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Complaint: Russell Frankish / Green Bush Pig Safaris

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I wanted to make you aware of some unscrupulous dealings we've had with South African tour operator Russell Frankish of Green Bush Pig Safaris / Elements of Nature Trading.

He stole almost US$2,500 from us and we're not happy with his lies and horrible service. We would NOT RECOMMEND using him. He has made four specific promises (in writing, no less) that he would reimburse us, but has only made an excuse each time and the promise "tomorrow." Our only recourse is let others know.

We had booked a tour with Russell Frankish to include a two night stay at Ntambo Tree Camp Lodge in the Klaserie and then three nights at a lodge in Marloth Park, all transfers and some internal flights from 28 May to 3 June. We submitted final payment in April for the tour.

When we arrived at Hoedspruit Airport on 28 May there was some confusion with our driver as to our expected destination, Ntambo Tree Camp in the Klaserie. We then received a text from Russell that there was a last minute change to our itinerary, and that we would instead be staying at Kambaku Lodge in the Timbavati for two nights instead. Naturally, we were disappointed, since we were excited to stay at Ntambo after looking at photos and reviews of the lodge online.

Kambaku Lodge turned out to be a very fine place, but Russell had NOT made arrangements to pay them for our stay. We later got a text from him letting us know he'd had some travel difficulties and if we paid Kambaku (32,050 Rand), he would reimburse us when he saw us at our next stay in Marloth Park the next day.

Of course, none of this happened and we never saw Russell in Marloth Park. We actually met with Russell last Friday in the airport at Jo'burg as we were heading home, and he still did not have our money. He admitted that he had abruptly moved our stay from Ntambo after he had "burned some bridges" with the company. He promised to wire us the reimbursement by last Monday, 5 June - which has not happened either.

We booked with Russell last November after corresponding with a half dozen other operators and went with him because he was prompt in his correspondence, his travel quotes were thorough and he was well reviewed online by other travelers. We had no reason to suspect something was amiss until we arrived in Hoedspruit to begin our safari.

Very strange guy - we have everything in writing including his text message lies.

So you can advise other tourists to avoid him, here's his websites:

http://greenbushpig.com/

https://www.facebook.com/GreenBushpigSafaris/

https://www.facebook.com/russell.frankish

Anyone have any advice on recouping our money and navigating the South African legal system?

Thanks!

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