south africa-based tour operator for high-end safari

Jan 29th, 2003, 11:29 AM
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south africa-based tour operator for high-end safari

looking for an SA-based alternative to A&K or the expensive U.S. guys. must have access to the high-end properties in south africa or botswana. anyone have suggestions? cheers
jr98 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2003, 02:47 PM
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I went on a high end safari (Wilderness Safaris properties) last year, and I booked through Johannesburg-based Taga Safaris. Mark is well informed and put together a great trip. Check out their website, and if you contact them, please mention that Michael from NY suggested them; not sure if this mention will help you, but it may help me.
thit_cho is offline  
Jan 30th, 2003, 06:14 AM
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Just out of curiosity, after you contact the SA agent, contact Bert at Fish Eagle Safaris, [email protected]. I too contacted an agent in J'Burg, and I found that Bert gave me a much better deal plus I could put it on a credit card in case I needed that later. With the SA agents you have to wire cash in advance and that's a lot hanging out there on faith. If something goes wrong who can you go back to from here? Anyway I found out more by talking to Bert, and got more information that I would not have had on email.
High-end properties in SA are expensive no matter who you go to. It really gets down to the details and you need a detail oriented agent to work with.
Just my opinion. We are going in mid-April to Botswana/Namibia, and I simply cannot believe it all got put together so wonderfully. Liz
Jan 30th, 2003, 11:52 AM
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One correction to Liz's post. Not all SA agents require cash; in fact, one of the reasons that I have booked twice through Taga was b/c they accepted credit card.

That being said, of course try both, or more. I also shopped around, and finally found an operator I thought was fair, informed and affordable. But I certainly wouldn't have made that decision based only on a survey of one operator.
thit_cho is offline  
Jan 30th, 2003, 12:31 PM
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I have just booked a trip to Namibia & Botswana through Aura at (Greenlife Southern Africa). They are based in Cape Town and I have been happy working with them. I contacted the references they gave me and one of their clients happens to be a friend of a friend. He had a great safari using He had a small problem develop while on safari and since e-gnu was "local" it was handled quickly and easily whereas if he had used a US- based operator this may not have been the case. We are doing a private winged safari in Namibia for 9 days, staying at Wilderness Safari camps, and 3 days in Botswana at a WS camp. 12 days for US$10,000+ so it better be high end. By the way, they are just now accepting credit cards - I gave them an AmEx. Oh, and I contacted Bert at Fish Eagle as Liz recommends. He would have been great to work with - very learned and helpful. But his price was not that different and I rather preferred using someone in SA. Since I had invested a bit of time with Aura, I felt she deserved my business. My trip starts in late March so we'll see how I feel afterwards.
Good luck!
Mary is offline  
Jan 30th, 2003, 05:38 PM
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Used Wilderness Safari on trip last May - awesome experience. DEFINITELY go to Xigera Camp in the Okavango Delta - fly in on 'bush-plane' stay in tented cabins with elevated walkways - baboons scurrying everywhere. Saw elephants, giraffes, a lioness, hyenas, and tons of other game... Highly recommended
hightide is offline  
Jan 31st, 2003, 08:00 AM
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Here's one for you:

I have been looking for the same thing, and came across the actual ground operators used by all of the American "safari" tour companies..

CC Africa aka Afro Ventures has a ton of safari options available. My personal favorite is the tented safari on horseback across Botswana. I think that is awesome!!!
Check them out.

Karibu is also a well known company with a lot of safari options
and resonably priced.

Also try Penduka.

IngridG is offline  
Feb 8th, 2003, 05:19 PM
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Not to be inflammatory, but I don't even see the point of using a "high end safari operator." Once you are at the game lodges, you are in good hands and will be completely occupied by your EARLY morning game drive, breakfast, likely nap, massage or dip in the pool, lunch, afternoon/early game drive and a dinner that will likely last until 10PM if you have interesting other guests that you are enjoying a nice bottle of wine with and talking about the days incredible events. And then, you will begin the whole process over again!!!
In Cape Town and Johannesburg, there are many tour operators that will show you around. I went last year on a budget trip that I bought on and while I upgraded all the way to Singita (from the Kruger Rest Camp) and Table Bay Hotel (from Cape Manor Hotel), I left my tours alone and they were great.
Also, if you want to have a little fun, while in Cape Town and want a free tour, call a real estate agent and have them show you some of Cape Town's fine and very inexpensive properties. A little cheap entertainment!!! My wife and I were very serious, however, and even made an offer on a 15000 square foot plot of land in a gated community in Hout Bay. However, it took the owner weeks before he accepted the offer and by then the Rand went all the way from 12 to below 11, so we bowed out.
I just don't see what the benefit would be from having a high end tour operator, unless there was a language barrier or some other similar obstacle.
With the proper research, you can put together an incredible trip all on your own to South Africa. Good luck.
Roccco is offline  
Feb 9th, 2003, 12:44 AM
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Hi Roccco

When one works in the tour industry there are 2 sayings that prop up all the time viz:

"What the eye does not see the heart does not yearn for" and "ignorance is bliss"

When you write "Also, if you want to have a little fun, while in Cape Town and want a free tour, call a real estate agent and have them show you some of Cape Town's fine and very inexpensive properties" your statement falls slap bang into the category of these two sayings, What more can I say than relative to your fantastic normal advice this time in my opinion its a case of oops you blew it! ).

While I fully agree with you that one definitely does not need a high end operator to do safaris your above advice is way off target when it comes to Cape Town. It takes the best part of 5 days to see Cape Town qualitatively and correctly and I say this as qualified Cape Town tourism professional. To advise anybody, other than those who are purchasing houses, to waste a half day or even a full day of their time by walking around Cape Town with an estate agent showing you houses is such bad advice that I simply have to counteract it in strong tones. Even if it means that the visitor to Cape Town spends time enjoying other events in the city on his or her own this would be a btter option that travelling from house to house with an estate agent who inevitably knows nothing other than this house from that house and will probably tell you that South Africa was discovered by the Spanish in 1492.

With the above said I strongly advise that visitors to my city do not take up this option.

Selwyn Davidowitz
[email protected]

Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Feb 9th, 2003, 01:30 AM
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Let me further qualify my prior statements by letting it be known that I was in Cape Town for eight nights (four nights at Table Bay and four nights at Mount Nelson, prior to Vic Falls and after Vic Falls). Therefore, I had the luxury of time, while others may not. It wasn't designed like that but I got stuck an extra day in Zimbabwe and my wife and I didn't want to take off driving with one less day to explore upon our return to Cape Town.
Anyhow, let me also state that I had some great tours with Rennies Travel through the original tour that I purchased from While I doubt that any of my guides had your expertise, all were very friendly, knew a lot more than I did, or shall we say the basics, and took us to places that we would not have found on our own. Just the same, the only tour that I thought was invaluable in Cape Town was an all day (10 hour+) tour of Cape Point and Cape Town. Other tours included a tour of the Muslim Bo-Kaap section, a trip up to the top of Table Bay, that my wife and I could have done on our own, and we decided to skip an already paid for trip to the Cape Flats section.
Some of the best times we had was just having our private drivers from the Mount Nelson Hotel show us around the city. And, one thing that spending time with the realtors did, was allow us to really see where and how Capetonians (at least well to do Capetonians) actually lived and to learn more than how much souvenirs cost.
How many tourists realize how expensive the interest rates in South Africa are. How many realize how INEXPENSIVE property values are, especially when we were there and the Rand was as devalued as 12 Rand to 1 USD.
We were able to talk to real people and get their seemingly honest opinions on South African life, culture and politics, that we would not have received if we were with a group of other tourists being led around on a leash by a tour guide.
One of the best afternoons we spent was with a realtor who brought her boisterous little dog with us and when the afternoon dragged on we even had to make an emergency stop at the veterenarian so this diabetic little chap could get his insulin shot. But not before we had to pick up the domestic helper from her house to assist with the dog. Most people probably wouldn't like that, but to my wife and I this was real life.
By going solo we were able to explore the non-touristy area behind the Mount Nelson and even did a couple spinning (cycling) classes at the gym in the little mall there. We did plenty of grocery shopping and saw just how inexpensive the cost of living is, at least when you have US Dollars.
We went to the major mall, Century City, one day and ate side by side in the food court with a shocking number of Muslim Capetonians, most of the women with their full "burkas" (?)(headdresses or face covers).
All these experiences, comfortable and uncomfortable, made my wife and I fall in love with your wonderful city. Cape Town just has such a wonderful pulse to it that I cannot even describe. I live in a city, Los Angeles, that has nothing but transplanted people from other parts of the U.S. and other parts of the world, yet there is no place that I would rather be than Cape Town (and I have traveled the world extensively). Only through experiencing Cape Town mostly on my own was I able to reach such a conclusion, although until I can build up a nest egg (I am 31 years old) I will have to limit Cape Town to hopefully annual or semi-annual visits.
Roccco is offline  
Feb 9th, 2003, 02:37 AM
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Hi Roccco,

I am very happy to hear that you obviously enjoyed my city and moreso that you saw what it truly offers only because of the way that you visited us inclusive of the fact that you had 8 days to do this.

I must get my plug in here by saying that with the above said any GOOD tourguide would have saved you a fortune in time (but not in money) ) as you would have been able to have achieved all of the above (other than the estate agent) ) in 4 days.

Another important point is that fact that you would not have made the statement that you made in your mail viz:
We went to the major mall, Century City, one day and ate side by side in the food court with a shocking number of Muslim Capetonians, most of the women with their full "burkas" (?) (headdresses or face covers). I say this because any respectable tourguide would have made you aware of the fact that 29% of Capetonians are Muslim and with that said the amount of Muslims around you would have made up a normal total of surrounding patrons and not a "shocking" one at that.

Come back Roccco for as you can see there still is much to learn about my great city. )

Save up my friend and visit us once again in the near future.

Selwyn Davidowitz
[email protected]
Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Feb 9th, 2003, 08:35 AM
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I did in Kenya, what Rocco did in South Africa. My first trip was as a tourist, my second trip was on my own with thoughts of moving there. This was in 1985 as I recall. The two trips were as different as night and day. The first completely pleasurable, the second purely frustrating. Fortunately the move didn't come off and I could have really enjoyed that time had I not spent the money getting to know the intimate Nairobi. I learned a lot but not things I needed to know. It isn't practical to move to Africa. Make your money at home and use it to travel on pleasure. Hire guides to really see nice things about the country and to learn more. I have also been a Realtor and believe me, I'd get so mad when someone tried to use me as a tour guide that I can tell you it isn't an enjoyable experience for either party. They find out real fast and there you will sit at your hotel.
I agree wholeheartedly with Selwyn on this. I love Rocco and love to read his posts, but not everything he does works for the average tourist. Rocco is quite clever and has a lot more money than I do. I must make every day count when I'm on vacation.
I don't want to get anyone mad at me, but I too did that with an honest intent to really move for a few years and it really is not a good idea. Liz
Feb 9th, 2003, 05:04 PM
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Posts: 5,553
I don't have money, just a lot of debt!!!
Roccco is offline  

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