HOW WE OPERATE & WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
This might not be the most exciting article on our website, but we find it important to explain how we operate as a tour business, what our priorities are and in which aspects we might be different from others. We hope this will help you understand how these things might affect your trip, what you can expect from us and what we need from you in return, and help you decide whether or not we’re the best pick for you. Trips in Tanzania aren’t cheap, a safari or Kilimanjaro climb is supposed to be an adventure of a lifetime and how you’ll look back at your trip later on is also determined by the overall connection with your tour operator, so we think it’s super important that you find one that’s a good match for you.
So let us tell you a little bit more about our core values and how we work…
LOCALLY REGISTERED BUSINESS
We are officially a Tanzanian company, fully and exclusively registered in Tanzania, with a combination of a Tanzanian and a foreign owner/director. This means we pay all our taxes and licenses in Tanzania and we’re subjected to Tanzanian laws and regulations, which might be different from the ones in your own home country.
The benefit of us being only registered in Tanzania and exclusively operating from Tanzania is that we don’t spend high amounts on foreign registrations or salaries and that we don’t work with any local middlemen to organize your safari. We are your only contact. This means that we can keep our prices lower than most foreign agents, every cent you pay for your trip stays in Tanzania and you’ll get exactly the same trip for much less money.
ONLY LEGAL OPERATIONS
We chose to work according to the law and to do things properly. This means that we are not only fully registered, but also that we pay all our taxes and licenses.
Specifically, this means the following, amongst other things:
- We pay for our own licenses. Our registration as a tour business gives us the right to sell tours, but on top of that we need to buy yearly licenses that give us the right to also organize them. They can cost several thousands of dollars per year and there’s quite some tour operators that sell tours without them, by paying a small fee to use another company’s license. This is illegal and it means that your main contact officially doesn’t have the right to organize your trip. Of course, you will usually not even be made aware of this and if all goes well, you might not notice any difference. But in case something goes wrong, you’ll usually have a very hard time finding someone responsible and the company possessing the licenses will usually not be there to assist you. With us, you won’t have that problem as we simply have our own licenses. We also don’t sell access to our licenses to other companies in order to make some extra money, as it’s simply not legal.
The only exception are mountain climbs, as the license to organize these is only accessible to business that are fully owned by Tanzanians (and we think this isn’t a bad thing!). As we’re a registered tour business, we have the right to sell mountain climbs but due to our partly foreign owners, we have no access to the license that allows us to organize them. We therefore use a trusted and fully licensed local partner to organize our climbs and keep only a small part of the profit to cover our part of the work. This partner will organize your entire climb according to our conditions (so we don’t just (illegally) buy access to their license), and you won’t have any problems finding a person to speak to in case of any problems.
We pay all our taxes. Soon after we receive your money, we declare the amount for tax purposes through an official device. You can ask us for your EFD receipt in order to check. As we ask for full payment of our tours before you arrive and these payments are made through our bank account, there’s no way for us to hide income as bank statements are part of our yearly tax declaration. Therefore, you can be sure all necessary taxes will be paid if you travel with us.
We pay all required taxes on salaries and legal contributions for our employees, such as the National Social Security Fund, that ensures a pension for our workers.
WE ARE A MEDIUM-SIZED TOUR BUSINESS WITH A SMALL TEAM
… and we wouldn’t want it any other way! We have this business because we truly enjoy organizing your trips. We are big fans of living life to the fullest, and as long as our business allows us to do that, we don’t aim to make it bigger just for the sake of being bigger.
We want to remain a human sized tour business, with close contact to our customers and the best and most personalized service. Co-owner Liesbeth is your only contact before you arrive and co-owner Chim is normally the one to pick you up at the airport. He might also go with you on certain day trips, drop you off at the airport for your departure, etc. We have a few extra staff members for administrative tasks, accounting, logistics, etc. and of course there’s our guides. We use a limited amount of them, to make sure we know them well and vice-versa.
Except for Liesbeth, who of course has the necessary visa/permits to work for Mawenzi Adventures, everyone that works for us is Tanzanian. Whether it’s permanent employees, freelance workers such as cooks for camping safaris or guides for day trips or workers that come through 3rd parties (eg. the drivers of rental cars)… all of them are local.
WE PAY MUCH HIGHER SALARIES THAN AVERAGE
One of our main priorities is making sure that our people are well paid and that we create good working conditions for them. We don’t exploit them by forcing them to work for as little as 5 USD per day, we make sure they get enough food, water and a decent place to sleep while they’re on a trip with us and as written above, we make sure their legal benefits are covered.
We think it’s hard to imagine how big the differences can be, so we recommend you read our article about the cost of a Kilimanjaro climb. This is of course specifically for Kilimanjaro and the amount of team members on eg. a safari is much lower, but the principle is the same: we pay our guides 25-40% more than average as we simply think it’s the right thing to do for the huge amount of work they do and the importance they have in the good course of your trip.
Please keep in mind that tips are still ‘obligated’ as they are considered a part of the salary. Tips are high in Tanzania, but this doesn’t mean your guide won’t get an actual salary. Guides actually prefer getting a part of their salary as a tip, because this way, the full amount goes directly to them.
RESPECT FOR PEOPLE AND ANIMALS IS OUR NUMBER 1 PRIORITY
We don’t just want to treat our own staff members respectfully, but everybody that’s in any way involved in our trips. Therefore, we don’t organize any kind of activities that involve voyeurism or poverty tourism. We don’t organize short visits to Maasai villages as they usually offer nothing else than a human zoo experience. We won’t help you visit a local school or orphanage, as we’re pretty sure you also wouldn’t appreciate if random Tanzanians came to interrupt your children during class at home on a daily or weekly basis. These short visits can also have a devastating psychological impact on the children, so we can’t support them. We are actively against racism and white saviorism and we kindly ask you to eg. not donate items to strangers in the street. We can help you donate items to responsible organizations if you wish.
Just like human zoo situations, we don’t support animal zoos either. We won’t take you to places with captive animals or where you can pet ‘wild’ animals and we ask all our guides to behave in the most responsible way towards the animals you’ll see during your safari and other excursions.
WE ORGANIZE YOUR TRIP PROPERLY AND WELL IN ADVANCE
As soon as we receive your deposit payment and your trip is confirmed, we start organizing and paying the necessary deposits. This limits the risk of certain parts of your trip not being available anymore. Certain things such as park fees don’t have to be booked months before but we have a clear schedule for these things and make sure to do it in time and not when you’re already at the airport.
So in short, we optimize our trip organization to make sure that on one end, you get what you booked, and on the other end, we don’t book things unnecessarily early
because that would mean deposits and cancellation fees would also increase.
WE MAKE TIME FOR OUR CLIENTS
In almost every single review we get from our clients, the time we take for them is one of the main compliments we receive. We’re super proud of it and wouldn’t want it any other way. It starts when you ask us for an offer. We make sure to know your wishes as much as possible before we start sending you offers. We tend to send long emails, explaining in detail all the options and the reasons why we suggest one thing and not an other, as we know it can get confusing and you don’t always find the right information on the internet. Once you arrive, we try to make sure that at least one of the owners meets with you in order to reply to all your questions, to make you able to put a face to a name and to make sure you know we’re available. You’ll also get a number on which you can reach us in case of any problems and we do our absolute best to assist you even when you have a problem that has nothing to do with us.
WE DON’T WORK FOR FREE AND WE DON’T RISK LOSING OUR OWN MONEY
The last thing we want is to sound arrogant, but we’re not millionaires – ok we might be in Tanzanian shillings but for sure not in euros or US dollars – and we can’t pay for any part of your trip out of our own pocket, also not temporarily. We’ve started this business because we’re passionate about traveling and about Tanzania and we love to welcome people here and organize their trip for them, but we’re also an official business with people and bills to pay. Every cent that we’ve used to start this adventure came out of our own pocket and we think it’s only fair to be compensated for the work we do for you and to not have to use our own money to (pre-)pay your trip.
Therefore, we of course send offers for free to anyone who asks us and we make it a priority to answer all your questions in regards to these offers, or to send you several offers before you decide. However, after that, we need your deposit to be able to continue working for you, to make the necessary bookings as mentioned above, to pay for our work, staff and office costs and to cover our risks in case you should have to cancel. Yes, we know that you don’t WANT to cancel, but we also need to be realistic and take into account the fact that something unexpected might happen and you might have to anyway.
Based on all this, we can’t reimburse you for the work we’ve done and the costs we’ve already made if you cancel, and we have to add a small administrative fee for postponed bookings to cover the double work. We’ve deliberately chosen to operate this way, as we don’t want to raise prices for everybody just to cover the costs of cancelled and postponed bookings. This is also why in our Terms and Conditions, we strongly urge you to get proper cancellation insurance, as it should cover these costs, and we can’t be held responsible in case you didn’t.
WE TRY TO BE AS FLEXIBLE AS WE CAN
We have Terms and Conditions that cover all potential cases and mention their costs, and of course the amounts we use for eg. cancellation fees are based on a maximum possible cost for us. For some bookings, this might be the actual cost, for others it might be lower, so we try to calculate the actual cost for every cancellation, as long as you let us know you’re cancelling in advance.
The same flexibility goes for other things as well. We won’t charge you extra for a 5-minute detour on the way back to your hotel and we won’t be difficult if there’s a 10 USD mistake in your 10.000 USD payment due to bank fees, eg. We do however need to be strict about payment delays and larger differences, as otherwise we simply won’t have enough money and/or time to plan your trip.
HOW TO CHECK ALL THIS?
As a client, it’s not always easy to find enough information about the situation of the tour business you’re dealing with. We understand that it’s a bit indiscrete to ask your guide about his salary, and once you’re here it’s too late to change anything anyway. There’s no official lists of all registered tour businesses, tour businesses that pay their taxes or tour businesses that pay for their licenses. Therefore, your only option is to ask them to show you the necessary documents. Please feel free to ask us for copies of all our licenses and you can ask us about anything else you’d like to know.
WHAT’S THE EFFECT OF ALL THIS ON YOUR TRIP?
Let’s start with the downside: our trips are generally more expensive than the ones you book last-minute after you’ve already arrived in Tanzania or those that you book with tour businesses that don’t focus so much on service. We can’t (and don’t want to) compete with tour businesses that pay lower salaries to their staff, with people who don’t have official licenses or businesses who don’t pay their taxes. These last ones might try to convince you that it’s better to work with them because all your money will go to ‘real Tanzanian people’, but in reality they’re people who work illegally and that will offer you no real assistance in case anything goes wrong or not even any guarantee that they’ll be there to pick you up when you land. Furthermore, all our staff members except for our 1 foreign owner are also ‘real Tanzanian people’. On top of that, taxes help to improve the situation of the country, and therefore have a positive impact on far more people.
Another downside is that we’re relatively strict in certain areas. Our price is our price and our conditions need to be followed, as it’s the only way we can run our business and organize your trip properly. We’ve worked for days on our Terms and Conditions in order to make sure they’re correct and realistic and we believe that they’re very clear and complete, so there shouldn’t be any surprises, and we send the link to them both in our offers and in our invoices.
In return for this, we put all our energy in this business, and we’re available whenever you need us during your trip with us. We value our clients and we do everything we can to deliver what we promise. We work legally, not only because this is the only way we can feel comfortable, but also because it lowers all sorts of risks for you. We treat our staff members with the highest respect, and we truly believe they’re great at what they do. Of course this also has an effect on their motivation to deliver the best job possible.
You’ll find dozens if not hundreds of people and businesses that organize tours in a different way. Some might ask for a small deposit or even no deposit at all, but please be aware that nobody can book hotels for you without money and the people that ask for cash usually do it in order to avoid paying taxes. Some might be (a lot) cheaper, and we hope it’s clear from this article why we aren’t or can’t be the cheapest.
Like we said in the beginning of this article, we fully understand and respect that every client has different expectations of their trip, and different means to organize it. Just like you, we also need to feel comfortable with what we do, which is why we’ve made the conscious choice to work the way we do. Having traveled a lot ourselves and having ran this business since 2019, we know how important it is to have a good match with your tour operator. We hope we’ve given you all the information that you need in order to decide whether or not that’s us for you, and to be able to welcome you in our wonderful country!