Any bad experiences?


Feb 27th, 2005, 10:51 AM
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Any bad experiences?

It is always great to read about the wonderful experiences everyone has had in Africa..the camps, the guides, the agents that sent us there. So many good recommendations.

Would any of you care to share any problems you have encountered so that we may learn from your experience? We'll know who and what to avoid.

Personally I've been lucky, with only one Air Botswana disappointment. The plane I was supposed to fly on left to ferry dignitaries around, stranding 75-100 of us. For some it was a day's delay and others' several days. But I'm booked back on Air Botswana this August, so no grudge.

Besides that one little incident I can't complain one bit. But how about you?
atravelynn is offline  
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Feb 27th, 2005, 12:08 PM
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Although the good experiences far, far outweigh the bad, here are the few bad experiences I have had so far in Africa, and, really, they are all very minor.

In no particular order:

-Having my flight cancelled on Air Zimbabwe, on my return from Vic Falls to Joburg. After a couple tense hours, the situation was completely resolved and the manager of Matetsi Water Lodge took care of my wife and I by putting us up in a suite at the Victoria Falls Hotel, as Matetsi's staff was partly to blame as they had taken the responsibility of reconfirming my flights, told me everything was on schedule, yet once we got to the airport, we discovered that our particular flight had ceased to exist many weeks before.

-Getting surrounded by the Zanu-PF Militia while in a taxicab in the town of Victoria Falls. I was not scared until I saw our cab driver reach out both hands and slam down the locks to his front doors. Unfortunately, my wife and I had our windows wide open, and like typical tourists, I had my fancy new camera around my neck and my wife had her big fat purse on her lap, and we were each probably wearing our wedding rings and I a watch and she other jewelry. I had resolved that if any of the 100 or so Zanu-PF took our things or even struck us that we were not going to resist.

Fortunately, they just walked on by, with about 50 of them to the left of the cab, and about 50 of them to the right of the cab, all within a couple feet from the cab. It seems they were just use intimidation tactics in the town to dissuade anybody from protesting the "election" results of March 2002, where Robert Mugabe was "re-elected." That is what I get for booking what I have labeled the "Civil War Special" at Matetsi.

After spending nearly $3,000 USD including air to Singita for a two night stay, I believe we ended up staying 3 nights at Matetsi Water Lodge (a CCAfrica camp) and 1 night in a suite at the Victoria Falls Hotel for well under $2,000 USD including air from Joburg.

-My lowlight for lodging experiences came at Kulefu. Unfortunately, while other Star Of Africa camps such as Chichele and Puku Ridge are excellent, Kulefu seems to be the red-headed stepchild of Star of Africa. A supply truck with fresh fruit & vegetables and other food supplies was a couple days late arriving from Lusaka or wherever it was coming from and as a result, we may as well have been eating cans of sardines. I remember one particular dessert we were served up what amounted to Chocolate Mealie Meal! Hey, if the locals, including the white Zambians eat this, that is great, but don't serve it up to me when I am promised fine cuisine.

-Probably the very worst incident was on our Fed Air chartered flight returning from Singita to Joburg. The pilot was a young, arrogant little pr**k and got us into all kinds of turbulence, yet was too proud to tell us what was happening. It was the flight from hell and our plane was bouncing all over the place. It was just my wife and I and another younger couple who had just finished their honeymoon at Londolozi. My wife was in tears the whole time and while I tried to keep a cool demeanor, I was also very concerned about what was happening, as was the other couple.

At the end of the flight, my wife asked the pilot what happened, and he looked at her as if she was crazy and said that everything had been perfectly fine.

So...that is my list of bad things that have happened while I was in Africa. Nothing too major that could not have happened in other parts of the world. The only theft that has occurred during our travels was our rented satellite phone and a portable DVD player being stolen in Itlay on our way to Zambia last year (as we were going back to London to connect to Joburg).

The only major sickness that either of us has ever suffered was my wife getting very ill at the end of our trip to Chile a couple years ago (and I suffering an asthma attack after being exposed to some filthy horses as we were horseback riding in Patagonia on the same trip, prompting us to abandon Hosteria Las Torres a day early). If you ever go to Patagonia, avoid Hosteria Las Torres like the plague. Beautiful website ( but it is all hype. Drop the extra cash and instead stay at Explora Patagonia.
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Feb 27th, 2005, 01:21 PM
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The only really bad experience was with International Expeditions. It was my third trip with them and definately the last. They lied to me and misrepresented themselves and I felt very deceived since I was very open as to what my hopes for the trip were. Rather than just agree that they were wrong they further compounded their lies and I never again used them nor would I recommend anyone else do it. When you invest as much as safaris cost to have the trip be so far from what they advertised and promised is really bad. I had never heard again about them in relation to African travel and I thought they just decided to concentrate on Belize which was more their specialty. Liz
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Mar 1st, 2005, 07:53 AM
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Thanks for the replies.

Glad the Vic Falls story had a happy ending.

I hope to use the Patagonia information in the future.

Thanks for the experience with International Expeditions too.
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Mar 1st, 2005, 08:12 AM
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Although the remarkable far outweighs the very few negatives, I could add a word of caution to this topic. On two occasions, our guides got us into precarious situations with angry elephants. We were nearly trampled while on an afternoon walk, because our 'cowboy' ranger took us dangerously close to a bull elephant. The following year, at a different reserve our guide literally tormented an enraged female elephant by backing up the vehicle, then speeding away...several times. I had to insist that he stop, as the elephant was sure to have the last laugh if he stalled the engine. Also, it was cruel, really. What a foolish way to condition a territorial elephant to chase vehicles. I've learned some valuable lessons along the way...take an active role, rather than remaining passive and allowing a guide to use poor judgement. As I prefaced this post, 98% of my experiences in Africa have been overwhelmingly positive!
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Mar 1st, 2005, 05:32 PM
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In the future if something like this happens I would definitely report it to the camp manager and KWS or the wildlife security group in what ever country you are in. If people don't report it, nothing can be done about it. I have turned in license plate numbers before and will do so again.

Unfortunately had something serious happened to those of you in the vehicle or on foot, it would have been the unfortunate elephant that would have been shot for something that wasn't his fault.

My oldest adopted elephant orphan was in a situation very much like yours. He was guiding the rest of the baby elephants across the road when a stupid driver rushed up close, slammed on the brakes and the revved the engine. The young male protector proceeded to tusk the windshield of the vehicle. Instead of the driver being banished from the park, the young bull elephant was moved away from his family to a remote part of the park.

I think some times the drivers/guides think we tourists expect the thrill and don't stop to think of the seriousness of their bad actions. Even if an elephant makes a mock charge, we as tourists have disturbed him and should leave him peacefully to do what he was doing before we disrupted him.

Often just politely asking the driver as you did is successful, but if not I would definitely report it to the camp manager and perhaps KWS.

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Mar 1st, 2005, 07:28 PM
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Thanks for sharing your valuable advice, Jan. Since I plan on returning to Africa many times, I may just run into this again. Much appreciated...
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Mar 2nd, 2005, 03:48 AM
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atravelynn - well said.

Wild animals are dangerous - nuff said.

My good experiences in "Africa" - too numerous to mention. I've been an addict for 30+ years.

My bad ones?

Got run over by an elephant - not my fault.

Nearly drowned in Lake Tanganyika when the small boat in which I was travelling capsized.

Got left behind on a country road in Uganda. At night. Now that was really scary - but my bus stopped up ahead. "Where is that crazy mazungu".

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Mar 2nd, 2005, 05:32 AM
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This lady had a bad experience but it sounds like it was her own fault. Every camp I have ever been to tells you the rules and she definitely broke them.

Hippo tramples tourist to death in Kenya

NAIVASHA, Kenya -- A hippopotamus flipped and trampled an Australian tourist to death at a popular resort in central Kenya, police said Tuesday.

Vicky Elizabeth Bartlett, 50, was with a group of 12 tourists at Lake Naivasha on Monday night when the hippo attacked, said Simon Kiragu, the regional police chief.

''The hippo attacked the woman, flipping her into the air before tossing her on the ground and trampling her,'' he said.

Bartlett was rushed to a hospital but died while undergoing treatment. No one else was injured in the attack.

Wilflife experts say hippos can pose extreme danger to humans. The animals come on shore at night to graze and will attack anything that comes between them and the water, where they feel safe.

The attack took place at Fisherman's Camp, a popular lakeside campground, where signs warn tourists to beware of hippos after dark.

John Mwangi, the group's tour guide, said the woman had seen a hippo the night before and was going to look for one again without telling him. The group was on its way to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

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Mar 2nd, 2005, 05:44 AM
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Given your naughty behaivour on this board, I somehow think that just maybe you were taunting the elephant, much in the same way you like to taunt people on this board.

Hopefully the elephant was not punished for doing what so many others would likely do, given half the opportunity.

Congratulations on the use of the word "mazungu." Although you may think that this makes you seem like you are well traveled around Africa, it is actually one of the first words anyone learns while reading Africa related books. Perhaps "Bwana" and "Muntu" are next up on your list?

Lastly, do you ever stop to wonder that maybe it was not an accident that you were left behind in Uganda? Something to think about, isn't it???
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Mar 2nd, 2005, 10:00 AM
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Mar 2nd, 2005, 06:16 PM
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We could expand my question from "bad experiences in Africa" to bad ones on this travel board.

I hope the horror stories that some have reported don't deter anybody from going to Africa. My goal was to find out how to avoid these things in the future. Or how to avoid unscrupulous operators or agents.

The scenario with the hazardous guide who scared the animals is one I'll remember, along with your suggestions for halting such behavior, in case I ever enounter it. Thanks.

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Mar 3rd, 2005, 03:58 AM
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I know I have had bad experiences but. luckily, I'm such an optimise and I'm generally an annoyingly happy person, that the memories usually fade fairly soon.

Some that spring to mind:

When I first went to Kenya and Tanzania as a teenager on a family safari it was during one of the periods of conflict between black Kenyans and Kenyans of Indian origin.

I'm of Indian origin.

Despite the fact that my sister and I were born in the UK and hence have exactly the same FULL citizenship, from birth, as the (white, British) members of our tour group, we were stopped at immigration and hounded for some time by officials. Eventually we ended up having to pay a bogus "visa charge" which was not applicable then and were allowed through. Another lady in our group was the daughter of an Indian father and (white) English mother. Her surname was Indian but her features were pale and more caucasian. The officials harrassed her the most demanding to know her religious beliefs and even insisting she'd had plastic surgery to "hide" her Indian-ness.

It was horrendous.

We didn't experience AS much racism once inside Kenya but I can't say everyone was friendly either.

Tanzania didn't give us any of these problems at all.

This is the reason why I resisted returning to Kenya for so long...

On that same trip, towards the end, when we were in Tanzania, I also became pretty ill. My parents, both doctors, clearly felt it was serious as I overheard them discussing airlifting me out and to hospital although I turned a corner and it didn't come to that. I couldn't eat or drink. At one place I couldn't even have water because their water purifier was broken so they were boiling all water but the smoke infiltrated the water and I couldn't keep it down. I ended up drinking freshly squeezed juice which gave me acid indigestion to say the least. Travelling from one camp to another cross country on the roads was less than pleasant.

And yet even then I remember my awe at the open plains, the animals and the beautiful sky.

I'll add more recent bad experiences later but this trip sprang to mind immediately. You can probably understand why.

NB I didn't experience ANY incidents of racism during my 2004 trip to Kenya.
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Mar 6th, 2005, 06:27 AM
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Sorry, didn't mean to kill the thread...
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Mar 6th, 2005, 06:50 AM
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Maybe there are no more unfortunate experiences, and that would be good.
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Mar 6th, 2005, 06:58 AM
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Yes I like that way of looking at it!
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