We have selected our travel agents so carefully and were hugely disappointed by this company. It has a beautiful website and emails are promptly answered by some Joao Oliveiro on a perfect English unlike others. And he lured us into this with fairly high expectations. We paid for classical 4 day, 3 nights safari 920 dollars. The 25% deposit was requested and we had to paid their bank fees, too.
I have read these reviews and we agreed to a HIGHER prices, hoping to get excellent services.
1) The car was Land Cruiser, as promised. But very old. It would take two-three times to turn key before it started. On night 2, our driver went off to local village to 'check' if all is ok, but in reality, we knew that we have problems getting the car started.
2) We were promised: "pair of High End very expensive big Nikon Binoculars that will dramatically enhance your experience (really!)" We asked about binoculars when we left and driver said 'give me 10 min' and started calling smb. We stopped by some place, another car pulled up and we had 3 binoculars. But NIKON was def not true. THey were cheap, dusty and one was made in Belarus. Not Nikon high-end at all. And we wouldn't have them either, unless we asked explicitly BEFORE leaving Arusha.
3) We were promised: Another thing is the yummy food we provide (all our cooks have attended tourism cooking school in Arusha). In reality, first night we had very hard chewy beef, second night, we had a lodge-provided restaurant, so cook was free. Third night we arrive to Ngorongoro before 17hrs and most tourists were not there yet. Dinner was promised at 1930. We got it at 20:10, when MOST of later-arrived tourists have already finished their meals. And it was so unpleasant....entire big canteen is full of people eating. We are sitting. And our tourguide is nowhere at site (fixing car!). Food was so late, and we were so tired and upset!
4) Next promise from Joao's letter: "And of course, our guides, which are our real stars and the ones who can make the difference between a nice trip and a once in a lifetime journey. We make sure we have the best, most cheerful, easygoing and knowledgeable guides by reinforcing a very careful recruitment process." This is the biggest lie and disappointment. After all, dinner is only 1-2 hours. But having incompetent tour guide (after amazing one at Kilimanjaro climbing!) for FOUR FULL DAYS was very frustrating. First, he barely smiled. Second, he barely talked! He was quiet, and only once in a while, he would point to smth and say smth. Short and concise. Nothing 'starry' or even friendly. We did not learn anything except that we saw animals. But great tour guides can tell you about wildlife, about habits of animals, trees, anything surrounding! This guide, Johnson, was not the one. We really got upset specifically about this point. Good tour guide could have saved the trips impression! But...no. Johnson was quiet and I got more info from my mom's text messages, while she was searching from home for info on her Ipad and sent us some cool facts about crater etc.
When we arrived to the office, the personnel did not have a computer, so they couldn't show us what we agreed on. We asked for Joao, turned out that guy sits in Portugal and writes his emails from there. He is NOT there to answer your questions. Older local guy spoke poor English and asked me to show what we agreed on, as he has NO printed anything. Then, we asked for a contracts (or voucher as they call it), but it was also a surprise! They just wanted us to pay them the balance (2100USD) without any receipt.
Another inconvenience is that luggage area was full of their stuff and we also had a cooler and a gas between our seats, so standing up was not convenient on day 2. There was no room to stand up and look out of the roof. Our personal bags were on a back seat and kept falling. I have no idea how this was done by others, but no other car had this problem. And other cars looked SIGNIFICANLY newer and better. (e.g. I truly envied Leopard tours cars).
Everyone we met said we have overpaid for 3 nights (2 camps, 1 upgraded to Ikoma bushcamp). For up to 200-300USD. We disregarded as expected "premium safari at lower cost" and it turned out to be a poorly organized safari at high cost.
Btw, the cook was stinking with sweat, that way back in one car with him was pure torture. Cruel and unusual punishment!
PS. We also had to ask them to give us water, as they never seemed to give it themselves. And then we had to stop by the shop and they ran and bought it). I think for that price, they could have anticipated 2 liters of water per person. Isn't it normal as food and drinks are included in the price?
I do not know what BBC is doing with this company, but I was so hugely disappointed that I wrote this extensive email. If you are looking for a company, please do not fall for pretty pictures. Go with somebody else, Zara, Jocky, plenty of companies. They are all the same, but cheaper. And you will def get better service, as this services couldn't be rated anything, but poor.