28 hours and counting...
...and the big confusion in Mfuwe.
or: My pre-safari experiences with The Bushcamp Company (something you don't need if you're about to leave)
In May I contacted BC and wanted to know in which of their bush camps they offer day game drives. I knew that this operator emphasizes walking safaris, but on their website is a line reading "Activities are tailored to individual tastes and include day and night game drives" and I wanted to know more about it. BC were telling me that they only offer walking safaris, but that there is an option of hiring a private safari vehicle at extra cost of $250. I told them that I wasn't interested in paying for something that I would get for free at other operators. Quoting this special line from their website I finally, after several mails, got an answer that explained everything: clients at BC's camps decide amongst themselves what they would like to do as an activity and this can include day drives. Then they offered me a very reduced rate for a private vehicle at $150 in their camps if I would visit them in October. I told them that I was still in the planning stage of my safari, but if I would decide to go with them they would be contacted by my travel agent or her SA partner.
What I've learned during this conversation is that talking with BC cannot be described as 'efficient', that BC's contact person has a real problem coming to the point.
At this point I had no plans to visit any of BC's camps, but that changed a few weeks later when I decided to drop Puku Ridge in favour of one BC camp, Bilimungwe, and my TA made the booking.
Last Sunday I decided to consider BC's offer of the private vehicle. I will already make three days walking before Bilimungwe, and it doesn't make big sense to me doing another three days walking if, at the same time, I want to do great wildlife photos. I contacted BC telling them that I would stay for three nights at Bilimungwe and that I wanted to hire a vehicle for the two full days there. And again something started what I would call an 'unefficient' process. I asked them about availability of a private vehicle, rate, payment options and whether we should handle this directly or by my TA. Up to Friday I didn't get any clear answer to my questions.
Friday morning I sent them a mail telling them that I was quite unhappy and that I would forward this matter to my travel agent to handle it. Then I adviced my TA to handle the vehicle hire and inform me in Zambia on the result. Suddenly I got some answers from BC, along with a new vehicle rate offer of $200 "as you are only needing it for 2 days" (I wrote about this in the "Bwana - Leaving soon?" thread, http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessages.jsp?fid=4&tid=34670952).
In the meantime my TA has contacted her SA partner, and her partner called Bushcamp Company. And now the whole story goes like this (quote by the SA agent):
"[Mitch] initially contacted The Bushcamp directly earlier in the year via their website to book directly with them. At that stage he wanted a lengthy stay of about 10 days, and enquired about a private vehicle which they offered to him at USD150 a day. Now that he is staying for only 3 nights, he contacted them again about a private vehicle, and they said because the time is much shorter (only 2 days), cost will now be USD250 a day, which he was not happy with. They eventually offered the vehicle to him for USD200 a day."
Read this twice, and compare this with the above. I wanted to book directly in May? 10 days? I enquired about a private vehicle then? Now they made a offer of $250 and reduced it?
These people are telling fairy-tales, they are telling lies! It's unbelievable. I've sent my complete BC mail thread to my TA and her SA partner, and they can't explain what has happened to this Bushcamp Company representative in Mfuwe.
After this I got a mail from BC:
"Sorry that I was not clear I my correspondence. I was under the impression that you would be staying with us for a number of days, when you first made your enquiry - obviously I was
mistaken. Please can you make the booking through your agent, as I think that this
would be the better option. Sorry for any confusion that I may have caused you."
Yes, I will do so.
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