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Geographic Expeditions to Tibet?

Greenwich...
Level Contributor
429 posts
60 reviews
Geographic Expeditions to Tibet?

Considering taking Geographic Expeditions to Tibet for their published 8-day tour (from Beijing). Has anyone had experience with this outfit, either in Tibet or elsewhere?

Cumming, Georgia
Level Contributor
2 posts
141 reviews
1. Re: Geographic Expeditions to Tibet?

I went to Tibet with Pacific Delights and it was great. 4 of us, superb guide, etc.

Used Geographic Expeditions for a 2+ week trip to Bhutan, and wish I had never heard of them. The group consisted of the biggest bunch of snobs ever. All they talked about was Sub Zeros, who they knew, what they did, etc. They were in an incredible country and was just out to impress. But Geoex has no control over who signs on.

However, their guide Manaj Sharma was horrendous. He only wanted to talk cameras, take personal photos. I wondered if he was the guide, or one of the tourists. Any requests for assistance were ignored or met with distain. Writing to the company president yielded a nice book.

I travel all over the world and will never consider using overpriced Geoex.

Delray Beach, FL
Level Contributor
3 posts
13 reviews
2. Re: Geographic Expeditions to Tibet?

i just finished a trip with GeoEx...The only thing i kept thinking about was 'what a rip off'

they charge an excessive amount of money and try to put most in their pocket, NOT your experience. We travel extensively with private guides. We couldn't have been more disappointed. I do not know how they make the 'top' lists ...stay away

if you want Beijing and/or Tibet...Call Asia Transpacific journeys...you will think you died and went to heaven they are so fabulous

San Francisco
Level Contributor
1 post
5 reviews
3. Re: Geographic Expeditions to Tibet?

The Great Blunt Question

You know the old saying: Successful companies stick to their knitting. We’ve had great success doing just that. And our knitting is service. Of course all travel companies offer a mix of service and product. But our emphasis is on the former, and here’s why. The kind of out-of-the way travel experiences we offer can’t be sold solely as a product. The only way to do that is through the market niche we have long avoided: mass tourism, with utterly predictable cookie-cutter itineraries. This is like buying a piece of furniture; if it has a nick in it, it’s a flawed product.

But you can’t go to the back of the beyond, to places just barely opened to the outside world, where the information highway is a delightful but rocky trail, and not be ready for a nick or two. In fact, our kind of traveler finds the unexpected flaw part of the adventure. She or he knows that there just isn’t any such thing as a guaranteed adventure.

That isn’t to say that we don’t work extremely hard at creating and maintaining flawless trips. And the great majority of our clients enjoy problem-free travel. Glitches and complaints drive us crazy, precisely because we’re service oriented.

Because the difference between service and product orientation isn’t always clear, savvy people often call us and ask the great blunt question: “Your catalog is great and this trip sounds terrific. But! Tell me: couldn’t I do this on my own? What do I need you for?”

The quick answer is that nothing stops you from doing almost all of our trips on your own, bypassing us entirely. Nothing but three things, in nearly limitless quantities: Time. Money. Patience. (Assuming you have savvy to spare. Without it anyone venturing far off the tourist-ruts is in for lots of peculiar, often irksome adventures.)

I like to use the tax form analogy. “If your finances are simple enough to use the short form, you can probably do it on your own. But if you have write-offs, deductions, complications, you’re almost invariably going to need help.”

Getting to Paris is the travel equivalent of the short form. Finding a way to get from Dunhuang to Turfan (major stops along the Silk Road), that’s a long form problem.

Or say you’re in Kathmandu, trying to get a permit to a restricted trekking area. Catching one of Nepal’s 150 or so holidays eats up time, as does the back and forthing from office to office. And it takes time, lots of it, to find the right ground operator from among the literal hundreds vying for your bucks.

In this sense, we function as your CPA. We and our very well tested associates around the world know how to get from Dunhuang to Turfan, how to make sure your permit is waiting for you when you arrive in Nepal. (And while you’re sightseeing in Kathmandu, we’re reconfirming your return flight home, a major time-eater and easily overlooked problem.)

TIME: rustling up a permit to cross the Turugart Pass into the Kyrgyz Republic, for instance, finding a reasonable guide and Land Cruisers to the border, and somehow arranging for transportation on the other side, takes a tremendous amount of time. One more example from a world full of them: try ticketing a flight from Urumchi to Tashkent at your friendly local agent or (that being iffy) try buying one in Urumchi.

PATIENCE: you may have time to burn trying to arrange travel to places that have never heard of faxes or the internet, but, as seasoned travelers know, it can take hours and days of waiting in line, dealing with bureaucrats and triplicate forms, trying to get a taxi to the third office in a row that will send you to the fourth.

MONEY: while you're waiting for the skies to clear so that flight out of Gilgit can at last take off, your hotel is gleefully toting up charges (we know how to quickly get reliable ground transportation to Islamabad). And how much will it cost to fix that Land Rover that looked so stylish in Nairobi? Who assumes the currency and fuel surcharge risk associate with travel in this day and age. In short, our kind of travel is like the long tax form; try to do it on your own and you're likely to spend a few days drinking bad coffee with an IRS agent.

SAFETY: Who will be there for you if that gnawing abdominal pain turns out to be appendicitis or a kidney stone? Will the insurance you may or may not have bought at home plug you into a board certified emergency physician and get you on an air ambulance with a physician and nurse to a competent western medical facility? Will the eager and personable guide you hired in Kathmandu shovel snow for thirteen hours to get you over that crucial pass? We are in the business, first and foremost, of taking care of our clients. Our travel is as safe as we can make it, and on the few occasions it isn't, we have one of the best 24 x 7 safety nets in the business."

James D. Sano

President

Geographic Expeditions

4. Re: Geographic Expeditions to Tibet?

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Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
1 post
61 reviews
5. Re: Geographic Expeditions to Tibet?

We just got back from a 14 day trip to Tibet using Geographi Expeditions. We took the 8-day tour from Beijing and modified it to do some additional stuff that wasn't offered. As a result, we were the only 2 clients on the trip so I cannot speak to the difficulties of other clients. However, we did see many other companies and their clients' varieties of personalities and can see how this would be a big problem in a place like Tibet.

In this review I will talk about the value ($) of the tour and the Tibet experience overall. If you have any additional questions I would be happy to answer.

You pay for what you get is probably the best way to describe our experience with Geo Exp. in Tibet. I think you can find tour companies that will charge less to get you into Tibet, drive you around Lhasa and Shigatse in a bus, run you through the Potala Palace and a couple of monasteries and then see you off at the airport. But I feel you will have missed out. I see Lhasa as being as Tibetan as Cancun is to Mexico. In order to get at the heart of what it means to visit Tibet you need to get out of the cities. You need to pile in to a Land Cruiser and drive on a road that looks like a pile of rocks and dirt and get out to where westerners aren't viewed as tourists but are viewed as guests. You will never find a people as warm and friendly as you do in these little towns. Your guide is also important in this experience. Your guide should also have a passion to show you their country and their culture. I can't stress this last point enough and hope my meaning is clear in my intentional ambiguity.

We were fortunate enough to experience this. Tibet has beautiful views and monestaries but except for the many photos I took those memories will all fade. What will stick with me forever are the memories of the Tibetan people we crossed paths with. It is here where your trip's value is greatest. The hotels and food are generally cheap and I imagine guides and drivers are as well. Where you will find value in your trip is in the details of who you meet, what you do and where you do it. In our experience it is here where we paid for and got it with Geo Exp.

As for the Tour; With all of the above glowing remarks we found the Tibet tour to be a bit heavy on the monastery for our liking. We generally try to mix things up on our trips and are very independent when it comes to decisions so this tour was certainly out of our comfort zone. If monasteries are your thing, this is the trip for you, if not work with them to add some variety. We found Geo Exp. very flexible to any questions and concerns when setting up the tour. The problem was, we didn't know what we we didn't know...if that makes sense. The monasteries, while beautiful can get redundant very quickly. If we knew that ahead of time we would have cut some of them out and did more hiking (although very difficult at 4500m) or interaction with residents in towns.

In short, we recommend Geo Exp. for the Tibet trip. They know what they are doing, do it well and most importantly they will leave you feeling like you have visited and experienced Tibet and you will know what I mean.

Happy Travels!

6. Re: Geographic Expeditions to Tibet?

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