Rocco vs. the big boys

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Jul 26th, 2005, 11:45 AM
  #1
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Rocco vs. the big boys

I just could not resist this comparison! I always wanted to know how an upscale private safari would compare against an upscale international outfitter!

While there is probably room for price-tweaking in Rocco's itinerary, it looks quite impressive (assuming my accounting is correct!).

A&K Tanzania Hemingway Safari – Feb 2006 – GROUP TOUR

10 nights - $6910 pp sharing – max group size 12 as published on their web site

Arusha – Mt Meru Game Lodge (1)
Tarangire – A&K Tented camp (2)
Lake Manyara – Plantation Lodge (1)
Ngorongoro – A&K tented camp (3)
Serengeti – A&K tented camp (3)
Fly back from Serengeti to Arusha

About $691 ppn


Rocco “We created a monster” Tanzania Safari – Feb 2006

12 nights - $5850 pp sharing – private safari for two!

Arusha – Moivaru Lodge (1) (prorated down from 3 nights)
Lake Manyara – Tree Lodge (2)
Ngorongoro – Serena (2) (don’t have your Crater lodge rates!)
NCA – Oldupai Camp (1)
NCA – Nomad Masek (2)
Loliondo – Nomad Piyaya (2)
Serengeti – Mbuze Mawe (2)
Fly back from Serengeti to Arusha (prorated from Zanzibar)

About $488 ppn
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Jul 26th, 2005, 11:55 AM
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bwanamitch
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I have only one question:
when will Rocco build up his own travel company?
 
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Jul 26th, 2005, 12:12 PM
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bat
 
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climbhighsleeplow:

fun analysis.

I am cutting and pasting this question from a thread that I posted recently that did not receive any advice--I was particularly hoping for advice from you because you had expressed an opinion without elaboration. I am confident that Rocco will be interested in the answer now that he has indicated that he has upgraded to Crater Lodge.

"What are the differences between the camps at Crater Lodge (the views from the rooms, from the communal areas, and the rooms themselves)?

It is my understanding that each of the camps has its own dining room and communal lounge. I also understand that North and South camps are identical and that Tree Camp is different in terms of size (smaller) and location. I have read that some people think that Tree Camp has "better" views but that North and South camps have "better" rooms. [climbhighsleeplow, I saw your comment in a thread of Rocco's. Would you elaborate--your detailed descriptions are very helpful.]

A rep from CC Africa indicated that the views are better from N/S camp because they are higher and that the rooms at all the camps are the same.

Comments and opinions are appreciated."



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Jul 26th, 2005, 12:15 PM
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I have been making that very same point since my first safari (to Kenya and Tanzania) in August 1999. While planning that trip, I ordered the catalogs from A&K, Micato and others, and used those to plan an itinerary.

With itinerary in hand (and one that substantially mirrored an A&K trip), I went to the Kenya Consulate in NY and they referred me to several Nairobi-based operators, who were able to put together an identical trip (exact same lodges), but with private, instead of shared vehicle, for much less than the A&K price. All we sacrificed was the silly A&K hat.

Since August 1999, I have been on four safaris, and I have always used a local operator (Taga for South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Malawi) and others for Uganda and Kenya.

Sure, its more leg work, but I enjoy the research and the savings. With the savings, I can buy my own silly hat.

Michael
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Jul 26th, 2005, 01:14 PM
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Hi Bat

Sorry I missed that post. We are renovating the house and my online time is erratic.

Tree camp vs. North/South Camps. I stayed at the Crater Lodge only once (21st September 2003)! It was empty then so the manager showed me the Tree Camp from where I could do the best filming of the crater.

The famous CCAfrica crater picture with the dining room table in the foreground was taken from the Tree Camp. This lounge/dining room has the best views. The guest rooms are smaller than the rooms of South camp and the views are not as good.

While on safari, I spend very little time in my room. The lounge areas are more important to me and I like good views and fewer people. For this reason, I prefer the Tree Camp.

But it is a personal decision.

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Jul 26th, 2005, 01:41 PM
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Unfortunately, I was only able to beat A&K by 41%.

Had this been Southern Africa, I would have beaten them by 65% minimum, but this whole East Africa thing is new to me and I was under pressure to get this booked quickly.

Thanks for the results, CHSL!
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Jul 26th, 2005, 02:03 PM
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Yes, but what will you wear on your head? For another $4,000, you could get an A&K safari fedora, with their logo front and center. I don't think I'd wear that if they paid me $4,000.
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Jul 26th, 2005, 02:33 PM
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sandi
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... and what about the green duffle bag that Micato provides their clients, along with a hat!

Recently, during our stay in Tanzania we met up with a group traveling with Tauck (Westport, CT, USA) based. They were on an 8-day trip staying at Serena properties, with only Kirawira being in the lux category plus 1-flight returning from Grumeti to Arusha - grand total $3,790 or $474pppn. And this was in June. Duh!

Most of us know we wouldn't pay those prices, but there are many who not only have the money, but prefer a known entity. And A&K and Micato and CCA have those... especially when it comes to a destination like Africa.

Hopefully, when these same clients decide to make a return visit, they will have learned - then maybe not. There are just too many choices and admittedly, lots of people don't have the time or care to bog themselves down with the work that goes into saving thousands of dollars.

That's the way of the world!


 
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Jul 26th, 2005, 02:34 PM
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I wouldn't wear it either but I'd might pay to see Rocco wearing a fedora!
What a killer itinerary...thanks Rocco, now I am torn between East Africa and Zambia!
I am really motivated now to go on the beans and rice diet to save for our next Africa trip!
Brenda
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Jul 26th, 2005, 02:50 PM
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Did I miss something? Is Rocco off to East Africa now?
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Jul 26th, 2005, 03:02 PM
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napamatt, you must have gotten lost in the vineyards! You have missed the most interesting metamorphosis of a trip I think I've seen on this forum.

It started as something relatively low-key, low-cost and simple. But it's Rocco. You can imagine the rest.

(just kidding--I'm jealous jealous jealous.)
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Jul 26th, 2005, 07:53 PM
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napamatt,

I just could not sell myself on Botswana for whatever reason. I attribute it mostly to not wanting to go on a low season safari and not wanting to wait until August / September 2006 for my next safari (after my rapidly approaching Zambian safari).

Also, I mistakenly thought that East Africa was going to be less expensive than Botswana, but for the camps that appealed to me, it was just about the same price as Wilderness Safaris 5 paw camps or Kwando's camps would have cost in high season.

One other attraction of East Africa was Zanzibar. My wife and I have been singing our own made up stupid song about Zanzibar for years now, and I don't have the first clue on how it got started! Goes something like this:

Zanzibar, Zanzibar, everybody loves Zanzibar! (sorry, that's the whole song, but maybe after we visit we will add to it).

Then what really sold me was when I heard about the Kiliminjaro Marathon on February 26th. I thought, "Wow, how cool...that will be a really good marathon to sign up for and then flake out on!"

I am as surprised as anyone. I just wasn't going to suffer through a full year of not going on safari, and my only other options were low season safaris to Southern Africa.

I am at 13.5 months since my last safari and I am going out of my mind. The time between returning from my next safari to Zambia (and the Sabi Sand) and leaving to Tanzania, will be 22 weeks, rather than the 65 weeks or so between my June 2004 safari and my September 2005 safari. Helps me make up for lost time!
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Jul 27th, 2005, 05:03 AM
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climbhighsleeplow:

Thanks for the Crater Lodge info--my instinct was to go for Tree Camp (based on that famous picture and that I had read that it was perched on the rim more so than N/S camps). Once again you have helped me stop second-guessing a decision.

Rocco, did you see the post so you can decide if you have a preference?
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Jul 27th, 2005, 05:11 AM
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Rocco:

I know what you mean about Zanzibar--there is something so exotic and evocative about the word. When I started telling friends about my trip and they asked me why I chose Tanzania, I said it was because I like saying the words serengeti and zanzibar aloud (of course, then I told them about the migration so as not to sound completely mad). A number of people said that they did not realize that Zanzibar was a "real" place or existed today.
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Jul 27th, 2005, 05:18 AM
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I went to Khatmandu for the same reason (very exotic name), and it lived up to its reputation. Now, I need to get to Timbuktu, but Mali's not on my radar screen.
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Jul 27th, 2005, 06:25 AM
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I remember reading some (fairly average, nothing amazing) mystery story when I was a kid called Escape from Zanzibar and have wanted to go ever since but just haven't got around to it yet...

But Madagascar is still at the top of my wishlist, as it has been for quite some years. I was hoping to include it on our 9 week trip to Southern Africa last year but the added costs just made it unworkable and other trips have ended up usurping it's position... but I'm hoping to get there in 2006 or 2007. Hope the new film doesn't make it too much of a hot destination in the meantime.

Rocco, way to go on prices...

We booked the accommodation and car hire for South Africa 5 weeks directly and made big savings...
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Jul 27th, 2005, 07:20 AM
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Rocco

I haven't got to Mombo yet on the trip report, but let me share one thing. In 15 hours in the landrover I would estimate the longest time gap between mammal sightings was around 3 minutes. I am not joking, I have never seen so much game and I have done this an awful lot, even on our spectatcular October 2003 two day trip to Mala Mala, we saw nothing like this. Added to the fact that the secenery is spectacular, I have to say that I am sold.
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Jul 27th, 2005, 07:59 AM
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napamatt,

I will get to Botswana and to Mombo, but I wasn't willing to pay $1200 pppns for low season at Mombo. Okay, even if Mombo is the best safari lodge in the world, it is surely better in September than it would have been in April or May.

With Tanzania, I was able to push up the schedule all the way to late February for my HIGH SEASON safari!
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Jul 27th, 2005, 08:01 PM
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Matt, we had the same experience last year at Mombo. So many predators that there was no time for "tea" breaks. It was pretty excruciating actually. I finally decided that maybe dehydration wasn't such a big risk.
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Jul 28th, 2005, 12:42 PM
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It's never dehydration that does me in - it's the finite time my, ahem, bladder, if that's not too direct for polite conversation, can be ignored. After all, with all that Amarula and coffee it's hard to resist the liquid refreshments!
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