private guide VS lodge provided guide?

Sep 22nd, 2007, 03:24 PM
  #1  
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private guide VS lodge provided guide?

DILEMMA - would having the same private driver/guide, who travels with me from park to park throughout my safari in kenya, be just as knowledgeable at each reserve as the local lodge guide, that is provided by the lodge?

in other words, assuming the cost is equal, i'm trying to figure out if I should book a private guide, with private vehicle (for party of 2) for the whole week, or switch to each lodge guide for game drives, but have to share a 7 passenger minivan?

basically, will the private guide know all the hot spots at each reserve?
jeanettehere is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 12:18 AM
  #2  
 
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I'm bumping this up because I think it's an interesting question. I wonder if the camp figures the cost of having two less riders in their vehicle is equal to what the overnight costs are for guides? I know it is much less than what a guest pays.
Clematis1 is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 02:28 AM
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We always hire a private driver/guide and vehicle in Kenya and Tanzania.

This means that your game drives are tailored to your interests. You usually have to share lodge vehicles with other people who may, or may not, share your interests.

The driver guides are usually familiar with the national parks as they make many trips throughout the year. Also, they all talk together in the evenings and share knowledge of good/unusual sightings.

Private vehicles also have radios that pick up what other vehicles have seen. However, these can be turned off and you can do your own thing.

It really depends what you want. If you hire a driver/guide and vehicle you get much more flexibility, but if you like the social aspect of sharing a vehicle you might miss that.
Wingi is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 02:36 AM
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It is a very interesting question/idea.
Travels with you? You mean DRIVE you from lodge to lodge?
Whatever, it is a bit like "putting all your eggs in one basket" which worries me a bit. I know I've read here at sometime about some one arriving to find their private vehicle to be not as contracted, very poorly maintained, lazy guide, etc. My feeling is that I would stay with the lodge provide guide. HOWEVER, I do not like pop-top MINIVANS. I want an open Land Rover type vehicle. I would only go to lodges/camps that use an open Land Rover or equivalent.

Now, having said all that I see that Wingi has had good experiences doing this. Which is worth a lot more than my theorizing. Wingi, did you use a minivan when doing this? Can you give references to good guides/operators?

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 02:53 AM
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Wingi- also, did the lodges/camps give you a price discount because you had your own guide and vehicle? If not, then the safari cost is obviously higher.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 03:49 AM
  #6  
 
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The cost is conciderably higher with less people in a vehicle at all times.

Me and my brother have a tailor made 14 day safari with our private guide. The private guide is picked out by the operator we have helping us out. All guides picked out by respected operators are good guides all over Kenya, and the guides keep contact with each other to tip each other off when they find good sightings.

For me and my brother the much higher cost is well worth it as we can stay out for so much longer each day and we can stay for hours at one spot without having another tourist wanting to move on after only 15-30 minutes at a scene.
Not having others tourist and ourselves being in charge of the whole itinerary, deciding on less luxurious camps, even tents, gives us a much better wildlife experience and that makes the cost worth it.

We also demand a roof-top hatch vehicle as it's the only kind suitable for our needs.
WayuU is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 04:05 AM
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Depends on the routing of one's itinerary. If you don't drive, you have to fly. If you fly then you add this cost. There aren't airstrips at all locations. And, there are different per person/per night rates whether you arrive with your own guide/vehicle or use those of the camp/lodge you lay your head.

The guides that do the drives between, say - Mt. Kenya to Samburu to Lake Nakuru to Masai Mara to Amboseli to Tsavo (the usual Kenya itinerary) are out doing these weekly... as soon as one itinerary with guests is over, they're out the following week (or 10-14/days whatever the length). And, yes, they are as good as resident guides.

If it's just you two, it's nice to have the same person throughout where you can pretty much set your own schedule (but for those days moving onto the next area)... when you go out on drives, for how long you stay at sightings, etc.

As to vehicle, if traversing the roads you have to be in a closed vehicle (safety reasons); some may be mini-vans, others 4WD. Unless you're traveling during the wet season, 4WD isn't really necessary. Most have pop-tops, others may have roll-back. Do check with your outfitter what they are offering. I personally have found the mini-vans have better suspension so smoother rides on these terrible roads (assuming your outfitter has these maintained regularly).

If you choose, instead to fly-in, depending on the lodge/camp at which you stay, you may have closed or open vehicles.

I'd check whether your routing will best be done by flying; if not then driving and a vehicle of your own is a good way to do it. Check with your outfitter type of vehicle.
sandi is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 04:18 AM
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In South Africa you have various catagories of tourist guides

1. Regional and NATIONAL GUIDES
2. Site Guiges
3. Field Guides

If you were touring the country(general tour) you would use 1.
If you require specialist knowledge on your Game Drives you would use 2.
If you are taking a tour of a museum, fossil site etc. then you would be taken around by 3.

National guides are allowed to guide in all provinces of the country and because they experience so much over the years they are NEARLY as good as the specialist guides.

Unless you are looking for real specialised knowledge a tourist guide who has done these game drives before would be fine.

Before I became a NATIONAL Tourist guide i used to do all the guiding for my groups inside the Game Parks. My guiding qualification did not allow me to do it,then, but i had developed such a passion for it that i became pretty good at it.
HONESTLY, HOW MANY OF THE BOTANICAL NAMES ARE YOU GOING TO REMEMBER AT THE END OF THE TOUR.?

So, my suggestion is that you find someone who has guided in the game parks, regularly. It's not something they do all the time but he/she if he has the enthusiasm he might even turn out to be the best option.
SOMETIMES, the guides who do the same job every day loose their passion.

africanj is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 04:27 AM
  #9  
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thanks everyone. that's the type of feedback I needed
jeanettehere is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 05:42 AM
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Tom,

We use extended Toyota Land Cruisers - with various types of top openings. Even though there are only 2 of us we like the extra space because of all the camera equipment. I think that there are more restrictions on open vehicles in East Africa than in Southern Africa, so there has never been the opportunity to do the trip in one of them.

We use Sunworld in Kenya and Unique in Tanzania, booked directly with Nairobi/Arusha offices to itinerary we've decided.

I'm not sure about the price differences you ask about as I leave that bit to them.

We go out very early in the morning and do not like to be restricted to set game drive times + we like a driver/guide who is experienced at driving keen/fanatic/obsessive photographers, so this works best for us.

All our recent trips have been to East Africa as I have not been able to get anything similar organised in Botswana - not without selling the house anyway!!!
Wingi is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 06:34 AM
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Thanks Wingi, great info. I'm also into the photo thing and the proper vehicle is important. The "extended Toyota Land Cruisers", do they allow you to shoot from side windows as well as from the top? I just really like the total openness of a no top no window vehicle. (But admittidly have not been in the type of vehicle you've used). Thanks again.

regards - tom
ps - can you give a typical cost per day for the use of such vehicle and guide? Or is it all worked into a package that includes camps, etc?
cary999 is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 07:08 AM
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I just got back from Kenya, where I had a private driver for my whold 14 day trip. I found him (Patrick) to be very knoweldgable about the different parks, as he visted them often. I'm not sure about the price differences between a private driver, and a lodge driver, but I did find it very nice to have the whole vechile to myself, and not share. Another bonus was that Patrick already knew everything that I had seen so far, and we could spend the day looking for whatever I wanted to see (it was mostly the leopard!)
kittykatgirl is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 07:16 AM
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Tom - Yes, you can shoot from the side windows. This is one of the reasons we have our own vehicle - bodies trying to get at the right angle take up a lot of space inside!

You pay a rate per day for vehicle and driver/guide with cost of lodges added. This is very easy to unpick with some companies, less so with others. Sunworld, in particular is very clear with this. You can see it on their website but they are updating it at the moment so English speakers are directed to the old website - the new one is in German, but quite a lot is in English. Also, the prices on the site are in Euros.
www.sunworld-safari.com



Wingi is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 10:05 AM
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"no top no window vehicle" is a terrible option for real photography. No mounting or resting of equipment.
WayuU is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 01:07 PM
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WayuW - am looking forward to seeing some of your safari photos. Do you have some photos (any subject) now posted on the web?

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 03:41 PM
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"no top no window vehicle" is a terrible option for real photography. No mounting or resting of equipment.

Actually I know several photographers who prefer the open jeeps ... they set up tripods and prefer it that way.

They don't like shooting from the roof because they would rather have a lower, more eye-level angle.

Bill
Bill_H is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2007, 03:50 PM
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I returned from Kenya and Tanzania in August, and we used the guides/drivers/trackers from each hotel that we stayed at. I felt that was advantageous, for those same guides are out traversing the same land day after day, and they have good ideas as to where you'll spot particular animals. Also, we stayed on two private conservations, and we couldn't access that land without their guide. I found that preferable to the national parks that we visited, where you had to stay on road and communicate with other vehicles there. Using the hotel guide also allowed them to compete with other guides in other vehicles via walkie-talkie to hear about specific animal sightings. As to the vehicles being crowded, my husband and I were often the only couple in the vehicle, but sometimes there was another couple--just the luck of the draw and when people were arriving/leaving (and we were extremely fortunate). I also highly recommend open vehicles. We used a pop-top in the Ngorongoro Crater (because they are the only type of vehicle allowed) and I felt that the game viewing there was not as pleasant or as involving as on the drives elsewhere when the vehicles were open. It's a totally different feel to the safari experience when you are open versus enclosed. I'm sure that other lodges/hotel properties may be different, but for the CC Africa lodges that I stayed in, this was the case. (And I can't recommend the company or their hotels highly enough--truly superb service and lodging!)
fluffnfold is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 11:51 AM
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cary999,
Leaving in mid October and back home mid November so not until mid December I'm guessing. I'm guessing I'll have some 20000 to 30000 photos to go through, and then the post processing of the hundreds kept. Going to take time.
I'm NOT a pro photographer. Just got my Nikon D200 1 year ago. Not my first camera though.
I got some photos at Flickr under this same nic name.
WayuU is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 12:21 PM
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I stabbed into Flickr but didn't find you. Are you sergio-serrano? How about a link?
regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Sep 24th, 2007, 12:52 PM
  #20  
 
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Here it is:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wayuu/
WayuU is offline  

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