Not with us though, of course!
Today we wanted to point out a recent article written by our Canadian friend Matthew Bailey, from LiveLimitless.net.
Matt is a well-traveled writer, but had never experienced an African safari before. So, when an e-mail came his way offering a highly-discounted safari he leapt at the opportunity.
Apparently an outfitter based in the same city as us (Arusha) was looking to partner with well-known travel writers and bloggers in order to expand their market reach. The offer that they proposed to Matt was a ginormous 20-day safari covering all of the must-see’s of northern Tanzania, along with a side-trip to Zanzibar.
After doing a bit of research to make sure that the company existed, and that this was not a scam, he convinced a couple of friends to join him and his wife on an adventure through Tanzania.
Well, they sure got an adventure!
Long story short, the company in question ended up giving Matt and his guests “the worst travel experience” of their lives. Some of what befell them included:
- Flights that were supposed to have been included were not, and they were asked to pay for them (or they were scrapped altogether)
- An eight-day safari suddenly becoming a five-day safari without notice
- Included tours not being included (Zanzibar)
- Arguing with the guests (on multiple occasions)
- Refusing to return deposit money that was not used (Uganda)
- Using clients as a ruse to get cut-rate accomodation (tell the properties that his clients would bring their hotel a lot of business, so give us a free room/cut-rate)
- Taking advantage of staff (such as their driver), saying that the client would tip them a lot of money at the end (and not pay them a daily rate)
Truly a disaster of epic proportions — quite cringe-worthy.
The lessons learned from Matt’s tale of terror?
1. Not all safari companies are created equal.
There are many, many safari companies all over the world. In Tanzania alone there are hundreds! However, the amount of companies that actually know what they are doing, have decent experience, and are reputable is somewhere in the vicinity of 10-20% of those (we have done the market research to find this out).
2. It pays to do your research.
Now, to be fair, Matt did indeed do his research before leaving (their barely-working website should have definitely been a “red flag”). He even asked us (and others in the business) if we had any info about them, or experience working with them (we do not). But that just goes to show you that it’s a bit more difficult said than done.Our obvious recommendation is to pick us, of course. But, if for whatever reason you are looking at another option, make sure to head over to an online review site (such as YourAfricanSafari.com) to check reviews of the company in question (TripAdvisor is popular, but be aware that they do not allow multi-day tour companies to list on their site, so many companies will not be included in their database).
The best way to find a decent safari company? Ask your friends and family. Word of mouth is how we get the majority of our guests, and it has often proven to be the safest route when trying to decide on who you’ll go with.