Spending time in the South African Bushveld was easily one of the most enjoyable vacations I've ever taken. I can't speak highly enough of the staff at Dulini River Lodge, their love for nature, and how well they took care of my wife and me during our stay.
That said, it's important to separate out the performance of the tour company from the experience of the travel destination. On a number of fronts, our tour company fell very flat.
Ahead of the trip, we agreed with our agent that I would book our international flights in and out of the country, while our tour company would book the domestic flights. We discussed this over the phone and again in writing via email. Imagine my surprise, then, when we were contacted by the tour company in the weeks before departure asking for the details of the un-booked domestic flights!
During the trip, most of the arrangements were good. One of our drivers seems to have had poor directions and added an hour to an airport to hotel transfer, but the hotel staff kindly kept the kitchen running long enough for us to still get dinner. On another occasion, incorrect information was passed from the tour company to the local guide, causing us to miss a pre-scheduled lunch reservation; I'm still not sure what's happened to the deposit we placed on that.
After the trip, we had a credit card fraud question come up. This led us to discover that we were given incorrect flight confirmation numbers. Ultimately, I was told a fraudulent transaction was likely fine.
Most of the trip was great; our South African hosts were wonderful. However, any agency could've provided a similar experience. The areas where I trust a travel agency to perform well, the logistics and arrangements and management of issues, showed this company to fall below the level of quality I expect.
The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is fantastic. We saw more wildlife than we hoped for, including a lucky encounter with a pack of African wild dogs (with pups!). Everyone at the Dulini River Lodge was fantastic beyond description. The meals were top notch. Our ranger and tracker were engaging, knowledgeable, and skilled. The staff are willing to bend over backwards to meet any request.
If we could do anything differently, we'd try to spend even more time in the Bushveld. Four days in Cape Town provided a full experience, but extra days would've filled up. The few days we spent near the Drakensberg mountains were nice, but that'd be a nicer destination in slightly warmer months; for a trip in August or September like ours, I'd recommend spending time elsewhere instead.
TRAVEL COMPANY COMMENTS:
Thank you very much for your feedback. We take every comment seriously and look into every issue that did not sit well with our travelers. I would like to provide comments on the points you addressed in your review.
Domestic Air Tickets - It is important that we have the proper coordination of flights and land services. For this reason, we always prefer to have our associates book domestic flights. We had originally given you a quote for all the internal flights but you said you wanted to check it out on your own. We hadn’t heard from you, so called you to check what you still needed from us. We were holding all the internal flights at that time but did not ticket as we were waiting for the go ahead from you. This was the reason for our call in June. After talking to you, we immediately ticketed the outstanding flights. There was plenty of time to ticket because you were not leaving until the end of August.
Reservation – As a courtesy, we booked a dinner reservation for you. The restaurant then sent you a confirmation with date and time, and asked for a deposit which you paid directly to them. The guide that was with you for the day tour was not booked to take you to the restaurant or be with you until the evening reservation. This is why the guide didn’t know about your reservation. A transfer to the restaurant was not included in your itinerary. We are very sorry that you missed your dinner reservation.
Ticket Numbers and Fraudulent Charges - When air tickets are issued they are issued by the airline. There are several different numbers that you may see such as certain coding. The agency does not actually put in the numbers you see on your credit card. This is done totally by the airline and their credit card process server. The tickets you were issued had all the right numbers on it as given by the airline and by the ticket agency.
I am glad you enjoyed the trip that was planned by our Senior Africa Consultant and hope the most memorable parts of your trip are the ones that you will cherish for years to come.
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