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Good tour operators in South Africa for safari packages?


Jun 21st, 2003, 05:37 PM
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Good tour operators in South Africa for safari packages?


My husband and I are going to be moving to South Africa for work.

We would like to book a package tour, with airfare, lodges, etc. to Botswana and/or South Africa.

We are looking for relatively "upscale" lodges, and were wondering which tour operators or travel agencies we should check out that offer packages.

Thank you!!
lovetravel is offline  
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Jun 21st, 2003, 09:28 PM
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Abercrombie & Kent
I think Tauck goes there now too, and they're very much first class and very respected.
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Jun 21st, 2003, 11:14 PM
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I dont understand why you are looking for an operator.. ..If you are going to be moving to SA for a period and will be staying here why dont you simply find out via a bit of research (using amongst others a site like Fodors) which lodges you want to visit. Thereafter, when you are in SA, contact the relevant lodges per phone on your own so as to make the bookings. A local travel agent can do your air bookings for you and you will be all set thereafter. It will result in a bit of fun research time, 5 - 10 telephone calls and a HUGE saving cost especially if you would be using the likes of Abercrombie and Kent.. ..With that said I once again ask why the need for an operator???

Selwyn Davidowitz
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Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

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Jun 22nd, 2003, 05:20 AM
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You took the words right out of my mouth.

Why knock yourself out with a US based operator (though A&K has offices in Europe also). Any decent tour operator can book you into camps/lodges as Londolozi, Singita, Vuyatela; or hotels as the Grace, Michealangelo, Table Bay, or smart B&Bs, and without the overhead built into their prices.

A&K, Travcoa or Tauck don't have a hold on lodges as Londolozi, Singita etc.

Once you're in SA and have yourselves settled, you can do it on your own, on your schedule, possibly even get better deals as "alien residents". Wait till you get there.
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Jun 22nd, 2003, 03:43 PM
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I also preferred using a local travel agent, it's also a good way of supporting the South African economy. I used Sandi Ingliss at Pulse Travel in Johannesburg, they have a great website with lots of information...
Personally I found that they had more experience and could really tell me about the different lodges plus they often have very good value specials particularly at the end of the main season or during the green season. For example we did 10 nights in Zambia, Tongabezi at the Falls, Sausage Tree in the lower zambezi, and then Tena Tena and another Robin Pope camp including all small flight transfers for $2500 pp.I know they offer itineraries to SA and Botswana.
I found that they got back to me very quickly and frankly in contrast to a number of the American travel specialists I spoke to they were far more sensitive to questions of a quality, price, value ratio. In my experience, which may not be true of everyone, the US based agents seemed to be well "it's a once in a lifetime trip...blow the bank" and they all seemed to push very very expensive and very similar camps and destinations.
Pulse was also great at giving us advice on other destinations like the Cape wine country.
That was our experience and I hope it helps.

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Jun 23rd, 2003, 03:52 AM
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Just my two cents...why not do a little research and put together the precise itenerary that you would like and then send it to a few agents for a price quote?

While many tours may be similar to something that you would like, I doubt that any agent will have a pre-packaged trip for the PRECISE itenerary that you want. They will all have their own respective pre-selected destinations and pre-selected hotels.

For the trip that I just concluded I put together the package exactly the way that I wanted it and for the entire trip I must have used at least five different agents if you count all my tours and transfers, but it worked out great. The biggest portion I gave to any one agent was for my airfare & five night stay in South Luangwa at Kafunta.

Other than that, I used www.luxurylink.com for my hotel stays in Cape Town and Joburg. I used a separate agent, www.attractiveafrica.com, for my 3 night stay at Vuyatela, since they, by far, had lower rates than any other agent for Vuyatela.

I then used a couple different agents for my Cape Winelands tour and my Soweto tour.

For me, it was worth the effort. I was never on a group tour with a busload of others except for my Robben Island tour and that, it seems, is unavoidable for that particular tour.

I am confident that I received the very best pricing plus I received the benefit of staying at the precise places I wanted to stay at for the precise number of nights I wanted to stay. For my Joburg stay at The Michelangelo, originally it was a four night package but I modified it to a two night package and I negotiated my way up to a Premier Suite and the room was very spacious and beautiful with an excellent view.

I really suggest that you check www.luxurylink.com for their current auctions and check other sites such as www.attractiveafrica.com, www.mtbeds.co.za, www.e-gnu.com and www.safarinow.com.

Best of luck.
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