Now I'm really confused!

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Jan 20th, 2006, 06:39 PM
  #1
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Now I'm really confused!

After reading posts about high-priced tour companies in E. Africa, we checked out Africa Dream Safaris and they seem great--private safaris, luxury camping and at $15K, less than a group tour with Micato. Now I'm reading that $15K is too much to pay for 2 people on a 13-day safari. Does anyone have experience with Africa Dream Safaris? Are they worth the price? We're planning on going in the late spring.
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Jan 20th, 2006, 07:54 PM
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Here are two posts about African Dream Safaris, both favorable.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34723862

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=34565672


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Jan 20th, 2006, 08:55 PM
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Hi mares eat oates
$15K does not seem way out of line for 2 people, 13 nights, IF at camps like the ones people here consider among the top. Average cost would be $580 pppn, including inter-camp airfare I presume.
regards - lamsedvie
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Jan 21st, 2006, 05:23 AM
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A friend of mine just got back from a trip with them and had a great time. Their website is one of the best resources I've found for planning a trip to Tanzania. If you don't want to be bothered with sending out your itinerary to other outfitters, go for it. That said, lots of companies offer private safaris, luxury camping, for less than a group tour with Micato. And I am confident that you could do better pricewise by booking with a reputable Tanzania-based company directly rather than one like ADS that subcontracts out to a local operator. $15K for 13 days sounds high to me, but you'd have to post your itinerary. And really, what would you have to lose by sending your itinerary to a couple of other companies to see if they could do better? Just my opinion. If it's not worth it to you to save a thousand bucks or so, then don't bother. Just for a point of comparison, we recently returned from 15 days in Tanzania, which included 5 nights in luxury camps (3 at Migration and 2 at Swala), 2 nights at another nice camp (Mbuzi Mawe), 6 nights at good lodges (3 at Serengeti Serena, 2 at Ngororongoro Serena, and 1 at Ndutu), and 1 night at Gibbs Farm -- and our total was $8K for both of us including our flight into Serengeti. This was a private safari for two. I know park fees have increased somewhat, and this is apples and oranges to a certain extent, but still...
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Jan 21st, 2006, 06:30 AM
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mairseydotes,

I am going to Tanzania & Zanzibar next month. I originally considered three different companies:

Africa Dream Safaris

Africa Serendipity (www.africaserendipity.com)

Africa Travel Resource
(www.africatravelresource.com)

The most expensive of the three was Africa Dream Safaris, although certainly they were lower than Micato, and like the other two companies I considered offered private custom safaris rather than group pre-selected itineraries.

I ended up booking the following 14 night custom itinerary that I designed from start to finish through Africa Travel Resource:

Moivaro Coffee Lodge, Arusha (1)
Tarangire Treetops (2)
Lake Manyara Tree Lodge (2)
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (2)
Olduvai Camp, NCA (1)
Nomad Masek, NCA/Serengeti (2)
Nomad Piaya, Serengeti (2)
Mbuzi Mawe, Serengeti (2)

I paid under $8K per person for the above itinerary. I don't even think that Micato or A&K or anyone else even offers a planned departure that I like as much as the itinerary that I designed for myself. Micato uses a lot of Serena camps and in some cases will even substitute a Sopa camp, all while having 4 - 5 guests in each vehicle.



It was really a toss up between ATR and Africa Serendipity. Africa Serendipity was slightly less expensive while ATR offered the Nomad camps that I wanted (although others would perhaps prefer Kusini, http://www.sanctuarylodges.com/kusini.htm, or other places that were offered by Africa Serendipity).

However, I thought highly enough of Africa Serendipity to book my five night Zanzibar extension through them:

Palms Zanzibar (3) www.palms-zanzibar.com
Serena Inn (2) http://www.serenahotels.com/zanzibar/inn/home.htm

I suggest that you contact each Africa Serendipity and Africa Travel Resource to see what they may offer. Do your research and design the best itinerary that you can and make this YOUR dream safari rather than someone else's dream safari!
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Jan 21st, 2006, 12:31 PM
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Too much!!!
In the following link you will have a simple table to understand the prices of a fair safari: http://africadventure.net/itineraries/costs.htm
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Jan 21st, 2006, 01:53 PM
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Ivan,

The chart you mention is unrealistic, at least by the standards followed by the participants of this forum. Many of us here prefer to stay in permanent luxury lodges/camps rather than doing overland safaris.

I am not familiar enough with Kenya to throw out too many names, but when I think luxury safari in Kenya, I am thinking Cottar's 1920's Camp, Il Governors, Olonana and the like. A couple nights at these camps alone would meet the budget that the chart you mentioned has allowed for a full week of a luxury safari.
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Jan 21st, 2006, 07:59 PM
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But is this 15k tour using camps like Cottar's 1920s? If not, then Ivan may have a point (although I agree that luxury on the Web site he posts may be relative luxury). Also, time of year is key to budgeting anything.
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 01:59 AM
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IvanD, I looked at the website you linked to and was somewhat put off when reading the Tanzania itinerary: it starts -

Day 1: Mushi
Arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport early in the morning. Transfer to hotel in Mushi for refreshment.

Now I think they mean Moshi, the closest town to Kili. I personally don't fancy Mushi. Now I know it's a pedantic point, but they have various spelling mistakes on their site which smacks of a lack of care. The web presence is very important and to start out like this makes me wonder if their tours would show the same disregard for details.

Look through some of my posts and you'll see a stack of spelling mistakes but then I'm not trying to sell a dream safari.

But I'm more of your public campsite tourists and those prices seem very low.

Matt
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 01:26 PM
  #10
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Thanks so much everyone for all of your feedback! I'm going to check out ATR and Africa Serendipity to see what they have. The people who have traveled with ADS all seem to have really enjoyed it and had great things to say about the guides.
Lisa: which tour company did you use for your 15 day trip to Tanzania? The price sounds unbelievable!
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 01:51 PM
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I used Good Earth Tours. You can see our photos, itinerary, planning details, trip report, etc. at homepage.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel. Another company that gets lots of good reviews here is Roy's.

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Jan 22nd, 2006, 01:59 PM
  #12
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mairseydotes:

While you are contacting other companies . . .
There is a wide variation in accommodation costs--what specific lodges and camping were they pricing. For example, a private mobile camp--for just your private party is very expensive. Crater Lodge, Manyara Tree Lodge and some others, are very expensive.
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 03:23 PM
  #13
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We were quoted based on:
1 night Kia Lodge
2 nights Mbalageti Lodge or Kirawira
2 " Private Luxury Camping
1 " Serengeti Serena
2 " Kusini Tented Lodge
2 " Ngorongoro Serena
2 " Tarangire Treetops
KIA Lodge (day room)

What do you think? Are the higher priced options worth it? We opted out of the Crater Lodge because it's crazy expensive. It seems that Serena has the same views and proximity to the Crater. Also, we're going in late spring and that's a consideration as to where we spend our time. This is our first trip so we know nothing about any of this so your help is MUCH appreciated!
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 03:32 PM
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mairseydotes,

Again, I paid $15.8K for the following:

Moivaro Coffee Lodge, Arusha (1)
Tarangire Treetops (2)
Lake Manyara Tree Lodge (2)
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (2)
Olduvai Camp, NCA (1)
Nomad Masek, NCA/Serengeti (2)
Nomad Piaya, Serengeti (2)
Mbuzi Mawe, Serengeti (2)

The above itinerary features not only the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge instead of the Ngorongoro Serena, in and of itself, worth more the price difference between your itinerary and my own, but it also features two more safari nights and I am spending those two nights in a very exclusive property, the Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. These two nights have to be worth at least $2,500, if not more.

As I said, ATR was less expensive than Africa Dream Safaris and Africa Serendipity was slightly less expensive than ATR. I opted for the Nomad properties, but Kusini looks great also.
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 03:33 PM
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Lisa
Thanks! I posted a reply on your December post, too. Your pics are amazing and so artistic! It looks like the trip of my dreams.
If there is anything that you would recommend bringing along for gifts besides pens, please let me know. Also, how did you handle tipping the staff at the various lodges, camps and hotels?
We were told to wear long sleeves, pants and socks after sundown to avoid mosquito bites, but maybe that's because our season is buggier. I hate to pack what I don't need, but getting eaten alive is no fun either!
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 05:35 PM
  #16
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Hi Rocco
Thanks for the detailed comparison. Your itinery sounds wonderful as well as deluxe. I think it's worth looking into a couple of other outfitters before committing. I don't want to get hung up on saving a couple of dollars but $2500 is significant.
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 05:35 PM
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Thanks mairseydotes! (& doeseydotes & littlelamseydivey...)

In terms of tips, we generally just tipped as we went along (a dollar for each porter for each bag they helped us carry, a dollar for the waiter at breakfast, a dollar for housekeeping each morning, etc.). We tipped extra here and there along the way for anything special, like guided nature walks. A couple of the smaller camps had tip boxes for staff where you could leave a tip to be divided among all their staff, so we did that a couple of times as well. You can always ask your operator what they recommend in terms of tips and you can also ask your guide. It is 100% at your discretion.

I would recommend bringing two long pairs of pants and two long-sleeved shirts, but that's just me. I brought more and should have only brought two of each. You can always have laundry done.

Your itinerary sounds really nice. I can vouch for Kia Lodge, Serengeti Serena & Ngorongoro Serena, which we liked very much. We also heard Kusini was great. I have heard wonderful things about Tarangire Treetops too. We wanted to stay at Kirawira but it wasn't the right time of year for that part of the Serengeti when we were there. It is supposed to be fantastic. Eben (or someone) said nice things about Mbalageti too although I think I remember reading that they had TVs in some rooms which I thought sounded a little funny for safari accommodations...

I'm sure you will have a fantastic time no matter who you book with. If you do send your itinerary out to any other companies for price quotes, I (and I'm sure others here) would be interested to know what you hear back and how they all compare pricewise.
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Jan 25th, 2006, 03:57 PM
  #18
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Hi Lisa
Thanks so much for your suggestions! I sent out the itinery to a couple of places, but really don't think that they can provide what Africa Dream Safaris has lined up. Some of the places have private tours mixed in with group tours (no good) and others have lesser accomodations that we were offered by ADS. All in all, I like the people at ADS and feel comfortable with their level of expertise. They were so quick to accomodate us and frankly, we're very happy with the lodges, hotels, etc. that they set up. Also, the cost difference was a bit less than ADS, but not enough to make us switch just yet.
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Jan 25th, 2006, 04:10 PM
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Off topic (sorry, mairsey):

Whatever happened to the woman who was going to plunk down 15k for her safari and everyone on this board, myself included, talked her out of it?

Did she travel yet?

On topic: Mairseydotes, if you're comfortable paying what ADS is charging you, and you like the itinerary...well, then I'd say you're ready to go to Tanzania.

Please post a trip report. They're like methadone to this addict.
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Jan 25th, 2006, 04:18 PM
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Eben,

It would have been very kind of you to have waited about four more weeks before posting links to those new Serengeti camps, but nooooo, you just couldn't keep it under your hat for a few more weeks! Just when I thought I had booked the best available camps in Tanzania, I have to see this?

http://www.go-safari.com/Serengeti/Sabora7.jpg

Totally reminds me of home, except I choose to use a coffee table rather than an old trunk.

Are either of these two luxury camps in the Seronera area? I don't think ATR would look too kindly on cancelling a Nomad Camp, but maybe they wouldn't mind so much if I were to trade my two nights at Mbuzi Mawe for two nights at one of these camps.

In best gangster voice...I keep trying to get out but they keep pulling me back in!!!

I am still about six weeks out from Mbuzi Mawe. This is going to be nasty. Time to write ATR.
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