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Savuka, not an option for Safari

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Savuka, not an option for Safari

Key words: delayed refund; lies; unprofessional response


we had a 12-day safari with Savuka Tours in Oct.2012. In addition to the safari fee, we also paid in advance for the balloon trip in Masai Mara ($1840 USD) to Savuka. However, Savuka failed to book the balloon trip, and made no efforts to correct this error during our trip. What’s worse, they still didn’t refund us after more than 6 months…

I have had enough unanswered phone calls and emails and enough lies from this company. What they did could not be qualified as a LP recommendation, truly not qualified

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1. Re: Savuka, not an option for Safari

Detailed story:

We 4 persons had a safari trip from end of Sept. to early Oct. 2012 in Kenya. After some research at LP and other travel forums, we chose Savuka Tours.

The booking deposit was 25%, which I paid by tt; and the rest was paid in cash on our arrival. The entire case was handled by Joyce, the boss of Savuka. On the morning of our first day, Joyce asked whether we’d like to take the balloon trip at Masai Mara. We agreed, and paid her another $1840 USD.

It should have been a wonderful trip, everything proceeded as the itinerary, until something happened on the last 3 days.

On 7 Oct., our driver called me, saying Joyce failed to book the balloon trip, which should be on early morning 8 Oct. Together we checked with the balloon company Transworld Safaris Kenya, at our hotel Serena Mara, and the lady confirmed she never received booking request nor any money from Savuka. I immediately called Joyce, but neither the office phone nor Joyce' s cellphone were answered. The driver and Serena hotel also called her, still no answer. I then sent Joyce an email, telling her to pay the balloon company ASAP, so that we might still have a chance to catch one on the morning of 9 Oct. No reply.

Without balloon trip on 8 Oct, we had to do another safari instead. Then the balloon company informed me that they still didn’t get anything from Savuka, no booking request, no money. And the balloon was again fully booked on 9 Oct, which means we could not have balloon trip on Masai Mara, for we should be leaving for Nairobe before lunch on that day.

We were really annoyed. What' s worse, nobody answered the phone at Savuka, nobody was taking the responsibility. On the evening of 8 Oct, I sent Joyce another email, telling her to prepare the $1840 USD in cash, so that she could refund us in time the next day. No reply.

On 9 Oct, we departed for Nairobe. The driver said he got contact with Joyce, and everything would be fine. We arrived in Nairobe at late afternoon, and Joyce met us at a gas station rather than at her office! She claimed she had paid Serena Mara for the balloon booking, and she couldn' t refund me that day because she didn’t have the money… She said she could only refund me later. (I was so confused, because the balloon company and Serena Mara said they didn' t get the money from Savuka)

We couldn' t accept this solution, and made her go to the bank together. But by the time we got there, the bank already closed. And we had to catch the plane back later at night. Thus we had no other choices. Joyce signed a promise to refund me by west union, and kept reassuring me she was not that stupid as to risk her company' s reputation. Indeed, 1840USD was not a huge sum compared with the total safari fee. I thought she would be that stupid.

After I got home, Joyce called me saying something went wrong with the west union, and she had to go to the bank to do the tt. I provided her my bank' s information immediately in a very careful and clear way, in case 'something would go wrong' again. The information was so clear that anybody who knows English wouldn' t make a mistake.

Well, Joyce made a mistake.

After 2 weeks, I still didn' t get the refund. So I contacted Joyce. With some difficulty, she replied, saying she was out on business, and would be back in Nairobe early Nov. and she was sure I could receive the money by then.

On 2 Nov. 2012, I received a transfer slip by email, which was send by some gmail user. According to Joyce, it was sent by her bank. The date of transfer was on the same day: 2 Nov. And the problem was this transfer was a mess -- nearly everything was wrong, incl. the bank' s name, swift code, branch information. Joyce said she took the intermediate bank for the receiving bank. Well, what she filled in was not even the intermediate bank.

(How could she operate the company, if she could not even fill in a correct form???)

I advised her to make a correction immediately at the bank, but she didn' t. She went to the bank next Monday, and then told me we could now just wait for the money return to her bank.

So we wait. Till the end of 2012.

After the new year holiday in 2013, after I made many phone calls and emails sent, Savuka replied that the money has returned to her bank, but she needed to sign a lot of papers to get it back.

On 4 Feb. 2013, again after I made many calls and sent inquiring emails, Joyce replied now she just needed a signature from some bank manager.

On 1 March, 2013, Joyce sent me an email saying now all papers signed, but she had to wait till 6 March to send me the confirmation/copy of transfer. The excuses she used included public holiday, presidential election, her falling ill... ...

On 14 March, Joyce sent me an email, saying all done, and I would receive the money in a week.

And then, there were other excuses, incl. public holiday, presidential election, flood, broken internet......

On the first week of April, Joyce asked me whether I received the money, for there' s a deduction of some money from her account. Of course, I received nothing, no refund, no copy of transfer.

On 16 April, after my many inquiries, Joyce replied, promising she would send me the scanned copy of transfer that day.

And today I am still waiting for that promised copy of transfer, with empty email inbox and empty account.

I am so tired of Savuka’s empty promises and many lies. It is truly not qualified to be enlisted in LP.

If you are going to Kenya for safari, you’d better choose other travel agency.

Nairobi, Kenya
Destination Expert
for Kenya
Level Contributor
3,041 posts
213 reviews
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2. Re: Savuka, not an option for Safari

How did you find Savuka? Have you seen if they are a member of KATO?

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3. Re: Savuka, not an option for Safari

We found Savuka on LP Guide book. It is among the recommendation list for several years. Unfortunately, however, this small company is not a member of KATO...

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4. Re: Savuka, not an option for Safari

This is a good update:

I reported this case to Kenya Tourism Bureau, and they provided professional and efficient support.

I received the refund from Savuka in early June.

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5. Re: Savuka, not an option for Safari

Ministry of Tourism, to put it precisely.

6. Re: Savuka, not an option for Safari

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