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

Old Jul 4th, 2006, 05:43 AM
  #21  
 
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We just returned last week from 14 days in Kenya and Tanzania. We used Eastern & Southern and were pleased w/their services. In Tanzania we used Leopard Tours and were equally pleased with them. Sal was our guide and he was great. He went the extra mile to show our 11 yr old granddaughter a great time as did Michael with ESS. Both found all the big cats she wanted to see. I don't know how he saw the three cheetahs sitting under the tree.
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Old Jul 4th, 2006, 07:08 AM
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Dear Sherry

Of course, one better choose a 'decent' company on the basic assumption that one should get close-to-best service when having a breakdown !
BUT, as my example shows (imho), one can never know what will really happen & this does differ substantially from the American situation (which I admire): a company can promise maximum waiting time etc'

Since I guess all or most of those to-be-chosen-from companies r labeled 'decent' by different clients, my argument is that there is no way to make a reasonable choice based on criteria like "how long would they handle a breakdown ?"
* there is simply no answer to this question !*
Has anybody heard of any African operator who can promise how long it would take to get a substitute vehicle ?
What will determine how long one is stuck are RANDOM situations (even if the company will sincerely do its best)
(it depends When – e.g. in high season nobody knows if & what car will be available
Where…
& suppose u get it:
What r your chances of getting the same type of jeep? (during high season even your +$1000 company will be happy to send a substitute, sometimes without fully checking its mechanical situation)

Back to my example: the biggest car owner (having substitute cars ready in "strategic" tourist spots), working with a very important client, in off (rainy) season - finally sent a sub-hired jeep from Arusha to Serengeti . and that substitute was a 5 seater instead of a long Toyota…

Sorry if it is too tiring to read...

aby
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Old Jul 4th, 2006, 07:51 AM
  #23  
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Sherry,

This is a private safari. Just my wife and myself.

Anyone have the email address for Leopard Tours? Can't find a webpage for them.

Thanks.
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Old Jul 4th, 2006, 07:56 AM
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"Anyone have the email address for Leopard Tours? Can't find a webpage for them."

Are you serious?

http://www.leopard-tours.com/home.htm
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Old Jul 4th, 2006, 11:38 AM
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aby,
You must be dealing with the good American companies. As it seems anywhere in the US service runs from excellent down to pretty darn awful. I'm glad you think that most American co. are up to snuff. You must have good experience in this.

As for the vehicle question, Tanzanian Photo. safari promised us that they would have a (same as) replacement vehicle to us within one half day in the event of a break down. This I feel was very reasonable and a good show of PR in my humble opinion.

When we were picked up from the Karufu Lodge in Ngo. we were asked by our guide if we minded stopping at a window repair place to have the newly broken window fixed. As we didn't mind waiting, it was repaired while we waited in no time flat. It was nice to have the choice.

Apparently, we were told that if we minded, another vehicle was on stand by to pick us up at our previously scheduled time. Our guide did tell us that there were always unspoken for vehicles on hand for this reason.
Peace;
Sherry
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Old Jul 4th, 2006, 11:44 AM
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Here's a link to a thread which I started a while back, it's a bit dusty now with no new updates but I made enquiries with Roys and Sunny:

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...p;tid=34817945

The one thing that should be noted is that in the Serengeti the drives (staying in the public campsite at Seronera) were limited to central and southern areas and not the north or western corridor. Otherwise everywhere else was unlimited. For instance instead of returning to camp for lunch it was my arrangement to stay out and take packed lunches. They stated in the thread somewhere that in the event of breakdown (unlikely so they say...) then you would be put into another vehicle in the area - and there are many Sunny vehicles driving around until another would be arranged.

Certainly on the service I received from Sunny I was very impressed, emails were responded to very quickly.

But like a lot of people here I am still planning for next year so no decisions made just yet.

Take care

Matt

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Old Jul 4th, 2006, 01:10 PM
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Bill,

Sorry....misspelled in google. First listing.
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Old Jul 4th, 2006, 02:37 PM
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"Sorry....misspelled in google"

Here's an interesting thread on LT that also popped up on Google, with some general comments about the larger companies ... I chuckled when I read Andy's suggestion to ask for a guide who knows birds because in April we were on the side of the road photographing whydah birds doing a spectacular courtship dance when a Leopard Tour jeep stopped. The whydah looks pretty unique to me, about the size of a robin with a tail feathers as long as a pheasants, they seem to flutter in flight ... so we were really surprised when the LT guy asked our driver what kind of bird that was Our guy had just finished a trip for birders where they ID'ed over 440 species, which is pretty good ... anyway, this link has some good posts I feel ... http://www.aardvarktravel.net/chat/v...ic.php?t=12717

Our driver told me the best 25-30 Leopard Tour drivers were excellent, but they have > 120 jeeps ...

Bill
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Old Jul 4th, 2006, 02:59 PM
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When using a larger operator, I feel it helps to get a specific guide recommendation from former clients. In general, I think that the larger operators can't be as selective about their driver/guides. That's not to say you can't have a mediocre guide with a smaller operator. Without a specific recommendation, it all comes down to luck as to who you get assigned.

Not speaking from personal experience, just what Serah at ESS has told me, but from what I understand they try to work with a select pool of guides at Leopard Tours (because they're so large).
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Old Jul 5th, 2006, 05:53 AM
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Bill,

Good link.

Patty,

Does ESS use Leopard Tours as their main outfitter?

I guess the majority of the time....a good guide is the luck of the draw.
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Old Jul 5th, 2006, 06:05 AM
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In Tanzania, I believe they use one other outfitter primarily for camping safaris (believe it's Safarimakers, but not positive). Since you're not doing a camping safari, it's most likely they'll use Leopard.
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Old Jul 5th, 2006, 06:33 AM
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Decisions............decisions.

At least I have until the new rates for 2007 are published.

Anyone know when the approximate release dates are for the new 2007 season?

Also, have to book the airline, hopefully with miles.
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Old Jul 5th, 2006, 08:30 AM
  #33  
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2007 prices - hopefully, by mid-August.
 
Old Jul 5th, 2006, 09:58 AM
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One other note:

2006 and then 2007 prices.

Say you lock in a outfitter and then the 2007 prices come out and all of a sudden you have a 10-15% increase per person, others are saying it's only a 3% increase. I wonder if you are locked in at that point?

Would waiting until "August - 2007" pricing is available, diminish our chances of staying in the lodges/camps of our choice in June 2007?

Thanks.
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Old Jul 5th, 2006, 10:15 AM
  #35  
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If you're hoping to hold Crater Lodge and Kirawira, it's very likely you won't by waiting till August for 2007 prices. They're going to go up... how much, who knows.

Some word had Crater Lodge increasing almost $75-$100/person night.

If you want these two, then prepare for the worst (higher prices) and bite the bullet; send in your deposit. But first, verify with your outfitter that they do indeed have these on hold and for how long. CCA gets itchy when space is held and there's no money backing them up. Can disappear in a blink!

You'll be okay in holding the other properties, even with price increases.
 
Old Jul 5th, 2006, 10:33 AM
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Whether or not you're locked into that particular operator would depend, I think, on their cancellation policy and whether accomodation space at your choice of lodges is still available to other operators.

I don't know what happens if, for instance, you're holding confirmed space through one operator at a sold out lodge and for whatever reason want to change operators. Does anyone know if the lodge will release your confirmed room to the new operator or do you start over at the bottom of the waitlist? Is the room actually held in client's name or operator's name?

I recall another poster here had some customer service issues with the initial operator and decided to change operators and was able to get the confirmed bookings switched. However, I believe this was for a Southern Africa safari and I don't know how this works in East Africa.
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Old Jul 5th, 2006, 11:00 AM
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Here's the thread I was thinking of http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34798825
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Old Jul 5th, 2006, 11:05 AM
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Patty -

Recently had a similar situation. Client wanted to book with me but when we went to the lodge/camp/other, they already had booking in that client's name under another operator. Bear in mind the client had no idea this had been done and not by their TA, rather the ground outfitter the TA used.

The initial outfitter had to release the space to us before lodge would take our request; client had to contact the TA who had to contact the outfitter to release the space.
 
Old Jul 5th, 2006, 11:08 AM
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Thanks, sandi. Glad to hear that it can be done if necessary.
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Old Jul 5th, 2006, 11:20 AM
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I still have to wait for a couple weeks to see what opens in Northwest flights.

You cannot book until about 350 days.

We are right on the edge for booking. A couple weeks and I can give the deposit and hopefully get the locations requested.
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