Anyone familiar with Cowabunga Safaris?

Old Sep 13th, 2004, 07:19 PM
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Anyone familiar with Cowabunga Safaris?

I saw an ad for this company in the most recent issue of "Travel Africa" and had never heard of them before...they're out of Topeka, Kansas.

Nice website and some interesting sample safaris....
phernska is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2004, 04:10 AM
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There's good history on their website about the company and it is an interesting website. That said, these are mostly group safaris and we found their prices rather high for ordinary itineraries and nothing special as far as the accommodations.

You might want to do a search on this board - vaguely recall that someone might have used them.
Old Sep 14th, 2004, 05:07 AM
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Cowabunga Safaris is run by the same man who wrote the book, "I'd Rather Be on Safari." And Sandi is correct, they are group departures.
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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 09:54 AM
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I just came back from a safari in Tanzania. I didn't use Cowabunga, but did run into the group while going on a hot air balloon ride. They were all in the other balloon, so I didn't have much interaction with them.

To be fair to Cowabunga, I didn't talk to the tour guide directly nor their customers. BUT, what I did hear was a lot of complaints from the Aussies (in the other balloon as well) that were interacting with the tour guide & group. They said he was very rude to all the tour guides and other locals from Tanzania. Also, that they are known for charging the customers a lot, but paying the local drivers/guides very little. Also, our local guides did not have very nice things to say about one particular guide (Gary). Overall he sounds like the typical loud obnoxious American, but like I said earlier, to be fair, I didn't have any direct interaction with them. At first glance he seemed very entertaining & my husband said that the tour group members seemed to be having a good time.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 05:50 PM
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We've nbeen on 2 safaris with Gary Clarke (he 's not obnoxious--just passionalte and very knowledgable about Africa). Our first trip included canoeing down the Zambezi River, staying in houseboats, tented camps, excellent food, great guides, friendly staff and lots of repeat clients. In fact, for over 20 years Gary's clientele has been developed by word of mouth. After our first safari we even regrouped in Spokane WA for a picture party and reuinon.
Most of our group got together three years later for an old-fashioned overland safari. The few who didn't make the second trip, didn't go because they couldn't wait 3 years and went 2 years later. I'd go every summer if I could afford to.
Gary is the former director of the Topeka KS Zoo and is very well known and respected in the zoo field. He's a character, but always teaching you new things. As soon as we got on the plane in NY, Gary was passing out articles for us to read and start learning about Africa.
We had people on our first trip from ages 15 to 81 (only 16 per group) and three years later we ranged in age from 18-84. It was absolutely fabulous!
I would recommend Cowabunga Safaris to anyone who wants to see Africa up close and personal.
jdbnola is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2008, 09:55 AM
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I have been on safari with Cowabunga Safaris 6 times--spending a total of nearly four months in various safari countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Some of the previous postings are dead wrong: Re: Tips--at each safari camp an envelope was circulated to collect tips--the tour director pre-warned us before the trip to plan on $10-12 per day per person for guides plus a lesser amount for camp staff, which we left in the rooms/tents on our own.

Re: The cost of the trip: They are more expensive, but that's because you only spend one night in a city and then you're out on safari, usually spending three nights at each location so you're not spending all your time traveling. Because Gary Clarke is a former zoo director, he brings much knowlege to what you are observing and each evening has a briefing of what to anticipate the next day or recapping what was observed during the day. His relationship with the locals is wonderful.
The groups are small--usually no more that twelve--and he takes you to places where you're not interacting with a bunch of other groups usually--just you and the animals.
Bryan Hess, the other tour leader, went to college in Tanzania for a time and speaks Swahili well.
Tours are often customized for private groups or families and always small.
For a trip of a lifetime, go on safari with Cowabunga.

africaexplorer is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2008, 09:38 PM
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I haven't been on safari with him, but I have read his book, and cannot picture him as loud or obnoxious. He was passionate about Africa & the animals, he was amusing, thought provoking and had plenty of experiences - but he never came across as pushy or loud in his writings (and a trait like that would easily show through in a book)

It was a fabulous book and had I not already been booked with Micato, I would have looked up his company on the internet!
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Old Oct 14th, 2008, 12:43 AM
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Be aware that jdbnola registered for the first time to post in this thread. Possibly requested to do so by cowabunga? Who knows.
Kavey is offline  
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