Tanzania, Roy Safaris: Please Help!

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Jul 18th, 2005, 10:32 AM
  #21
 
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Liz:

My fiance and I are using Roys for our Tanzania honeymoon in February. I must admit, you've got me a little concerned. Unlike Marcus, I was not able to read between the lines and am not sure of your problem with the Roys guide. I'd love to know so I could possibly "head off" any problems. If you care to share, my personal email is [email protected]. Thanks
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Jul 18th, 2005, 12:40 PM
  #22
 
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We used Roy's for our safari 2weeks ago (and am in no way associated with them) and have nothing but the VERY BEST to say about all aspects our our trip. We also met Sanjay and found him to be wonderful. We saw many other Roy's vehicles and guides on our holiday and both vehicles and guides seemed excellent as well. I hope that Liz has not scared anyone awau from them...I know very well the insecurities that first timers can feel as they go through the planning and booking process. Marcus and others - I am confident that you will have a wonderful safari with Roys!

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Jul 18th, 2005, 02:18 PM
  #23
 
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Let me add one more comment and that will be all I will say on this subject.

If it is your first safari you don't really have anything to compare your experiences to. Hey, Africa is new, big and really exciting. There is so much new to see and it all is so wonderful. But one safari hardly makes you an expert.

I have had many, many guides and some are guides, some are nothing more than drivers. In East Africa they tend towards being drivers. After going on many safaris and experiencing many differences you learn what good guides can offer and what a big difference they can make in your trip. Read any of Rocco's or Kavey's trip reports. You'll see excellent descriptions of guides and their strengths and weaknesses. You'll see the care they take in booking looking just for that quality.

Hey, there is nothing like the awe of the first trip. Roy's is great for a first timer. Anyone is great for a first timer. You can only process all of the information and go with your gut feeling. But if what you got after all I've said is to not use Roy's, I'm afraid you have missed the point entirely.

Please don't think that your experience overrides anyone else's knowledge when you are a first timer. It takes a little more than that. Thank you. Liz
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Jul 18th, 2005, 03:27 PM
  #24
 
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<But if what you got after all I've said is to not use Roy's, I'm afraid you have missed the point entirely>

Not to beat the subject to death, Liz, but how are we expected to fully grasp your point when we get hints and innuendos but no specifics? I can understand your reluctancy to post on a public forum and I respect that and am not asking for more details. I also know that you have far more safari experience than most of us, but I for one am more confused now than when you started on the subject. And please believe me when I say I'm really not trying to be rude, but I think you're being a bit harsh when discounting others who have posted their positive experiences. Their experiences are no less nor more valid, just different. Isn't that what a public forum is all about?
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Jul 18th, 2005, 07:16 PM
  #25
 
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While I have nothing to say, either good or bad, about Roy's, I am concerned that this Board gives the impression that Roy's is just a local Tanzanian family company, unlike all of the other operators, who are owned by those outside of East Africa. It is my understanding that Roy's is owned by someone in the US, and that they simply hire (and pay very well) their local director in Tanzania. There is nothing inherently wrong with this - Rangers is owned by someone in India and the UK, Serena by the Swiss and CCAfrica by a South African. The problem is that there are many on this Board who would like to patronize a "local" company, keeping the profits in East Africa (in spite of tax laws which make it difficult for a local to succeed. Roy's is no better (nor worse, for that matter) than anyone else.
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Jul 19th, 2005, 12:04 AM
  #26
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Cookndoc and others:

Please allow me as originator of this thread to forward the following information which I received recently from the Director Operations at Roy’s:

“Roy Safaris Ltd is a family owned company with a member of family heading each department from Sales, Finance to Maintenance being handled directly. This is our 16th year in business. Today, we are company that is ranked among top 5 companies in Tanzania with a turnover in excess of [number omitted] . For European standards this may be a small figure, however, given the size of our company and our location in Africa this is a significant achievement.
We certainly could have not made these achievements if we did not have support from our loyal customers, about 55% of our business comes from repeat customers or referenced customers. This is a significant amount and we value very much the relationship that we enjoy with our customers including yourself.”

Personally I’d say this sounds like Roy’s being a family-run company, whether the invested capital is completely family owned or not (the latter being the rule in comparable European companies too.)

I do not know if anybody in this forum (who is not a TA himself) really wants to patronize a particular “local” company but I think there a valid arguments in terms of global inequality which lead to the aspiration of making sure that as much money as possible spent on a trip will remain in the visited country itself.

At the end it is the people and society of Tanzania (in our particular case) who have the final saying about the future of their wonderful country and nature. Only a strong and vital economic development to their own benefit can guarantee that they are able to preserve “nature” as a valuable asset.

International tourist industry OTOH is not particularly well-know for being environmentally and socially sensitive.

In my opinion companies of the size and structure of Roy’s are most likely to be successful in a long-term strategy of converting “nature” into a sustainable source of income while keeping the level of impact as low as possible.

Have fun!

MarcusW
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Jul 19th, 2005, 04:23 AM
  #27
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... and my two-cents. Roys is a wholly-owned Tanzanian company. No ownership by anyone in the U.S. or Europe. Tanzania is their home and has been for years - born and educated there and started the company in Tanzania, so the money stays in Tanzania.

Not unlike other named companies - CCA, A&K, Micato, Good Earth and I'm sure others have reps or travel agents who direct prospective clients to those named above... likewise, I'm sure Roy's has some representatation around the world - can be in Europe or the US. That's just the way business is done these days.

There are just as many who would only work with a "named" tour operator, while others choose in-country outfitters. And I've heard an equal number of negative (and positive) comments about the "big guys" as well the "mom & pop" operations.

We're all lucky to have choices and a place where we can share such information. Then we make a decision that best suits our individual situation.

MarcusW had an issue... a few here gave him suggestions. Issue taken care of! In a few days he'll be in Africa having a wonderful vacation. Happy travels, Marcus!
 
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Jul 19th, 2005, 04:48 AM
  #28
 
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I should let this thread die but having followed it closely while researching my trip, I will rudely jump in:

Liz- Your posting is puzzling at best. You chastise Marcus for being secretive about his problem but decline to reveal yours --that's your prerogative but then don't post.
Also, while you insist that first-timers are less qualified at giving an OPINION on their operator, you recommend two operators with whom you have no firsthand experience. In fact, what you know about them is from talking to their customers--same as many people on this board. I realize you are no longer contributing on this thread so this is a chep shot and I apologize but I just don't understand your motivation for posting.

I think Liz's point about who could be posting is well-taken and it goes for positive as well as negative comments about operators. There are agents posting wornderful things about their own companies and others who post negatives about competitors. Also, you never know when a poster's "bad" experience is a result of his OWN bad manners, failure to pay, general bad attitude. I know I take everything here with a grain of salt and will not base all my planning on this board.
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Jul 19th, 2005, 06:12 AM
  #29
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Sandi,

thanks a lot for your good wishes as well as the advice, which I received in a private mail form your side!

I have to admit that I personally did not base my planning on this forum - being not even aware about its very existence at the time when I choose Roy’s using on my own selecting strategy which I had developed for countries like Nepal, India, Kirgistan and others. But I am really impressed about the helpfulness of readers/posters at Fodors and the quality of discussion here.

Of course we better take anything on the Internet with a grain of salt, as Mollygator suggested, but this forum nevertheless serves as a valuable platform for the exchange of real-life experiences and can be very instructive.

And although I do not feel absolutely comfortable with all statements made by Liz in this thread, I think that it is justified and fair not to disclose each and everything in the public, when there exists the danger of creating more damage than benefit.

I’ll keep you posted about my experiences with Roy’s - and I am almost sure they will be great.

MarcusW
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Jul 19th, 2005, 07:26 AM
  #30
 
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Marcus have an absolutely wonderful African adventure.
I am sure you will!

Safe & happy travels

J
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Jul 19th, 2005, 07:33 AM
  #31
 
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Marcus:

You have taken a balanced approach and good attitude to this whole thread. I wish you a wonderful and exciting trip.
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Jul 19th, 2005, 08:23 PM
  #32
 
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I know, I know, but I just gotta say something more. All these posts have gotten so screwed up that I see I have a few apologies owed and cannot leave without saying a big SORRY!<blush>

Patty- You are correct. I shouldn't have said a word, but since it is an open forum I thought I too would be entitled to give an opinion, albeit opposing, even if I only stop by infrequently. It sure came out badly and then when I commented on JazzDrew's post, it got interpreted to be geared for Marcus. That wasn't good. I had misread his post and upon re-reading it tonight I see I jumped to a bad conclusion. Sorry JazzDrew.

So anyways, I came back and saw this had gotten so bad that what started out as well intentioned has suddenly turned, er, unfriendly. I'll try to make it better.

Mollygator- I do wish you had posted your comments under your other name. No matter how bad things have gotten, I never once chose to change my name to make a post. I would love to hear about your upcoming trip so I tried to check it out by clicking on your name and there was nothing there. ??? First post? You made an interesting observation and I see I hit a strong chord with you in my posts. I'll try to be nicer, and I will take your criticism of my departure in a very positive way and agree that I should contribute more, you are right. Thank you and I look forward to it. Oh and if you'd post your email address, I'd love to hear all the details.......of your trip. Liz
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Jul 20th, 2005, 08:07 PM
  #33
 
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Marcus-
Your posting is quite puzzling. Asd fpr being a family owned business, what does that mean? Hallmark cards is a family owned and operated businesss.
Please have your contact answer the question which I posed: Is Roy's safaris owned by people who live in Tanzania? Or do they live outside of Tanzania? I am not stating that Roys is n't a great company. It may very well be. But the perception on this Board is that it is a local (i.e., Tanzanian company). As I previously stated
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Jul 20th, 2005, 08:09 PM
  #34
 
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some may want to patronize a local (Tanzanian) owned company with the idea that more of the profit is staying locally. Others may not care. However, it shouldn't be that difficult for Roy's (or any other company) to divulge who the owners are and what is their primary address. Not such such a big question.
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Jul 20th, 2005, 09:27 PM
  #35
 
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cookndoc,
I find your posts equally puzzling

I have no idea who owns Roys but am trying to understand how you define 'local' and what makes a company a 'Tanzanian company' to you (and this doesn't apply just to Roys necessarily but to any company). Is the issue (for you personally) the nationality of the owners or where they live or both? Would it make a difference to you if they were Tanzania nationals living abroad? What if they were Tanzania born or of Tanzania descent? Does that make a difference? Would it be better in your view if the owners were foreign nationals living in Tanzania? Or would they have to be Tanzanian citizens living in Tanzania and maintain 100% ownership for a company to be considered 'locally' owned? Just trying to understand your point of view and where you'd make the delineation between a 'Tanzanian company' and 'non-Tanzanian company', as this is a very interesting topic.

Also you seem to have some knowledge as to who the owner(s) of Roys is/are. Would you care to share more details and/or let us know what your source of information is?
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Jul 21st, 2005, 03:14 AM
  #36
 
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Susan and Sanjay Pandit own Roy Safaris. The company was started by her brother. They were all born in Tanzania. They are of Indian descent. Susan now owns the company after her brother went on to do other things. She married Sanjay Pandit and they have a small daughter. Each department of their company is run by a family member.
They use a US agent for the US business. This wasn't always the case. If you email Roy Safaris, your email will more than likely be answered by SusanLynne who used to post here. She is Susan Wood.
I did not know this when I listened to her recommendations to use Roy Safaris. She didn't tell us that she was connected with them.
Our driver told us all about the company when we were with him. He didn't speak very highly of Susan or Sanjay but then he didn't speak highly of anyone. (Except himself.)
All of the safari companies in Arusha are owned by Indians I have been told. Since they are also born in Tanzania, you would say that they are owned by Tanzanians.
I don't mention that in any other way than it is factual. One thinks that only those of Afrikaan descent own these places, but they are not the ones who establish the businesses. This seems to be true of all the businesses that I have seen in East Africa.
We spent quite a bit of time with Sanjay since he drove us from Ngorongoro Crater to Arusha. A really delightful and wonderful man. Talks a mile a minute and every word fascinating.
That's pretty much it. Liz
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Jul 21st, 2005, 10:01 AM
  #37
 
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Thanks for the info, Liz.

If indeed the poster that recommended Roys to you is their US agent and didn't disclose this information, I too would find this highly unprofessional. There are agents who post on the Fodors boards who are very open about what they do, provide helpful first hand information, but do not solicit business. It's too bad that some choose to behave in a less ethical manner.

I had a similar experience myself with an agent who posted on the US board several years ago. In the end we all have to do our own research carefully.

On the subject of ownership, when you use the term Afrikaan, do you mean those of European descent? Perhaps this stems from my own naiveness, but I don't tend to think of persons of any particular ethnicity when I think of these businesses.

I'd never really given it much thought until today, but in my own research on safari outfitters in Kenya (and subsequently in Tanzania), I came across a seemingly equal number of those owned or operated by white Kenyans, black Kenyans, or Kenyans of Indian descent. Perhaps my experience was particularly unusual, but it didn't seem to me that these businesses were predominantly owned by persons of one ethnicity or another (and that wouldn't be a factor in my decision making anyway).

Going back to cookndoc's point about the perception on the board or the impressions given by the board. Speaking for myself only, I've never felt that the posts here gave an impression one way or the other with regards to ownership. I don't recall any other threads where this has been discussed.

This has been very thought provoking to see how each of us brings our own preconceived ideas and interprets these issues differently.
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Jul 21st, 2005, 10:24 AM
  #38
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Like Patty, over the years of our many safaris we've come across outfitters of every ethnicity.

In East Africa, we've used Black Kenyan owned, white Kenyan owned, Indian owned and even Indian/Masai owned outfitters. One of these was Sihk owned... whose family had been in East Africa more than 200 years.

In Southern Africa, we used White owned outfitters... there weren't other choices at that time. One of our guides was a mix of colored and white British whose family had been in SA in excess of 250 years and he was Muslim.

To us, this "melting pot" made no difference. Nor did we care whether they may have been owned by others from outside any particular country or had representation elsewhere.

We requested a service and it was provided!

 
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Jul 21st, 2005, 10:26 AM
  #39
 
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I think Liz meant "African" descent, not "Afrikaan."

But it is definitely not the case that all the safari companies in Arusha are Indian-owned. Good Earth is headquartered in Arusha and is definitely owned and run by a Tanzanian who is a black African (as are their other 3 core staff). The founder, Narry, lives in the U.S. now and has a U.S. booking office in Tampa, Florida, but he is Tanzanian, born and raised in Kilimanjaro and went to University in Dar. The other 3 core staff, also Tanzanian, are based in Arusha. All of their photos and bios are on the company's website.

I don't know about other safari companies in East Africa.

Although I don't know why it would matter what ethnicity the owner of the company is. I can see the relevance of whether an outfitter is local or foreign-based (cost, familiarity with the area, etc.), but beyond that, ?
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Jul 21st, 2005, 10:35 AM
  #40
 
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Patty- Thank you. Not too many realize the dangers of agents not letting us know. You run a risk and can really get messed up as I did for being too trusting. And here it was my 10th safari. No wonder that I worry about the ones who come here desperately seeking help and find someone waiting that won't be upfront so they can make an informed decision. I am so happy you understand and see my motives in telling people to try to determine where there recomendations are coming from. Just a simple, have you ever received something from this company would save much regret later.

When I say Afrikaans, I thought it meant the tribal, or black Tanzanians. I thought someone else had posted that. I am so sorry if I offend anyone by mentioning race. That is never my intent.

In both Tanzania and in Kenya, I have had drivers who told me about the ownership of companies. The first driver/guide I had on safari 20 years ago explained that the Kenyans owned the land and then those of Indian descent offered to purchase it from them. Just as we do here in this country, the smarter ones bought when the price was low and improved the land and made a success of it and of course the land increased in value. Many of the ones who had sold cheaply felt cheated and have blamed the purchasers of cheating them. I always feel when I return to a property I used to own and see it today that I with I hadn't sold too. So there have been bad feelings, but I think the ones who bought the land and improved it earned what it is now worth.

In Tanzania, most of my knowledge is more recent, but essentially the incoming folks had the knowledge to start the businesses and the story repeats.

Our most recent driver told us that mostly the Indian descent people have bought or established the businesses there.

I think that those who ask those questions for whatever reasons deserve an answer whether I understand their motives or not. Heck, I was just curious as to how things got like they are. Why the other Tanzanians get so fussed about it is I think, lack of education as we have in this country.

I know Sanjay went to LA in his youth to be educated and he told us such a humorous story about his experiences that he had us in stitches. He really saved the day for us. Liz
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