Nature Expeditions International

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Feb 23rd, 2006, 01:11 PM
  #1
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Nature Expeditions International

We are still trying to decide what tour company to use for Botswana and when to go. I believe we have finally decided on Capetown and Botswana and ending up at Victoria Falls.

It looks like it will only be my husband and I and the travel agent says it will be more cost effective to use a tour company. The itenariary on this sounds pretty good./www.naturexp.com/

They use permanent tented camps for the most part. We are looking at the Botswana trip and we will do Capetown on our own. If we go at the very end of June we are not in high season and the pricing is better. Please tell me the advantages or disadvantages of end of June and of this trip.
spiegelcjs is offline  
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Feb 23rd, 2006, 02:34 PM
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Hello Spiegelcjs,

I've done all my Botswana trips at the end of June, and personally I think it's the ideal time to go. The bush has a bit of green in it which makes for very nice photos, but has started to die back which is better for game viewing. It's damp enough to keep the dust down but not so humid you sweat when you even think about moving. And you get the shoulder season pricing, which is a big plus.

I have to disagree with your travel agent about the tour, however. A good tour operator should be able to put together a custom itinerary for very little more than a set itinerary, and you can stay where you want and do exactly what you want when you want to do it. Why take someone else's idea of a safari, when you can take your own ideal safari?

The only people who really save by going on a tour are solo travellers, and even then they may lose that savings with the awful single supplements charged by many tour companies. As a couple, you and your husband can easily do as well or better with a custom itinerary.

Cheers,
Julian
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Feb 23rd, 2006, 03:32 PM
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Checked out the website and here are my thoughts.

Vic Falls Hotel—Classic and classy. Probably you are saving here as a result of the tour. There are less expensive Vic Falls options that are very nice if you were on your own. Elephant safari is a nice option in Vic Falls. Or are you going whitewater rafting?

Kings Pool—Great location for late June. This is a 6 Paw (most expensive) so you may be getting a price break with the group. I’d prefer to stay 3 nights in Linyanti and would be very happy with Duma Tau, a 5 Paw that is less expensive. But Kings Pool has a better hide/blind, I believe.

Stanley’s—very nice choice and another opportunity for more elephant interaction. It offers good game in addition to the wonderful mekoro experience. Plus, you can do walks with or without elephants. Granted with eles is an added charge. I’ve seen all good comments on the walking with elephants experience.

Chief’s in Moremi—a really big game spot! I’ve not been to this particular camp, but Moremi and Chief’s Island were the location of some of my best wildlife viewing. It’s good you have 3 nights here.

I think jasher is right that you could customize this or any other Botswana trip for just you two. In fact, the big red letters on the NIE website tout customizing. But you may not be able to get these camps at this price. (Echoling your agent's words.) Here is a site that gives camp prices:

http://www.e-gnu.com/

I’ve been able to do a bit better with agents than these numbers, but it gives you a ballpark figure. If you’d like to go alone, call some agents and ask what this itinerary would be for just the two of you.

I think these are great parks and camps. You have Linyanti with its elephants and great overall game, including wild dog possibilities. The water camp is Stanley’s, so it is more than just water. Finally you end in the game-rich Moremi. All the camps have great reputations. I have no personal experience with the camps, just the parks. I really like this itinerary and from what I know, NEI has a good reputation.

Late June is a good time to take advantage of the discount pricing available with this tour.

Couple Questions:
Is your travel agent recommending NEI?
In that case it seems to add another layer of operator and perhaps another layer of cost. Or are you with NEI and contemplating either this group trip or a customized trip?

I may have missed it on their website, but how many on the NIE group trip?

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Feb 23rd, 2006, 06:11 PM
  #4
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Thanks to both jasher and atravelynn. I have read both of your posts over the last few months and you are very informed about Africa. In answer to atravelynn questions:
1. My travel agent has not suggested this company. I actually think I found them while searching around. She says, however, that it all becomes more expensive when each lodge has to send someone to pick up one couple at the airstrip and take them back etc. rather than an group.
2. We have not contacted the company as yet to get any specifics on size of group etc. which will be very improtant.
3. Travel agent is my daughter-in-laws mother so she will get me the best deal available.
4. I personally like the interaction of a small group. I think it provides stimulationg conversation and new information. Additionally, I am more fit than my husband, and some of the activities he may not be able to do so I would rather have others to do them with. Example elephant ride.

I am really leaning towards the latest in June possible to take advantage of the slightly lower rates. We will probably add on Capetown on our own for a few days and possibly an extra day in VF if you all think that is necessary.

Since my goal is the animal viewing does this schedule give me enough time which is probably never enough but lets say sufficient.
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Feb 24th, 2006, 04:35 AM
  #5
 
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Spiegelcjs,

We were in Botswana last June, and we loved that time of year, cool mornings and nights but nice and warm in the daytime and very few mosquitos. Also, the shoulder season pricing is very attractive, so I think June would be a great time for you to go.

The price of this tour looks OK, not outrageous like some tour companies, and all the camps shown should be quite good, so if you are comfortable on a group tour, then it looks fine. The price appears to be about rack rate prices (from e-gnu.com and sanctuarylodges.com and lhw.com), so a travel agent that specializes in Southern Africa may be able to get you a bit better price for just the two of you, but probably no huge savings. Kings Pool is one of Wilderness Safari's 6-paw camps, and was the most beautiful camp that we visited, and is quite a bit more expensive than the 5-paw camps, so I think that makes the price shown reasonable.

Should you travel by yourselves, you will not really be "alone" except at Vic Falls, because at the camps, there will be other guests in your vehicle during game drives, and usually eat as a group at dinner time, etc. so always plenty of opportunity to talk to other guests.
However, if you are talking about June of this year 2006, then you are probably too late to make reservations on your own anyway, as most camps in Botswana book up quite early in June.

Hope you have a great trip.


brandywine is offline  
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Feb 25th, 2006, 04:14 PM
  #6
 
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From what you've stated, I think the Nature Expeditions International would be ideal. I would make sure of the # of people that will be in each vehicle, which is really more important than the group size. You want no one to have to be in the middle of the vehicle with people on each side. (Unless you or your husband do not plan on taking photos, then sitting in the middle is fine for good vieiwng, just not good photography.)

This itinerary would give you enough time to view wildlife and it chooses excellent, diverse areas. Two night stays are typical and you have three nights in Moremi.

The big price break for late June vs. early July makes June look even more attractive.

If you are looking for this June, I'd book soon. In fact, putting this itinerary or something similar together for June as individuals might not even be available at this point.

Please post your final decision and a report!
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Feb 26th, 2006, 08:25 PM
  #7
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We have given up on this June ages ago because we are using United miles and have been unable to get business class seats for months. We are planning on June of 2007 and will reserve our airline seats exactly at midnight 331 days in advance.
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