Best Luxury Safari Operators?

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Feb 23rd, 2007, 01:22 PM
  #21
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I looked at the cost of the Micato safari with the Crater Lodge - soooo much more expensive than the private safari with ADS and the Micato one isn't even private! I also looked at the private tours with A&K and after pricing with other companies, it would be tough to pay that much!

Lisa
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Feb 23rd, 2007, 02:03 PM
  #22
 
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Goodness!

In the past others on this board posted that ADS is very expensive. If Micato tops ADS by a mile then what kind of trip/prices are we looking at? Where are you staying?

Do you mind posting your preferred itinerary? This way we can all see what you are looking for.
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Feb 24th, 2007, 03:21 PM
  #23
 
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I will answer my own question if you don't mind!

Since it was posted here as an example of a luxury safari operated by a luxury company, I looked at the Grand Safari and the costs.

I cannot sugarcoat the facts. I agree with Lisa. The cost is SHOCKING.

Here are the facts:

1. A March 2007 departure - $12800 + $2285 (internal air) = $15085 per person excluding international air

2. Sharing a group tour with max of 6 per car and a limit of 12 per group

3. 15 days although only 13 are on safari

I took the EXACT same itinerary and using RACK rates, I summarized the following PER PERSON costs when only 2 people travel together (not 12):

1 Depart USA
2 Arrive Nairobi. Transfer $10.00
Norfolk Hotel HB $220.00
3 Norfolk Hotel B&B $200.00
Kiambethu Tea Estate + lunch $75.00
Dinner at Carnivore $55.00
4 Return flight to Amboseli $170.00 SafariLink
Transfer to airport $10.00
Park and Conservation fees $55.00
Tortillis Tented Camp GP $330.00
5 Tortillis Tented Camp GP $330.00
Park and Conservation fees $55.00 2 game drives
6 Flight from Nairobi to Nanyuku $82.00 one way
Mount Kenya Safari Club FB $210.00 Riverside Suite
15min Transfer $25.00
7 Mount Kenya Safari Club FB $210.00 Riverside Suite
Vehicle + guide $180.00
Park and Conservation fees $60.00 Ol Pejeta
8 Flight from Nanyuku to Mara $215.00 one way
Bateleur Camp $515.00 6nights CCA rate
Park and Conservation fees $60.00
9 Bateleur Camp $515.00 6nights CCA rate
Park and Conservation fees $60.00
Balloon flight: $400
10 Flight from Mara to Wilson $135.00 one way
Flight from Wilson to Grumeti $225.00 1-way thru fare
Grumeti River Camp $750.00 3 lodges rate
Park and Conservation fees $50.00
11 Grumeti River Camp $750.00 3 lodges rate
Park and Conservation fees $50.00
12 CCAfrica Road Transfer to Crater $130.00
CCA Entry and Conservation fees $30.00
Oldupai Gorge visit $20.00
Crater Lodge $880.00 3 lodges rate
13 Crater Lodge $880.00
Crater visit included
CCA Entry and Conservation fees $30.00
14 Flight from Manyara to Wilson $245.00 1-way thru fare
CCA transfer to Manyara $90.00
Transfer to Norfolk Hotel $10.00
Norfolk Hotel dayroom + dinner $150.00
Transfer to Airport $10.00
15 Fly home
Add Flying Doctors $15
Total: $8,492.00

More notes:

1. $8492 per person vs. $15085 per person?

2. I assumed both itineraries use the lodge vehicles and guides - up to 6 per vehicle.

3. Any of a few hundred local outfitters will offer this itinerary at a 10% discount or maybe more!

4. If I buy my itinerary from any outfitter(s) I have to add some wire transfer costs, etc. At most $50 * 2 since I will need only two outfitters (one in Kenya and one in Tanzania) in the worst case. Many will do the whole trip.

5. It is a March departure. Yet this very expensive $15100 pp itinerary will not even come close the spectacular Wildebeest Migration or have any true cultural interaction. What a waste!

6. What am I missing here? I am almost afraid to post this because maybe I made an $8000 mistake? But where and how?

7. Remember each of the lodges are top rate and will take care of things that may go wrong - sickness, missed flights, etc.

My final comment:

At what point does near 100% markups start to hurt the industry?

Be careful out there when you plan your safaris.





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Feb 25th, 2007, 04:29 AM
  #24
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I've done price comparisons on Micato's Grand safari with a local outfitter (1/each in Kenya & Tanzania) and usually find about a 30-35% difference. Not as high as what CHSL shows above, but sizeable enough to ask "Micato or someone else" Someone else or Micato" To many it's a no-brainer.

I find that it's even more shocking a difference when a Micato, A&K or Tauck are using Serena or Sopa properties rather than truly lux lodges/camps... and when, more often than not, they aren't in the right place at a particular time of the year.

If you want a truly independent itinerary with any of these outfitters (not Tauck as they're only group) you pay dearly!
 
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Feb 25th, 2007, 08:38 AM
  #25
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second that ATR and Uncharted Outposts take AMEX--as does Deeper Africa. If you liked the itinerary you worked out with Africa Dream Safaris, send it to these other companies for pricing.
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Feb 25th, 2007, 09:35 AM
  #26
 
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climbhighsleeplow,

Wow! You've done a lot of work figuring that out! However, your estimate that the big companies mark-up the safari by 100% isn't really accurate.

As the large safari companies do so much volume, they often get the rooms for 25-30% lower than the rack rate.

So their mark-up is actually closer to 130% !!

Having said that, I've also learned that many people feel that the more expensive a trip is, the safer they feel, and actually look for a higher price.

It's no wonder the big companies are always full and have long wait-lists... even with 130% mark up!
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Feb 28th, 2007, 01:52 PM
  #27
 
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Ok, having read all this about 100% and 130% mark up, who out there can recommend a company with reasonable prices that are still delivering the required goods????
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Feb 28th, 2007, 02:17 PM
  #28
 
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Abbyo,
If you're going to Kenya, try

Africa Serendipity
Eastern & Southern
Gamewatchers
Southern Cross

All of the above will be competitively priced and far less than Micato, A&K, etc. and have been used and recommended by posters here.
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Feb 28th, 2007, 02:21 PM
  #29
 
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P.S. - The East Africa index contains trip reports and Lynda has listed which operator was used so you can read about others' experiences with these operators http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34860283
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Feb 28th, 2007, 10:08 PM
  #30
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mark up of 130% over rack rates? that's insane.....why would anyone feel safer, just because they are over-charge?- What about the concept of Travel Insurance?
 
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Mar 1st, 2007, 02:55 AM
  #31
 
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Early on in this thread, Cheweyhead recommended Yvette DeVries at African Portfolio. We have used Yvette many times and have recommended her to many friends with great success. We currently have two future safaris booked with her (Botswana and Tanzania) and are planning a third. She is honest, professional and her company, African Portfolio offers fairly priced safaris. I would not hesitate to endorse Cheweyhead's recommendation.
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Mar 1st, 2007, 03:35 AM
  #32
 
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By the way, we have friends that have used Micato, A & K and Tauck. When they compared their safaris with ours, they were upset. They did pay a great deal more for significantly lower quality experience. Nice luggage tags though.
Cheers, Chuck
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Mar 22nd, 2007, 06:47 PM
  #33
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Wow, all these replies are so great! Thank you everyone so much. I still have no idea what we are going to do because I do all the planning and husband just barely listens!

Lisa
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Mar 22nd, 2007, 07:20 PM
  #34
 
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CC Africa - www.ccafrica.com - has amazing lodges and is fantastic to work with. Check them out, they're top notch in terms of service, accommodations and value for money. Excellent rangers too!
Viv
www.wavejourney.com
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Mar 23rd, 2007, 11:21 AM
  #35
 
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your remark is not at all silley. i found out that afiica and canada do not take discovery cards. i found out when i ran a sea food store that every time you use a credit card to buy or pay for a service the credit card co. charges the co. a fee . ween you youse youre credit card in africa they will charge you a fee .i think it is three persent. they will hide it on your bill .what i did to get around this was whin i made the deposit for our game lodge .i made a bank to bank transfur. bought some african money befor i left .exampel when i payed for our lodge it was 10000 us the bank transfur was 12.00dollars if i would have done it off my credit card it would have been 300.00us
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Mar 23rd, 2007, 12:06 PM
  #36
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blackwell -

With few exceptions, if you use your credit card outside your home country you will be charged a conversion fee and a foreign currency fee. There are many threads about this subject on the Europe board, if you want more details, which are too long and somewhat complicated to explain here. And this is besides a possible service fee to use your credit card while in Africa.

Wire transfers are your best bet as most outfitters in East Africa have USDollar accounts just for this purpose.

Discover Card is (I believe) only good for use in the US. You should have at least 1 Visa or Master Card for overseas travel for use for purchases or meals. Though it's best, except from major expenses, to get local currency from an ATM using an "ATM card" (not a credit card).
 
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Mar 26th, 2007, 12:50 PM
  #37
 
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Discover card has very limited use outside of the US. From their FAQs:

Where is my Discover® Card accepted outside of the U.S.?
Cards are currently accepted in Canada, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and China.

Washington Mutual offers free wire transfers with their free checking account but you must go into a branch to initiate the transfer. No online transfers AFAIK.

If paying an operator outside the US with a credit card, make sure you know a)what currency will be used and b) if they add a surcharge.
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Mar 26th, 2007, 02:27 PM
  #38
 
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Lisa1061, if your husband "barely listens", then perhaps you should book whatever safari you think is best, with or without the AMEX, and be done with it! Maybe he won't notice.
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Mar 27th, 2007, 12:17 AM
  #39
 
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You should try Green Footprint Adventures www.greenfootprint.co.tz they specialise in smaller exclusive safaris. I have heard great things about them.
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