Planning the Budget & Comparison Shopping

Oct 7th, 2006, 10:38 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2006
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Planning the Budget & Comparison Shopping

I am really tring to get a handle on how to discover if I am in the right ball park when planning my budget? How do you all comparison shop? do you all use tour operators? Do you try to book your travel by yourselves? Last year I just went with the tour operator recommended bny a friend but though my trip was wonderful, I have a feeling I overpaid...a lot. I am planning to be gone for 3+ weeks. What should I plan per day if I want to stay in small private camps and fly between camps. It looks like this trip will be back to Kenya and ? as I don't have enought miles to get to Botswana.
13moons is offline  
Oct 7th, 2006, 12:16 PM
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Hi 13moons,

You should have enough FF miles to go to Botswana if you have enough miles to go to Kenya -- most FF programmes have a single redemption level for all of Africa. You'll want to fly into Johannesburg for the best access to Botswana.

The budget question is a bit trickier -- it depends on which camps you want, how long you plan to stay, and when you want to travel. You mentioned August, so you'd be travelling in high season (when game viewing is best -- and prices are highest). You could save quite a bit of money by travelling in the shoulder season, but the game-viewing won't be as reliably excellent as it is in the dry season.

Since it sounds like you want a custom itinerary, you're best off contacting an African specialist who really knows the camps and can help you make the most of your budget.

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Oct 7th, 2006, 12:32 PM
  #3  
 
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You're not quite correct about FF mileage, Julian. While some programs have the sameage requirement for anywhere in Africa, others do make the distinction between Central and South Africa. For a business class ticket from the US, for example, Lufthansa charges 120k miles to Kenya, but 160k to South Africa. (From Europe, the respective miles are 60k and 90k.) Economy and First tickets have similar differences.

Also, if using awards based on the trip's mileage (for example, the OneWorld awards offered by BA or AA), the mileage to Kenya would certainly be less than that to JNB.
DonTopaz is offline  
Oct 7th, 2006, 12:48 PM
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Hi Rizzuto,

That's why I said *most* FF programmes.

How many miles to you have, 13moons? And with which airline? I seem to remember you having miles with AA which you then used on BA...

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Oct 7th, 2006, 12:53 PM
  #5  
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HI Julian,
looks like I have enought Am Ex miles to let me fly to London from SF if I buy an econ tkt and then get an upgrad and it looks like I have enought AA mile to go BA from London to Nairobi. so now I am thinking to do the gorillas and Kenya and start stashing miles for botswana for 2008. Any thoughts on the Kenya / rawanda trip?
13moons is offline  
Oct 7th, 2006, 12:56 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Hi 13moons,

Now I'm a bit confused -- if you use AA miles, it's the same number of miles from London to Joburg as it is from London to Nairobi (60,000 in economy) according to AA's website:

http://www.aa.com/apps/AAdvantage/Vi...artnersContent

(sorry, I've never mastered the TinyURL thing).

Obviously if you've decided that you'd prefer Kenya that's great -- I just don't want you to give up on Botswana if this is the only thing holding you back!

BTW, you can combine Rwanda and Botswana or SA -- there are flights to Kigali from Joburg.

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Oct 7th, 2006, 01:49 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
I think the budgeting process is rather simple!

1. Use the forums such as Fodors, Tripadvisor, etc. to get plan a rough itinerary.
2. Ask for input and refine.
3. Since you are thinking East Africa, send the itinerary for quotes to a handful of outfitters listed on the TATO or KATO websites.
4. At this point you will have a fair idea of what things will cost on the low end.
5. But you cannot be sure that the lodges/camps will be available at your time of travel (until you pay a deposit), and you may have some concerns about the local outfitters!
6. If you are uncomfortable with dealing with an African-based outfitter (there is absolutely no reason to be), then also send the itinerary to a few agents in your home country - you will now be in a good position to compare prices!

7. Book your trip

It is perfectly fine to pay a little more for piece of mind, credit card facilities and if the agent adds value to your trip.

Some agents add nothing, they simply pass your request to a local outfitter in East Africa, add their profit margins and send you the invoice! Why pay more in such cases?

Because many local outfitters in East Africa compete on price alone (so many offer the same basic services), there is an unfortunate tendency to quote the cheapest safari instead of the best safari! Many booking agents have never been on safari themselves - they were born in large towns like Arusha or Nairobi and with small budgets you can understand that it is especially rare for them to visit upscale camps or new places! Unfair or not, overseas agents don't have this problem!

This is why I suggest you design a solid itinerary first, before contacting the local ground operators. Then you can compare apples to apples.
climbhighsleeplow is offline  

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