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

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Sep 29th, 2005, 04:45 AM
  #41
 
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I would say yes. In 2002 we spent 5 days in the Masi Mara, with game drives twice a day, camp, food etc, pick up from Nairobi and transfer to Lake Navasha,(sp) for £450 Ė It wasnít luxury but its all about seeing the lions so we didnít care. We went direct with a Kenyan company as they are cheaper and all the money goes to Kenyans. However, your trip is slightly longer than ours, put still the large end of 15 grand! Donít forget to tip your drivers.
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Sep 29th, 2005, 04:51 AM
  #42
 
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Don't forget to check whether Serendipity has optionally booked rooms for you in these places.

They may just be giving you a pricing without commenting on whether or not they can actually deliver it for those dates or not...

Good luck!
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Sep 29th, 2005, 05:06 AM
  #43
 
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Great. I would be candid with Africa Adventure and tell them you thought their quote was high, you contacted a local operator directly, and that operator is able to provide the same trip for $4,000 less, enough to more than pay for airfare (and you may even be able to upgrade to BA Economy Plus for that amount). The $4,000 likely represents AAC's mark-up.

You can almost always do better by booking with a local operator instead of Abercrombie & Kent, Africa Adventure or some other US-based operators. That being said, there are some US operators who don't have excessive mark-ups and some like to work with them since its much easier (and cheaper) to speak with them on the phone.

Before you do anything, make sure that Serendipity has reserved your spaces at the lodges.

I had an experience for a safari in Namibia where an operator gave me an excellent quote, but none of the places wera available. So, just make sure Serendipity can confirm and then have them send you bill for deposit so you lock it in.

Don't worry about offending AACs feelings. Their model is outdated in the day of Internet and email when we can deal easily and directly with a local operator, which is what I have done for my safaris.

Sounds like a great trip.
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Sep 29th, 2005, 05:21 AM
  #44
 
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Bugswife

No, Kusini and Olakira offer the same kind of experience in the same general area!

6 nights down in the South are probably too much. As I stated, it depends on your interest.

If you want to see as much wildlife as possible, then a couple of nights at Swala or Oliver's in Tarangire are good.

You can do Lake Manyara in 3 hours on the way to Ngorongoro and see quite a bit of wildlife in just a few hours.

I don't like on-nighters much, so I think you should stick to either Manyara or Tarangire - unless you want to get a taste for the very different Treetops and Tree Lodge!
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Sep 29th, 2005, 05:25 AM
  #45
 
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Let's make that "1-nighters" not "on-nighters".
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Sep 29th, 2005, 06:50 AM
  #46
 
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Michael,
Serendipity is a US (NY) based company.
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Sep 29th, 2005, 08:32 AM
  #47
 
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Wow, I didn't realize Serendity was based in US. If that's so, then Africa Adventure is really adding a big mark-up.

She could probably do better still by booking directly with Arusha based operator, but I would understand if she's had enough and went with Serendipity. But, I would bet Roy's could knock some money off that quote. Afterall, Serendipity, I don't think, doesn't have their own fleet of vehicles in Tanzania and likely needs to farm that out to a local operator.

Michael
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Sep 29th, 2005, 11:08 AM
  #48
sandi
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With the exception of A&K and Micato, just about every other tour operator (US or European-based) uses an in-country outfitter for their safari ground operations. And when the biggies are overbooked, they also outsource to known-named in-country outfitters.
 
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Sep 29th, 2005, 01:37 PM
  #49
bat
 
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michael:
I think that Sandi is associated with Africa Serendipity which, if I am correct, puts her in the awkward position of not being able to acknowledge it without violating Fodor's policy. IMHO that policy has a good purpose but operates at times to prevent the full dissemination of information.
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Sep 29th, 2005, 02:18 PM
  #50
 
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Comes the Revolution! ZZ
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Sep 29th, 2005, 07:32 PM
  #51
bat
 
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Zambezi:
What does your reference mean?
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Sep 30th, 2005, 04:50 AM
  #52
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Got an email back from Roy's. They work with Serendipity and already were working on securing the locations for me through them. I think that is great!

As far as Sandi being associated with Serendipity, it really doesn't matter to me. I went back through a bunch of her replies and all of them offered great information with absolutely no 'plugging' of Serendipity and just a few mentions to call Roy's directly. I have sent Serendipity invoice to AAC to prove to them that I am not comparing apples to oranges. I think the problem with AAC is that they are huge and therefore have a huge overhead. I do not think that is the case with Serendipity, which is fine with me.
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Sep 30th, 2005, 04:51 AM
  #53
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Oh, and with the savings, I think I will indulge in an upgrade to the Sultan's Suite at Bluebay!
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Sep 30th, 2005, 05:29 AM
  #54
 
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Sounds like this is working out great, and that you'll have total savings of almost $4,000.

I wouldn't necessarily attribute AAC's large mark-up to the fact that they have a large overhead. It may simply be because they have a clientele that is drawn in by the book (its a great book) and doesn't shop around. Also, there are lots of first-timers, and I was one of them, that don't understand that the same lodges are available to all. Also, there are some who think that price = quality, and they like to tell their friends they paid $15,500 for a safari.

For our first safari in August 1999, we had ordered the Abercrombie & Kent brochure, but we were amazed at their prices, to we sent one of their itineraries to a Nairobi-based operator, who was recommended by the Kenya Consulate, and the booked the IDENTICAL trip, but with private vehicle, for more than $5,000 LESS than the A&K fare. When we left the lodge in our private vehicle to go on safari, the A&K group climbed into a shared vehicle, all of them wearing their ridiculous A&K "real safari hat" emblazoned with A&K logo.

It does pay to shop around. If I were you, I would feel no compunction to share the intinerary with AAC since they are going to try to distinguish their service and tell you where they add value. They aren't going to lose a $15,500 fish easily, I don't think.

The Internet and email hopefully will eat into the margins of these high-end operators b/c they really aren't doing much more than farming your trip out to someone in Africa and adding a mark-up. Its better to deal directly and avoid the markup.

Sounds like a great trip, and while I have never used Roy's, they do get good reviews.

Michael
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Sep 30th, 2005, 06:02 AM
  #55
bat
 
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Sandi's relationship with Africa Serendipity and Roy's (and the business relationships of other regular posters) can be a plus--not a detriment--to many readers. And I was not suggesting otherwise. Readers have the ability to read her posts, evaluate her knowledge and then decide whether to do business with her. There IS a problem IMO in lack of disclosure and here the Fodor's policy puts a poster in a quandary. If they would like to reveal their business relationships-either with their own company or a local operator--in the interest of full disclosure how do they do it without violating Fodor's policy?
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Sep 30th, 2005, 07:32 AM
  #56
 
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I agree with Bat, and have no objection if interested parties participate on the forum, so long as interest is disclosed. I remember James from eyesonafrica, and his posts were extremely well informed. And I think the same of Sandi's -- honestly, I never knew she was affiliated with Serendipity, and still don't save one post making such claim, but her posts are always well informed, and she's a terrific asset to the site.

Michael
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Sep 30th, 2005, 07:44 AM
  #57
 
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Agree with bat and thit_cho.

Also wanted to say that I guessed that bugswife could get the same itinerary without a lot of looking for 12k. So, since I guessed the closest, do I get a prize?
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Sep 30th, 2005, 08:17 AM
  #58
 
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"Comes the Revolution" is an expression I use when I read or hear of something so extravagent---so beyond the reach of most people not just in this world but in the United States---that it begs for an uprising of the majority against the minority. There's a touch of Marxist ideology inherent in the remark. I must admit, however, that within the last few years, my husband and I have paid in the neighborhood of $10,000-$!2,000 for safaris to Southern and East Africa, including transportation. They were usually a little more than three weeks in length and a combination of reliance on tour operators and self-direction. ZZ
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Sep 30th, 2005, 09:02 AM
  #59
 
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Those revolutions have not seemed to serve post-colonial Africa too well.

I see nothing wrong with spending $15,000 on a safari, as ultimately, to borrow for the late Ronald Reagan, this is trickle-down economics that ultimately benefits Africa.

Mfuwe, the town of about 10,000 people outside of South Luangwa National Park, is largely supported by the safari industry, and a worker at a game lodge may be responsible for supporting up to 10 people or more. I promise you that the residents of Mfuwe are not looking to throw Molotov Cocktails at the game vehicles as they pass through town carrying passengers whom are paying more for one night of accomodations than these people will earn in a year. Instead, these passengers are welcomed with genuine hospitality like I have seen nowhere else.

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Sep 30th, 2005, 09:39 AM
  #60
bat
 
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Zambezi:

NOW I get it! I think I was just confused because it followed my post and I thought it was intended as a response to something that I had said. The phrase sounded familiar; I thought it had a literary basis. I googled it and unfortunately the "hits" are overwhelmingly about a recent use of it (in fact the title of the book is "Now comes . . ..) by the far christian right in response to their role in getting Bush elected--so that confused me even more as to your meaning!

Leely:
Too bad we did not start a pool. Hmm, will our open admiration for your acuity suffice? =D>
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