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Short term availablity of "higher end" tours in Phuket

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After looking over a lot of reviews and reading some great info from the forums we're planning to spend 4 days in Phuket and going to try to fill up each day with tours. (Elephant trekking, Phi Phi Speedboat, and Phang Nha) We are planning to attempt to bargain for these tours after we arrive. (Going to attempt to find Miss Apple of South Smile tours) We're going to try to use some of the better tour operators, who may cost a little more, but have great reputations and promise to keep the group size smaller. (Like Captain Mark of Phuket Sail Tours)

FYI - We'll be in Phuket August 4-8.
So here's the question: Since these tour operators keep the group size smaller and are more in demand, will I still be able to book one for the next day? Will it be cost effective to try to bargain for one on short notice? Or are the last minute deals really only for "lower end" tours? Would it be wiser/cheaper to book in advance?

Bonus questions: If we went in the morning would we be able to book an elephant trek for that afternoon? (On a tight schedule)

The reason we're shying away from the lower end tours is because while it seems that most people have a great time, there are quite a few horror stories sprinkled in among the reviews. Usually pertaining to overcrowding, guides that don't speak English, and lack of time to enjoy the sights. It seems like there is little consistency or "guarantees" among the lower end operators...not to mention the fact that you may book with an agent and not really know which operator you're going to get.
Do you think this is an accurate assessment?

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