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First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

Old Dec 11th 2004, 4:29 am
  #31  
Eben Schoeman
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Ok Joel, are you ready?

1. Let's start with the Mara and work backwards since this will be the
focus of your safari. Do your bookings here first, then fit everything
else to complete your stay.

In early September the migration herds should be in the central and
western part of the Mara. Draw a line from the Sand River Gate going
north to Sekenani gate. Stay west of this line.

You need to splurge here. If you need to save money, do it EARLIER on
the trip! Stay at Little Governors Camp
http://www.governorscamp.com/little%...ors%20camp.htm. It is best
to fly in since you should use their game driver/guides and vehicles.
You will fly to Musiara Airstrip (just tell your agent to get you
tickets to Governors Camps). Others options exist (such as Governors
and Ill Moran) and the choice is yours. I like the marsh at Little Govs
and the little boat ride across the Mara!

They don't put more than 4 people in a landcruiser and this is normally
OK - this is an upscale camp and their guests are mostly very pleasant
and serious about wildlife. These are not your usual early morning and
late afternoon drives. At Governors they mostly stay out all day with
picnic lunches. Most clients don't want to return to the camp for
lunch. I stay there all the time and never had the need to pay extra
for a private vehicle. I always found other people who shared my
interests and we joined up. You can, however, book a private vehicle to
be sure.

After 3 nights there, you may want to move outside the park for a night
or two. Olonana http://www.sanctuarylodges.com/olonana.aspx is very
romantic and their sundowners on the high hill are great - you will see
across the whole Mara into the Serengeti! Night game drives and Maasai
walks will give you a different perspective. Kichwa Tembo
http://www.ccafrica.com/reserve-1-id-2-11 is another great choice with
similar activities. Other options exist at all price ranges but don't
venture too far away from the park gate.

These 4 nights or so won't be cheap but you will have the experience of
a lifetime. Worth saving money for - for sure.

2. Getting to/from the Mara. Fly. From Nairobi or from Samburu are your
best choices when considering the rest of your trip. Then return to
Nairobi after the Mara.

3. Samburu is your stop before the Mara because of the convenience of
scheduled flights between Samburu and the Mara. An hour long flight
that departs 9:15am and arrives 10:45am. I will not recommend places to
stay here because your budget will dictate thingsat this point! At
Samburu I will say goodbye to the safari driver/guide when he takes you
to the airstrip.

4. Drive to Samburu from Lake Nakuru. The road is not bad and you see
interesting areas including Mount Kenya.

5. At the start of your trip, meet your driver/guide in Nairobi and
drive from Nairobi to Lake Nakuru.

I recommend flying to the Mara since you don't need a driver/guide
there. Also the road from Nakuru to the Mara is bad. I remember some
really bad patches near Narok but since I always fly, I don't have the
latest info. Hans should know.

Anyway, there are many ways to tune this itinerary after your Mara part
is completed.

Good luck, Eben
 
Old Dec 11th 2004, 4:45 am
  #32  
Eben Schoeman
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Joel, migration patterns is my hobby. My sources are game reports from
lodges and camps in the Mara and Serengeti. I also talk to pilots who
fly in and out of the parks, as well as driver/guides. I am working on
something that I cannot reveal here but I do know that most info on the
internet is plain wrong when it comes to the migration. For example,
very few people are aware that there are two migrations from different
directions in and out of the Mara!

Since you are going in September, you have no worries. The migration
should be well set in the Mara, with a few stragglers coming in if the
rainy season last longer in the Serengeti.
 
Old Dec 11th 2004, 5:25 am
  #33  
Liz
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In message <[email protected] .com>
"Joel" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Thanks for the tip about driver/guide vehicle at your disposal. I
    > assumed that on a private safari this is what you are paying for.
It's best to get it specified, and this is the standard phraseology.
You are really paying for 'private', i.e. vehicle to yourself.
Even with 'driver and vehicle at your disposal', you still won't be able to
do big 'detours'.


    > For the migration, How does one find that out? Do you rely on historical
    > patterns? I thought the timing was unpredictable and could only be
    > generalized.
I have a chart somewhere, I'll try to find it.
It can vary by about 2 weeks, but it pretty consistent.
In July, you want to be at Keekorok lodge, in August, Serena.
I'm not sure about September ATM.

Slainte

Liz


--
Virtual Liz now at http://www.v-liz.com
Kenya; Tanzania; Namibia; India; Seychelles; Galapagos
"I speak of Africa and golden joys"
 
Old Dec 11th 2004, 6:13 am
  #34  
Eben Schoeman
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I hear what you saying Liz, and I am trying to figure this out but
things just don't add up! Neither can I, for I made another calculation
mistake.

2Afrika charge $1790 for the 5 day safari. Their outfitter (Predators)
charge $1160. It is the exact same trip - with a $630 per person
surcharge!

Since 2Afrika came highly recommended on this thread I wanted to know
what make them so good. Whatever they offer extra must be worth $630 X
2 = $1260 for my wife and I!

If our Landrover breaks down in the Serengeti, 2Afrika is not around to
help. Predators will fix it regardless of whether I booked locally or
from overseas since we will probably share our Predators game drive
with others who booked via other companies. While budget, Predators is
an established company with a good reputation.

I will fly directly to Tanzania via KLM using a reputable travel agent.
The chances of us paying extra for fuel or whatever are indeed remote.
And I save 2 days travel time. My trip insurance (using a solid
company) with cancellation, luggage loss, even accidental death is only
$75 per person.

My point is that I disagree with the 2Afrika recommendation.

Which UK company do you use? Who is their local outfitter? It will be
interesting to figure out how much profit (if any) they add to each of
your trips!
 
Old Dec 11th 2004, 7:28 am
  #35  
Joel
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Any travel from the US is going to be almost 2 days worth. I live in
the Midwest (think Chicago) and a typical KLM route which I just
checked on their website goes as follows:

Day 1 overnight flight to Europe (AMS)
Day 2 morning flight from Europe arrive evening in Nairobi due to time
change

There is no way around this. It's a 2 day exhausting trip from the US.

I also looked on their web site as well. I'm no expert obviously since
I'm doing research now but their rates include airfare from NYC. Check
the 9 day Rules of the Wild Safari. Granted it's only 5 nights but the
land only fee is $1145 per person + 195 tax. That's $268.00 per person
per night staying in Serena lodges which I understand are fairly good
accomodations. Airfare from the US is very expensive using standard
carriers published fares. Go on Orbitz and see that a flight from the
East Coast NY, BOS will cost about $1900 during high season. Granted
using consolidators can bring this down but I don't see how it can be
less than $1200.

Liz's tour operators that she uses can be found here
http://www.v-liz.com/safari/hints/tiphom.htm

--Joel
[email protected] wrote:
    > I hear what you saying Liz, and I am trying to figure this out but
    > things just don't add up! Neither can I, for I made another
calculation
    > mistake.
    > 2Afrika charge $1790 for the 5 day safari. Their outfitter
(Predators)
    > charge $1160. It is the exact same trip - with a $630 per person
    > surcharge!
    > Since 2Afrika came highly recommended on this thread I wanted to know
    > what make them so good. Whatever they offer extra must be worth $630
X
    > 2 = $1260 for my wife and I!
    > If our Landrover breaks down in the Serengeti, 2Afrika is not around
to
    > help. Predators will fix it regardless of whether I booked locally or
    > from overseas since we will probably share our Predators game drive
    > with others who booked via other companies. While budget, Predators
is
    > an established company with a good reputation.
    > I will fly directly to Tanzania via KLM using a reputable travel
agent.
    > The chances of us paying extra for fuel or whatever are indeed
remote.
    > And I save 2 days travel time. My trip insurance (using a solid
    > company) with cancellation, luggage loss, even accidental death is
only
    > $75 per person.
    > My point is that I disagree with the 2Afrika recommendation.
    > Which UK company do you use? Who is their local outfitter? It will be
    > interesting to figure out how much profit (if any) they add to each
of
    > your trips!
 
Old Dec 11th 2004, 8:34 am
  #36  
Liz
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In message <[email protected] .com>
[email protected] wrote:

    >
    > My point is that I disagree with the 2Afrika recommendation.
I can't say.
I know nothing about them.
I was just pointing out that sometimes paying less is a false economy,
either literally or in time lost. For me, time is money.

    > Which UK company do you use? Who is their local outfitter? It will be
    > interesting to figure out how much profit (if any) they add to each of
    > your trips!
I use Worldwide Journeys and Expeditions, part of the Ultimate Travel Company.
They use Express Travel Group in Nairobi.
They obviously must add their share onto the ETG prices or they couldn't
stay in business, but they get a group discount from ETG to offset this.

AFAICS, all the reliable UK companies which offer tailor-mades in Kenya use
either ETG or EAOS. I'm sure someone will be along soon to name a company
which uses another ground agent. EAOS tends to be more expensive, but
obviously essential if you want to separate all your cistis reliably!

For our 'big trip' in 97 we contacted 5 UK companies for quotes.
Three of them used ETG; 2 used EAOS.
WWJE gave the lowest price.

In the UK you really have to book this sort of trip through a ATOL Tour
operator (or ABTA travel agent for a ready-made trip) if you want to sleep
at night.

Slainte

Liz
--
Virtual Liz now at http://www.v-liz.com
Kenya; Tanzania; Namibia; India; Seychelles; Galapagos
"I speak of Africa and golden joys"
 
Old Dec 11th 2004, 9:38 am
  #37  
Eben Schoeman
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Joel

The going rate for a similar safari is between $900 - $1000 in Kenya.
Too much driving though. To compare look at Southern Cross in Kenya -
very reputable.
http://www.southerncrosssafaris.com/...oad6nights.htm

They offer 6 nights @$1310 vs 5 nights at $1340 using the same lodges.
Most importantly, the Southern Cross safari is based on 2 people, not
6.
Basically you get a private safari for less than 2Afrika with their
group size of 6. I have never traveled with Southern Cross so this is
not an endorsement. But they have a good name. There are plenty of
others, some even cheaper but I am out of time!

I've never paid more than $1400 from the USA to East Africa! My next
trip in 2005 is $1350 in high season using KLM. Don't use Orbitz, use
the agents in the back of the Sunday newspapers!

Did you see my comments on your Kenya safari? That's going to be a
splendid trip!
 
Old Dec 11th 2004, 10:37 am
  #38  
Liz
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In message <[email protected]. com>
[email protected] wrote:

    > Joel
    >
    > The going rate for a similar safari is between $900 - $1000 in Kenya.
    > Too much driving though. To compare look at Southern Cross in Kenya -
    > very reputable.
    > http://www.southerncrosssafaris.com/...oad6nights.htm
    >
    > They offer 6 nights @$1310 vs 5 nights at $1340 using the same lodges.
    > Most importantly, the Southern Cross safari is based on 2 people, not
    > 6.
    > Basically you get a private safari for less than 2Afrika with their
    > group size of 6.

No.
What *minimum* 2 people means is that the tour won't run for one person, but
will run if there are only two people. It doesn't imply a private tour: just
that if you're lucky enough to be the only two people on the tour it will
still run. You could still have six people for the same price.
In fact, I don't even see a guarantee that there won't be more than six
people on the trip (the formula for that is "every passenger
guaranteed a window seat and access to the roof hatch)

However, I believe Southern Cross is a reliable company, dealing mostly with
Americans. I've often met their safari parties when travelling and haven't
heard of problems with them.

Slainte

Liz

--
Virtual Liz now at http://www.v-liz.com
Kenya; Tanzania; Namibia; India; Seychelles; Galapagos
"I speak of Africa and golden joys"
 
Old Dec 11th 2004, 11:15 am
  #39  
Eben Schoeman
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Amazing! Thank you Liz.

I've never used agents on my trips so it was a good little exercise to
see what others are doing! My dealings with all local companies have
been super.

For me, it is important that most of my money is spent in the country
I'm in. On the other hand, one can argue that without overseas agents
many of these local outfitters will be out of business. So I understand
both sides of the issue! As long as I don't have to pay $600 more for
the same trip!

In the end, what's important is that we keep on going to Africa,
regardless of how much we pay!

BTW, on the whole, rates in East Africa are quoted and negotiated as
two people traveling together. If you are 3 or more, you will pay less.
The Rules of the Wild safari will cost closer to $800 for 6 people.
 
Old Dec 11th 2004, 9:58 pm
  #40  
Liz
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In message <[email protected] .com>
[email protected] wrote:

    > Amazing! Thank you Liz.
    >
    > I've never used agents on my trips so it was a good little exercise to
    > see what others are doing! My dealings with all local companies have
    > been super.
    >
    > For me, it is important that most of my money is spent in the country
    > I'm in.
I understand that pov as well, but I'm just not willing to spend a day or
two at the beginning of my trip trudging round agents in Nairobi. I don't
feel comfortable on my own in Nairobi (my husband much less so!) and want to
get out as quickly as possible.
Also because when I was travelling with my husband we normally went for
three or more weeks, this is logicistically more difficult - few drivers
like to travel for over two weeks.

From the UK you'd be nuts to book directly with a company in Africa and pay
in advance because our travel insurance doesn't cover it - they were bitten
several times by formerly reliable companies going out of business: PanAm
was the last straw. So you have to book with an ABTA agent or a ATOL
operator. Of course, it's Hans-Georg's risk assessment again: when we went
to the States for our 4-week SWDeserts trip, we did all the accommodation
booking online: in the States places only took one night's accommodation in
advance, so we stood to lose much less if one of the companies went
belly-up. Our travel insurance is much cheaper, though!



    > On the other hand, one can argue that without overseas agents
    > many of these local outfitters will be out of business. So I understand
    > both sides of the issue! As long as I don't have to pay $600 more for
    > the same trip!
My current problem is that I don't see why I should have to pay single
supplements in any lodge unless it's full: I've either never or possibly
once (Keekorok) stayed in a lodge which was full in early July, but they
still insist on whacking on a srs. I'm having to look at group tours [:-(],
and last year I saw one which said "srs from £50, no srs April-June". Of
course I noted the 'from', but was pretty shocked when the early July
supplement was over 350ukp.

Actually even the prices peaking then is ridiculous: admittedly last time we
went in 2002, a lot of Americans were nervous of travelling, but when you're
in a big lodge with only eleven people staying and you're paying peak season
prices you get rather resentful when you realise you could probably add five
or six days on to your trip if you weren't paying the peak prices.
Ironically, I've got at least three friends who would love to go on safari
(i.e. I could travel with one or more of them), but won't pay the peak
season prices.



    > BTW, on the whole, rates in East Africa are quoted and negotiated as
    > two people traveling together. If you are 3 or more, you will pay less.
    > The Rules of the Wild safari will cost closer to $800 for 6 people.
Normally brochure/online prices are for 'seats on a bus'.
As I said, if you're lucky, you might get the bus on your own.
If you wanted to guarantee a private trip, you might as well get a proper
tailor-made trip and specify exactly where and for how long you will stay.

My friends got lucky and were only two on a 'brochure safari' when they were
in Uganda, and I was one of only three on my Namibia trip: good for me, but
if I hadn't gone, the other couple would have had the vehicle/guide to
themselves, so not-so-good for them. The brochure said, "Maximum 8 people".

As I said, the buyer has to be aware of the wording of things.
I've said here before, Kuoni a few years back had a Just Tanzania brochure
which seemed to be offering phenomenal prices on safaris.
Most first-timers wouldn't have been aware of it, but if you read the
itineraries carefully, you weren't getting all that many bangs for your bucks.
It was full of things like:
Tuesday: What will you do this morning: laze around the pool or go on a game
drive?
Thursday: This afternoon, take a walk around the grounds (described) or go
on a game drive. The choice is yours.
Of course, on each of these days, if you chose the game drive, you had to
pay extra, and go on the lodge vehicle, I think about 60USD a time!
This was pointed out in the small print, but I suspect a lot of people
wouldn't twig this, and thought they had a 'free option'.
Not illegal, but IMO deliberately misleading: a cheap safari, but the 8-day
one only included 4 or 5 game drives and a balloon trip.

Anyway, as you say, each to his/her own.

Slainte

Liz

--
Virtual Liz now at http://www.v-liz.com
Kenya; Tanzania; Namibia; India; Seychelles; Galapagos
"I speak of Africa and golden joys"
 
Old Dec 12th 2004, 12:29 am
  #41  
Eben Schoeman
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No Liz

It is amazing to hear you say that "you are nuts to book direct" from
the UK. The companies that go belly up are the agents - such as Far &
Wide and MyTravel. and not the reputable outfitter on the ground in
Africa who has been in business for 20-50 years! I guess you are right,
I would insist on ATOL or ABTA too if I book with an agent in the UK.

I had to smile when I look at the fixed itineraries from the UK
companies, including the one you're dealing with, and see they are
"spending 2 nights in Tarangire at the end of March 2005"! These agents
clearly book clients in places where THEY make the most profit, instead
of where the wildlife is! There is a good reason why they get good
rates in Tarangire at the end of March! Talk about misleading their
clients! Another case in point, Kuoni, who takes their unsuspecting
clients on the same itinerary year-round. And with all sorts of
disclaimers about couples having to split, using unpublished lodges,
minimum group size requirements, etc. Incredible, how do they stay in
business? I totally agree with you on that one.

You may be misinformed about safari rates and quality of service
performed by local companies. The local companies have fixed departures
for clients who have no idea where to go, and/or want to save money
with a group tour.

However, local companies specialize in arranging private trips, at
prices very close to the published costs and heavily negotiable. I will
never understand why people go on group tours with UK & USA-based
companies when they can go in private - for the same price (less in
some cases (think A&K) or a little more in others) - using the very
same ground operators as the overseas companies! And chances are the
clients won't end up in Tarangire for 2 nights at the end of March! I
have never used a group tour in Africa and I have never paid more than
the group tour prices in the agent brochures - which I get anyway just
to look at the pictures!

You can do your bookings over the phone and internet - your agent does
the same! No need to run around Nairobi looking for an outfitter!

The singles issue is a tough one. East Africa had a huge upswing in
2004 and certainly will again in 2005. With beds hard to come by, it is
understandable why the lodge owners don't want to place a single in a
double tent without surcharges between Jul-Sep. But when it is not
full, we should not have to pay that surcharge. Again, this is easy to
negotiate with a local company. 2Afrika, Kuoni and others add it on
year-round. Ridiculous.
 
Old Dec 12th 2004, 2:24 am
  #42  
Liz
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In message <[email protected] .com>
[email protected] wrote:

    > It is amazing to hear you say that "you are nuts to book direct" from
    > the UK. The companies that go belly up are the agents - such as Far &
    > Wide and MyTravel. and not the reputable outfitter on the ground in
    > Africa who has been in business for 20-50 years! I guess you are right,
    > I would insist on ATOL or ABTA too if I book with an agent in the UK.
You can't be an agent in the UK if you don't have the bondings, which cost a
*lot* of money.
This money is held in trust and refunded to the depositor if it isn't
needed, but s/he has to recoup this money by adding it onto the price. This
balances by us paying less in our overall travel insurance: for example I
pay 96ukp for annual insurance which covers myself and my husband (and
children under 18 if we had them) travelling together or separately, for all
travel of up to six weeks at a time worldwide (though cancellation is
limited to £5000). It excludes winter and dangerous sports, which isn't a
problem for us. (It would only be 74ukp pa (family) if we opted to exclude
the States.)


    > I had to smile when I look at the fixed itineraries from the UK
    > companies, including the one you're dealing with, and see they are
    > "spending 2 nights in Tarangire at the end of March 2005"! These agents
    > clearly book clients in places where THEY make the most profit, instead
    > of where the wildlife is!
The brochure/online safaris are just to give an idea of what's available and
what the cost might be. You can book these if you want, but really their
specialty is in tailor-making to what you want. I notice that this isn't
exactly clearly stated on the ETG site (it's there, but I had to look hard
for it!). I guess most people aren't up to designing their own trip,
especially on a first trip.
Also, by booking year-round trips with the lodges, the companies get
preferential rates, which they can pass on to their customers.

I've more than once thought up an itinerary and sent it to WWJE and
Catherine has got back to me and said, "I see you want X (accommodation): is
there a particular reason you want to stay at X, or would Y (which costs
Nukp less per night) do just as well?" (she knows price is an 'issue').
Usually I haven't heard of Y, so can check it out, and change if *I* want or
can stick with X if there's a reason I want to. Maybe she gets a better
profit from Y, but if it's cheaper for me and my experience is as good, I
don't mind.

If you're on a company's mailing list (at least here in the UK) you often
get mini-brochures or newsletters in with special offers which don't appear
on the main brochures, and don't always appear on their website: often trips
which haven't sold so well. Seldom happens in July, though. :-(

Also, if you get the paper brochures from either Kuoni or WWJE, there's a
two-page guide to weather and conditions in each.
E.g. the WWJE brochure has a chart with weather conditions for each of their
designations for the whole year. Sometimes, certain destinations are
unavialable, for example most/all? of the tiger reserves during the monsoon
season. Otherwise, each destination has ticks in the boxes where conditions
are best: you can go at other times if you want to, or can't afford to go at
peak time, or your holidays from work are rigid, but they are letting you
know clearly that it's not the best time to go there. The prices usually
reflect that.
The Kuoni weather charts list all their destinations with details of annual
monthly rainfall, max/min temperature averages and average hours of sunshine
in that month.
You are therefore in no way misled.


    > There is a good reason why they get good rates in Tarangire at the end of March!
    > Talk about misleading their clients!
If every company only went to the best places at every season, the prices
would rocket because most lodges would have a considerable down time with
only a few weeks to make any money, also demand would be sky-high because of
the high demand.



    > Another case in point, Kuoni, who takes their unsuspecting
    > clients on the same itinerary year-round. And with all sorts of
    > disclaimers about couples having to split, using unpublished lodges,
    > minimum group size requirements, etc. Incredible, how do they stay in
    > business? I totally agree with you on that one.
I was very pleased with our Kuoni safari which was our first trip.
Bangs for bucks, excellent value (on a group tour).
We did the two-week Leopard tour.
I don't actually have the Kuoni brochure for 2005, and am surprised that
they aren't publishing the names of their lodges. Until last year, they used
Block lodges almost exclusively in Kenya except for their Governor's Safari
or if a Block lodge wasn't available in a particular area.
The 'couples might have to split' is because the disadvantage of Kuoni is
that they can have up to seven on a minibus, meaning that the group should
play fair and rotate the person who's sitting the person beside the driver
with no access to the roof hatch.
In fact when we did the Leopard tour, we were 13 people in two minibuses.
Our bus had six people and the other bus had seven, three couples and a
single girl.
In fact, she seemed always to be sitting beside the driver, which she said
she didn't mind, but I thought was unfair.
Kuoni have huge numbers of Brits travelling with them. There were over 60 on
our flight alone, divided between lots of different safaris. They
consistently win awards from goth custmers and from within the trade.
However, they don't offer fully tailor-made safaris: you can pick and mix
from the different offering in their brochure, that's all.
Grief: their website is a nightmare: I just had a look.
It's technically and legally (UK law) inaccessible.



    > You may be misinformed about safari rates and quality of service
    > performed by local companies. The local companies have fixed departures
    > for clients who have no idea where to go, and/or want to save money
    > with a group tour.
I know that perfectly well.


    > However, local companies specialize in arranging private trips, at
    > prices very close to the published costs and heavily negotiable.
IME, they are *not* heavily negotiable in July.
Though obviously I haven't tried every company.
And because I'm travelling now on my own, it's not currently an option open
to me.


    > I will never understand why people go on group tours with UK
You've clearly closed your mind, then.

You can't understand much about your fellow human beings [1]
Also, travelling on my own isn't all that attractive.
On safari, you eat with your group.
I hate the 'ordeal by staring' which happens if you're dining on your own,
and while I can do it if I need to, the idea of eating on my own for 2-3
weeks isn't at all attractive. Therefore although it wouldn't be my
natural choice, I currently have to go on group trips. Imagine the cost of
having a tailor-made just for one - in July!
Sorry if my reality is unimaginable to you.

Clearly, the 'bonding' aspect is outwith your experience and you need
time to assimilate it, like I did when it finally dawned on me that the
bonding requirement we take for granted here *isn't* required in the Land of
the Litigatious.


    > & USA-based companies when they can go in private - for the same price
    > (less in some cases (think A&K) or a little more in others) - using the
    > very same ground operators as the overseas companies!
In my case, the discount on flights which the tour operator gets, compared
to e.g. buing a flight only from Trailfinders/whoever makes the total cost
equal, with a lot more comeback should things go wrong.
I understand from this group that things are different in the US, in
particular the bonding of travel agents and tour operators doesn't apply in
most states. That must give a totally different perspective on choices.


    > You can do your bookings over the phone and internet - your agent does
    > the same! No need to run around Nairobi looking for an outfitter!
And no protection should the company go belly-up after you book and pay, as
happened for example with African Tours and Hotels a few years back.
But if you booked through Kuoni (who at that time use them heavily) they
sorted it all out for you.

If the UK Govt says 'don't visit Kenya', if you're ABTA/ATOL covered in the
UK they'll either refund you or will arrange an alternative often at very
short notice.
What would your local Kenyan company do?
When a safari costs over 20% of your annual take-home salary, these things
are *real issues*!
Example:
Years ago, we were booked to go to Yugoslavia in October week.
The first we heard of the war there was when our colleague, who was going to
Yugoslavia the first day of the summer holidays was phoned at work by his
travel agent, less than three days before his trip to tell him that travel
from the UK to Yugoslavia had been suspended: the company had searched for
him and found a trip to Malta with two vacancies (peak time) for about £30
less and held it for him for eight hours, or else he could get a full
refund.

We got home and found a message on our phone from our travel agent, telling
us that the 'trouble' was expected to be long-term (it was still 14 weeks
'til our trip): could we wait until they'd dealt with the people with
immediate departures then they would check out alternatives. After about a
week, they'd sorted out three options: Corfu, mainland Greece or Turkey, or
we could have a refund. Corfu suited us fine, so we chose that.

Booking direct just doesn't give the same piece of mind.



    > The singles issue is a tough one. East Africa had a huge upswing in
    > 2004 and certainly will again in 2005. With beds hard to come by, it is
    > understandable why the lodge owners don't want to place a single in a
    > double tent without surcharges between Jul-Sep.
In seven safaris in early July as I said, I've only once been in a lodge
which appeared to be full, but I don't know if every room was booked
(Keekorok) or if everyone just happened to hit the dinner table at the same
time.

    > But when it is not full, we should not have to pay that surcharge. Again,
    > this is easy to negotiate with a local company. 2Afrika, Kuoni and others
    > add it on year-round. Ridiculous.
Kuoni don't add the supplement year-round, or didn't until this year at
least: as I said, I don't have a 2005 brochure yet.
In fact I've never seen any UK company which had a srs except at the peak
seasons (July - early September plus Christmas).
I know nothing about 2Africa.

In any case, I'm stopping this discussion. It's becoming an argument, and
since the situation re bonding and protection are totally different in the
UK and in the US, we aren't even starting from the same position, so it's
all a bit pointless.

There are different strokes for different folks.

[1] Lots of people don't *want* to spend time planning trips and are happy to
choose one from the brochure.

Most are *perfectly* happy with what they got!
Also, a good recce trip
Even our former pupil who for cost reasons had to travel in the rainy
season: we met her by chance after she'd booked, and were a bit horrified
when we saw her itinerary - from the UK it's usually cheaper to fly charter
into Mombasa whereupon the deal is usually Shimba/Tsavo E & W and sometimes
Amboseli (hers didn't include Amboseli).
But she really loved it and is hoping to go again sometime.

When D. was travelling with me, one of my main pleasures was designing the
itinerary, but one of the drawbacks of that was choosing which places to
leave out - always a cause for sorrow!

Anyway, I'm working on a dreadful page on my website which I'd forgotten was
there, so must go now.

Slainte

Liz

--
Virtual Liz now at http://www.v-liz.com
Kenya; Tanzania; Namibia; India; Seychelles; Galapagos
"I speak of Africa and golden joys"
 
Old Dec 12th 2004, 2:36 am
  #43  
Liz
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

Good grief: I'm puzzled about how this happened!

In message <[email protected]>
Liz <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Path: news.uklinux.net!NewsHound!fakexover
    > From: Liz <[email protected]>
    > Newsgroups: rec.travel.africa
    > Subject: Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

[big snip of headers but no content!]

    > Lines: 236
    > Bytes: 13125
Did anyone get the proper posting with actual *content*???
I can re-post, but it's *long*, so I won't if everyone else has already got
it.

I understood that I only get this (!fakexover etc.) if a post is
cross-posted to more than five groups, but I didn't think I'd cross-posted
to any!

Slainte

Liz

--
Virtual Liz now at http://www.v-liz.com
Kenya; Tanzania; Namibia; India; Seychelles; Galapagos
"I speak of Africa and golden joys"
 
Old Dec 12th 2004, 2:45 am
  #44  
Jim Ley
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

On Sun, 12 Dec 2004 15:24:41 GMT, Liz <[email protected]> wrote:

    >In message <[email protected] .com>
    > [email protected] wrote:
    >> It is amazing to hear you say that "you are nuts to book direct" from
    >> the UK. The companies that go belly up are the agents - such as Far &
    >> Wide and MyTravel. and not the reputable outfitter on the ground in
    >> Africa who has been in business for 20-50 years! I guess you are right,
    >> I would insist on ATOL or ABTA too if I book with an agent in the UK.
    >You can't be an agent in the UK if you don't have the bondings, which cost a
    >*lot* of money.
    >This money is held in trust and refunded to the depositor if it isn't
    >needed, but s/he has to recoup this money by adding it onto the price. This
    >balances by us paying less in our overall travel insurance: for example I
    >pay 96ukp for annual insurance which covers myself and my husband (and
    >children under 18 if we had them) travelling together or separately, for all
    >travel of up to six weeks at a time worldwide (though cancellation is
    >limited to £5000). It excludes winter and dangerous sports, which isn't a
    >problem for us. (It would only be 74ukp pa (family) if we opted to exclude
    >the States.)

but this travel insurance requires you to only book with ATOL/ABTA
does it? because mine doesn't, and gives similar benefits at a
similar cost.

    >Booking direct just doesn't give the same piece of mind.

but your travel insurance would have covered the same cancellation for
the same reason, sure you may have had to find the alternative
destination yourself, but that's not that difficult, and for a great
many people is actually a pleasure, at the very least you need to have
some idea of the place you're going to anyway so most of the effort is
equal in either case.

Jim.
 
Old Dec 12th 2004, 3:03 am
  #45  
Eben Schoeman
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

Wow! 13 people on safari in two minibuses. I am starting to sweat. This
is getting ugly! I have to leave this discussion!

Since you travel on your own a lot I will leave you with one point to
consider next time you come to Africa. Leave the large group of 60 at
home. Arrange a guide and go on safari with him. Stay at tented camps
or even do a camping safari. Why eat alone at night? Invite your guide
to dinner at night. Then talk to him about his culture, his family,
about wildlife and life in Africa.

This will be so much more meaningful than sharing a group table with 13
tourists.
Goodbye for now.
 

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