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GAP Adventures - experiences?

Various stories positive and negative regarding GAP adventures - there is no general consensus. All comments reflect the opinions and experiences of the individual posters.
9 years ago, February 15th 2010 No: 61 Msg: #103739  
Hi emj21, the reason I have written off GAP is not because I entered without an open mind, but it is a waste of money. If you pay for hotels, overland trucks and food included and then get out therte to find nothing is as advertised and you have no money to buy food then your trip is ruined. We had to steal bread rolls from the free breakfast at campsites and had no money to do the fun things we planned. Do book with them as planned, but make sure you are ready to camp instead of hostels/hotels and pay extra for things that are indicated as inculded. Rach. Reply to this

9 years ago, May 2nd 2010 No: 62 Msg: #110035  
My husband and I went on the Gourmet tour of Argentina and Chile for our honeymoon earlier this year.

I wish we had spent our money through arranging the trip ourselves as by the end of it,we felt we could have learned more about traditional Chilean and Argentinian cooking through the internet. We also would have booked more comfortable hotels and would have planned the trips so that we weren't traveling on a commuter train from Buenos Aires to go to the Tigre Delta when for $10 more we could have gone on the Tourist train along the coast. The guide was lovely but didn't know anything about Argentinian food.

We wrote to GAP afterwards to let them know our feedback but after 3 months we still haven't heard anything back from them. We were devastated that they took our money and treated us like fools through delivering the lowest quality or tour and accommodation they could find.

We will never use them again. I don't normally like complaining but after the experience we had with GAP we felt we must let other people know how awful their customer service is so that they don't get disappointed like we did.

Luckily we also booked other trips in South America through Trailfinders. They found us lovely accomodation, provided spot-on recommendations on where to go - including restaurants to visit and looked after us every step of the way. We went during the Chilean earthquake and Trailfinders called us and emailed us to check we were ok and found us new places to stay when tours were canceled last minute. This was at no extra cost. I would whole heartedly recommend Trailfinders to anyone looking to visit South America. Reply to this

9 years ago, May 5th 2010 No: 63 Msg: #110211  
Hi everybody,

does anyone have good/bad experiences travelling in Africa with GAP? I've booked the Cape Town-Nairobi trip for August and was wondering if it's at all close to what they tell you. Most of the posts on this thread are about trips in SA or Asia so I'm wondering about the African tours. Any comments?

Che Reply to this

9 years ago, August 16th 2010 No: 64 Msg: #117644  
My friend and I are planning a BUDGET trip to India with GAP, but after reading all these negative reviews, I'm very concerned!!! My friend already paid for her airfare and tour, I haven't paid anything yet...I actually have until today to pay my deposit.
If anyone out there has recently traveled to India with GAP please let me know about your experience!!!! The majority of these posts are old, perhaps GAP services improved!...I'm just trying to be optimistic 😊...PLEASE HELP!!! Reply to this

9 years ago, August 16th 2010 No: 65 Msg: #117647  
We haven't been to India yet, but I expect we will plan it with Imaginative Traveller. We had a great tour through Peru and later through Patagonia with GAP, but not as good anywhere in Asia. The African tour from Cape Town to Victoria Falls we did with Imaginative Traveller and it was great! Except in South America (where we had great tour guides, well organized tour and decent accommodation), our experiences with GAP in Asia were just opposite - tour guides not knowledgeable, not well organized and lousy accommodation. Reply to this

9 years ago, August 16th 2010 No: 66 Msg: #117648  
I just came back from India last week for my third trip through. If you are having doubts about GAP or any other travel guides I would say that you should just go on your own without a planned itinerary. India is such an inspiring place that you won't go anywhere without 5 other travelers telling you 5 more places that you HAVE to go to. It's such big and diverse country you can go from top to bottom and side to side in a few weeks, or you can stay in one small valley in the Himalayas or in Goa for months at a time and have endless villages and towns all completely different and worth it to hop between.
The most gratification in India comes from the feeling of freedom you get. That there is no time or place to be anywhere, you wake up every morning with nothing but chai and breakfast planned so far, and yet by the end of the day you have made friends, walked miles, gone deep into jungles or mountains that are completely untouched, etc. I don't think India is a country that you need a scheduled itinerary for.
On the other hand... a lot of these negative reviews of the guided trips in India and Asia may be because you don't realize that that is just how Asia works... and if you aren't ready for changes and spontaneity then you aren't accepting Asia for what it is. It has delays, and closed roads, and you will stay in a room that isn't luxurious, but it will be on a beach with the sand at your doorstep, or in a meadow somewhere deep in the himalayas.

I originally came upon this post cuz I was thinking about working for GAP and was seeing what people thought and if they had other alternatives to look into.
Reply to this

9 years ago, August 16th 2010 No: 67 Msg: #117656  
You see, the difference between you and I is likely 40 years :-). I don't want to believe it yet, but I gather if I get sick, it could be the last trip for me :-). This is why I like to have a guide who carries oxygen tank up in 14000 feet (so I don't have to carry it), or can call for help, or tell me I am out of luck :-). Anyway, even as a retired person, I don't have the luxury to wonder around the world for months at a time (they are still "the too old parents" and "never old enough childern I feel responsible for").

I appreciate the fact that Asia works differently than the rest of the world, but there is no reason to be disorganized in Japan - unless you are not up to the task...In other places - like Indochina - what bothered me most was that we could have better accommodation for the same money (i.e. without bugs and sheets not re-used and unwashed), and when people asked about history, most local guides woud make up answers rather than admitting that they haven't got a clue. The guide in Japan was reading the itinerary and the historical details along the way (at least someone gave him some notes) as it was also his first trip there... Reply to this

9 years ago, August 16th 2010 No: 68 Msg: #117657  
Despite the bad reviews, I decided to go ahead and booked my tour with GAP. I think it will be a great experience traveling with my best friend, I'm thinking this will be my "backpacking" trip I've always wanted do do.

My husband and I like to stay at nice hotels with clean linens and all the comforts we can affort. I know this trip to India will be very different than anything I've experienced before and I'm very excited about it!!! Hey! I'm originally from Mexico, I've seen "cucarachas" as big as my dogs!!!

I did mention all the bad reviews to my travel agent and needless to say she was very surprised about it!! she said that GAP has won many industry awards and that they've won awards from American Express, Conde Naste Traveler and National Geographic for having the top organized tour.....maybe they didn't read these reviews before presenting them with an award...😊

Reply to this

9 years ago, August 17th 2010 No: 69 Msg: #117668  
My son and a bunch of his friends did the India trip and LOVED it! You can see his video at:
That was a couple of years ago. They also did the Macchu Picchu thing and said that was even better. They are planning Egypt with GAP too, so who knows? Their two experiences have been great............. Reply to this

9 years ago, August 17th 2010 No: 70 Msg: #117669  
We did two weeks in Nicaragua with GAP -- one of the BEST trips in recent memory. We've traveled with them quite a bit. They aren't high end but they've always gotten us where we were going.

We traveled to South Africa, Zambia, Botswanna and Namibia with a much higher end travel company and were not met by our transport in Namibia. We had to make it 100 kilometers through two countries, a dicey river/border crossing . . . hitch hiked the last 20 kilometers (thank you Germans!) to Chobe -- so bad things can happen regardless of how much you pay. Reply to this

9 years ago, August 17th 2010 No: 71 Msg: #117673  
N Posts: 2
I have travelled on 12 trips with Gap Adventures over many years. Over the years they have just gotten better and better. On every trip more than half the people have taken multiple trips, and a lot of us have traveled together on other trips. I have made friends with a few people who work in the Gap office and they have traced a lot of these comments and found out that have been written by competitors. Just look at the awards they have won and how they have been recognized around the world to make your decision. Reply to this

9 years ago, September 3rd 2010 No: 72 Msg: #118658  
N Posts: 1
Hi all, i'm a 21 year old female. I've never travelled alone before and am just about to book a Gap adventures trip in South America for December 2010. These posts are quite scary to be honest. Have you any advice for as first time Gap traveller doing it alone? I would really appreciate ANY advice. Thanks Reply to this

9 years ago, September 3rd 2010 No: 73 Msg: #118660  
Depending on where in South America I guess, but I believe GAP is quite suitable for single females. We are in our sixties and in the last 4 years we took two GAP tours in SA. One was a tour of Ecuador&Galapagos with Peru encompassed, including Inca trail hike, lake Titicaca and Amazon. We had an excellent guide and including her, the group was just three young girls, my husband and I. All you need to worry about is your fitness level on this one.

Most recently, we took a two week tour of End of the Earth starting in Buenos Ayres and continuing in Patagonia with wonderful hikes in both Argentina and Chile, boat trip on Beagel Channel, etc. This group was larger (about 15), but there were quite a few single girls in the group. The guide was also very caring and organized. Here, you need a variety of clothing as the weather changes frequently, good hiking shoes and a lot of stamina.

Overall, of all companies we traveled with, GAP seems to be more preferred by single females than any other. Reply to this

9 years ago, September 5th 2010 No: 74 Msg: #118741  
N Posts: 3
It has been many years since I took that GAP trip to Peru that I complained about on this site and still follow the threads occasionally to see if things have improved. Looking back on the experience, I still think the behaviour of GAP was inexcusable, and feel exactly the same now as I did then. But I do have a couple of comments: first of all, I do not believe complaints here are posted "by competitors", if you want my name and address I would be happy to release my identity. And secondly, I have been waiting about 7 years now for a response from GAP to my letter. So for the lady who has been waiting for 3 months - good luck with that. Any company, regardless of the business, who refuses to acknowledge a polite and reasonable customer complaint, clearly does not care about its customers. Reply to this

9 years ago, September 5th 2010 No: 75 Msg: #118742  
So probaly it all boils down to sensitivity of each individual tour guide. I only had one problem in Peru (in March 2007), when local laundry in Cusco attempted to steal my pants - the only pair I had suitable for the Inca Trail hike! The tour guide spent the evening, going through the streets and asking the neighbors where the loundry operator lived, untill she found him and had him return the pants. The hike was great and so was the local (Inca Trail) tour guide.

Just this spring we travelled through Turkey with Peregrine. The tour guide was so bad that all of us tried to give him hints how would we like him to organize the tour and give us some time at sites we were more interested than others - without changing the itinerary. His English was also quite awful and he was full of himself, so nothing changed. There were 5 couples on the tour and we still keep in touch. We all complained to Peregrine and only one couple received reply where they were told "how unfortunate they had problems and how they strive to have their tours have a good standard". They also promised to give the tour guide additional training. Nobody else have received any aknowledgment of their complaint.

This just shows that all companies are first after your money and keeping their image. If you have a great tour guide, you are in luck! Reply to this

8 years ago, November 18th 2010 No: 76 Msg: #123282  
N Posts: 1
Hello everyone. I am new to the blog but wanted to share some general insight about these type of trips. Now, I just booked my first trip with GAP for this coming year to Central America. In the end, I hope it is an amazing trip. But, I actually am/ have worked as a TOUR GUIDE for a very similar company called Intrepid. I am from California so work in the North American sector. I believe something is very important to understand about budget travel companies such as GAP and INTREPID: THEY ARE WAY CHEAPER THAN ANY OTHER TOURS OUT THERE. For those of you not familiar with budget travel, get familiar. You cannot have as high of expectations for the quality of leader or accommodations or schedule going into these trips as you would on other tours. These trips basically will help you get from point A to B without having to worry about accommodation or transportation. Now, they usually are so much more than this. I had many passengers on my trips genuinely tell me that they had the best trip of their life with me. They spent not very much money, met some really cool other passengers and never had to worry about getting from A to B. I got to give them a real idea of what it means to be an American and show them some of the coolest places we have here. What happens is that not all tour guides/ leaders/ people are of the highest quality in terms of a leader. Because there are so many types of trips, sometimes a leader will never have been to a place in the itinerary. Someone up here said something VERY IMPORTANT. These leaders basically are to be support to get you from A to B. They are not expected to know everything about every place you go. Nearly every leader that I met in my own travel company in North America was awesome!! They truly were fun, excited and knowledgeable. The thing is that traveling with a budget tour company that has 100s of trips all over the world with a lot of flexibility and start dates will produce different types of trips. You cannot expect EVERY single leader to be top world class as a leader. It's just not realistic. These companies do an amazing job of hiring leaders but that doesn't mean every leader will run every trip perfectly. If you want this kind of service then go spend thousands of dollars more for a way more serious tour (which if you ask me is not nearly as fun no matter how good the leader is). I don't want to sound like the leaders in these companies are poor. They are not. The majority of them are skilled, knowledgeable leaders. What I am trying to say is that if you are expecting a perfect, organized, masterfully knowledgeable leader no matter where and when you go every single time you book a trip then go find an expensive tour company. Budget travel gives you a nice blend. You have someone there to help you and show you around but you also kind of are on your own in a sense. If and when you get a good leader, you trip will be so much more meaningful than traveling alone or being on a strict schedule 24/7 with other tours.

So, if you're thinking about traveling with a budget tour company, keep a few things in mind:

1) You must be flexible and open minded and I mean it. I am not saying flexible like not eating lunch at this restaurant but rather that one. I am saying like crazy stuff happens when you're traveling and for those that have traveled independently or with budget travel, they realize this. You must roll with the changes and embrace them. These are what make the best memories. If possibly skipping a place in the itinerary to be able to spend more time at another place doesn't sound like something you would be willing to sacrifice, then you might want to think twice about budget travel. If you're not open minded/ flexible, you will probably not have a good time even if the leader rocks!!
2) Don't expect too much. Don't get caught up in the little details because this is BUDGET travel.
3) THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST WAYS TO TRAVEL. Budget travel allows you to be somewhere in between a true tour and on your own. It gives you a general set itinerary and allows you to meet and travel with other passengers. You might not get along with another passenger but it's what you signed up for. Those that have the best time don't let silly things like this bother them!
4) It is not for everyone and I believe the people that have the best time are the ones that TRULY realize what type of trip they're signing up for. These trips give you the outline for an incredible experience and it is up to you to help make that experience what it can be.

In conclusion: it is unfair to bash these organizations that are trying to give travelers a more affordable yet organized way of travel. These companies were started for 2 reasons: 1) for the people who have the desire to travel on their own but not the guts. 2) For those wanting group travel but not wanting to spend A TON of money and be stuck with itineraries from 7 AM- 10 PM with constant activity. Companies like GAP give people a happy blend but also take the risk of being ridiculed for endless amounts of things. Traveling alone a person has no one else to blame but themselves. Traveling with a serious tour rarely has logistical problems because you paid a lot more money to make sure that a tour leader knew the whole history of every city you plan on going.

Budget travel gives you that mix and it is unfair to bash leaders or complain about unruly passengers when in actuality, at least most of the time, you're the one to blame. OPEN UP YOUR MINDS AND THINK! Reply to this

8 years ago, November 19th 2010 No: 77 Msg: #123285  
Amen, Eric. Amen Reply to this

8 years ago, November 19th 2010 No: 78 Msg: #123287  
N Posts: 3
I have actually taken several of these types of trips, and yes, they were some of the best trips of my life. I fully endorse this style of travel, but I know it is not for everyone. I agree that you can't expect everything every time. But the fact these trips are cheap does not mean they are above criticism. And don't forget that these companies are still companies, and are there to make money. And there are equally cheap alternatives to GAP.

I had the unhappy experience of having my passport stolen. Was I "the one to blame"? Perhaps. But it was a little bit more serious than eating at a different restaurant than the one on the itinerary. My tour guide just had no clue what to do, to the point that another random guest at the hotel we were at approached me to offer his help because he was shocked at the lack of support and guidance I had.

And my complaints were not "bashing the leader", or "unruly passengers". In fact, besides the passport thing, I liked the leader, which I pointed out in my letter to the head office, where I politely suggested some basic training (ie. a photocopied list of what to do in this common travel situation of stolen passport) for the leaders. Basically, my issue was with the HEAD OFFICE, who never responded or acknowledged my letter. As well they LIED TO ME when I phoned them before the trip about an entirely separate issue, and as a result, I almost HIKED ALONE across the Andes! I specifically phoned BEFORE THE TRIP because I was worried that at that time of year, I would be the only one doing the hike, and I did not want to go alone. Who would????? They told me the trip was full, and when I showed up, the guide told me he was only informed the night before, they were so disorganized, AND I WAS ALONE!!!! How is this excusable? Again, I know shit happens, but for GAP to not even acknowledge my problem was really unacceptable. Reply to this

8 years ago, November 19th 2010 No: 79 Msg: #123288  
Last year we were booked on a GAP trip to Antarctica that was cancelled at the very last minute. Less than a week before departure, we were lucky to find another tour at the same time. We also met people on our trip who had been dealt with in a similar fashion. Like wise they were also lucky enough to swap tours.

What about the GAP tour where the ship sank and the lifeboat engines were unserviceable, and the crew had to tow the life boats using the Zodiacs normally used for wet landings, this has all been documented quite extensively. Reply to this

7 years ago, July 4th 2012 No: 80 Msg: #158364  
I just returned from the Vic Falls to Zanzibar trip. I had a very positive experience. Our CEO (Ronel) couldn't have done a better job. G Adventures is lucky to have her as an employee. Some of our group had the usual travel problems: brief illnesses, lost ATM cards. etc. and the usual traveling problems: no electricity, ATMs out of order, the overall experience was great. I am so glad to have discovered and used G Adventures. If you are not a "camping" person, these "basic" level adventures may not be for you. Ronel told us that she has had tourists in these groups who were 80+ years old that enjoyed the trips of this type. Reply to this

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