Explore / Adventure Centre Kiev Reviews
Review of the tour company Explore Jul 05, 2008
This is a review of the travel company Adventure Centre / Explore. I have travelled with a number of different travel companies, such as GAP, Intrepid, Kumuka, etc, but we picked Adventure Centre / Explore for this trip because it was one of the few companies that went into the Ukraine and Moldova.
The itinerary was fairly well planned, great sites were covered and not too many days were lost in transit. The guide (Jason) was very good. However, and this was a constant problem, the company's infrastructure was horrible. A friend of ours tried to book six weeks in advance and was told only the day before that they couldn't fit him on the trip because the hotels were booked up. This was patently not a problem in all but one of the hotels on the trip, and for that one with any other company the single traveller could have shared a room with the guide.
We were also told by the company, by email, phone and in the official trip notes, that Australians could get a two day transit visa for Moldova, and that this visa fit the schedule the company had set. My wife, who was travelling on an Australian passport, got this visa, informed the travel company and also gave the details to our trip guide on the first day of the trip. On our second day in Moldova we were told by our local guide that this was not the correct visa. She then took us around to embassys all day trying to change it. I asked multiple times if there was a bus out of the country in case we couldn't change it, and specifically asked if they crossed Transdiniester (which we couldn't do). She said "yes, a couple every hour" without checking, then, after the embassy said they couldn't change the visa, she rang us up and told us there was only one per day and it was leaving in 10 minutes. We rushed to the bus depot and made it out the country, but we didn't have maps, hotel bookings, information to rejoin the group or anything for our next location. Jason told us that he'd get the next local guide to meet us at the other end.
The next local guide didn't turn up at the bus station until an hour and twenty minutes after our bus got in, long after we left. We were okay with dealing with the situation, but quite frankly it was an unacceptable situation for the company to put us in. Such systemic negligence by the local guides is really poor form for the company, which should check up on the situation in the ground. They also refused to refund us the cost of the extra night's hotel and bus trip, despite it being a clear result of erroneous advice on their behalf.
Overall advice - use Adventure Centre / Explore if you are comfortable with the possibility of being left out on a limb and if there is no other company going to the region. Otherwise, avoid them.
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