Booked my tour in October 2011 and was giddy with anticipation for almost a year. Venues and cultural learnings were great, but the poor organization of the tour made me rue the $3800 (not including airfare) I paid. Did not receive my final invoice until the day before departure, and it was inaccurate. Did not receive promised detailed itinerary package; I only knew where to meet the rest of the group because I happened to bump into one of the people at the airport. I received the $250 discount for booking early only because I deducted it myself when I gave my final payment by check upon arrival. We were told "this is not a 9-to-5 tour". Did not realize that meant driving several hours to arrive at hotel most nights after 10pm or 11pm; one night was 1am. We were not told we’d be without cell phone contact for 3 whole days and nights so we could give emergency contact info back home. After one of our cultural lectures outdoors in the evening, we were left to feel our way back to the van 50 yards in the dark (fortunately, one person had a penlight we could huddle around to avoid rocks and terrain changes). We were given an audience with a holy man (a member of the tour coordinator’s family) and we each had to ante up $20 as an offering. (shouldn’t that be included in our $3800??) I found out when I arrived that a 2-day beading workshop I had paid for was cancelled. “Didn’t you get my email?” the tour coordinator asked (this was a frequent response/excuse, along with a failing dual computer system). She did not offer to refund my $800, but eventually decided the holy man’s wife could teach me to bead. This woman is highly respected in the Cheyenne community, and I did feel honored to be invited to her home, taught individually, and treated so well. However, I had to buy my shirt and most of my beads, which I thought the $800 should have covered. And I doubt this dear, sweet woman received much of my $800 for the 3 hours I spent with her.
The 3 guides I’ve met are extremely knowledgeable; I would gladly sign up with them directly if I could control the planning of my own trip.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
October 13, 2012
We recommend all tour members read our website’s very comprehensive information on how we run tours and tour information packets prior to traveling with us. Every tour member is contacted personally by the tour coordinator prior to their journey by phone or email (usually both) and all tour members are encouraged to ask any and all questions they may have prior to booking, prior to departure and throughout their trip. Our trips are adventurous by nature although not highly physical. For the very few individuals who prefer schedules over flexibility to experience as much as possible, or for those who need specific mealtimes, or who may feel endangered by walking downhill in the moonlight, we are probably not the right company for you.
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That said, this is an inaccurate reflection of the trip, which ‘LLP2012’ told us at the time she had enjoyed! And despite ample opportunity, ‘LLP2012’ did not voice these concerns at the time; which we request in our terms and conditions, and at each orientation meeting on the first day of all tours, so we can address and deal with concerns IN SITU!
In clarification, ‘LLP2012’s tour fee was for 3 separate tours.
‘LLP2012’ has of course been contacted by the company to attempt to resolve any ACTUAL issues she may have. As yet we have had no response. But this was her earlier response to our info/website…
“Kudos on all the new info/website/Facebook/webinar - you rock!” "Phenomenal newsletter...!!! All your hard work is paying off. I'm already looking forward to the next one."
We suffered a complete catastrophic computer system failure this summer - fully explained to all members of this tour and emails held by the GNA office show “LLP2012s’ receipt of, and responses to this.
Our trips often include evening activities such as powwow, and we do return to hotels later at night! In this case, tour members also voted for a tour expansion including Devil’s Tower, Bear Butte and Crazy Horse’s birthplace at no extra cost, knowing the extra miles and time it would take. People for whom this was a once-in-a-lifetime journey said they were deeply appreciative efforts made on their behalf by Go Native America.
Go Native America is proud to trade fairly and are known for paying our all-indigenous guides well. But when we offer EXTRA experiences with community members or Native businesses, it is clear on our website and in our terms, that such experiences are voluntarily undertaken by tour members and these will be paid for by them at the time with 100% of this money going direct to the tribal representative/business concerned.
Go Native America takes NO percentage of this payment.
The beading workshop was indeed cancelled, and email notice sent. But ‘LLP2012’ did not confirm her flights prior to purchase with Go Native America (as we require), yet with no obligation on our part to do so, an alternative was arranged incorporating original activities plus a private beading session, this was accepted by ‘LLP2012’ and the price was vastly reduced since accommodations (more than half the cost) were included in her new alternative plan.
So the untrue accusation that her beading instructor was poorly paid is particularly uncalled-for, since ‘LLP2012’ knows it was she herself who took the benefit from the largest portion of her workshop tour fee. As a side note, simple fabric, hide and beads of traditional colors were available for use had 'LLP2012' preferred, but liking the suggestion of beading a shirt, she bought one to fit herself prior to the beading workshop, plus beads in 2 colors she felt meant something to her.
No tour member was (or is ever) without cell service for 72 hours (even within Yellowstone there is service at Canyon, Old Faithful, Mary Bay and other areas of YNP.) Tour members were told when they would be entering low/no service areas ahead of time (we have no reason to withhold that information). And additionally, hotel rooms had phones.
‘LLP2012’ is of course invited to contact us at any time to discuss and resolve her issues, although traveling solo & making own arrangements is probably her wisest idea: and is exactly what 'LLP2012' did the first time she traveled with us.
It is important to recognize that some folks are simply not suited to even the smallest of groups (ours groups are rarely more than 10 people), preferring control over every detail of their trip, including mealtimes. That is fine! Diversity is the spice of life and to be expected, but is also precisely why we recommend all tour members read our website’s very comprehensive information as per above.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.