In October 2019, I had booked a safari with two nights in the Serengeri from Travel Africa Safari Agency. As I mentioned in my other post, they ghosted me after I had privately booked accomodation in the Serengeti and paid Travel Africa Safari Agency a deposit. So I contacted another “tour operator” in Arusha that I’d found on safaribookings.com called African Wanderlust. They promised me that the day after I arrived, I’d be joining a safari of theirs that was spending one night by the Ngorongoro and two nights in the Serengeti. I then paid a 100 US$ deposit.
Upon arrival, they insisted on coming to my hotel late at night even though I said I’d rather meet the next day. He made up some sob story about how the tour was canceled because the other people were leaving Tanzania due to a death at home, which I initially believed, even though he got the dates for the safari wrong. He then tried to get me to go on another safari, which did not match my dates in the Serengeti at all.
I initially felt sorry for him, thinking he was going to lose out on costs paid, so I agreed to at least go on a Ngorongoro day safari with his company. We’d agreed that I’d pay by Western Union, but then he emailed and said he needed cash to pay for the park entry fee online. That didn’t make sense. He said we could go to an ATM together in the afternoon, but it got later and later, so I emailed to say I’d give the driver 100 US$ tomorrow for the entry fee. He then said No, came to my low-security hotel at 9:30 pm and drove me and my child to the “nearest ATM.” We passed by countless ATMs and after 20+ minutes later, in a secluded area, he stood outside while I had to get him cash. I felt like we’d been kidnapped and brought to an ATM. He actually wanted enough cash for two day trips, but luckily, the machine stopped after 350 US$.
The next day, we ended up on a day trip organized by another operator. So Robert at African Wanderlust was a middle man acting like a tour operator but actually just bringing tourists to a central operator. So he lied about having a tour matching our requirements and got us to come to Arusha before trying to push us onto another safari and making money as the middleman.
I never went on another tour with them, and of course, I never got my extra money back.