How to find if safari company is legit ?

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Apr 21st, 2013, 05:22 PM
  #1
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How to find if safari company is legit ?

I worked with a couple of local safari companies in Kenya, and currently at a point where we need to wire money. Naturally, it feels a bit scary to wire money just based on a web site. How to find out if a local safari company is a real one ? And if it is a tour operator, or just an agent ? The specific company I am talking about is

http://naturaltoursandsafaris.com
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Apr 21st, 2013, 05:59 PM
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Do NOT wire money to a Kenyan TA. Find someone who accepts a credit card. As long as you have a CC that does not charge foreign transaction fees the 3 to 5% a local TA will charge you will actually work out to half that as the wire fee plus exchange rates (really the latter) work out to about 3% compared to the interbank rates the better credit cards give you. In case of fraud, the credit card company is your sole recourse. Kenyan authorities are useless in this regard.
See here:http://fodors.com/community/africa-t...a-tanzania.cfm
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Apr 23rd, 2013, 05:53 AM
  #3
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They said that from US I can only use a bank wire, credit cards are not accepted. From what you have described, seems like a no-no thing.
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Apr 23rd, 2013, 07:08 AM
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Recommend using a U.S. (if you are from the states) based tour operator who will let you use a credit card. Check out this thread for a perfect example of how the credit card company helped out this fodorite....

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...sit-refund.cfm
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Apr 23rd, 2013, 07:28 AM
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I have wire transfered money to travel agent in Tanzania with no problem. It is the standard way to pay. You can book and pay more through a middle man US agent, who will then use a Tanzania safari company. Do a search of the agent that you plan on using. They will not stay around long if they get bad reports. Some American agents also have bad reviews.
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Apr 23rd, 2013, 07:43 AM
  #6
TC
 
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I would never wire money to an unknown operator. Legit companies often have a US bank account, so that you can make a payment that way. Personally, I would find another company. It isn't worth the risk -- not only of losing your money, but of ruining your holiday.

Take care.
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Apr 23rd, 2013, 10:32 AM
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Wire transfers can be perfectly safe if you have a good operator. I would google your operator or do searchs here and at tripadvisor on their boards to see what comes up. There is a Kenya agency that registers the travel providers and all legit providers should be registered, I think they are called KATO, so you definitely check to see if you provider is listed with them.

I prefer to use a local Kenyan provider to encourage the local business and have had absolutely no issues, just do your homework.
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Apr 23rd, 2013, 10:36 AM
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Here is Natural World's tour feedback at tripadvisor - it sounds good.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio..._Province.html
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Apr 23rd, 2013, 01:04 PM
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I'll be going on a safari with Natural World in August. I did send in the wire transfer for the deposit. I am a "little" apprehensive but regularly check with TripAdvisor to see if they are still getting good reviews (or any reviews!).

I'll update this thread after our experience with them.
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Apr 24th, 2013, 09:34 PM
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Wiring $$ is typical and what I have done numerous times. No problem. You can also arrange to wire the deposit and pay the balance upon arrival. Done that as well, but it means carrying a lot of cash.

If you are hesitant and concerned, there are many operators that do take credit cards. No use in stressing when other options exist.

What are the companies you are considering?
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Apr 28th, 2013, 04:38 PM
  #11
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atravellyn, the only company that I am considering right now is this one:

http://naturaltoursandsafaris.com
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May 3rd, 2013, 05:19 PM
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Yes, wiring money is standard with some Kenyan local travel outfitters. It is really difficult to make the decision to wire money. We received various quotes from different companies in Kenya. Some would only take payment by wire transfer. Ultimately we chose a company that accepted credit cards just for our peace of mind.

A poster above mentioned KATO. KATO is a wonderful resource to check on travel companies in Kenya.

I visited the link above and Natural Tours takes credit cards. Why do a wire transfer?

Also, the website states they are KATO bonded, check the KATO website.
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May 4th, 2013, 02:05 AM
  #13
 
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When we asked them about using a credit card instead of wiring money, we received the reply: "We do not accept payments on-line. Credit cards can only be swiped physically at our offices in Nairobi or Mombasa. Please arrange a wire / bank transfer to our company bank account as follows."

It wouldn't hurt to email an inquiry to them--they may have changed their policy since we wired our deposit to them in the early days of November last year.
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May 4th, 2013, 01:22 PM
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The fact they mention 'accept payment by credit card,' but not online. The outfitter wants to physically see the card and other ID, as otherwise they have no idea who you are. You can be using somene else's card. Some will accept plastic if you fax copy of front/back card and passport, but most travelers don't want to do that. Why, at minimum, they'll accept the deposit by wire. You can then, by pre-arrangement, pay the balance with plastic once in-country.
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May 5th, 2013, 12:47 AM
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The following list on TripAdvisor has reputable names in the safari business out of Arusha Tanzania: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...ha_Region.html

Its likely that some of these ratings on TripAdvisor are from the tour operators themselves, however companies like Roy Safaris, Duma, Simba, Rangers Safari, Sunny Safari, etc., have been around in the business for several decades. One should not be concerned about dealing with these companies directly, including transferring money by wire.

Despite this, if you want a peace of mind with regard to payment, work with one of the agents in U.S that is a registered corporation, accepts a credit card online, and can provided other added value. These guys http://www.gumoafrica.com are based in U.S, offer free cancellation up to two weeks before your tour starts, and their pricing is pretty aggressive. Its too bad they only offer camping safari packages.
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May 11th, 2013, 05:47 PM
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amani2013, www.gumoaftrica.com looks weird: apparently they don't have any "curated" trips yet, just a web site. They are a startup several months old with no track record and nothing to offer, so I would not recommend them here.
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May 22nd, 2013, 03:50 PM
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Itrvir, what do you mean when you say they don't have anything to offer? I do see camping safari and kilimanjaro trek packages. I agree that they are fairly new and they don't have too many choices yet. However their 100% refund on cancellation and flexible credit card based payment (monthly installment) is attractive, no? Moreover, they are a U.S based C Corporation. I would trust these guys over most tour operators in Africa any day. Disclaimer: I happen to know one of the founders.
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May 22nd, 2013, 09:34 PM
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http://naturaltoursandsafaris.com

Not familiar.
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May 24th, 2013, 12:38 PM
  #19
 
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Has anyone used Heritage Safari Company in Vancouver, Canada?
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May 27th, 2013, 07:11 PM
  #20
 
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I don't know anything about the company that you are discussing above, but I will say that a couple of years ago, we were asked to wire payment to South Africa and it was a major company. I asked via e-mail if they took cards and they said only if I'd scan my card and e-mail the scan to them. It worked out. They e-mailed me a form to sign with the amount and I signed it, scanned it and sent it back too. It worked well, but I don't think I'd do that with just any company. I knew someone that was very familiar with this company. Hope that helps.
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