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OAT's Ultimate Africa--mixed reviews--anybody have anything to add?

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I'm not sure if it's o.k. to refer to That Other Travel Message Board (, but if so I'd be interested and grateful to have input/reaction from anybody who has taken OAT's Ultimate Africa to an Oct. 23, 2005 post from Artie (Botswana with OAT--Travel Talk; Botswana section).
My travel partner and I, two retired school teachers, are at the beginning stages of planning a 2007 trip to Botswana and South Africa. We are considering 2Afrika since our trip with them last year to Tanzania and Kenya was fantastic, but we would prefer to be routed through Europe from Los Angeles, breaking up the flight a bit, rather than have to do 2Afrika's add on flight from LA to NY, DC, or Atlanta, prior to boarding SAA's long flight to Johannesburg. Of course, we could handle our own air arrangements, but that would probably add considerably to the cost of the trip. We have had some excellent OAT/GCT trips in the past to Peru, Eastern Europe, and Vietnam and Cambodia, so, in addition to 2Afrika's offerings, we have been looking with interest at OAT's Ultimate Africa. Flight routing is through London. Reviews, though, are mixed. A main concern on the boards (Artie's post included) seems to be the location, and perhaps quality, of the OAT camps. Many are "not impressed". Let it be said that while we are not looking for luxury or exclusivity in the camps or lodges, we would like something clean, comfortable, and well situated for game viewing and other activities which would add to quality of the trip. Our budget is mid-range. OAT's prices certainly would be hard to beat, but we don't want a compromised trip in order to save a thousand more or less. Our area of interest is not only the animals but also some cultural tourism. Also, we don't want to packed into a bus or van for game drives--six people max, four even better.
If there are other companies out there that you would recommend, keeping within the mid-budget range, we would also appreciate those names. But we would especially like feedback on OAT'S Ultimate Africa (and also to 2Africa's Transform Yourself 14 day safari, if anyone has taken that). Many thanks, Barbara

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