Buyer beware - what is advertised may not be delivered.
I booked two spots on the pre-scheduled Premier Kenya Safari advertised by Eyes on Africa ( and Jenman Tours and probably others) almost a year ago. I did my due diligence checking out trip advisory reports, consulting Fodor's and other related publications, and talking with friends who had already made a trek to Africa. I was aware of the travel advisories to Kenya by the Canadian, UK and US governments, that the one year anniversary of the Westgate Mall terrorist attack September 21st would occur while we were on vacation, and all related personal safety issues like the ebola situation. I selected the Eyes on Africa package as it was small group (addressing our safety and security concerns) and was advertised as being undertaken in the larger more comfortable extended Toyota Landcruiser vehicles.
Two weeks prior to our departure we were advised that our safari had been sub-contracted by Eyes on Africa out to Jenman Tours. It appears that Eyes on Africa have no actual on the ground service people in Kenya and they contract out anything that is booked. This would have been nice to know. I checked out Jenman Tours as well and all appeared fine. However now I find in trying to write a review on Trip Advisor that they do not accept multi-day or tour operator reviews...sad.
Unfortunately upon exiting our hotel in Nairobi to start our two week photo safari we were surprised to be met by our Jenman Tours guide and told we were now a "private safari" and were escorted to our non-descript combi (4X4 Toyota mini-van). I inquired at that time as to why we did not have the Toyota Landcruiser vehicle and was simply told that they did not provide them for private safaris. We were stuck as it were continuing on and accepting the situation. It was not until we were a few days into our trip and we actually saw a few of the Toyota Landcruisers that we started to question what happened. Most other safari vehicles were decked out with the company name, even a Jenman Tours Landcruiser that was at one of our camps, but our van was plain white, no markings or apparent affiliation to anyone...
Due to wifi availability I was limited in my contact with our Eyes on Africa agent during our safari. When she became aware of the change in service delivery standard that we had received from Jenman Tours she replied: " we at EOA NEVER put anyone in a minivan on Safari – never – and this UNACCEPTABLE." Unfortunately this statement was made on the final day of our safari and upon our return to Nairobi. I was met by a Jenman Tours agent that particular evening to "discuss the problems we experienced during our trip" (there were others) during the trip, but this went nowhere. There were no answers as to how our group safari turned into a private safari, how the vehicle standard changed without our consultation or how other changes to the itinerary were made without our knowledge. We were clearly not provided with the package we paid for. In addition to the group safari and vehicle issue we had an accommodation downgraded, had totally unacceptable service for our walking safari at Masai Mara, and the boat excursion to Cresent Island was a joke. On a positive note the parks at Samburu, Ambroseli, Masai Mara and West Tsavo were awesome and all they were made out to be.
How this happened is beyond me. It is hard to believe that I would not have been notified in advance of the trip that both our group safari booking would be changed and that our vehicle would be substituted for something that cannot be seen as an equivalent. We saw many 4X4 Toyota Landcruiser vehicles during our trip, one from Jenman Tours, and another specifically that pulled us out of a mudhole one day. We didn't realize what we were missing until we got a good close look .
Eyes on Africa took responsibility to find a satisfactory resolution (partial refund) for us. Responsibility for what happened was deflected fully onto Jenman Tours who, to date, have not provided me any explanation or even a personal apology.
Tourism to Kenya has taken a huge hit. During our safari we were two of a total of four guests in two of the camps/hotels for four nights. The fallout of the ebola situation in West Africa and the ongoing security issues have taken their toll. All the information I gleaned about safety and security issues I researched myself or was advised of by Foreign Affairs Canada.
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Buyer beware - what is advertised may not be delivered.