$3000 difference in quotes for the same safari!

Aug 25th, 2010, 05:58 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,422
I know this is off topic, but I have wondered if catnip works on the big cats too! I was half tempted to bring some with me on my last trip but I decided I didn't want to find out the hard way!
Lillipets is offline  
Aug 25th, 2010, 06:26 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,528
Hi Phernska,

In light of your experience with planning this particular trip - what would be your suggestions to people planning their safaris of a lifetime

a.) First time safari goers
b.) Repeat safari goers

I don't think this situation is limited to Tanzania alone.

The internet is such a good place to learn and research, and I'm glad sites like fodors allow the consumer to voice their opinion. It is afterall a place for us the CONSUMER.

I ask these questions, as I think you could be helpful to many people around the world.

HariS is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 05:03 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 178

I think repeat safari goers have a much better chance at not getting ripped off as we have a much better idea about where we want to go, where we want to stay, etc. etc. In my case, the companies I contacted had nothing more to do than price out my itinerary. So, to answer your question, repeat safari goers should do their own research, contact 4 or 5 companies and go for price.
First time safari goers will get hustled, no doubt about it. They are looking for advice and recommendations and the companies have to do much more consulting. When this is the case, you develop more of a 'relationship' with the person and, therefore, feel more obligated to use that company because they are putting time and effort into the planning. But, first timers should contact at least 3 companies before committing, and let each company know. Safaris are expensive and, like any investment, you have to shop around.
As you said, sites like Fodors are an excellent source of information. When my Africa addiction started in 2001 and I discovered this forum, I read everything, posted questions, and became more savvy as a result.
In general, for people planning their first safari, I would recommend that they contact companies that specialize in Africa as opposed to those travel companies that go everywhere. That's a good place to start and can be narrowed down from there.
phernska is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 05:06 AM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 12,820
Im negotiating a Safari for 4, and have not seen the huge PERCENTAGE price differences but similar net dollar differences for the same itinerary. I will guess that some operators have a flat fee per Safari(vs just a %) they book making a solo experience resulting in a higher variation in quotes. I also belive some operators dont receive the 'discount' rate at the lodges.
FrankS is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 06:16 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 118
Not all operators get discounts; not all operators get the same discounts.

Some operators deal only on US dollars, some in Euros, some in pounds. These currencies vary against each other all the time.

All this can vary the quotes by considerable amounts.

The problem with going solely on price, is that you may eliminate the company that offers 'value'. The cheapest may not always be (rarely is,in my experience), the best.

However, if that is your main criterion, then that's your decision.
mcwomble is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 06:39 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,528
Thanks, Phernska. Well said......
HariS is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 08:07 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 178

I'm not sure I completely understand your comment. What do you mean by 'value' when comparing apples to apples?
phernska is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 08:56 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 118
Some operators may charge the same price, eg in your case TO and EA, but one or both may able to add more to your trip that is hard to price, eg knowledge,expertise, customer care, etc.

If these 'added-value' items are worthless to you, which may be the case if you are experienced and knowledgable and know what to do if there are problems on the trip, then I can see the logic of choosing merely on price.

But I would suggest that most people do not have the vast knowledge and expertise that the operators should have. They (operators) have built that up over years, and clients tap into it, and gain value from using that company, compared to using one that merely matches on prices but cannot offer good advice on which camp to choose, say.

So, in answer to FrankS, I was suggesting not only comparing price, but what else the operator can bring to your trip.

I agree, it won;t be worth $3,000, but it may make the difference between a memorable or a mediocre trip.

Of course, it may be that those 2 expensive companies just are inefficient, but it might have been interesting to hear from them what you would get for the extra $3000. But, if quotes are roughly similar in price, you then need a way of differentiating them.

I'm suggesting that one way is to work out which one adds the most 'value' to your trip. It will be a personal decision.
mcwomble is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 10:44 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 178

Thanks for the explanation. In thinking about my brief experience with Travel Beyond and your comment that it would be interesting to hear what I would get for the extra $4935...I'm convinced they are rip-offs, and here's why:

I contacted Travel Beyond through their website by filling out one of those short email questionnaires. As I said, I was specific about parks, lodges, and time of year. An agent responded with a long email and also asked if I'd thought about including a gorilla trek in Rwanda. I was instantly annoyed with this hustle and decided I would not respond and would not pursue my original request. However, the agent called me at work! I immediately told her I didn't appreciate her hustling me about Rwanda. She was taken aback and sputtered out some lame response about it not being a sales pitch, blah blah blah. Then I said, "It would cost me more wouuldn't it?" She acknowledged that it would, the discussion ended and we moved on. We started to talk about Ruaha and I mentioned that I had considered Kwihala because it's small, but Mwagusi seems to have the best reputation for wildlife, hence my decision to stay there. The agent said she hasn't been to Ruaha and was not familiar with either camp, but suggested Jongomero--yet another attempt to hustle me! As far as I know, Jongomero is the most expensive camp in Ruaha and is known for its luxury not its wildlife. So, at that point, I knew I would never book a safari with Travel Beyond. The agent admitted she had never been to Ruaha, Katavi or Mahale and mentioned that her favorite place in Africa is Malawi. Oy vey.

The agent at Tanzania Odyssey, on the other hand, was extremely knowledgeable about Ruaha and Mwagusi and I liked him very much and appreciated his expertise. He obviously knew what he was talking about. But, as far as 'value' goes, it' not worth $1600, the cost of a roundtrip ticket from San Francisco to Dar.
phernska is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 11:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,859
Phernska: The Travel Beyond agent certainly knew nothing about Ruaha. ("The agent....suggested Jongomero--yet another attempt to hustle me! As far as I know, Jongomero is the most expensive camp in Ruaha and is known for its luxury not its wildlife.") For one thing, Jongomero and Mwagusi are in completely different eco-systems. They are by no means comparing apples to apples. You might be surprised to learn that Jongomero was LESS expensive than Mwagusi when we made our trip in January 2010. In fact, Mwagusi was THE MOST EXPENSIVE camp we used -- even more than Sand Rivers in Selous. Jongomero was the LEAST expensive of our four camps.

I wouldn't say the Travel Odyssey guy was very knowledgable either, since his quote was either a hustle or completely inaccurate and as for his comment about the leopards at Mwagusi....well. I'm pretty sure he's the same guy who gave me a big sell on Mwagusi and said how much we would love Chris Fox as our guide. Turns out that Chris Fox hasn't spent any time at Mwagusi for nearly five years! He's building a home elsewhere. So even those who SEEM knowledgeable -- aren't always.
TC is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 11:11 AM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 12,820
I agree with you that some operators bring value, even with the same quoted itinerary. That 'value' might be just repore or peace of mind. My posted observation meant I feel more flexibility in choosing with a group of 4. The difference between my quotes received is less than 10%, and the ones I like just about 5% as I didnt feel any repore with the low bid company.
FrankS is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 11:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 4,215

YESSSSS - catnip works with leopards! As I said. A friend of mine took it to her favourite leopard at the NBO orphanage and he freaked out

I would certainly not try that on a game drive ;-)

spassvogel is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 12:03 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 178

Thanks for the info about Jongomero, I assumed it was more expensive because it is smaller and more luxurious. But, I don't think we're talking about the same TO guy, as the one I originally spoke with back in January is no longer with them. The guy I dealt with most recently sounds like the same one you worked with, though. I took his comments with a grain of salt (including the leopard remark) as I'd already made my decision about Mwagusi based on my January discussions with the other agent.
phernska is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 01:30 PM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 266
I never thought I would go to Africa ever (looking at the US based company $$$$$ price tags), now I look back, and laugh...

Glad you figured it out too, phernska.
TigerPhotog is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 03:26 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 421
I was getting quotes in February from different companies, including two that you got quotes from, for almost the exact same itinerary you were quoted on. Expert Africa had the lowest quote and ATR the highest. I did feel a little pressured when I was told that Nomads had a special on and a deposit had to be received by end of March in order to get the special price. It seems that Nomads still has that special on. I have since put this trip on hold.
raelond is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 04:20 PM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 8,550
Phernska, thanks for breaking this down. Interesting information and good to know. I hope you'll write a report about your trip!
Leely2 is offline  
Aug 26th, 2010, 09:26 PM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 730
Wow - I was trolling the Tanzania forum for the first time and look what I found. Actually, I was directed to look here...

Busted huh? No, just kidding. Since I am the owner of Tarvel Beyond I must admit something smells fishy here and something looks pretty bad (with regard to the rates quoted).

I must admit after the last 12 months of friendly (?) debate and dicussions on this forum I was laughing out loud as I thought of Skimmer2 and HariS reading this. You guys got one on me! Good stuff indeed. This does look funny and bad (for Travel Beyond) all at the same time.

Phernska - I see you contacted us on the 13th of this month. I sent you an email a few moments ago seeking a bit more information. Hope you don't mind.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
Safari_Craig is offline  
Aug 27th, 2010, 09:59 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
Interestingly enough, the company I didn't go with, even though their quote was significantly cheaper, on our 2004 trip, was Sunvil, now known as Expert Africa. The company as a whole has tremendous experience and expertise but we found a huge difference depending on which consultant we were assigned. The second time, responses were tardy and FULL of mistakes, sloppy sloppy sloppy.

It's not all about price, for sure.
Kavey is offline  
Aug 27th, 2010, 10:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,859
Kavey, One thing to consider with any travel consultant exchange is whether or not the agent is an "inside" or "outside" agent. Meaning do they work within an office governed by standard business practices or are they a free agent, usually working from a home office, and simply using the name of the company. Many travel companies do this as a way of getting more business. They only pay the outside agent a percentage on any account that they bring in to the agency. There is no overhead for their work. So you could get someone who is quite knowledgeable or someone who isn't. Often there is no one overseeing this work. While one encounter may be wonderful, another could be a dud. The on-line inquirey forms are often passed out for follow-up in random order.

You are so right....its not all about price.
TC is offline  
Aug 27th, 2010, 03:19 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
TC -

One learns something new every day on Fodor's. Never heard the terms "inside/outside" agents.

If that's the case, even a company as Micato has "outside" agents as I learned on a visit to their NYC office some years back. There were only 2 agents present (and it was not lunch hour) when I was there, only to learn that some of their former employees, i.e., "stay-at-home-moms" or those who have moved out of the NYC area, handle inquiries.

Now I know what they're called. Thanks.
sandi is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:35 AM.