I’m writing this review to share my family’s terrible experience with Gassitours and its owner Belaza during our recent trip to Madagascar. In a nutshell: 1) Gassitours’ internal coordination errors caused us to miss our flight, which forced us to stay in Morondava for an extra day. Not only did Belaza fail to arrange a guide to help us, he also refused to cover any hotel and transportation expenses for this extra day 2) The contract we signed clearly stated a seven-seat van with air conditioning, but upon arrival we were ushered into a battered seven-seat SUV with a broken air conditioner, and we had to open the windows on the dusty road. Moreover, the poor SUV broke down one day, leaving us waiting on a deserted stretch of road. In the second leg of our trip, our four-person family was arranged a five-seat SUV, with three crammed in the backseat. On our last day in Madagascar I asked Belaza why he didn’t follow the contract, he said: haven’t you completed your trip anyway?
Our family of four booked an 11-day trip to Madagascar from Gassitours, inclusive of all transportation and accommodations, and we had paid in full. The trip was from July 21st to the 31st, with a flight from Morondava to Tana (short for Antanananrivo) on the 28th. However, when we arrived at Morondava’s airport, the check-in was closed because the flight had changed time to take off earlier. The airline had notified Gassitours of the change, yet our tour guide Tujo never received any notice from the company. Tujo (and Belaza over the phone) attempted to persuade the airport to let us board, as the flight had not taken off yet, but to no avail. We had to wait in Morondava for the next day flight (there is only one flight per day). I asked Tujo what to do next, he said he didn’t know, and then he told me that he and his driver would have to immediately pick up their next clients, who just arrived at the airport.
So I called Belaza asking what he was going to arrange for our delayed day, wherein he replied that it was up to us, as he was unable to send anyone over to help us, nor would he pay any transportation or hotel expenses we would incur. I told him we had already paid Gassitours in full, and the situation we were in was due to their mistakes, so of course he should be responsible. He started making up inexplicable excuses, at which moment I realized that I was probably facing an immoral man. I decided to not argue with him further, taking into account that we still had three days left in Madagascar with his company, costs paid for in advance. We arranged and paid all expenses in Morondava ourselves.
After losing a day, we landed in Tana and immediately drove to Andasibe, but we were picked up in a five-seat SUV; our family of four could only cram three people in the backseat on the bumpy road for four hours. I asked the driver Alan: weren’t we supposed to be in a seven-seat van? Alan replied, yes, it would have been a bigger car, with a driver and a tour guide, if we arrived yesterday — but now he was only following Belaza’s arrangements. I was extremely disappointed. For the last seven days, we had been in a muggy seven-seat SUV with a crammed backseat, broken AC, and on the 25th the engine failed in the middle of the road, destroying our plan to see the Avenue of Baobab at the sunset. Now even worse.
After returning to Tana on the night of the 30th, Alan asked me whether I was satisfied with the trip. I said no. Alan then called Belaza and told me that Belaza would meet me in person at 8:30 the next morning (we were to fly out in the afternoon).
The next day, Belaza was an hour late, showing up at 9:30am. The first thing he asked was if I was satisfied with the trip. I replied, of course not. I asked him to explain why he didn’t tell Tujo about our changed flight, causing us to waste a day of our vacation. He said that it was Tujo’s fault, that he should be ‘able to tell’ that the plane was to take off early. I pointed out that Tujo was an employee of Gassitours, whether it was his fault or not, the company should still be responsible. Belaza then began to say that the airline had a problem. Since it had not yet taken off, why not let us get on the plane? I warned him not to make misleading excuses with me. He said he wasn’t a bad person, otherwise he would disappear and would not come to see me. I was surprised that he had even thought of "disappearing".
I asked him what he planned on doing about the extra expenses I had in Monrondava on the 28th. He said he didn’t have that much money, but could “compensate” for half of the amount. I pointed out that because we could not fly to Tana on the 28th, the payment to the hotel in Tana was returned to him. Moreover, in the entire travel expenses we had paid, he reduced his costs by replacing the cars and the hotels specified in the contract: 1) Our van was changed to an SUV without AC in the first 7 days, and then changed to a five-seat SUV in the last 3 days. Belaza explained that the seven-seat van with AC was allocated to another client because it was peak season. 2) One of the hotels we stayed at was switched out for a cheaper alternative. On the night of the 25th, Belaza was unable to secure a hotel as stipulated in the contract, and swapped it for a cheaper hotel, as well as changing our two-room booking to one four-person room. Belaza looked at the contract and continued to talk in circles for half an hour, saying he didn’t have the money. I became irritated and told him stop talking about his lack of money, just answer me one question: why didn’t he honor the contract?
Not only did Gassitours change the car type and the hotel room on the 25th, they also changed our two-room bookings to cheaper four-person rooms on the 23rd and 29th, and were only placed back in two rooms upon our insistence (the hotel on the 25th was full, so we had to stay in a four-person room). The first time this happened on the 23rd, we asked Tujo to contact the company to rectify this mistake and ensure that it would not happen again in the subsequent trip. After the second mistake on the 25th, I sent an email directly to Belaza, verifying that our future bookings were all for two separate rooms, to which he replied confirming it. However, upon arrival to Andasibe on the 29th Belaza had still booked a four-person room.
Belaza’s explanation was such: we were a four-person family, and staying in a four-person room should be no problem; although the car was not the one specified in our contract, it still ‘successfully’ brought us to the end of our trip. I was furious, and refused his supposed compensation, deciding to go online to inform other people what kind of person Belaza is. In more than an hour of discussion, he fully demonstrated his cunning nature, collecting as much money as possible and not taking any responsibility for even his own mistakes.
Be careful when you book with Gassitours. We chose them for our trip because we saw good comments about them, probably because there had been no hiccups in those trips. However, once things go wrong, Belaza is completely unreliable.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions and more details that I haven't written about.