Car trouble on safari

Oct 1st, 2008, 09:26 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 13
Car trouble on safari

Recently returned from a trip to Tanzania. Had a, for the most part, great safari with Swala Safaris. Visited Manyara, the Crater, and Tarangire. Gibb's Farm is an amazing place and highly recommended (the new cottage rooms are a must, we luckily got a free upgrade to one!). Swala Camp in Tarangire is also a great place, we really enjoyed that.

The only problem, and it was not so minor unfortunately, was that on the day we were driving from the Crater to Tarangire we had car trouble (it had actually started the night before) and had to be sent a new car, for which we had to wait a couple of hours at the Makuyuni junction for. Put together with how slow we'd been going because of the car trouble, we lost the entire day and just showed up at Swala Camp right in time for dinner. Now we were only going to have that afternoon in the park, we'd have driven that morning to Tarangire, but in effect we paid for a whole day of safari to sit and wait. They refunded me $75, one day's worth of park fees, but that's all.

I was curious as to other's experiences in similar situations. Is this typical, is a refund usually offered (I was thinking a couple hundred dollars would have been appropriate, as two of us had paid just over $2000 each for this 5 night/6 day safari). What are people's thoughts?
sbollag is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2008, 06:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 987
I don't see how your car trouble could be the financial responsibility of the lodge. Did you have travel insurance? They'd be the ones to reimburse you, I'd think.

Celia is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2008, 07:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,252
I think sbollag was thinking of what a good agent's usual response in such cases would be?
kimburu is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2008, 08:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,843
I think sbollag was asking if there should be an additional refund (above the $75 already received) from the tour operator, Swala Safaris, since it was their vehicle, not from the lodge.

I've never been in this situation but I think in the end, they did get you a replacement vehicle and a refund equivalent to the park fee seems fair to me (most likely they would've still had to pay the park service as the fee is based on a 24 hour period). I'm curious what others think.
Patty is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2008, 10:28 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
From the timing you indicate, considering you arrived Swala Camp in time for dinner, I gather you did have a game drive thru the park (Swala is located a good 2/hrs drive w/o stopping for game viewing from the Tarangire entry) on the way. While you had expected to arrive mid- to late-morning, in actuality you only missed half-day of game viewing.

Vehicle breakdown can happen anywhere, anytime and a responsible outfitter will do their utmost to provide a replacement or a mechanic as promptly as possible. Your outfitter did provide a replacement vehicle, so the refund of 1/days park fees seem reasonable, as you did have your overnight at Swala camp.
sandi is offline  
Oct 9th, 2008, 12:02 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 13
Thanks for the responses.

Right, of course, I was asking about Swala Safaris reimbursing me, not Swala Camp.

Just to clarify, I would not consider our drive through the park to Swala Camp a game drive by any means. We only left the Makuyuni junction close to 5, and as you know, you're not allowed to drive in the park after 7, so we were flying, and I mean flying, through the park to arrive in time (we arrived literally at 7 on the dot). We zoomed past all sorts of interesting things that we would have liked to stop for, but did not have time to do so. So really on that day there was nothing but driving from point A to point B.

And what annoyed me the most though was that this problem happened the night before, and it was clear that the car was having problems when we left the crater at 10 in the morning, and yet when we arrived at the junction they had only just left Arusha. It was them failing to send a replacement in what I consider a reasonable amount of time (they made all sorts of excuses, their other car was going to Moshi, they had to find a car, they had to put fuel in it).

While I certainly was pleased that we eventually got a new car and did make it for dinner, it seems to me that more than just the park fees would be warranted as a refund in return for having to spend eight hours going extremely slowly by vehicle or waiting at a junction, where, I neglected to mention in my initial post, my travel partner, who is extremely allergic, was stung not once, but twice, by bees.

Anyway, thanks again for the responses, and I'm glad that it's not the case that there are similar situations where people have been refunded hundreds of dollars, it seems to me it would be good business practice to make up for such an inconvenience, and I have to say, I am still fairly peeved...
sbollag is offline  

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