There have been many threads requesting views on a particular safari company. As Tripadvisor has served me well over the years, and to avoid any future travellers falling into the same trap that we did, I am enclosing a copy of the review by my wife of Fred Kilonzi's safari firm(s) named above. To date we have had no refund of the money owed and are now liaising, via e-mail, with the Mombasa Police:
It is with great dismay that I find myself having to review Fred Kilonzi of Holiday inspirations in a negative light after all the previous positive reviews I read on Trip Advisor, but the fact is he owes us 1090US$ which he promised to refund us before we left Mombasa on Saturday 16th March 2013.
My mother booked through Holiday Inspirations and Fred Kilonzi for the Mara Serena Lodge & Safari 4 years ago and recommended using him for our holiday in Kenya on the 1st March 2013.
He asked us to pay half the money up front as the lodge was very busy and he would need to secure the accommodation. The remainder was to be paid on our arrival in Kenya.
We asked if we could pay by credit card and he informed me that he had contacted Barclays in Mombasa, and it would take 30 days for him to receive the money that way so asked if we could make a bank transfer. Although not totally comfortable with this after reading the reviews on Trip Advisor singing his praises and my mother’s own experience we did as we were asked.
We arrived at the Diani Reef Hotel in Ukunda on the 2nd March having already arranged to meet him at the reception on the 3rd. He didn’t show up.
I checked my e-mails at the hotel internet and had received an e-mail from him informing us he had an emergency and wasn’t well and was in Germany and unable to meet us. He left his telephone number in Germany and the hotel called him for us.
My husband spoke to him and he informed him that the hotel was booked and that he would send a gentleman named Nathan to collect the remaining money and arrange our flights.
Nathan turned up, albeit late and took the remaining balance of £750 and gave us a hand written receipt.
We were collected at 7.00a.m. on the 6th as arranged and transferred to the airstrip having been given 320US$ for park fees, our flight tickets and the name of the lady, Faith Mukundi whom the hotel booking was made with, along with a reservation number.
On arrival at the Mara Serena Lodge we were informed that our reservation had been cancelled as no payment had been made by Fred Kilonzi.
My husband tried to call him but could get no reply so e-mailed him. He replied that he had been in touch with Faith throughout and everything had been ok but he was working hard to control the damage. The manager informed us that there was no Faith Mukundi working there.
When my husband relayed this, Fred insisted that Faith Mukundi did work for Serena but due to the situation in Mombasa, which we assumed he meant the elections; his staff weren’t at the office. My husband gave him the telephone number for the Serena Lodge and requested he call them and pay the money to them which we had already given him.
Instead he requested we pay the 1090US$ and he would refund us when he returned to Mombasa from Germany on the 11th.
We asked the manager of the Serena Lodge if we could have a return flight to Ukunda, but he informed us that we wouldn’t be able to do so and we would have to pay the money if Fred Kilonzi didn’t.
We had no choice. We paid.
We requested that Fred meet us on the 13th at 6.00p.m. to refund us in cash as it was a lot of money which we hadn’t budgeted for. He thanked us for our understanding, wished us a good safari, apologised for the hiccups and agreed to meet us and reimburse us on the 13th at the Diani Reef Hotel.
We waited – Again no show.
Checking my e-mails, he had contacted us again to inform us that due to the snow in Frankfurt he was unable to get a flight and would keep us updated. It was true, there was snow but my husband notified him that we would need to inform the police if he didn’t pay us the 1090US$ as we would need a police report.
From then on we received no e-mails and the hotel staff tried, tried to contact him by phone in Germany and he office in Mombasa but were unable to do so.
We informed the police of everything that had transpired and they promised to contact us when they had any news. They also tried to contact him on the phone but again no reply. Unfortunately on arriving home on Sunday the insurance company advised us that as we went on the safari we couldn’t make a claim, even though we had no choice.
I hope against hope that circumstances beyond Fred Kilonzi’s control led us to this point and he will show he is the honourable man that the former reviews have shown him to be and contact us and arrange payment, but up until now we have heard nothing form him.
Visited March 2013Edited: 9:47 am, March 28, 2013