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Navigating Challenges in St Helena Travel: A Cautionary Tale

Travellers heading to St Helena should exercise caution when dealing with local tour operators or private tour guides. In June 2023, as I planned my trip and purchased a flight ticket for February 6, 2024, I encountered unexpected challenges that I believe others should be aware of.

Upon dealing with various tour operators, not a single person informed me about the possibility of flight cancellations or the refund policies associated with paying in advance for tours and accommodations. It is my sincere advice to anyone interested in visiting St Helena: refrain from making advance payments for accommodation, tours, or transportation. Doing so can save you the headache of dealing with refunds when facing flight cancellations that may strand you in Johannesburg for 5 to 7 days or in St Helena when flights canceled.

During my experience, I encountered an unprofessional tour agent, Derek Richards (https://www.facebook.com/derek.richards.549), in St Helena. I had paid him $320 for a tour in advance to ensure coverage during my limited 5-day stay. However, when circumstances led to flight cancellations and I sought a refund, Richards displayed an unwillingness to process it, outright refusal, and even made sarcastic remarks about my advance payment. Despite having only five days on the island before an international flight from Johannesburg to Europe, he failed to provide me with cancellation and refund policies when I initially made the payment.

Having flown from Kigali, Rwanda, on February 5, 2024, with an overnight flight to Johannesburg to catch my Airlink flight to St Helena scheduled for 9:00 am on February 6, the journey took an unexpected turn. A quick stop at Walvis Bay for refueling and halfway to St Helena, the pilot announced that we had to return to Johannesburg due to adverse weather conditions after almost 6 hours in the air. Airlink arranged accommodation with meals in Johannesburg, initially scheduling the next flight for February 8. However, an email notification on February 7 informed us that the flight was once again canceled, rescheduled for February 10.

Realising I wouldn't be able to make it to St Helena due to a non-refundable international flight, the unpredictable schedule of Airlink, and the uncertain weather conditions on the island, I sought a full refund from Airlink, which they agreed to. Despite facing additional challenges in obtaining refunds from the hotel, Derek Richards, the tour operator from Island Images in St Helena, remained uncooperative and refused to provide a refund, showcasing unprofessionalism and an unwillingness to consider the circumstances.

In light of my experience, I strongly advise potential St Helena visitors to secure flights with flexible ticket conditions or refrain from purchasing return flights until island entry is confirmed. Additionally, it is crucial not to pay for accommodation, airport transfers, or tours in advance. Instead, opt to make payments upon arrival. Lastly, I caution against engaging in any tours with Derek Richards in St Helena due to concerns about professionalism and financial transparency.

In sharing this cautionary tale, my hope is that fellow travellers can navigate potential challenges more effectively and make informed decisions when planning their St Helena journey.
Safe travels

  1. DerekRichards #St Helena Tourism #St Helena Government #islandimagessh #StHelenaisland #sthelena #southatlantic #airliners #Africa Travel and Tours operators

Posted by MikeSebastian 18:12 Archived in St Helena Tagged africa st_helena south_atlantic st_helena_government st_helena_news

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