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GAP Adventures - experiences?

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Various stories positive and negative regarding GAP adventures - there is no general consensus. All comments reflect the opinions and experiences of the individual posters.
10 years ago, July 4th 2009 No: 41 Msg: #78397  
N Posts: 4
some good feedback.

In December 2007 I went to Thailand and did the north with GAP (9 days total). The tourguide was Mr. Lee and he was a great person and great tourguide. It was the best trip of my life so far, and I have been in many places from Europe, to North America, Brasil, Asia, etc etc..
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10 years ago, July 15th 2009 No: 42 Msg: #79629  
B Posts: 13
WOW. I was about to book a GAP Africa tour but there is absolutely NO way when the only positive comments on this forum were posted by GAP's current staff. I guess it's true, you get what you pay for. Thank you all for sharing your experiences. There ARE two sides to the story - the truth from the customer's mouth and the delusions from the company's. Reply to this

10 years ago, July 16th 2009 No: 43 Msg: #79834  
I had no idea there were so many problems with G.A.P. adventures! My husband and I went on one of the Peru/Bolivia tours several years ago and had a fantastic time. We've traveled with a lot of different companies in Central and South America as well as Australia, and the G.A.P. trip was excellent! Our group had 12 people plus our guide and it was so much better traveling with a relatively small group on a trip like this. The cost of the trip was also cheaper than some of the other companies. We stayed in smaller, more locally-owned hotels for most of our accomodations, but they were all clean and comfortable. Most with decent hot water for showers (something we can't even always expect in the States....seeing as how we enjoy B&Bs). I felt that we were able to actually see the countries we visited and the people who live them much better with G.A.P. than with others we have traveled with. Our guide was very knowledgeable, friendly and helpful.

My husband and I are getting ready for another trip with G.A.P., and I hope that we have another good experience. Based on our first experience with them, I would recommend them highly. I'll post back later after this new trip and let you know what we experienced this time around. Reply to this

10 years ago, July 20th 2009 No: 44 Msg: #80165  
N Posts: 1
Hello, after reading most of the comments I must say: I not that looking forward travelling with GAP anymore. I've already booked a 30 day trip with GAP in December!!! I don't know what to expect now... I've done a tour with Trek America and I really enjoyed my Asia trip with Intrepid 2 years ago. Of course there were things which weren't very great (like a Thai tour leader who was to lazy to organize things or did not show up on the first evening, or didn't do her best to at least try to speak with us), but over all I have a great time with very nice travelbuddies ect.

I don't know if I should cancel my GAP tour and book an Intrepid tour (It is still possible now). Are there people who did a GAP tour in Thailand/Cambodia/Vietnam recently? I don't mind basic places, BTW. Thanks for your advice. Reply to this

10 years ago, July 20th 2009 No: 45 Msg: #80195  
N Posts: 4
Hello Ciska,

As i mentioned before I went to Thailand with GAP and it was great. Did the north of Thailand with GAP and it was the trip of my life. I'm planning to go to India with them and I have been asking questions to people that already went with GAP and they say it was great too.

In the trip we had basic to medium hotels/motels, a great tour guide (Mr. Lee) and great organization.

Check the forum of gap and send private messages to people that already did the tour you are planning to do.

Cheers,
Joao Reply to this

10 years ago, July 21st 2009 No: 46 Msg: #80309  
Joao,
My son and his friends went with GAP and LOVED it!
See: www.youtube.com/cinapsefilms Reply to this

10 years ago, August 1st 2009 No: 47 Msg: #81779  
Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing in regard to a recent 'South America Overland - La Paz to Rio' trip that my girlfriend Rachel Mullaney and I took part in dating from the 8th of June till the 6th July 2009. We feel that various aspects of the trip did not live up to the itineray as sold by Gap Adventure and as such would like to make a complaint concerning the areas we felt we were miss sold, and request a refund for the unsatisfactory aspects of the tour. The areas we are concerned with include transportation, provision for meals and accomodation, all of which at points along the journey did not live up to what was advertised.

Firstly the tour is advertised as an 'overland tour' in an overland truck. However we were actually given two 4x4 vehicles. Every other gap tour group we met had been given a different story as to why an overland truck was not available and the reason we were given that the truck could not get a permit to leave peru is not believable, as if this is the case why advertise this form of transport?
The 4x4's broke down constantly (to the point where their road safety was questionable), allowed in copious amounts of dust, and more importantly one car actually only had space for four people, not five. This meant that if you were at either side you were sitting on both heightened plastic ledge and the lower seat. Given also that the suspension on this 4x4 went halfway through the trip, it was terribly uncomfortable. The journeys were often 10-16 hours long and to be barely able to walk for the next day after such a journey is entirely unacceptable. When booking a tour such as this you expect to be very comfortable, when in fact public transport would have been far more comfortable and a lot cheaper.

The constant theme of the tour appeared to be that whilst the itinary never changed, GAP(or our tour guide, it was uncertain as to which) had cut a lot of costs. The accomodation was an issue here, where in Iguassu falls we were made to camp instead of being in a hotel room for three nights. Our tour leader told us that the hotel we were meant to stay in was 90 reais a night, whereas our camping was only 15. Therefore I would like to be refunded the difference for those 3 nights for myself and Rachel as we had in fact paid for those nights in the cost of the trip. What was also massively hypotrical was the tour guides response to our questioning as to why the accomodation had been changed. He was very rude and abrupt and upset my girlfriend. He also declared that if he had it his way the whole trip would be camping, and then upon arrival at Foz de Iguassu he promptly upgraded himself into a room and left us to camp. The fact that we were offered an upgrade to a room for a fee was even more insulting, as it was clear there were plenty of rooms for everyone that GAP just did not want to pay for.

Another issue throughout the trip was the lack of included meals. We did not recieve half of them, particularly in Brazil. The GAP website advises to bring $400 for food, and we easily spent double that. When we would question our tour guide as to why the meals that were indicated as being included on the itinary were not included he was again very rude, stating that GAP do not give him a budget that would cover all the meals meant to be included in Brazil. If we were travelling for a whole day and arrived at the campsite at night he would also say it was simply too late to cook, again getting out of giving us the food we paid for. In Bolivia on a long journey we were once given a packed lunch, this would have been a satisfactory solution in Brazil also, however the guide said that there simply was not a budget for a packed lunch in Brazil.

The meals that the tour guide did include were often questionable. For example one dinner in Chochis was a plate of horsemeat to be passed around and eaten, the next night a plate of beef. Whilst we were grateful to actually be getting a meal that we were entitled to, many of the group were not keen on just eating 'finger food' meat for every meal. Another example would be the one included meal in Paraty (out of 3 nights where all meals were meant to be included) when he asked us all to be back at 3pm for lunch, but did not cook it until 5pm therefore wasting our day and also avoiding cooking any dinner. It was at this point where everyone in our group had given up asking the guide why things were not included as doing so invited no useful response and generally illicted both rude and confrontational behaviour from the guide.

Even more irritating was the fact that because we did not know which meals would or would not be included it meant that we would sometimes be left with no choice other than to miss meals and go to bed hungry. On journeys we would be left with no choice but to pay for food in expensive service stations/ roadside restaurants or wait until our destination where potentially no food would be offered. If David had been honest and said 'there are no meals included in Brazil' we could have purchased our own food from the supermarket as we would usually do when travelling instead of always eating out.

Myself and Rachel were sold the trip as including a lot of meals, and the itinary indicated every camping meal included and many of the travelling days had meals included too. This is why paying £1150 and a $600 local payment each in total for the trip seemed worth it as we knew we could have a smaller budget as most food was included. However given that half the food was not included and we spent double the $400 estimated food cost, we would both like to be refunded for the food we had to buy.

It is clear that we recieved a cut cost version of the trip that we paid full price for, and this is simply unacceptable.GAPs cost cutting measures for no other reason than to save the company money at the expense of the tour group Reply to this

10 years ago, August 19th 2009 No: 48 Msg: #83665  
So far I had positive experiences with GAP (Mexico, Morocco). I am in agreement with many, the tour leader, actually they are not guides, are pretty weak. My good experiences stopped when I booked my next trip to Vietnam. I booked the travel insurance with GAP as well. They charged my credit card with the insurance twice by mistake. When they discovered the error they initiate a refund. The refund was less than the original charge. When I complained I was told I have to deal with my credit card company. I think customer care has little priorty for GAP. I am speechless that they expect I have to pay for their system errors.

Travel insurance GAP is offering are pretty overpriced and do not include the flight. We had to pay more than 15 %!o(MISSING)f the tour price for insurance. I advice everyone to search for better deals on insurances including flights, as it makes no sense to get the tour refunded but not the flight.
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10 years ago, August 20th 2009 No: 49 Msg: #83757  
Up-date on reference # 48: Actually GAP has given in and paid me the fee their double charge has caused. Therefore the first comment is not valid anymore. Reply to this

9 years ago, October 22nd 2009 No: 50 Msg: #90204  
Hi Ciska,

We are scheduled to start our third tour with GAP in November to Patagonia. The first one was Galapagos and most of Peru - including Inca Trail about 3 years ago. There were only 4 of us on the Peru part of the tour and it was great. The tour leader was fantastic - helpful, fun and she loved her country and knew a lot about it.

The second tour included Thailand/Laos/Cambodia/Vietnam. The group was much larger (about 15). The tour guide was trying to be helpful but it worked only if she could communicate with local operators in Thai. Some places we had been ruled by local guides - we were explained that it was a form of protecting jobs within the country. In some cases, of course, it was because of the political regime and censorship. Some of the hotels were real dumps and we complained about it. The train in Vietnam was crawling with roaches. I found most of North Vietnam quite dirty and perhaps the tour company has limited choices if they want to run on certain budget. Overall, it was an interesting experience, but the dirt often turned me off. I must admit that aside of Korea, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur I find Asia difficult to enjoy, so it might not be the tour company's fault. Reply to this

9 years ago, December 2nd 2009 No: 51 Msg: #95064  
Hi,
I tell you a little story about GAP Adventures, having worked for them for several years. I am not an agree employee who wants to get back at his employer but this is a story I feel that needs to get out there. Gap profiles them selves as a 'green' company with a 'do good for the local community' and a 'wow it's great to work for us company'

The truth in the field is far less glamorous, the way Gap treats their local employees and operators is disturbing, they never pay them on time, I have heard in countries like China and Japan local operators refused to continue to work with them as payments had not been made for several months. Note these are bigger local operators that can stand up for themselves, in a lot of cases Gap is the bread and butter for smaller local operators and they don't dare to say anything sometimes not have being paid for over 6 months. If you do complain about not being paid on time they switch operators and make you lose all their business.

The same with their staff, their local guides, their local and international tour leaders, all of them are not even legitimate to work in the designated countries (not one has an official work permit provided by GAP)
People have been arrested and deported in the past and kept quiet. Gap has Europeans and North Americans working in all these countries all over the world, they all work as illegal aliens employed by GAP but without the proper documents as that would cost to much.

And all of this just to make more money. WOW! And then seeing their http://www.planeterra.org/

And even more: Gap doesn't run more then 5% of their own tours, all they do is take a tour from a hard working dedicated local company and resell their tours with a mark up and put their brand name on it. These local companies are easy to find on the web. (support the locals next time you travel) instead of a company that uses these very same words as a marketing tool. They don't care about the locals in any country they operate, only in how much passengers they can ship threw and how much money they can get out of that country.


Sometimes and that's where these complains come from those local guides don't even know who Gap is, they get paid a minimum wage (if they get it on time) so what do they care.

It's disturbing and disgusting what's going on with these big travel companies, they are at this price war (GAP Adventures and Intrepid Travel) and their local employees (who they will deny are employees) have to suffer for this.

Please spread this email so that people can know the truth.


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9 years ago, January 18th 2010 No: 52 Msg: #100134  
Hello,

A lot of people in this forum have mentioned experience in the adventure travel industry. I am very passionate about pursuing a career in adventure travel. I am currently applying to GAP adventures, but with the responses above I am wondering what other opportunities/ companies people are aware of. I have extensive experience in Asia, the Mediterranean, and Europe. All suggestions are welcome and helpful. Reply to this

9 years ago, January 19th 2010 No: 53 Msg: #100281  
Hi Unownsoldr......save yourself any heartache/problems.....work with either Intrepid or Geckos......never trust GAP!!! i am sure you can find another employer. Do you really want to wait 6 months to get paid for work you have done???? Reply to this

9 years ago, January 24th 2010 No: 54 Msg: #100995  
We had a booking on an Antarctic cruise that was due to leave around 1st November 2009, we had booked the trip through Chimu Tours in Sydney and up until 1 week before we were due to depart we had not received our tickets or any travel documentation for GAP, although all our monies had been paid in full several weeks prior to departure. On ringing Chimu I was informed that GAP had told they were having engine trouble with one of the engines on the ship.

When I was told this I insisted on Chimu moving our booking to another company, luckily despite the short notice we managed to book onto another tour, but learnt later that all GAP tours to Antarctic had been cancelled for the 2010 season.

We had a really magnificent cruise, but one of the tour leaders on our boat was also a tour leader on the GAP tour that sank in Antarctic 2 years ago, he gave us a very graphic account of how the ship struck and iceberg and sank and also told us that out of 4 life boats only 1 life boat had a serviceable engine. They had to use inflatable Zodiacs to tow the other 3 lifeboats around the Southern Ocean until they were picked up by a rescue ship. Also the life boats were the old open type of vessel, not the completely enclosed type that most modern cruise ships use these days. They were very lucky that the weather was comparatively mild for the Southern Ocean and only a small number of passengers suffered hyperthermia.

On the flight home we also met another passenger who had been booked on a GAP Antarctic cruise and only managed at the last minute to change tour companies.

I don't believe that companies who operate in the manner that GAP operates should be able to keep their operating license, something really needs to be done to bring this company to its knees.

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9 years ago, January 28th 2010 No: 55 Msg: #101490  
I feel sorry for anyone who has booked a gap-adventures tour (if not too late get a full refund). I booked one because I had never travelled before and was apprehensive about it, so I suppose you could say, the thought of travelling with others for the first month gave me peace-of-mind. If you have got anything about you, you will not have the slightest difficulty mixing with fellow travellers, socialising and being independent at times in pretty much every country in the world there are like-minded travellers who are more than happy to welcome solo travellers. (The hardest part is trying to travel on your own again, not trying to find people to travel with!!!!). Gap Adventures Is the most expensive way to see the most touristy parts of a country and not integrate with the local community at all. I felt ashamed to be associated with them. They also like to spring a $300 demand surprise on you not long after you arrive at your destination, and the name they give for this illegitimate pocket money for themselves is "local payment" for the places you will be staying -but you already pay for this before you go?????

The representatives were extremely unwelcoming upon my arrival and made no attempt to introduce anyone. For the money you will end up spending by booking a gap adventures tour and travelling with people who want to eat at tourist restaurants and eat touristy food, you could use that money to travel independently for 4 x the duration and 400 x the experience, fun, culture. And why anyone would even consider doing this with a friend or group is completely beyond me. If you are considering booking, please have the courage to believe in yourself and do the right thing by not giving these greedy people your hard-earned money. Solo travelling so much more rewarding, and perfectly safe, provided you have basic common sense.
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9 years ago, January 29th 2010 No: 56 Msg: #101609  
King r. I,

I have traveled with GAP number of times as well as with other travel agencies. Their services are quite comparable, depending on what type of a tour you choose. The local payment (up until the end of last year) was required by quite a few agencies and shouldn't have been a surprise to you, if you read the web site or a brochure. You might like to travel alone and absorb and feel the country on your own, others might prefer sharing their experiences with others. It is a personal choice. Of course the costs are higher when things are prearranged for you and sure you could find a cheaper ways to see everything. Not everyone has the luxury of abundance of time though and therefore are willing to pay others to make the arrangements for them.

Not all the tour guides are equal, but I never had a bad experience with a GAP tour guide. When it comes to accommodation, that was a different story - but you don't sound like a guy who would worry about comfort as much. I just finished a two week tour of Patagonia with GAP and have no complaints about anything but quality of some accommodation at some places. The same thing goes for the previous tours of Indochina, Peru and Galapagos. They were quite comparable to a few tours I have been on in past with other companies (in Japan, South Africa and Indonesia). As far as travel in New Zealand and Australia, I would recommend local companies though as they know their land better. Reply to this

9 years ago, January 29th 2010 No: 57 Msg: #101630  
Well Jana I am afraid that its all about what you are used to.

Yes I have travelled rough and camped out and my ideal holiday is one where a person can mingle with locals and enjoy the local way of life. But I am afraid the crunch comes to supplying value for money and being an ethical service provider.

It is not ethical to take a persons money from them and leave them guessing about where the tickets are coming from, a week before departure. I would have been very angry if I had missed out on the Holiday of lifetime because GAP tours were off handed in their organisation.

It is not ethical to promise one thing in a brochure and deliver something else of less value once you have the clients in your clutches.

The ship that sank after hitting an iceberg in the southern ocean with only 1 out of 4 life boats being serviceable is hardly a good recommendation for GAP. The board of inquiry into the event published quite a large book on the misgivings of that particular trip.

I know some people have different expectations to other, one mans poison is another mans food, and I have been a tourism operator in my own business for 18 years so I can speak with some authority from both sides of the fence.

I read with interest how some people complain about their mode of transport in South America, I think they are probably lucky to have a motor vehicle supplied and not a Llama to ride on. South America is quite an interesting place to visit. In Buenos Aires I was frequently told to put my camera away as I was inviting trouble walking around with it on my shoulder. I was even told to be aware of the secret police because they would arrest me on a false pretense merely to get hold of the camera. None the less I really enjoyed my visit to Patagonia and loved the countryside it has a great deal to offer, but a person must still have an adventurous spirit to visit there, and try the local food. Where in Australia would you find testicles on a menu. I did in Buenos Aires.

Sorry I digress from the real thread of this item. Which is how ethical a company is GAP to travel with. After my dealings with them and hearing from other people about GAP whilst we were overseas, including a tour leader who was on the boat that sank, I would not advise anyone to take a holiday that is being promoted by GAP. Reply to this

9 years ago, January 29th 2010 No: 58 Msg: #101686  
I guess we were luckier than others in our travels and when I read your story about the planned trip of Antarctica, I was happy we decided against it (it was our original plan).

When it comes to eating local food - I had outgrown that a long time ago. Testicles, brains, lungs, pig tails, horse meat and other "specialties" were quite common staples when I grew up in Europe after the war. I don't have a need to repeat those experiences. I am more interested in sites and nature.

I always found the GAP guides organized, pleasant and helpful. They were very cautious of health hazards that could cause problems to tourists eating in local places. I know that what locals eat might never harm them but tourists can have their vacations ruined from the same food.

I had worse experiences with a British company who provided a tour guide in Japan, who was quite new to the country and struggled to communicate with local businesses and told us about the country what he just read from a piece of paper.

As far as the ethics of your particular situation - sometimes it could be just the person you deal with. I know I had to go through hoops to get some information about our tour from our agent, but when he was away, I had no problems dealing with another agent. And I did complain to the company and they pushed my agent to provide answers. Reply to this

9 years ago, February 14th 2010 No: 59 Msg: #103614  
N Posts: 2
I'm considering booking the roam cambodia and vietnam tour with GAP and after reading all of the above posts i think i will probably still book with GAP. Although some travellers may feel that all of these comments and opinions will help them make their decisions, i think that whilst some people may have had an unpleasant experience with GAP it is up to the traveller to experience it for themselves. Not all experiences have been bad and unless you have been on every tour i don't see how you can justify writing off the company completely. Plus, the tour includes all the places i would like to see and at a good price! I'm not expecting it to be a comfortable trip, it's a foreign country and shouldn't all of these places be visited with an open mind? Reply to this

9 years ago, February 14th 2010 No: 60 Msg: #103641  
Hi emj21....I hope you manage to have a good trip, but really you should consider Intrepid, they are very good in Asia. I did their Trans Siberian tour last year & there were people on the tour who were doing Singapore to St Petersburg which included Vietnam & Cambodia. Every person could not speak highly enough of their time in those countries.

Intrepid is fairly price comparable to GAP too....just don't risk it. I believe GAP are good in South America but took on Asia & the rest of the world in a very short time & are not as well set-up in those areas. Reply to this

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