Huge price range

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Apr 15th, 2006, 10:26 AM
  #1
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Huge price range

Hi
Four of us are going to N. Tanzania the first week of November. We have firmed up our locations and asked for prices from a few companies. We have narrowed down our choice to either Good Earth or Africa Dream Safari. FYI the trip is
1. Overnight Arusha on arrival
GE @ Impala, ADS @ KIA
2. GE Kikoti, ADS fly to Sereng then Migration camp
3. GE Kikoti, ADS Migration Camp
4. GE to Gibbs via Manyara, ADS Mbalageti
5. GE Ngor Serena, ADS Mbalageti
6. GE Ngor Serena, ADS Prvt Lux Camp Turner's
7. GE Serengeti Serena, ADS Prvt Lux Camp Turner's
8. GE Serengeti Serena, ADS Ngor Serena
9. GE Migration Camp, ADS Plantation Lg
10. GE Migration Camp, ADS Kikoti
11. GE fly Arusha/dayrm,depart ADS Kikoti
12 GE N/A ADS dayrm, depart

There is one extra day with ADS spent in the Western Serengeti and Private camp instead of Serengeti Serena for the two days in the central Serengeti. There is one fewer day at the Ngor park. GE has indicated that we can upgrade from Serena to EMC camp for 160 pppn.
So, the cost difference, without the EMC upgrade is 2,493 pp.
Is there that much of a difference in the companies? Are the vehicles or the guides or the reliability any different? Looking for some help as one couple feels the low price is too good to be true and there must be some significant added value to the higher one or they wouldn't be able to charge more.
Help please
pjtoafrica is offline  
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Apr 15th, 2006, 10:44 AM
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I'm really new around these boards and I'm certain a few of the 'experts' can help you out but I can tell you from my own research (we are going late Nov.) that the price differences between companies can be quite high!

I've definitely read some trip reports that have used Good Earth (and probably ADS but can't recall). Someone can probably direct you to the link of reports.

I think that price sounds prtty good. We've decided to go with Sunny Safaris which tended to be less expensive than Good Earth but we're also staying at less expensive lodges than your itinerary (and less time on safari). I wondered the same thing (is this too good to be true?) but have heard some good feedback about Sunny.

I'm sure you'll find lots of reports here that will help to give you a better feel of the differences between the two. It really might just be the price!
Canadian_Traveler is offline  
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Apr 15th, 2006, 11:02 AM
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Here are some links on Good Earth and Africa Dream. I have not used either company personally. The consensus seems to be that both operators provide an excellent safari experience, Africa Dream has an outstanding website, and Africa Dream is a good deal more expensive than a variety of other providers.

To put both company's safari prices in perspective you could also try Roy's, Eastern & Southern Safaris, or Sunny's (as was mentioned in the previous post.)

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34763986
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34710650
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34749526
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34563508
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34554221
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34594583

In addition to feedback on the forum, I would be interested in Africa Dream's response to your question on the price difference. If you did not mind sharing that response, I think it would be helpful.

Have a wonderful trip.
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Apr 15th, 2006, 11:04 AM
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We went with Good Earth and loved them. We priced 10 different outfitters total and of those ten, ADS was the highest (by a lot) and Good Earth was the least expensive. ADS is more at least in part because they contract it out to a separate ground operator. You can see all of the details of our trip at homepage.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel. I am sure you would have a fantastic time with ADS too -- they are very reputable and certainly have one of the most informative websites in the business -- but I just can't see paying their prices, personally.
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Apr 15th, 2006, 11:13 AM
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Private lux camp and Mbalageti are both likely much more expensive than what you've got with the GE itinerary. Also, as others have noted, ADS is just a more expensive operator. To get a better idea of the difference you would need to create itineraries that are more similar.

If I could swing it, I'd be really tempted to do the ADS itinerary--six nights at fab camps in the Serengeti.
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Apr 15th, 2006, 11:19 AM
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Oh, sorry, I also meant to say that you could have GE price out an itinerary at similar/same camps in the Serengeti and see if the gap closes up a bit. Right now, both itineraries have you at Migration Camp and Kikoti but the similarities seem to end there.
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Apr 15th, 2006, 12:42 PM
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Thanks everyone,actually I have read most everything I can find on Fodors.com already, which led to my question. The reply from ADS when asked about the price difference was..
"First, there's a basic classification difference, meaning that vehicles,
service, etc. are all at a higher standard with us. And then you have other
factors that change the price considerably too. Luxury Camping is more than
twice as expensive than a Serena lodge for instance. We also include things
that others don't, like visas, private land cruiser with drinks, maps,
binoculars, field guides... So we will usually be a little more expensive,
but if budget was a concern I would recommend changing a few things on your
itinerary, mainly the Private Luxury Camping and taking out that extra day.

Do you want to do their itinerary with us? It will probably still be more
expensive with us, but it would be a noticeable upgrade to your experience."
...
I thought that was fairly responsive but not fully responsive. I know the visa is only fifty dollars and GE website says it includes bottled water, binoculars and field guides in the vehicle. If I substitute EMC camps for the Serengeti Serena then the difference is still 2173 pp, for one extra day. I assume a day at Ngor costs about the same as a day in the Serengeti, thus both have 2 at Kikoti and 2 at Migration and 1 at Gibbs/Plantation, while GE has 2 lux camping days in the Serengeti while ADS has 4, and GE has 2 days at Ngor while ADS has 1. By-the-way GE tells me that I can add a day at Ngor Serena for 240 pppn. I'm trying to figure what the "noticeable upgrade to my experience" would be.
Lisa, I had read your trip review and greatly enjoyed it.

I am hoping someone will have gone with both companies (such a lucky traveller must exist) and can compare and contrast. We are only likely to do this trip once and we don't want to miss on the best experience possible. Again thanks to everyone.
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Apr 15th, 2006, 01:12 PM
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pjtoafrica-
Sorry I personally haven't been on a safari yet (May/June 2006) but here is the link to the index to trip reports as mentioned:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34725679
For Good Earht - there are plenty - LoriB, Kstyle, Lisa, Vacationbennett and Chriso; while for ADS there are only 2 I can see -
Marcus Boxer and Larryb.
Hope this helps!
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Apr 15th, 2006, 06:01 PM
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Thank you pjto Africa for posting the response.

-vehicles, service, etc. are all at a higher standard with us--
(1) Vehicles in good condition are important. Another Fodorite who just got back from Tanzania recounted the poor condition of his vehicle and the difficulty of getting a better one. It is worth paying more for a reliable and comfortable vehicle, where you'll be spending the majority of your time. Nothing against GE's vehicles. Each company’s vehicles could be of equal quality, but you might want to ask more details on the vehicles, like age.

(2) Service is a higher standard. I take service to mean guiding and it is correct that a guide can make or break the trip. As with the vehicles, you could pursue the element of guides with both operators. How long have they been guiding? Training? Background? For AD, you could ask what the ground operator is.

Certainly private camping is more expensive, regardless of the provider. You could follow AD's suggestion and have the itinerary repriced with the less expensive options. That would be a more fair comparison of the two providers.

For the other things--
-visas--you are right, that is not a significant cost, but if you do the visa yourself through the mail, you may incur additional charges for a safer class of mail. Still not a big $$.

-private land cruiser--I assume GE is also private throughout the whole safari. Either you are comparing two private trips or two group trips.

-with drinks--My experience is that often bottled water must be bought at camps and lodges in Kenya/Tanzania. While only a few dollars a day, that can add up. Not sure what other drinks are provided by AD, but that could be $4/person per day, easily.

-maps--nice, but you may want to purchase your own anyway so that you can mark on it.

-binoculars--That's unique. I recall writing on this forum recently that I had never heard of binocs being provided. Now I have. If they guarantee a pair per person with no sharing required and if they are a good brand of 8 x 40 or better, then that could be an advantage. First, it could save you the expense of acquiring a pair, if you don't have a good pair. Second, it saves the weight and mass of packing them when traveling light is a good idea. On the other hand, I would hesitate to rely on someone else to provide an item that is so essential to the full enjoyment of the safari you are spending thousands on. I might want my own anyway.

-field guides--Bird books especially are really nice. If you have an interest in birds, it would be best to bring your own, again so you can mark in it. However, most guides do carry some field guides and you could ask Good Earth if their guides bring these books.

Other things to consider with the two providers—You could ask for a couple of client references from each. Find out the method of payment required by each and see how that fits your needs. You could ask about each company’s involvement in the local communities—do they support any charities, funds, etc. I don’t know what you are doing about international air, but if you wished for assistance with it, can either company assist? How long has each been in business? Are both companies equally responsive and fun to work with?


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Apr 16th, 2006, 02:34 PM
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Good Earth provided us each with one large water bottle a day. This is in addition to the bottles of water we got at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Plus everyplace we stayed provided us with bottles of water in our room at night. We had more water than we could drink and never once had to buy any. I would not worry about water.

Binocs are another story. We each brought our own. Our driver/guide did have one set which we could have used if we had not brought any, but it is really best if you each have your own. However, for the additional amount that ADS is charging you, you could buy some really fancy binocs!

Our driver/guide did have a very comprehensive field guide to birds which we referred to often. He also had beanbags in the vehicle for photographing so we did not have to bring any. Our vehicle was fine, on the older side, but ok.

I think you should pick whichever itinerary you like best -- and make it exactly what you want it to be, private camping or luxury lodges or a mix, etc. Then have them both price out the same exact itinerary so you are comparing apples to apples.

What I like about ADS's itinerary is that they have you doing it in reverse, so you fly from Arusha to northern Serengeti and go from there. I think this makes sense at the time of year you are going, and it is what we did. Either operator should be able to do this, not just ADS. They also have you staying more nights in the Serengeti which I think is smart. If you want to do the "Private Luxury Camping" then GE can arrange this as well.

I think it's interesting they both have you staying at Kikoti.

Definitely try to get a dayroom at KIA Lodge before you fly home.

If you want to pay the whole thing with a credit card, then that is an advantage of ADS. Good Earth allows you to put the deposit on a credit card but the rest has to be paid in cash or traveler's checks on arrival.

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