Help for Tanzania Itinerary

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Oct 12th, 2005, 05:00 PM
  #21
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Hi Leann, no, haven't made a decision yet on which company to use. Good luck on your planning and have a great time on your safari! I was there with my wife, son, and grandson in June and fell in love with both Kenya and Tanzania, the countries, the animals, and the people. And you will, too! Jack
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Oct 12th, 2005, 10:22 PM
  #22
 
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Hi All,
Please help! Another "newbie" needing assistance. Am planning a private safari for 2 to Tanzania early December (yes, not much time I realize). Thomson Safari needed more lead time. So started to work with Born Free, but I have heard mixed reviews on them. Any feedback? Do they 'broker' out their tours? Also, the following was the proposed itinerary:
-2 days Manyara at Kirurumu
-4 days Seregetti 2 at either Serena Lodge or Ndutu Lodge, and 2 at a walking camp
-2 days Ngo Crater at Plantation Lodge or Ngo Farm House
-2 days Tarangire at Tarangire Safari Lodge or Kikoti.
Price: $4900 per person or $5800 per person.
Itinerary seems pretty standard from what I can tell -- any thoughts on the lodges? Are they well-situated? Does the pricing seem high, or reasonable? It is for a private safaris and there is also a day in DAR and two in Zanzibar, so not sure then if it is reasonable or still high. How can I "shop" the itinerary? To which operators? Please help! They're asking for a deposit by Fri. Any suggestions, ideas, feedback are greatly appreciated. Can post here or mail to me. Thank you!!
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Oct 13th, 2005, 01:19 AM
  #23
 
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I'm certainly no expert (pretty much a newbie myself), but if they're asking for a deposit by Friday, does that mean you've already told them to finalize your itinerary and reserve the lodges for you? If you haven't, then it seems premature to me for them to ask for a deposit. There are quite a few good safari companies mentioned on this board, for example: Roy, Africa Serendipity, etc, etc, and there are two people whose names you'll frequently see on this board who I'd recommend to anyone seeking advice, especially quick help (and I know there are others, so you other guys please forgive me for only mentioning the two that came to mind first: Eben (climbhighsleeplow) and Sandi. Good luck and have a wonderful trip! Jack
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Oct 13th, 2005, 08:42 AM
  #24
 
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Hi, No, I haven't asked them to finalize anything. They are just sort of pressuring me. I would like to shop a bit. I have contacted Roy and am waiting for a quote. Thanks for the reply and any additional advice!
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Oct 13th, 2005, 09:55 AM
  #25
 
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Hello Marcus,

If Born Free are pressuring you, don't use them -- go with someone who will work with you to give you an itinerary you are happy with, not someone who tries to push you into accepting something 'off the rack.'

I would recommend contacting Africa Serendipity or Eco-Resorts -- both companies are East Africa specialists who provide very competitive pricing and will come back to you quite quickly (an important factor with your trip).

www.africaserendipity.com

www.eco-resorts.com

Cheers,
Julian
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Oct 13th, 2005, 10:03 AM
  #26
 
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Marcus, I second Julian's advice. Also, your quote seems high to me, but does it perhaps include international air? If so, then I'd say it's quite reasonable, depending on where you're flying from.

Other operators frequently recommended on this board are Good Earth and Roy Safaris. And...others too many for my feeble brain to remember, but you can do a search for Tanzania tour operators here and see what you come up with.

Good luck!
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Oct 13th, 2005, 08:16 PM
  #27
 
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Hi--no, the quote did not include int'l air fare! I also thought it was high given that there were no luxury lodges. I've since contacted Roy, CCAfrica, TSA, Africa Dream Safaris and Green Footprint. Also plan to contact Africa Serendipity, Eco, and Good Earth. Any feedback on any of these? Thanks everyone!
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Oct 14th, 2005, 03:46 AM
  #28
 
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Hi Marcus,

Re: "I've since contacted Roy, CCAfrica, TSA, Africa Dream Safaris and Green Footprint. Also plan to contact Africa Serendipity, Eco, and Good Earth. Any feedback on any of these?" - please see my comments regarding ATR and TSA earlier in this same column on 10-12-05. I've personally had a lot of help and enjoyed very cordial and professional dealings (ongoing) with Africa Serendipity, CCAfrica, and Green Footprint. Best of luck, Jack
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Oct 14th, 2005, 05:15 AM
  #29
 
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Marcus, one more time about TSA:

I failed to mention that they charge an extra 6 1/2% of the total cost of your safari if you use a credit card to pay for it.

I also mistakenly stated in my 10-12-05 comments in this column that I had only received one complaint from former clients (that TSA employees were late to pick them up), but actually there were two: the client had not been informed in advance about the extra charge for using a credit card. Jack
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Oct 14th, 2005, 06:47 AM
  #30
 
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Dear safarilover,
One of the many frustations that I dealt with when arranging our safari was that most of the well known companies were baiting and switching by quoting 2004 prices (maybe not purposely)even though lots had already been pretty much booked for next winter. We're going next Feb. to the Northern Tanzanian circuit (permanant tent, mobile tenting and one night lodge) 12 night 3800. small group - similar private was 4500.. I started with those companies recommended by National Geographic and the Lonely Planet and ended up choosing African Adventure due to price and the fact that they were able to work with my rather difficult to plan extention trip to the Seychelles due to lack of flights etc. I dealt directly with Allison Nolting who is actually from Kenya and married to partner/owner Mark who has written extensively about Africa. Thompson was absolutely wonderful to deal with but their dates and prices didn't work. Good Earth was just too difficult to deal with being a total novice. Their reps. just don't seem forth coming. Born Free - too sales oriented and pushy. Aberchromie and Kent - horribly rude on the phone - I just received their requested brocure that I had asked for at least 3 months ago. Lots of these companies will not give you an email quote until they send you their brocure etc. I tried Roys but they also took forever to send me anything and when it finally arrived it didn't have any pricing. I acually did want a US based company as advised by others for a safety net. It's probably overkill but I did start to run out of time and energy and didn't want to have to deal with figuring out money conversions for pricing, best times to call these people in diferent time zones etc. I've done alot of traveling (usually self planned) and I must say that sorting thru this stuff was starting to be a full time job. Once you figure out your itinerary (it seems like your close)- it will be alot easier to get some real quotes. As others have said, these companies make big bucks off us (even though they probably work hard) so don't be afraid to go elsewhere if your not liking what is being offered.
Best of luck on your adventure;
Sherry





















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Oct 14th, 2005, 07:04 AM
  #31
 
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It's fairly common for in country tour operators to add a surcharge for credit card payments (that's if they accept them, some don't).
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Oct 14th, 2005, 09:13 AM
  #32
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Hi, Everyone

I'm still out here working on an itinerary! I have a much better idea now of where I should be going and how the whole Tanzania thing works, thanks to all of you and a few people I've talked to on the phone.

The problem now seems to be that I've identified where I want to be--Southern Serengeti to see the wildebeest and a bit farther north such as Naabi Hill and the GOL kjopies to see the predators, but now everything close to there seems to be fully booked except for mobile camping which is very expensive.

Now I'm waiting for one more revised proposal from ATR, and depending on what availability he can get and the price, we'll either book or wait another year. Of course, we don't want to wait another year!

By the way, TSA stated very clearly in their information that there was a surcharge for using a credit card. But we felt that there were a lot of hidden charges there which would make the initially reasonable price much higher in the end.

All in all, I think I've received prompt responses from everyone I've contacted. I have just been rather disappointed in some of the itineraries. For instance, it took a lot of work on my part to figure out the best areas to see in the Serengeti for mid to late January. Why didn't my initial proposals include those places? Why did I have to figure this out, and now probably too late.

Another thing that bothers me is that some companies have lodge prices posted, but they are the rack rates. In reality, that is not what the company is paying to the lodge, but that is what they're charging the customer, so who knows what we're really paying. What about high and low season rates, too?

Eben, I downloaded Google Earth and your Serengeti file. It is so cool!

Well, it has been a learning experience, and I will let you know how it turns out. I agree that it is like a full-time job.

Leann
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Oct 14th, 2005, 09:29 AM
  #33
 
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Leann,
I'm curious as to what hidden charges there were in your initial quote from TSA?
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Oct 14th, 2005, 10:36 AM
  #34
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Patty,

Not included with the published total was a flight at the end of the safari from Arush back to Dar, national park entrance fees, airport departure taxes, and a USD 30 booking fee. The information was in the proposal, but one had to read it thoroughly to see it.

Leann
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Oct 14th, 2005, 10:57 AM
  #35
 
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They didn't include park entrance fees? That is very strange.

Anyway, Leann, I hope the planning is going well. This is a combo I was fantasizing about for myself, so I'm very curious!

Do try to talk your friend into 12 nights if you can.
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Oct 14th, 2005, 11:37 AM
  #36
 
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Thanks, Leann. I'm also surprised that they listed park entrance fees separately. The booking fee is unusual too. Don't think I've ever come across that one.

I'm not that surprised that your JRO-DAR flight was listed separately. I think some tour operators just list flights that are not part of the safari that way. Actually, this is what I prefer as I can see exactly how much the safari and the extra flight are costing me.

Departure taxes (if these are referring to your international flights) are normally included in the price of your ticket. Tanzania recently implemented a separate security fee of approx $8 for international departures. I believe you'll need to pay this in cash upon your departure from DAR.

I hope you can make it work for Jan 2006. Let us know what you end up doing.
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Oct 14th, 2005, 12:58 PM
  #37
 
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Patty, I'm sure you know more about it than I do, me being a newbie and all, but TSA is the only company that I've worked with that, both for the trip I'm planning in June or July, and the trip my family took last June, that has charged extra for using a credit card. For TSA to charge a client 6 1/2% withhout telling him upfront and long before things were being finalized, was wrong. I personally don't want to deal with a company that's going to say at the last minute, oh, by the way, we forgot to mention....
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Oct 14th, 2005, 01:19 PM
  #38
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The flights to/from Arusha/Kili to ZNZ/DAR are still in a bit of flux. Schedules and prices are constantly changing. And it's not unusual that the VAT fees are separate on the ZNZ legs. But that should be clearly stated and advised that these (small amounts) will be included at the time of final invoice. There's a $20 departure fee from ZNZ for Int'l flights and half-that (or less) for an intra-Tanzania flight. Likewise the new Security fee departing JRO or DAR in USD$20.

No Park Fees - Duh! You've got to pay these and though the numbers are still fluid with new fees scheduled to go into effect 2006, they should at least include the 2005 fees with a notation re the proposed increase.

You could pick me up off the floor - the Booking Fee. How do they expect to do business... osmosis! or showing up at JRO and saying "here we are let's go on safari." Sounds to me like a sneaky way to get in a few more $$$. Kind of reminds me of the Preparation Fees some operators charge for a custom itinerary (though that at least is deducted from your final invoice if you book with the operator.)

I guess, nothing should be surprise.
 
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Oct 14th, 2005, 02:01 PM
  #39
 
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Jack,
Let me clarify that I was only referring to in country tour operators when it comes to the credit card surcharge. I believe that their processing fees are higher than that of US based merchant accounts.

If you're working with an agent in the US or UK, I wouldn't expect an additional surcharge as this is normally built into their cost. It's actually against merchant agreements with Visa/Mastercard/Amex in the US to add a surcharge for accepting credit card versus cash payment and you can report violating merchants. Merchants also aren't allowed to set minimum or maximum limits when it comes to accepting credit card payments but car dealers are infamous offenders when it comes to this practice (but now I'm getting way off topic )

Back to the original subject, I posted my earlier comment more or less for anyone in the quote/booking process so that they're not surprised by this surcharge.
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Oct 15th, 2005, 05:57 AM
  #40
 
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Gotcha. Have a great weekend!
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