$3000 difference in quotes for the same safari!

Sep 18th, 2010, 03:59 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Interesting jwed. Most of us here book safaris ourselves. This is not the "Conde Nast" travel forum

Are you saying you booked directly with the camps?
Did those camps have published/web rates?
Or did you not know the camp rates until you actually called the camps?
By booking directly with the camps you saved $4800 from the quotes from "large firms"?
What then was -your- final cost?
Can you tell us the names of the camps and for how many nights you booked?
I'm just trying to clarify for me what you did and how. Not at all challenging you. I've never any "saving $4800". Bummer . Kindly teach me how, this is a "teachable moment"

Every safari camp I have been to (10 total), had/has published rates, for example MalaMala and Leopard Hills. Our first safari we booked all through a travel agent and he charged us exactly those published rates. I have since contacted camps directly and all quote to me the web published rate. Never any surprises. Never any $$$$ savings by booking directly with camp.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 05:59 AM
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Posts: 8,675
I 2nd tom - where did you go (country/ies), how many actual days in-country; where stayed (lodges/camps), transport between areas (road/flights). Some different in price may sometimes happen, but different of $4800 is up there.
sandi is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 06:49 PM
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Welcome new poster jwed.
Topping this in hopes that you will reply with more details.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Sep 28th, 2010, 07:21 AM
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Posts: 442
Hi Tom and Everyone,
We are trying to make a decision about choosing an agent to help us with our upcoming trip..This thread is very helpful...A couple of questions: Are you saying it's better to book the med/higher end lodges by contacting the lodge directly? We tried that but ended up with an agent.. MalaMala, for example, refers you to a travel agent they have a relationship with...others use Rhino Safaris. We are going to be staying in Cape Town for about a week, so I'm wondering if any of you know a good company to arrange tours etc there that won't be expensive...How wacky is it to rent a car if you have never driven on the left side of the road? Finally, and a bit off the mark, we have the opportunity to change our trip from July (2 weeks) to Mid May to early June (3 weeks) Going to Cape Town and then up to Kruger area...maybe into Botswana if we can afford it....Any thoughts, anyone? Thanks. We are first timers, but we have planned many trips to other places by ourselves...we'd like to do this smartly, and get a fair pricing for mid-range safaris...I'm still gathering info. Thanks, everyone.
jodo is offline  
Sep 28th, 2010, 08:57 AM
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Hi Jodo, You might have more luck starting a new thread with your questions.

Like you, I found booking directly with lodges and camps to be impossible. They simply referred me on to their agent in the U.S. Others will disagree, and I am by no means the expert here, but I was very happy on this last trip to So. Tanzania using an agent in the U.K. for my bookings and a bit of inside information. I really knew what we wanted before contact, so did not feel in the least railroaded by him.

Again, a new thread will most likely get you more responses. Good luck and happy travels.
TC is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2010, 06:35 AM
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Posts: 442
Thanks, TC.....we have also done our homework... and now know better what will work for us...think we've finally narrowed things down....and re-arranged our travel dates. We're going to ask for specific quotes and see how it goes! Thanks for your response...Happy travels back to you!
jodo is offline  
Oct 6th, 2010, 02:40 PM
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I too would like a primer on saving $4800. Even half that.
atravelynn is offline  
Oct 6th, 2010, 04:32 PM
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atravelynn - I suspect we're not going to hear back from jwed. jwed I suspect is also another poster here who likes to claim we are being ripped off by travel agents and operators. He makes big claims of savings but never, never, gives any details/information that can be verified. Or, how you also can have such savings, only claims he does it.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 01:40 PM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 5
mtbeds.com is the website. Give them a try. They came back hundreds less per night on most safaris. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I contacted agents highly recommended on Fodor's and other sites. I guess you could say we used an agent, because being non-SA residents, we couldn't use the mtbeds website - I would have if I could have. I emailed them the timeframe, Chantal Cairns, one of their agents (I'm assuming a call center type arrangement, like travelocity, etc), emailed me back. We had about 3 brief but succinct telephone conversations, and the results were as stated. We ended up staying at Sabie Sabie Bush Lodge, for a few reasons, casual dinner attire being one. On vacation, the last thing we care to do is dress for dinner every evening. Most of the attendees on the drives came in in the evening, freshened up a bit and headed to the lounge before dinner to share photos and video. It was a lively group, anywhere from 5 to 7 per truck, the one with 7 had a family of 4, about 20 total, from all over the world with a number of SA folks mixed in and we all hated to say good by to each other by the end of the trip. We had a marvelous time.
By the way - I am not another "poster who likes to claim we are being ripped off by travel agents and operators." I am also not a "he." I am a wife and mother, working professional woman, who has booked numerous vacations for my husband, daughter, and self - all over the world. I have arranged for trips to Asia between Shanghai and Beijing; Kyoto, and surrounds, Mexico, Europe - from the Netherlands to Cordoba to Seville and much of the continent in between - trains, planes, and automobiles.... all without an agent. The times I did check with agents for pricing - agent prices ended up being much more expensive. Traveling the way we do, we eat where we want, always trying at least 1 or 2 five stars wherever we go. South Africa was lovely for that, since prices are so reasonable, dining was great! We tour when we want. Or just relax when we want to, perhaps at an outside table sipping wine or beer, or tea along the ocean, or in view of the mountains, or across from a temple, or listening to street performers... We hire tour guides for 1/2 days or full days for out of the way places or where it is most highly recommended. But we are very avid readers, so in addition to scouring travel websites in preparation for a trip, I read everything I can get my hands on. The best tours we had in Japan were self-guided because there are some amazing books written about out-of-the way historic sites there. And again, we have met so many amazing people this way.
Upshot - I love to travel, so I do do homework, and once you get used to the freedom of not following a set schedule, no matter how basic, it's hard to imagine traveling any other way. When it costs more, to boot, it just doesn't make sense for us.
Many people aren't comfortable with traveling this way. I understand that. There are many, many good reasons for hiring an agent. Please know - I am not trying to say one way is best for all.
As such, you should not cast dispersions.
jwed is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 02:15 PM
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jwed, thanks for responding (even if over a month later). Forgive me but I am suspicious of first time posters making such claims. We have had some "hit-and-run" claims like that. Sorry and sorry I thought you were a "he".

I know of MTBeds, it has been discussed here, but you are the first, first hand report I know of from some one who has actually used them. Good it worked for you and I'll try them next time to South Africa. You said originally you saved $4,800, was this through MTBeds at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge?

As for "dressing up" for dinner at camps, that is very much the exception. Probably happens for Singita so they can properly discuss the wine list. But at the five camps I've been to in Sabi Sand and Timbavati, guests just freshen up for cocktails and dinner.

FWIW, we also have traveled world wide for 40 years with mostly making our own tours and reservations. Even bought a Volkswagen in Germany and drove it around Europe. Shipped it home. Should have left it there, what a lemon!!

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 06:29 PM
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Thanks for the info jwed.

Had I thought before hitting submit, I saved up to $4800 on my last trip to Kenya based on a variety of quotes though not all for the identical product.
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 14th, 2010, 09:16 AM
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Even at Singita, no one "dressed" for dinner. Many (not all) changed from their safari attire to nice casual... for women: slacks/skirt with a sweater and shawl (cool evenings); some of the younger gals wore slip-dresses, but generally it was a mix of everything. Jackets were seen on a few men, because of the chill in the air, while others put on a sweater. Casual, casual, casual!
sandi is offline  

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