For an exceptional experience in a part of the USA we had never seen before; Bindlestiff Tours met or exceeded our expectations on all counts. Our escort/host/driver Treviso pulled it all together with a relaxed professionalism that put us at ease from the moment he pulled-up at the meeting place in Las Vegas.
The first week we were part of a group of 14 travellers from Europe, the UK, North America and Oceana ranging in age from 14 to 74 years; half camping and the others, like us, overnighting in hotels and lodges. The final 4 days from Las Vegas to San Francisco, there were only three of us, plus Treviso, making for a very personalized travel experience. We had been apprehensive about the "3 star" hotel promise but all accommodations were more than satisfactory with many including good to great breakfasts. Picnic lunches on the tour were generous and wholesome offering good variety [always lots of fruit]. Pizza-night overlooking the Grand Canyon [after a brief thunderstorm] was spectacular while Treviso made good recommendations for those nights when dinner was not included.
Bindlestiff tours are not guided national park tours. In the large parks, we were driven to the interpretive centre where maps and guides were presented so we could choose what to do; hikes from a few minutes to 4-5 hours, as easy or challenging, as we wished. Park Service free shuttle buses were available to get us to trailheads where Bindlestiff could not take us directly to the starting points.
This was not an arm-chair tour. A good level of fitness was required to fully participate, especially as the hot weather conditions [most days at least 10°F above average] did not make things easier. This was entirely outside Bindlestiff's control as were the frequently poor-quality trail markings and maps provided by the Parks Service but we never feared getting lost or left-behind. When it was >110° in Death Valley the life-saving comfort of the van was close.
The sole unfortunate experience was our escort's response to a tour member's complaint against a 3rd-party tour guide [and immediate filing, we were told, of a report to 'head office']. A quiet side-conversation with other participants would have revealed the complaint probably was based more upon sub-conscious racist and cultural differences than reality. It would be sad if our Native American guide were denied future opportunities because of an unfounded grievance and acceptance by Bindlestiff of the notion 'the customer is always right'. It's not just on Navaho Land that tourists should adhere to the directions of their local guide and I hope that our escort will gain patience that there is often more than one side to a complaint.
Our final-day tour of San Francisco was enhanced by access to spectacular vistas that would not have been possible with the larger passenger van and trailer. The 2-year wait through the pandemic [our tour had been purchased originally for 2020] had been overwritten by 11 days of new friendships and memories to be held close for years to come.
Ответ от хоста
We really appreciate you taking the time to write such an extensive review. It's perfect for those needing a little extra detail into another's perspective. So, thank you! We are fortunate to have Treviso on our team, he brings forth a lot of information and experience.
We look forward to you traveling on another one of our trips in the future! Happy Traveling.