In August of this year I was on safari with friends in the Masai Mara reserve, which has a well-earned reputation for spectacular game viewing. Unfortunately, our trip was marred somewhat by an unscrupulous tour operator (Felix N., who runs Sardius Tours). We arranged for him to book our lodges several months ahead of time. We ask for 4 separate rooms in a luxury lodge and paid him by wire transfer in advance. He assured us that all was arranged.
After we arrived - and only after he collected the remainder of our fees from each of us in cash - he informed us that our booking had been changed and that we no longer had 4 rooms (some of us would have to share a rom) and that it was not in the lodge we chose. We insisted that our original arrangement be honored, and after a brief argument he promised that he would fix it. We left with our driver, under the naïve hope that Felix was sincere.
We spent most of the day on the road until our driver finally got a phone call instructing him to take us to another safari camp – not the one we supposedly reserved in the first place. The camp was rather obscure and the driver got lost attempting to find it! When we finally arrived, very tired and dusty, we were shocked to be told once again that there were not enough tents for us all, so we had to double up in one of them. And these were hardly the high-end accommodations we had paid for. Two of the tents had no mosquito netting!
We lost the entire afternoon, and only managed to squeeze in a cursory game drive in which we saw remarkably little. Moreover, there was no early morning drive the next day. Instead, we had to leave for yet another camp.
The second camp (Masai Basecamp) was far superior to the first, and equivalent in value to what we had originally paid for. But we lost an entire day out of our 3-day safari. When we met Felix back in Nairobi, he promised a partial reimbursement to cover our lost expenses. A month later, we have still not received it – and Felix has ignored our inquiries.
The lesson here is to be wary of any tour operator that does not accept credit cards (in which we could challenge the fee, if the service was not forthcoming). I strongly advise anyone not to arrange a safari through Sardius Tours. And I am not alone. Travel websites are filled with accounts about Sardius Tours that should serves as a warning to travelers, and on hindsight we should have heeded them: