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Namibia Photos June 2007 - Sorry no trip report yet

Old Sep 2nd, 2007, 10:37 AM
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Hi Dana

So sorry you had this family from hell spoiling your trip to Namibia. This is my 'get away from it all place' so I shudder when I hear stories like this!

Fortunately I haven't had such a bad experience I've felt I had to make a complaint (my worst was a guy who snored in a close-by tent, which hardly compares!). It made me wonder what to do in the event however - which is no bad thing...

Personally I think I would like to be present when the camp manager reports the complaint (and I don't think this is an unreasonable request if you put a formal complaint to them). Sure, it means missing a game drive/siesta to be there when they radio through, but worth it to a/ know it was properly reported b/ indicate you are royally peed off! I don't know if you requested this and were refused - that would make me very unhappy indeed!

If they have fax facilities (probably not, but who knows...) you could request use of those to fax to your TA, or write a complaint and mail when you pass civilisation again. The mail will probably arrive after you get home, but I'm guessing a faxed/mailed compliant dated while you on safari may carry more punch then a complaint after the event when you get home (dunno, worth a shot).

I've been to several WS camps, and any minor issues I've raised were dealt with promptly - I can't comment on the handling of any thing major, but it seems like a very poor show on their part! Hope you get it resolved to your satisfaction...

Ysa
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Old Sep 2nd, 2007, 01:58 PM
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Dana: I completely understand what you are saying about where you want to go next so you should probably go for as big a cash refund as possible to put toward Rwanda/Uganda, I am speculating that free nights will probably net you a bigger compensation package but of course its not better if that's not in your plans. Perhaps if you receive an offer of free nights you can have them be transferrable, the way rates are going up you could probably make a profit! The more facts you post the worse it gets, I cannot believe you were physically hit by another guest and still were ignored. At that point they should have given you a private trip the rest of the way! I certainly think you withstood enough that you have a real case to fight over.

This will be a little long but since Dana asked and it is her thread... My experience in 2003 pales compared to yours although there was a safety issue directly attributable to the staff and it was the camp atmosphere that caused the unpleasantness for us. I did not know about this board at the time so I have never posted this publicly and I will preface it by saying that I have stayed at a number of WS camps and loved my experience at every other one (Duba Plains, Duma Tau, Little Ongava, Damaraland Camp, and Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp). I have not held a grudge against WS for how they handled my issue because it was in 2003, I was a first timer who probably didn't voice loud enough, and my problem camp (Mombo) was apparently addressed later and returned to the quality that it was supposed to be and thus I have continued to recommend WS camps due to the great experiences that I have had and turned a blind eye on the problem that I had with their central management. However, if your horrendous situation does not receive some serious compensation I will have to assume that 4 1/2 years later there is a major problem with their management and reconsider my opinions.

January 2003 was my first ever safari and I selected Mombo as all my research indicated that it was the place to see wild dogs. I booked just 3 months prior to going and WS was strongly promoting Mombo as the dog camp. It cost twice as much to stay at Mombo as it did to stay at Duma Tau and Duba Plains but I stretched to do it for the best opportunity to see dogs.

List of complaints went something like this:

1) Wild dogs hadn't been seen in 2 years despite the heavy marketing slant

2) My guide would just go off walking (my nose discovered he was sneaking cigarettes) for 15 to 20 minutes while we were out of the vehicle having tea or sundowners leaving my wife and I on our first safari alone in the bush or on a couple drives we had one additional guest (who complained to management but nothing changed) and a handicapped trainee. Fortunately I had a professional background that left me somewhat prepared for that but the guide didn't know that and it was my first time in Africa.

3) On our first few drives we had a trainee who was a former guide coming back to work following a car accident. Unfortunately he was terrible (and I subsequently learned that he ruined the stay of another Fodorite) and basically he and our guide just talked the entire time in Tswana and barely looked for animals or interpreted anything. Twice I spotted lions and they had to stop and back up and then drive over to them. These would be our only 2 predator sightings at Mombo.

4) At my second lion spotting our vehicle broke down within 15 feet of about 14 lions, mostly sleeping. Breakdowns happen, no big deal but then the repair vehicle pulled in and basically ran straight at the lions to push them into the bushes -- quite overzealously in my opinion. Then they parked next to us and worked on the repair. The trainee guide exited the vehicle and standing right between the two vehicles right next to my wife began to urinate! If he had to go no worries since the lions limit options but at least give a heads up when your going to pee two feet away from someone, especially of the opposite sex. We complained to the camp manager about the poor guiding and the other party just decided not to go on anymore drives, his wife had stopped before we arrived at camp.

5) The camp managers were a Ken and Barbie couple that I assume were responsible for the atmosphere. Greeted with canned singing from the ladies on the staff who then seemed afraid to talk to you for the rest of the stay. It was a serve but don't consort type of deal, only camp I have ever found that.

6) On one drive where the guide was chattering away with the trainee he did not see a bull ele on the other side of a bush right next to the road, as I was in the last row I had to duck under his tusks to avoid contact. Of course I considered this exciting and did not include it in a complaint, the ele was hard to see I guess, especially for a guide who can't spot lions.

7) Perhaps worst of all was the racial tension that was fully heaped on us. The guide and trainee talked frequently about how incompentent the managers were and that they knew nothing about the bush, especially compared to the two of them -- considering I had to spot my own game the managers must have known absolutely nothing to be below these fellows, quite possible as our hostess dressed more for the runway than the bush. We were told a number ot times the only reason the managers were employed was because they were white. Then after our last drive my guide said someone else would be taking us to the airstrip as he was going on leave or something. I told him I had his tip that I was planning to give him on the way out. He then begged me not to give it to the managers saying they would steal it and that they took from the staff tip box all the time. I promised to give it to another guide for him instead.

I detailed most of this in an email to my travel agent who sent it verbatim to WS. Believe it or not my biggest issue was really what I believed to be false advertising on the wild dogs. I explained that I look for rare species for a profession and understand better than anyone that there can be no guarantees on wildlife but that I planned carefully and invested for the opportunity to see a species only to learn that I had almost no opportunity in reality. I could have instead spent twice the nights at Chitabe where the opportunity was good. In return I received a condencending letter that basically explained how wildlife moves around, changes seasonally and sometimes different species dominate. No apology for heavily marketing a species no longer in the area and no comments on any of the rest of my issues let alone any kind of compensation. In retrospect it was a first timers mistake, I should have hammered away on the safety issues and asked for a specific remedy. I was on a high from Duba Plains and Duma Tau and trying to figure out how to return to Africa rather than dwell on the disappointment that was Mombo for us. Other guests we met also felt they had been shafted and within about 6 months I think the camp got new managers, shuffled some guides away and became the holy grail again (no longer advertising wild dogs). Thus disclaimer: Mombo continues to be a highly rated camp and this tale should not be considered when evaluating it other than this shows that even the camps with the best reputations can have a down spiral, especially as camp managers and guides shuffle around.

I do hope that WS will act decisively and remedy Dana's situation soon (I think its too late to say quickly).
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Old Sep 2nd, 2007, 08:19 PM
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PB,

Doesn't the travel agent have the duty to ask a traveller as to what their interests are? if someone did mention wild dogs .... then depending on their knowledge level/experience from personal visits could recommend the correct itinerary? ofcourse, it could still be hit or miss, knowing that the dogs traverse HUGE section of spaces....

But, yeah sorry that you had other not so good experiences at the same camp! I visited Mombo in 2004 (actually, Little Mombo) and i had a fantastic visit, so i suppose things were sorted out by then! Infact, our guide Brooks is one of the top 5 guides(amongst the ones i hv had) i have had the privilege of being around! My sightings included plenty of lions, Burnt ebony male leopard, female leopard and cub (don't know which one), female cheetah and plenty of plains game ......

Cheers,
H
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Old Sep 3rd, 2007, 05:38 AM
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I have never understood why camps dont hand out a sheet detailing some tips on safety and acceptable behaviour while getting guests to sign away their lives (indemnity forms).

I suppose its reasonable to have a not too detailed list of do's and dont's on the lines of -

- This is a high risk environment and guests untertake to stick to camp rules.
- Potentially dangerous behaviour will not be condoned and camp staff and management reserve the right to refuse participation for any guests that put themselves or other guests lives in danger.
- Obnoxious behaviour and complaints made by other guests will be taken serious and could result in exclusion from camp activities.

I am pretty sure most well meaning guests would not hesitate to agree to abide by these rules. It also gives camp management the ammunition they might need to deal with troublemakers in an effective manner.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2007, 09:37 AM
  #45  
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Kaye,
Sorry to hear about your troubles with the nasty grandmother and grandson. It sounds like improper behavior among guests is more prevalent than I realized.

I too travel with children on occassion. In fact, I am taking my nieces to Costa Rica next summer, but like you I will make sure they are well behaved. They are good kids anyway, but if they get out of line I will be the one to exclude them from activities. The lodging management will not have to intervene. You're right that each time we travel we learn something for future trips. That's part of the reason for my responding negatively to questions in this post. So others can learn from my experience. And of course that is one of the reasons this board is so helpful.

Momliz,
If I do choose not to stay at WS camps in the future as a result of this situation, I will let them know loud and clear why. I am reserving my final opinion, though, on their explanation of how and why this happened.

Hari,
Very odd indeed. And like I said at the beginning of this post, maybe just a total fluke. People may behave badly, but if they just outright lied, well, that's a first for me.

Ysandre,
I didn't insist on listening to the problems being communicated directly to WS home office, but that is not a bad idea. Because a pilot/guide accompanied the trip, she was the one to whom I first (and regularly) communicated the problem. It really was her responsibility to do something. But, when she appeared powerless to help I then went to the camp managers.

Like you, I have been to other WS camps. At those camps I had absolutely no problems, but think if I had they would have resolved timely and in an acceptable manner.

PB,
Thanks for the detail on your problems at Mombo. I hated to open a new can of worms, but the details of your problems astound me. A guide urinating right next to your wife; walking off and leaving you by the vehicle during breaks; guides badmouthing managers; racial tension; -- all unforgiveable. But, as you said, most unforgiveable is marketing a species that hasn't been seen in two years. Totally unacceptable. But, I am glad Mombo got its act together and that others have had great experiences there after yours in 2003. Funny that you were on a high from Duba Plains and Duma Tau and therefore didn't complain as strenuously as you would have otherwise. I am in the same position. I had such a fantastic time in Bots, especially at Duba and Duma that my overall impression of WS camps is still a positive one.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2007, 09:45 AM
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Amolkarnik,
While I haven't seen camps hand out a list of what you can/cannot do, and I personally don't read the disclaimer form, it might actually contain such language. Interesting thought. But even if it doesn't, they always give a briefing in the vehicle at the start of each game drive, and in Namibia this was no exception. The guides here did tell this family what the rules were. The family just did not care.

You are correct that most well meaning guests do abide by (or at least try to) those rules. The key here is that the people I was with were not well meaning guests.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2007, 06:22 PM
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Dana,

You are right! Guides do give a briefing of the rules prior to the first drive .... i think camps should be strict to ship people back home if they continue their nasty behavior after being warned! that could be the only solution ..... banning teenagers, having a more sanitized experience etc etc., is not the solution....

I think at this point in time, you deserve an explanation. Whether you do or do not travel with WS is immaterial. They have great locations, but, so do many other operators across Africa...... so, you maybe able to pick a great itinerary in either case!

Cheers,
Hari
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Old Sep 4th, 2007, 02:47 AM
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Dana - I suppose what I was trying to get across is that, by getting every guest to sign a form accepting that they could be refused participation and exclusion from camp activities, lodges then have a fall back in case guests get nasty and decide to sue the lodge operators for their actions.

Every game drive/walk begins with a briefing but verbal warnings are just that - impossible to prove in a court.

Enforcing this discipline/exclusion on a mobile trip might be more difficult.
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Old Sep 4th, 2007, 08:22 AM
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Your pictures are beautiful. We'll be in Namibia in 24 days! We'll be there 3 weeks doing a self-drive and then on to South Africa. Can't wait!
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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 08:06 PM
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I apologize if this post is long and if this thread is beating a dead horse, but others should know how WS has responded to my issue. In a totally unacceptable manner in my opinion, but in order to put bias aside I’m going to quote actual email correspondence rather than add my feeling/interpretations by putting it into my own words.

I received this email earlier this week. Bert is still investigating what WS is willing to do about it. They’ve now totally admitted that months after they confirmed my departure, after I had paid in full, that they put me on somebody else’s private safari and didn’t even bother to tell either Bert or me about it, let alone ask me if I wanted to change/cancel, etc.

This is a direct quote from the WS person who oversees all of the US Market. I’ve removed my last name from this correspondence but have not made any other changes.

"Thank you so much for the feedback received from Dana XX. I humbly apologise for the delay in getting back to you on the points raised by her in the feedback.

Again, it's always very good to hear that guests enjoyed their trip and that Dana XXX had so much fun on the Botswana portion of her trip. I am sorry to hear that the guest did not enjoy the Namibia Portion of her itinerary.

Originally when Miss XXX was confirmed on this trip on 02 March 2007, there were other guests confirmed on the scheduled Bonwings departure trip with her. And of course the WS rules for the Bonwings clearly specifies that the trip can only be confirmed for a minimum of 2 guests or more. Subsequent to the confirmation of Ms XXX's the other guests, who were also confirmed on the trip with her, cancelled their trip. This left Ms XXX as the only person confirmed on the scheduled Bonwings departure. In order to still accommodate Ms XXX on a Bonwings trip, without incurring additional costs, we joined her up with a private Bonwings Safari. At the time WS thought that they were acting in the best interest of the single guest but in hindsight it seems that this was not the best solution. Again I have to HUMBLY APOLOGISE for not advising you of the change as this happened days before the guests arrival. This one unfortunately slipped through the cracks and I cannot tell you how sorry I am about it. This is completely my fault and I take full responsibility for not informing you prior to the guests start of the trip. I will in future ensure that all pertinent information regarding changes to guests itineraries are disseminated to you immediately in future

I am however shocked to hear about the behaviour of the group Ms XXX travelled with and have already sent her comments to the Namibia Office for their immediate attention, especially with regards to the behaviour of the children. This is completely unacceptable. The Namibia camps involved have also been advised to take greater care of single travellers in future.

Again my sincere apologies for this.

Kind regards
Michelle Puddu

US1 Market Unit Administrator"

My response to Bert was as listed below, verbatim, with the exception of removing people’s names.

“ Obviously I find WS's response regarding Namibia totally unacceptable. I apparently gave them too much credit. I had just assumed that XXX (the mother) must have been lying and the pilot/guide (XXX) was wrong about the situation. Now I understand (although I still do not agree) why nobody would/could do anything. It was their private trip and I was the interloper. Basically, I paid for something that I did not receive. Had WS contacted either one of us (you or me) we could have decided what to do. I actually would have cancelled that portion of my trip. Remember I wanted to go to Skeleton Coast but the only reason I could not is because I was on the Bonwing trip. Well, turns out I wasn't on a Bonwing trip at all: I was on the XXX Family Private Safari. Personally I think WS owes me a complete refund (Namibia portion only obviously) now that I know what actually happened. I am appalled that this was their response, although I do appreciate their honesty. Also, I am going to look at my confirmation to see what a traveler's rights are if the operator confirms such a trip and others (unrelated to the traveler) cancel. I would have thought that once WS confirmed with me that they would have been obligated to run the trip for me as planned regardless of cancellation of a party unrelated to me. However, as noted above I would have likely been satisfied had I even been notified and allowed to make a decision. The fact that this "fell through the cracks" is not acceptable. I apologize for being so abrupt. I know this has absolutely nothing to do with you. They didn't tell you either, as they should have. I do, however, think that serious remuneration is owed. And, at this moment I honestly think they should refund my entire Namibia cost. Keep in mind that I took a week off work to do this part of my trip. For me that cost is even greater than what I paid for BonWing. But, I am not asking to be made whole, just for them to refund what I contracted for that they did not deliver.”

I sent a follow up e-mail later that day after I looked at the terms and conditions of booking. Here is the email to my TA:

“Obviously I don't have all of my thoughts together since I just heard the WS response re: Namibia, so I may send you a few separate emails as I think of things. But here is another reason they should refund my money.

Obviously if three people cancelled only a few days prior to departure, then WS had the right to retain 100% of the cost for those three individuals. If they got paid for 4 people, 3 that they didn't even have to incur camp expense for, food, guides, etc., then they should definitely refund my money. They should have sent a private plane for me and given me a private vehicle because those items had already been paid for by others who cancelled at the last minute. They still would have come out ahead. I know my travel conditions provided that if I cancelled at the last minute I would receive no refund at all, and I imagine that is the way it was for the others who cancelled. So, it sounds to me like WS made out like a bandit. Shame on them! Totally unacceptable.

Lastly, Michelle is the one who was in charge of my trip. She is the one who was to be called if there were problems. If that is in fact who Lisa Woodbury called when she said she communicated to WS, then Michelle obviously did not fix the problem because she was the cause of it in the first place. How did it continue to fall through the cracks if she was notified?”

Bert replied he is continuing to look into the situation and into what WS is willing to do about it. But, I have not received a final response yet. However, it is clear that I really was on somebody else’s private safari. That does not excuse the behavior of the family from *&*^*, but it does explain why nothing was done about it.
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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 08:37 PM
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Dana,

Sorry about your situation. Thanks for keeping us updated.

I get the feeling, that the WS rep still doesn't get the whole situation ..... mentions the kids behavior, but, what about the parents? IMO they are the ones to blame.

Hari

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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 08:46 PM
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Dana,

Do you have any idea of how WS reacted to their presence at their Botswana camps? in terms of vehicle sharing or their own jeep?

Hopefully, they got their own truck.

Hari
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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 08:59 PM
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Hi Hari,
Apparently WS is still looking into the details. I don't know why they don't "get it." I think they are just trying to minimize the situation, or somebody over there has had a lobotomy

You are correct, that the parents are responsible for the children's behavior, but I have at least now found out I was truly on their private safari, so the parents apparently thought they could do whatever they wanted to do. Also remember the parents were not the best to be with either, especially after I complained. I can understand, however, if they were supposed to have a plane and vehicle to themselves to go where they wanted, when they wanted, and d what they wanted, that my presence put a wrench in their plans also.

If they were on a private safari in Bots also, then maybe they had their own vehicle. But, the father did tell me that he was happy that in Namibia the guides were so much more lenient than in Bots. In Bots apparently the guides told him to control his kids and he was happy in Namibia nobody told him to do that. So, I still really don't know. Obnoxious people. Happens all the time. But usually there is a way to get out of the situation short of holing up in a tent for days.

It actually shocks and surprises me that WS admitted what they did, putting me on someone else's private safari. In fact, I give them credit for being so honest, and do not take that credit lightly. People can make mistakes. It also surprises me that this family who I've been calling so selfish all along "allowed" me to join them (even though I would have preferred not to). I wonder if they got a discount for letting me join "their" safari!

The more I hear the more ironic this all sounds. I was on someone else's family trip and nobody cared if I got what I paid for or not. I guess I'm just going to have to get into all of the specific, day by day details with WS now that I have more information.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2007, 12:12 AM
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Dana, I'm sorry, I've been very busy and just got back to check on your progress (or lack therein). Can you email me at [email protected] and I'll try to answer some questions so perhaps I can help.

Everything PB says is true. I went there shortly after he did (not sure how soon after) and sadly, the same guide was there and working. So in spite of all of PB's complaints (and it sounds like others complained as well), they didn't do anything and we (and the people who were at the camp with us) also had to suffer with this horrible guy, paying top prices, and not seeing any cats other than some sleeping lions at a camp that has a reputation for big cats. I won't go into details but we felt our lives were in danger more than once with no one to protect us but this one man who wasn't all there and also unable to walk quickly, let alone run. No gun in the car either.

I wondered why the manager never enquired when he'd see a car full of disappointed faces after a game drive. None of us wanted to complain in front of the guy and he was always there, the manager avoided all of us unless the guide was there. Now I realize that he knew full well what was going on. We were like ignorant children on a ride at Disneyland, unaware that the operators knew the ride was broken.

We were also subjected to the shock of discovering, once we were in camp, that no wild dogs had been spotted all year. Why didn't they take it down from their website when they had plenty of complaints of disappointed travelers before us? If that was too much work, why not at least be gentlemanly about it and inform the travel agents? I understand why, they needed the income so they kept up the ruse. And I want all these camps to succeed, so I understand. But surely they could have brought in a better guide, that part I don't understand. I think, as PB suggests, it all goes back to the poor management. Still, you want to have some system in place so even if you have a bad camp manager, upper management can remedy it once they start getting complaints.

Anyway, I am curious just how much your agent, Burt, is pressing in your behalf. He should be pushing them for you. Everything you said makes sense. Anyway, send me an email.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2007, 06:03 AM
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Clem,

The wild dogs thing ....... what if they didn't mention in camp that they hadn't seen them in a year? if they had just said,"oh! the dogs haven't been around this week!" ...... they travel HUGE distances and can be anywhere in any given day. To give a well reputed company like WS, the benefit of the doubt ...... maybe they just didn't update/make changes to their website due to whatever reason? we don't know if they were mis-leading clients or not! yes- perhaps, unprofessional, but, maynot be deliberate.

I still think the agents need to be well travelled and in touch with the camps to know what is happening and to recommend suitably. After all, WS do not accept direct bookings ......

But, i do agree .... a bad guide such as the one you experienced isn't acceptable. But, you do need to voice your opinion with the management. Did you mention to them, that you wanted a private word alone? to mention that you wanted another guide?

Hari
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Old Sep 22nd, 2007, 09:56 AM
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The wild dog information was not volunteered to us. We sat in the main area and said to the manager, as you often do when you arrive at camp, how we were excited to see wild dog. It would have been truly stupid for them to lie and pretend they hadn't been there for a week. You don't need to defend WS, they have some of the best camps in parts of Africa, no question. So it made our experience (and PBs) all the more unexpected and disconcerting. It wasn't like we were in some low-budget camp that no one had heard of. They are a good company and I do expect them to make amends to Dana. I only made the one post now about this to support Predator Biologist, to help Dana and let my experience end with this post - I'd like this to get back to Dana and her current problem with WS.

I stand by my report of my experience and do think that after complaints by earlier guests that they should have amended their website sooner. Yes, it would have been nice if my TA had known but I still think that the burden is on the camp to keep their website current for something this important. It was not your usual text mention of possible animals to see but a splashy photographic display bragging about how this was one of the few places where you will see them, etc. People interested in animal behavior will choose a camp based on this kind of advertising. This was a time when their camps were not full, due to fewer travelers because of the political climate, so revenue was crucial to them. That is why I do believe it was a conscious choice not to update the website to say that the wild dogs had left the area and had not been sighted for the year. I would appreciate getting the benefit of the doubt, as you put it. Yes, it is possible for a large company with a good reputation to make mistakes, which is what this tread is about.

This was our first safari and we didn't even know if the manager had an office (the layout was confusing to us, unlike other camps). Finally, the third and last night, he walked us to our hut and that's when we were able to talk to him alone, not that it did any good. I do think that at these extremely high rates, the camp should have this together (as I have experienced at other top camps), and it should not be up to the guests to have to fix it for them. I hope you were the only one who obviously didn't get from reading PB's report and my report (I don't know PB personally btw) that the management clearly knew what was wrong before we arrived. This guide had severe problems and guests had been complaining. They didn't need us to complain as well, we were just one more party that had some truly terrible experiences there. So the burden was not on us to notify management. Management already knew and yet they were doing nothing about it.

Now, back to Dana.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2007, 10:08 PM
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sorry, i hadn't read PB's trip report from that particular trip. Only his mention in this thread and perhaps in another thread sometime ago.

I think we can only conclude that they got their act together!

Hari

PS: Hope you didn't find my post offensive in any way ..... and, in light of these forums i don't have any connection to the travel trade.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2007, 10:33 PM
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Dana: so sorry you have no remedy at this point. It's big that the WS rep has admitted fault. Hopefully the next step is they realize saying 'sorry, my fault' to someone who spends thousands of dollars isn't enough of a fix.

One thing to note is the family gave up the private safari the second they agreed to add another paying customer -- at that point it became all of your group trip. From my point of view as someone who leads group trips you still paid the same for a group departure and would have been entitled to all of the service and rights of your original group trip. Your leader and other group members should have been crystal clear on that. Conversely, they no longer had a private trip, they were simply 4 members on a group trip, no different than the 3 who cancelled on your original group. If they wanted or needed a dictatorship than they should not have consented to making it a non-private trip. If WS told them it was still their own private trip and that they had 100% decision making authority (seems to be the guides interpretation) than they certainly did not honor their contract for your trip and should reimburse you.

Clematis/Hari: I can't say for sure if it was a big picture central office decision (probably) or a camp managers responsibility but I also have no doubt that following the upgrade that made Mombo 6 Paws they had to market it strong to attract occupancy. At that time we booked less than 3 months out and got every camps no worries, Mombo was about 1/2 full, Duma Tau about 3/4 full, and Duba Plains just us for part of the time (heaven!) and one other couple the rest.

As we stood on the Mombo deck with after dinner drinks the smarmy camp manager chuckled with a relief manager up from Little Mombo that they had seen a Pel's fishing owl for the first time last week and that he was going to check and see if they could claim it in the catalog to pump up interest. In light of the out of date claims they were already pimping I thought about letting my dogs off the porch but then I thought in Africa I'm lover not a fighter. Any rate it was clear to me that they were under pressure to claim special sightings for marketing efforts.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 09:44 PM
  #59  
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Well, I finally have a resolution to my issue. Wilderness Safaris is going to do the right thing!

Bert asked for some time to work things out with WS. I agreed to give him some time (and some breathing room), to get to a resolution. Luckily I did not have to get into the day-by-day problems after all. This was a relief for me because I did not want to relive each day of that trip by having to write it all down. Bert told me today that WS has agreed to refund the entire cost of the Namibia trip. I think this was the honorable thing for them to do, but have a feeling that the reason they are doing this is because Bert does so much business with them. He did not say this, but I know he was out their fighting for me. In the end, WS is going to do the right thing, as any reputable company should do.

Clem,
I'm sorry I did not email you, but I haven't been reading the board for a few weeks. I've been traveling alot and frankly wanted to forget about this for a little while. Thanks for your offer to help, though.

PB,
Thank you too for all of your advice. In the end I did as you suggested and proposed a solution, a refund of the entire Namibia trip. This is exactly what they have agreed to do. This is good advice for anyone else who ends up in a similar situation.

TO ALL: In the end I think this shows that Wilderness Safaris is concerned about customer service and their reputation. For a while there I was wondering, but in my mind they have redeemed themselves. I also think this shows that having a good TA is important if you have problems. I do not think I would have received such a resolution if I tried to get this resolved on my own.
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Old Oct 5th, 2007, 07:51 AM
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Dana: so glad to hear that you received the appropriate reparation and now have a satisfying ending to Nambia to pair with your aweseome Botswana safari!

I'm glad WS responded with the full refund and based on the amount of time it took I'm sure that having a high volume agent was a key to the successful refund.
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