Abercrombie & Kent outfitters

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Jul 26th, 2004, 08:43 AM
  #1
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Abercrombie & Kent outfitters

Has anyone ever used Abercrombie & Kent for travel? I am looking at late January, early February to go to East Africa region & Egypt.
Or can anyone recommend comparable outfitters?
Thanks
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Jul 26th, 2004, 12:43 PM
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We used A&K for a family trip to Australia a few years ago which was great and we plan to use them again for southern Africa in December. As you will see by reading other postings, you pay a significant premium for the privilege versus many other tour companies or booking directly with local country locations. My wife feels more comfortable with a US-based company she's familiar with in case something goes wrong (as it often does).
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Jul 26th, 2004, 01:11 PM
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sandi
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One definitely pays a premium when traveling with A&K, but that isn't necessary to have a successful trip to East Africa and Egypt. There are plenty of tour operators within the States you can plan a trip for you, or you can choose to go with incountry outfitters.

Suggest you do a search on this board for tour operators to these destinations and you should come up quite a few - both local and in-country. Once you have these names and check their websites, you'll have an idea of the difference in prices. You can then feel free to ask questions regarding these companies from the regulars on this board.

Also keep in mind that for what you'd pay A&K for one of their packaged itineraries, most of which are as a "group" trip, many of the other companies can give you an independent itinerary with stops at any location (parks, reserves, choice of lodges or camps, by road or by air, etc.) and you'll still save money.
 
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Jul 26th, 2004, 01:13 PM
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You can book the same trip as A&K utilizing private guides and cars and spend less money.We have been doing it for years w/out anything going wrong. Sometimes we are not happy with the A&K hotel choice and we step up to a better hotel.There is nothing wrong with A&K except we travel better for less money.
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Jul 26th, 2004, 01:14 PM
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Just because you may be working with a U.S. based company doesn't necessarily mean that they will be available if something goes wrong. Trust me, I know from firsthand experience.

I would suggest letting some of the regular fodorites suggest some tour operators they have used and/or operators based in Africa that are just as good as A&K but at least half if not less of the price.

Or you could do a search under tour operators or safari operators and read some of the posts about operators others have used.

Have fun on your trip.
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Jul 26th, 2004, 01:21 PM
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auntcindy,
Looks like Sandi, atlcity, and I replied at about the same time and were thinking along the same line.

Hope the info will be useful to you. We'll be here to try to help if you have any more questions.
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Jul 26th, 2004, 02:12 PM
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Auntcindy,

Allow me to a little more blunt than my dear fellow Fodorites...if you enjoy paying double the price for an equal product, then go ahead and use A&K. They will gladly take your money, subcontract it out to a local tour operator, send you an A&K hat or totebag and send you beautiful brochures for the rest of your life, hoping that you are a big enough sucker to be a repeat customer.

There are a lot of quality operators for East Africa that many other Fodorites may recommend. Buy travel insurance for a couple hundred dollars rather than spending an extra $5,000+ to use A&K. It's not worth it. Same lodges, double the prices.
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Jul 26th, 2004, 02:22 PM
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sandi
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Roccco - sorry to have to tell you, but East Africa is a country where A&K does not subcontract. They have their own, very large operation. At one time they bought, refurbished/upgraded, and managed many of the safari camps - Kichwa Tembo, Siana Springs, that I can think of off the top of my head (both now owned by CCAfrica and Heritage hotels, respectively). In fact, A&K makes quite a bit of $$$ buying and selling properties like these worldwide.

Otherwise, everything else you've said is right on!
 
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Jul 26th, 2004, 03:59 PM
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Sandi: When A&K overbook trips in either Kenya or Tanzania (and it does happen), they do subcontract out. So, you are right and Rocco is right!
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Jul 26th, 2004, 05:46 PM
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SusanLynne,

Thanks for the save.

Take that same itinerary by A&K and e-mail it to Tanzania Serengeti Adventures or Roy Safaris and watch the price split in half.

A Fodorite just returned from Tanzania and was very satisfied with TSA. In my research for a Tanzanian safari, TSA offered the best price on every different itinerary that I priced out and they will happily send any potential customer a long list of past satisfied customers, complete with e-mail addresses.

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Jul 26th, 2004, 08:06 PM
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AuntCindy-
I think from your original post that you are planning on going to both East Africa and to Egypt on the same trip.
I think you have very valid feelings about trusting a company based in the U.S. I share your feelings. I booked a trip last year with an agent in the U.S. who booked with a Southern Africa company. When we entered into a war and we were told it would surely threaten travel, I questioned paying that much money to an African country. There was no guarantee I would get the trip. Trip insurance doesn't cover any war or terrorist attacks. I had to drop out because I stood to lose a great amount of money. I had quite a bit paid down as deposit which I lost. The Africa company said they could keep the deposit, so they did. I saw on most U.S. companies web sites that in such a case, many of them would either give your money back or let you take that same trip up to a year later. Now I'm not saying I wouldn't book with an African agency, but I would get a guarantee in writing that made me comfortable. If I couldn't, I'd look elsewhere. I doubt that you will find a company based in East Africa that will handle your Egypt portion which A&K will do. Can you make an agreement with them concerning alternatives in cases of attacks or whatever? If this makes you comfortable and allows you to take the trip, I think it is worth the money with A&K. Sure they are expensive, but you get to go and you don't lose sleep over it. Just use common sense.
When I went to East Africa last year, I booked directly with a camp in Kenya. I got a guarantee in writing before I paid them any money. I felt comfortable with them so I sent them the money directly. I wanted to add another camp but then I got into no guarantee because the other camp wouldn't agree to it. So I stayed the whole time at one camp. It worked out, and if anything would have happened I would have been able to take the same trip up to one year from the date I cancelled. Any agent can book you anywhere. Few will offer your money back or a later trip "at the same camps" in case of an attack here. Do your research and don't give your money to anyone who won't be able to make good on their word. Just my opinion but I know for a fact that there in no travel insurance who will insure you in case of war or terrorist attack. If none of this worries you, then book with the cheapest and the best to you. Liz
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Jul 27th, 2004, 05:25 PM
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In June of 2000 my Mother and I enjoyed a wonderful tour of Egypt with A & K. Our trip was booked within one week of departure and the staff handled everything with efficiency and professionalism. Our group size as I recall was a dozen people.

The real value of a company like A & K is that they have been doing buisness in Egypt for decades. They know where to go, when to go, yet leave you free time for your own adventure. We were in the good care of an excellent Egyptologist for our entire 10 day tour who brought the trip alive with her knowledge and storytelling. In a country where you don't speak or read the language I can only imagine how much time we might have wasted on our own. One of the little extras that was offered was a constant supply of bottled water available to us on our bus. I did not appreciate this kind of forethought until we experienced the June heat of Cairo and Luxor and then we were sure glad it was there! We were whisked through customs in minutes. We visited the tombs in Luxor in the very early morning when temperatures were cool and the tombs uncrowded. As we were leaving we saw hundreds of visitors arriving and felt the temperatures rising. Finally, on the day of my mother's departure there was a major problem in London that delayed flights worldwide. The folks from A & K were all over the situation before we even knew about it and quickly made arrangements for my mother to take another flight to make her connection in London. I extended my stay and went to Jordan on a trip booked by A & K while we were touring Egypt - it was fantastic.

Our tour of Egypt which included a Nile Cruise was booked under A & K's Discovery Tours and we felt like we got excellent value for our dollar - exeptional touring combined with wonderful service. While I understand A & K may charge more than other tour companies we felt that our vacation time was fully maximized with A & K and we were left with nothing to worry about but having a great time. I can't speak to their tours in Africa but I would not hesitate to travel with them again or recommend their company to a friend.

I am sure there are many other good tour companies to choose from but thought I would share with you my experience with A & K.
Enjoy your trip!
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Jul 27th, 2004, 08:37 PM
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The difference is that we had plenty of bottled water also but it was in our private car.Our private guide took us to the sites at the best times and we paid less than if we had booked A&K.
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Aug 3rd, 2004, 01:14 PM
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I totally agree with everyone except the travelers that have NEVER traveled with A & K. Sure you can get the same(?) trip for less money and many diffrent tour operators, but there is a reason so many people use A & K and if you have never traveled with them then you are unqualified to any anyone's questions about A & K. I went an A & K's "Slendour of the Nile" in January 16-27 2004 and the trip was worth every dollar I paid. Like nvtravel stated, A & K were on top of anything that was going on and I also never had ANY problems at any time and would not hesitate to go with A & K again. To auntcindy, late January in Cairo is pretty cold but warmer in Luxor and Aswan. I had also looked at Kings & Cox and Gate 1 before I chose A & K. Enjoy! It was a fabulous trip!!
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Aug 3rd, 2004, 01:16 PM
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Oops! I meant unqualifed to ANSWER anyone's questions.
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Aug 3rd, 2004, 01:54 PM
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MauiMaui,

I could not disagree with you more.

What difference does it make if I book my trip through A&K or another operator if the lodges are the same? Other than transfers, all of a persons time will be spent under the care of the lodges, and it will make ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE whether a person booked with A&K or paid half the price with another tour operator.

Personally, I would get more pleasure driving down the highway, wadding up a few thousand dollars in my hands and throw the money out the window and watching it fly around in my rear view mirror than to overpay A&K for an identical itinerary!
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Aug 3rd, 2004, 02:46 PM
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MauiMaui doesn't seem to be able to grasp that she isn't getting what we get,ie: the exact same or better lodging,and private vehicle and private guide.
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Aug 4th, 2004, 03:45 AM
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Just to throw my hat in the ring. I own a safari outfitting company in NYC, I have had several clients compare our prices with some of the huge guys on the same itinerary and we come in 15-30% cheaper. That said, if you scour the internet and know exactly what you are doing and use people's opinions that you trust, you can save a little over us. I feel that we definitely provided a lot of value for a very small to non-existent difference in price. My travel head has been booking African travel since the 70's, keeps a home in Kenya, and personally has inspected almost every camp in Africa. She specializes only in Africa and even that is at least a full time job, with all the constant change and development throughout the Continent. My two cents for what it's worth.
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Aug 4th, 2004, 11:34 AM
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To altcity, I grasp what you wrote, but you don't grasp what I wrote. I have traveled with my own private, guide and car, etc. but, if you read what I wrote, all I said was that I traveled with A & K to Egypt and was completely satisfied with them. My point is, if you have never gone to a specific country or state, seen a particular movie or read a particular book you can't really give a recommendation one way or another that will answer a person questions. Auntcindy asked if anyone used A & K for travel and I answered
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Aug 4th, 2004, 12:14 PM
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Maui: But we did visit Egypt,Nile cruise, Luxor, Petra.We did it with private guides etc. for a lot less than A&K. You don't appear to get it.
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