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How about - African Adventure Company, Anyone used that one?

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Jan 11th, 2003, 10:05 AM
  #1
Ingrid
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How about - African Adventure Company, Anyone used that one?

Hi everyone!

I have read that this company is pretty good. Anyone heard of them or take any tours with them? Are they expensive?

Thanks,
Ingrid
 
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Jan 12th, 2003, 07:15 AM
  #2
billyjeff
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Africa Adventure put together a fabulous safari that we are gling on in July. Frankly when I received the itenierary, I was afraid to look at the cost -- includes Cape Grace, Singita, Phinda, Saxony in Johannesburg, Xigera and Mombo- but when i did I was shocked at how reasonable it was. WE had three coupples booked and one of them had to cancel - they had the refund of their deposit within days. AA also held their reservations open for a while and another couple replaced them.

They have always been very respnsive to all questions and we have had a couple of changes in itinerary which were handled promptly and efficiently. So far, I have been very pleased with their performance.
 
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Jan 13th, 2003, 08:11 AM
  #3
Ingrid
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Hi!

Thanks for the reply.
I have spoken with Simon there and am waiting for Mr. Nolting to return my vm. They have been interested in pursuing me, so I know they want the business. I think that's a good sign.

I am also scared to see what sort of prices they quote for what we want to do. They seem like a boutique operation and those are usually very expensive.

I want to spend about four days in Cape Town area seeing all sorts of things - including one day of great white shark diving.

Then I want to spend about three-four days in Durban, Zululand and St. Lucia Wetlands area.

Then four days in a safari in Kruger - then two days in J'berg/Soweto..

I am pretty sure I have located a guide I want to use in Cape Town, but will need a tour package beginning in Durban, which I want African Adventure Company to handle.

Do you think they are good at handling packages that aren't all game drives and safaris?

How much is it costing you for everything including air - if you don't mind me asking you...

I don't want to spend more than $11,000 total for two people for two weeks.

 
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Jan 13th, 2003, 09:45 AM
  #4
Sheila
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I found them helpful, but overpriced for the trip I was interested in. For example, I think by booking with Bert from Fish Eagle Safaris I saved around $600 per person on just the land portion of the Mopani Wilderness Safaris trip. At the time African Adventure Company sold it under a different name, but it's the same trip. So my advice is to see what they have available, which company hosts the tour, and then shop around for the best price. Good luck!
 
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Jan 13th, 2003, 12:40 PM
  #5
Michael
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Mark Nolting's book is terrific, but my experience with them has been less so. I contacted them in 1999 when planning my first safari, and not only did I find them expensive, but they actually charged me $100 to plan my itinerary. Since it was my first safari, I paid them the fee so that I could guage the market, but in the end, I ended up working with Kenya's consulate in NY, who booked me the exact same tour as Nolting quoted for a little more than half his quote. I mean exact -- Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, Mara Serena, Ol Tukai in Amboseli, and Sopa lodges in Ngorongore and Serengeti.
 
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Jan 14th, 2003, 11:23 AM
  #6
billyjeff
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It is not unusual for a travel compnay to charge for an itinerary that is not undertaken.I beleive Abercrombie and kent does the same but I think their's was $250.00. there is a lot of work that goes into an itinerary and pricing it. I certainly have been very satisfied with everything they ahve done.
 
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Jan 14th, 2003, 12:06 PM
  #7
Michael
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Well, its silly to pay A&K $250 to book a trip -- based on my experience, A&K trips are taken by those too lazy to do research and use a local operator. I have been on many safaris paralleling an A&K trip, and I have always been able to match their trip exactly for much less -- but then again, I didn't get to wear that stupid hat. There are many excellent operators who don't charge a planning fee -- its a cost of doing business, especially in this economy. As a lawyer, I am willing to spend some time with a prospective client, and will not charge for the initial work if there is a chance of getting to work on a larger project.
 
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Jan 14th, 2003, 01:51 PM
  #8
Liz Frazier
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I agree with Michael. If you read this board at all, you see a lot of folks set their itinerary and then put it out for bid to 2 or 3 agents. Of course they disclose what they are doing. The days of an upfront fee are over. You don't even have to be overly smart to do this. Just know where you want to go or ask for ideas. No one should charge an upfront fee in this market. That was pre-computer days. A & K agents do it because they are so very expensive, you wouldn't book with them unless they had your money to start. We had traveled with Ker and Downey with no upfront fee and the next time I asked them to book a trip I got the old "send me $500.00" to start. I never wrote back or called again. So it depends on the agent too. Liz
 
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Jan 17th, 2003, 05:11 AM
  #9
Susan
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Dear Ingrid:
Before booking our trip to Kenya and Tanzania, I did a great deal of research on safari tour operators. Time and time again, I found American-based tour operators were more expensive than those actually based in Africa. We ended up using an Arusha-based company that was about $2,000 less per person. A significant savings in my mind. Do your homework. By the way, we had several itineraries priced for us and no one charged a fee. Good luck with your travel plans.
 
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Jan 23rd, 2003, 02:28 PM
  #10
ingrid
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Hi guys!

I have found that American companies want to charge a planning fee. I have never heard of such a thing before - and I travel a lot!!!
Maybe it's a safari thing.

Well, I have contacted several SA tour operators to see who can offer us the best experience and price. However, my only concern is the lack of liability the local tour operators have if something goes wrong for us.
How do you file a complaint or get money back from a company outside of the US?
Using American tour companies for our private tours has worked out for us in the past, but it seems that we may have to go local to save some money.
Why is South Africa soooo expensive? Especially the safari portion? It's highway robbery - the cost of some of these game preserves bordering Kruger...

Ingrid
 
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Jan 24th, 2003, 06:55 AM
  #11
deb
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I am using them right now for a trip in September and their service has been good. If you are going to Botswana you really have to book through an operator such as aa or fish eagle but if booking for South africa you can certainly do it on your own. I think Djuma and mala mala both take individual reservations but we were pretty set on going to Botswana.
 
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Jan 24th, 2003, 09:48 AM
  #12
Michael
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No one is suggesting that you avoid using an operator, but I think some of the more ambitious people (ie, those with time to do research) are using operators based in Africa (South Africa for trips around that region, including Botswana, and based in Nairobi or Arusha for trips in East Africa). I have been on four safaris, and each time I booked using an African based operator, and each time my trip, while identical to the itinerary proposed by a US-based operator, was substantially less expensive. I'm not sure what you anticipate going wrong, but planning a trip based on suing the operator if something goes wrong is really letting a very remote possibility govern your decision. For the amount you'll save, you could get trip insurance. Look around and price the trips with US and African operators and see for yourself how much $ you can save. The one difference is dealing with African operators by email, instead of phone, but its very simple.
 
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Jan 24th, 2003, 09:52 AM
  #13
Michael
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One more thing -- you ask why many lodges in the private reserves are so expensive, and the short answer is they charge what the market will bear. Why would they charge less. To me, it seems that wealthy Americans and Europeans now seek creature comforts, Egyptian cotton sheets, fine china, deep wine list, etc., while on safari, and the lodges are merely catering to this audience. If you really want to see animals, do a self-drive in Kruger -- you'll see much more, have more fun and won't be on a spoonfed safari where drivers radio the locations of animals and you drive up to them. They try to make it seem like a surprise, but the drivers know, using shorthand and lingo, that, for instance, a rhino is just up the road, and a leopard is in the big acacia tree.
 
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Jan 24th, 2003, 02:07 PM
  #14
Ingrid
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Michael:

Thanks for your insight. It is very much appreciated. It's not that I am looking to sue anyone, BUT I also don't want to pay for a trip and then be stranded when I get there. I don't want to lose $10,000.

I will look into the company you mentioned.

I have contacted several local operators, but they also charge a lot of money for the game preserves. We were quoted $2,000 per night US..gasp

I don't want the luxuries. I prefer to camp out in the middle of the preserves, but most operators don't do that - at least not the ones I have spoken to.

I have done quite a bit of research as to what I want to see while in SA, it's just been difficult finding someone willing to do it for the right price.

It may be that SA is too expensive for us right now.

I am just floored at the cost of some of these lodges in Kruger - who has that much money? And where can I get some?

Ingrid
 
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Jan 27th, 2003, 09:15 AM
  #15
Lee
 
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Please post the names and email addresses for So. African-based companies that welcome US customers. I have tried many via the net and have not gotten any to respond to question, quotes, etc.
Thanks for the info.
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Jan 27th, 2003, 01:17 PM
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Message from Michael (I had to change my screen name b/c we are now required to register). I'm not sure if I can recommend operators on this forum, but I went on two safaris, the first just to Kruger, and the second to Botswana and Zambia, using Taga Safaris, based in Johannesburg. You could find them on the internet. If you do contact them, ask for Mark (he was absolutely terrific and knows everything), and tell him Michael from NY recommended him (I'm not sure if this will help you, but maybe it'll help me when next I book). Mark knows all about Kruger and the private reserves, and while I don't know what price he will quote, I guarantee it will be much less than $2000 per night -- that's just silly. Unlike others, I really liked the lodges in Kruger -- yes they are big and busy, and not 5 star luxury, but you can get out early and spend the entire day on safari. I also visited the private reserves and found the eight hours of safari per day wasn't enough; I wanted to be out all day!! Anyway, try Mark -- maybe he'll have some good suggestions, maybe not, but he's based in South Africa and find his rates much less than many US operators (in fact, I understand some US operators book through him and just add a markup).
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Jan 28th, 2003, 05:17 AM
  #17
 
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I've been following this post with interest, and have a question of a more general nature. I'm always encouraging people to visit SA for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that a job is created for every 8 tourists that visit the country, and it is really a stunning country and reasonable to boot. That is why some of the figures mentioned caught my attention and raised concern. I believe that the budget figure Ingrid mentioned of 11,000USD for two people for two weeks should be more than ample to have a stunning holiday in SA. Perhaps the reason for the perceived inflated prices is that these were quoted through a tour operator, and hence to my question: why would one use a tour operator and pay the extra? I have travelled internationally to a number of continents and have not once booked packaged or canned itineraries, however personalised, through a tour operator. I've always preferred to research and make my own plans - I guess I just don't get why I should pay someone to conduct research that I can do myself. In fact - finding out what there is to do and planning what to do is a large part of the fun for me. To demonstrate:
I don't know from where in the US Ingrid and her friend are travelling - let's assume Atlanta. The rand amount quoted on SAA for Johannesburg/Cape Town/Atlanta return is R8500. Add on about R3000 (generous) for the domestic flights gives you R11,500-00.
In terms of accommodation in Cape Town the V&A (my favourite) quotes R1500 pp;
Makakatana Bay Lodge in St Lucia is about R1800 pp sharing (all in);
For your safari section Djuma lists R4000 per night for their most expensive all in facility;
In Johannesburg you can stay at The Michelangelo for 6 star luxury for about R1500 pp per night.
So if I add that all up (check my calculations) you have:
3 x R1500 (Cape Town) = R4500
3 x R1800 (Zululand) = R5400
4 x R4000 (Kruger) = R16000
2 x R1500 (Jhb) = R3000
Airfare = R11500
Total = R40400-00 x 2 = R80800. Divide that by 8.5 and you get about 9500USD. This would leave you with 1500USD to spend on activities, meals, drinks, transfers, car hire, additional tours and souvenirs. Trust me it will be enough. And that is based on staying at very expensive and luxurious accommodation in each of the centres. You will be able to find less expensive and just as lovely lodgings in each centre.
And all that information I have just sourced via the web in the past 30 minutes. So aside from my general question (and I really would like to hear what may be to be gained from tour operators), don't be put off by some of the prices quoted. Persevere just a little and do come and visit!
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Jan 30th, 2003, 12:39 PM
  #18
 
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Hi guys!

Africa Adventure Company Update:
I have written to this company a few times and they don't reply. They sent me info. once, but as soon as I started asking more questions, they lost interest...that scares me..

Michael:
I appreciate the info. on Taga. A friend of mine also suggested them, so I am in contact with them now.

Traci:
As I mentioned (maybe not), I travel a lot and am very particular about the places I see and the things I do while on vacation. I usually do my own research in a very, very detailed way using the internet and Lonely Planet Guide. I went to Thailand for three weeks in November and was able to hire a private guide and driver via a tour company I have used a few times - Isram.
I don't like the canned itineraries for the most part, but planning things just so..take a lot of time.

Sometimes I go canned and sometimes I do the planning, but pay someone else to make it happen. All I have to do is list what I want, pay and then receive the tickets. This is the easy and fun way. The way I decide to go - depends on sooo many things.

Africa is a different story. It is insane how expensive it is to use a tour company or "safari" company to go on safari. I have done a ton of research and have several spreadsheets going on how to spend the least amount - while doing what I want.

I found a travel company in LA who doesn't upcharge the safaris, and they can handle all the airfare and logistics. Doing it privately is okay sometimes, but I rather be paced with a few other people in the middle of nowhere. I like my husband, BUT I also enjoy talking with other people besides the guide.

The flight schedules in Africa are also difficult to coordinate, especially while chartering a plane to Botswana.
Africa is not a place that you can easily get around by yourself. My friends who are from South Africa said they do not recommend we go alone.

I have found a way to go on a luxury mobile tented safari for 10 days with Penduka in Botswana and then spend 4 days in Cape Town and 1 day great white shark cage diving - all for $10,000.
It took some doing, but I have a company coordinating it for me and it's for the right price.

If the company sells it to you, then they have to help you out if something goes wrong with the flights, etc. There's accountability. It's when you go alone that you are screwed if your flights are cancelled, etc.

I like to use tour operators for the peace of mind it gives me that they will do the worrying for me. They will get me around and back home again.

Africa is not cheap and this safari better be worth the money!!
Ingrid
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Jan 30th, 2003, 12:49 PM
  #19
 
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Just so you guys know:

I have contacted these companies for the safari:

Africa Adventure Company:
they sent me some info. but we weren't able to get any kind of a real schedule and fee from them..they lost interest in returning my emails and answering my questions..

African Travel, Inc:
Same thing. They spoke with one time, but when I emailed asking for a private schedule, never heard back.

Uncharted Outposts International:
Made me pay $50 to plan my schedule.
They didn't really set the itinerary the way I wanted to, by leaving out some things I was clear about.
They also went way over the budget I set.
They charged $17,000 for Botswana
and $14,000 for South Africa

Taga:
No answer yet


I also found that these companies all sell the same mobile safaris - the Hemingway by Afro Ventures, Livingstone by Karibu, Botswana Explorer and others by Penduka. I found that Abercrombie & Kent has the exact same Hemingway safari details and itinerary as the one by Afro Ventures - the prices are VERY different.

It is best to go straight to the ground operator - much, much cheaper and it's the same safari..

Ingrid
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Feb 1st, 2003, 11:35 PM
  #20
 
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Hello Everyone, I recently came back from south africa & zimbabwe and I'm laughing at the prices you are quoting-how exorbitant. South africa is a bargain and I'm canadian so when you quote US dollars it is far out. It should not be that expensive. Regards, Patricia
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