Now this next little diatribe is primarily so I can get heaps of tags on it, in the hopes that anyone who thinks this company is professional, honest, and skilled will quickly find my review when searching on the net and will therefore avoid having to spend three days having to put up with what we put up with. After the jump you will find all the gory details…
Here is the website of the Worst and Most Misleading Tour Company in North America:
AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!!
Oh, where to begin with this disastrous company? Perhaps my confirmation phone call the day before the tour where the phone was answered ‘Hello’… (you know, not BunduBashers, How Can I Help You, or anything like that) in a pissed off sort of a voice, after which I had the pleasure of speaking to some disgustingly rude Pom who was really aggressive sounding when demanding that I must NOT be late as I was the first pick up. Cretin.
I was indeed the first pick up, at 6am, and then our incredibly useless tour guide (you see them mentioned under ‘Very Skilled Guides’ ) couldn’t find one of the pick up points (merely a Very Large and Well Known Las Vegas Hotel) and so we drove around for TWO HOURS before leaving Vegas.
It was at this point, 2 hours into the trip, (and still 1km from my hotel) that I learnt that the whole trip I had booked was now being done ‘in reverse’….. eg, Day 1 was now Day 3, Day 2 was the same, Day 3 was now Day 1, and that there was no schedule, no itinerary, no information, and no apology.
I then further learnt that the advertised “Vehicles are mini buses or executive vans, which are vans with individual, high back, reclining seats ” is a load of utter bullshit.
Our van was an ex-Westin Hotel shuttle van, with 12 seats, and perfectly suited for 10 minute trips to and from airports. It was cramped, drafty, noisy, dirty, old, and the only bloody seats which would have reclined were the broken ones.
Not only that, no logo’s or company information on it, well, except for the faded Westin Hotel Shuttle logo on the side… just an advertisement inside for a Salt Lake City restaurant, whose telephone number, I will never forget it, is (area code) EAT FISH. Insane.
About 2 more hours into the drive, with the driver (I’m sorry, he’s not getting the title of Guide) shouting, because – no shit Sherlock – the microphone was broken – we realised that such excitements as ‘Stopping for morning tea’ were well beyond the capacity of this company. For the whole trip, we had to demand food breaks.
Our driver, who was about as useful at being a tour guide as I am at nuclear physics, just couldn’t cope with any change to the itinerary and got twitchy, nervous, and edgy if we demanded such things as toilet breaks and food.
The first day he proposed – because we were late- and why was that, I wonder – to drop the people doing horseriding off to do their ride despite the fact they hadn’t had anything to eat since the day before – at 2pm. On facing a small riot from his passengers, he reluctantly rang ‘head office’ and pretended to be getting them to push the tour back, but then kept saying it couldn’t be done. However, his passengers, including one very pissed off Kiwi, two irate Irish, a riotous Pom or three and a Canadian engineer who works on oil and gas rigs out of Siberia and who was not to be messed with (also female, young, blonde and attractive, she must cause a riot on the rigs) started getting a bit bolshie and so he switched it around – finally – and ‘allowed’ our Irish guests to run in and buy a Subway roll to eat in the van on the way.
They subsequently learnt – when we reconvened later – that the horse riding company had no other riders that day and did not seem to have been contacted to move the ride more than the final once.
The locale for the ATV and Horseriding – neither of which my ankle had decided were a good idea – was in the middle of nowhere, and so those of us that weren’t on it got to sit in a restaurant – and I use the term loosely – waiting around for the others to get back. Nothing to see, nothing to do. Despite the statement on their website that you’d be taken into the canyon early, or have plenty of time to explore the canyon. If the scumby giftshop and over priced kitschy cafe is ‘the canyon’ I suppose it’s technically true.
The Irish subsequently reported that the horse ride they did, and the horse ride on the website, were two different things. And not for the better.
Did I mention that they also decided to combine a two day and a three day tour (hence doing it backwards) so that on Day Two they could split us up and send the two-dayers back with another tour group? And did I mention that they then kept the three dayers – us- back late, on Day 3, to pick up yet another group, so late, that we didn’t get back to Vegas until after 11pm? We’d been in the crappy Westin van for 16 hours that day! Oh, no dinner break by the way, just a 10 minute stop at the gas station – choice of the usual gas station food for dinner…… And that the poor group that joined us for the trip back, had been picked up at 6am, rushed all over Arizona, and by the time they got to the Grand Canyon at 4pm, hadn’t eaten all day? And they were Italians, a nation which take eating and drinking very seriously – and rightly so!
This is us all crammed into the spacious van – photo is taken with the wide angle lens held over my head – those are my knees bottom left with 3 more people to my right.
I could mention that our driver was so accommodating, in the matter of bottle water…. in a soft sided esky with no ice. Day Two we rioted and hung shit on him ‘It can’t be hard, you know, they sell ice at the gas stations!!!’ until he finally got that organised. And here was me thinking America was the home of the ice machine.
Now, our Very Skilled Guide spent a lot of time telling us about the history of the region we were in. Starting at the exact moment the Mormons arrived. Like we cared. Long before the bloody Mormons, were the Native Americans, most of whom were either slaughtered or packed off to reservations, and we were interested in the language, culture, history, traditions and original names for the magnificent regions we were in. I’d also have liked to know what one should or shouldn’t be doing/wearing/saying on the Navajo reservations – I hate to think I might be being culturally insensitive, but Action Man The Driver couldn’t even answer the simplest questions and certainly didn’t volunteer any useful information. At one point I had to remind HIM what an Indian home is called. (No, it’s not a teepee.)
Our driver was incapable of a straight answer to anything, it was always ‘oh about (insert vague and inaccurate statement here) ‘- and almost pouted when we got stroppy.
Now should this have been a cheap and cheerful tour, fine. I have no problem with being dragged from pillar to post in rough conditions if that’s what I think I’m signing up for. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t particularly cheap (AUD 1200 for me). There was no indication that we’d have to beg for toilet breaks, spend over 15 hours in the van on two of the days, be crammed in like sardines, not get meal breaks, that the hotel we stayed in would be a really crappy motel (costing me nearly as much as the bloody Palazzo once you added the ‘single surcharge’… which I later found out the hotel doesn’t actually charge, (and DO feel free to check this on their website – Best Western Arizona Inn, Page, do NOT charge a single supplement, so more money for dear old Bundu Bashers) if I’d booked it myself I’d have been better off) which didn’t even have a restaurant, breakfast was in the foyer (and rubbish at that, though we evil passengers started knocking off muffins and fruit in case we starved to death on the bus)!
Every damn monument, park, outcrop and expanse of land was named after some blasted Mormon who ‘discovered it’…. my foot, the Navajo and their forebears were there long before, and I was shocked to see and hear almost contempt, or at least disregard, for the traditional owners of these lands and the history of it. I know that Australia hasn’t got a sterling track record in the matter of the Aboriginals but nevertheless at least they’re trying to put it right, but in Utah, it’s all about the Mormons.
Anyway. As I said in my last post, I had a ball. The others on my tour and I banded together in adversity and made it fun. We collaborated on food, drink, and tormenting our tour guide. As one of them said – ‘Even Bundu Bashers couldn’t fuck up this AMAZING scenery’ and it’s true. The places we visited were stunning. And we had fun. It’s just a shame that this mob are running the tours when clearly all they are is a little money-grubbing outfit, in it for all they can scrounge out of you.
On the second night, we took my little laptop out, connected up to the wireless internet at the motel, and compared the tour on the net to what we were getting. They’ve got some cleverly worded stuff in there about ‘the itinerary changing without notice’ etc etc, and its fluffy enough that they’d get away with it in a court of law, but the spirit of thing promises and doesn’t deliver. We didn’t do some of the advertised things, and others we couldn’t because of the revised schedule.
Our driver also told us that on Trip Advisor there are lots of bad reviews of Bundu Bashers. The way he said it made it sound like it was a conspiracy. I can assure you it isn’t. Avoid this company at all costs!