Note: The following review was written soon after our first O.A.T. trip. As of December 2022 we have taken four more trips with O.A.T. and it’s parent company Grand Circle Travel, and all of them have exceeded our expectations.
In July 2018 Connie and I, along with four of our friends, took our first trip with Overseas Adventure Travel, on the Tanzania-Serengeti Tented Safari trip. We saw and photographed incredible wildlife as well as interacting with many of the indigenous people (see more in the hundreds of photos on 11 pages of our travel photo journals). It was a wonderful trip that met or exceeded all of our expectations. This was our first trip with O.A.T. but others in our group had traveled several times with them, and all had the same high opinion of the company. There are many things to like about O.A.T.
Program Director and Guides
Our program director (Athumani “Lubé” Lubenga ) and his two associates were very knowledgeable, friendly, and accommodating. They could spot distant wildlife that we could see only with binoculars or a telephoto lens, and would tell us all we wanted to know about every animal.
Lubé was well organized, flexible and caring. When he spotted a Maasai warrior coming-of-age ceremony in a village we were passing Lubé stopped and asked the chief if we could observe. We then experienced a special event that wasn’t on our agenda, and few people get to see up close (see “Maasai Eunoto Ceremony” at Tanzania People & Places). When one of our party received word of a serious family situation back home Lubé did all he could to help her get through the issue.
People & Culture
O.A.T. makes a point of involving travelers in the life and culture of the local communities. They made a point of showing us both the good and not-so-good aspects of life in Tanzania. We visited a small company that makes low-cost clay-pot water filters for the many villagers who share a muddy water supply with their farm animals (see “Maasai Village Visit” at Tanzania People & Places). Some of us were able to purchase a filter pot to donate to one of the villages we visited . We visited a small sewing workshop for women whose families have been impacted by the serious cultural stigma associated with albinism.
We learned basket-weaving from a road-side group of weavers and woodcarving from a local group of carvers. We danced, sang and learned with the people of a small Maasai tribal village. We shared a meal of rice and beans and danced and sang with the assistant chief of an Iraqw village. Finally, we sang and conversed with seventh-graders in a school that is funded by the Grand Circle Foundation, established by O.A.T.’s parent company.
O.A.T. provides a complete all-inclusive travel service, but they also allow a lot of flexibility for travelers who want to do their own thing. We saved a little money by making our own flight bookings, and broke up the long trip to Tanzania with a four-day AirBnB stay in Amsterdam. Even with our own flight bookings O.A.T. was happy to arrange airport transfers for us in Tanzania.
Our Tanzania group had a total of 14 people plus the program director and two other guides, which apparently is about average. We traveled with a different mix people every day in our three Toyota Land Cruisers, so we got to know everyone pretty well.
Great for Singles
This isn’t a factor for us, but O.A.T. offers no-cost or low-cost single supplements for those traveling alone who don’t want to share a room. They also help people find roommates for those who do want to share.
Customer Loyalty and Referral Programs
O.A.T. has some of the best customer loyalty programs we’ve seen. With every trip you take you earn credits toward the next trip. Multiple trips in one year earns more credit. They also have a an excellent referral program whereby both the referrer and referee earn credits (click here if you’d like to save some money on your first trip). For the record, we have no affiliation with O.A.T. or its parent company Grand Circle Travel, but we will benefit from any referrals we generate.