OAT 2 week trip to Tunisia

Mar 17th, 2010, 05:07 AM
  #1  
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OAT 2 week trip to Tunisia

I recently returned from a 2 week trip to Tunisia with Overseas Adventure travel, and am posting this because there is not much on this board about travel to Tunisia. My DH and I are retired, have visited many countries, both independently and on tours, and found this trip to be as interesting as most other places we have visited. Tunisia is a country that has many excellent Roman ruins, as it is 90 miles of the coast of Sicily. It has fabulous mosaics, viewed both in situ and in museums. It also has the Sahara desert, which was a draw fo many people on our tour, though not so much for me. And it also has , very old ksars, hilltop fortified villages used by the Romans and Turks.

I won't go into the itinerary in depth as it is listed on the OAT website. I will say that the country was well worth viewing for the 2 weeks we were there. The Tunisian people are friendly and seem to like Americans, and especially Preident Obama. There is not much to buy in Tunisia, compared to other countries we have visited, with the exception of carpets,

The food is a cross between Italian and French. The breads and vegtables were very good. The meat was not so good, but you could skip the meat altogether and not be hungy.

The roads are good and you could explore the country either independently by rental car, or by formal tour. We chose the tour because we are getting lazy in our mid age (Notice I did not say old age) and wanted someone else to do the planning, driving and schlepping the luggage.

This was our first OAT tour and I was extemely happy with the organization, the customer service and the tour, with the exception of a few things. I commend OAT on their website, customer service, and their travel department that books the airfare. I know that there have been complaints about the routing the air department has booked for people on various trips, but for our trip the booking was perfect-Air France all the way-Boston to Paris to Tunisia- at reasonable departure times and reasonable amounts of time between flights. It is not OAT's fault that there was an air traffic controller's strike in France the week we were to depart, with many cancelled flights out of Charles De Gaulle Airport, as a result of the strike. Our flight from Paris to Tunis was cancelled on 3 days during the week we were to leave, but fortunately on our day of departure it took off as scheduled.

The tour leader was excellent and added a lot to the tour and the understanding of his country. My main objective in travelling is to see outstanding sights and get a better understanding of the country and its people. This trip accomplished this for me.

My main complaint was that one day was a partially "wasted" day in Tozeur, IMO because a train trip that was scheduled to take place did not, and the OAT substitution of a 2 hour trip to a date museum did not adequately take up the time or have the interest of the train ride. Hopefully they will fix this flaw in the itinerary as this train has not been running since Oct. and is not expected to run for some time as its tracks were washed out by heavy rain in Oct. (I do not know what it is with me and train rides. We are scheduled to go to Machu Pichu in May, and that train is out of commission due to flooding, also)..
shelleyk is offline  
Mar 17th, 2010, 05:51 AM
  #2  
 
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Thanks for the report. Group trips get so little respect here but sometimes that's what works best for a particular trip. It's good to get feedback on different companies. OAT certainly takes their share of hits so it's nice to see they worked out well for you. Would you use them again?

What did you think of the accomodations they used? What size was your group? And the average age/mobility? I would think that destination would skew somewhat younger & more active.
Did you have time to spend on your own each day or mostly were you touring with the group?

Thanks in advance for any further info. Will you be sharing any pictures?
Leslie_S is offline  
Mar 17th, 2010, 01:31 PM
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I would use them again based on my experience on this trip. I usually choose the tour company based on the itinerary they offer, and I've already been to most places that OAT goes to. However, there are two or three itineraries of theirs I am interested in, and I would definately consider traveling with them again.

The hotels they used ranged from adequate to quite nice. Tunisia doesn't have a huge availability of 5 star hotels. I checked all of the hotels on trip advisor before signing on for the trip, and although some of the hotels were listed as best in the area, I would consider most of the hotels as 3.5 star hotels. Most did have beautifully landscaped grounds and 2 had beautiful, large infinity swimming pools, but it was too cool to swim.

The group size was 13, ranging in age from 50's to 70's, all in very good shape, and all very well travelled. There were no prima donnas in our group and no one had to be reminded to be on time, ect. Of the 13 travellers, there were 3 couples, the rest singles. Interestingly of the 7 singles, 5 were married and left their spouses at home because they wanted to see Tunisia and their spouses did not. Most of the people had been on OAT tours many times and were repeat customers.

There was some free time, but not a lot. And even when there was free time, except in Tunis where the hotel was within a 5 minute walk of the old medina and souk, there was not a lot to do on your own, as many of the hotels were in very small
towns.
shelleyk is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 05:50 AM
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Thanks, shelly. I've never looked at OAT because of negative things I've read - weren't they involved in a class action lawsuit or maybe it was just something to do with complaints to the BBB? Anyway, the comments stuck in my head and I took them off my 'possibles' list for a group to use. I think I saw another recent post that they've retooled the company since those troubles and maybe there are no longer the problems with cancelling at the last minute, etc.

I sometimes need to travel without my husband - he is one of those not-interested types you mentioned. So a tour group is for me a better option than doing it totally alone.

I'm really glad to hear the positive review of OAT & the accomodations & fellow travelers. I'll definitely be checking out their website.
Leslie_S is offline  
Mar 26th, 2010, 09:40 AM
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Both replies appreciated. It is curious that they would book with OAT again after those bad experiences.
Leslie_S is offline  
Mar 29th, 2010, 06:01 AM
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Leslie, I've traveled with OAT 4 times, and usually been thrilled with them -- ironically my Kenya/tanzania trip was not as stellar as the others, although I think that was simply that I wasn't as impressed with the trip leader. I think that he was an exception, and not representative of the stellar quality they usually show. And even though I wasn't so impressed with him, the ground arrangements were seamless. Everything happened without fuss and on time. I would definitely travel with OAT again, especially because they are very cost effective for single travel.
ann_nyc is offline  
Apr 7th, 2010, 12:45 PM
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Shelly - We are scheduled on the same OAT trip in 10 days. We have traveled with OAT before and it has always been exceptional. We are hoping for a similar experience in Tunisia. Who was your tour guide? Ali Khammassi just emailed us and said he will be our trip leader.

Question re: clothing. It appears it will be both hot and cold. What did you find most useful and what did you bring you wish you hadn't?

re: mosquitoes? Did you run into any or other annoying critters?

re: Air conditioning - Someone mentioned that hotels do not turn on their AC until May. Did you find that to be true or was AC even an issue?

Any other special suggestions?

We are not fussy - just want to be mentally prepared. Thanks for writing up your trip report. Hope you get this message before we leave.
RockCrest is offline  
Apr 7th, 2010, 01:05 PM
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One more question: What was internet access like in the various areas and did you or anyone get phone reception if the cell phone was AT&T, TMobile, etc?
RockCrest is offline  
Apr 8th, 2010, 04:20 AM
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Ali was our trip leader and he was outstanding. Please tell him I said hi. When we were in Tunisia, late Feb. to mid March, the weather was spring like-with highs of 65-75 and nights even cooler, so there was no need for air conditioning. I think it will be 10 degrees warmer when you are there. If you bring layers and a light windbreaker, you should be fine. I always bring a water repelant windbreaker and an umbrella just in case. The sun is very strong so make sure to bring a high SPF sunscreen. There were no mosquitos or other critters when we were there, but I would bring insect repellant for the Sahara camp just in case. There was internet acess at all of the hotels for about $3-$5USD per hour. I do not know about cell phone reception. Have a wonderful trip.
shelleyk is offline  
Apr 8th, 2010, 06:07 AM
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<>

I believe it was complaints to the BBB a five or six years ago.

I've traveled with OAT/GCT six times and have been satisfied with every trip. Five of the six had excellent tour directors but other people seemed to like the one that I didn't care for. I've met married women traveling alone or with friends on some of these trips, it's not uncommon.

If you don't like the air routing call and ask if there is an alternative.

When you check out the web site, read the travelers reviews, they are honest and unedited by the company.
Luisah is offline  
Apr 10th, 2010, 03:18 PM
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Shelley,

Thanks for your helpful suggestions and answers to my questions. One last question: How conservative did women dress and how about the OAT group. We went to Turkey with OAT last year and were very surprised how Westernized and fashionable local women dressed. I was planning on packing skirts and tops with sleeves for Tunisia. I want to be respectful, but if tank tops and capris are ok, that would be nice if the weather is hot. If you read this in the next week, please let me know your opinion.
RockCrest is offline  
Apr 11th, 2010, 04:20 AM
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Tank tops, as long as they are not too low cut in the front, and capris would be fine except for the day you visit the mosque in Kairoun and the synagogue in Djerba. As far as the tank top goes, I'd worry more asbout getting sunburned than about offending any Tunisians. You will be visiting many ruins where there is no shade, and you will be there for 1-2 hours for each ruin. Make sure to bring a hat and sunscreen. As for our OAT group , dress was comfortable travel clothes, including for dinner. Comfort trumped style. Only 2 or 3 women dressed up, even for the farewell dinner,
shelleyk is offline  
Apr 24th, 2010, 05:44 PM
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Alas, we were one of the many whose Euorpean flights were cancelled because of the Icelandic volcano and we could not make the connection into Tunisia. We plan to rebook the trip same time/next year.
RockCrest is offline  
Apr 25th, 2010, 06:44 AM
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RockCrest - sorry to hear that. Did OAT fully refund for your missed trip? Did you need to go through your trip insurance (if you had any)?
Leslie_S is offline  
Apr 25th, 2010, 08:02 AM
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I am sorry to hear you didn't make it, but glad to hear that you are planning to rebook. I too am interestyed in how OAT and/or your trip insurance handled this.
shelleyk is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 06:41 PM
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just came across this and thought i would say hello
rhkkmk is offline  
May 6th, 2010, 04:59 AM
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We had trip insurance through OAT. We have never made an insurance claim before so I wasn't sure how the process worked. OAT said we needed to submit a claim through TripMate which we did 2 weeks ago. I realize it might take some time with all the claims they are fielding because of the volcano, but I will post on this board again. We booked the flights on our own, so that portion was not covered by the OAT insurance, but my understanding is the OAT land portion should be 100% refunded. I'll keep everyone posted.
RockCrest is offline  
Jul 4th, 2010, 07:18 AM
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Bottom Line: It took nearly 10 weeks, many, many phone calls, but eventually we received 100% refund. It was irritating that I had to call at every point and remind TripMate that I was waiting for the refund. At one point I called and was told I should have the check within a week. Ten days later I called again and was told the final payment had been entered and the check was ready. Online the claim case was marked "Closed and Paid". Another 2 weeks went by and no check. Called again and was told the check was being mailed that day. Sure enough the check did come, but it had been cut nearly 2 weeks before. Lesson: Keep Calling. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and gets the action.
RockCrest is offline  
Jul 4th, 2010, 08:56 AM
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Thanks for letting us know. Glad it worked out in the end but what a hassle.
Leslie_S is offline  
Jul 4th, 2010, 11:06 AM
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Question for the OP:

I'm considering a couple of weeks in Tunisia at the beginning of March next year. None of the companies I usually check have tours for my dates, and after a disastrous tour of Thailand in '97 I swore I would never use OAT again. So, I'm thinking of going solo (my usual method), but I don't want to drive myself. Did you get any impression of the public transport options?
thursdaysd is offline  

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