Go Touch Down Travel & Tours
- Offices In:
- 20-50 employees (Founded in 2010)
- Tour Types:
- Small & medium group tours (Mid-range & luxury)
- Price Range:
- $300 to $800 ppper person per day (USD, excl. int'l flights)
Average User Rating
Email Erica | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: first safari
Beware of contract language!
My family’s experience with Go Touch Down for our “safari tour” was a complete disaster. I would absolutely NEVER book with them again, even if offered a trip at a fraction of the cost. They are able to lean heavily on clauses in their stock contract that allow them to entirely modify their itinerary.
Taken directly from the contract: “Go Touch Down shall not be responsible or held liable to secure the originally intended vacation package, which in many cases may not be available or its procurement may not be practicable due to forces of nature, market factors, or other related reasons” and “…when deemed necessary in its sole discretion reserves the right to: (1) cancel any itinerary or any part of it for any reason; (2) make any alterations to the itinerary (including, but not limited to, alterations or substitutions of hotels).”
In other words, they can promise WHATEVER they want and then dump you into whatever itinerary they come up with! I stupidly assumed this was boilerplate language that we’d have no choice but to agree to in order to sign up for any safari. But even if it is common contract language, most of us have to trust that tour companies wouldn’t dare abuse it; our experience with Go Touch Down revealed that this is not a company worthy of our trust.
My story is a long one, but here is the gist of key issues (though there were many more, too numerous to cover in detail). Go Touch Down closed one of our two safari lodges six months before our trip. They did not reveal this to me, but I instead discovered it on my own…even as I was having multiple phone conversations with our agent (the owner’s wife) about our stay at that very lodge because I was trying to make some arrival arrangements. Of note, Go Touch Down manages the lodges they use on their South African tours, so they knew of the closure, and I found they’d actually removed this lodge from a prominent corporate branding image months prior. When I asked our agent about the lodge closure, she became extremely rude and combative. Go Touch Down then used contract language to prevent us from getting a refund even though this was going to cut the safari portion of our trip in half and dump us at a freezing cold trout fishing timeshare they manage instead (this was the unfortunate fate for months of guests; we got last-minute lucky when they opened a new lodge just before our arrival and spared us the fish pond).
While we may have gotten a safari in the end (after so much grief and stress), it wasn’t the one we were sold. The number one reason I chose this tour had been the promise of a maximum of six people on game drives. In fact, the brief Go Town Down self-written bio on social media is “small group tours of max 6 people.” Upon arrival, we discovered that we would have ten people on our game drives – every seat in the truck filled, including the one up with the driver. Those squished into the middle seats could barely see anything, especially since nearly all of our drives were in covered-top vehicles and some fellow passengers were quite tall. Even the most barebones budget safari packages generally guarantee an outside seat. One high-level staff member brought up specifically how unacceptable this was and explained that many game drive vehicles no longer even have middle seats and instead place storage compartments down the middle! (I’m intentionally leaving out specific details like staff titles and names because I don’t want any of these wonderful people to get in trouble – we encountered so many who were very candid with us about their extreme frustration with Go Touch Down, and it is a testament to their own professionalism that they did not take out this frustration on their guests.) The entirety of our Morubisi stay was packed in like this, as was our full day in Kruger (even though in the latter case, we were assured the day prior that we would all ride together to Kruger and that a second game drive vehicle would be waiting to collect half of us for the smaller tour we’d been promised, but this didn’t actually happen).
Once again, Go Touch Down chose to lean heavily on contract language as an excuse. We certainly were not the only ones on our tour who were extremely upset, as many had chosen Go Touch Down for the six-person cap just as we had. One fellow traveler then astutely observed that the final documents we received the week of departure had been tweaked to state that any “outsourced” activities, including game drives, may have more than six people. First of all, Go Touch Down runs the game lodges, so the drives are hardly “outsourced.” Furthermore, this left only the transport from the airport and between lodges as what they’d deem non-outsourced. Who cares how many people we ride from the airport to the hotel with, it’s the game drives where that actually matters!
There were numerous other key advertised features of the tour that never came to fruition. For example, there was supposed to be a cultural music performance that never happened. There was also supposed to be a walking safari, but this was never offered. In addition, we were supposed to traverse the Panorama Route, a famous region of South Africa, when we were going to travel from Humala to Tshukudu. With the closure of Humala, we still faced a six-hour drive (not including a lunch stop), but we lost the morning game drive that was supposed to happen on that day and traveled a rather dull route to Tshukudu without scenic stops. And when we learned we’d be going to Morubisi, we were told of a wide variety of optional activities to choose from, such as a river cruise, to fill the long period between morning and evening game drives. But when we asked about this on site, we were told that only the reserve owner could drive the boat, and he wasn’t available to do so. In the end, there were no activities offered to fill the mid-day hours at Morubisi. Lodge staff were very apologetic and told us that Go Touch Down had frequently shifted financial priorities and was in the process of opening multiple new lodges which was causing not-atypical disruptions that were frustrating for them as well.
To be clear, this review is about Go Touch Down and why I would never recommend booking with them. The staff at the properties were almost uniformly lovely, and they were very candid about their own hatred of Go Touch Down management and about how guests constantly arrive having been entirely misled and taken advantage of. “They only know hotels” said one frustrated high-level staff member who was doing everything possible to give guests the safari experience they thought they’d purchased in the context of a management tour agency that seemed to think we were there for fancy rooms and meals that they attempted to spin as “upgrades.” So if your goal is to book an African safari, I would say this is NOT the company with which to do so – their contract is written in such a way that they may ultimately decide not to bring you to a safari property after all, and even if they do, it doesn’t have to be the safari you were promised.
South Africa is a lovely place, and there were many wonderful staff, animals, meals, fellow tour members, and hotel amenities that allowed us to make the most of our trip despite its many uncertainties and unkept promises. I have a lot of travel experience and love discovering joy in even the worst of situations. But ultimately what it comes down to is that Go Touch Down is a company that repeatedly made excuses for not delivering what we as clients were sold. Maybe they sometimes pull through, but it doesn’t seem like a risk worth taking when there are so many other options out there. This review has nothing to do with whether I would return to South Africa for a safari or whether the lodges we stayed at were nice. It is instead about warning people that there are thousands of actual SAFARI booking agencies, so I would highly recommend staying away from what was in our experience the unreliable, contract-abusing Go Touch Down when booking something as special as a safari.
Reply from Go Touch Down Travel & ToursPosted on Sep 29, 2023
Yes, Humala Lodge came as a surprise to all of us, but I know we made the right call.
My team and I are surprised to read the context of your review, and sadly we do not agree with you. Below are the facts on your file:
1. you bought a safari for 8 days that included 2x lodges (both 4 star). Humala Lodge was not big 5 reserve and has no lion or cheetah (keep that in mind, as that's what you paid for)
2. in Nov and Dec of 2022 there was ongoing unrest in the village outside Humala and Go Touch Down made a decision to stop sending clients to Humala (for safety reasons)
3. Jan 13th, 2023 Humala closed its camp. You were informed of this on *Jan 19th, 2023 (6 days later - we have the recorded call). *remember this date because we will address it again below.
4. Your new itinerary was going to incl. Dunkeld Estate for the 1st 3 days and it included a full day in Panorama Route plus Gumboot Dancers in the evening (you were not happy about this new change and wanted a full refund)
5. We then changed your itinerary and upgraded you to the 5-star Royal Morubisi (Big Five reserve that incl. Lions, cheetahs, and many wildlife that Humala did not offer).
6. The 5-star lodge opened June 2023 and you traveled July 2023. The Riverboat (was not included in the sale) was not available during your visit as it needed a qualified captain on that river (hippo's, rocks, etc.). (this is no longer an issue as we have a full-time staff that can)
7. Your sale docs are very clear about "Groups and Transport", and in addition, this sentence was included in your itinerary under Docs before you traveled to SA - I quote: "Our fleet of vehicles consists of Hyundai H1 9 seater vehicles. Our tour bus seating will not exceed 6 passengers; excluding your driver, for all our Exclusive Safari and Cape Town tours. However, outsourced excursions such as Table Mountain cable car, Robben Island Ferry, Cultural Township Tour, Game Drives, and airport transfers may exceed 6 passengers. Please be considerate and rotate tour bus seating with fellow travelers daily"
Your family of 3 would have occupied an entire row on your own during safaris. On the 4 days on safari at Tshukudu, you were only 5 people total on the jeep (your family of 3 and 2 others).
Regarding your comments about the Resort staff hating us and giving their opinions about our financial responsibilities - I have no comment, other than:
We asked the GM at Tshukudu about 'hate' statement, and he replied "These international clients from Go Touch Down are our bread & butter. The rangers and guides will never speak badly or get involved in politics. There are always cameras and videos around that can record ill behavior. We are not stupid to bite the hand that feeds us. This client is stirring".
The GM at Royal Moribisi replied and said: "Please get names from the client because we would never say that. The client told us that she only found out about Humala in the van on the way to Royal. We would like to know who she is quoting."
Go Touch Down's statement: "We send 2,000 + travelers from North America, Europe, and Australia to these lodges each year and we have never heard any other client say what you just did"
Covid and the 2 years that followed was a huge challenge for us. Many suppliers, airlines, and vendors closed their doors. So many tours had to be honored in the years that followed, and we made it all happen, and 'none' of our clients lost their investment they made pre covid.
9 out 10 clients are happy with our product. We are sorry that you did not see the value in this tour.
In closing: We sent you all the links and details prior to the trip, and Your email reply to us on May 2nd, 2023 said (and I quote): "Thank you for your very helpful responses! I've reviewed all of the materials, and only two quick additional questions come to mind....." You then continued to ask general questions, one of which was about the cost of the riverboat.
JC - Corporate
Email Rhonda | 65+ years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
The tour was great. However the agent I worked with from corporate office kept telling me one thing and changing it where I paid more and received less. She even changed the contract of what I signed. I was promised three meals plus much more and did not receive it. I have my original contract and all of our emails and conversations. BUYER BEWARE--DISHONEST. The properies in Capetown were nice but in need of repair. Stillness Manor: Broken mirrors, issues with water, mold around showers, and load share
issues every day (no lanterns or emergency lamps). Shark Bay was nice. Belle Maroc was a nice location. The people on site And the driver were great. Please make sure you get everything in writing from them and then DO NOT SIGN ANY NEW ADDENDUMS, CANCEL IF YOU MUST TO SAVE BEING SCAMMED, BUT DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING AFTER THE INITUAL CONTRACT. The Victoria Falls portion was great!
Reply from Go Touch Down Travel & ToursPosted on Jun 5, 2023
What a pity that a misunderstanding of lunch got in the way of a fantastic and valued tour.
We have discussed this in length with you and your Travel Agent. You signed up in 2018 and 4 years later after covid the properties were upgraded and changed. You and your sister both opted in writing for the new tour and improved changes in January 2023.
Re Cape Town. Nothing changed except that all the properties were upgraded - breakfast, dinners, and excursions remained, and we only stopped for short breaks on lunch in CPT for your account. This was very clear in the itinerary and documentation sent to you before the trip. The Travel Agent spoke to you 17 times in January and all the calls were recorded.
We wished you had raised this before the time, as it is such a small expense that should not have led to this review about the experience you had with the Agent.
We approved a generous rebate on your tour. Should this matter not be resolved to your satisfaction, we ask that you contact the corporate travel desk to discuss what the extra lunch expenses added up to for the 6 days.
Email WWGill | 65+ years of age | Experience level: first safari
Marred Vacation Experience
My husband and I planned this trip for about three years; we are retired educators. The trip included two weeks in South Africa(Capetown, Safari, and the remainder of the trip spent in Victoria Falls. The first two weeks of the trip went very smoothly, and we had an excellent experience. Our nightmare began after the Victoria Falls part of the trip. When my husband and I arrived to the Victoria Falls Airport for the return flight to JoBurg for the connecting flight to the USA, South African Air could not process my husbands reservation. We waited for two hours anxious, and stressed to get the reservation corrected. South African Air blamed
Go Touch Down, Go Touch Down blamed South African Air. There were two other individuals in our party and on the same reservation. My husband and I dealt with Go Touch Down; all of the arrangement were made by this travel agency. They readily took our money for this trip, promising a quality experience. When contacted, and asked to refund some of the money,(800.00) they sent us $25.00 which was suppose to cover failure to provide an aisle seat for my husband on the return flight. We were informed by Go Touch Down that South African Air charged for a seat on the Aisle. Needless to say the Vacation was marred, and should not have been. I understand that mishaps occur. I also expect to be made whole when treated poorly. Deon Barnard, President/CEO was useless in helping us. I share this information, so that potential clients will know that should something go wrong, Go Touch Down will not do the right by you. Please contact me if you have questions or wish more information about our experience.
Reply from Go Touch Down Travel & ToursPosted on Aug 11, 2020
As discussed, regretfully SAA made the changes on the ground. We have shared our emails and correspondence to SAA with you, indicating that we have gone from pillar to post to get SAA to own up. Your air ticket costs $800 and Go Touch Down's admin/commission is $25. We no longer use SAA on the Vic falls leg.
We are sorry that this aisle seat incident at Vic Falls left a bad taste.
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