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Aug 4th, 2004, 12:50 PM
  #21
 
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atlcity-
Who did you book with? What was your itinerary? Thanks. Liz
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Aug 4th, 2004, 01:21 PM
  #22
 
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Liz:For years we've followed A&K itineraries.We get their catalog then have my t/a book the same(occasionally what I think are better hotels).The difference is I spend 10 minutes with the concierge and book a private car/guide. We have a meet and assist with transport from the hotel that gets us there faster than any tour. We spent3- 4 nights in a suite at 4 seasons Nile view,4 night Nile cruise (Sonesta) would have preferred Oberoi boat but schedule didn't work for us. we then flew to Amman w/meet& assist from Petra Movenpick.Private car/guide again.There is nothing wrong with A&k but you can travel better for less. The facts are indisputable.
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Aug 4th, 2004, 02:54 PM
  #23
 
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I'm not familiar with A & K or any other tour company for that matter. My question is..do they ALL greet you at the airport, provide transfers, land excursions planned for the daytime if you're in a cities and not at a Safari camp, transportation within Africa, meals etc.? I always assumed that the tour guide was with you for the entire trip from the time you landed until the time you departed Africa. Is this correct or are there varying degrees depending upon price? (of course I understand that there is probably a certain amount of free time for shopping etc when I say always with you.)???
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Aug 4th, 2004, 08:48 PM
  #24
 
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Atlcity-
One more time! Who did you book with? Liz
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Aug 5th, 2004, 02:24 AM
  #25
 
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Shreve Lazar Travel(Maureen Weiss) Caesars Hotel Atlantic City N.J. 609-348-1189.I'm curious as to why it matters,I did the reasearch then had Maureen book it,any T/A could have done it.
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Aug 5th, 2004, 03:49 AM
  #26
 
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atlcity-
That was the question that auntcindy asked. She is looking for someone to book with if people didn't recommend A&K. Since you were so against A&K, I'm sure auntcindy would like to know who this great t/a is that gets you those wonderful rates.
As a comparison though, whenever Rocco finds his great rates he tells us what he pays and compares it to the more expensive agent. That way people can see what the difference really is and decide whether its worth the bother of doing the research and then using that person to do the booking. I'm assuming that the t/a gets a cut in there somewhere. Liz
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Aug 5th, 2004, 04:05 AM
  #27
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NewYorkGolfer41 -

Whether you do a safari to East Africa (Kenya & Tanzania) or Southern African countries (SA, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia) there will be someone to meet you at the airport. This might be your guide or a transit driver who will take you to your first hotel.

Assuming an itinerary in East Africa, you will have your guide/driver with you throughout your trip, especially if you are driving from camp to camp. This guide drives you throughout - to camps, on game drives, stops for shopping, for "potty-calls" and is there for your every need. They do not eat meals with you, have sleeping accommodations and meal services provided separate from their guests. And will get you to the airport for your return trip home.

This will vary if you are flying between national parks/reserves, wherein the guide/driver will get you to the airport, wait till you board plane, then you are met at the other end by a guide/driver of the camp that is your next stop; this will continue throughout your trip. At these lodges/camps you will have a guide/driver assigned to you for game drives, but this person doesn't have meals with you and sleeps at separate accommodations provided by the camp. Once you return to Nairobi or Arusha/Kilimanjaro, you will be met by a rep of the tour operator you're working with to negotiate you through your airport departure.

In addition to your guide/driver, you will find that the hosts at the lodges/camps and staff are most attentive to your needs and requirements, so you're always in good hands.

This process is similiar in most countries when traveling whether with a group or independently.

In a country such as South Africa where many visitors stop at cities such as Cape Town or Johannesburg in addition to doing days on safari the processes is slightly different, but not much. Here, you will have a pickup at say CPT airport to gt you to your hotel, your guide/driver will meet you next day for any scheduled day-tours. However, if you have requested time on your own - you are on your own, but will have someone get you to the airport for your next stop.

When you arrive at a camp in SA, again you're welcomed at the camp/lodge, assigned a ranger/tracker with whom you go on your game drives. In most camps you will find that your ranger takes his/her meals with you; breakfast and lunch maybe, but especially dinner, yet, if you choose to have your meals on your own without company, you need only request this.

While the day-to-day schedules might be different, you are always assured that someone knows where you are, what you are doing, attend to your needs and requests. You will also find the schedule for activities might be different in each country, but you get to do and have what has been promised unless for some unforseen circumstance occurs - bad weather, broken vehicle, other - but every effort will be made to see you have the trip you paid for.

Whether you've paid for a budget or very expensive trip, you should never be left on your own figuring what to do next. The accommodations and qualiy of meals might be different depending on what has been paid, but generally, you have similar experiences.

But alot also depends on you asking questions so you have all the answers you need, arrange for what meets your desires for your safari or other activities, so as not to be disappointed. If you feel you'd prefer not to go out on safari immediately upon arriving in Kenya, you can arrive a day earlier and have a hotel day to get on "Africa time"; likewise you can add time at the end of your scheduled itinerary.

Some tour operators, whether based in your home country or an in-country outfitters can almost always deviate from a set itinerary, but be prepared for extra charges when working with budget companies. Though it's also not unusual that if you choose to deviate from a high-end operator, say an A&K that they too will charge for any changes.

In the end it's up to you the client, to get what you want, need, where to stay, how much to pay and finding the company that can best provide this and is attentive and understanding of your requests. This can cost you lots of money or can be a budget or moderate prices trip - everyone is different, but I can assure you the basic services are similar.

 
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Aug 5th, 2004, 04:34 AM
  #28
 
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Liz: The T/A didn't get the great rates, I did, and so could anyone else. I do my own research then have her book it.I'm not against A&K or anyone else.I am against wasting my hard earned money.
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Aug 5th, 2004, 04:38 AM
  #29
 
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Liz: If after being around this board you can't admit that travel with A&K etc. comes with a large premium then there is nothing more to discuss with you.
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Aug 5th, 2004, 05:03 AM
  #30
 
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I could have booked it myself but I have my T/A book it because it cost me no more money and she still gets her commission. For this loyality I sometimes get space grade upgrades,limo transport to and from the airport Gratis etc.I always know how much I can book it for myself then I have her price it.Sometimes she gets me upgrades I couldn't get myself,but I never pay more than I could book it myself.
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Aug 5th, 2004, 05:34 AM
  #31
 
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atlcity-
You assumed that all the folks here have the time, patience, etc. to contact all of these and many other places comparing rates, waiting for answers. I think that many people cannot or choose not to do this. Its a lot of work and juggling and negotiating. And for exactly how much? You never told us how much you saved. So why should we do it?
I'm not saying that a person can do better than A&K, I'm saying not everyone wants to do the things you are doing to beat the rate. Just allow that all of us are different and getting the very lowest rate for a LOT of time and effort isn't everyone's cup of tea. You assume also that every t/a likes these people who walk in and tell them the lowest price is their price. You don't always endear yourself to them with this information. We've also seen the ones who come on to this site and complain about the cheap so and so who jerked them around.
I've listened to posters go on and on about cheap rates and I tried it. I contacted all of these people and places and worked myself into a stupor and decided I would gladly pay the going rate because I would get what I pay for. That ultra-light flight would have been reserved and paid for and I would be sailing up over the hippo pods if I'd have let A&K book it.
You speak in broad statements, but until I see how much you save, I'll shop with A&K. (Not really A&K, but someone comparable.) Liz
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Aug 5th, 2004, 06:29 AM
  #32
 
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LIz: You have a right to spend your money as you please.Since I type with 1 finger and am not inclined to spell it out to the penny,you can assume my savings are in the thousands of dollars.Another difference is that I don't do tours,we travel privately and do so for less,so I wouldn't book with a tour co. unless it was unavoidable.If you want to find out the exact savings pick an A&K tour then go to the net & price the flights and hotels yourself.Add in an allowance for meals and guides etc and you will have your answer.Happy Travels.
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Aug 5th, 2004, 07:52 AM
  #33
 
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To anyone considering booking by themselves:

I'm with Liz on this one! I certainly don't want to "overpay", but having done it both ways, I'm not convinced that doing all the work yourself is always worth it..Doing ir right takes a ALOT of time and effort, and is BEST done by (1) travellers who are returning to a region, not first timers and (2) those travelling in shoulder or low seasons.
In some cases-- off season in particular-- dealing direct MAY get you better accomodation rates-- but ONLY at places that have lots of space left. The places that are full don't get that way by disappointing guests, and if a place is unusually willing to deal, it may be a danger sign -- witness Roccco's experience with the great bargain rate at Kulefu, which turned out badly. A bad experience can really ruin a long-planned and expensive vacation, so caveat emptor.

At popular destinations, good luck doing this during high season! Might as well save yourself lots of time and effort and just use a good TA. And being a REGULAR good customer of a good TA may get you better treatment and savings than nickel and diming them. Isn't it just possible that a specialist travel agent knows MORE than people on these boards? (Sorry to those who may be offended...that's my experience.) Who knows who WE are anyway?
A personal example-- on my recent trip, I gave a negative review to Duma Tau. This was the camp that I picked myself--based on stuff I read here and elsewhere on the net! The TA was honest in saying they didn't know it well, because they knew Kings Pool and Savuti and felt more comfortable recommending those. But I had done my own research...and told them to book DT. I should have listened...

I've never used A&K, but I always suspect people who make blanket statements that sound like "if you do it that way and not my way you are stupid".
An educated consumer is a better consumer, but no one here knows EVERYTHING, and they certainly don't know you and your preferences.

So think about the value of your time-- both time spent on researching, booking and confirming all arrangements--before you take anyone else's advice about how to book your precious holiday time.




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Aug 5th, 2004, 08:08 AM
  #34
 
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Well, here's another vote for Liz. I've done it myself, and I've used a high-end company when it's in a remote location where unexpected developments may make me wish I had a little extra pull that comes with massive experience in an area. I've enjoyed both. The fact that atlcity can't say approximately how much they saved speaks volumes. Since the most expensive A&K tour to Egypt is $5,000, I believe that saying one "saved thousands" is not credible. When I've done it myself I've saved money, but I've certainly been able to say what percentage or roughly how many hundreds of dollars I've saved by doing it myself. I do it myself because I ENJOY doing it, and if I save money then that's a bonus. I haven't used A&K, but am giving them serious consideration for my trip to Egypt next year. And as tashak points out, travel specialists with many years experience in a given area are bound to know a little more than the average traveler posting on this board.
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Aug 5th, 2004, 08:16 AM
  #35
 
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KathyA - please consider Maupintour if you go to Egypt. My trip with them in April could not have been any more perfect - first class all the way. And, there were only 7 of us. There is no way some people can see anything any other way than their own. I have traveled many times "doing it myself" and with tours. I love being able to sit back and relax and let someone else do all the details and arranging and taking responsibility. Also, I am happy having everything paid for in advance and not being "nickled and dimed to death" once there.
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Aug 5th, 2004, 08:24 AM
  #36
 
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Upon planning our first trip to East Africa, we had gotten quotes from 3-4 different tour operators including A&K for basically the same itinerary.

All I know is that the quote from A&K was about $3000 higher than the second closest quote.

A&K is a great tour operator and
the only difference in the itineraries was that they were putting us in a couple of their lodges.

For those of you that can afford and like A&K, I say go for it. But to me, that $3000 savings could be put to use later on for planning another safari.
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Aug 5th, 2004, 08:28 AM
  #37
 
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Louise: Thanks for the tip! I'll look at Maupintour. I wanted to use them years ago for a trip to Eastern Europe when it was first opening up. Back then they were beyond my price range, but I'll give them a look for Egypt. The last place I used a tour was in Russia. It was a high-end tour, and there were only four people on it. They got us backstage at the Mariinsy Theatre, a private showing of Catherine the Great's personal theatre iin the Hermitage, a private tour of the Ballet School, and about thirty other things. Try booking that on your own!! There's a time and place for everything!
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Aug 5th, 2004, 08:54 AM
  #38
 
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kathyA: The most expensive A&K to Egypt is $5ooo.oo. What are you talking about?Go ahead and spend your money on A&k etc.I'll use my savings towards my next luxury vacation.No buses or 10-20 people per guide etc.Those savvy travelers who know what i'm talking about laugh all the way to the bank.
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Aug 5th, 2004, 09:46 AM
  #39
 
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Does anyone else think this thread has been beaten to death?? Atlcity: We hear you. Got it. You are happy doing things your way. Other people are happy doing things in other ways. Vive la difference!

Unless anyone has very specific recommendations for Auntcindy's Egypt trip
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Aug 5th, 2004, 09:50 AM
  #40
 
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Tashak:I'm done.Happy Travels.
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