Highly Recommend African Dream Safaris

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Feb 7th, 2005, 06:08 PM
  #1
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Highly Recommend African Dream Safaris

High recommendation for the tour outfit African Dream Safaris

If you are planning a trip to Tanzania or Kenya, I highly recommend booking your trip through African Dream Safaris with Michael Wishner. My husband, niece and I traveled to Tanzania and Kenya in September of 2004 for 16 days. I spent almost a year researching every travel agency group tour and agencies that would design a custom tour. I went on the Fodders chat line and asked what was the best way to go and any tips anyone may have. Most people recommended a custom tour if you could afford it. With a custom tour you can decide exactly were you want to go and how long you want to stay for every aspect of the trip. However, that was the big clincher; it looked like we could only afford a group tour. If you have been researching Africa you know it is one of the more expensive places to travel.

I found African Dream Safaris through an Intranet website and they were just that. They helped me plan a dream trip at an affordable price. I paid only $200 more to have a custom trip compared to a group tour. I donít believe anyone could beat their price. I had two other tour operators plan almost the exact same trip for nearly a $1000 per person more. We had great lodging, food, transportation and guides. I had read up a lot on the reserves I wanted to visit and Michael made recommendations based on the time of year we were going. He gave me choices in lodging and sent me information to help me with my decisions. The company even went the extra mile by sending a back-pack before I left that had a pair of excellent binoculars, mosquito repellent, a book on animals we could expect to see, baby wipes, a journal to write about my trip and some snack items. Then when we returned I received a large book on the Great Migration. I still canít believe the amount of service we got for the price.

Because I was nervous booking a trip with just someone I found over the Intranet, I did call several references and they all praised African Dream Safaris the same as I have. I even check with the Better Business Bureau and everything checked out. If you are planning a trip to Tanzania and Kenya you will be doing yourself a big favor by checking with African Dream Safariís. I have no doubts that you will plan your trip with them.

Although everything was wonderful, highlights of the trip included seeing all big-five of the animals many times, watching mother lions and cheetah play with their cubs just a few feet in front of you, watching a leopard drag a baby cape buffalo up a tree to devour, watching male lions mark their territory, seeing the alligators take down two wildebeests in the migration crossing. Hiking to and visiting a Maasai village, staying at the Kichwa Tempo Tented Camp in Kenya with all the animal walking around the camp site.



Below is an itinerary of the vacation we took,

Number in Group: 3 adults (1x double room & 1x single room) Ė PRIVATE SAFARI
Month of Travel: Safari specifically designed for September
Special Request 1: Request adjoining rooms/tents
Special Request 2: Large animal focus especially for the big cats
International Airfare: Booked by Flight Centre
Trip Duration: 16 days - 10 days in Tanzania; 4 days in Kenya; 2 days in transit

Day 1 In Transit-Depart NY
Day 2 Kilimanjaro-KIA Lodge
Day 3 Tarangarie-Mawe Ninga Tented Lodge
Day 4 Tarangarie-Mawe Ninga Tented Lodge
Day 5 Tarengire/South Serengeti-Olduvai Tented lodge
Day 6 Central Serengeti-Serengeti Serena Lodge
Day 7 Central Serengeti-Serengeti Serena Lodge
Day 8 Central Serengeti/Crater-Ngorongoro Serena Lodge
DAy 9 Ngorongoro Crater- Ngorongoro Serena Lodge
Day 10 Ngorongoro Crater-Plantation Lodge
Day 11 Lake Manyaya/Arusha-Ngare Sero Lodge
Day 12 Arusha/Nairobi-Fly to Masai Mara Kenya/Kichwa Tembo Tented Safari Camp
Day 13 Masai Mara -Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp
Day 14 Masai Mara -Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp
Day 15 In transit
Day 16 In transit










































Lucretia is offline  
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Feb 7th, 2005, 06:51 PM
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Hi Lucretia

Thank you for confirming once again that private tours can be affordable! It's been the tone on this board for a while now and it's great to get such positive feedback!

Maybe it's just fate, but I have never seen an African Dream Safaris vehicle in the parks.

Can you tell us a bit more about them? Do you know which outfitter(s) they use in Tanzania/Kenya?

Eben
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Feb 8th, 2005, 07:30 AM
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Lucretia -- I love Africa Dream Safaris' website -- it is a great resource and I have been using it extensively in planning our customized safari in northern Tanzania for later this year. I am happy to hear you had such a good experience with them. The only place I would disagree with you is where you say that you don't believe anyone could beat their price. We sent our proposed itinerary for our 15-day safari to 9 different outfitters, and unfortunately Africa Dream Safaris was the highest by far. We were disappointed in this because we really did like their website a lot and they seemed quite knowledgable, but we can't justify the huge price difference. I am guessing that their higher cost is because they contract out the safari to a local TZ outfitter (most of the other companies we asked for prices were Tanzania-based rather than US-based) and mark up from there. If someone is looking to book with a US-based company then they may in fact have very competitive pricing, but not compared with Tanzanian-based safari outfitters. I do agree with you, however, that the cost difference between the customized safari we have been pricing and the group safari prices are almost insignificant. Just my two cents. I would be interested to hear any details you have about your time in Serengeti & Ngorongoro and your stays at the Serena lodges there, as we are planning to stay at them as well.
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Feb 8th, 2005, 11:12 AM
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Lucretia

Glad you had such a good trip. Seeing a "migration kill" must have been great.
You mentioned you had:
"two other tour operators plan almost the exact same trip for nearly a $1000 per person more."
Would you be willing to state what the other two operator were? It might be helpful. Thank you and I'll check out African Dream Safaris.
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Feb 8th, 2005, 02:01 PM
  #5
sandi
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Whether a US or UK based operator or one that is in-country - Kenya or Tanzania - they all have different prices. It's not that Africa Dream Safaris is/was more expensive, rather that he has arrangements with specific lodges/camps (as do all the other outfitters). Therefore, if they have to quote for a camp/lodge that they don't have an agreement with (or are their "preferred" accommodations) the prices will be higher. That is why you notice some outfitters offers all Serena properties, or some other - say Sopa, or even those you've never heard of before. That's from whom they get the best prices. As to the mark-up, you'd be surprised that most US/UK based tour operators don't mark-up all that much. Hey, even in-country outfitters mark-up their prices.

Maybe 5% which isn't much at all. And if 10% on a $3,000/person itinerary - no one is getting rich on $300, unless they're booking lots and lots and lots of business.

And for those who have submitted an itinerary for bid that is fashioned from "known brand tour operators" i.e. an A&K itinerary, and see a difference of a few thousand dollars for the same lodgings - then A&K is marking up way more than 10%, more like 25% and even higher. That's the reason folks tend to recommend and go with in-country or homebased TOs who are reputable that provide the same lodgings, service - except you don't get an A&K cap, or duffle bag, or binoculars or whatever. All those extras have to be paid for, no one is giving anything away for nothing. You can just as easily purchase those items yourself and not see them included in the cost of your trip. Not unlike "sales tax" - nobody likes the idea of paying it, but we do unless the provider of a service includes it in the overall price and tax becomes transparent - unknown - like VAT, which in Africa is already included and there ain't much you can do about it.

As to the question posed in another thread re the fact that African Dream Safaris has only been in business 3years - realize that many people have been in the business for years, but had been working for someone else (maybe even an A&K or CCAfrica) - then decided to branch out on their own. Don't discount the experience, contacts and service a "young company" might have to offer. There's probably alot to back them up. Sometimes one might be better going with an up-'n-coming company who goes the extra mile than one who has been in business for years and gets sloppy. I know plenty of people who have had problems with A&K and others in that category.

It's not brain surgery - it's business and not unlike many others businesses. If an outfitter or tour operator can provide what you want, at the budget you've set, you've dissected as best you can, you've made inquiry of others - you gotta choose someone. While one person can rave about a $3,500 safari, as many rave about a $2,000 safari. The final decision has to be that which works best for you (personally, 9 proposals only confuses the process) - the reason you see so many highly recommended companies both at home and in-country.
 
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Feb 8th, 2005, 03:40 PM
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Going by Lisa's note that the ADS quote was "highest by far", there is at least one explanation - double decker mark-up!

ADS is clearly an agent - not a member of TATO and the vehicle pictures indicate Tanganyika Expeditions who I assume is their outfitter.

Tanganyika Expeditions is rather expensive to begin with (car/driver/day) and has to mark up the stays at all lodges except two (which they own and operate).

ADS then marks up the outfitter mark-up and voila - double-decker!

This is the non-emotional, technical explanation and there is clearly room to get the same safari experience for less $$ as Lisa stated.

On an emotional level, I sense ADS has one of the better web sites and clearly provides good customer service. I think that's worth something - how much is an individual decision!

As Sandi stated so nicely, regardless of costs here is an example of a happy safari client so kudus to African Dream Safaris and Tanganyika (also known as Mt Kilimanjaro Safari Club).

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Feb 8th, 2005, 11:48 PM
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To: climbhighsleeplow, Thanks for tracking down ADS's outfitter. What kind of reputation does Tanganyika Expeditions (or Mt. Kilimanjaro Safari Club) have in Tanzania? Are they generally high end and do you have any idea how good their guides and vehicles are? I could not get too far on the web with these names except for ADS --which has outstanding presentation . How good are the camps that they own?
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Feb 9th, 2005, 03:48 AM
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Tanganyika Expeditions is a French company. Go here:
http://www.tanganyika.com/acccueil/accueil_gb.php

They own Oldupai Camp (note the spelling - Olduvai is actually wrong!) near the Oldupai visitor center and Maweninga in Tarangire.

These are not upscale camps and compare with Kikoti rather than Swala or Kusini. Costs are reasonable at near $200 per tent a night.

Oldupai Camp is a little rough around the edges but in a good location during Feb to early April when the migration is near. I actually like this camp a lot (more than Ndutu) but it's not for everyone.

Maweninga is actually very nice with great sunsets in the north-east of Tarangire. When I visited the service was horrible but that was 6 months ago and it has improved I hear.

The catch with Oldupai and Maweninga? You can only stay there if you safari with Tanganyika, although Maweninga is less strict!

Tanganyika Exp operate their safaris just like everyone else - they own some vehicles (average condition) and the driver/guides are hit/miss since they also subcontract (like most other companies).

As a result, I would not pay more to go with them unless I desperately want to stay at Oldupai Camp.

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Feb 9th, 2005, 03:50 AM
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Correction - Maweninga is the north-west of Tarangire, not north-east. It is INSIDE the park.
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Feb 22nd, 2005, 04:09 AM
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I run my own travel company out of the states, and I've used ADS on several occasions. I've visited their Tanzania office and met with the owners. They are great people and as someone has stated, they are able to use privately owned lodges by other tour operators, because of their strong relationships.

It is also not uncommon for tour operators to rent or borrow each otherís vehicles and/or drivers if need be. ADS has gotten quite popular for their custom and quality safaris, so it's not hard to believe that they've had more guests than they have vehicles at a given time.

I think that someone (climbhighsleeplow) might be a jealous competitor that is trying to discredit this very nice company, and being a loyal agent that uses ADS, I'm obliged to give my credit to them. Something should be said for a tour operator that can stay at any lodge they want to in Tanzania, because not all can stay at Olduvai or Mawe Ninga.

For a private custom safari, they are very reasonable with prices. And they offer budget itineraries that still use the popular locations. Some other companies will have a better price, but that's because they're using a lodge that would be good in April, but they're using it in October, so the lodge is very discounted. Or theyíre grouping you with a caravan of people, stuffing a van full of guests, or just using a local as a driver. ADS won't even book a lodge out of season if you ask for it. They only want to give the ultimate safari experience for all their guests, and all of my customers that Iíve sent with ADS have been overly pleased.

Certainly a trip to Africa is expected to be expensive to most people, and especially if you're looking for the trip of a lifetime. Some months ADS seems to be expensive but knowing about their service and location knowledge for the best wildlife viewing, it's worth it. And I wouldnít want to risk my customer just to make a few more dollars myself.

I can't say enough. I'll leave it at that and I agree with the Lucretia recommendation for ADS.
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Feb 22nd, 2005, 07:35 AM
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Ouch! Where does this come from?

Let's see. In the past, I talked about private safaris with Raylenne, Roy's, Albatros, Good Earth, Eastern & Southern, Sunny, Predators, Ranger, and others.

See a pattern? They are all local outfitters often used by overseas agents. Many on this board contact them directly and get seemingly good service and excellent rates.

I was not the one who said ADS is expensive. I merely confirmed that it is an overseas agent and not an outfitter. Was that improper?

Do I prefer local Tanzanian outfitters? Yes, proudly so. Do I push any one outfitter - never had and never will.

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Feb 22nd, 2005, 09:43 AM
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When I was pricing a custom safari last year I had a similar experience regarding significant price differences between operators. I was getting quotes almost $1,000pp higher from Roys, CC, etc.than from Tanzania Serengeti Adventure, for the same safari. I looked at the details and couldn't identify any qualitative diffeences, so I'm assuming the difference relates largely to US/UK overhead for their agents.

Any thoughts?

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Feb 22nd, 2005, 11:51 AM
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sandi
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Avogadro - If you mean CC to be CCAfrica, well, of course, their prices are higher and they promote/push their own properties over any others, all of which are very expensive - some of the most expensive.

I would not, however, put Roys into the same category as CCA, as they can obtain just about any property, not unlike Tanzania Serengeti Adventure (if they can indeed do likewise).

A difference of $1,000 is most unusual and if so, and working with a US/UK based tour operator, then this homegrown operator was covering their overhead. There have been few if any individual itineraries posted here costing $10,000 for a couple - $1,000 would be a 10% markup which is high. Granted large companies are more likely to mark-up this high a percentage, but smaller UK/US tur operators using in-country outfitters rarely go above 7%, more often it's only 5%. And on 5%-7% no one is trying to put something over on a client, nor is the tour operator getting rich on these numbers.

But, admittedly, I too would question $1,000 difference between operators for an exactly same itinerary and look elsewhere.
 
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Feb 22nd, 2005, 12:44 PM
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Avogadro -

We just booked a safari with Good Earth Tours for October 2005. For an identical itinerary, they were at least $1200 (per person) less than Roys, Suntrek, and about $600 or so less (per person) than Eastern & Southern, all for the identical itineraries. This was for a custom, private safari for 2 people. I didn't submit my trip to African Dream Safaris, but am really pleased with the service I received to date from Good Earth.

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Feb 22nd, 2005, 03:43 PM
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I think one thing that might be confusing some here is that; I'm sure Lucretia is referring to AFRICA Dream Safaris, ADS. Some others here might see the AFRICAN Dream Safaris, and that is actually a different company/website, which is really Siyabona Africa Travel.

So I think everyone here is right, AFRICA Dream Safaris (ADS or africadreamsafaris.com) is a great company and Tour Operator that has a great relationship with other companies like Tanganyika, and they have their own operation in Tanzania, but have their main office in California - USA.

AFRICAN Dream Safaris is... well, their not ADS, and their really Siyabona Africa Travel.

I've tried many different companies, and I really like ADS and their driver/guides, but I have to say that no matter whom you go with, you're going to have a great trip! Tanzania's northern circuit is always a good trip.

Regards,
Safari Traveler
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Feb 25th, 2005, 07:17 PM
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i heard some good things about the good earth trips does anybody else have any opinions about this company, their excursions seem very reasonable are they for real?
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Feb 26th, 2005, 07:54 AM
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prkrishnan - we just booked for October with Good Earth (See above) & I have a friend who traveled with a group of 8 people with them in early January 2005 for a safari & Kili climb and said that they were really good.
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Feb 26th, 2005, 08:47 AM
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Please post your experience with Good Earth upon return. Lorib1, thanks for the specifics on companies and prices. There seem to be quite a few of us interested in Good Earth. Thanks.
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Mar 18th, 2005, 02:21 PM
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Thank you for your posting - I am just starting to plan a trip for 2006. Not opnly does your itinerary look very appealing, I was wondering how I would ever find a tour company that I could trust!
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Jun 16th, 2005, 06:20 AM
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Thank you for such valuable information!
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