last minute check before booking

Old Jul 11th, 2006, 05:25 AM
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last minute check before booking

hi all,

well, i am about ready to send out my deposit check to Good Earth Tours for our honeymoon safari in July 2007! I just wanted to make one last post before signing on to get some input that I am choosing a good operator.

Once I refined our trip to what seemed to be the best itinerary for the timing & budget, I sent it off to two operators i felt good about, from posts on this board, etc: Roy Safaris & Good Earth Tours. (Actually I should note i contacted Susan Wood directly first, but never heard back from those emails, perhaps they got lost in the spam filter, who knows)

Anyway, I got practically identical quotes from both places (Roy forwarded on my itinerary to Susan & i got a prompt quote this time), Roy's was maybe $30 more per person so difference in the grand scheme of things was negligible.

BUT, to my surprise (since Roy's seems to get the greatest reviews & i really expected to go with them), Narry from Good Earth was much more "engaged", i guess, in the conversations with me, I felt like he was more attentive, and so I concentrated on working solely with him to answer my questions and finalize the trip.

Anyway, i feel good about it still - but i guess i'm a little nervous after the recent report from someone (CarrieS?) who went with them - about the vehicle & also the guide (George?). I had already addressed the vehicle issue with Narry, and he put it in writing that we would have a pop-top - and also that he would refund us a small amount if we were unsatisfied with the vehicle. But I guess I am just looking for reassurances before I commit myself & a huge chunk of money to this company?

Any thoughts are appreciated, thank you!!

- on a side note, when do operators generally book the inter-africa flights? Do they do so before/right after we book international, or closer to the date...?
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 08:11 AM
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I have to admit that I was not that happy with Susan, in the US for Roy Safaris.

Also, her emails went to my spam folder, but I check it each time I get my email.

I finally contacted Roy directly in Tz and received a very lengthy email why they were a little bit higher then most and the reason why.

I contacted approximately 10 outfitters within the US (3) and Tz (about 7) with the exact same itinerary and after all was said and done....some were extremely high and some were very close. As mentioned, we are now going with Roy Safaris, instead of Sunny or Good Earth.

Just our opinion.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 08:38 AM
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Hello morgiane,
It sounds like Narry from GE is willing to work with you regarding your vehicle apprehensions. That's a good sign as he wants your business and your request does not seem unreasonable.

The thing is, IMHO for what it's worth, is that a rebate after the fact won't help you much while on safari. $50. (or whatever) won't take the sting out of missing the only leopard/rhino/lion kill etc.

Is he able to commit to substitute a vehicle or repair quickly and on site if your vehicle proves to be subpar? If so, have him spell it out to your liking - remember you're paying big bucks for your only honeymoon trip. You may want to ask how old the vehicle that your going to be assigned to will be. Some companies only use newer vehicles, check it out.
Just my 2 cents;
Sherry
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 09:57 AM
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I contacted both Roy's and Good Earth when we were thinking about going to Tanzania (we are now going to Kenya instead). I thought both companies were responsive. I did talk to Susan too, she explained that I get Roy's rates since I contacted them, but that they have her contact me as they have experienced that people in the US like to talk to someone over the phone, opposed to just over email. I had VERY nice conversations with Good Earth as well. But to be honest, I have never seen a bad review about Roy's and I have seem the same reviews about Good Earth as you mentioned. It seems like Roy's vehicles are quite good, and they highlight them so vividly on their website. If you're concerned about the vehicle used, I wouldn't accept a small refund after the fact. I'd either confirm exactly what it is you are expecting with Good Earth (like Rocco suggests in other posts), or I'd go with Roy's. It won't matter where you're staying, if you can't see what you want to see or are terribly uncomfortable travelling around. Just my two cents.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 10:20 AM
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Hello Morgiane,
I just got back from Tanzania & we used Roys. We had no complaints.

In my opinion it is crucial that the driver & vehicle be top notch. We saw several vehicle breakdowns in the Serengeti, which is the last thing you'd want on safari, who knows how long you'd have to wait. Roys has great vehicles and our driver (Daniel), continually checked the vehicle for any potential problems. In addition, Daniel was a superb driver. Never once did anyone in our party (including my 82 year old mother who tends to worry) ever have a concern.

Personally, I would not book with a company that had a bad reputation. Also, I met Susan & she is a wonderful person. I think that it's difficult via email, especially when you consider the cultural & languange differences.

Good luck with your planning.

Audrey

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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 10:25 AM
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Yikes! It was not my intention to give a bad review to Good Earth and certainly not to George. I was disappointed about the vehicle, and I did feel as though Narry did not follow through on the promise he made me about the pop-top, but things happen (and I did not speak up at the time). I would feel completely comfortable using Good Earth again.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 11:08 AM
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"I finally contacted Roy directly in Tz and received a very lengthy email why they were a little bit higher then most and the reason why ... we are now going with Roy Safaris, instead of Sunny or Good Earth."

dssxxx, I seem to recall the Roy quote was $2,000 more than Sunny or Bobby ... what exactly did they (Sanjay?) tell you that convinced you they were worth the extra $$?

Also, were they able to give you firm 2007 pricing yet? We have a trip scheduled with them next January and are still awaiting final pricing from the lodges ...

Thanks.

Bill
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 11:32 AM
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I am guilty of this myself as well, but I do think reading Fodor's safari posts can make one hyperconscious/hyperanxious of vehicle issues. While I'd rather have pop-top and of course I'd prefer no breakdowns, the guide's the thing, isn't he?

We had a nicer vehicle (from a budget/moderate company) for our first safari than we had for the second. However, we had excellent guides both times. They made the trips for us.

By the way, the Good Earth vehicles I saw looked fine. So did the ones from Roy.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 11:47 AM
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Bill,

We changed our itinerary a few times and with the changes, Roy came in a little higher than Sunny and others.

Here is a copy & paste of the email, with it being edited by myself. It basically explains why the higher cost at the beginning and the current rates, etc. I guess this is plug for Roy's but it's interesting reading. I forwarded emails from other outfitters for price comparison.

C&P

HI!

Thank you for forwarding the e-mails.

What we had quoted did have (2006 prices + estimated 2007 increases for some places but not all)
But in error I typed to xxxxx, based on "2006 rates" only instead of: "2006 rates + estimate for 2007"
We however could not finalise rates until now as we were still negotiating with some lodges and finally got this done on Saturday.
so we can now comfortably quote as follows:

Using the itinerary below, Only changes will be:
-->we will use one way flight on precision air from NBO-JRO & then a flight complete with connections from Grumeti-Nairobi

Our cost for JUNE 2007: for the itnry below;
US$xxxxpp = US$xxxxpp(2007 rates) + US$540pp for flights (flight costs are current & subject to change)

Price Includes: Roy's Vehicle 4wd, fuel, driver/guide, park fees, CRATER fees, gamedrives, and full board accommodation, Flight (NBO-JRO) + flt(GRU-NBO), Transfer in Nairobi, Day room use and first night in Nairobi BB.
Price Excludes: masaai village visit, Tips, visas, laundry, international homebound Flights, drinks, insurance and all items of a personal nature.

add US$70pp for additional crater tour (as day 4: seems a waste day!)


a) Our vehicles are top-notch and designed by ourselves, with ample leg room, large windows for gameviewing and many other differences internally.
Difficult to compare on e-mail when everybody just says "4WD"...
Car hire cost at Roy's is higher as we have invested heavily in our 4WD's - custom-made to our requirements plus We provide unlimited mileage - (with 4WD's - current fuel cost is at about US$1.20 a litre of diesel in town - & in the parks way over that!). We have locked-in transport costs to cover the even increasing fuel costs, as we prefer NOT to later-on shorten gamedrives or compromise on services to break-even. so our prices are higher on the transport sector when compared to many others, that is for sure.
Moreover, as clients depart from Grumeti, we do not drive our 4WD'S grumeti-Arusha in one day- too much stress on the engine & driver. We break the journey so the vehicle is driven half way. driver has an overnight and the next day back to Arusha. so extra day car hire is included in our costs.
I do not know how other companies just allow the vehicle & driver/guide on a straight drive Grumeti-Arusha. OR maybe they have other clients who fly into Grumeti (back-to-back safari) so they do not have to charge this... I do not know....
I can truly only comment on what our prices really include.


b) our driver/guides are proper trained guides not drivers who will point out and say "look-elephant", but tell you more about it, its habitat, and even talk to you about the little things along the way that many other drivers, speed past .... the plants, insects, sounds you hear, etc....
we conduct regular in-house training to ensure continuous interest in their jobs & enthusiasm. You will see this in our guides.
They also do not smoke or drink alcohol. & are are paid very well for each safari they go on. All this comes at a price.
But again, it is Roy's policy not to compromise on quality.

d) Content of the itinerary on the field is different from that described in writing.
We have well-trained our guides so they cover "birding-animals-culture-history"... not just "show the big 5 + a couple of birds"
ANYONE can take you to The Serengeti - but how the Serengeti is presented to you- and what you learn from & about it - is where the true difference lies.
And this is where the quality of our guides & their "fountain of knowledge" comes in.

e) Pre-breakfast drives all included as you are on a private safari, so very flexible game viewing times.

f) Most of all, at Roy's, We deliver! and can provide references.

To summarise: I think the difference in price btwn xxxxx & roys' will be approx US$200-250pp once they finalise the 2007 contract with Ngo Crater lodge & sort the flight connections.
This means Roy's cost is approx. US$20-25pp per day more than their price. (which is the difference in transport costs + guiding + other miscelleneous small things that we take care of to ensure your safari goes smooth)..

I hope this helps.

Anyway, should you give us the opportunity of being your safari hosts, please be assured you will be in good hands & will have a fabulous time!
should you however, opt for some other operator, I wish to thank you for allowing us to quote for your trip and take the opportunity to wish you an enjoyable stay in Tanzania!

Sincerely,

IMHO I think it was worth the price for the change and we look forward to dealing with Roy Safaris.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 12:19 PM
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Thanks for posting that dssxxxx ... sounds like they are just about done finalizing 2007 lodge pricing too.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 12:23 PM
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I think the pricing for the Ngor Crater Lodge and Kirawira were the ones that were taking the time. They are the most expensive for us and I am glad we got the prices locked.

Good luck, Bill.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 01:12 PM
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thanks for everyone's replies! CarrieS, thank you for weighing in with your personal experience with GE - I would love if others who have used good earth could weigh in as well. I still feel good about the company & Narry, and good overall about the experience they provide. I guess I'm just a little nervous about choosing them instead of Roy, when it seems like most people go with Roy instead. But I think I will stay with GE, and I think i will be happy with them.

CarrieS - no worries, i do not think that you gave a bad review to good earth. And I actually have never seen a bad review for good earth (which is why they were one i contacted). The only complaints i have seen is just that their vehicles may not be the newest - and of course your pop-top issue. But apparently all the vehicles will now be pop-tops, and they are buying 4 new vehicles this summer (and retiring four).

also i should say that i have only seen great reviews of the guides for good earth (lisa raved about her guide Saidi, and I saw a few other raves) - and that is of course extremely important to me. What concerned me about your guide was just the whole traditional views of women thing... though i suppose i have to be prepared for something like that. I do understand that overall you were very happy with your guide, and I expect that i will be happy with mine as well.

THANKS!
again, thanks everyone! i am eager to have something booked so i can have my optimal choices and of course so it can feel like YES, i am REALLY going!!

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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 05:02 PM
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morgiane,

I wanted to share with you the fact that Narry emailed me with a sincere apology about the vehicle. He also stated that the company is going to start having guests pre-approve the vehicles (I'm assuming via emailed photos), which sounds very positive to me. I'd say go for it!

Carrie
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Old Jul 12th, 2006, 06:25 PM
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Bill did you get your 2007 prices from Roys yet? What are the dates of your trip? We will be there Feb.
J
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Old Aug 30th, 2006, 10:35 AM
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For what it is worth, we are going with Good Earth too. I ruled out Roy's early on because the prices were not even close for a private Safari. I was going between African Serendipity (Sandi was great) and Good Earth. It was close but we picked Good Earth.

Duane
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