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Nov 2nd, 2010, 12:47 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 7
Icon Expeditions

Hello, I am going to visit South Africa in the summer of 2011, and i have been quoted a great itinerary with Icon Expeditions. The only problem is that i do not know who they are. Does anyone have any experience with them? They have been very helpful, and appear to be a legitimate business. I am afraid of arriving in South Africa and discovering that I have been ripped off. I think this will not be the case, but just want to make sure.
Any input is greatly appreciated.
Thanks!
pfm81 is offline  
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Nov 3rd, 2010, 05:00 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 9
It's important to do your homework and don't send money to unknowns. Check references. Talk with friends. This post is a good start. Find out how long the Company been in business. It may cost a little more to book in the US prior to travel but if you do your research and pay with a credit card you'll have protection and hopefully a wonderful trip!
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Nov 3rd, 2010, 05:31 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
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pfm81,

icon expeditions is a wholly owned subsidiary of rhino africa. rhino is a cape town based travel agency that was formed by a breakaway faction of employees from go2africa. as far as i know it has one owner and the breakaway people work for him. i could be wrong on the last point. rhino is well regarded and has become a pretty large company.

i am sure your money will be safe with them - especially if you use a credit card. but, if you want to work with a company in the USA there are many options. for accommodations in south africa, icon/rhino purchases (for resale) safari lodge space and hotel rooms at the best possible prices, but so do many other companies here and in south africa. for zimbabwe and botswana, some USA based companies will have better pricing for wilderness safari camps. but there are eight safari lodge chains in botswana and rhino should have the same price or better than anyone else for the other seven companies.

the difference then really comes down to service which it sounds like you are already getting from icon/rhino. like i said, the are good. there will also be a difference in price as every company marks-up their price by different amounts. so - it is always good to get another quote just to perform your due diligence.

let me know where you live and i can possibly recommend a local safari operator you can meet face to face (if you want). there are over 100 companies in the USA that are functionally similar to rhino (i.e. they sell safaris but don't own lodges). there are also USA based companies that own lodges like Abercrombie & Kent but IMO it is in your best interest to book direct only if you know EXACTLY what you want after doing research. Otherwise, you should book with an independent broker like Rhino/Icon, etc. If you go to a lodge chain owner and don't know anything they are very likely to only offer their lodges for the safari portion of your itinerary.

one thing you should be aware of: rhino/icon advertises full insurance including financial insolvency insurance offered with their price. this is in fact not an insurance policy in your name and you are not the policy holder. it is a group policy held by rhino/icon and only enforceable in south african court. i don't think is a huge problem but what they offer is not travel insurance and not regulated by US insurance laws.

hope this helps.

craig beal - owner - travel beyond
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Nov 22nd, 2010, 11:18 AM
  #4
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Craig, Thank you very much for your reply.... i am about to book with Icon. What risk do i run after i send my money (via credit card)? If after sending payment, i call the hotels directly to verify my reservation, should this be enough? Or can i still arrive to SA and discover that my reservations were canceled a couple of days before my arrival. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
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Nov 22nd, 2010, 11:19 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
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Hi pmf81
I have used Rhino Africa in the past and for my next visit to Africa in March 2011. Never had a problem but as Craig notes, the insurance is only for insolvency and you should take this onboard. I always take out full insurance cover before travelling. Enjoy your trip.
Elaine
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