Advice on African Travel Agents

Old Mar 15th, 2008, 07:34 PM
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Advice on African Travel Agents

Can someone please straighten me out on a few items?

First of all, I am not really sure what the difference is between a tour operator and a travel agent who puts tours together.

For instance, does CC Africa act as a travel agency and also manage and/or own lodges? Some of the lodges on the CC Africa web site are the same ones as on the Siyabona web site, and I find that confusing.

I posed a question about a lodge on the CC Africa site and a lady from CCA contacted me. She said she is a tour operator and can book CC Africa Lodges as well as others. So does that make her a travel agent?

Also, when booking up to a year in advance, which in many cases is necessary, you never know what may come up. If you book with a travel agency, you can get travel cancellation or interruption insurance, but if you book the lodges on your own, can you still get that? It would be an added disaster to lose all that money if at the last minute you were unable to go for some catastrophic reason.

Also, who owns the private reserves in which the lodges are situated? Do the reserve owners own the lodges too, or just rent the land in the reserves to the lodge owners?

Am I the only one who is confused about these things? (Please don't say "yes".)

Elaine22 is offline  
Old Mar 15th, 2008, 07:55 PM
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Hello Elaine,

Don't feel bad, I have four friends who do this for CCAfrica and I still don't quite understand the details. I am sure someone else will answer but I will be calling one of them in the next week and will ask him exactly how it works and post.

Last I knew, the only lodge CCA owned was Phinda and they managed the rest. Oddly enough, they also owned a hotel in Nairobi (Holiday Inn?) but do not manage it.

George
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Old Mar 15th, 2008, 08:03 PM
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<i>Also, when booking up to a year in advance, which in many cases is necessary, you never know what may come up. If you book with a travel agency, you can get travel cancellation or interruption insurance, but if you book the lodges on your own, can you still get that?</i>

Most lodges will ask for a deposit to hold your booking. Then usually 60 days prior to arrival you will pay the rest. If you cancel closer to the time of arrival, the amount refunded is smaller
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Old Mar 16th, 2008, 12:34 AM
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CCA ofcourse have all the lodges.

But, there is also the travel wing that can book hotels/lodges/camps/flights/transfers etc etc., like any travel agent does.

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Old Mar 16th, 2008, 10:40 AM
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Still confused. I don't understand what is meant by private reserves. Do a few private citizens own gazillions of hectacres and then parcel them out to other private citizens who turn them into still more private mini-reserves and then build lodges and camps in various locations within those parcels?

Even the names make it confusing - Sabi Sand is a private reserve, but there seem to be other private reserves within this private reserve. I am already lost, but there's more. For example, there are Sabi Sabi lodges, which I guess are in the Sabi Sabi reserve which is in the Sabi Sand reserve. Then there are other groups of lodges, like Exeter and Londolozi, within other reserves which may or not be in the greater Sabi Sand Reserve. My head is spinning just trying to frame my question so I can understand it myself, even if no one else can.

Now more confusion - George says CC Africa owns just Phinda, but HariS says &quot;CCA of course have all the lodges&quot;. Does &quot;have all the lodges&quot;, mean they only manage them for other owners, or that they own them all, but lease some of them out to other management companies?

I am seriously considering using CC Africa to book the safari and Victoria Falls part of my trip, but I'd truly like to know with whom I am dealing, and to understand the &quot;hierarchy&quot; of all this.

George, I hope your friend sheds some light on how thing work in Africa. I think I am beginning to understand the term &quot;Darkest Africa&quot;. I am definitely in the dark.

I still don't know about travel interruption insurance. I know you can get a refund up to two months in advance of your booking, but what if something happens immediately prior to embarking on, or worse, during the trip, and plans have to be aborted? When you book through a regualr tour company like Micato, for example, they offer this insurance.
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Old Mar 16th, 2008, 11:16 AM
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Ii am no expert, but offer you this map which may make things easier to visualize; I believe the private reserves are concessions leased form the government but again, I am not certain of this. You are not alone in your confusion..I felt the same way before my own trip last fall:

http://www.eyesonafrica.net/south-af...and-safari.htm

You should look into buying trip insurance from a company like TravelGuard; I bought mine through this site which I learned about here:

www.insuremytrip.com

Many policies will cover you if you have to cancel at the last minute..
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Old Mar 16th, 2008, 11:19 AM
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Elaine, you can find travel insurance at www.insuremytrip.com. You can compare options such as medical, lost luggage, delayed flights, trip interruption, trip cancellation, pre-existing conditions etc. They will list several companies, read through the fine print of what is and isn't covered and then decide. You can find one similar to Micatos or any organized tour groups insurance.
If you or your travel mates have a pre-existing condition that may make you cancel, you need to see what companies will cover that and the timeframe of when you need to purchase the coverage. Some companies give you two weeks after paying your trip deposit to buy insurance, after that any pre-existing condition will not be allowed on the cancellation part of the insurance policy.
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Old Mar 16th, 2008, 11:31 AM
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Kruger is a very big national park. At this park there is game viewing and lodgings for visitors to use, whether self-drives or with rangers/vehicles.

Parts of the park have been parceled off as private reserves, still within the Kruger borders.

On these reserves, i.e., Sabi, Manyaletti, Timbavati, there are smaller parcels alotted to individual lodge/camps, i.e., Sabi Sabi, Singita, Londolozi, etc. etc.

CCA owns/operates the camps/lodges shown on their site in the various countries indicated. CCA can book these for you, or you can use another travel agent, tour operator (who does individual property bookings) or in-country outfitter... all can book CCA properties.

A company as A&amp;K, has some of their own camps/lodges, under the name of Sanctuary; otherwise, their itineraries can use various properties. With a company as Micato, they don't own any specific property, but use various camps/lodges owned/managed by others for their itineraries.

You can look thru any number of African tour operators, located in your home country or in-country and notice many of the same named properties. These operators do not own the properties, but can book them. Even the smallest tour operator can book a CCA property on your behalf.

As far as insurance, it's always best to purchase your own insurance (see: www.insuremytrip.com for various options available) separate from your provider, i.e., Micato, A&amp;K, etc. just in case the provider goes belly us. You can purchase a Comprehensive policy that includes trip cancellation/interruption for covered reasons, any reason (for a supplement), flight/baggage delay, baggage loss, medical/dental, medical evacuation. Or, simply a medical/evacuation policy. Most reputable safari operators, once in-country will not allow you to commence your safari if you do not, at minimum, have medical and evacuation insurance. You have to provide them name of insurer, policy #, contact #.


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Old Mar 16th, 2008, 11:50 AM
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Sandi,

Since when has the Sabi Sands been part of Kruger National Park?

Elaine

They are privately owned areas of land that were once used for cattle farming or hunting. Due to various factors, photographic tourism began to emerge in the area. The landowners, then agreed to drop any fences between them, creating the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. It was though, still fenced from Kruger. These fences were finally dropped, and the animals able to roam between the two areas.

As for ownership, it is quite complicated. Some areas of land (concessions) are owned by people, but managed by larger outfitters with a number of lodging options. When a camp is situated on a small area of land, they may also pay to drive on neighbouring properties, giving the guests a greater area to drive around.

Phinda is also no longer owned by CC Africa, they lease the land. Though they do own the animals that roam in the reserve. Confusing I know, but a land reclaimation which saw the government buy the land on behalf of the community.
 
Old Mar 16th, 2008, 12:59 PM
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Sorry, the correct word should have been &quot;adjacent&quot; to Kruger. When you look at the map, these reserves are marked off to the west of Kruger appearing, to the unfamiliar, to be one and the same.
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Old Mar 16th, 2008, 01:18 PM
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lbj-

Sorry if this is a silly question, but can you explain what you mean by CC 'owning the animals?'

I understand the private reserve thing OK, having been at Tala Game Reserve in the past, but if there is no fence &amp; animals can roam freely, how would you know what animals are 'yours'. And do you really &amp; truly 'buy' the animals? From what they told us at Tala, they paid 'someone' (I think that was the gov't, but not sure about that) the right to transplant animals from the wild on to their reserve, but they never mentioned the word 'own'. They told us it was all strictly controlled (ie the tranquilizing &amp; transport), as well as the types of animals they could have there were strictly monitored and controlled. But, Tala is a fenced in property, and quite a distance from any National Park.

I'd love to hear more about this, thanks!
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Old Mar 16th, 2008, 01:27 PM
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Phinda was originally farmland which CC Africa returned to its natural state. This meant that all the animals were bought to populate the park. Under the land reclaimation and compensation, Phinda was purchased by the community. This is the right to the land. So they now pay a lease on to them to remain on the property. I am not too sure on the finer details, the animal ownership is because under a normal reclaimation, there would have been no wildlife in that area. It also means that if the situation did change, then CC Africa retained the right to move important rhino populations for example, to other areas. This does a more succint job than myself:

http://www.adventuretravel.biz/relea...hinda_land.pdf
 
Old Mar 16th, 2008, 01:28 PM
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BTW, Phinda is fenced, so all animals can be accounted for.
 
Old Mar 16th, 2008, 01:31 PM
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I should also add that Phinda is not in the Greater Kruger eco-system, but in KwaZulu Natal.
 
Old Mar 16th, 2008, 09:09 PM
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Thanks for the detailed explanation - things are becoming understandable, at last. I knew there would be really knowledgeable people among the postors.

Also, thanks for the map reference. Unfortunately, I couldn't print the map of the reserves. That sometimes happens with maps.

I have made a note of the travel insurance people and as soon as I can pull myself out of my indecisive state and actually book something, I'll contact them for rates and services.

Kirkman's Kamp has been suggested by the CC Africa rep, but I am hesitant. The accommodations as shown in the pictures on the Eyes on Africa site did not look very interesting, (quite boring, in fact), and since this will be my one and only experience, I want it to be really special, not just in the game viewing, which is crucial, but also in the accommodations and atmosphere. February is high season, but I would like to hold costs to approximately $1,000 -$1,200 per day per couple. Is there something better in that price range, or is Kirman's as good as it gets unless I up the ante considerably? Is Phinda or MalaMala worth stretching for?

I am also trying to decide if I should spend 3 nights in one place, or squeeze in an extra night, and stay for 2 nights in two different lodges. I don't want to lose too much precious time travelling from place to place, though.

I am curious about where I posted this query. I have Africa and the Middle East bookmarked but when I open it, this particular question desn't appear. I have to click on my screen name to find it. What did I do wrong?




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Old Mar 16th, 2008, 09:56 PM
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Click your screen-name and your threads pop up.

Another option, is to search through the search box - type the name of the thread, the way you remember it.

Or, i suppose you can find it through the google search engine also. Fodors is very google friendly.

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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 02:15 AM
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Hi Elaine,

nearly 5 years ago my husband and I stayed at Sabi Sabi for some days, its a wonderful place. The private concession allows you to leave the roads which is very important to get near the animals or at least to have the chance to get nearer. They have the highest population of leopards, never seen them in such numbers than there. Animals are used to the vehicels and therefore taking pictures is easy.

We stayed at Inyati, Leopard Hills and Lodolozi, which was at that time a cca logde. I personally preferred Inyati and Leopard Hills to Londolozi which is a bit old fashioned and for me personally too much of old colonialism style. Inyati is very personal, we hat the best guides ever had in SA, it is kind of more familiar, the evenings in the booma are ful of funny and nice little stories and the good thing is, it is compared to the other lodges some kind of cost saving. So I would go for two days Inyati and then two days Leopard Hills or go for another cca lodge.

And: dont miss Phinda in Kwa Zulu Natal, wonderful place (Forest or Vlei Lodge ist ma favorite).

We did two safaris with cca and must admit that every thing just went perfect. You pay quite a lot of money, but parts of the money they put in social projects (you can visit them on their website). The guides are fabulous, very well trained and fun. Meals at Londolozi were not my cup of tea (but Phinda is lovely).

Wish you a wonderful journey!!!
Steff
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