SOUTH AFRICA: Motshwere Safaris In Limpopo

Heaney

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I recently spent 2 weeks with Motshwere Safaris in South Africa. What started out as a great hunting trip and vacation has turned into a nightmare with the outfitter. At this point, there is no way I can give a recommendation for Motshwere.

Here's the deal:

Myself and three friends each purchased a package in 2013(at an exceptional price!) to hunt 7 species of plains game. Kudu, gemsbok, impala, blesbuck, steenbuck, warthog, and blue wildebeest. The hunt was all inclusive, included transportation to/from the airport, and the package included one non-hunter/observer (wife, girlfriend, child, etc.). All for the package price. No daily fees. There were no exclusions noted for the package. There was no mention of any additional trophy fees or any other costs in addition to the package price. The contract was clear and concise (or so I thought)

When we arrived the staff was friendly and accommodating. The accommodations were very nice, and the food was very good. Werner Lewies is the owner/operator. He was friendly, engaging, and pretty funny.

The 4 of us were aware that if we took animals that were not part of our package, we would incur additional costs. That was our understanding. But, whenever we questioned Werner about those additional costs he was evasive and dismissive. He would say things like "don't worry, we'll work it out later". He finally indicated that the package was more of a guideline. That we essentially had credit in the amount of our package price. He even told one hunter "just shoot. I'll tell you when it starts costing you money".

One week into the trip, I had taken 5 animals. Only one of which was on my package list. I asked him point blank how much money I owed at that point, and he looked me right in the eye and told me that I owed nothing so far.

I decided to quit while I was ahead and only take animals from my package at this point. Two days later he estimated that I owed about $3500. The only thing that had changed was that I had shot a kudu, which was in my package. He then explained to us that the money were were going to pay for an excursion (see below) would be applied to that balance for the "out-of -package" animals. So, I figured I would owe about $1500 for the animals I had taken that were not part of the package. (Animals that I only took due to his deceptive practices.) I was ok with that deal.

He talked us into a multi-day excursion to Kruger Park. He told us it was 4 1/2 hours away. It was 7 hours away. (Despite being lied to about the length of the drive, the excursion was well worth it.)

He is now claiming that the money paid for the excursion ($2000/person) was for tips to the staff, concession fees paid to other land owners, and to cover the bill we had all incurred.

Here's some issues with that:
1) I paid the tips to staff and PH's separately. (At his suggestion, it was included in the charge for the excursion so that there only need to be one transaction.)
2) I did not take any animals from another land owner's property.
3) Even if I had, the fact that there would be an additional charge for that should have been disclosed in advance.
4) I am certainly not going to pay to cover someone else's charges.

When I got home, I got a bill from Motshwere for $8700!!
Werner gave me a $2200 discount out of the kindness of his heart (not for the excursion, he says), but that takes it to $6500. That's still $5000 more than he lead me to believe I owed.

We still have not settled yet. My entire hunting party is disillusioned with Motshwere at this point.
The point here, is that I now see Werner as evasive, unclear, and misleading. I am very close to using words like unscrupulous and fraudulent.

He has even made claims that, even though the trip was "all-inclusive", it did not include wine and liquor. Well, guess what? The liquor was all ours. We bought it in duty free. They did not supply any liquor. As for the wine, you cannot refer to a deal as "all-inclusive" and then later say some things are excluded if that was not disclosed to start with.

Werner Lewis has probably succeeded in making my Africa hunt a once in a lifetime trip. At this point, I cannot ever see going back to hunt Africa, and definitely not with Motshwere. It's really to bad that it has turned out like this. Up until I got home, I had had a great time.

I don't know how other safari outfitters operate, but if you use Motshwere, beware. Make sure everything is spelled out in writing beforehand. Make sure they know that you do not wish to take on any additional costs with out knowing what they are in advance. Then, even when you are told, get it in writing. do not trust Werner Lewies.

How it came to this, I don't know. We met a guy there from Alabama that was on his seventh trip with Motshwere. He obviously hadn't been jerked around like us. Or maybe he had and just has a handle now on how to pin Werner down. Personally, I cannot trust Werner's word.

For what its worth, I did some research on Motshwere Safaris before booking with them. I couldn't find anything negative. I even contacted other clients. I got positive responses from all. I don't know how it went so wrong for us.

I hope nobody else has an experience like this one. I post this here in the hopes that people remember "buyer beware".
 

BRICKBURN

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Heaney, welcome to AH.

Where did you book your hunt through?
 

billc

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really sorry to hear all this. I had talked with them 3 years ago and would have said they were ok when I checked. Not sure what happened but dont let it stop you from going back plenty of good outfitters to go with.
I hope it all works out for you and your friends
 

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.......................

I don't know how other safari outfitters operate, but if you use Motshwere, beware. Make sure everything is spelled out in writing beforehand. Make sure they know that you do not wish to take on any additional costs with out knowing what they are in advance. Then, even when you are told, get it in writing. do not trust Werner Lewies..................

Every reputable Outfitter will require a detailed written agreement.


Limpopo Enviro Act.
  1. 50 (4) A hunting outfitter and professional hunter may not present or conduct a hunt with a client under false pretensions.


    You may choose to contact Nature Conservation in Limpopo and register a complaint.
    http://www.ledet.gov.za/?page_id=728


    Likely not a PHASA member but you may drop them a line and complain as well.


 

Heaney

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Thanks for the replies.
- I booked directly with the outfitter. We found him at the outdoor show in Salt Lake City in 2013.
- I have a contract. Unfortunately, it apparently doesn't cover all the issues I'm having now. I thought it was complete enough. Lesson learned.

Brickburn, thanks for the link. I'll be contacting them.

Heaney
 

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Welcome to AH!

Thanks for the heads up. Sorry you had such a poor experience.

Don't let a bad experience ruin Africa for you. There are many great outfitters that will bend over backwards to make sure you have a great time and are treated fairly.

Hang around AH and you will get to know many of them.

All the best in getting this worked out.
 

dory

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That would piss me off !!
Dont be put of Africa though .
Most of us here have made life long friends hunting in Africa .
I for one will be returning next year to hunt with the same people I did this year , they were that good .
good luck with your extra bill .
 

AfricaHunting.com

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I could not find Motshwere Safaris price list published on their website. Have you tried obtaining their trophy fee price list at any point… Even now to see if there is any difference from what was charged to you for the species that were not included in your package hunt.

Can you share with us the trophy fees that were charged to you for the species that were not included in your package hunt?

Would someone have a trophy fee price list from Motshwere Safaris to share with us?
 

Heaney

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Big problem now is my complete lack of trust in this outfitter. Even if we settle on the bill and I pay, I don't have faith that I'll ever see my animals. Once I pay, the ball is back in his court. He holds all the cards. And like I said, I can no longer trust his word. What am I gonna do? Fly to Joburg and hire a lawyer? No.
 

Heaney

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I have a copy of their price list from 2013, which are the prices we locked down when we booked the hunt. The difference in the fees they are charging compared to the price list is only about $50 per animal more than the price list. That's not the issue at this point. (It will be when we settle on the other deceptions)
The issue is being told we were or were not being charged one thing, only to find out that we are being charged something else AND that money paid towards those fees is not actually going towards those fees.

When we were in SA, none of us had the price list with us. Despite our asking about how much things cost, as I said, we could never get a straight answer and were led to believe that we were not racking up any charges, much less huge charges. Then since we didn't have a price list handy, and Motshwere told us the rough estimate of charges (in my case $3500) incurred, imagine our shock to get a bill for more than twice that amount.
(FWIW, he told us it was too much trouble at the time to look up the prices on his computer and that we were the only clients he's ever had that did not have a price list with them. Since the prices he was estimating did not seem exorbitant it didn't seem necessary at the time to insist he produce a list. Another lesson learned)

Here is the 2013 price list:

Motshwere prices.JPG
 

dory

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You dont think his prices are very exspencive ?
There up there !
I have onl paid half what he wants for some of the animals on my hunt .
Up to $6000 for a top Kudu , holy shit thats out there !!!!!!
 

Heaney

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Here is a copy of the contract between Werner Lewies and me. Agreed to via email.

"Werner,
This email is to confirm what we just discussed on the phone. We agreed to a plains animal package that includes:

- Kudu
- Gemsbuck
- Blue Wildebeast
- Impala
- Warthog
- Blesbuck
- Steenbuck

- All inclusive. No daily fees, Transportation to and from the airport. Wife or 1 observer free.

$500 USD deposit for a package fee of $4950 USD, or
$4200 USD package price paid in full at time of booking.
$500 USD deposit is non-refundable. Full package price is refundable do to cancellation.

Hunting dates are August 24 - September 14, 2015.


I look forward to meeting you,
Chris Heaney"

And here is his reply:

"Hi Chris

We confirm that the information in your previous mail is correct as we agreed.

My wife will phone you in half an hour to get the card details.

Thank you
Werner"



I can see now, that I definitely needed a more in depth contract. At the time, it seemed to me that all the bases were covered. I relied, to my detriment, on the outfitters word regarding other fees when I arrived. Never again will I work without written guarantees in a situation like this.
 

dory

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looks pretty binding to me .
I would have gone with it .
 

Heaney

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Dory - thats why the package was so appealing. Individually all the animals in the package add up to almost $9500 (I'm assuming the $3000 kudu). And, that doesn't include daily fees, transportation, or the free observer. And we were there for 14 days. Not a week like a lot of packages. And if you look at the agreement we made, we actually agreed on a 3 week period.
( we had to shorten cuz life got in the way)
Notice that there was no mention or discussion about only being able to shoot a small Kudu, or paying additional if we shot a big one. The package just includes a kudu. But, had I taken a kudu over 60", I have no doubt he would be trying to charge me extra for that.

Oh, I forgot to mention that when we booked the hunt we were told that there wouldn't be any other parties there but ours. That was also false. During our hunt, there were three other hunting parties there.
 
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dory

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That package you had is a bargain alright , i would have jumped at it to .
Having other hunters there would have really pissed me if i was told there would be no one else there .
Hes trying to rip you alright .
Good luck .
 

Sivie

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we had the SAME experence last year . almost the same things happened to us .
 

Sivie

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yes same outfitter . and the same things happened to us .
 

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