High end Southern African safari

Jul 5th, 2005, 04:04 PM
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High end Southern African safari

I would be interested in your comments on this recent, very expensive safari organized by the American Museum of Natural History.

AKR1 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2005, 08:04 PM
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Are you thinking of doing this? What specific questions do you have? Are you comparing this to any other options?
tashak is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 05:06 AM
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You're right, this is a very expensive trip at $23K/person and doesn't include Int'l air to get to JNB. Did you realize that the trip you provided us "left already" is was for June 05! Do they have a similar itinerary for '06, and what will the price be in that year.

And since you will probably be traveling with a tour director and have a specialist along with you, part of your fee, goes to pay these individuals.

It's very nice that they have their own plane to get you from destination to destination - a plus.

That said, you can contact any number of in-country safari operators who can design the same itinerary for you (assume you're two people) using commercial flights between countries. Once in-country - Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa - air travel is either included or the fee to fly to/fr some destinations aren't all that expensive.

Doing it this way, you travel independently without a group of strangers, you'll have guide/drivers at all stops who can provide similar information on what you're seeing, where you're visiting. You'll still have the same activities and meals.

Consider contacting:

Taga Safaris or Go2Africa

- both SA based. Send an email with the details of the AMNH itinerary and see what they can do for you - pricewise.
Jul 6th, 2005, 05:47 AM
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I reviewed the itinerary and in my opinion it should cost no more than about $10,000 per person, but at a maximum about $11,500 per person which is HALF of what AMNH is charging for this tour.

Also, I don't even find this to be a desirable itinerary, as two nights per camp is really rushing things.

Lastly, if I were paying $23,000 per person and AMNH did not even put me up at the more exclusive Sable Unit of Mala Mala, I would be really upset with someone once I arrived at Mala Mala and found out there was such a part of the camp and talking to these guests and finding out how much they paid by booking with a knowledgable and FAIR Southern African tour operator.

If you are interested in such a trip, and would like to save 50%, e-mail me for a couple recommendations and I would be happy to help. Do yourself a favor by avoiding tours such as this one and ones offered by A&K and Micato.
Roccco is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 08:03 AM
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In addition to the costs, I would be disappointed that this trip did not include a real Okavango delta camp. You could add one at the end, but if you are going to start doing that kind of thing, why not just design your own itinerary?

Also it is important to inquire about the policies for number of people on a vehicle during game drives. Wilderness Safaris (they are using Wilderness Camps) generally has a policy of no more than 2 people per row on vehicles...except for groups. I saw several jam-packed three-to-a-row vehicles as WS camps, and was told these were "zoo groups"...so apparently the rule does not hold for group travel. This is very very important to your enjoyment of a high-end safari...and it's something worth getting IN WRITING before you sign up for a group trip!!

I'm not sure you could get this whole itinerary in June for the price Roccco quotes (although if you can I want to talk to his agent!!!) There are quite a few flights on this one, and the posted rates of these camps for June05 was something over $700pp double occupancy. But the cost certainly wouldn't be anything close to $24,000. If the Museum wants to make money on trips like this, they should give you a contribution letter (for tax purposes) for the payment over market rates, so you can get a tax deduction. Hey, if you want to support the museum, arrange the itinerary yourself (you emphatically don't need escorts at these camps!!! And it will be substantially cheaper) at a lower cost and at your convenience, and donate the rest to the Museum (which would be tax-deductible).
tashak is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 09:16 AM
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Remember, shoulder season pricing in Botswana is good until June 30th. High season pricing starts on July 01st.

None of the lodges mentioned should be over $500 pppns. Even Mala Mala, if I am not mistaken is still only $500 pppns for the main camp which is where the itinerary is sending their guests.
Roccco is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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It looks like that tour includes 15 nights on safari and 2 nights at Johannesburg (one night beginning and one night end). So say $200 pppn at JNB, leaves about $1500 pp per night for safari. I guess this includes the private plane for the group between camps, but this is a very high price to pay. There are no 6 paw camps listed(Wilderness Safari designation for 6 star). And I basically agree with Rocco that in June (shoulder season in Botswana and shoulder or low season in South Africa, don't know about Namibia)that the cost per person for the camps shown would be in the range of $500 to $600 per night (then add airfare between camps maybe on the order of $200 per person for each flight for estimating purposes) At the cost shown, you should be staying in all 6 star camps, places such as Mombo and Singita and that should cover airfare between camps. I believe these "6 star" camps do not have reduced rates in shoulder season, but almost all the "5 star" camps do.

Also, you have 7 camps in 15 days which means traveling every other day. This is time consuming and tiring for most people. We really enjoyed 3 night stays, and I think you should consider that for most camps (you could throw in a couple of 2 nighters if necessary). Why not cut down on the number of camps and spend more time at several places.

There are also USA based agents that specialize in safari travel if you do not want to go thru an agent in South Africa. We used Bert DuPlessis at Fish Eagle Safaris (based in Houston) and his pirce was just slightly cheaper than Go2Africa.
brandywine is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 02:42 PM
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Thanks for all your kind responses. This is still the very early stage in my planning process and your responses were very helpful.
AKR1 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2005, 03:29 AM
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If you're not tied to travelling with a particular operator, and you're in early stages only - this is a fantastic resource so do stay around, read a lot, ask a lot and everyone here will do their best to help you plan your dream itinerary!
Kavey is offline  

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