Gombe Track Safaris & Tours
- Office In:
- 10-20 employees (Founded in 2005)
- Tour Types:
- Small & medium group tours (Budget & mid-range)
- Price Range:
- $50 to $350 ppper person per day (USD, excl. int'l flights)
Average User Rating
Email Kristin | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: first safari
Beware of what you are getting into!
We were very disappointed in this tour. Starting out with being picked up late at the airport. We arrived in the pouring rain with no cell phone service and the driver was 15 minutes late in picking us up, which would not have been a big deal if we had a way of getting ahold of someone to see if they were coming or had forgotten us.
Secondly, the driver was drunk from the impression I got. He drove those roads at 120kph which I finally had to tell him to slow down. These are dirt/ clay roads! There was a man on a bicycle carrying long wooden sticks which the driver hit as he drove by the man! I know I'm in a different country but is this a normal occurrence? He proceeded to tell us we would be in the car for 6 hours...? Now, I'm confused because the itinerary I was sent said:
"Transfer to Sigunga village where you will take a boat to Mahale mountain national park. Have a picnic lunch at Sigunga village before boating to Mahale. The boat will take approximately 3 to 4 hours"
As we drove at top speeds we came to a village where we were told he had forgotten dinner and would be right back. 30 minutes later he returns with a chicken and throws him in the back of the car. After driving for 3 hours I ask about lunch because it's now 3pm. He hands me a box lunch which was not vegetarian like I had said several times that I was. I could not eat! I had a banana. At 630pm we arrive at this boat in the middle of nowhere. There is 1 man waiting to take us to Mahale. This is scary for 2 women traveling alone, especially with my sister who has anxiety. If we had been informed ahead of time what was going to be going on we would have felt more comfortable. Especially since it took 7+ hours to get there when we were thinking it was a 3hr boat ride. We get on the boat and it is now getting dark. I'm in a strange place in the middle of this huge lake on this boat not knowing where we are going. We arrive at dark, can not see anything. We ate dinner at 9pm! This is not acceptable, especially since we had no lunch!
If it wasn't for our guide Huessein it would have been a horrible experience. Luckily he made it amazing for us.
Last thing, when we left and stayed in Kigoma town, we were dropped at the hotel with NO information. Nothing about lunch, dinner or the museum tour. Food was terrible. The staff didn't understand what I was talking about. So I messaged Joshua with whom I had been speaking with, very little information again. I got ahold of the driver to ask him about the museum and he said Oh, we will go tomorrow before the airport. Again, he could not tell me how far the airport was and said he would pick us up at 8 for the tour to the museum. He then said the airport was 2 hours away. I told him we left at 1230. The next morning after our tour we realized the airport was 5 minutes from us! We spent 3 hrs at that little airport waiting.
I just don't understand why the itinerary I received was not followed nor was I ever given correct information. Mahale was such a special place and I would love to return. I'm not trying to be mean, I just want to inform anyone traveling here the situation.
Reply from Gombe Track Safaris & ToursPosted on Sep 30, 2019
First of all, i would like to apologise for all what happened on May in your trip to Mahale Mountain national park. I agree with you that the driver behaved badly and he didn't provide acceptable service to you. After your trip, we made an investigation concerning his behaviour and we notice that he is not the right person to be one of the staff of Gombe safari. So the management of Gombe track tours and safaris have suspended and terminated him since July 2019. He is no longer a staff of the Gombe safari due to his bad behaviour to our customers/clients. On the other hand, we would like to say thank you for your review which helped us to know all about the services provided by our staff while on your vacation. It was not our intention to provide poor service like that. We know that our customers need good services while are on their vacation and it is our responsibility to make sure that they meet their expectation.
Email Blair | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
Got me to Gombe but didn't deliver all of what was promised
Gombe Stream NP is an amazing, magical place. The chimpanzee treks themselves are conducted by TANAPA (Tanzania's national park service) regardless of how you get to Gombe. The TANAPA guide assigned to me was superb.
Gombe Track provided a driver in Kigoma and a cook who accompanied me to Gombe. Both were great and individually deserve 5 stars. The driver stopped by on my night in Kigoma to point out the MV Liemba coming into port, and the cook took time in the evenings in Gombe to help me learn Swahili.
Unfortunately, my overall experience with Gombe Track as a tour operator was marred by two issues.
First, the itinerary I agreed to stated all meals and non-alcoholic refreshments were included. This turned out not to be the case. I was forced to pay for a number of waters and sodas, and on my last day in Kigoma, was told by the "hotel" (see below) that my meals were not included. As a result, I opted to skip two meals (dinner and breakfast) rather than pay for food that should have been covered.
Second, the itinerary I agreed to called for one night in Kigoma at a specific hotel (Coast View). I researched this property beforehand to ensure it was acceptable to me. Instead, without any notice or discussion, I was taken to another accommodation which seemed to be of much lower quality (Aqua Lodge).
Unlike Coast View, Aqua Lodge had no internet/WiFi, no restaurant/bar, etc. While the staff seemed friendly enough and there was a great lake view, my room had only a squeaky ceiling fan that didn't cool the room very well and the poor ventilation allowed outside cigarette smoke in. The bed had a thin bed sheet over over a mattress that wasn't even tucked in. There was a leak in the bathroom that left the base of the toilet in a puddle of water. Finally, I could hear just about everything in the one nearby room that was occupied by a couple who decided to get frisky at 3 am. Needless to say, I didn't sleep much and was counting down the hours until I left.
I should note that my trip to Gombe was initially arranged through another tour operator, who I had a great experience with on another safari. After I had agreed to terms and was in Tanzania, I was handed off to Gombe Track directly. The full payment for my trip was given to Gombe Track. As far as I am concerned, it was Gombe Track's responsibility to be aware of the itinerary/terms and ensure they were followed since it was the company actually conducting the tour.
I paid Gombe Track $900 for 4 days and the last ~22 hours were in Kigoma where I was basically on my own waiting to fly back to Dar es Salaam. This amount did not include the TANAPA fees (park entrance, guide, accommodations at the park, etc.) and airfare, which added more than $600 to the total cost.
$900 should have been way more than enough to profitably cover my (limited) ground transportation in Kigoma, the boat to and from Gombe, 4 days of meals and non-alcoholic beverages, admission to the Livingstone monument in Ujiji, and one night of accommodation in the Kigoma hotel specified in the itinerary I agreed to.
While Gombe Track got me to Gombe and back, and I appreciate that, I now know I paid a lot more than necessary and despite this, I still got less than what was agreed to.
I had been in contact with the owner of Gombe Track via WhatsApp prior to my trip and never heard from him after the trip to see how it went, which was disappointing, especially given the cost. I did two other safaris while on Tanzania, both of which were much less expensive on a per day basis, and both operators were eager to collect feedback afterwards.
Email giuseppe | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: first safari
Cominciamo col dire che il rispetto dell'orario non è il punto forte di questo tour operator. Il nostro piano prevedeva che appena arrivati all'aeroporto di Dar Es Salaam alle 6.45 dovessimo partire subito per il Selus Reserve. Invece abbiamo dovuto aspettare un'altra turista alle 7.30. Poi fino alle 9.00 in dar Es Salaam perche il driver doveva ritirare il cibo che serviva al cuoco all'interno del camp. Poi finalmente partenza e a metà starada abbiamo aspettato per circa 1 ora e mezza un altro driver che dava il cambio al nostro. In tutto questo, siamo arrivati all'Hippo camp alle 4.30 p.m. e come pranzo ci è stato servito una coscia di pollo fredda e nera, un piatto di patatine fritte fredde e un pò di insalata. A cena, un piatto di spaghetti alla bolognese immangiabili. il giorno dopo il safari è andato bene anche se il pranzo prevedeva un'altra coscia di pollo fredda e nera, un sandwich, uno yogurt e una banana. L'ultimo giorno, dopo colazione, una breve passeggiata di mezz'ora nei paraggi nel camp, altro viaggio di 5 ore per l'aeroporto. Non consiglio assolutamente questo tour operator.
Let's start by saying that respect for time is not the strong point of this tour operator. Our plan provided that we just arrived at Dar Es Salaam at 6:45 pm and we should leave for Selus Reserve. Instead we had to wait for another tourist at 7.30am. Then until 9:00 am in Es Salaam, because the driver had to pick up the food he needed for the cook inside the camp. Then we finally got off and half starada waited for about 1 and a half hour another driver who changed the way to ours. In all of this, we arrived at Hoppo Camp at 4.30pm. And as a lunch we were served a cold and black chicken thigh, a plate of cold fries and a bit of salad. At dinner, a dish of spaghetti with Bolognese inedible. The next day the safari went well even though the lunch provided another cold and black chicken thigh, a sandwich, a yogurt and a banana. On the last day, after breakfast, a short half-hour walk around the camp, another 5-hour trip to the airport. I absolutely do not recommend this tour operator.
20-35 years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
Great safari, average food, poor accommodation..
The driver who picked us up from Dar and stayed with us the whole trip was a good, safe driver who really did an effort to make sure we had a satisfying safari tour.
The accommodation where we stayed the first two nights, cottage in Mikumi, was very poor (shower didn't work, room wasn't really clean, some windows did not have curtains, AC only worked 10% of the time) but the view was amazing. The food they served was average, if there was any. After our morning drive we only got an egg for breakfast... So our driver took us somewhere else for lunch, which was great, the food was really good and we had a fantastic view over the wildlife park.
The accommodation in which we were supposed to stay in Udzungwa appeared to be fully booked (how is that possible when you book your tour two months in advance??), but luckily they were able to place us in Hondo Hondo instead of a downgrade hotel they offered us at first. Hondo Hondo is great place to stay!
The safari's we did during the first three days and the hike in Udzungwa on the fourth day were perfect! We saw all animals you hope to see on a safari and the view on the hike was amazing (good knowledgeable guide as well)!
Overall we feel like we have paid way too much for this tour and would not recommend to book your safari's with Gombe unless they give a 50% discount on their price or give you some sort of a guarantee to arrange proper accommodation.
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