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Has Anyone Charged a trip with an Agency based in Africa?

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May 18th, 2003, 09:04 AM
  #1
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Has Anyone Charged a trip with an Agency based in Africa?

If so, please email me at [email protected]. Or post here. I have some questions about how and when the bank does the conversion.
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May 18th, 2003, 09:55 AM
  #2
LizFrazier
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Clematis-
More details please. I have charged purchases on previous trips in Africa with shops, etc., that were converted by the banks before appearing on my bill. The trip I am doing now I am booking directly with an Africa hotel, so to speak. I was quoted in USD and sent a copy of my Visa by fax to them along with an authorization to charge a certain amount in USD.
The bank conversion by the credit card company is based on the exchange rate in effect on the posting date as I understand it. It may differ from the exchange rate you are quoted by a place when doing the charging. So far it has always been to my advantage. The charge appears to be a bit less than what I figured it would be. If I'm not answering what you want, sorry. Liz
 
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May 19th, 2003, 06:26 PM
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I charged a 10 day trip trip to Zambia with an African based safari company Pulse Travel. I have to admit I was rather nervous despite how professional and helpful they were. They quoted a price in US dollars and I sent the money to a British account. They didn't want us to use a credit card because we had booked a fabulously priced special and the percentage would have increased their costs. As you can imagine I was concerned about wiring the money but they were members of alot of international travel organizations and held the money in a secured and insured trust. I checked their ABTA number in London. It was rather a last minute booking (within six weeks and for our honeymoon) but it worked out well and the price was remarkable 10 nights Tongabezi (2), Sausage Tree(3) and two of the Robin Pope camps (2 and 3 nights respectively) including all three small plane transfers for $2,500 pp.
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May 19th, 2003, 07:58 PM
  #4
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Welltraveled, thank you, we had some of the same feelings. That seems like a fabulous price. In my case we opted to go for the credit card payment even though it was 5% higher. The agent explained how all of that goes to the bank. What is strange is that while the bank has requested a temporary authorization on our card, it has not really finished the transaction and withdrawn the money. So the amount in question has been in limbo for over a week. Perhaps this is just how the banks work over there, I understand they are slow. And we were never quoted a total dollar price so I had a bit of sticker shock when I found out the rate for some reason was not what was anticipated.
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May 19th, 2003, 09:44 PM
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Clematis,

Many places in SA don?t charge your card immediately. Thye simply place a holding value on your card (in Rands) that far exceeds the amount you will spend but guarantees them payment when you have utilised their services. This means that you will pay the rate of exchange on the day when you have utilised the services and NOT the upfront rate. It also unfortunately means that they have control over the card to make deductions no matter what up to the guaranteed amount. )-; This system happens, as an example, with most car hire companies in SA. I must say that I have not really heard of tour operators who function this way when they sell package deals and if they do you have a 50/50 chance of the exchange rate being in your favour at the time of payment. As Liz has pointed out she ha always gained but then I do believe that she has been lucky for if you went through this system 2 months ago in SA and booked your trip lets say in February, budgeting on the rate at the time, you would have come very short had you had to pay for the trip finally this past week. So it?s the luck of the exchange rate story once again. Many safari companies and game lodges charge a Dollar rate. I detest this system. The reason why I say this is because they keep moving the Dollar rate up when the Rand strengthens BUT they generally don?t drop the Dollar rate when the Rand declines. Furthermore, and here comes this damned 2 tier system once again, if you are a SA tour operator and in some cases a SA citizen you can pay the Rand rate quoted on the day. Even though this rate is expensive no matter what I still think the whole system is skewed when it comes to these tier systems.

Finally Africa is Africa and other parts of the world are identical in many ways. I believe that as a traveller the risk that you take by paying your way upfront remains a risk no matter where you travel in the world however I will agree that it is more risky in certain parts of the world than others. With that said I would always rather pay a minimum deposit and make final payments at the end of the ride. If the company that I am dealing with does not like this then I would take my business to others and believe me there are tons of others out there who would take up your trade gleefully.

Not sure if this is the type of info that you are after but certainly hope that it helps.

Selwyn Davidowitz
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May 20th, 2003, 04:36 AM
  #6
sandi
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Selwyn - Unfortunately I've yet found a tour operator whether here in States or overseas who will let you pay at the end - doesn't seem to work that way.
As I mentioned to another posters we had been planning Botswana & Namibia for later this year (which subsequently had to cancel for reason, no matter) but had received quote from African tour operator is Rand which I converted to USD and I could deal with that price. If I had paid a deposit and then watched the price constantly change because of the fluctuation (when I was quoted the Rand was 8.2) I'd be pissed and it would be a no-go.
Granted with the flucuation this year, many US agents have changed their prices for the last quarter of '03, but then it's set, of course, till the next flucuation - up or down!
I recall when we were in Kenya, lots of purchased were quoted in Shilling, converted to USD, then the charge was in USD. Could you not pay to a SA company thru the bank the USD rate quoted - or do you have to have mucho bucks in your bank and a contact to get that done?
But it seems to be happening worldwide these days with the dollar so soft - just look at the Euro!
Time to just stay around home territory till it straightens out - lots of traveling can be done right here in the US. Money, money, money - problems when you've got it and problems when you don't
 
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May 20th, 2003, 05:09 AM
  #7
 
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Welltraveledbrit,

How did you like South Luangwa, Zambia??? How about Robin Pope Safaris???

I considered both Robin Pope and The Bushcamp Company but ended up booking with a newer place called Kafunta Safaris in South Luangwa. While the accomodations look a little nicer than RPS, I only hope that the experience of the rangers, etc., is in the same league.

15 days and counting until I return to Africa!!!
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May 20th, 2003, 05:17 AM
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I'm guessing that last post above was Rocco who forgot to log out of wife's log in and back into his own?

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May 20th, 2003, 04:22 PM
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Scared to Death,
I put some of my impressions on Robin Pope safaris in a post to Rocco some time back. We "fell into" the Robin Pope camps without having done much research and I booked them as part of a wider package although I had heard their of their reputation.Frankly so much of the safari experience is how much you like the guides and the other people who happen to be in the camp when you are.
Personally I far prefered Sausage Tree and some other camps in Zimbabwe. Perhaps others have had a better experience but Robin Pope and his wife were away and the place was being run by some very young (and in my opinion) very immature safari guides. The wholeplace remined me of the ski-chalet girl/ski guide scene in Europe. It seemed all the young guides/camp assistant girls were paired up. To me it just felt awkward and not very professional. Perhaps they were just having a good time because the boss was away. We found the staff to be far better atPope's Nsefuc camp.But it's all so subjective.
Plus we got stuck in a safari vehicle with some birdwatchers. Not bad people, but frankly we were bored by stopping to check out every feathered friend!
Luangwa is a great destination and the safari on foot was amazing, don't be afraid they took us out with a guide with a gun in front and a second guide behind...oh yes and a guy carrying our tea!
I'm sure you'll have a great trip...
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May 20th, 2003, 04:45 PM
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Kavey,

Yes, you are correct!

I don't think scaredtodeath will be writing smiley faces and Africa in the same sentence anytime soon!

However, her nerves do seem to have calmed thanks to all of you wonderful Fodorites that responded to her post.

Brit...thanks for reminding me. I have done so much Africa research that it all seems to mesh together sometimes. I do think that if I was paying the kind of rates that Robin Pope Safaris commands that I, too, would be put off by that type of behaivor by the staff at the lodge.

Although there were a few couples working at Singita last year, not once did I ever see them exhibit any behaivor publicly while on the job that would suggest that they were anything more than coworkers.

Thank you for your reply. Because Kafunta is about 45% less expensive than Robin Pope Safaris, I was starting to wonder whether or not I should have booked the most expensive place but after seeing your response, I am glad that I will be able to continue onto Cape Town with an extra $1,750 USD in my pocket instead of in Robin Pope's pocket.

I can only imagine what the difference is going to be from the more controlled environment of the Sabi Sand Reserve and the wilds of South Luangwa!!! I cannot even wait to go on my first game walk and I HOPE that I get to experience a Bull Elephant and Lion! Probably would not be a bad idea to take an extra pair of clean underwear along on the game walk.
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May 20th, 2003, 09:10 PM
  #11
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Thank you all and esp. Selwyn for your answers here and on another thread. I now understand it. I am rushing with my last days of preparations for Africa.... but I am very grateful to all.
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