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Basecamp Review - Good but not without issues

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Philadelphia...
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Basecamp Review - Good but not without issues

My wife and I travelled with Basecamp around New Years and enjoyed our safari immensely. The game viewing was great, although Achmed dropped the ball a little at the end of our trip (I’ll explain at the end). Our guide was Johnathan and we thought he was awesome. He had a great sense of humor, he was easy to get along with and knowledgeable. By the end of our trip we really felt like we had made a great friend and we look forward to keeping in touch with Johnathan.

We travelled from Mwanza to Arusha and on our first day toured through the western Serengeti on our way to Seronera. We had plenty of time for game viewing and saw a lion, three leopards and tons of other various animals. The game viewing the following days was also fantastic with plenty more lions, leopards, hippos, etc. We stayed at Serengeti Wilderness Camp for three nights. The camp is fun, allowing you to really feel close to animals. We enjoyed being awoken by a giraffe chewing loudly on our front porch one night. After the Serengeti we headed out to Ngorongoro and stayed at the crater Sopa Lodge. This lodge probably had the best view of anywhere we ever stayed in our lives. It would have been a nice place to spend an extra night and just relax, enjoying the incredible setting. We were looking especially for rhinos and cheetah in the crater and Johnathan found them within a half hour. We saw four rhinos and had a relatively close up view. The following day, we headed out, touring Tarangire and stayed at Ilboru Safari Lodge in Arusha.

There were a few issues that were minimal and did not affect our enjoyment experience too much and one that was more serious. One minimal issue was that our driver was missing for our pickup when we arrived from the Bukoba->Mwanza ferry. This really concerned my wif,e but this was easily resolved by sending an SMS to Achmed and our driver then called us to tell us he was coming. He was stuck in traffic and had originally gone to the airport to pick us up there instead of the ferry terminal. I would recommend getting Achmed’s phone number so you can resolve any unexpected hiccups.

Another issue was a dietary one. My wife mostly eats vegetarian, although she will eat chicken. We made this clear, but Serengeti Wilderness Camp served a set meal each night that included beef or pork as the main course. With that, my wife was basically just offered extra portions of carrots or whatever side dishes they had for the meat. They also messed up on her lunchbox one day, giving her a piece of beef, when vegetarian was requested. Usually there were plenty of other items in the lunchbox to be sufficient, however. No big deal.

The last issue was the biggest and concerned our travel out of town to Dar es Salaam. During our planning we informed Basecamp that we would be ending our safari by traveling to Dar es Salaam by bus and needed tickets on the best bus line possible. We arranged that we would pick them up from Basecamp and pay for the tickets on arrival in Arusha. Bus travel in Tanzania is always pretty dangerous because of road accidents and comes in varying degrees of uncomfortable. We were relying on Basecamp to secure tickets on a reasonably safe and comfortable bus. Unfortunately on the last day of our safari, we asked Johnathan about our bus tickets and he didn’t know we needed them. We found out that no one ever got us tickets and we would need to book them ourselves in town. Johnathan took us to the bus booking offices so we could get tickets. All of the well-known bus lines had no tickets available, and we went from office to office trying to find tickets. We needed to get to Dar the next day and were wondering if we were going to have to start looking for plane tickets, which would probably also be sold out on such short notice. In the last booking office, some shady guy in the corner said some things to Johnathan and it turned out he had two seats he could sell us. They didn’t know the bus company and would not have used it ordinarily because they couldn’t confirm it was of a safe standard. In the end we spent almost an hour running around trying to get tickets and ended up using a bus line that wasn’t known to be safe or reliable. I don’t know what we would have done if Johnathan didn’t find the tickets, but we are really grateful for him working hard and getting something.

None of these issues spoiled our trip, although it would’ve been a tough pill to swallow if we weren’t able to get bus tickets to reach Dar on the following day. When we met with Achmed on our final night and told him that we weren’t really happy about the bus ticket issue, he said, “You should have reminded me.” We didn’t push the issue, but when you are paying thousands of dollars to someone, you expect them to take care of what you ask for without needing to be reminded. Perhaps we could of avoided it by reminding him, but should we really have needed to?

In the end, we loved our safari. In Africa things often don’t go exactly as planned, so keep a positive attitude and enjoy the experience. We look forward to visiting again. We may consider using Basecamp in the future as well.

Edited: 3:35 pm, January 07, 2013
State College, Pa
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1. Re: Basecamp Review - Good but not without issues

Wow!

While you did not have opportunity to have a greet and meet with tour company rep before the safair (as you were picked up and inroute immediately) so everything could have been reviewed, did you have a paper itinerary provided you as part of the payment process? In asking that I am in no way suggesting you were at "fault" for failing to remind him. Rather I am encouraging other safari goers to check the paperwork for errors. On our last trip I wondered why the company rep did not meet us at Nairobi airport on time (couple hours late) 'til I realized I had not updated the company as to revised arrival time of our flight (and I knew it several days before we left stateside). As it turned out our guide was there early for the time they thought we were arriving. Egg on my face!

San Francisco...
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2. Re: Basecamp Review - Good but not without issues

Thanks for the review. Did you meet with Achmed before the safari as well? I agree that you shouldn't have to ask about the bus tickets, but it's good for others to know that they might want to double check details at the beginning of the safari. Certainly for any tickets, I'd want to see them before I started out on the safari. It's good that your guide was there to help you through that. Not as an excuse for Achmed, but I can imagine that all of the trip plans must start to run together in his head and anything a bit out of the norm can be forgotten. (Again, not an excuse for him but good to know for anyone going on a safari.)

I'm also vegetarian and stayed at Serengeti Wilderness Camp so I know what you mean about the sides - I got mostly green beans and carrots for the three nights that we were there - and some ugali when our guide requested it. But that was my favorite place to stay because of the animal sounds at night.

You were lucky with the rhinos. Any photos you can share? :-)

Philadelphia...
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3. Re: Basecamp Review - Good but not without issues

Our safari was not the ordinary route starting in Arusha so it didn't allow us to meet with the operator before we got going. However, it's not unheard of to start in the western Serengeti. Many people start there after visiting the gorillas in Uganda/Rwanda or for other reasons.

I admit we could have re-confirmed some of the specifics about our needs right before our trip. An extra email is probably all it would've taken to make the trip problem free. We had just read so many nearly flawless reviews about Basecamp I took it for granted they would remember everything. In the end it's a good reminder to future travelers.

We don't have our pictures sorted out just yet...hopefully soon.

Bristol
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4. Re: Basecamp Review - Good but not without issues

Thanks for the report.

You are right that if this had all been agreed with Basecamp then you "shouldn't" have had to remind them. This is what you had paid for. However things do go wrong and everyone can make a mistake so it's probably best to always check on the important parts of the trip prior to departure.

I'm glad it all worked out in the end and you had a good trip.

melbourne
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for Tanzania
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5. Re: Basecamp Review - Good but not without issues

wastedwords

Liked the trip report. My only comment would be things do go wrong on safari and tourists should realise nobody is perfect.

Your route of starting in the West is becoming more common these days-I like that kind of trip.

California
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6. Re: Basecamp Review - Good but not without issues

Sounds like a good trip with a speed bump! Good to hear you enjoyed your safari... sounds like you saw quite a few leopards.

Looking forward to the pics!

Arusha Tanzania
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for Tanzania
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7. Re: Basecamp Review - Good but not without issues

Hi All

Sorry too say all true, driver did go to the wrong pick up :-(

The camp messed up, i have it in writing we booked vegetarian - no beef

My seretary did not buy the tickets, we were ready to book and pay for a flight but the driver managed to solve the problem.

What can i say minor but frustrating errors that should not have happened

We are very sorry

Nashville, Tennessee
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8. Re: Basecamp Review - Good but not without issues

Thanks for the post achnab. Always refreshing to see when an operator admits the issues instead of trying to blame the tourist or some "uncontrollable" error. We all know errors occur. As posted, minior issues that were worked through. I respect the fact that you took blame and I think others will as well.

Also, I appreciate the well balanced review by wasted words. This is a very helpful review rather than "everything was perfect!" or "we saw everything we wanted to see!" This type of review and responses really help people see what to expect and a realistic trip. As noexpert says, "things do go wrong on safari and tourist should realise nobody is perfect."

Good job of rolling with the punches. If others could do the same, many safaris could be salvaged and reports would be better balanced.

Thanks for posting

Ottawa, Canada
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9. Re: Basecamp Review - Good but not without issues

And this is why I am happy I chose Basecamp for my upcoming Safari.

Mistakes dont define a company (or person) but how they react to them does.

And besides, my life rarely goes completely as planned. Why would my vacation be any different! :-)

Appleton, WI
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10. Re: Basecamp Review - Good but not without issues

I totally agree with your Trekrlee. We are in the process of booking with Achmed and one reason why is the vast positive reviews on TA but also his accountability and quickly resolving issues if/when they occur which is what made it an easy choice for us. While we are months (mid 2014) from our trip, we are excited to have selected Basecamp and work with Achmed.

I appreciated wastedwords very balanced review as not everything in life is sunny side up but as Stephen H put it being able to roll with it is a lesson we can all learn and benefit from. Being a recovering impatient "Type A" American myself is a good reminder that you can plan all you want and research the heck out of a trip but in the end it's just life and $hit happens.