Our family trip to South Africa was memorable and overall proceeded very smoothly. Our agent, with this safari tour company was the first person to contact me in response to my Zicasso request. She provided helpful information regarding the need to book my flights early, as we were using frequent flyer miles to purchase our tickets. Further, she seemed knowledgeable about the flights domestically within South Africa, and was able to be schedule our itinerary around direct flights when possible. Her overall guidance was helpful. We arrived in Johannesburg on Sunday eve, June 1st, and spent the night at the City Hotel located in the OR Tambo airport, as we were flying out to Hoedspruit the next morning. I did much of my research regarding hotels on Trip Advisor, and I guided our agent in booking the majority of hotels for the trip. We stayed at Arathusa safari lodge and we all would highly recommend Arathusa. We had the best tracker and guide we could have ever asked for, and saw the Big 5 on our first safari outing! We were there for 3 days, and flew directly to Capetown on the 4th day, arriving late afternoon. We stayed at the Waterfront Village in a 2 bedroom apartment. We were initially taken to a building that is under renovation, and the floors were covered with canvas and there was also very strong paint fumes in the hallway. Once we entered the apartment, there was scaffolding on the balcony, blocking any view we might have had, and the paint fumes were truly headache causing. I informed the employee that this was unacceptable, and he must find us another apartment to stay in. Although we were given another apartment, without any apology for the inconvenience and wasted time of over an hour, we finally settled in after a long day of travel. The apartments are located near a large entertainment and shopping center, which came in handy for groceries, but it was a bit too touristy for me. Also, the Village is a "secure" facility, which can be a hassle, as one day our key cards stopped working and it was a blustery, rainy cold day. We had to walk to the security facility, after walking to the front desk! Further, the staff at the Village were not particularly helpful. Our telephone stopped working the last 2 days we were there, which became an issue at 5:30am the morning of our departure from Capetown, as the security gate would not let our driver in, as security was unable to reach us, due to our phone not working! Luckily, my husband used his mobile phone to contact our driver. We flew to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and stayed at Ilala Lodge. This lodge is quite nice and closely located to the Falls. The food was quite good, and I would recommend this lodge. Although it was built in the early 90’s, it has been well maintained. The only complaint here is that our room smelled strongly of either insecticide or moth balls. The smell was overwhelming upon entering our room. We spend 2 1/2 days in Victoria Falls, which was more than necessary. You only really need 1 day to see the Falls. There is not much else to see or do within the small town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. We then flew back to J-burg and toured the city for a day before departing for home.
This agency was overall good in the service they provided. Our agent did make all the arrangements and our guides were all adequate. The local rep of our safari tour company did check in on us periodically to make sure all was well, which was a nice touch. Upon arrival to The Village, our agent had arranged for us to receive a couple of gifts from a local artist. That was a pleasant surprise and much appreciated.
I am not sure I would recommend this company to my friends or use them in the future. In working with my agent, I felt like another number to her, and not much of a client. I felt like it was difficult to receive information and to have a two-way discussion with her regarding hotels etc.. I believe she is used to working with people who must simply say, this is what we want, now book it. I on the other hand, like to discuss all of my options and obtain all relevant information before making a decision. I found this difficult to do with our agent. Due to this lack of information, I would have done some things differently, had I received all the details I requested.
Since we have returned, I did e-mail my agent to thank her for her assistance, and was hoping to be asked about our experience, so I could tell her directly the issues that occurred during our trip.
I have yet to receive reply, after returning on June 16th. Apparently, once our trip is done, this company doesn't care how our experience was.
Arathusa Safari Lodge and having our tracker and guide, respectively. They were fabulous. Our guide's enthusiasm and love for the animals he follows is truly contagious and admirable.
We would have skipped the Shark Cage adventure. We were not informed that it was a 2 hour drive to and from the location. I feel we wasted an entire precious day doing this adventure. Also, all of the items that we thought we included in this adventure, did not come to fruition. We were sorely misinformed. The weather in Capetown is very unpredictable, and the day we chose to do the Shark Adventure was a lovely, sunny day. I wish we had spent that day at the Kirstenbach Gardens instead.
Travel Company's Comments
We are sorry that the Waterfront Village was undergoing construction and revamping at the time of our valued clients vacation. There is no excuse for this. Normally a hotel will let us know if there are major renovations going on when we have a traveler arriving. We have used this property many times before with great success due to their location and price structure. Upon their return I spoke to our client at length regarding the key card issue. Key cards are not foolproof. Safety is a primary issue and it is unfortunate that they got locked out in bad weather. There is also no excuse for the staff’s treatment to the travelers.We have addressed the situation with the hotel and management and apologies are extended that should have been extended at that time of the travelers stay. Our company has a Cape Town office and they were in touch with the travelers during their trip. I only wish that our clients voiced to the agent that they were unhappy with the Waterfront Village.Reading over the entire review, it seems that were very pleased with everything even the Shark Cage Dive.
Each review is written by a verified traveler who was matched by Zicasso to the reviewed agency. Traveler must have purchased and traveled.
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"Wonderful trip, good communication, very well planned with great facilities and guides."
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