Do Not Book With Plan Safari Ltd
Never in my 25 years of travel have I come across a travel operator as unprofessional, uncaring, reckless and uncommunicative as Plan Safari Ltd. They acted fraudulently by taking our money but not providing the tour as per the conditions that had been agreed on. Plan Safari admitted on numerous occasions that the conditions we endured were not acceptable and that we would reimbursed and given partial refunds for the financial loss we experienced, the terms that were breached and the extreme stress that they caused. To date we have not received a cent of the nearly $US3000 that is owed to us.
My sister and I paid for a 13 day tour of Kenya and Tanzania which commenced in early August 2013. The deposit was paid in January 2013 and the balance in June 2013. The princely price included but was not limited to transport in a private 4x4 land cruiser, all park conservation fees, safari as per the itinerary, full board accommodation, all airport transfers and two nights’ extra accommodation (for the night prior to commencement and after the conclusion of the tour). This is not what we received.
Prior to the commencement of the tour, we received a good deal of email communication from Peter Ngugi. Once we arrived in Kenya we found that communication virtually ceased. Peter resorted to not answering emails and switching his cell phone off so as not to have to explain the situations he put us in.
On the eve of our departure from Serengeti in Tanzania to the border crossing into Kenya, we received a phone call from Peter in our hotel room at 8.45pm. We were due to depart the following morning at 6am. He informed us that he did not have the money to pay for the four hour road transfer to the border or the fuel and payment for the driver, nor the border crossing fees. He asked us to pay for these and promised reimbursement. I advised him that we had already payed for these expenses in our tour payment and that we were not prepared to pay again. He had earlier phoned our Tanzanian driver to ask him to pay these fees which the driver refused. The driver told him that he would leave us at the Serengeti Hotel. Peter then abandoned us – he found it acceptable to leave two foreign women to find their own way from Serengeti to the Kenyan border and to cross the border on our own. We then had to make our way to a bush airstrip for a flight to Masai Mara. Peter did not contact us, the driver or the driver’s company to enquire whether we had made the four hour journey or whether we had managed to successfully cross the border. He felt no responsibility at all and did not care for our safety or welfare. It was not until the following night at 9pm that I managed to raise Peter on the phone. He showed no remorse.
When we arrived in Masai Mara, the itinerary had us staying at one hotel for one night and at another hotel for the next two nights. We were advised by the hotel that we were in fact booked into the same hotel for three nights. We did not have our own driver or vehicle and we were to take our game drive in a group with six hotel patrons. None of this was communicated to us by Plan Safari or Peter and it was left to the hotel staff to advise us.
We had six different drivers over the 13 day trip. We made a point of asking each driver when they had been hired for the job. Without fail each driver reported that they had been hired the night before they picked us up. This was particularly alarming when considering that on one occasion the drivers had to drive overnight to get to us in time for a 7am pick up. We never knew when a driver would turn up to transport us to the next location or if they would turn up at all. The hotels we stayed at tried to contact Plan Safari and Peter on our behalf but were usually unable to make contact. We were constantly asked to pay for park fees and entrance fees which should have been included. This occurred in Amboseli National Park, Oldupai Gorge and Lake Nakuru.
We were driven from Masai Mara to Lake Nakuru to find that not only had our hotel reservation been cancelled because Plan Safari had failed to pay but that our only option was to pay the $US560 hotel rate there and then on my credit card or be without lodging for the night. The next stop was Nairobi. Once again we were driven to the hotel, in this case the Fairview Hotel, to find that it had not been paid for. They agreed to let us stay the night provided that we paid for the hotel if Plan Safari could not be contacted in the next day for payment. Of course this turned out to be the case and we continued to receive angry emails from the Fairview for many weeks because Plan Safari failed to pay. We had paid for a transfer from the Fairview to Nairobi airport. It did not transpire. We had to organise our own transfer at the last minute.
Peter promised to meet us at the Fairview Hotel on the final night to reimburse and refund monies due. He did not. I contacted James via email at Plan Safari the day after the conclusion of the tour. He stated that he was extremely surprised to hear of our ordeal and that he would ensure that we received our reimbursement and refund. That email exchange occurred on 22 August. Since then numerous emails have been exchanged, each promising a funds transfer. No money has been received. We have on numerous occasions requested an explanation as to why we were subjected to these appalling conditions and despite promises of a letter of explanation from the director, no explanation has been forthcoming.
You would have to agree that we could not possibly have concocted this travesty of events. They occurred as stated. What was supposed to be a trip of a lifetime ended up being a two week period of intense stress and anxiety. We lost a lot of money, a lot of sleep and a lot of faith in local operators. If you were thinking of engaging Plan Safari for your African adventure save yourself the heart ache and look elsewhere. Use our experience to warn you to not put your trust in a company that will lie, cheat and take you for a ride. Find a credible operator elsewhere because you won’t find one in Plan Safari Ltd.
There is big difference in strolling around during a day or during a night. The city centre area is very safe during a day but the situation is changing after 11pm. This very busy area, during a day, is completely changed after dark and only few people could be seen walking the streets. I am taking the risk and walk even late in the night but I know the place and bad guys know whom I am and never bothering. Do not take such a risk, under no circumstances, if alone and if not very familiar with the city locations. Fact is, street boyz will probably avoid to mass up with the white tourists but in Nairobi you cannot be sure about it. There are alot of really desperate people around who will do anything to get some small money.
Certain city areas are risky even if day light, such as Downtown, espacially area called "Tea-room", the area of Kibera, Thika road especially around Ghiturai, Nairobi West around the market place, etc. It is not advisible to visit the slums if not acompaigned by a local guy who knows the area.
Kenya One Tour - NEVER USE THIS TOUR OPERATOR!!!
In the beginning of September 2011 I made a booking with a seemingly legitimate travel operator in Kenya for an exclusive Beach experience in Mombasa, Kenya for several families .The entire tour cost US$24,000.
I made the booking through Kenya One Tours, who received full payment from my clients in early December 2011.
This January 2012, when my clients tried to check out of Leisure Lodge Beach Resort, they were informed the bill had not been paid. Kenya One Tours never made the payment to the hotel.
My clients called me to help and I immediately arranged an emergency loan to pay the outstanding hotel bill of US$15, 350 out of my own pocket to save my clients from embarrassment and to maintain the integrity of my business and reputation. Had I not been in the position to make these payments my clients would have been stranded.
For the past 12 weeks, I have been unable to get Kenya One Tours to return the money they received for this booking in December 2011, despite contacting them daily / weekly.
I alerted the Kenyan Tourism Ministry as soon as I had heard that the bill had not been paid – in both the Nairobi and Mombasa offices – They found the tour operator and even had the consultant in question in their offices but did not take any action against her. After many calls to Kenya, I feel that they have not taken my complaints seriously and have taken no action against Kenya One Tours or to help return the money to me.
Thankfully, I was able to spare my clients this hassle, but this saga has left me substantially out of pocket and is placing a huge strain on my business operations. While there is not a huge amount that you can do to help me I feel it is only fair that I ask you to highlight these risks to both traveller and travel industry.
What people also need to understand is that Kenyan Tourism is either helpless or not interested in helping you when things really do go wrong.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Luxury Travel
Yellow Fever cert. in transit flights to Kenya
Before our trip to Kenya we did a lot of research about the Yellow Fever Vaccine requirement. We got a lot of conflicting information. If you are coming straight from the U.S. you do not need the YF certificate. We had a connecting flight in Ethiopia which is a YF zone but we were not going to leave the airport, we were not going through immigration so we would not have our passport stamped. It seemed common sense that you wouldn't count that as a visit to the country. We really didn't want to expose our bodies to anything more than we had to. Still nervous about the hassle that we might have in Kenya we called the CDC to see what they had to say. Even they were unsure if in transit flights would be considered as a visit.
Eventually we broke down and just got the YF vaccine. I am thrilled that we did. We were asked for the certificate.
Here is how it went down. There was only one Health Official so depending on when you departed the plane you might or might not be asked. We were near the beginning of the departure process and as we filled out our visa information the health official came up and asked us and others for the cert. She then took those that did not have one back to a room to administer the Yellow Fever Vaccine.
Another couple from our tour had to have a shot there. Though much cheaper than in the U.S. they had the stress of not knowing if the needle was clean,if they were going to be so delayed that the tour left without them, and if they would have side effects on their vacation. The vaccine was completely useless since it takes 10 days to take effect. They told the official that they did not leave the airport in Ethiopia but this did not matter. In Transit counted as entering a YF zone before entering Kenya.
There were others on our trip that while the health official was admin. vaccines slipped through immigration without a YF certificate. It was pretty much luck of the draw. In other words if you have a connecting flight in any YF zone before arriving in Kenya get your Yellow Fever Vaccine before leaving for Kenya.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- National/State Park
My Taxi driver was due to pick me up from the house to take me to the airport at 3.30am. She was a bit late as she arrived, shaking like a leaf, at my door. Apparently, carjackers had attempted to jack her on Waiyaki Way near Kangeme which is the most dangerous place for this practice. She had to do some creative driving to get back to the Police Station in Nairobi to lodge a complaint and pick up an armed policeman to protect her and drive the car as she was too shaky to drive it herself. On the way to the airport, we had to drive at hair rasing speed to beat the jackers, there were two on our tail, and I needed biological washing powder when we finally got past the check in.
Whatever you do, DON'T travel at night. Get a day flight in both directions.
It cost me 5000Ksh to pay the policeman for his protection.
Call Sgt Chege if you get in trouble, ask for his assistance (it will cost you cash). He is armed and ready to protect you.
Kenya Budget Car Hire
Whatever you do, DON'T go with this company. They have an office in Kemu Towers in Nairobi, 16th Floor and the Conman is Mr N J Njorge. His ploy is to get a slip from your credit card as *deposit* for 250,000.00 Ksh. The contract states 100,000.00 Ksh. He will pay it into his personal account and then delay and delay and DELAY paying it back to you. He thinks you have left the country and it will cost you more to come back and reclaim it. He hopes that you will give up and forget about it.
Fortunately, I was still in Kenya and thanks to the magic of email, I was able to learn of this deception and appear at his office demanding the deposit back in cash. If you have any dispute with any conman in Nairobi, first go to the Police Station and ask to see the Chief of Police. You will be shown to the top floor (16th) and see a policeman, in my case the WONDERFUL Sgt Chege and his Constable John. Tell them your problem and get their phone number. They will escort you in the matter of transporting your cash around Nairobi but will expect a payment of around 2000Ksh which is about £20. They will also ensure that you get your money back from this conman. Well worth it if you are trying to get your deposit back.
The other thing is that Kenyan Budget Car Hire (or Wago Wago Safaris) give you substandard vehicles. In our case the exhaust broke twice and the battery failed four times, once in the area that lions were. Bit dicey if you want a pee. They are not like a regular car hire company, they do not have a fleet of well maintained vehicles, nor a rescue service. They borrow the vehicles from private owners who definitely don't maintain them. The spare tyre was bald.
Mr Njorge was astounded that I was still in Nairobi and wanted the money back in cash. DO NOT deal with this company. If you want self drive, go through Bunson Travel which is a reputable company. Also, take pictures of the various knocks and dents in the vehicle as they will try and charge you for repairs for damage you did not cause.
The other thing is that a RAV4 is NOT a 4 wheel drive as we found out when we got stuck in the mud, despite being assured that it was. Don't hire an automatic car, you can't bump start it if the battery goes flat.Related to:
- Road Trip
avoid moving around alone at night.
I agree with whoever said that Nairobi is insecure and dangerous, but so is NY,Johannesburg and even Los Angeles. Most urban areas are dangerous which is why its important to know exactly where you are going. If possible get someobne that knows the city well to hang out with but not just any random person. A caucasian always stands out in an African city and when you end up in the wrong areas people will think you have lots of money on you and probably attack you. Otherwise Nairobi is one of the most modern cities in Africa and has alot to offer from a national park to a great museum, a reptile park, a variety of awesome night life and so much more. Its like a mini NewYork!
To most likelihood you will have a wonderful holiday in Kenya. however, even paradise has its dark spots, and crime is a reality, especially in big cities like Nairobi and Mombasa. So you should be careful - no night walks at the beach, actually not walking after dark outside the hotel. I know some members here wrote on their pages they felt "furious" about such warnings because it limited their freedom. Well, I live in Nairobi and I know lots of people, both expats and Kenyans, who have been mugged, robbed, carjacked etc. There is a reason for the warnings. Most Kenyans are wonderful people, but some people hope for the fast access to money and tourists are considered rich. Should you ever be unlucky enough to be robbed, don' t resist, don' t fight, just give them your valuables. I know too many cases of people being killed over a camera or some cash to advice any "bravery"
Pick Pockets and Conmen
When in Nairobi, there are pick pockets and conmen who are in the streets looking for unsuspecting people to cheat. They talk slowly and very convincingly, you will not think but give them the money they are asking for!! They then trick you to wait for them in a hotel but sadly, they will not come!!
This usually happens in downtown of Nairobi or even the other nice areas. Some of these crooks are eloquent in foreign languages, smartly dressed and have fake business cards!
If you want to do shopping or walk along the streets for a city tour, it is of prime importance to have a guide or someone you can trust.
Medical Info, Vaccinations, etc - Kenya & Mexico
Well I don't know about danger..I just wasn't sure how to file it, but this is useful information.
This website (Off the Radar) has some medical information posted concerning travel to Kenya as well, such as vaccinations, malaria information, and a hard-to-pronounce, shcistosomiasis (which is a parasitic disease). Might be useful...unless you're already in Kenya right now! Hope you have safe & wonderful travels!
- Adventure Travel
- Family Travel
Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission
Corruption is generally a problem in Africa. Kenya has it's own Anti-Corruption Commission. If you need their help, they are located at the Integrity Centre, Milimani/Valley road Junction. P.O.Box 61130-00200 Nairobi.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
Don´t head out on foot after dark
Crime is rife especially in Nairobi, which got its little cherished pet name Nairobbery in the 70´s. While trigger-happy policeman crack down on the gangs every now and then, it is advisable to be street-wise. pickpocketing, muggings and carjackings can happen even in broad daylight, but make sure you do not walk the streets after dark in Nairobi, Mombasa and other major cities. Always use a car/cab, even on a short distance. Unfortunately, nightly beachwalks in Mombasa and other parts of the coast cannot be recommended either.
Kenya is safe for Tourist to Travel there
Kenya is very safe, there was no Problems at the Beach Hotels. The Problems where at some areas after the Election end of December. No Tourists where involved and do not wory, you will have a great Holdiay and I hope you will not miss out a short Safari while you are there.
Kenya is great
Ensure you have the appropriate vaccinations for Kenya and carry your shot records on you.
- Yellow Fever
- Hep A and B
Also, ensure you have malaria pills and lots of bug repellent to keep ticks off you!
Nairobi is SAFE!!!
I don't know who started this rumor, but I never felt threatened on this trip. I could walk wherever I wanted, day or night, and never had a problem. Kenya has the most friendly people in the world...oh...cept the cops...wear your seatbelt.
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