Travel Forum

Our Travel Forum was created to provide you with the opportunity to connect with other travelers who share your passion for travel. Sign into "My Account" and you’ll be able to write reviews, share your travel experiences, and post questions for other travelers. Not yet registered? It’s simple to create an account, membership is free, and it only takes a moment to join. Once you do, you’ll be able to write reviews, share your travel experiences, and post questions for other travelers. If you have a specific customer service or quality assurance question, please contact our Traveler Support Team by calling 1-800-221-0814. We value the contributions of our travelers. Please familiarize yourself with the guidelines for participation before you begin.

Author: hycran

Joined: 6/20/2012
Posts: 1
Traveler Since: 2001

June 20, 2012

Hello! I have never done a Grand Circle Tour, but have traveled with OAT.

Would anyone be able to tell me the highlights of this particular tour, if it is worthwhile to do the Victoria extension, and the difference between this and an OAT trip as far as having more participants and what to expect from the tour.

Thank you!

Author: rosemarynj

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 34
Traveler Since: 2010

July 07, 2012

We are also interested in this tour any advise from anyone.  We are interested for May 2013 but I don't see the 2013 tours listed.  I wonder if GCT is still going to run this tour in 2013. 

Author: lucya

Joined: 7/8/2012
Posts: 3
Traveler Since: 1997

July 07, 2012

 We did this trip in April 2012.  It is one of the best trips we have taken.  We did the extension to Victoria Falls also including the visit to Chobe Park in Botswana.  My advice would be do do all of it as you probably won't be making many 16 hour trans-Atlantic flights.  I have a long list of suggestions but I'm not sure this is the right place for it.

Author: lucya

Joined: 7/8/2012
Posts: 3
Traveler Since: 1997

July 07, 2012

Here are my helpful hints for South Africa:

Read the first 2/3 of The Covenent by James Michner.  It gives a wonderful overview of Euopeans in southern africa.  The last part is not as interesting as it was published before the end of apartheid.

In April we needed a jacket only a few days.  Plan for layers and don't overpack outerwear. A light weight poncho is what you need for Victoria Fall's heavy mist. 

Save receipts for the VAT tax reimbursement.  Small purchases add up quickly.  You will also need to have the items with you at the airport in carry-on luggage.  The tax office is very accessible.

Soapstone is brittle; pack carefully.

GCT gives conflicting information about bringing gifts for the school visit.  Do not pack any thing. You will have a chance to contibute goods and money.

Biltong and ostrich eggs cannot be brought into the USA.

An inexpensive adaptor from Amazon (VCTVP110, $5.98) worked well for recharging electronics.

Take one camera per person.  There will be different views for each person and there will be a spare in case of loss or breakage.  Use rechargable lithium batteries.

Author: lucya

Joined: 7/8/2012
Posts: 3
Traveler Since: 1997

July 07, 2012

 More helpful hints for South Africa:

Getting visas here costs quite a bit more than getting them on site, but you spend less time in lines.

There is quite a bit of walking and steps at some sites- the penguins, Voortrekker monument, and Streetwire.  There was a lot of walking at the  Johannesburg Airport  on our return from Zimbabwe to get the return flight home.

Ther airport is very modern with restuarants and shopping.  The overnight flights were not too bad.  There was some space to spread out as the planes were not full.

I would highly recommend this trip.  The culture, wildlife, scenery, and climate are fascinating.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Traveler Since: 2007

July 08, 2012

 there are major differences between Grand Circle and OAT trips, in particular when the travel to the same locations.  In general, the OAT trips are more adverturous, takeing in sites which require better physical condition, more agility and on occasion, more walking, over terrain which may not necessarily be even.

The African trips are different in the exception that they offer more time to view wildlife rather than cultural sites in cities.  You don't need physical agility for the OAT African trips, because they don't let you do any walking beyond going from your tent to the lodge and back again.  They don't let you out of the vehicles, save for a bathroom stop using the "loo with the view."  Hence there's literally NO walking.

The major difference, then is the type of experience you want.  If your desire is limited to wildlife, then the OAT trip is by far the superior trip.  OAT's Ultimate Africa, with the pre-trip extension to Kruger is without a doubt excellent.  This trip includes Victoria Falls as part of the base trip, saving you as compared to the Grand Circle trip.  The Grand Circle branded trip trip, however, is cheaper.  If your desires are to see clutural sites in cities, with some safari game drives, then you may be satisfied with the Grand Circle branded trip as opposed to the OAT branded trip.

At any rate, the choice between trips depends on what you want from the trip.

Author: fleetfoot

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 45
Traveler Since: 2006

July 09, 2012

We have done both GCT and OAT trips and love both companies.  Some OAT trips are more active than GCT.   But some OAT trips are not any more active than GCT.  We choose our trips based on the itinerary.

OAT did have a trip to South Africa which had many of the same visits as GCT's Highlights of South Africa but it was dropped in 2012.

We will be departing for GCT's Highlights of South Africa this summer.  On our last trip two couples raved about the Highlights of South Africa.  We also considered OAT's Ultimate Africa safari trip.  Both trips look great and have excellent reviews.  We decided to go with more sites, cultural experiences,and a few safari game drives (2 full day game drives in Kruger, optional game drive in Addo, and an optional full day game drive in Chobe in Botswana).  Maybe the game drives will wet out appetite to do OAT's Ultimate Africa some day.  Note: We did do two half day game drives looking for tigers on OAT's Heart of India.  We did see a tiger and enjoyed those game drives.

We are signed up for the post trip to Victoria Falls.  We really want to see Victoria Falls and go to Chobe National Park in Botswana.  The hardest part for us was figuring out the best time to view the Falls.  April , May, and June the Falls will be at high volume and difficult to see because of the water spray.  July could be high volume or medium volume.  August could be medium or low volume.  From September and the later months the Falls are at low volume which expose the gorge.  We decided that July or early August might be the best time to view the Falls without so much spray but still have enough volume.  We also could be wrong about when is the best time to view the Falls.  We wanted to go in the dry season (June through September/October) to better view the animals on the game drives. 

We are excited about going on this trip.  GCT's larger group size has never been an issue for us. 

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Traveler Since: 2007

July 10, 2012

 Grand Circle and OAT have in the past, overlapped in certain locations.  What is happening now is a consolidation of those trips under the brands which can best provide the experiences.  Such was the case with ghe former OAT trip mentioned above.  Where experiences are essentially duplicated, one brand becomes more attractive than another.  Where the experiences can remain significantly different, such as in China, and turkey, for example, both brands remain.

We concur that the difference is itinerary, which determines the sites visited as well as the nature of the physical demands on the traveler.  OAT will remain the adventure experience, and Grand Circle less adventurous and more oriented towards the "tourist" experience.  Not that either is bad; we've taken both and have also been quite pleased, for the most part.  but there are differences, and the differences, we concur are itinerary based, as well as the physical demands, for the most part.  Either way, we also concur that you can't go wrong with either the Grand Circle or the OAT brand.

You cannot Post or Reply, please sign in

Rules of Use:
Be Relevant

Please stick to the topic of travel when posting in our Forum. Stay on the relevant topic and do not disrupt a discussion in progress. If you have a specific customer service question or issue, please contact our Traveler Support Team by calling 1-800-221-0814.

Be Respectful

Use of any inappropriate language, personal attacks, and hate speech are not permitted. Respect others’ opinions and suggestions.

Be Mindful of Privacy Issues

Please do not post the personal information of other members (full names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, etc).

Help us help you

Please click on the ‘Report Abuse’ button if you see an inappropriate posting.