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Choosing Between Africa Odyssey, Africa Adventure Company, & andBeyond

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Mar 23rd, 2014, 12:12 PM
  #21
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 45
My husband and I used Africa Odyssey for a visit to Serengeti and Zanzibar last March. I typically don't use tour operators because I like to book things myself, but in this case, the camp where we stayed did their bookings through Africa Odyssey. And, it was easier to book flights on the smaller airlines. Also, we visited during an 8 month trip around the world and it was nice to not have to plan this leg of the trip.

We had a positive experience with Africa Odyssey - no issues - and I recommend them. Below are answers to your questions.

- Trip documentation provided (was it detailed, and provided timely, and accurate) - yes (tip: some of the smaller airlines don't have flight numbers, so you may not see this info on confirmation docs).
- How well were issues or problems handled during the trip, if any arose - We didn't have any issues.
- Was a representative available at all times throughout the trip - Yes, they provided a list of contact numbers.But we really didn't need anyone. On travel days, the representatives were on time to pick us up at the hotel.
- Any problems if changes made to itinerary - We didn't make any changes.
- Did you feel 'taken care of' throughout the trip - We didn't need any communication during the trip.

Here's our trip report, http://latitudeb.com/serengeti-safari/

Have fun!
loribarber1 is offline  
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Mar 24th, 2014, 10:14 AM
  #22
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 10
Good to get the feedback on Africa Odyssey. Now another question. I did hear back from Africa Adventure Company and have spoken with a rep there a few times. I have a very good feeling about them as I do Africa Odyssey and andBeyond. The quotes are all within $800-$1000 of each other, all are reputable companies, all are quoting the itinerary I want, and I've been pleased with the correspondence with each of them. So now to choose one.

AO and andBeyond charge fees for credit cards, AAC doesn't. So that's a consideration. I've also checked out their payment and cancellation policies:

andBeyond - 20% deposit w/i 7 days; cancellation: up to 45 days-20%; 45+ days-100%

AO - 20% deposit w/i 14 days; cancellation: 84+ days-20%; 70-84 days-35%; 56-69 days-70%; 29-55 days-90%; 28 or less days-100%

AAC - 30% deposit; cancellation: 120+ days-20%; 120-90 days-25%; 89-75 days-30%; 74-45 days-50%; 44-31 days-80%; 30 days-100%

Is this the point where I just close my eyes and pick one, or can anyone suggest a few other things to consider as deciding factors? Would like to hear how posters made their decisions as well as any thoughts on the payment and cancellation policies.
15safari is offline  
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Mar 24th, 2014, 11:42 AM
  #23
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 346
Sounds like you won't be disappointed no matter which company you choose. So just go with your gut feeling, then don't worry about it anymore. Have a wonderful time!!
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Mar 24th, 2014, 12:02 PM
  #24
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
To me a $1000 difference in quotes is substantial. Factor in the credit card charges or lack of in figuring the final differences. A $1000 difference or even $800 difference in price would sway me toward the $800-$1000 savings, if everything else were equal. If the properties were different, that might make a difference. If one company had shared vehicles while others had a private vehicle, that would make a big difference.

The cancellation policies would not sway me unless everything else were equal. $1000 in differences to me is not equal.

Looks like you are honing in on your trip!
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Mar 24th, 2014, 05:26 PM
  #25
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
Next year in September? Get travel insurance (include $1 million health/evac). I use www.insuremytrip.com. I usually don't pay much in advance so I don't insure the travel part, but my health insurance (and all medicare plans!!) doesn't cover us outside the US. With insurance, those prepays won't matter (in most cases).

Read all the fine print and if all else is equal, go with the least expensive and save the difference for your return trip to Africa. You'll love it and if you are anything like the rest of us, you'll be planning your return before your plane lands back home. Enjoy the planning, and enjoy your trip - it may change your life!!
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Mar 24th, 2014, 08:47 PM
  #26
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Even if your insurance covers you outside the US, an evacuation could wipe you out. Some safari providers include flying doctors which will fly you out of the bush if needed.

I use insuremytrip too.
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Mar 25th, 2014, 02:32 AM
  #27
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 346
In addition to trip insurance I buy a short term membership in Med Jet Assist (medjetassist.com) so as Atravelynn says you wouldn't be wiped out by costs of an evacuation. They return you to your home (as well as a companion and a medical person) if you are hospitalized with injury or illness - a doctor doesn't have to state that you must be returned home. It's in effect as long as you are 150 miles or more away from home.
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Mar 25th, 2014, 09:12 AM
  #28
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 10
Good to know. I'll definitely be getting trip insurance. I noticed that andBeyond includes emergency evacuation insurance and AO includes flying doctor service. I'm assuming they're one in the same?
15safari is offline  
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Mar 25th, 2014, 10:43 AM
  #29
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Emergency evac is not necessarily flying doctors. Emergency evac is a broader term which could include the flying doctors program.

So many details.
atravelynn is offline  
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Mar 25th, 2014, 12:55 PM
  #30
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 10
Ahhh...okay, good to know! Thanks for clarifying.
15safari is offline  
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Mar 25th, 2014, 03:23 PM
  #31
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 10
Just thought of another question. Since I'm getting travel insurance, should being able to pay with a credit card be a big concern since part of the benefit of paying with a credit card is protection? With travel insurance, could I then pay by wire (avoiding credit card fees)and still have the confidence paying by credit card would bring?
15safari is offline  
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Mar 25th, 2014, 03:50 PM
  #32
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Often the insurance excludes default of the operator with which you book. Seems unfair I know. I

In fact I know someone who last year lost their whole trip cost with a shady operator. (About 8 people total. Yikes!) That's very rare. But travel insurance did nothing for them because the operator defaulted. Or more accurately decided to take their money and run.

To lessen alarm over that sort of thing, my friend said they had checked this operator in the country of their destination out and it had good Trip Advisor reviews. However when I checked after the fact, I found about 2 bad comments, nothing else. So I think someone else had checked and told them it was a good company so they just believed it. The company was not in the country's Association of Tour Operators, either.

Anyway, default is really, really rare.

Sometimes default of operator is covered but insurance must be purchased x days after deposit or the default cannot occur until x days after the policy is bought.

When using a credit card, be sure to factor in reward dollars, points, etc. to your benefit. It makes a credit card less expensive.
atravelynn is offline  
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Apr 8th, 2014, 04:53 AM
  #33
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 2
15safari,

Andbeyond is an expensive outfitter, but my votes will surely go on them. Their choice of Luxury Lodges/ Tented camps can only be compared to Cheli & Peacock or Royal African Safaris. They are way ahead of the game. They use some of the best guides, giving personal attention to detail.

I.
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May 13th, 2014, 01:45 PM
  #34
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 47
Not to throw a monkey wrench in the mix but we went to Botswana and So. Africa with Travel Beyond which is based in Wayzata, Minnesota but has an office in Cape Town They did a fantastic job for us, we had a lot of internal air travel in order to save time and the transfers were flawless. We have referred two other couples for trips to Africa and they were very satisfied. We are working with them now on another trip to Kenya/Tanzania. I am not in any way affiliated with TB but can highly recommend them.
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Jun 11th, 2014, 12:47 PM
  #35
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
libian -

Though a Fodors member since '05 with only one post, every post is made today and all referred to Predators Safaris; sorry but you can't solicit as this.
sandi is offline  
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Jul 7th, 2014, 09:29 PM
  #36
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,374
bookmarking... just got our tix for this may/june with ff miles... will be posting questions soon, but will start with all of this good information. 15safari... will you please let us know what you end up deciding... and post details of itinerary and costs? can't wait to hear.
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Jul 18th, 2014, 03:23 AM
  #37
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 37
I'm planning a short visit to Kenya next year and based on the above I e-mailed Andbeyond, Africa Adventure Co and Africa Serendipity (via its website). I have utilized Andbeyond for five previous trips and they have always been very responsive but wanted to benchmark pricing against other agents.

AAC politely told me that my trip wasn't long enough so they preferred not to work with me. I sent a follow-up e-mail requesting information on a longer Itinerary and they have not responded after several days. Serendipity has yet to respond after about a week. Andbeyond responded immediately so I'll be booking directly through them.

I certainly understand that there is a cost-benefit analysis that TAs need to do to determine if it is worth working with a potential client but it is disappointing not to receive a simple acknowledgement or response to e-mails. This just seems like bad business practices to me.
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Jul 18th, 2014, 06:45 PM
  #38
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,574
good tips!
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