe is that we stay in San Juan and Astro Eclipse in Rodeo, a small village just outside Bella Vista. I think the accommodation there is listed on their website: something or other "cabines" .

We booked our international  flights separately to Buenos Aires, then on tour to SanJuan , Atacama desert, Cerro Paranal (VLT), Santiago and back.

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2 minutes ago, Ceramus said:

Sorry to hear about Astro Eclipse lack of communication. We used them last year for the Wyoming eclipse and found their service quite adequate (barring the quality of some hotels.... )

This year we've booked with Astrotrails, which is the company we have always used and they have been good in communicating with newsletters. We view the eclipse from Bella Vista which will be also the Astro Eclipse site, the difference I believe is that we stay in San Juan and Astro Eclipse in Rodeo, a small village just outside Bella Vista. I think the accommodation there is listed on their website: something or other "cabines" .

We booked our international  flights separately to Buenos Aires, then on tour to SanJuan , Atacama desert, Cerro Paranal (VLT), Santiago and back.

Hi Ceramus

Thanks for your reply

I've previously trips booked Eclipse trips with Explorers Travel Club (Brian McGee's company) which I think now goes  by the name of Astrotrails, most recently the 2012 Australia Eclipse. The reason I booked with Astro Eclipse this time is that they were offering an itinery including visiting Machu Picchu, and at the time I booked Astrotails appeared only offering a trip which included visting the Chilean Observatories, which was also more expensive. I understand however that they've subsequently added on options including visiting Machu Picchu and other locations.

John   

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Yes, we booked our first eclipse with Explores to Venezuela when Brian was still in charge. It included Machu Pichu wich is unmissable, quite an experience in every way ( it rained heavily they day after our visit there and we were nearly stranded at the top of the mountain). It all went well in the end, I'm sure you'll have a good time.

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Not impressed by Astro Eclipse at all, only after someone on SGL sent me an email, did I find out that the probable departute date (which still has not been finalised) will probably be on 27 June (evening flight), despite it saying in all the information on line and what they have sent me, that the departure date was 28 June. My wife now needs to try to book an extra days holiday off work, and we need to book our dog in at the kennels for an extra day.

In addition they were not helpful at all when in came to checking visa and vacination requirements.

John

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Posted (edited)

I finally got details of International Flights and times together with my final invoice on 22 March. Departure is  now on the evening of 27 June, furthermore the cost has risen by about 10%, slightly less than the figure of 12% which was required if you wanted to cancel and get a full refund.

John

Edited by johnturley

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Typical of how companies operate these days. Only thing to say is these people will never get my custom. Furthermore lots of people on this forum should say the same thing. Maybe they would change there business practice or go out of business. 

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On 08/03/2019 at 11:15, Ceramus said:

Sorry to hear about Astro Eclipse lack of communication. We used them last year for the Wyoming eclipse and found their service quite adequate (barring the quality of some hotels.... )

This year we've booked with Astrotrails, which is the company we have always used and they have been good in communicating with newsletters. We view the eclipse from Bella Vista which will be also the Astro Eclipse site, the difference I believe is that we stay in San Juan and Astro Eclipse in Rodeo, a small village just outside Bella Vista. I think the accommodation there is listed on their website: something or other "cabines" .

We booked our international  flights separately to Buenos Aires, then on tour to SanJuan , Atacama desert, Cerro Paranal (VLT), Santiago and back.

Hello Ceramus,

I might catch up with you in Bella Vista as I am also with Astrotrails route 6.

Peter

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Posted (edited)

Astro Eclipse were again not very helpful when it came to vaccination requirements for the above trip, simply advising me to contact my GP.

At the local medical centre there was some uncertainty, definitely tetanus, hepatitis, and typhoid were recommended, but the main uncertainty was relating to yellow fever and anti-malarial pills. The one country we are visiting where these might be a requirement is Bolivia, but if you are only visiting the high altitude regions around La Paz (which we are), it appears that these are NOT a requirement unless you are coming from an infected area or country, which includes parts of Brazil and the Iguazo Falls on the border between Argentina and Brazil. We are not visiting these locations on our itinerary, but others on different itineraries are. The yellow fever vaccination is only available at certain medical centres, and they are generally reluctant to give it unless absolutely essential, because some people have a very bad reaction to the vaccination, including the cancer specialist Dr Martin Gore, who unfortunately died shortly after having had a yellow fever vaccination.

I wondered what is the understanding of the vaccination requirements of others who are travelling to South America for the trip, and what vaccinations they are having.

In my opinion a company organising such a trip should take more responsibility to spell out what is a legal requirement for the countries visited on the trip, and what is recommended.

 John

Edited by johnturley

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Posted (edited)

Arrived back from the above trip Friday of last week, had a marvellous view of the eclipse from the observation site at Bella Vista, San Juan Province in western Argentina in the foothills of the Andes at approximately 2000 metres elevation. This was the fourth total eclipse I have seen over a period in excess of 40 years, but was the first one when visibility of the eclipse was never in doubt, there not being a cloud in the sky on the day.

I have attached a few photos, which were taking through a relatively cheap Opticstar 80mm refractor (some chromatic abberation visible), utilising (except during totality) a inconel coated glass solar filter and a Canon EOS 1200 SLR. Despite the clear skies I did not photograph the diamond ring effect as well as I did in the case of the 2012 Australia eclipse (don't know whether that was just me), and also did not capture Bailey's Beads, the last two photos attached show these taken in Australia 2012.

The trip was not without its problems, and did not get off to the best of starts as the initial British Airways flight to Buenos Aries was delayed by 22 hours due to problems with the plane, although obviously not the fault of Astro Eclipse. The particular trip that myself and my wife did (Eclipse Encounter, also visiting Santiago (Chile), La Paz (Bolivia), Puno, Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Lima (Peru) was particularly exhausting as the schedule involved getting up at 01.30 a.m. on three occasions to leave the hotel at 02.45 to catch flights at around 6 a.m. (not sure whether this was because these were the only times Astro Eclipse could get a group booking for around 40 people). The final leg travelling back via Miami was also very frustrating as despite being only transit passengers it took 2- 3 hours to get through USA immigration (avoid travelling via Miami if you can). Some of the hotels were nice, but others such as the La Vicunita in Rodeo, and the Casa Andina Standard in Puno, Cusco, and Lima were a bit basic, but adequate for one or two nights.

The arrangements on the ground for all the trips went well, with no problems, so congratulations to Astro Eclipse for this.

John

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baileys Beads Australia 2012.JPG

Diamond Ring Australia 2012 (2).JPG

Edited by johnturley
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I was also at the same place, great views of the eclipse and the weather was very clear.  Notice the temperature dropped pretty quickly when the sun got near the horizon?

Peter

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