Ivy Beccu writes:
Beautiful vacation in Uganda, May/June 2012,
but NEVER again with Habari Travel (Gorilla Tours)!
I travelled many times in Africa. I stayed in simple and classy hotels but most of the time close to nature camping without any form of comfort.
I always wanted to meet chimpanzees and gorilla’s in their natural habitat.
After some research on the internet Uganda is the best place to go.
Different organisations in Uganda offer organized tours with the precious Gorilla Pass.
This is my – personal – story:
I was charmed by the nice looking Habari Travel (Gorilla Tours) web site:
Habari Travel offers 3 travel options: Camping, Mid Class hotel or Comfortable hotel.
This time I chose Mid Class hotels and booked it on the internet.
Only when a Gorilla Pass is available the travel is confirmed. The Pass costs 500 US$ and I was told that it is not refundable.
The very brief travel confirmation consisted of an Excel sheet with dates and accommodations. To my surprise different changes were in it compared to the program on the Habari Travel web site. The accommodation in Murchison is a tent, not staying in Bwindi, …
I sent an e-mail to Habari Travel (on 2 May) and the answer was that indeed there were tents with a bed inside, without a mosquito net but that a towel will be provided… Cancellation of the travel was impossible now due to the – costly – Gorilla Pass.
And so on site at Murchison the bathrooms and showers were also common to everybody. (a true camping)
While travelling we were informed that the accommodation in Lake Mburo is not available. Habari proposed to setup tents or tents with a bed. All “hotel” travellers complained in their own way. Habari Travel did finally, after some pressure, organize a mid class lodge as an alternative.
Back in Entebbe the Habari Travel (Gorilla Tours) management wanted an – individual – conversation with the travellers. The European management was not pleased that I did not want to discuss with them anymore, what happened has happened and I don’t seek any financial compensation or accept a weak excuse. Also I didn’t want a consensus with the other travellers about this. Habari Travel had the obligation to fulfil the contract with me or they should have informed me correctly prior to departure! With the correct information I had for sure opted for the Camping option! (200 € cheaper)
With this message I want to warn future Uganda travellers about possible wrong practices of Habari Travel (Gorilla Tours).
The Habari Travel definition for Mid Class hotels is in strong contrast with the latest Bradt guide of Uganda (edition July 2011) on pages 113, 114 and 115 : “moderate accommodation”.
Different Gorilla Tracking Permits had wrong names or Country of Residence mentioned. This was totally not important since, Gorilla Tracking Permits (for Bwindi) are transferable! The 500 US$ should always be refunded in case of a cancellation. On site the passport information is registered for a Gorilla Tracking Certificate.
With this knowledge I will NEVER choose an Habari Travel (Gorilla Tours) arrangement anymore.
There are plenty of other travel organization that, I hope do provide honest service as described in a well documented travel contract.
Uganda is a beautiful travel destination with pure nature, landscapes, wildlife, gorilla’s, chimpanzees, … but also: local guides, drivers, restaurant and hotel – personnel that is very kind and foremost do their extreme best to offer the best service!