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Namibia Photos June 2007 - Sorry no trip report yet

Old Aug 29th, 2007, 10:01 PM
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Hari, that is a good point, usually they do insist that families book a private vehicle (or they just make sure they do not put anyone else with them).
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Old Aug 30th, 2007, 05:36 AM
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Dana: thanks again for sharing great photos as well as valuable information. I'm so sorry that this happened to you! Without a doubt when encountering a camp/guest issue typically the move to make is to request to be moved into a different vehicle from the offending party and that will usually work but because you were on the group trip with group pricing I imagine they refused that solution but something to remember as you go camp to camp in the future. It appears you did everything possible to alleviate your issue so its all WS at fault from improper booking/communication to the parties in the groups, to the guide/pilot in charge to 3 camp managers.

Based on my very limited experience of filing a complaint with WS I think it would well behoove you to suggest a remedy to them via Bert. I agree at a minimum you should be refunded the enitre Namibia portion but as you say that does not come near covering your air or your lost wages. I doubt they will give you more cash back than you paid out but its easier for them to give free lodging. Perhaps you should request 10 nights of complimentary lodges and transfers between camps as a satisfactory equivalent (assuming you want to travel again). Hopefully since it appears that Bert is a high volume producer for WS you will get some satisfaction. Unfortunately my complaint in 2003 came from an agent that was not hugely tied to WS and all I got back was a somewhat insulting letter as opposed to any remedy. In the future I will know to ask for a certain solution if I hope to obtain one or else you will most likely be offered less than you want if anything at all. I hope they make amends to you!

Is Lena (Mother Africa) still managing Damaraland Camp?

As for age limits on kids I imagine these brats at 24 will still be people you don't want on your safari while I'm positive my 12 year old knows more about wildlife and how to behave on such activities as at least 85% of adults. I agree with Hari that kids/family groups should be kept in their own vehicles. That way the wishes of an ill behaved family that is spending $20k doesn't trump one person you has put up a 1/4 of the cost.
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Old Aug 30th, 2007, 06:21 AM
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Clem,

I don't think....an age restriction of 18 is going to help. As PB says, even as adults a lot of people can be difficult. Infact, it helps to expose kids to wildlife/nature at a young age......i know my nephews learnt a lot from their recent safari in June to Botswana and they are very well behaved in public. They enjoyed being up at the crack of dawn and were very thrilled at doing an all day game drive! something, unfortunately some grown ups are not interested in......
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Old Aug 30th, 2007, 06:48 AM
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Dana, let me apologize to you on behalf of parents everywhere - except those idiots, I guess.

And, I want to speak up in favor of letting kids on safari. As you may have guessed from my posts we will be travelling with 4 kids, two 12 year olds and 2 16 year olds, and let me assure you that if they give us any trouble at all, there will be serious consequences. But, my kids have been raised like that so they behave pretty well. I guess the difference is that I (and my husband and my sister) do care about the kids, and the safari. If those folks don't care about the kids, I would say that they don't much care about anything, and are beyond hope. I also don't think that an age restriction would do anything since there are nice and reasonable adults, and not so nice, just like kids.

I would think that Bert has some clout with Wilderness, so he would be the person to take care of your problems.
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Old Aug 31st, 2007, 06:52 PM
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Please don't worry. There are plenty of camps that allow children. And many of us who prefer not to travel with them do believe that educating children to respect wildlife, is valuable. But there also should be camps and lodges that have an age restriction as well, as it is. Doesn't that seem fair?

I agree with PB, there are absolutely many children who are better behaved than some adults. We met a delightful American family of well-behaved kids at one of our camps and they were getting a wonderful education. But children, especially young ones, have different needs. It is not unusual for a two year-old child or an infant to break out wailing out loud during dinner, for example. When's the last time you saw that with an adult?

Children will be children. And so some camps do have an age restriction, thank goodness. There's a good portion of safari-goers who are older, have saved all their lives for this intimate experience of a small camp, perhaps a second or first honeymoon. With six to ten tents or cottages, let them have their peace.

Those of you with kids, don't worry, most camps do not make a restriction because they do not want to cut out the revenue. More than half of my time in Namibia was ruined by a party of very entitled spoiled adults and their brood, mostly under five years old, who turned an otherwise peaceful oasis in the middle of the desert into a McDonalds. Because of that, I will not book an intimate camp that does not have some age restriction now. It's one thing if you can find some peace at a larger camp but when you're stuck in small quarters with more than half the camp families with unruly toddlers (and some equally unruly blast-the- soccer-game-on-the-telly-parents), it's not what I came to Africa for.

So if you care about this, double check the policy of the lodge/camp when booking.
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Old Aug 31st, 2007, 08:10 PM
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Much as I am all for traveling with kids, I absolutely could not imagine taking a toddler! For no other reason than it is really expensive to do a trip like that when the kid probaby wouldn't remember it. 12 seems like a good restriction to me - they are then old enough to be reasonable, quiet when necessary, and they understand why.
But, I would totally support having kid free times at the lodges as well. I get sick of my own, and I can understand that not everyone wants kids around.
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Old Aug 31st, 2007, 08:36 PM
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Dana,

Thanks for the additional information. It makes your situation even more disturbing and disgusting. You must have felt so helpless because you did everything possible. You definitely deserve money back.



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Old Aug 31st, 2007, 09:32 PM
  #28  
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I have not looked at this post since my comments on your ellie photos. I am very sorry to hear of your other experiences, unfortunately this type of behaviour is becoming all to common and not just from children (I do hope that does not sound snobbish ).
The only guaranteed way to avoid this is a private vehicle, this is expensive enough for two let alone one. You could also try to be more selective in camp choice.
Do not let this put you off.
 
Old Aug 31st, 2007, 09:41 PM
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I am with sniktawk on this one!

Clem, i agree about no toddlers....however, in one camp in 2005 i did see an infant (no more than a couple months old) and in camp the baby was almost always in the tent. They had a private vehicle and they only ocassionally took him out on short drives. I think each member of the couple took longer drives alone! They were an extremely friendly couple from the netherlends and didn't want to miss out on their yearly safari. We hardly noticed their presence in camp and they were very delightful to be around.....

Rgds,
Hari
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Old Sep 1st, 2007, 09:03 PM
  #30  
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Hi All,
Sorry I've been AWOL for a while. Glad to see this thread sparked such an interest, even if it was originally intended for the Namibia photos.

Tom,
I'm not sure I agree that overall an age limit should be set, although in my case it would have solved my particular issue (only because these people would have been excluded). And, it sounds like others have opinions on the issue. But, really the issue is the camp management and staff setting some rules and requiring guests to follow them. It really should be that simple. No matter how much you pay or how old you are you cannot endanger other people. And, no matter how many are in your party, you are all treated the same and all follow the same rules. No surprises, no exceptions. Sounds too simple, doesn't it?

Regardless of what these people paid, on a per person basis I paid much more than they did. Plus, I had 12 nights (including single supplement) in Botswana, all at WS camps. So, somebody should have cared, at least a little bit, about what I thought. Three weeks in all, obviously the trip was not inexpensive.

Lastly,I made it clear that this was not my first safari and would not be my last. But that too fell on deaf ears.

Solution? You got me.

I have not seen a thread with an answer. I have seen many suggestions, as you note, but nobody knows what will happen until you are actually in the situation.

I haven't seen you start another thread, but I have no objection to cutting and pasting comments into a new one, or paraphrasing for that matter. However, I also have no objection to this one getting off track. I can always repost my Namibia photos when I write the trip report. I suppose whatever everyone thinks will get more people to read this and comment.

TO All - I am going to jump on PBs safari theory. Go with the independents. I know this was initially recommended to try new camps and take more reasonably priced trips. But my theory is to go with those who need your business, and who probably care about it more than the big operators. I mean, really, what does one have to lose? After this Namibia experience, maybe not much! I did have a fantastic time with WS in Botswana, but whether I ever travel with them again will definitely depend on the resolution to this Namibia situation.

I'd hate to start a huge fight over my Namibia trip because it will take more out of me than out of WS. My time is scarce, I'm not an argumentative person, and I try to choose my battles wisely. WS will just hand it over to an attorney and not give it another though. But, if push comes to shove I might file a lawsuit to keep them honest. I am usually more of a crusader for the causes of others, but I could easily turn this into a "cause."

What do other Fodorites think about this? Will it do more harm than good? Is it worth it?

Clematis1,
Thanks for your kind remarks. What happened to you in Namibia? Was it at WS camps?

I do always speak up for myself, I just don't often air dirty laundry. At the time I spoke up I was not thinking at all about compensation, but truly thought somebody would do something. It was beyond my comprehension that nobody did. When I realized it was pointless, I just shut myself away for some peace and quiet, waiting for it all to end.

I haven't heard anything back yet from Bert, but I will definitely post here when there is some sort of resolution (or not).




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Old Sep 1st, 2007, 09:36 PM
  #31  
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Hari,
Glad you liked the photos.

You're right, that this could have happened to anyone. That's the point. Even if I were not on a group trip I could have ended up in the vehicle with these people and their obnoxious children.

I agree that most parents act responsibly when it comes to their children. But honestly, most children behave pretty well while on vacation. There was a boy at Chitabe Trails who was exactly the same age as one of these boys. He was a delight to be around. I have never thought children were, per se, the problem. It is that these children did not behave and when the parents did not control them nobody else did. As you said, Shame on them!
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Old Sep 1st, 2007, 10:08 PM
  #32  
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PB,
Thanks for the advice, particularly about going back with a "solution" instead of waiting for them to offer one. I am just not sure what that solution should be. I was planning my next trip to Africa to be to Uganda and Rwanda. Am I to go back to Botswana instead, just to use comp nights? While I would love to return to Duba Plains and to Duma Tau, will WS pay the airfare to get there, and more importantly the cost to take time off work so I can still go to Uganda and Rwanda as well?

I prefer to go to places I have not been before, but should I trust a WS camp I haven't been to yet? This is what makes me want to wait and see what they say. You know, let them show their cards first. But I have no experience with WS so I really appreciate your input.

I'd be interested in hearing more about your complaint in 2003. Rather than start a new thread about my particular issue, maybe we should start one on filing complaints and negotiating with TAs and safari operators. Together we could potentially have a pretty strong voice. I mean, Bert got my business because of recommendations on this board. And, Bert did a great job. Perhaps if I had called him he could have done something. But, my phone did not work in Botswana, and the pilot/guide said she communicated to WS my complaints. But I also read great things about WS camps on this board. I really do want to find out if this was a fluke or if others have had similar problems.

Even if they come back with something totally inappropriate and non-compensatory, that does not prevent me from asking for something different. So for now I'm going to give Bert a little room to see what he finds out. In the interim, I'm going to think about what you said, and what I should ask for. I'm not really sure what I think is fair, but that is a good place for me to start.
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Old Sep 1st, 2007, 10:28 PM
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Momliz,
Thanks for the apologies on behalf of parents everywhere, which of course, is not up to you. I don't think children should be prohibited from going on a safari or on any vacation for that matter. What I do think is that they should not be exempt from rules of proper behavior just because they are children. If the parents can't control the kids, the parents can pay the prices. Simple.

I agree with you that if the parents don't care about their children they probably don't care about much else. This was definitely a very selfish family. I did not intend for this to turn into an issue/question about children on safari. It's a simple question of camps enforcing rules for everyone.

I hope you and your children have a fantastic safari.
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Old Sep 1st, 2007, 11:05 PM
  #34  
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Hi Sniktawk,
I agree with you. And no, your response does not sound snobbish. But, do you realize that by the time I add the single supplement and a private vehicle it would be less expensive to pay for 2 two people without the private vehicle? Maybe next time I should just pay 100% for somebody to go with me and we could gang up on them. Or, I could pay for 2 people, not take anybody with me, but instead take a blow-up doll and say that it is a proxy, and it could cast a vote.

This should not have to be the solution. Why should I have to pay double (or more) because some people are complete jerks and they are not held accountable? I thought I was being somewhat selective. I mean, really, WS is not inexpensive and has (had) a good reputation.

I don't disagree with you that this might be the only way to assure you get what you pay for. I just don't think it should have to be that way.

This hasn't put me off on future safaris, but depending on what WS does, it could easily put me off from booking with them again.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2007, 12:16 AM
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Dana,

With Africa holidays getting more and more popular, unfortunately we all are going to encounter fellow co-travellers like the ones you came across! (loud, complaining, abnoxious and just plain idiotic!!!)..... i would just think of it that way and move on.....

About WS, although i only have had one trip with them ..... it would be hard to overlook some of their properties, which are in some of the finest game viewing destinations! so, i would say keep the faith!

Hari
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Old Sep 2nd, 2007, 12:24 AM
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One more thing... what could the guides or camp staff do, when the parents of these kids don't do or say anything?

Not that i am trying to say that you are over reacting...don't get me wrong, i would be disappointed if i were in your shoes ......
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Old Sep 2nd, 2007, 12:58 AM
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Hi Hari,
I agree WS has some of the best game viewing destinations. That is how I ended up on this specific trip in the first place. And I've been much more vocal about Botswana than about Namibia, because they did such a great job in Bots. I think I'm being more than fair on the issue. But, they do have some responsiblity for the operation of their camps in Namibia. I didn't say I would never go back to WS camps, I just need to hear what they have to say, that's all. I've never had anything remotely similar happen and I'd like to know it would not happen again.

Obviously I haven't shared all of the details of the mishap because that is not why this post was started. But, here is a good example, ...

I was met at the airport by the pilot and the Family. The Wife told me that since my trip was cancelled and this was their family safari they were doing me a favor by allowing me to join them. She then told me that her husband was tall so he was sitting in the jump seat of the plane. Next she said that because her son (who was actually shorter than me) was "long legged" he would sit behind the pilot. She and the younger son would sit in the back seat. The pilot not only heard all of this, but apparently agreed with it, and loaded us in the plane on the basis of where The Wife decided we should sit. I ended up behind the husband, with my knees in my face and my luggage in my lap. It went downhill from there when the pilot/guide confirmed that The Family had booked a private safari. I think she was wrong, but I do not know for sure. The real issue is, if she was right, then WS booked me on the wrong trip. If she was wrong, then she, as an agent of WS, made an eggregious error that enabled this horrendous behavior.

It was not just the kids, it was the parents as well. They were all out of line the entire trip, but the kids were the only ones who actually caused dangerous situations. I could easily have been the one thrown from the quad bike instead of the father. In fact, at one point the Wife stopped dead in her tracks (with me behind her) because she "was afraid" following behind the father who had just been cut off by the son. I was the person in the seat in the jeep in front of the kids (because the parents stayed as far away as possible) when the younger boy almost went over the side. I was the one in the plane next to the older boy who kept turning around to fight with his brother, and as he did so, managed to smack me in the face more than once. I could go on, but it is not necessary. Just imagine this behvior for an entire week.

What can be done? Well, I'm sure if I were in a safari vehicle with you and tried to throw you off the side, that a guide would say something wouldn't he? If you were in a tent listening to two teenage boys in the tent next door fighting all day and night long, and heard the father laugh and say the next morning at breakfast "how many fights did you have, and who won?" that you'd be more than a little annoyed wouldn't you? When a camp manager offers to give a family the family tent and the parent say "no, we do not want that...put them somewhere else" isnt' that a clue?

If these people were on a commercial flight, it would have been turned around and The Family escorted off. If they behaved like this in a public park, throwing rocks at people, they would likely have been escorted to jail. It would take an entire trip report to describe all of their bad behavior, but just know that they were out of line the entire time and everybody knew it.

If I can't book a vacation without some expectation of civil behavior, welll, that is just not right.







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Old Sep 2nd, 2007, 06:01 AM
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Hi Dana

I am a single female who sometimes does trips alone and sometimes takes nieces with me, and when I started, the youngest was 8. How the girls behave is my responsibility and they have always been a delight to take. But I have also had countless encounter with adults and their children, some good and some absolutely horrible. One of my worst, was grandparents with 2 kids, a 10 year old girl and a 15 year old boy. I should have got a pretty good idea, when we all got off the small plane, the boy landed in a heap saying how ill he was and had one of the fellows carry him to his room! Of course, I was in the same vehicle for the next 4 nights! They asked for me to join them for meals as I was alone, needless to say I declined after watching the grandparents let this kid be carried to his room! I myself would have kicked him there!

The grandmother and boy fought continuously, really quite nasty, sometimes resulting in pushing and shoving! It was highly embarrassing and no doubt took quite a shine off that portion of my journey! I was kept waiting for nearly every gamedrive for up to half an hour, and this being after we agreed on a departure time. The ranger never said one word to the grandparents about taking into account they had a fifth person in their vehicle who should not be part of their family business. I also, will not bore you with all the details, suffice to say, I am not going to suffer again as with that trip. I would speak up immediately, to change vehicle, not possible for you it seems. In camp at the same time, there was a couple in another vehicle, but I had assumed they paid for a private vehicle otherwise why would I be put with a family of four? At the end of my four nights, I found out that it was not a private vehicle, and when I stated my problem, the manager told me I should have said something straight away and I would have been moved to another vehicle and that is certainly what I will do again.

Each trip I learn something for future trips, even if it is only questions to ask regarding fellow guests or what would happen if fellow guests turned out to be guests from hell and what would they expect you to do?

Age limits is not the answer as I have also had as fellow guests, 2 parents with boys aged 19 and 21, and a niece and I were asked to sit in the middle row because the boys would fight otherwise, not that us in the middle stopped them, although I certainly never got hit by accident!

On one unhappy trip, due mainly to a room problem and a ranger problem, I was offered a private vehicle for my next stay of 10 nights and being by myself, I agreed to that offer which I thought was a generous one, especially when I was by myself. To me that was good business, otherwise I would not have proceeded with that trip - I did not give them a solution, when I told them I didn't think I would go back, they came up with the solution that was agreeable to us both. I myself, would not consider action against them, I just would not use them again and when asked why, state my reasons.

I have never dealt with WS, so have no idea what they are like to deal with, but it makes good business sense to deal with your problem, not only quickly but with something that both parties are happy with. They cannot be held responsible for the type of people on the trips, but they are for not dealing with your problem in a more timely fashion and doing something at the beginning of your trip. Do you know that the pilot/agent of WS did actually speak to them? Or were they just saying that to shut you up? It is also odd that if the family paid for a private group, why would they say that you could join them?

This is a good reason for never doing group trips for any period of time, which I haven't. Also a reason why I dislike camps that are too small - you can't escape some people and small camps hate you being by yourself, no matter how much you insist you like being by yourself!

Good luck Dana, and I would give Bert a time limit, otherwise this will drive you nuts!

Kind regards

Kaye
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Old Sep 2nd, 2007, 06:37 AM
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I think your idea of trying the independents is a great one, but only if Wilderness somehow is informed.

Ultimately it was up to the camps, guides, rangers et al to deal with the family and it looks like they didn't.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2007, 09:26 AM
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Hi Dana,

Very odd the whole situation! They booked a private safari and they put you along with their horrible group? I think Bert is the right person to get you the explanation and although i don't even know Bert......i have heard nothing but good things about him. So, i'm sure he will revert with a solution and explanation.

Rgds,
Hari
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