Seeking Safari Advice

Old Feb 7th, 2020, 12:52 PM
  #101  
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sf7307: all flights are on Qatar Airlines, except for the one flight that is wholly within the U.S. (I'll start from Nashville, where I'll be working. The flight from Nashville to Miami will be on AA.)

I reached out to Wayne at Game Watchers (Tom was the Safari planner at Chalo) and he sent quite a bit of info re: insurance. I need to digest it. The insurance info is requested with the booking, which must be accompanied by the deposit.
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Old Feb 7th, 2020, 04:27 PM
  #102  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I’ve never heard of travel insurance as a requirement to book a safari; no operator can make you get it. Usually the only time-constraint around buying it is if you want to have pre-existing conditions covered, you have to get the insurance within a certain number of days of putting the deposit down, like 10-14 days. If you don’t care about the pre-existing conditions you can get the insurance any time.
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Old Feb 7th, 2020, 05:26 PM
  #103  
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amyb: I think you're right. They request the info, but it doesn't say you can't book the trip w/o it. Still ... I want it DONE! I hope to sort through all the insurance info over the weekend. Planning this safari (and three domestic trips) has seriously been a full-time job for two weeks. I need to get to work to pay for it!

FYI, I was able to book a later departing flight, so I don't need to stay at the Eka the night before my departure. I'm probably going to add that night at the Eka to the beginning, since I'll arrive so late after such a very long trip.

I can't thank you all enough for your help!
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Old Feb 7th, 2020, 10:16 PM
  #104  
 
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Qatar Business Class was great when I flew it a year ago, with excellent service and food. There's a good chance you will have the new QSuites on at least one of your fights with them. Lucky!!! The enormous Business Lounge at Doha Airport is a "trip" within a trip! Hurray to starting and ending this journey in comfort and style!

Ah (or ugh)...the ins and outs of travel insurance! A few points in addition to excellent ones made in all above replies:

1. As mentioned above by AmyB, check the insuremytrip website. There are informative FAQs about travel insurance. If you want to proceed with insuremytrip(I've used their service five times) you can do the comparison chart but in any case, please, please phone them!! They are on the East Coast but reps answer weekdays until midnight East Coast time, 'til 9 pm weekends. I always phone because no matter how many times I use travel insurance ( i.e. every time leaving the USA) I have questions. Nearly all their reps are patient and clear with explanations, and they know variations on policies. They can help find the best policy based your needs. A few general examples: Do you have a chronically ill family member? Did you or your travel partner have surgery in the last month? Does your own health insurance cover overseas expenses? (Perhaps you already have Medicare, but it by itself does not cover out of USA.) As AmyB noted, there are time limits for purchasing if you'd like pre- existing conditions (of you or your family back home) covered.

2. Note the many surprising exclusions on travel insurance. For example, despite the current US State Dep't Level 4 warning to avoid travel to China, most policies are not covering the nonrefundable costs of tours, hotel, or fees for cancelled flights!! )-: I 'd incorrectly assumed they would be covered..until this happened to a friend who had to cancel a trip. Only "CFAR" (cancel for any reason)insurance would cover this, and even that has limitations, with only a % (e.g 75% ) total refundable costs paid back. These are the kinds of details a good agent can explain by phone. IF you decide on CFAR, iirc it must be purchased within 10-14 days of your initial trip-related booking, including the booking of your first flight.

3 .Amidst all this travel insurance info (can you tell it makes me nuts?) here's the good news: this may be easier than you 're anticipating, and cost nothing, assuming the credit card you use for booking all the upcoming trip costs includes insurance as a benefit. E.g. Chase Sapphire or many of the American Airlines co-branded cards have good policies. But first, speak to or read insuremytrip or other travel insurance sites so you know you're getting '"apples and apples." Different credit cards have different affiliated insurance companies. The main c.c number can connect you to the associated insurance department.

This information is to the best of my recollection, and recent stories from pals, but I can't stress enough that there are numerous variations.

Good luck dealing with this over the weekend, Songdoc! A hui hou (on Fodors)!




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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 10:04 AM
  #105  
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Here's the update:

Everything is booked!!!
We worked with Wayne at Gamewatchers and he's been great.
Departing 9/11

2 nights at Eka Hotel (we arrive close to midnight) includes a private driver for 8 hours, during which we visit the elephant orphanage & giraffe center
2 nights at Nairobi Tented Camp
3 nights Porini Amboseli Camp
3 nights Porini Rhino Camp
3 nights Porini Lion Camp)


We live on Kauai, but will begin our trip from Nashville, where we will be working and visiting family.
We'll fly Nashville to Miami w/a 9-hour daytime layover; Miami to Doha (14 hours); (1:45 layover) Doha to Nairobi (5 hrs & 45 min.)

Return Nairobi to Doha (5:45); Doha to LAX (16 hours!); and on a separate ticket TBD (because I didn't have enough FF miles to get us all the way back to Kauai) LAX to Kauai

In what feels like a miracle we were able to book business class flights using 300k AA FF miles. All of the long legs (Miami to Doha, Qatar -- and Doha to LAX) will in Qatar airlines' Q-Suites. One of the DOH to Nairobi flights will also be in a Q-Suite.

On the way back we will have 9 hours overnight at DOH and will stay at the hotel that's in the airport (and does not require going through customs/security).

Insurance was booked through WorldNomads (at a $300 total -- which was a lower rate than some others with similar coverage).

Booking everything felt like a full-time job. Thank you all SOOO much for your help. I don't know how I could have done this w/o your suggestions and guidance!
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 11:48 AM
  #106  
 
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This is great news songdoc! Congratulations!! It'll be here before you know it!
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 11:54 AM
  #107  
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Thanks, amyb. Thanks to you, we'll be flying between the camps.
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 04:43 PM
  #108  
 
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Fantastic!

We’ve decided to make our trip in late Aprilor early May of 2021. We’re starting planning now.in part because we also want to try to use miles for business class flights and in part because we’re goi g with one or two other couples, which obviously requires some coordination.
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 01:22 AM
  #109  
 
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Congratulations, Songdoc! What an achievement You'll love Qatar Airlines and you'll ***LOVE***Kenya! Glad to hear you're happy with the booking process via Gamewatchers.
Now you can relax a bit and prepare for Zion!
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 09:25 PM
  #110  
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CaliNurse: Thanks!

<Now you can relax a bit and prepare for Zion!>

... and Los Angeles, Vancouver/British Columbia, the Big Island, and Nashville (twice). (All work-related)

sf7307: Good luck planning. I'm glad my planning is OVER!


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Old Feb 18th, 2020, 07:41 AM
  #111  
 
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Originally Posted by Songdoc View Post
CaliNurse: Thanks!

<Now you can relax a bit and prepare for Zion!>

... and Los Angeles, Vancouver/British Columbia, the Big Island, and Nashville (twice). (All work-related)

sf7307: Good luck planning. I'm glad my planning is OVER!
i will be too! Some people love the planning part - I find it soooo tedious. We might go to India first, but if we do, itíll be on a package tour (never done before except for trekking).
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Old Feb 18th, 2020, 09:40 AM
  #112  
 
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Originally Posted by sf7307 View Post
i will be too! Some people love the planning part - I find it soooo tedious. We might go to India first, but if we do, itíll be on a package tour (never done before except for trekking).
I LOVE the planning part!! All the options, all the decisions, crafting the perfect trip! I feel like once that's done all that's left is waiting and that's no fun!
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Old Feb 18th, 2020, 10:46 AM
  #113  
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No matter how much I do it, I get stressed and anxious when I'm planning. I think I want to be sure I've got the "perfect" itinerary; the "perfect" flights and places to stay, etc ... and all at the best possible price! The idea that so much of it is nonrefundable (or would invoke penalties if revised or cancelled) makes me nuts!

The reality is that for many years I visited (7) countries a year -- mostly related to work -- and I NEVER had a disaster or even regretted my choices.
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Old Feb 18th, 2020, 02:25 PM
  #114  
 
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Songdoc, I too have those anxieties. And at this stage of my life, I choose to let someone else do the planning.

Likely going on a trip to S Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe with our college alumni association. They do all the planning, luggage toting, tipping, and headaches.

Not better, just more comfortable for us.

Enjoy your trip, and give us a trip report
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Old Feb 20th, 2020, 02:22 PM
  #115  
 
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Coming in at the end of your process to say that I hope you have a wonderful time! I have been on safari in Kenya twice (Masai Mara and neighboring conservancy) and loved both experiences. We have also experienced Nairobi National Park. And we just returned from South Africa, mixing some business with pleasure. The pleasure was going on safari at two different places: Welgevonden and the Sabi Sands area. I will share trip reports eventually.

Enjoy!
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Old Feb 20th, 2020, 02:49 PM
  #116  
 
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Coming back to say that we have booked trip insurance when doing safaris and river cruises. Purchasing as you plan the trip can make it feasible to get the "cancel for any reason" option, too. We have not ever had to make a claim but know people who have had to cancel a trip at the last minute.

My one other tip is to make sure you have essentials packed in a carry-on bag and if traveling with someone else, pack some clothing in each other's checked luggage. I have had a suitcase arrive a day late in Nairobi and a day late for a river cruise. Not fun! And I highly recommend purchasing a Tilley hat or some other hat that protects from sun and rain.
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Old Feb 20th, 2020, 04:14 PM
  #117  
 
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songdoc, I am so excited for you that you've been able to get great flights and a great itinerary! I look forward to the trip report!
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Old Feb 20th, 2020, 05:30 PM
  #118  
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Thanks so much for all the comments and suggestions!

rncheryl: in some ways, having someone else do all the planning sounds like bliss. But I'm too much of a control freak!

sapphire: I am a dedicated "carry-on ONLY" traveler and DH and I do indeed split our belongings into each others' bags. I learned how little I truly need when I showed up in a foreign country -- and my luggage did not. That was about 30 years ago -- and I'm still waiting for lit to arrive. ;-). I learned how little I really needed.

My greatest achievement: 4 days in Rome followed by a 10-nt. cruise to Croatia and the Greek Isles ... with only a carry-on bag (that included one outfit for "formal" night.) But I acknowledge that it's much easier for a man--especially one who doesn't care much about clothes, and doesn't mind rinsing things out in a sink.

One more thing ...
I mentioned that I get stressed about the idea that once I click the button I'm locked in...
Well ... yesterday I was invited to work for two weeks in Norway -- the exact dates of my safari! ARGGHH!
The good news is that I have worked there many times before and I have been able to agree to an alternate date. The bad news is that instead of September the new dates will be in Feb. 2021, when it will be freezing and dark much of the time. The good news is that I will likely work in both Oslo and Tromso. Tromso is sort of Norway's capitol for the Northern Lights. The last time I was there, I spent a short time in Tromso -- and it snowed. No Northern Lights! But over the course of a week next Feb.

I thought about rescheduling the safari, but the Feb. date in Norway will will be perfect with another commitment in Europe, so I'm leaving it as is.
I like my crazy life!
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