Roy, Sunny, Good Earth............who?

Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 03:34 AM
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Roy, Sunny, Good Earth............who?

Most everyone has seen our itinerary in the posts below.

Now the outfitters have quoted apples to apples and he have gotten some varied pricing.

Who would you pick/recommend for "your" safari? Remember, that everything is equal -2006 pricing, lodges, airfare, etc.

Eastern-Southern - $4470
Bobby Tours - $4000
Good Earth - $4500
Sunny Safaris - $4002
Roy Safari - $5050

We were leaning toward Roy, but can they give almost $2000.00 worth of additiona/better service.

What would you "experts" do?

Thanks.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 04:31 AM
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Hardly the expert by any measure but here is my 2 cents worth. You may have already answered your own question. Is the additional/better service worth roughly $1,000 (the difference between high and low quotes)? It is difficult for me to tell as you say everything is equal. So, it seems you are dealing with "peace of mind" and that may be worth the difference. Don't mean to infer that a grand is nothing as it certainly is. For nothing else it would certainly pay for the tanzanite you are seeking. But it may be well worth spending for the company you have the better feeling about. I have done that althought the dollar difference was less. And, I have no regrets. You have done considerable homework and now is the time to make the call. I am looking forward to hearing of your choice and I would wager a cold Safari beer it will be Roy Safari. Good Luck!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 05:48 AM
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dssxxxx,

Are you sure the vehicles are the same from each company?

Same make of vehicle?

What drinks/snacks is the vehicle supplied with?

Does the vehicle come with beanbags for photography?

How often are the vehicles cleaned while on safari?

Will the vehicle be substituted if there are any defects such as a broken window or door?

I never thought I would have to ask any of these companies when I basically wrote a blank check to ATR and let them name their own price for my safari, but the vehicle I received from their ground handler, MKSC, was pretty bad, as were others that I saw in its fleet.

At least you will have some documentation to protect yourself with, if you can get the operators to commit to certain vehicle standards before you book.

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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 06:20 AM
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dssxxxx,
Do you have any specifics on the guides being used? how long guiding? what training, memberships, first aid training and supplies on board etc.

As many have stated, what kind of vehicle, how old, cell phone for your use and type of radio communication in vehicle, is there a back up vehicle available in the event of problems - how long will it take to get the replacement vehicle to you, charging outlets in vehicle etc.?

Are your ground transfers covered?
Is flying docs. covered or an additional cost for you - although it's fairly inexpensive?

Is this a private trip? If so, can you alter the itinerary as you go i.e. you want to go safari-ing earlier (later in day), you want to add an additional afternoon safari or walk, you want to have your dinner later to stay at a good sighting? Are these plans flexible etc.?

These are a few questions to ask to possibly help determine who will take your needs into consideration.
Good luck!
Sherry
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 06:29 AM
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I'm no "expert" but have been to Tz twice this year and have seen jeeps from four of the companies mentioned ... as Rocco said, check to see what model of vehicle you are getting. I've heard the cheaper companies have "limited miles" to save on gas while I know Roy (for example) has "unlimited mileage" so ask how many game drives you can work in. The main differences will be in the vehicles, driver's ability and mileage, is my guess.

Of the ones you mention I never saw an Eastern-Southern jeep in 24 days in the field so I guess they are a broker, possibly even using Bobby or Sunny or similar.

I saw several jeeps from Bobby and Sunny and they looked OK to me. I think I talked to some folks using Bobby at Ngorongoro Crater and they were happy with their driver. See if these two offer unlimited miles though, wouldn't surprise me if they don't.

A Dutch professional photographer was staying at Ndutu while we were there, finishing up a 30 day camp/lodge trip with Good Earth. He said he was very happy with the driver. I think this is a smaller company as I only saw a couple of their jeeps in the field but they seemed to be fine.

As I already told you, we did our trips with Roy in their larger vehicles (7 pax plus driver and front seat), fixed up specially for photography. We had five drivers the first time for 15 people and three of these were exceptional, the other two very good. Of course you won't know in advance which driver you'll get though. Whether this is worth another $2,000 is a good Q ...

If I had a friend trying to save money ask me if Bobby and Sunny were OK I'd tell them "see if you get unlimited mileage and if so, sure, use the two grand to buy another lens and go with them". Same with Good Earth. (Dunno anything about Eastern-Southern). FWIW.

Bill
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 06:46 AM
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"the vehicle I received from their ground handler, MKSC, was pretty bad, as were others that I saw in its fleet."

Rocco, in one of your photos from a mobile camp it looks like you were using a company with initials "LT" ... is that correct? I know they have over 100 vehicles (we saw them all the time) but I didn't know if they were a quality outfit or not (you can book direct with them).

Bill
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 09:39 AM
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Eastern & Southern is based in Kenya. Their Tanzania ground operator is Leopard Tours. The rest are all Tanzania based.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 10:03 AM
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Bill,

I wished I had been in that Leopard Tours vehicle instead of my own. In the picture you mention, my wife was merely posing with our MKSC guide and a Leopard Tours guide who had some fellow guests at Tarangire Tree Tops.

However, the opinion of both my MKSC and Nomad guide was that the larger the company (Leopard Tours, Ranger Safaris, Bobby Tours, all with 100+ vehicles and guides) that the lower the quality of the guide.

But, I would have traded my very knowledgable, but reserved and seemingly burned out MKSC guide for a more enthusiastic and less knowledgable guide from a bigger company in a nicer vehicle.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 11:32 AM
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dsxxxx'

this is the pricing for the 11 day itin you had on another post? Is price per person? How many people in your group? When do you go?

I am far far far from being an expert. We were in Tz 18 months ago and I took a keen interest in other companies vehicles and knew we would be goign back and I did not feel totally comfortable about going with the company we were with (none you mentioned!) Don't get me wrong we had an amazing trip but I just felt there were a few things missing.

The unlimited milage is a big thing to be sure about in researching for our next trip I asked that question of the outfitters I got quotes from. The other thing that is important to us is that we are able to just head out and be out all day if we want to not just for set morning & afternoon drives (Ngoro this is obviously out of our control)

I will tell you that we ended up choosing Roy's. We got good reports from other travellers and have thus far recieved excellent service from them.

Look forward to hearing your decision!

J
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 11:39 AM
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I think this is the latest version of dssxxxx's itinerary - http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34828241
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 01:54 PM
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Yes....that's the final one.

Vehicle & guide are important. Unlimited mileage....???? Not really looking for more than an AM & PM game drive. That is all I did in Kenya and it seemed to be plenty.

I just wish peeps would say...such and such is the greatest and such and such is pretty lousy...

But I am taking notes from everyone.

Happy 4th.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 03:03 PM
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The problem is you need someone who has used each of these operators to be able to give you a definitive answer and that's not gonna happen
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 03:08 PM
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I know.....

We will probably go with Sunny Safaris and save the additional $$$'s and use it for the airfare.

Thanks to everybody and I am sure I will have more questions..
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 05:01 PM
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From someone who just returned and used Good Earth, I cannot imagine why I would spend the extra money for them or any other company (all things being equal or close to equal).

I saw lots of Sunny vehicles, and in fact the vehicles were in much better shape than ours. Of course I don't know about the guides, but even people with the higher priced companies sometimes have bad guide experience.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 05:28 PM
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I think I read here somewhere (a post from Matt from England, maybe?) that Sunny will give you unlimited mileage for an added fee...or something like that. I'd ask them about that. The Serengeti is huuuge and it's nice to be able to head off anywhere.

Regardless, I wish you the best of luck! And of course, enjoy your safari.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 07:21 PM
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Hi
using the $$ for a lens - is a winning argument !

PLEASE don't be offended by my non-polite style:

- How long does it take to get a replacement car ?
Come on Guyz & galz we're not in America !

Example: Leopard (one of 2 biggest) is supposed to have vehicles both at Serengetti & Ngorongoro in case of breakdown. in April we had taken over 20 vehicles simultaneously ( & more later) and were promised the newest cars. My colleagues had some really new cars. I got the 'oldest' of Leopard's best which were not really old. Had 3 breakdowns in 3 days (the major one was a stone that hit the radiator - bad luck - wouldn't help if u had a 4X4 Rolls Royce )
It is April- not the highest season- still Leopard sent us a sub-hired vehicle all the way from Arusha to Serengeti. So what if they have substitute cars "ready" in Serengeti & Ngorongoro.
btw the clients sent that vehicle back, and atayed with their repaired larger one...

Don't forget nobody can really compare such companies. Even if someone used all 4 companies - SAMPLE SIZE means all our recommendations do not mean anything statistically ! Sorry ...
In addition, the LUCK CONSTITUENT of a safari is such that adding $1000 doesn't really promise a 5% better safari !

If u get a recommendation for a specific guide that should be siugnificant. e.g. If u r interested in Geoilogy ask for Immanuel @ Leopard - he has a degree in that field.
about guides - i prefer the young 'cool' ones on the very experienced 'worn out' ones.
(They all have radios nowadays & almost all leopards r spotted by others anyhow...) their guiding is quite basic as they don't go into behavioural ecology etc'...

Rocco - for $1000 i'd clean the car myself & then get a bag of beans for 500 Shillings ;-)

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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 07:25 PM
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Sorry fot the typos
significant
Geology
etc
u don't want to know what time it is now...
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Old Jul 4th, 2006, 03:05 AM
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We have written to Roy about the great difference in price and have asked if they can justify.

If they cannot and do not lower, then we will probably go with Sunny.
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Old Jul 4th, 2006, 04:52 AM
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We just returned from a great safari using a Company that our friend recommended, Good Earth Tours. We can't say enough good things about them.

We found their service to be outstanding, rates very competitive and extremely professional.

We are thinking of another safari next year and would definitely use them again.
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Old Jul 4th, 2006, 05:37 AM
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aby,
Your right this trip isn't an American trip as I for one would never consider spending such big bucks in the US. Therefore, I feel that having a replacement vehicle delivered in a reasonable amount of time is really not asking much whether one is a paying customer from S. Africa, Europe or E. Oshcosh.

dssxxx,
The point about unlimited mileage is more of a matter of how far the driver is allowed to go thruout the Serengeti. This is an important question to be asked as if on a fixed mileage you could really lose out. Also, you may have stated elsewhere, but is this a private trip?
Sherry
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