Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Africa & the Middle East
Reload this Page >

Question about etiquette dealing with tour operators and ? about lodging near gorillas

Question about etiquette dealing with tour operators and ? about lodging near gorillas

Old Oct 18th, 2007, 10:55 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 337
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Question about etiquette dealing with tour operators and ? about lodging near gorillas

I am looking into doing the Rwanda portion of safari with a separate company than the one we'll be using for the rest of our safari.
Is this an acceptable practice?

I don't want to offend our tour operator (Roy's), but it seems like we could save a significant amount going with someone else for the gorilla trekking.

I have a few quotes from a few different companies, but currently I am most interested in a package with R&N Explorer;
2 nights/3 days with 1 gorilla trek
Lodging at Virunga Lodge 1st night, Kigali Serena 2nd night
Price not including airfare: $1689pp
With Roy's the exact same package is $2286pp

Can I tell the agent at Roy's that I'd like to keep the remainder of the itinerary, except go with R&N just for the Rwanda portion to save some money or is that not appropriate?

Also, if anyone has any feedback on R&N, that would be appreciated.

Also, as I'm still playing with the budget, I'm looking into different lodging as I know Virunga is at the high end.
I've heard mixed reviews about Gorilla's Nest. What do you think about that place?
I was told that the new hotel near the park, Sabyinyo Lodge, will be comparable in price to Virunga.

Also, I'd love to hear recommendations for moderate accommodations in Kigali.

Thanks
luv2globetrot is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2007, 11:14 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,252
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Shouldn't be a problem and I would do the same. I've often booked parts of my trip separately and have never encountered a problem or any resistance on the part of my operator to my doing so.
Patty is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2007, 12:19 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,448
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I did just what you are doing in October 2005. And I went with R&N Explorer. Overall I was happy with them. My guide made the trip.

The best thing about gorilla's nest was it was close to the ORPTN Headequarters
waynehazle is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2007, 02:13 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 262
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm using R&N in February next year so cant comment on them too much yet, but ive been very happy with the quick responses they give and they were really helpful with my planning. I was also having trouble booking my flight from nairobi to kigali on my own, so they did it for me and just DHLed my tickets to me. Had my tickets in hand within 2 weeks of sending them my money. If it will save you $600 then i see no reason not to use them. Oh and I'm also using a different operator for kenya and tanzania and they didnt take issue with me using someone else for rwanda.
jenbertoni is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2007, 04:17 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 337
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks.
I feel much better about doing that now.
Now it's just a matter of where to stay.

It was brought to my attention that we'd be arriving from JRO into KGL about 5pm.
R&N says they would rather us stay in KGL that first night so we wouldn't be driving in the dark to the park. But we'd have to start out at 4am the next day to get to the park in time to trek the gorillas.

I think I'd rather just arrive near the park late that first day and get up at a reasonable hour the day of the trek.
I figure we'll see the countryside on the way back.
Anyone have any thoughts on this?
luv2globetrot is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2007, 04:26 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Someone else just did that with Afica Adventure for Kenya & Tanzania and R&N Explorer in Rwanda. So I think it is common.

May I ask who Roys was going to use for Rwanda? It would also be interesting to know why Roys uses who they do and what they attribute the cost differences to in Rwanda. I admit, I am always pumping for info.

I like your plan for the gorillas. The 4:15 am departure and 2-hour drive is something I would avoid unless that was the only option.
atravelynn is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2007, 04:31 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,619
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Luv2globetrot, their reasoning for not driving after dark may be one of safety. In most African countries, it's preferable not to drive after dark (animals on the road, people walking along the road, bandits, etc.)
ShayTay is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2007, 04:33 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It was BYoung4u2 that I just mentioned. Not driving at night is one reason I prefer not to leave so early.
atravelynn is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2007, 09:27 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 90
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Moderate accomodations near the gorillas? Try Le Palme. It's about $80 a night and is new and clean. It's near the downtown of Ruhengeri, so it's about 15 minutes to the headquarters. Virunga Lodge is over $600 and is a 45 minute drive. To me, I would rather save the $500 + a night.
tacos10 is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2007, 04:14 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 337
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
atravelynn,
I have to say that you lost me a bit.
Are you saying it's better to go at night or leave early in the morning??

tacos10,
I'm having a hard time finding any info on that hotel. I did a google search with no luck. Do you happen to have a website?

One part of this planning I find frustrating is that it's so hard to know which hotel costs what. When my tour operator sent me a proposal, it just has the total cost. There's no breakdown in price so that I can know how much money goes where...if there were, it would be easier to figure out where I could cut costs.
If Virunga really is that expensive, then we will most likely have to look for an alternative.
Thanks.
luv2globetrot is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2007, 05:15 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It's not at all unusual for visitors to Rwanda (as well as Kenya/Tanzania) to book the Rwanda segment on their own. While the outfitter/s handling K & T can do this for you, pricewise, you'll do better on your own.

You can have Roy's handle the Tanzania and/or Kenya portions as well as the flights to/from KGL... then select your own outfitter, who meets your needs and budget, and book it directly.

As to drivin at night... not a good idea.

With the exception of the drive from JRO for those evening arrivals, into/around Arusha... I'd prefer not to be on unlit roads with animals, people walking or riding their bikes. Dangerous for everyone. It's always best to get where you're going by dusk. Otherwise, get a good nights sleep, rise early and go then.

sandi is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2007, 07:25 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 90
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I don't have a website for it. It might be so new, they don't have one yet? Amahoro Tours booked it for me.
tacos10 is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2007, 07:26 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 90
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I forgot to say, it is about 200 yards from the Muhabura Hotel if you're looking for the location.
tacos10 is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2007, 07:29 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Luv2globetrot,

I agree with you about getting to the park at a reasonable hour the night before your gorilla trek. I would prefer not leaving at 4 am-ish and driving to the park in the dark the morning of your first trek.

However, I found that the morning arrival was a common practice and it sometimes saved a day of travel. It also meant you had a guide/vehicle for one less day so it saved $. Still, I preferred to spend the time and money to get to PNV the night before.

Comments on Gorilla Nest: That's where I stayed and I would stay there again, unless I chose a less costly option that is nearby the park. It was a little chilly, but rooms were nice, clean, safe, in a pretty setting with crowned cranes, very convenient for driving to the Ranger Station, decent food with somewhat unpredictable restaurant service.

I would rather not spend around $500 a night when less money will get you clean, safe, convenient accommodations that will put you in good shape for your gorilla visit.

Virunga Lodge is 45 minutes to an hour away from the Ranger Station where you meet for your gorilla trips. While you are not driving in the dark, it is not as convenient as Gorilla's Nest, which is about 10 minutes away.
atravelynn is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2007, 09:09 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,252
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In case you're wondering where the Muhabura Hotel or anything else is in relation to each other, Eben has a map here http://www.go-safari.com/images/Volcans1.jpg
Patty is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2007, 09:23 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 337
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks so much for the feedback!

atravelynn,
Glad to hear your positive feedback of Gorilla's Nest. I've heard about it being cold. Hopefully you can ask for extra blankets? No heaters, I guess?
As for driving in the dark, R&N was saying that if we drive to the Ruhengeri area that first day (after we arrive at 5pm) we'd be driving in the dark.
But, you're right...wouldn't we be driving in the dark at 4am??
Guess I'll google the sunrise/sunset info.

Patty,
Love that link!!
I guess I haven't delved deep enough into Eben's site. I've been there a few times, but had never seen that!
Very helpful!

Thanks
luv2globetrot is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2007, 11:17 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,448
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
sure you can get blankets at the Gorilla's nest. Get a couple.

You can bring the little pot heaters in your room, but I was afraid of them
waynehazle is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2007, 01:09 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The pot heaters were not all that frightening. I would have got one, but it wasn't really needed in July. Warm enough. I made sure I washed my hair midday and went out in the warm sun for it to dry.
atravelynn is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2007, 01:46 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,448
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sorry they told me that I would need to leave a window open if I used one of those pots because the pot sucks the oxygen out of the room. (!)

I am not a big fan of things that suck oxygen out a room that I am in.
waynehazle is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2007, 06:58 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh, I didn't know that about the window. Of course opening the window makes it colder.
atravelynn is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:13 PM.