Our experience with *** was mixed. Our initial planning went well and they were very accommodating with tailoring the itinerary to our wishes. However, when it got close to the time to apply for a Turkmenistan LOI and make the final payment things went down hill.
Before we left they missed the deadlines for requesting our LOI information for Turkmenistan and sending us a link for the final payment. It appeared as the trip was headed toward falling apart so I contacted firstname.lastname@example.org and they helped to get things on track. I sent a detail description of the problems before we left to support so I won't repeat what I wrote then here but the delays caused numerous problems. Below is a summary of those problems:
• several of the hotels that we agreed to during our planning process were cancelled due to the late final payment which was due to them not providing us a link to the final invoice until about a week before we left even after several requests from us.
⁃ Hotel/Resort at Issyk Kul lake was closed for the season except for renting self service bungalows. When we were dropped off we discovered there was no water in the room so went looking for some place to get a bottle but discovered that litterally everything at the hotel was closed - restaurants, bars, snack shops, pools, beach, etc. The only other people there were maintenance and security staff. The guide had left but we called him and came back to get us and took us to dinner.
⁃ On arriving in Khiva we were dropped off at a hotel in the middle of a residential district and the driver had no information about our dinner, which was included in our itinerary, or about when or where we were suppose to meet our guide the next day. We found a restaurant using Google Maps and went to dinner since the hotel didn’t have a restaurant. The next morning no guide showed up so I sent *** a WhatsApp message, and to make a long story short, the guide had gone to the hotel where we were suppose to be booked that had been cancelled because of the late payment.
⁃ there were other hotel changes but the downgrade wasn’t drastic and didn’t cause us any problems so I won’t go into them in detail.
• we were stranded at a border after crossing into Tajikistan. My phone no longer worked because I hadn’t had a chance to get a Tajik sim card so after an hour I was able to get a local at the border to call the next hotel (had the number in my trip details) to see if they could arrange transport. They couldn’t so I got another local that was headed our way to take us to the hotel. The hotel worked with our guide often so they called them and they met us at the hotel.
• after being stranded at the border I insisted that the next guide in Osh call the guide in Uzbekistan to make sure that everything was arranged. The Uzbek guide had no idea what our Tajik guide was talking about as he was scheduled to guide an Italian group the next day. Our Tajik guide called his boss in Bishkek and was told that they would work out something the next morning as it was too late that day. I sent *** a message on WhatsApp and fortunately one of their people got it and arranged for a guide. We would have been stranded without a guide again if we hadn’t insisted that they call and confirm our crossing.
• When our guide finally showed up in Khiva (see 2nd bullet under the hotels main bullet above), I went over our program with her to make sure it was what we expected and it turned our that she had been booked for a half-day morning tour only. I told her that it should be a full day tour and include lunch and dinner. She told me that, no, it was only a half-day tour and that if our lunch and dinner were included that we could eat at the hotel, however, as mentioned above, the hotel didn’t have a restaurant. After about a half hour of back and forth with her manager and Silk Road she got the message that it was a full day tour with lunch and dinner included. Her boss booked the meals after that and we ended up stuck way back in a corner for our lunch and dinner as both restaurants were already fully booked.
The above are the major issues that we faced. There were other small things but that’s always true so I won’t go into them.