GAP Adventures Trips to Africa

Old Jun 21st, 2009, 12:06 AM
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GAP Adventures Trips to Africa

I'm considering a 21-day trip to Africa with this company in August. I've heard mixed reviews: good prices, but also exceedingly longer drives than indicated and missed events promised in the itinerary. Any insight on this company? Any others that might be a better choice?
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 05:49 AM
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With regards to reputation and value for money, I think GAP is a great company. I have sent many of my clients with GAP when they are on a budget that does not allow for a private trip/FIT. We use them more in South America but I have booked a handful of clients on their Africa itineraries in Tanzania.

What specific trip are you considering (please paste the web site) and I can provide more relevant comments.

Craig Beal
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 11:12 AM
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Thanks Craig, would love your input. (Assuming you're a travel operator?) This is the trip:
http://www.gapadventures.com/tour/DZLD

I'd be traveling solo, female in my early 40s. I believe the group is mostly 20-30s with just a handful of folks in my age range. I'm definitely adventurous but wondering if a trip that's a little more focused in a few areas, with more doing vs. driving, might be a better way to go. Any feedback would be most appreciated.
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 12:57 PM
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ok - i looked at the trip. i have sent clients on the exact same type of trip using a company called sunway safaris out of cape town. the GAP itinerary does hit all the major highlights from a geographic standpoint. just keep in mind that there are some severe cost saving measures that significantly degrade your experience on this specific trip. i would perhaps consider a more expensive safari and you could still use GAP to do this.

specific comments:
chobe - you stay in the crowded town of kasane. the chobe national park is a major highligh of ne botswana, but this tour only includes one OPTIONAL (i.e. extra cost) game drive in the chobe. a significant upgrade would be to stay inside the park for 2-3 days. you are outside the park.
okavango delta/maun - there is nothing special about maun from a wildlife standpoint. it is the gateway to the okavango. your okavango safari has NO game drives. everything is on foot and that is how GAP is saving the money on this trip. you are also not guaranteed the mokoro ride. they are likely using the government mokoro station in the moremi.
drive to windhoek - very LONG.
etosha - looks like this trip includes the typical etosha experience.
sossusvlei - one day is way to little time.
cape town - ONE day!! i recommend at least five.

at a bare minimum, i would recommend this itinerary to capture the true okavango and chobe experience: http://www.gapadventures.com/tour/TD...ossier&yr=2009

final note - this is a participatory camping trip for 14 of the nights. that means you sleep on the ground and are expected to help with the cooking and camp set-up break-down.

i would also consider a migrations route safari with wilderness safaris. this is a non-participatory camping trip.

you are correct - i am a tour operator so accept my advice with caution (j/k).

craig beal
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 12:58 PM
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what time of year/season were you considering? it makes a huge differen to what you will see.

craig beal
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 02:11 PM
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grltrekker -

The itinerary you show reminds me of those European whirlwind tours "if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium." Too many stops, insufficient time at most, lots of options one has to pay extra for, etc. Besides being "participatory" it's no wonder most who do these are 20-30/yrs olds.

Granted the prices are tempting, but you have to ask yourself "what do I want" (and "don't want!") out of an African experience.

Craig is spot on with the other link he offers, but the price is also much higher. But then Botswana is one of the most expensive of the safari circuit countries.

If looking to travel with a group, you may want to consider OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) who has some interesting African safaris; at least you can have a shower daily! They usually have a Southern African itinerary covering Botswana, Vic Falls and South Africa; also an East African routing. See: www.oattravel.com/gcc/general/

Their prices are in the range of those of the one Craig shows, but includes intl air (assume you're traveling from the States), if not you can meet up with the group out of Europe. Participants range from the 40+.

If you read the thread here on Fodor's titled New East African Trip Report Index you'll find reports from people who have traveled with OAT. Likewise you can do a search on this board for OAT from those who have considered/done their South African tours.

Good luck!
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 02:48 PM
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Sandi - I think OAT does a great job in Peru and South America but I find their Zimbabwe/Botswana trip almost deceptive in the itinerary description.

Some of this info is my opinion and some is fact. My advise is to be careful because OAT uses the name of well known main camps on their web site descriptions when they, in fact, use smaller inferior properties and not the lodge they name on the itinerary. These comments are based on their day-by-day on their web site. Also, keep in mind I am in the safari business and technically compete with OAT but to a different market segment.

http://www.oattravel.com/gcc/general...spx?oid=262114
Day 4-6 – Baobab Safari Lodge was rated 1 star by the Botswana tourism board and is no longer rated.
http://www.botswanatourism.co.bw/acc...facilityID=375

Also, you get to camp by road via Kasane which will take about 3 hours. The Chobe river is the most crowded part of Botswana with more than 800 beds in the Kasane area – this is a TON of people. Baobab is on the Western side of the Chobe National park and NOT IN THE PARK ITSELF. For game viewing, this is the quietest side (least animals) of the park and it is also rocky and bumpy. The public camp site is also right next door which will greatly devalue the experience you have. You will have to go through the gate with hundreds of other vehicles (people) each morning and also leave with the same hundred of people each night. The people who go "cheap" and stay outside the park get to experience what they call the "dust bowl" each day when all the vehicles come in and out of the park.

Day 7/8/9 – Lianshulu is a camp operated by Wilderness Safari's wholly owned subsidiary the Safari & Adventure Company. There are few predators here and most guests do not see any cats at all. This fact is stated on the real owners web site: http://www.safariadventurecompany.co...e.asp?LD_ID=25
NOTE: you do not stay at the lodge on this web site. you stay at a lesser quality facility not associated with the main lodge. There is no web site for Lianshulu Bush Lodge.

Day 10 – There is no such place as “Wilderness Tented Camp” on the web. Wilderness Tented Camp with OAT is located in the Kwai in a hunting concession to the West of a village. The southern part of the concession is now photographic however viewing here is quite hard. With a hunting concession right next door, the game will be skittish. I do not think you should go to the Okavango Delta and have this experience. Elephants can be especially aggressive near hunting concessions. Please feel free to verify this information with OAT. If you find something contrary, please let me know on this thread.

Day 14 – Linkwasha – OAT is not using the main camp. They rent a 2-star property nearby in the Hwange that they use for the guests. This is a misrepresentation in my opinion. I would be very concerned about the “or similar” comment as there is nothing similar unless they upgraded to the Wilderness Safari Camps at Makalo or Little Makalolo which would raise the cost dramatically. With this said, the game viewing in the Hwange will be excellent here in August.

Hope this helps. Sorry for being negative. I am braced for the personal attacks...

My recomendation is to NEVER spend less on your safari than you do on the flights to Africa. This is a reciped for a bad experience. I would recommend a permanent tented camp experience with Wilderness Safaris, Kwando, Kerr Downey, Desert & Delta, Orient Express, &Beyond, or Santuary Lodge.

Craig Beal
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 05:58 PM
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Thanks so much, Sandi and Craig -- your insights confirmed my gut feeling that this isn't the best trip for me. I'm looking into the other options you suggested; if I can't make one of those work I'll probably try South America or Europe instead and save Africa for next year. I just got this window of time available and want to make the most of it!

Again, really appreciate your help!
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 07:29 PM
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wow - i have never talked someone out of going to africa. enjoy wherever you go!

craig beal
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Old Jun 22nd, 2009, 06:02 AM
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Craig - Some very good points that most first-timers expecially wouldn't know to ask and which grltrekker took to heart. In the end, seems you're too good at what you do!

There are any number of reputable providers for an African safari whether south or east. Grltrekker, just has to take the time to decide what she would like the experience to be, where it can best be provided based on when traveling, learn about the countries/areas, the wide array of lodging choices, means of transport, and, of course, her budget.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2009, 11:46 AM
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We went on this GAP trip last October (going from Cape Town to Vic Falls). We had an amazing time. The company has put the drive times on the website and if anything they are shorter than indicated. We missed nothing on the itinerary and the trip exceeded our expectations. You have to put up and take down your own tent, but the tents were good quality and very easy and fast to put up. The campsites were excellent, with washrooms, showers and bars at all, and pools at about half. We also spent some time in the Cape Town area before the trip. We found it a very affordable way to see Africa. We may not have had the luxury, but we saw plenty of wildlife and countryside - and someone else did the driving!
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