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My experience on booking Tanzania safari itinerary

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Now I have decided and booked my itinerary to Selous and Ruaha I thought it would be helpful to share my experiences dealing with several travel agents.

Over all I was very happy with the communication with most of them, most were responsive and friendly.
Some didn't reply to my request at all though or didn't come back to me after initial contact. The same thing happened with the Namibia itineraries; they didn't contact me again to check up after I decided to go for Tanzania instead of Namibia.
I was very surprised with this fact; don't they want to do business?
Lastly I was quite surprised, maybe even shocked, how much the price could differ for exactly the same offering. Im not really the person who negotiates everything to the penny, not at all, but when I receive several quotes I do ask for the differences. When doing so the price would go down. I had expected this, but not the differences I was experiencing. (For my Namibia itinerary I had a difference of 100% between 2 offerings….. 1 was double the other!!)

I ended up enquiring and dealing with 3 agents to get a final quote. I wanted to have 2 (to be able to compare) but ended with 3 since one of the agents got back to me and after explanation still wanted to try to match the price and quote me. I very much appreciated that.
I must admit I found it a bit hard at times to be asking multiple agents questions, knowing that only one of them would get my business. But it did matter a lot since we were talking hundreds of dollars of difference here. I was open and honest about that though, and would have understood completely if one of the agents would stop answering my questions before getting the deal ;)

Dealing with the different currencies didn't make it easier to say the least. It was difficult to compare prices and I wouldn't know for sure if they adjusted for the moving exchange rates or not.

Here are the companies I dealt with and my experiences and opinions on them

BMS Travellers - BOOKED
Location:The Netherlands
Overall opinion:Good; I was very happy with their assistance and support.
Pro's:
- Very responsive and cooperative.
- Dutch based and aligned with authorities, (just an advantage for Dutch people I guess)
- Professional: received 'real' quotes after nearly every edit
- We spoke on the phone multiple times

Cons:
- Knowledge of different camps
When asked for opinions/facts about other camps my contact person didn't know (but I liked the fact they didn't try to conceal that fact, but just told me so). Might differ per person within the company though
- Didn't know private vehicles aren't possible anymore in the camps I am going to
This was the case with more agents, but showed they aren't in continuous contact / aligned with all these camps.
It seems minor, but I included this since it influence my preference on with whom to book; 1 company saying you can't have it, another you can -> I wanna book with the one who says it can! ;)

Tanzania Odyssey
Location: UK
Over all opinion:Good, very knowledgeable and supportive
Pro's:
- Very VERY knowledgable, not only in the email communication but also on their website.
- They know all the ins and outs of all the camps.
- They DID know the cars weren't possible.
- Honest; they tried to see if they could arrange international tickets for me as well, but their agent for that was to expensive and they just told me to book myself directly ;)

Cons:
Their first quote was highly priced, on my comment they changed Pounds to Euro's just like that (17% difference!). Although exchange rates were indeed going up and down, it did leave me with a bit of a nasty feeling, what if I hadn't asked for a better price?
In the end it was just a matter of location where they are based that I went for BMS Travelers instead of them.

Rhino Africa
Location: South Africa
Overall opinion:Very friendly and helpful. Even got a very nice reply on my notification on booking with another company, which I thought was very professional.
Pro's:
- Helpful and responsive. They phoned me up as very first thing they did to discuss my wishes.
- Persistent: They tried to match the much lower price I received elsewhere after I told them I received a much lower quote.

Cons: Price still on the high side. They also quoted me private vehicle usage, so didn't knew they weren't offered anymore.
They use another 'in between agent' I suspect, since they communicated the price for the vehicle after consulting and enquiring the price. (this was the point where BMS Travellers told me they heard private vehicles wouldn't be offered anymore)

Others:
Safari Drive; Expensive and they took long to come up with some prices.
Good Earth Tours: Very very 'short' in their communication; only a few lines in an email, pointing to their website instead of answering my question (common, I've seen your website, thats why im contacting you!). I felt it was almost unpolite. Too expensive. They might be able to go down in price, but since I didn't really like the communication I didn't bother asking them..
&Beyond: Their first reply was not very personal and it was expensive. Didn't further enquire with them based on this.
Roy Safaris: They kindly replyed that they didn't do safari's in Selous and Ruaha, but that they would forward my request to their representatives in Dar; Takims Holiday. They never got back to me.

And a few I tried to contact via the website, but haven't heard from them and don't remember. ..

On a side note I would like to recommend Gemma from Discover Namibia as she was VERY helpful for a Namibia itinerary for a good price. I just hope I'll be able to go there very soon with them!

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