Old Jul 19th, 2006, 10:28 PM
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A group of 12 are planning a trip to Africa (Kenya / Tanzania) next summmer with OATS. I've read mixed reviews on OATS. My biggest concern is the number of complaints OATS has recieved thru the Better Business Bureau. I'm also concerned about the quality of the accommodations. Has anyone traveled with OATS recently? Do you advise looking into other tour groups?
geoteacher is offline  
Old Jul 20th, 2006, 12:32 AM
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I would advise looking at another tour operator if there has been this many complaints. And when you cancel tell them why!
Pumbavu is offline  
Old Jul 20th, 2006, 07:19 AM
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A group of a dozen can easily get a great price on your own custom itinerary. If you like the OATS trip and its properties, you can include them.

Try some of these companies that specialize in Africa. They have been used successfully by Fodorites. While some may offer group tours, custom safaris are their specialty, so you get exactly what you want. It is not a more expensive option.

Africa Adventure
Africa Dream Safaris
Africa Serendipty
Eastern & Southern Safaris
Good Earth
Green Footprint Adventures
Southern Cross Safaris
Sunny Safaris

If you want a group trip, you can try Globus, International Expeditions, Micato (just Africa), or Natural Habitat. With 12 people, you'd most likely end up being your own private group anyway.

I think OATS is pretty reliable and the accommodations would be at an acceptable level. My concern is that their itinerary is standard and may not put you in the best spot at the time of year you are going. A June itinerary should differ slightly from an August itinerary, which is probably when a geo teacher and buddies would be going.

Do yourself a favor and look into some other options. If OATS turns out to be the best, then you will have made an informed decision.
atravelynn is offline  
Old Jul 20th, 2006, 07:53 AM
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I went to Egypt with OAT last year, and I had a very nice time, but I think the experience people have is clouded by one very important thing. OAT is extraordinarily inflexible. You either take their trip---and their flights---or not. They make it particularly difficult to add days before and after their trips if you aren't going on their own pre- and post-trips. They also inundate you with mailings, and I find that supremely annoying.

I thought my trip was very well organized. I had no complaints about the accommodations, but this was in Egypt not east Africa, so it's hard to compare.

The trips are sometimes a bit overly scheduled, but the groups are small and the level of service (and, I would argue, value) is quite high since most meals and all airfare are included.

Some people have complained about abrupt cancellations by the company, but I simply can't speak to that since it didn't happen to me. Of course, OAT is (as is any company) slower in giving refunds than in cashing your checks.

OAT is generally a well-regarded company. If you purchase their expensive insurance plan, it allows you to cancel anytime before the trip and apply the cost to another OAT trip, and that's a pretty good plan even if it is a bit expensive because you retain the full value that you've paid. The company does have a tendency to hit you with price increases when the dollar drops or their costs increase if you don't pay far in advance.

However, if you understand the company's polices and accept them, then I think you will have a nice time with OAT wherever you go. There are many companies doing small-group safaris in East and Southern Africa, so you do have choices, but I'd have to rate OAT fairly high in terms of value for money.
doug_stallings is offline  
Old Jul 20th, 2006, 08:43 AM
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I agree with atravelynn. OAT's Kenya/Tanzania itinerary is the same year round and doesn't take into account where the best game viewing may be at that time of year.

With a group of 12 you should be able to get very good pricing designing your own tour. It shouldn't cost any more and may even cost less than the OAT group itinerary.
Patty is offline  
Old Jul 20th, 2006, 10:26 AM
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And, if considering next summer, it's not too early to put an itinerary together, obtain prices and even book the land portion. With the companies listed, you'll have to arrange your own international flights, but after that, everything else should be included in the prices you obtain.

Seats for flights using FF miles become available 331 days out from when you plan to depart. And if paying for tickets, prices become available at about the same time.

Old Dec 14th, 2006, 11:04 PM
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Tanzania is a very seasonal destination and one needs to make sure your itinerary reflects that season to optimize your wildlife and cultural experiences. Many international operators only offer one set departure not taking these seasons in to account. It is also a destination with many new and exiting activities that can enhance your safari and actually get you out of a vehicle. It is hard to find out about these if you live outside of Tanzania. It hard to know what itinerary to design if you are not aware of the weather and movement of animals.

We have been mentioned by another reader, we are based in Arusha in Tanzania. Please feel free to contact us if you like to learn a bit more about other options and seasons available in and around Tanzania. Jean www.greenfootprint.co.tz
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