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Terrible safari with KABS and Tracks Berg Travel in Kenya


Brisvegas
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I am usually reluctant to give a poor review as sometimes circumstances arise that can make things difficult for tour operators, in this case though I have no qualms in writing this review on two companies that should quite frankly not be allowed to work in this industry. Below are the facts of what happened with our Safari, its long winded but I think it’s important to be accurate. The excuses and lies, the attempts to shift blame backwards and forwards were appalling. I don’t doubt the same excuses will be thrown up in response to my review.

We contacted Kenyan Adventures and Beyond (KABS) (owned by Doc Wilfred Omae) to organise our safari, we had used him 5 years ago, and things had gone pretty well. I paid Doc a 50% deposit several weeks before arriving in Kenya as requested so that he could secure and pay for all our accommodation. The remainder was to be paid on arrival in Kenya a few days before our safari started. Three days before the safari Doc sent Erick Muchai who introduced himself as our driver/guide for the safari to collect the remainder of our payment. Erick arrived with another man who he introduced as A###(not sure he was involved in this so will keep his name) . I paid Erick the balance in cash for the amount previously agreed, Erick had no means of giving a receipt so I had him hand write a receipt and he promised doc would send an official one (never received). Erick soon returned saying I was $50 short, on talking to Doc he told me he uses the KWS rate for exchange not the international rate, on this I did not agree but told him with a smooth safari I’d be happy to pay the $50 as a bonus.

On the day of our safari Erick arrived in a van again with A### . We were wondering whether we had a driver and guide or what, we loaded our gear and left our friends house. Around the corner about 500 meters from departure the van stopped at a Matatu stop and Erick got out of the Van and told us as he had a family emergency and could not take us on safari and that A### would be our driver(quite obviously Erick had no intention of being our guide, the first of many lies). As we had distance to make to our first park and afternoon game drive we decided to keep our questions till we got to the lodge. On arrival, I immediately sat down with the driver and asked him who Erick actually was, he produced a card for Tracks Berg Travel (owned by Erick Muchai) on asking the driver who he worked for he said Erick, clearly though the van had another companies name on it. It became apparent that Doc had subcontracted to Erick who had subcontracted to another company . The Driver had no idea of our program and had us returning a day earlier than what we had booked.

On the second night in Amboseli A### approached our dinner table with the news that the 2 nights’ accommodation had not been paid for, phone calls to Erick and Doc both came with assurances that it was sorted, when asked how it was sorted I continually got "don’t worry its sorted" over and over and was cut off several times, a complete loss of appetite and a sleepless night followed. As we were about to depart the lodge in the morning we were informed the accommodation bill still had not been paid. The lodge manager very kindly let us go and said he would pursue KABS for payment, at this time also A### informed us that he only had money for 1 more days’ park fees in Tsavo West. At this point we made the decision we would not dip into our pocket as we felt that we would never see that money again, and we would return to Nairobi if we had to and pursue the matter through the police.

Erick was blaming Doc for not sending money, Doc was blaming Erick for subcontracting further (I have the emails detailing all this). Erick also would not agree that as he had accepted the contract and a large pile of cash from us already that he was responsible for getting money from Doc and would not spend any of that money for our accommodation, neither taking any responsibility and blaming each other we had no way to turn, it reeked of a very well-orchestrated scam.

On arrival in Tsavo West I enquired if that accommodation there and the accom at Tsavo East had been paid for, I was told by lodge staff that it had been.

After leaving Tsavo west, the driver had no money for park fees so more phone calls were made and we waited in Voi for quite some time for money to come through to pay for our entry into Tsavo east. Eventually only enough money for 1 day’s entry not the 3 days came through. Each day the driver left the Park (thankfully the park left us in the lodge) and waited for money so that he could pay park fees.

After 3 nights in Tsavo East we went to leave the lodge at 9.15am for the drive back to Nairobi and were told we could not leave as 4 nights (tsavo east and west) had not been paid, on pointing out to the lodge manager that both lodges had assured me on enquiry that it had been paid I was told that parties involved had convinced them not to further upset the clients and that payment was forthcoming, also a further $120 US in Park fees was due at 11am. This was very clever in that it robbed us of 3 days in which to bring more pressure to bear on the operator and dumped us in a very stressful last morning situation where I believe we were expected to cave in and pay for our accommodation a second time just to get the hell out of the mess.

The lodge manager at this time whilst conferring with head office learned that KABS had done this previously and had still not paid that bill hence they had no choice but to hold the driver and us.

Thankfully during this entire process a very dear Kenyan friend in Nairobi had been battling for us on the phone for hours every day, cajoling and in the finish threatening police action to get money for park fees, (she was being lied to also about the accommodation). At 10.55am payment came through and we were allowed to leave. The final note was on the journey back I put petrol in the car as the driver claimed no money and that he had already been making up shortfalls all trip.

3 days prior to the finish of our safari Doc requested a meeting on return to Nairobi to explain the problems we were experiencing, I saw this as a delaying tactic to prevent us taking action and refused the meeting requesting only the remainder of the trip be trouble free, I was assured this would be the case, again another lie.

Erick also jumped up and down and said he would be reporting KABS to the tourist police but has not responded to our enquiry on how that complaint stands or to give us a reference that we can use in our own complaint, I believe confirming that these guys have worked this together before. Searches on the web since have revealed several very poor reports on their business practices.

Both Kenyan Adventures and Beyond safaris (based in Mombasa) and Tracks Berg Travel (based in Nairobi) should not be in business but will no doubt continue their dodgy ways, best I can do is tell people to avoid them like the plague or any business they may start or associate themselves with in the future.

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Wow, very sorry to hear this.

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@@Brisvegas These unethical tour operators should be reported to KATO even if it doesn't do any good. It would be satisfying for you to do so. Please post on Facebook,and all other social media sites about your unfortunate experience. The public should also be informed about it on www.tripadvisor.com

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Sorry to hear what a bad experience you had :(

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Thanks for this very detailed report of a very sad episode in a traveller's life! Not only it exposes the two unethical companies, but also give us warnings against working with, or through several or third parties. The fact that many tours are subcontracted can not be avoided but at least the lesson of your report, to me, is to keep the money relation with only one company.

Edited by xelas
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Really sad to hear that you had such a troubled and 'more expensive than anticipated' safari.

 

I hope that despite all this you managed to enjoy the wildlife you did see.

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Hi Thanks all , Matt ive just posted an introduction.

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