Written on: August 24, 2016
I visited in July 2016
I participated in a 12-day Tanzania and Kenya Safari with Ewamanns Safaris (US$1250) with the Tanzania part operated by its partner Sandland Tours & Safaris. The trip was extremely memorable not because it was greatly arranged but because we witnessed how the Director of Ewamanns Safaris, Erick Muli Ngala, could make so many lies, excuses, blackmail, threats and intimidation during the trip, which were even more exciting, hilarious and eye-opening than watching animal migration. If you scroll down, you would see that I previously gave Ewamanns Safaris a five-star review for the booking process because Erick seemed to try his very best to satisfy our budget and understand our preference. Everything, including his attitude changed after payment immediately. I am here to summarise how Erick has mistreated us during the 12 days. It is a very long list but I am trying my very best to provide as many details as possible.
(1) A few days before we depart for Nairobi we confirmed with Erick on our arrival details, including flight number and terminal. Erick said that he did not know his schedule yet as he might be in Arusha instead of Nairobi on our arrival date but he would notify me the pickup details one day before our arrival. We did not receive any updates from him so we emailed him again. He assured us that he would arrange the pickup accordingly. When we arrived Nairobi airport, no one picked us up. I had to buy a phone card to call but Erick’s phone was off. Finally we were picked up 3 hours later, that means we stood in the arrival area of Nairobi Airport for 3 hours! Some drivers of other companies were kind enough to help us make calls or find someone who might know Erick but no one knew him. Even more hilarious, we have missed the shuttle from Nairobi to Arusha and they sent a car to drive us to chase the original shuttle. We were very scared, worried and frightened during the wait and the whole ride. Erick told us he could not answer our call because his phone had no battery due to power shortage. Even if this was true, he could have used other’s phone to contact us. This was his responsibility! I have also confirmed with other drivers that no such power shortage problem has occurred. Erick then said that he has indeed messaged my friend who was already in Nairobi that I should wait in the airport for 3 hours, thinking that my friend would have notified me about the wait. How could my friend notify me when I was already on the plane?
(2) When we arrived Arusha we finally saw Erick. We were forced to change from 2 days in Serengeti to 1 day in Lake Manyara and 1 day in Serengeti. Clearly this was for saving costs. We wanted to insist on doing 2 days in Serengeti but Erick said there were no other options. Why could Erick suddenly change something that we have mutually agreed?
(3) Be careful that every itinerary Erick sends to you can be misrepresentation. Our itinerary clearly stated that there would be one evening plus one morning game drive in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and visit to Olduvai Gorge Museum. We did not do any of these and was already back to the campsite at 3pm, with nothing to do till 8pm for dinner. We complained to Sandland Tours and they said it was Erick’s problem in not updating the itinerary. We complained to Erick and Erick said it was Sandland’s fault as Tanzania’s people always lie. He said that he has changed operators in Tanzania for 3 times already and none was good. He said he would not cooperate with Sandland Tours anymore.
(4) On the day when we should depart from Arusha back to Kenya side, Erick told us that we would be picked up at 7:00-7:30am. We were finally picked up at 10:30am by a taxi to Sandland’s office, then were transferred by a taxi to a local bus station, then were sent onto an overloading cramped van heading for the border. Sandland said it was Erick’ fault and Erick said that Sandland has forgotten to pick us up. During the wait, we were very worried as we could not contact Erick. Fortunately, the staff at Zawadi House Lodge in Arusha were kind enough to make calls for us. After we passed through immigration on our own, we again did not see Erick and the driver. A driver from another safari company was kind enough to call Erick for us and Erick said he should arrive in 30 minutes. He again blamed the shuttle for not contacting him about our arrival time. We finally waited for another 2 hours. He stretched his arms, laughed and pretended he was innocent when we met. Later on, we heard from Paul the driver that he has indeed arrived at the office in the early morning ready to drive to the border to pick us up but it was Erick who delayed everything in the office. Moreover, Paul told us that when we called Erick it was impossible to arrive in 30 minutes and Erick lied.
(5) Erick told us that it would take at least 13 hours to drive from Namanga border to Amboseli National Park when it should indeed take only 2 hours at most. He lied to us that the roads there were bad. We asked the driver of another company and he told us that the road has always been good for that part and Erick was just trying to save a day of park entrance and game drive fee.
(6) This is the highlight: on the last day a dinner at Carnivore Restaurant should be included. Erick said, “We need to make new agreement. We cannot include Carnivore Restaurant and your airport transfer tomorrow because I have no money left. All my money is finished. So what do you want to do? You want to sell me? You can write me bad reviews but I have no money. It is time for you to help me as I have helped you guys enough.” Finally we bargained and got the Carnivore dinner as originally agreed, but we reluctantly had to pay our transportation to the airport.
(7) There are many other problems that I cannot even list them all here - we paid for 5 day park entrance fee but we only went into the parks for 4 days so he saved 1 day park fee (US$80) for himself; for the full-day game drive in Masai Mara, we finished at 3:30pm with nothing to do afterwards; Erick did not pay drivers for sufficient water and we had no water on the last day; etc.
Yes, it is clear that Ewamanns Safaris offers the cheapest price. For US$1250 only, I got exposed to not only animals, but the dark side of human nature.
If you still want an adventure with Ewamanns Safaris, be prepared:
(i) Nothing will be on time;
(ii) Don’t care about contractual agreements;
(iii) You would not understand Erick’s English in email;
(iv) You don’t need a watch. Your concept of time and Erick’s concept of time should be very different.
I would like to recommend this company for doing all kind of adventure in Africa. Their service is very good, kindly staff, and best price also, thank you to make me happy and give me so amazing experiences.
Wish you all the best ewamanns safari