Signature Collection by Gate 1 vs Orongai Africa Safari - Tour Companies Compared
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Worst travel of my LIFE. Avoid like the plague.1.0 April 2019
Does Not Recommend
Cheats, crooks and unprofessional. Avoid them like the plague.Read more
We got a quote from Orongai: 7-day safari in northern Tanzania: Ngorongoro, Ndutu and Serengueti, for 8 people, all lodges. From February 16th to 22nd 2019. Price: 2,150 $ pp, total 17,200 $. Park fees, All accommodations, all transportation, and all Taxes/VAT were explicitly included. All lodges were mid/upper level: Lake Duluti Lodge, Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge, Ndutu Safari Lodge and Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge.
January 2018 we paid a 30% (645 $ pp) by transfer. The remainder was to be paid on arrival: 2,150 - 645= 1,505 $ per person, 12,040 $ total. Two of us (stupidly) paid our part of the remainder by transfer: 3,010 $ for two people. After this the remainder was: 12,040 – 3,010 = 9,030 $.
On February 12th, Martha, the person in charge of our trip, informed us that there was an additional charge of 650$ pp “due to additional concession fees at NDUTU area and Ngorongoro area that were not there before”. We checked with TANAPA and others and this was a lie.
We considered not going, but we really wanted to do the safari, we had already paid 645$ each (or 2,150 $ some of us) plus the flights, a dear price for us, and we decided to go (another mistake).
On arrival we had a very long and very unpleasant discussion with Martha, a guide called Asseri and another guide Freddy. We tried to convince them to honour their offer, but reasoning with them was impossible. They denied evidence and the most basic logic stone-faced. Like talking to a wall. They said that that “Total” next to the 17,200 $ didn’t mean “all the money”. They insisted that the remainder was 12,030 $, and not 9,030 $. Which doesn’t even add up! If we had to pay an extra 650$ the remainder would be 14,230$. They also said that the flight from Serengeti to Arusha was NOT included, even if “all transportation” was explicitly included, because a flight is not transportation!
Our embassy put us in contact with a person who sometimes helped other Spaniards informally, with 20+ years of experience in the safari business. He tried to convince Orongai’s people for maybe another hour. He couldn’t. We went to the “Tourist Police”. We spent there another 2 hours. Nothing came out of it. We offered to pay 200 $/pp over the agreed 2,150 $. Orongai rejected it.
Back to the hotel at 11 pm. We were leaning to cancel the whole thing and leave. In the middle of the night, without a car and without a hotel, because the lodge we were in, Lake Duluti Lodge, told us that we would have to pay our rooms ourselves (~ 300 $/room) because Orongai wouldn’t pay if we canceled the safari. Martha threatened us with legally demanding whole payment, because “it would be our decision to cancel”.
Somebody suggested that if we paid the 9,030 $ we still owed, PLUS the 200 $/person we offered before AND they downgraded us to mobile tented camps, instead of lodges, we could go ahead. Tired of the whole thing, and worried of a judicial process in Tanzania, we agreed to this. They made us sign a paper saying that these changes were our responsibility because we had not understood the original quotation correctly. If not the deal was off and they would sue us for full payment. Some of us signed, under duress obviously. A mobile tented camp is a far cry from a permanent camp, let alone a lodge. Some permanent tented camps are really luxurious. The mobile tented camps are most definitely NOT luxurious. In some, the showers didn’t even work, and didn’t have enough power even to recharge the batteries/phones if we all tried at the same time.
One of the guides (Asseri) never made any effort to place the car in a good position for the photos and barely spoke at all. He was a risky driver. Frequently texted on his phone while driving, took photos or even video putting his full arm outside the window. The lunch food was quite poor and always the same, including a piece of chicken so deeply fried as to be mummified. Almost inedible.
Tour Orongai Africa Safari Company Reviews
|Tours||1 Trip||0 Trip|
|Average Trip Price Per Day||$ 0||$ 0|
|Operator Type||Group Tour Operator||Group Tour Operator|
|Size||Global Operator||Local Specialist|
|Headquarters||Fort Washington, Pennsylvania||Arusha, Tanzania|
A unique collection of luxury trips designed by Gate 1 travel.
What Makes Gate 1 Signature Collection Stand Out?
These are luxury minded trips with a local focus. Guides are all local experts, from and living in the destination you’re visiting. Each itinerary features exclusive experiences. Groups are small and each day is full of activity but well balanced.
They focus on offering only a select group of trips in this special collection - allowing them the freedom to create truly spectacular itineraries - which include more inclusions in the price than their other collections.
The tagline is “More Luxury for Less”. These tours may not be in same luxury travel class if you’re used to Abercrombie & Kent, however where comfort and extravagance meets fun and busy travel days of sightseeing and tours, you’ll find Gate 1 Signature Collection.
Who Will Enjoy Traveling with Gate 1 Signature Collection?
Those travelers who are willing to spend a little bit more for a 4-5 star experience, will probably find a sweet spot with Gate 1 Signature tours. These trips tend to be attended by older travelers, in the 50+ range.
Don’t expect too much strenuous activity. You can expect easy paced walks, guided tours and lectures, and stops to explore interesting cultural sites and historical attractions.
While some of these cultural experiences, included in their “Signature Experiences”, are truly unique, be wary that many of these inclusions are fairly standard offerings - such as a hot air balloon ride over the African savannah. So the luxury experience of exclusivity you may be expecting is to be taken with a grain of salt. These tours offer wonderful experiences - but the destinations or activities are not always particularly uncommon or rare.
They currently don’t offer an overly extensive list of countries, but tours do go all over the world. This includes Central Europe, Spain, and the UK, Israel, Jordan and Morocco, Peru, Southeast Asia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
Gate 1 Signature Collection Travel Style
Signature Collection tours with Gate 1 aim for comfort, ease, and unique cultural experiences. Like their other brands, Gate 1’s Signature Collection is about making sure your sightseeing is maximized, and the price is right for the experience.
Most sightseeing, meals, wifi, tips, and their “Signature Experiences” are included in the itinerary price - unlike Gate 1’s main brand which offers less inclusions. This type of itinerary more helpful to budget travelers wishing to pick and choose which activities they would like to pay for. Gate 1 Signature Tours, however, are best suited to those who want more inclusions and less hassle to have to decide on how to spend their travel time.
Why Choose a Tour with Gate 1 Signature Collection?
If you’re an older traveler looking for a boutique, comfortable, and well paced tour, the Signature tours may suit you very well. Travelers love the customer service, attention to detail, and depth of knowledge the guides bring to each day on the tour. There is also a good balance of free time and optional additional sightseeing opportunities.
All tours feature included “Signature Experiences” which are the main highlights that make the Signature Collection tours stand out from the other Gate 1 brands. These are unique excursions, usually with a strong cultural focus - such as an evening of Irish music in Galway, or a traditional dinner in the deserts of Morocco. They also often include lectures that explore a destinations history or a specific facet of the culture.