eco africa company

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Aug 24th, 2005, 10:44 AM
  #1
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eco africa company

I have pretty much decided, for our first trip to namibia, to go w/wilderness safari's spirit of the namib tour. However, I am perplexed about booking..I have 2 quotes for 06 from 2 south africa companies.. go2africa for 3385, and ecoafrica for 3175.I did a search on ecoafrica, but didn't find anything on this forum. I did a google, and mostly found companies w/similar names, but no real info.
Also, I'm not sure if I should book w/South African companies. I read some threads about the benefits of booking w/an american operator. I am, as I said before, perplexed..
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Aug 24th, 2005, 12:33 PM
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sandi
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How did you find eco-africa in the first place? I'd say that if you can't find any information on them or they haven't provided some references, for you to check and feel comfortable with - for $200 go with go2africa. This is a reputable company that receives good reviews here on Fodor's.

As to negative reasons for using in-country operators... it's the opposite as many posts here will verify. While some home (American)-country operators can compete quite well with in-country outfitters, those who have used in-country (Southern or Eastern Africa) have been very satisfied.
 
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Aug 27th, 2005, 10:50 AM
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Anyone else have any thoughts on this?
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Aug 27th, 2005, 11:09 AM
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hi, used a ugandan co in june. i even wired money. of course i asked for ref. no prboems at all.they were more than happy to send a few.
i used a kenyan co 4x's now. i'll keep using them when i can. they take visa. so thats ok.
hopes this helps.
d
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Aug 28th, 2005, 10:43 AM
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You wired money, Tuskerdave? You certainly like to live dangerously!

The benefits of booking with an American (or UK) operator have to do with legal recourse if things go wrong. Good operators in the US and UK are bonded through a scheme like ATOL (in the UK), meaning that you will not be left high and dry if the company goes under. However, the prices are usually higher than booking direct (though with Wilderness the advantages are probably minimal).

Personally, after reading about the uncertain financial situation at go2africa and finding out that they are not bonded (on another thread) I would feel uncomfortable using them. If you do use them, make sure that your travel insurance covers bankruptcy of your travel company.

I would never use a company I couldn't find any information about. That being said, I did a Google search on EcoAfrica and found a number of different web sites. Is the company you are using the one found at www.ecoafrica.com? If so, they do not appear to be bonded.

If you don't feel comfortable with EcoAfrica, by all means go with someone else. It's quite a bit of money, and more important it's your vacation time which you probably don't have all that much of if you're from the States.

I have certainly booked with South African companies (notably CC Africa) and had no problems.

Personally, I would not go with either company. I would recommend that you get in touch with Nicky or James at Eyes On Africa in Chicago. EOA is a bonded American and is a great company with an excellent track record. Nicky used to work for Wilderness and does a large volume of bookings through them, making EOA's pricing very competitive. I have done two trips to Botswana through them and have every confidence that I could not have done better elsewhere.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 28th, 2005, 10:53 AM
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Meant to say, 'EOA is a bonded American company...'

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 28th, 2005, 10:57 AM
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EOA website:

www.eyesonafrica.net

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 28th, 2005, 11:44 AM
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sandi
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jasher -

Most safari goers who book direct with many African outfitters wire money. So far, I haven't read of any problems with getting the services requested and then provided.

There was a recent thread about operators/outfitters who do not accept credit cards, rather only cash thru wire transfers prior to or with travelers checks or cash upon arrival. It's quite the usual.

While some trip insurance available here in the States does provide coverage for bankruptcy, the list of suppliers included is really very short - airlines, cruise lines, tour operators - and those entities actually apply to be included in the bankruptcy clause of said policies. Few International air carriers are included, as are few tour operators. Those in the latter category are naturally the most expensive.

Don't know how this is handled and what is covered when arranging trip insurance thru UK companies.

So if one chooses to work with an in-country outfitter (for that matter any company to whom you're turning over your funds [even credit cards... where you wind up on the bottom of the list for creditors, regardless the credit card co running interference] they should be checked out for insurance, bonding, etc. - then hope for the best.
 
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Aug 28th, 2005, 04:18 PM
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Dave, what company have you booked with in Kenya? It sounds like you've had a good experience with them if you've used them four times.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 28th, 2005, 04:23 PM
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Hello Sandi,

I don't mean to give the impression that I think all in-country operators are untrustworthy -- I've booked direct with companies in South Africa (by credit card) and had no problems. However, while it is clear that many people have sent money to in-country operators and had no problems, there was a thread quite recently from a Fodorite who went through a lot of stress because s/he had paid a large sum of money by cheque to a company which then looked as if it might be on the verge of financial collapse (I think the thread was deleted by Fodors after a troll posted some inflammatory comments). Luckily for the Fodorite, the company did appear to pull things together, though it will be interesting to read the trip report when he/she returns. Even if the trip goes well, the intense stress experienced by the realisation that not only the money but the trip might be lost certainly took a toll on that person and detracted from his/her enjoyment of his/her first trip to Africa.

In Liindajean's specific case of go2africa and ecoafrica, the fact that one is apparently facing financial problems and the other is a complete unknown makes me very wary.

Interestingly, during my travels in southern Africa, I have never encountered a company that refuses to take credit cards entirely, though I have encountered many that charge a 1-3% fee for credit cards. I've been able to pay for my accommodation in advance, and then settle my bills at the camps all on credit cards. The no credit-card policy seems to be more common with companies in east Africa, perhaps because of differences in infrastructure. Although Botswana is not a highly developed company, many Botswanan operators have offices in Joburg which do their bookings and those offices will take credit cards.

In the US, USTOA offers limited consumer protection. State law in the US can offer more, as can policies at the company itself, such as using a Client Trust account to hold funds. In the UK, there are a number of schemes, notably ATOL.

Obviously, everyone has their own comfort level with these sorts of things. Personally, I feel quite uncomfortable with sending money to a company unless they are bonded, ideally in the US or the UK. Using a credit card gives an extra level of protection -- if there is a problem, the card company will often exempt you from paying off that charge while it is being disputed. If a company I was considering working with did have a no credit card rule, I'd have to weight whatever savings could be gained from paying with cash against the risk. Paying the deposit by wire and the balance on arrival seems less risky than wiring the entire amount in advance, unless you have a history with the company and know that it's reliable.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 29th, 2005, 04:36 AM
  #11
sandi
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jasher -

As with any purchase, one has to have their own comfort level. And I do remember the instance recently with "wanderlust123" who had a harrowing experience with 2Afrika - her itinerary have been paid for (and I believe though not certain by credit card) - the itinerary had been completely turned around which fouled up her extension trip to Rwanda. The owner of the company was to participate in the itinerary and begged out. And when she tried contacting the owner, got no responses.

In this instance, while money was paid - whether cash or cc - it was a bit more complicated then that. I and others certainly understood her frustration when her world was turned upside-down.

Personally, with the exception of our Southern African trip for whom we used a US-based tour operator and paid by credit card; even using this operator for earlier East African trips - always paid by check (cash). Since then, arranging and booking my own trips with in-country East African countries - wire transfers for deposits and final payments were used. We've had no problems whatsoever as have many others who have posted here.

All the reason when selecting an in-country operator one checks out an outfitter with a positive history, long-standing, good financial situation, references, insured & bonded, etc.

The original poster though has found a company that no one else is aware, and if as you mention the other is in financial problems - best she find another company to arrange their safari.
 
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Aug 29th, 2005, 05:21 AM
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Hello,

One of the problems that Wanderlust123 had was that s/he had paid for her trip by check, not credit card (though she had paid the deposit by credit card). So s/he would have been able to get the deposit back, but not the rest of her payment (which was a lot more money). It turned out that the company was not bonded, which made the situation worse.

I thoroughly agree that when selecting an operator (in-country and in the US or UK) that a positive track record, long-standing history of good service and financial stability, references, and proof of insurance or bonding are all very important. Paying by credit card gives an extra layer of protection.

Cheers,
Julian
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