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About to fork over $15,500 for Safari, is this reasonable?

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Sep 27th, 2005, 12:34 PM
  #21
sandi
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What can I say, when it's all been said. Very high at close to $8K person.

As mentioned, 1) you don't need a deluxe room at The Norfolk for a few hours sleep... their standard rooms are fine; 2)you don't need charter flights, most can be accommodated by scheduled flights.

Like others who have posted, I'm not sure exactly where Olakira camp is located and if remote this may be the only charter flight. If it's in the Central/Seronera area (the furthest north you should be at this time of year) you can probably get a scheduled flight from Seronera.

Also, do either 2-nts Tarangire or 2-nts Lake Manyara, but not both; I'd opt for Tarangire as the park is nicer even if not prime season; Lake Manyara as Tree Lodge is a bit higher-end then Treetops - a toss up. Personally, I'd do Tarangire and why not Swala Camp, if it's available.

The only real expensive stay is Crater Lodge, the others - Treetops and Tree Lodge - while expensive, don't justify such a high price overall price.

In Zanzibar, your rate at Blue Bay should, at least, be Half-board (Bkfst and Dinner). You shouldn't have to pay extra for dinner when there aren't any options to go elsewhere.

I'd also check whether drinks are included at Tree Lodge and Crater Lodge, both CCA properties whose prices should normally be inclusive... and laundry should be included at these two. Double check.

Africa Adventure Co. doesn't offer bargains, so would suggest you have one of the in-country (i.e., Roys) outfitters price this same itinerary. Send them an email through their website: www.roysafaris.com

Bear in mind that March '06 is high-season for this area of Tanzania, and many places are already booked, but you should be able to do better pricewise - based on availability.

Keep us posted.
 
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Sep 27th, 2005, 12:43 PM
  #22
 
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Olakira Camp is another high-quality seasonal camp operated by Asilia along the lines of Sayari - but it is a bit cheaper!

In March the camp is near Ndutu.
Eben
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Sep 27th, 2005, 12:44 PM
  #23
 
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I'm not sure that A&K's prices are a good gauge for comparison (except that you should definitely pay less) as they're very, very overpriced. I try to strive for half of what they charge.
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Sep 27th, 2005, 12:52 PM
  #24
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I just sent an email to Roy's. Will keep everyone advised. I am so upset. I thought I had this all wrapped up and ready to go. Just the thought of having to start over again is really stressing me out. But, thank you all for your input. Does the higher cost have to do with this being private, just the 2 of us, all the way?
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Sep 27th, 2005, 01:01 PM
  #25
 
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Bugswife...Hang in there. The folks on this forum know their stuff and they'll help you thru it. You'll get it sorted out. I'd second the motion to check with Africa Serendipity before signing on the dotted line. Good luck!

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Sep 27th, 2005, 01:08 PM
  #26
sandi
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bugswife -

The price shouldn't have to do with the fact that you are only two people. Most here do private safaris for two people... the reason for the comments you've received.

If, as Climbhigh..... mentions that Olakira camp is in the Ndutu area (a big area so can be anywhere here), you can drive to Seronera or Lk.Manyara for a scheduled flight to Arusha. It would be an early wake-up but not much different then going out on a morning game drive.

Don't be upset about your plans... it'll get straigtened out, and you'll probably save a few $$$ (or maybe lots of $$$).

However, question? Maybe another fly in the ointment! Is the $1,200/pp airfare predicated on the fact that you were planning on booking thru Africa Adventure? Were they also handling your air? If so, be prepared to check air directly and fares may be higher... and then there's the concern with availability.

If you have to book air on your own, you have the option, instead of flying into NBO (which has more flights) where you're not spending time... instead to fly directly into Kilimanjaro (JRO) via KLM (the only carrier other then Ethiopian Air via Addis Ababa) and you can depart if flying KLM from Dar-es-Salaam (DAR) which is a short flight from ZNZ.

BA flies in/out of NBO, but not JRO; but does fly out (home) from DAR (an early morning flight. Pressume you're traveling from the States!

Just want to be sure you have everything covered.
 
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Sep 27th, 2005, 01:25 PM
  #27
 
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sandi,
I think bugswife has the air covered. I believe the $2400 is for the extra miles she has to buy from AA (see the Emirates thread).

bugswife,
Most of the other posters here are also pricing/have priced private itineraries so the comments you've received are based on that factor already.

Don't be too upset, everyone is just trying to save you some $. Eventually you'll get everything sorted out. If however, you like the AAC itinerary and you're happy with the cost and services provided thus far, then by all means book with them. I'm sure you'll have a very memorable trip.
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Sep 27th, 2005, 01:27 PM
  #28
 
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No need to worry. If you were prepared to spend $15,500, then if you're unhappy with the quote from Roy's, you can always book with Africa Adventure.

I have been on several safaris and other pricey trips, and years later, I have no recollection of the amount I paid.

But, if the price is an issue, there are some suggestions in this thread to save some money here and there, like changing to Serena or Sopa at the Crater, which while not nearly as luxurius as the Crater Lodge, are comfortable and my best memories of my time at the Crater are of my time IN the crater, not at the lodge.

Don't despair -- it costs nothing to send an email to Roys and they should respond relatively quickly.
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Sep 27th, 2005, 02:13 PM
  #29
sandi
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Patty -

Thanks, just wanted to be sure all bases cover... no surprises.
 
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Sep 27th, 2005, 02:56 PM
  #30
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Aww. You guys are the best. xxxooo! I feel a tad better. Just got an unbelievably fast response from Serendipity and should get a number from them by tomorrow.
Next issue. How do I break it to Andre at Africa Adventures if I go with someone else? He has put a ton of time into this for me and came highly recommended by friends. I am a little scared to call him.
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Sep 27th, 2005, 03:12 PM
  #31
 
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bugswife,
Worry about what you're going to say to Andre tomorrow. First you need to see if you get quotes significantly lower than what Africa Adventure has provided for you.

And then if you find something similarly excellent for (substantially?) less $$, politely let them know.

Hang in there.
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Sep 27th, 2005, 03:26 PM
  #32
 
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Leely - I've been too lazy to type it in but I will do it right now under a new thread.

Bugswife - I found that American based tour operators were 2k-3k more than Tanzanian based operators for the same itinerary. However, it sounds like you might be more comfortable with having a US connection so I would try Roy's and Good Earth - both have offices here in the U.S. and both have very high ratings on this website. I chose my company because I really found a rapport with the guy on the other end of the email and that made a huge diffference for me ( I would have gone with Good Earth otherwise - they were very responsive).

If you still are more comfortable with a high end tour operator, also check out Thompsons amd Mikato.

You don't need to contact a million companies but at least get a good idea of what your choices are and what suits your style. Having said all that I haven't even taken my trip yet - this is just a repeat of all the good advice I got from everyone else.

Good luck.

carol
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Sep 27th, 2005, 03:59 PM
  #33
bat
 
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[my apologies if this double posts--I posted (or thought that I did) an hour ago and it has not shown up.]

bugswife1:

Has AA confirmed that they can get you into these places? If so, or if they are willing/able to tell you that they can confirm then I would be VERY careful about breaking off with them before you know whether you can get an accommodations confirmation from someone else. I think that March may be heavily booked already. [and you have already spent $$ lining up your air tickets, yes?] In my experience in getting quotes, most operators were not giving me any promises that they could actually get me the accommodations they were pricing. So a lower price quote could be an illusion in terms of getting the trip that you want.

Also, do you have a clear understanding about how much your charter planes are costing--I know that both Patty and Sandi mentioned this already and you said that the price was the same--but that really does not seem to be very likely. Are you absolutely sure?

Based on what I know about the pricing of the accomodations on your safari, I would guestimate that it could easily be around $10,000 for that portion. Are you staying in particularly expensive accommodations at Bluebay? You did not say--that too, could make a difference in terms of guaging whether and/or how high the price is.

You are definitely picking up some extra plane fare expense having to fly in and out of NBO.

Remember what Leely and Patty told you to keep in mind--if you can afford it, and you are comfortable with the service you are being provided that is worth considering. To me it is more important than the bottom line. For others, price may make the difference between being able to go or not to. Some people take pleasure in finding the absolutely lowest price; others do not care. So pricing seems to me to be something that has a personal dimension to it.
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Sep 28th, 2005, 12:17 PM
  #34
 
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bugswife1,

Just out of curiosity, did you mention to the agent that you were hoping for something under $20,000, as you posted here?
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Sep 28th, 2005, 12:24 PM
  #35
 
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atravelynn,
Wouldn't that be a funny coincidence? Next time I will mention to my operator, "Oh, I'd like the safari to cost under $100,000."

I wonder what THAT itinerary would look like.

Good luck, bugswife. I'm curious to hear what you decide.
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Sep 28th, 2005, 06:21 PM
  #36
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Actually, when AA told me the ballpark price originally, I thought it was the norm and accepted it with a big gulp. It wasn't until I started asking around that I found out of so many more tour operators that are more reasonably priced. AND, Serendipity got back to me and here is their itinerary:

Day 1-Hotel transfer Nairobi to Norfolk, standard room.
Day 2-Scheduled flight to Kilimanjaro & drive to Tarangire. Overnight at Treetops Lodge.
Day 3-Morning game drive & transfer to Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. Or, stay one more night at Tarangire & deduct $250 per person.
Day 4-Mto Wa Mbu, Gibbs Farm for Lunch, Iraqw Center, Ngorongoro Crater. Stay at Crater Lodge.
Day 5-Morning tour & afternoon hike. Crater Lodge.
Day 6-Oldupai Gorge brief visit & on to Olakira Mobile Camp.
Day 7-Olakira
Day 8-Olakira
Day 9-Olakira
Day 10-6:00 AM departure to Seronera for scheduled flight via Arusha to Zanzibar. Met & transfered to Bluebay, deluxe Room w/half board.
Day 11-Free day
Day 12-Free day
Day 13-Transfer to Stone Town w/spice tour. PM Flight to Nairobi
Day 14-Home!
DRUMROLL>>>>>>$5800 per person--almost 2K per person less than AA.
Supplements: Circle Rim Hike at Crater $42pp., Full board @ Bluebay $16pp, Upgrade to Sultan Suite @ Bluebay $75per night.
EXTRAS: Dhow Sunset Dinner Cruise $55 pp, Dhow afternoon sail w/lunch $80 pp.

Does this sound better? And, what the heck do I say to AA?
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Sep 28th, 2005, 06:27 PM
  #37
 
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How about:

You're fired!
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Sep 29th, 2005, 03:21 AM
  #38
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ROFL.

Another question. I read that the long rains are in March and that it is not the best time for game viewing at Manyara, or Tarangire. Any reason why they would take us there anyway? Is there an alternative?
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Sep 29th, 2005, 03:56 AM
  #39
 
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Jokes (from me) aside, xhances are that AAC is monitoring this board so they are probably aware of your situation.

Best is just to be honest and tell them that you did research based on rack rates on the internet and that their prices are somewhat out of line. Ask them if they can recalculate or explain the extra costs.

About the itinerary.

You are doing a lot of driving early on. Treetops is lovely and romantic but it is 45 minutes outside Tarangire. You will arrive at the main gate and drive 1h 15 minutes to another gate before the 45 min drive to Treetops. Granted the 1h 15 min is a game drive but the largest portion of it is away from the river and rather bushy with not much to see.

The next morning you do the reverse. before departing for Manyara.

By the end of March (if rain is eminent)the Tarangire wildlife will start to migrate out of the park. So you may be OK in mid-March.

At Manyara, the drive down to Tree Lodge is 2.5 hours. You will probably see most animals rather early on in the drive. And the next day you reverse the 2.5 hour drive. I am not sure if you will have time for all the other activities around Mto wa Mbu.

Neither Treetops and Tree Lodge are in prime game viewing areas. But they are romantic and different and if you don't mind the driving and lack of wildlife you won't be disappointed.

Staying at the Crater Lodge for two nights will be relaxing and romantic as well. Again, it is at least an hour to get down to the crater floor so plan your drives and take some time-outs just enjoying the lodge.

Your Ndutu camp should be fine. You will probably drive quite a bit depending on the exact location of the migration (and they move quickly and often).

Be aware that even a bit of rain will turn the area into a sludgy mess - it is absolutely crucial that you get a solid 4WD vehicle with good backup in case you get stuck. This is no place for a 2WD minibus and even the extended Lancruisers can get into trouble due to the extra weight.

Have a great time.
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Sep 29th, 2005, 04:37 AM
  #40
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So, should I bag Manyara Lodge & Tarangire Lodge & stay at Kusini instead?
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