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TakeTours 7 day Yellowstone trip - A Candid Review

Greenville, South...
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TakeTours 7 day Yellowstone trip - A Candid Review

I recently took a 7 day bus tour of Yellowstone via this agency between August 3rd and 9th 2013. Since there have been so many questions about this tour company and some comments from people who have not even taken this tour I will thought I will give an honest unbiased opinion. It is still my opinion but I have no ties to this agency.

How is it arranged: Take tours.com, like may other tour agencies, contract with other agencies that arranges this tour. Ours was PCC USA Vacations. The PCC in turn hires the guides and leases a bus from an agency. Ours was from Smith Tours based out of Hunter, Utah. The bus with the driver and guide picked up passengers from Denver airport by 11 AM on the 3rd and dropped us off on the same place at 1.30 PM on the 9th.

Composition of passengers: As someone pointed out the majority of the tourists are of Chinese ethnicity. Our bus carried 56 passengers. Other than two Caucasian families (4+2) and our family of Asian Indians (6) the rest were all Chinese. of those about 50 % were Chinese who were quite fluent in English and the rest spoke only Chinese.

Why is it predominantly Chinese: I learnt from the fellow passengers that they like to see places. They do not want to hike or climb or Kayak or do any activities. They just want to see the places and be photographed in front of them. I see those sentiments among my own fellow Indians and also among other South East Asians who want to go back to their home countries and rattle off the places they have seen and show the photographs of themselves standing plumb in front of the landmarks.

Who are these tours for: It is for people who do not want to plan out and do the whole itinerary on their own. For some it is lack of time to plan. For others it is inertia to do it. For many it is cost and convenience. They have no interest in staying 3 or 4 days in Yellowstone and exploring it in detail. They just want to see the dominant sights and be done with at the lowest cost. For example our tout was $504 person and if two people joined the 3rd person cost was only $67. For 6 of us that came to $360 per person. Try doing that tour on your own for 7 days for that amount, especially in peak season where hotels are very expensive in places like Jackson Hole or Yellowstone Cabins. I calculated my cost to be two or three times the amount and the additional cost of renting a minivan and having to drive 2000 miles on my own ( I had no other persons with me who could drive on highways).

Who is it not for: It is not for people who cannot get up early. Not for those who cannot sit in a bus for log periods of time. For those who like to hike, climb, camp, kayak, take it easy. For photographers who like to wake up at 4 AM and trudge to the landmarks and wait in the cold to take the photographs in the golden hour. For people who do not like the idea of being a minority among Chinese tourists.

Places where we stayed: We stayed at fairly decent hotels. Some were being renovated like Red lion in Denver. Some were good like Holiday Inn in Billings or Clarion Inn in Gillette. The Canyon Lodge in Yellowstone was OK. A couple of properties were dated like the Airport Inn in Salt Lake city and Grand Vista in Grand Junction, CO. Almost all were neat and had good amenities like free internet and clean linen. Three of them had free breakfast. In any case, we came in by 7-9 PM and were out of the hotel by 6 in the morning. So the places served the purpose without adding to the cost.

To be continued in the next post......

124 replies to this topic
Woburn...
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21. Re: TakeTours 7 day Yellowstone trip - A Candid Review

Hi. I fell into much the same trap as some(all) of the unhappy customers, so I'd be curious to hear from others who've taken the tour more recently. We're doing the 8-day Yellowstone-Mount Rushmore tour from Vegas this coming August (taketours.com/los-angeles-ca/8-day-la-lv-to-…). Has anyone been on that (or similar) route this year? Do they really wake people up at 4am? Are the guides unintelligible in English?

Edited: 6:16 pm, May 29, 2014
Uden, The...
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22. Re: TakeTours 7 day Yellowstone trip - A Candid Review

Think this tour even is too rushed for the Giriswold family ;-)

Lagos, Nigeria
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23. Re: TakeTours 7 day Yellowstone trip - A Candid Review

Thanks for a balanced and detailed mention of this tour operator. In fact, I was trying hard to have a candid and unbiased opinion about this agency since we are taking their 7-day tour from SLC - yellowstone - SLC. Your blog did help us out! Thanks once again. Ramesh, India.

Melbourne
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24. Re: TakeTours 7 day Yellowstone trip - A Candid Review

Thank you for your detailed helpful reviews. I have booked the same tour with Take Tours and looking forward to experience the sites in Aug.

My main reason to book this tour is not only the cost but also we are coming from Australia and not wanting to drive on the other side of the road. I would have preferred better hotels but since we are in the hotels for the night only and the tour is covering all desirable places, I suppose it would be fine:)).

Singapore, Singapore
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25. Re: TakeTours 7 day Yellowstone trip - A Candid Review

I just got back from my horrible holiday and this is the first thing I am doing. Making people aware what they are signing for while booking a holiday package through Take Tours.

Before you start reading this just for once imagine your trip getting brutally ruined because of the tour guide. We have gone through one such unfortunate and terrible experience by being part of this trip and want to share our experience so that other tourists trips do not get ruined going forward. And here goes our ordeal ...

We are the troubled tourists who did the mistake of taking this 6-day East Coast Tour Package (code- SPEC6D) tour. After ignoring a series of incidents which started happening since we landed at the JFK airport I would like to bring one horrible incident to your notice which I still can't believe actually happened.

On day 2 of our tour (06 July) when the day tour got over at Empire State Building around 6:40pm me and my wife decided to explore NYC more and reach back hotel on our own and we informed our tour guide (Frank Yu). We checked with him 3-4 times as to what will be the pick up time for next day and every time he repeatedly confirmed that "wake up call at 5am and departure at 6am"

Next day (07 July) we did not get any wake up call at 5am, still me and my wife were all ready at hotel lobby by 6am but there was no sight of the tour guide or any other guest. We tried calling the guide and his number went on a voicemail again and again. After checking with the hotel staff we got to know that tour always leaves at 7am and we are early. We were ok with it thinking some confusion might have happened.

Then, after waiting for 15 mins at the lobby we texted our tour guide at 6.15am rechecking what the time of pick up was and he didn't revert back till 6:45am and then also he told us there was a last minute driver change. We thought it was still ok and we waited for the guide and our transport to come. When the guide came and my wife asked him that why were we not informed of the change that's when things took an ugly turn and we got to see the real side of him in full bloom - that of being a BULLY!

He started screaming and shouting in middle of the lobby and kept repeatedly showing his hand very close to my wife's face. He doesn't know the basic manners of speaking to a woman let alone the fact that we are tourists in the US and his customers. In fact, he kept on pointing his finger at her to intimidate us. We were just trying to find out why and where the confusion happened and he just lost it totally and started blaming us instead by yelling repeatedly that it was us who were supposed to call and check with him if there was any change!! Then the driver of the bus intervened and tried to solve the matter but the guide still kept screaming and at a point he was so furious that he could've almost hit us. Had I not been there I am sure he would have hit me wife if the argument had continued any further. He was that aggravated.

All this while we kept telling him that he needs to watch his tone and lower his voice but then he started threatening us that we could leave the tour right then and even threatened to leave without us. It was the bus driver who had to eventually control and hold the guide's hand which he kept on using again and again to threaten us. We were in middle of nowhere and had no option of doing anything else other than to continue with the tour with the fear of being at the disposal of a short tempered person who could publicly fight with us, hit us or even leave us anywhere anytime.

Later on after checking with the other passengers we were told that they all were informed of correct timing - 6am wake up call and 7am departure yesterday on the bus itself and there wasn't any last minute change of plan (and contrary to his excuse, there was no driver change for the entire duration of the trip!). So now we knew our doubt was right that this was done deliberately to us but we still did not know for what.

During our entire conversation at the lobby of Ramada hotel, the Guide told us that we should've called him and checked again and again about the plans rather then he having the minimum courtesy or even acknowledging his basic responsibility to at least call the hotel and leave a message at the front desk which anyway made more sense.

Anyways he did what he did and we are the ones whose holidays got ruined on the very first day and are left with really bad memories from this specific trip. We have taken so many other tours and have never experienced any such situation ever before. In fact in all our other international trips the guides have been very polite and courteous. Rest of the passengers with us have the same view and feedback. All of them have plans to put some real time reviews on the internet but were just waiting for this horrible tour to get over. People go on holidays to feel good, not to get bullied by the guide. This person needs serious anger management therapy.

When I tried speaking to a customer care person the same night to highlight this, I was told that they do not handle such matters and asked us to write an email instead to the tour company! Being dependent on this person during the duration of our tour, we really could not afford to take the risk of escalating this matter prior to its completion especially with no clear person or number available to help us. I am really not expecting any action and it will not even be of any help now because the level of unprofessionalism is really high since the beginning of this tour and also if such guides are on board with the firm then it also portrays a very bad image for the company. We were not expecting any luxury treatments but basic courtesy is something which has to be there.This tour was a punishment and the guide was a control freak with anger issues. What ever my reach is I will make sure not to recommend this tour to any one ever.

They made our trip a life time memory of mistakes!

By the way, here is the list of issues we ignored since day 1-

1. There was no pick up for us at the airport and we waited for 2 hrs and then also after making some calls we somehow got into the bus.

2. Night tour was a total rip off- and the guide of 1st day snatched our food from our hands and wanted to keep it with him so that we do not eat it in the bus where as just telling us that don't eat it would have been enough.

3. Frank aka Kung fu panda (that's what he wanted us to call him) threatened us that this is a strictly no photo and shopping tour. He wanted us to make memories in our heads rather then our cameras. Shopping I understand (because of time restriction) but how can he tell us not to click pictures! It's absurd.

So please if you happen to read this save yourself and your holiday.

Sweden
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26. Re: TakeTours 7 day Yellowstone trip - A Candid Review

I so wish the review that started this topic was posted as a welcome message on TakeTours (and similar) English web page!

I have booked 2 tours with TakeTours. One was very good (4-day Las Vegas/Grand Canyon tour carried out by Joy Travels) and one was not (6 day Oregon/North California carried out by PCC Tours).

Sp much depends on the tour guide, and however friendly the PCC guide was, his English was terrible and half the time he forgot to give important noticed (like departure times) in English altogether.

The tours themselves are great if you want to get a taster of many things in a short time - I think of them as "tasters". A chance for me to check out things and places I might want to return to and explore more thoroughly at some later time.

What really upsets me is that TakeTours seems to not post the review I made of the tour. It seems like anything that isn't positive isn't welcome there. My main purpose of the review is to make people aware what they are getting into by booking bu TakeTours: A tour aimed at Chinese guests. I knew that, I was fine with that when booking ( I did not expect a tour guide that hardly spoke English though...) and I also knew beforehand about the very tight itineraries. But on both my tours there have been non-Asian guests that was not aware that these were "Chinese" tours, and therefore not very happy.

The tours are not bad, you just need to be aware what you're buying!

Gdansk, Poland
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27. Re: TakeTours 7 day Yellowstone trip - A Candid Review

Thanks a lot for all the reviews, I need to rethink my trip with them...

Lewes, United...
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28. Re: TakeTours 7 day Yellowstone trip - A Candid Review

Wodzu - as this is your first post on this forum, please would you care to share (in a new topic) what your plans are? For those on a super tight budget, I don't think we can beat a Take Tours trip, but for folk with a bit of leeway, we can offer advice for a definitely far superior experience.

SWT

Gdansk, Poland
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29. Re: TakeTours 7 day Yellowstone trip - A Candid Review

First of all, thank you very much for trying to help! That is very kind of you. Altough I am not planning my trip to Yellowstone, perhaps you will be able to help me anyway. Here is the link to my question:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k7712839…

I do not have any experience with trips in USA or Canada, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

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30. Re: TakeTours 7 day Yellowstone trip - A Candid Review

I like reading your post very much.

I am seting our plan to vist USA vy "take tour" . It is useful for us to prepare our trip.

My plan is visiting the East cost and West cost. I have 25 days in USA, is it enough for us?

I am waiting for receiving your advise soon

With best regards,

Thank you so much

Edited: 7:14 pm, August 11, 2014
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