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TOO much choice!! africa overland!!

holland
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23 posts
8 reviews
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TOO much choice!! africa overland!!

Wow spent the whole day searching overland tours for africa!! How does one make the right choice from thousands of companies?? Important to pick the right one, makes or breaks a trip!! I really want a safe, young, fun tour that is'nt your typical money hungry tourist trap!! Abit off the beaten track with happy positive peoples for company!!?? Acacia africa? wagontrails? geckos? africa travel company? Anyone DO'S OR DONT'S? Need to book asap leave 26/05/06....If any one needs advice on malaysia borneo tours ect I can share Some serious do's and dont's!! Mainly do's though!! Thanks

Boston...
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851 posts
17 reviews
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1. Re: TOO much choice!! africa overland!!

Hi again, Mel in Holland,

For overland, I'd recommend Umkulu. They do a variety of lengths and itineraries; I did the 21-Day Cape Town to Vic Falls which goes through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and ended up in VF, Zimbabwe. It was fabulous. There were 22 of us plus 2 guides comprising 13 nationalities--all Europeans except for me and 2 New Zealanders; most people were in their 20s and it was definitely a fun group. Our guide was fantastic, kept things together but always maintained a sense of humor. Had the time of my life, and found a lifelong friend in my tentmate!

--Majnuni

Perth
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20 posts
3 reviews
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2. Re: TOO much choice!! africa overland!!

Theft of clients money & Drug smuggling by Acacia Overland Tour Company Africa

To ANYONE going to Africa & considering doing an over land tour, PLEASE read the following before booking with Acacia.

I initially recommended this company & WISH I could now delete these posts after having completed a tour with them. I had the WORST time possible on an overland tour & given the other companies we ran into on the way feel completely ripped off.

Below is a letter written in collaboration with the entire group (22 people) who were on our Acacia tour. I implore you to NEVER use Acacia!!!

Since this letter was written & Willie Louw the operations manager (although god only knows what he operates, a drug smuggling ring I suspect) PROMISED a satisfactory outcome stating verbally to our faces that Acacia would come to the party & compensate us. This was a brush off & blatant lie! We have just received a letter telling us in no uncertain terms (although very nicely worded)to go away & Acacia will do nothing!

After this letter was written we discovered that our tour leader had FAKED his own mugging & STOLEN our local payment money, approx $4000 USD.

Please read below & feel free to contact me to verify ANY of the deatils...

Sorry if the cut & paste messes up the formating a bit but you get the idea.

By fax: +27215575983

For the attention of: Willie Louw

Operations Manager

Acacia Adventure Tours

Acacia Tour Group: Kenya to Uganda Gorilla Trek

Nairobi to Cape Town

Johannesburg to Cape Town

Livingstone to Cape Town

Date: 2 January 2008

Number of passengers: 22

Dear Sir,

We, the participants of the above tour, would like to bring to your attention a dissatisfaction in general with the standard of tour provided by your company. Many of us took a lot of time to research this trip as for most of us, it is in fact the trip of a lifetime. Your company came highly recommended for its high standards of equipment, safety and guiding. Unfortunately, we have not personally witnessed this level of service and many of us feel that we have not received what you have been contractually obliged to provide.

A number of incidents have occurred since joining the trip which have been taken on the whole in good spirits by the participants as we have accepted that travelling in Africa incurs a number of difficulties. However, as a result of the incident today, which we understand that you are now fully aware of concerning Zac, we thought that we should bring to your attention the problems we have incurred:

1.

Marijuana on truck

*

Since joining the truck, the participants have travelled over several borders with no knowledge that drugs were being concealed on board the vehicle. We have since learned that the concealment has taken place over a period of several weeks starting from 10 November 2007.

*

It appears that the drugs have been purchased in pre-sealed wooden containers that have the appearance of African ornaments (stored in the storage compartment under the main body of the vehicle).

*

Zac had admitted to at least two participants that he had conveyed at least 6kg of cannabis in this way and that it was his intention to supply the drugs to others prior to crossing the South African border. This was not general information known to the vast majority of participants on the tour.

*

Having discovered that drugs were being transported on New Year’s Day, the participants undertook a search of the vehicle and found two sealed containers as described above (weighing approximately 1kg each). These were found in brown paper in the middle of the storage compartment and were easily found.

A further container which had been opened and contained approximately half a container of compressed cannabis plus cannabis taken paraphernalia were found behind the passenger seat behind the cab.

*

One of the participants admitted that they had witnessed Zac supplying one of the containers to another Acacia tour guide during our trip to Maun. Another participant then admitted that they had witnessed a supply to a mokorro poler.

*

Obviously, the ramifications for the participants being caught in possession of these drugs at a border crossing could have been disastrous. Many of the participants work in industries where even an arrest for drugs could lead to their dismissal from their profession. Fortunately, the cannabis was not found at any of the border crossings.

2.

Zac

*

On the trip from Nairobi and Uganda, participants complained that the accommodation used by Zac was not approved Acacia accommodation. They complained that it was sub-standard.

*

Zac did not follow the protocols for handling participants money:

1.

did not have participants present when making purchases, resupplying or changing currency

2.

at the end of each trip, Zac did not reconcile the books or show any receipts for any of the participants money that was spent on the trip

3.

furthermore, there were no refunds at the conclusion of each leg of the trip implying that the money was exactly right

4.

Zac on occasion borrowed money from participants and failed to repay it (see list attached 1)

5.

Zac failed to refund participants for trips that were missed or not taken part in (see list attached 2)

*

At Livingstone, Zac contracted malaria and was subsequently unable to perform his tasks as a tour guide for four days. The result of this was that the participants had to organize themselves into a roster and at least two days around Chobe, he was not present.

*

The pre-departure meeting was a day late.

*

On the day we were to swap trucks at Livingstone, Zac’s truck had failed to clear its lockers and hand over in time for the new participants joining. This caused the new participants to be forced to leave their equipment and personal items unsecured on the seats or walkways of the truck as no lockers were available.

*

Whilst in Etosha National Park, we were having lunch at one of the camp-sites when the group was joined by Zac’s girlfriend, Tina. There had been no pre-warning of her joining the group and without any agreement from the participants, she joined our trip. Later that evening, Zac informed us that Tina and he would pay their own way and that no increased expenses would be incurred by the participants.

*

Since Tina joined the trip, Zac had become even more distracted and subsequently no direction was given. Zac distanced himself from the group and spent much of his time with his girlfriend.

*

The Nairobi participants described an incident where Zac was pursuing one of the female participants of their tour whilst at one of the national parks. As a result, he stayed in that participant’s vehicle and failed to guide or explain any information to other participants who were situated on a separate vehicle. This went on throughout the day and he refused to swap vehicles. Once that leg of the trip had concluded, Zac had a relationship with that participant on Zanzibar.

*

Zac failed to prepare a roster for the group for the first eight days after the Livingstone exchange which meant that once again, the group lacked direction.

*

On the whole, the food has been good. However, over the last five days there has been a notable deterioration in the quality of the food provided. The last few meals have consisted of pasta and minced meat and there has been little variety of food for breakfast. To give an example, some of the participants requested yoghurt to go with their cereal and we were informed by Zac that it was just too expensive.

3.

Equipment

*

Many of the participants found that the general equipment and the vehicle itself was substandard and not fit for purpose.

*

Here is a list of the general faults found:

1.

the tents were not waterproof, many of the fly sheets had rips and all of the ground sheets had temporary patch repairs that did not keep out the water. On occasion, some of the participants were forced to sleep either in the truck or move their tents under shelter. Many of the tent poles were broken and generally the tents were in very poor condition.

2.

the fridge often failed to function and was erratic in its temperature control. At least two of the participants were reliant on a constant cooling temperature to preserve their diabetic medication.

3.

the poor fridge operation also resulted in wasted produce as meat and other dairy goods would go off in the heat. This obviously affected the operation of the budget.

4.

there was no intercom between the cab and the truck body, there was no microphone.

5.

at least two of the speakers for the iPod were not working.

6.

the inverter for the recharging of batteries rarely worked and since leaving Livingstone, has not worked. This has resulted in inconvenience to the participants who have been unable to charge their camera batteries on several occasions.

7.

the internal lights on the vehicle failed to work meaning everything had to be done by torchlight after sundown. Only one external light worked which again meant cooking and food preparation were done by torchlight.

8.

the key for the safe at the rear of the vehicle was lost by Zac in Livingstone which resulted in the safe being forced open. Since then the safe has only been operated on one padlock which offers no more security than a normal locker.

We are confident that at this incredibly stressful time in Kenya, that you have better things to do than listen to dissatisfied customers travelling down through South West Africa. However, it has come to the point now that most of the participants no longer wish to travel with Acacia through fear of inadvertently transporting drugs over the borders.

We have been assured by Beth and Greg from Ground Rush Adventures, that they have spoken to you and that you are providing Andre’s guide services and Julius’s driving services to take us the rest of the way. We also understand that you are replenishing the kitty in order that we will be able to eat and have accommodation to our final destination after the kitty had disappeared with Zac.

We hope that you will consider all of the points we have made above and understand why we have been so dissatisfied with the tour so far. We trust that you will do everything in your power to make the rest of our trip a success and that you will consider some form of compensation for our distress when we arrive in Cape Town.

We also understand that you are willing to meet us on our arrival in Cape Town on the

6 January 2008 and we look forward to discussing this matter further with you at that stage.

Yours faithfully,

Acacia Overland Participants

3. Re: TOO much choice!! africa overland!!

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