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Imagine Africa: disappointing best travel company

NEW YORK NY
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Imagine Africa: disappointing best travel company

Booking our African Safari with Imagine Africa started out wonderfully. Matt was responsive and seemed knowledgeable. However, once he had our $ he turned things over to Suzi, an assistant who, while also nice, was not nearly as knowledgeable. As the trip progressed we discovered that we had made an error in trusting their judgment and advice:

1) having been told to "bring layers" because African can be cold at night we were not prepared to be lodged exclusively in places (eg Desert Rhino Camp; Kulala Desert Lodge) with absolutely no heat or insulation where the indoor temperature was often literally freezing (32F): the water in our glass froze overnight. Hot water bottles in beds was great but getting out of them, eating in unheated spaces, etc., was not. Because the daytime temperature remained in the 50's most days, we never warmed up. Appropriate forewarning would have resulted in our opting for other lodging.

2) After 5 days of freezing (no camp had heat of any kind), we requested a change of hotel from Imagine Africa for our last night in Windhoek (from the freezing hotel we had stayed on our first night in Namibia) to a hotel with central heating. Although we requested this nearly a week ahead of time we were told that we could have to pay for a 2nd reservation--that no credit would be given for the canceled hotel. This despite the fact that the only reason we changed the reservation was because the hotel was too cold. We were told, in essence "too bad, we already paid". So having shelled out over $18,000 for a 9 day trip the agent couldn't manage to absorb a $218 charge. Unacceptable.

3) Prior to leaving the States I phoned the agent twice to inquire about whether it would be possible for me to run at any of the camps, indicating that I wanted to bring my running clothes if it were. I was told that they would check and get back to me. They "checked" and told me that it was not safe to run at any the camps because of the animals. Seemed reasonable so I left my running stuff home. However when I arrived I discovered that at only one of the 4 camps we visited (Hoanib--not Kulala Desert Lodge, Desert Rhino, or Serra Cafema) was this an issue. Clearly they did not check with the camps directly. Since I had made two attempts to check this out, this seems like a real failure to follow through on their part.

4) Finally, the camps themselves were not adequately described to us. Some (Hoanib & Serra Cafema) were great (Hoanib) and good (Serra Cafema). Kulala desert Lodge was awful--from food to organization. Desert Rhino had the loveliest people ever but the camp is really not set up for comfortable living in winter and we should have been so informed. We came away feeling ripped off and not well cared for.

Overall the take away is: Don't trust Imagine Africa to follow through or respond to your needs. Poor customer service and much disappointment on our end.

california
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295 posts
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1. Re: Imagine Africa: disappointing best travel company

Thanks for the report. I understand your need for knowledge from your tour operator and the problems it causes when you don't get it. I was in Wilderness Camps in Botswana back in 2010 during a cold snap and I really FEEL your pain. We were warned though and still not prepared for ice cold morning game drives. The animals stayed in bed and I wish I had too. I slept fully clothed and waited for the last minute to jump out of bed. Then I nearly burned up my shoes trying to get closer to the fire. If you're like me, I'd rather stay home.

2. Re: Imagine Africa: disappointing best travel company

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NEW YORK NY
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3. Re: Imagine Africa: disappointing best travel company

Absolutely. At those prices, both the travel agent (in our case, Imagine Africa) and the lodge owner (Wilderness) should have alerted guests to the conditions they might encounter. It sounds like you had a similar experience with Wilderness in Botswana. Good friends who used other companies for winter safaris in South Africa and elsewhere have told me that their camps were heated (and the food delicious); they shared none of our pain.

Leigh-on Sea...
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4. Re: Imagine Africa: disappointing best travel company

How dreadful that you were treated so badly after such a large expense. No excuse for poor advice. Which month were you there as we thinking of going next year and would like to avoid such cold experiences. Such a shame for you.

NEW YORK NY
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5. Re: Imagine Africa: disappointing best travel company

August. We were warned to bring layers. Layers don't do it when interiors are unheated and the walls thin or canvas. So consider booking in fall or spring or alternatively look for camps with heat. Of course, you could be lucky with the weather, but it's an expensive chance to take. And no, I would not recommend Imagine Africa. Have never had an experience with a travel agency like this before. Poor customer service--not what one would expect on such an expensive trip

Leigh-on Sea...
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6. Re: Imagine Africa: disappointing best travel company

You must be so angry and disappointed as should have been a fab trip. Really appreciate you posting to warn others. Not much comfort to you. Where's next trip? Am hesitating now about Namibia due to Ebola.bit off topic!

Leigh-on Sea...
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7. Re: Imagine Africa: disappointing best travel company

You must be so angry and disappointed as should have been a fab trip. Really appreciate you posting to warn others. Not much comfort to you. Where's next trip? Am hesitating now about Namibia due to Ebola. Am a bit off topic!

NEW YORK NY
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8. Re: Imagine Africa: disappointing best travel company

At least when we were there Ebola seemed like a distant threat. Yes, angry and disappointed to say the least.

I would definitely do Cape Town and explore safaris in SA; the infrastructure is probably much better. But if you can, do see the dunes in Namibia; they are extraordinary.

Manchester, United...
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9. Re: Imagine Africa: disappointing best travel company

Ebola in Namiibia?. Have I missed something. It's 1000s of miles from outbreak

Hermanus, South...
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for Namibia
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10. Re: Imagine Africa: disappointing best travel company

You haven't missed anything John.

Namibia is 1000 ' s miles from the outbreak.

Namibia is one of the least populated countries on the planet.

Namibia is one of the driest places on earth.

There is no need to be avoiding Southern Africa in general, but Namibia just doesn't present a suitable environment for the spread of this type of virus in any case.