Written on: 16/07/2012
We experienced the May tour of Indonesia with Travelsphere. I note there are five further tours scheduled later this year.
If you are considering this tour, I would advise a degree of caution, as their brochure description is highly optimistic and misleading in its presentation.
Here are some key observations from our recent May tour which adds a touch of reality to the brochure image. (We are both experienced travellers and fit).
1. Excessive and over-long coach travelling:
This was the dominating element of the tour in Sumatra and Java ( very like the old fashioned coach journies from the UK to Spain in the early 1960's). We had X4 days of enduring coach travel, all 12 hours plus. With minimal and mediocre stops .
Examples: Day 5 depart Samosir at 08-00 arrive Jakarta at 21-45
Day 12 depart Malang at 07-30 arrive Bali at 22-15
We did expect some long driving, but these were real unsafe marathons- often in very poor driving conditions and dark evenings
2. Hotel Quality:
The tour has X7 Hotel stays. It is fair to sat X3 were very good/excellent, those in Bandung,Yogyakarta and Bali.
However, X2 in Medan and Jakarta were just about"2 Star" if that.
The Hotels in Samosir and Malang were dire. The former was at best comparable to a rustic youth hostel with minimal working facilities in the bedroom. The latter was a local wedding hotel, appropriately noisy and chaotic. Rooms/lifts/corridors reeked of tobacco. These latter two were late changes from the scheduled hotels- selected carefully by our expert tour firm.
3. "Excursions and Other Highlights"
These have a high profile in the brochure. Some did live up to the billing> particularly Tangkuban Volcano : Borobudur : Mount Bromo. Unfortunately many were mediocre E.G Sipisopiso Falls more memorable was the graffiti and rubbish . Some stops were very limited in duration ( whistle stop your of the famous Bogor botanical gardens) Some were omitted completely ( Obama heritage: Solo Palace) due to the long distances that had to be covered each day.
Arriving to cities in the mid/late evening also meant we were unable to adequately explore or find interesting places to eat. Often we were introduced to "highlights" by the guide in the confines of our coach seats
Fortunately Bali was a pleasure - enhanced by the absence of total coach travel.
In conclusion- avoid this firm if you are after a well planned, thoughtful and participative tour. The hotels were a lottery. Travelsphere's response to our views about this tour were patronising and predictably dismissive
The Travelsphere logo on the front page of their brochure is proudly stated "The World, for less". It strikes me as an appropriate epitaph for them. Avoid at all costs
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