Luxury Camps, Payment plan and trip insurance

Jul 25th, 2009, 03:39 PM
  #1  
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Luxury Camps, Payment plan and trip insurance

Planning 12 day safari, (late October 2009) ending with 4 days in Serengeti...2 in the Central Serengeti...2 in the North. Bilili (a new property) and Lemala have been suggested along with Migration Camp[ (with the info of a long steep walk to the dining area)_..any comments on the best choice for someone who has had two knee replacements?

Also, is it typical for Arusha based companies to request payment by check rather than credit card?

Also, can someone suggest travel insurance that will cover "flying docs"..what other kinds of insurnace would you recommend?.

So far, all I've been reading on this forum has been most helpful....so thanks in advance for any more info you can provide.
SandraJoy is offline  
Jul 25th, 2009, 04:39 PM
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Hi Sandra,

I can only comment on Migration Camp, but I thought it was a really great camp. The tents were very large and comfortable, with some permanent walls and a great shower. The pool was nice, but we didn't have time to use it. There is a lovely deck with views toward the river where everyone gathers to have sundowners. There were probably 35 or 40 steps between the tents and the main lodge area. It was a pretty good staircase. I don't know if that will bother you, but we didn't go back and forth very often.

I both joined flying doctors and bought travel insurance. I don't remember the cost of the flying doctors, maybe $60? I thought it was good to support them, and hoped I didn't need it, as was the case. The travel insurance (probably though Travel Ex) covered trip cancellation, medical and evacuation. The latter are the most important, and there are other companies that have evacuation only.

Good luck.
traveler318 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2009, 06:23 PM
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sandarjoy - i am an agent/tour operator so you can take my advice with a grain of salt...

BUT - i would never pay for a safari with a check or wire directly to anyone or any company - especially one in africa. you have absolutely no consumer protection whatsoever when you do this.

travelex, aig/travel guard, and access america are three of the largest four travel insurance companies in america. if you purchase your safari through a US based tour operator that is on their "covered supplier" list you will also get bankruptcy protection that will cover the US based company and every subcontractor they choose to work with. almost every tour operator on these lists will also take credit cards. since you are within 90 days of travel and most credit cards companies only allow you to dispute charges less than 90 days old you will be doubly protected. whatever you do, DO NOT pay them by check or wire. here is a list of covered suppliers with access america: http://www.accessamerica.com/ you have to go to the bottom of the home page and click "covered suppliers". for the other two insurance companies you have to call them to see if the supplier (tour operator/agent) you work with is covered.

now - if you want to fact check me, you can contact a client of mine. i arranged a safari for the st. louis zoo two months ago. their previous operator was based in arusha. they wired $180,000 to them and the operator dissappeared. it was a cover story of the st. louis newspaper i think on september 21 last year.

tell the safari company in arusha you want to know what tour operators they work with in the US and that you wish to pay them instead. they can then wire the money on your behalf. if the safari company has been around a while, they will usually have several US partners.

note: after the stock market crash and recession i had to give my merchant processor $150,000 cash to be able to continue taking credit cards. i work with paypal as my processor. i tried to avoid this by switching to wells fargo and costco but they wanted $250,000 to allow me to open a credit card account. any company in the travel industry that cannot take credit cards would seriously raise my suspicions from a standpoint of financial strength. the only clients that usually pay me by cash/check/wire are local minnesota clients that have been booking safaris with us for 30+ years.

proceed with caution. likely the company in arusha is a middle-man tour operator with the same business model as any US based company. is the company that wants the check the owner of the camps? if you can't resolve this situation i suggest you contact the camps directly and book with them or contact a US based operator and re-book the entire trip.

craig beal
Safari_Craig is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 06:02 AM
  #4  
 
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SandraJoy -

With few exceptions the safari outfitters in East Africa - Kenya & Tanzania, DO NOT accept credit cards. Those who do will assess an additional fee of from 5-7% on top of your price, which adds up. Clients use bank wires/transfers (avg cost $30-$50 each) for the deposit and then final payment. I can't recall postings here on Fodor's or TA of companies running off with their funds.

Who is your Tanzania outfitter?

If working with a US-based company, some take credit cards, which fees are already included in your price; others are on a cash basis, same as their in-country outfitters and thus avoid having to add these surcharges.

So, this is going to have to be your decision.

For Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Medical/Evacuation insurance, see www.insuremytrip.com with offerings from named providers (as Craig mentioned above).

Flying Doctor's is a seperate cover, for emergency air transport from deep in safari country to hospital in Arusha or Nairobi. From here, your Trip Insurance (above) would take over for your care. See: www.amref.org for info. Cost is about $25/person for Tanzania, 2/week trip; more if also including Zanzibar or other coastal islands. If service not needed (which gladly is the case most often), your fee goes into a fund to assist locals in case of medical emergency from outlying areas.

Migration vs Lemala Camps. If Migration, only you can know whether longer distance or stairs would be a problem... you can request a tent closer to the public space - dining/lounge. Migration is a lovely camp with beautiful large tents, however, Lemala might be a better choice. Can;t comment on Bilili, too new.

Recall when I was staying at Treetops in Taragire (Migration's sister camp), having had a hip replacement years ago, with no walking issues since, though I'm generally not keen on uphill walking regardless, they were offering me a tent at some distance and realizing we were walking downhill.... meaning I'd have to walk uphill on the return! I simply stopped the manager and asked for a tent closer.

It's important to convey to your outfitter: food allegies, likes, dislikes; health concerns as walker, cane,; CPap for sleeping, etc. so they can plan accordingly to accommodate your needs.
sandi is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 06:31 AM
  #5  
 
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I think you'd be hard pressed to find a ground operator in Tz that takes credit card payments. As Sandi says, the credit card fees would be prohibitive. Wire payments are made all the time.

Some operators include Flying Doctor's service in their quotes, so you might want to check with your outfitter before purchasing.

Last year we drove past the site where Bilili was being built. It's in a lovely location.
Calo is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 08:44 AM
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craig
Just to get it right: Do you advise people to NOT book directly with an African TA/TO, camp or lodge as that would mean risking money?

SV
spassvogel is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 08:53 AM
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I will never, ever pay by check again anywhere. I paid an American travel agent by check and they in turn paid the U.S. cruise company by check. The company has not declared bankruptcy as yet and the cruise was cancelled April 1st. My Access America policy will not cover me (it is an approved company). And, I believe even if the company does declare bankruptcy, it must do so within 60 days of cancellation of the trip for the coverage to be in effect. So far my travel agency isn't reimbursing me either. The only protection is to pay by credit card. I am afraid I have lost almost $10,000.
Louise is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 09:05 AM
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My trip insurance protects against bankruptcy. I'll get any money paid refunded due to:

Unforeseeable, unexpected or unintended Financial Default or bankruptcy of any tour operator, hotel, resort, rental car company, other travel supplier or Common Carrier Conveyance, whose services or products constitute all or part of the Covered Person's Covered Trip.

Also, I believe that any credit card charges need to be disputed within 60 days, not 90 days.
DonTopaz is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 09:31 AM
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But if the company doesn't "financially default" or go bankrupt? It is bad enough fighting it in the U.S. How does one prove it involving a foreign country?
Louise is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 10:30 AM
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spassvogel - thanks for the question.

i strongly advice people not to book with any company that will not take a credit card including travel agents in the USA. usually they won't take it because they can't which means they are not financially stable.

many travel agents and tour operators in africa take credit cards (go2africa, rhino, etc). almost every camp in africa at the four star/five star level takes credit cards. if you want to book with an operator in african then i begrudgingly recommend booking direct or using a company like go2africa as your travel agent.

craig beal
Safari_Craig is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 10:39 AM
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rizzuto - www.insurcemytrip.com is a subsidiary of AMEX. you need to read the exclusions. you have no coverage if the company you booked with goes bankrupt. you do have coverage if any of their subsidiaries (lodges, charter companies, hotels, etc) goes bankrupt. here is how it is worded in the exclusion section item #8:

"Financial Default of the entity from whom the Covered Person purchased this insurance or of the travel agent through which the Covered Person made travel preparations".

when you purchase insurance from insuremytrip/AMEX, it almost forces you to use an agent that takes credit card to initiate the booking. think about it - AMEX is a credit card and they also own retail travel agencies. the wording of this policy insures the client will use a credit card and at least book with an agent in the US since the policy can only be bought by US citizens residing in the US at the time they start their trip. hope this makes sense.

once again, back to my original recomendation: book with a company that takes credit cards AND has insurance coverage for the bankruptcy of it third party contractors (i.e. the safari lodge) AND will accept the final (big) payment within 60 or 90 days of travel.

this will exclude many, but not all start-ups safari booking agencies in arusha, maun, etc.

craig beal
Safari_Craig is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 11:30 AM
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Craig, that's not what my insurance policy says, or at least that's not the full statement of what my policy says.

My exclusion statement says Benefits will not be paid if the loss for which coverage is sought was directly or indirectly, wholly or partially, contributed to
or caused by any of the following...
8. Financial Default of the entity from whom the Covered Person purchased this insurance or of the travel agent
through which the Covered Person made travel preparations, if the travel agent distributes this product for Us;
(my bolding)

As I read that statement, it says that I can't collect if either of the following happens: (1)if the company that sold me the insurance policy goes broke, or (2)the travel agent/tour operator who arranged the trip goes broke and that travel agent/tour operator is a distributor of the insurance policy that I bought.

First, I see nothing about and distinction between US and off-shore. More important, I have no reason to believe that the company I'm dealing with is a distributor of the specific insurance product that I purchased.

Do you disagree?
DonTopaz is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 11:30 AM
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Thank you!

SV
spassvogel is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 11:48 AM
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hi rizuto,

i do disagree and i have gone over this many times with the insurance companies. i have dealt with aig/travel guard and access america specifically on this issue. i don't believe you are correct but maybe someone who has filed a claim under this policy can help us out here? the wording is so vague that i had our rep from aig re-write this phrase in plain english on aig letter head and send it to me on paper.

regarding innsuremy trip, the header of the entire insurance policy lists the states in the US under which the policy is applicable. i know this policy because i can not sell it in my home state of minnesota or to my clients in canada, uk, etc.
http://www1.insuremytrip.com/coverag...XC-AO-ALL.html

hope this helps. not trying to argue here but simply reach concensus.

craig beal
Safari_Craig is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 12:04 PM
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Hi Craig,

I don't think that you're trying to argue about this, and neither am I -- I think that we're both trying to provide information.

It's certainly possible that the policy of which you're speaking is not identical to the one that I have. (For example, I see no mention in my policy of the States in which it is applicable.)

In any event, I am in a profession where it is essential to write with extreme precision, and I do not mind parsing insurance policies and other contracts. If the policy is ambiguous and a dispute arises, it is highly unlikely that a court or an arbitrator would interpret the ambiguity favorably toward the party who wrote the instrument/contract.

All of this is so much boring detail, anyway.

I have no problem in booking and sending money to an off-shore travel outfit, especially one with a reasonable reputation, and that I believe my insurance covers me if that company goes kaput. And, as I understand it, it's fair to say that you pretty much believe otherwise. Reasonable people reach different conclusions all the time.
DonTopaz is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 12:28 PM
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If as noted above, then 99% of the East African tour operators that don't accept credit cards would still be in business. And, since no one (at least here on Fodor's or TA) has run into a situation where the outfitter ran off with the funds or gone bankrupt......
sandi is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 01:41 PM
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It's a different world out there. The company I booked with has been in business over 20 years. Here is the answer to a question I posed about a company cancelling and keeping your money to a major seller of trip insurance online - "none of the travel insurance plans I know would pay a claim on the cruise portion because the cruise line is responsible to make it up to you". I believe the same would apply to a tour.
Louise is offline  
Jul 26th, 2009, 10:06 PM
  #18  
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Two travel companies are being considered....Access2Tanzania and the other Warrior Trails. Access2Tanzania has an office in St. Paul, Minn. as well as in Arusha. Warrior Trails has offices in Canada and Arusha.

Am trying to digest all the info above...appreciate the news about Migration Camp etc.

The insurance and payment issues I'll have to study and perhaps ask the providers some questions as you indicated.

Thanks for the info so far.
SandraJoy is offline  
Jul 27th, 2009, 04:40 AM
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sandra,

i know of access2tanzania. their office is only 20 minutes away from mine. one of their owners is named brian. they have been in business since 2002 and registered themselves as a company last year. they incorporated in the state of minnesota which is the same state where my company has been incorporated since 1975. here is their listing with our secretary of state's office:

http://da.sos.state.mn.us/minnesota/...ess+2+tanzania

they should still take credit cards?

craig beal
Safari_Craig is offline  
Jul 27th, 2009, 04:43 AM
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but, even if they don't take credit cards, i think access2tanzania is a pretty good company to work with. i know several people that have used them as a travel agent for booking tanzania. they also have their own guide in tanzania that meets you at the airport and can take your around.

craig beal
Safari_Craig is offline  

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