TAGA Safaris

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Aug 3rd, 2005, 06:54 AM
  #61
 
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I must be in the very distinct minority because I tend to do research and then solicit advice from what I've determined to be the best operator. For example, in May 2005 I traveled to Madagascar, and I only contacted Cortez Travel. In August 2003, I visited Uganda and Rwanda and I only contacted Volcanoes Safaris. In August 2002, I visited Namibia and I only contacted Cardboard Box. In August 2001, I visited Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi and I only contacted Taga.

Before that, including my visit to South Africa in May 2000, I did send very general emails to a few operators (more in the nature of can you help and how quickly can you respond -- not detailed queries that would require effort on their part).

Fortunately, none of the operators I contacted let me down, but if they had been slow or given bad advice, I would have went elsewhere.

Maybe I'm not as price conscious and try to skim the last Rand from an operator, but that doesn't mean I'm profligate and I don't want to overspend, but I believe in paying for service and I believe that I shouldn't ask several operators to spend an hour of their time planning and pricing an itinerary.

I also think, and maybe this should be in a separate thread, that prior to posting a negative review of an operator, Taga or anyone else, that you should contact the operator and seek an explanation. For us, safaris are vacations -- for the operators, safaris are their livelihood and a lot of damage can be done from a negative post (even one that is subsequently corrected in an apology, like the one from matnikstym).

I also think that with respect to longstanding operators, like Taga, Roy's and others who have received some negative feedback, you should solicit their explanation prior to posting because they have earned their reputations by providing excellent service -- if not, they would have closed a long time ago. If you had a bad experience, it may have been an exception, rather than the rule, and some restraint should be shown before publicly complaining.

Michael
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 06:55 AM
  #62
bwanamitch
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I had the problems with both, Chris and one of his staff. And I also had the impression that they are a little un-organized and that their information exchange in the office isn't the best.

In my case contacting several agents is not the best approach. I have a lot of very specific questions before the final itinerary evolved, and I fully understand that some of the agents would charge you for this work (like TAGA above).

Mitch
 
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 07:09 AM
  #63
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I have written to Mark expressing my concern at his approach -I haven't received anything back from him.

Michael, I fully understand that this is their business and I don't think I expect hours of work with no commitment, which is why I don't get into detailed itinerary planning and requests until I have selected an operator to work with. However when I am at the stage of deciding who to work with I do like to get some sort of initial response from an operator which is a bit more than pointing me to their website. Maybe I should have stopped with TAGA after their first response (which was a one-line e-mail and a couple of web page links)but I guess I was hoping for the exceptional service that has been quoted previously here and so did respond with some further questions.

An initial interchange on location and itinerary is the way I get a feel for whether an operator is responsive / knowledgeable and this is important to me before I commit to them. If TAGA did not want to work this way i feel they could have handled it in a much better way than they did, that's all.

I'm going to leave it at this and spend time instead on planning the next trip.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 07:57 AM
  #64
 
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Michael, it's great that your approach has successfully allowed you to identify the right operator before any correspondence.

I have not found that approach successful for me.

However neither would I ask or expect several operators to put in significant time for me.

My approach varies but for the last Southern Africa trip I approached 3 operators and was able to narrow to two very quickly indeed. I was clear from the start and until I made my final choice that I was still talking to two agencies.

For the Eastern Africa trip I will likely send some very basic requests to several operators to try and get a feel for what they can do for me. Before getting into any real detail I'll narrow it down to just two or three from whom I may request actual quotes for real itineraries. I will do most of the research myself so this will not involve hours and hours of work for each one. As soon as I have enough information on which to make a decision I'll narrow down to a single operator.

I would certainly not send repeated, detailed queries to more than a very few.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 08:25 AM
  #65
 
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I've been lucky, but that also has to with visiting Madagascar, Uganda and Rwanda recently, and there aren't that many operators. There tend to be a few and only the fittest survive.

I realize there are a lot more for Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa. I don't think its unfair, so long as you're open about it, to send inquiries to several operators, but we just need to bear in mind that substantial work goes into planning an itinerary -- its not like going to Orbitz and booking a ticket from JFK to LHR and getting hotel reservations.

It would be great if the safari lodges were on-line so we could see availability and rates, but unfortunately, that's not the case, hence the need for an operator.

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Aug 3rd, 2005, 08:40 AM
  #66
bwanamitch
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I think the problem are not the camp and lodges (most of them have websites and contact details), the main problem are the transfers. What is the best transfer option? Where and when is a road transfer available? Where are the air charters flying? et cetera.

This is why you need (and pay) an agent.

Mitch
 
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 10:08 AM
  #67
 
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As to the original question, I think it depends on what you are asking for. I certainly would not send out a query to multiple operators saying, "I'm thinking of going to _, design me an itinerary." What I do think it's fair to ask is "What would your price be for the following itinerary?" If they say they will not even price it without charging you, forget it, that's ridiculous. There are plenty of other operators out there who will be more than happy to price it and try to get your business.

If someone is too busy or unwilling to respond to a request, I just cross them off my list and move on, and am thankful to learn this upfront before there's any harm done, rather than finding it out the hard way later.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:58 AM
  #68
 
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Lisa
Exactly! My intentions are to right to a number of operators who have interesting itineraries on their website but absolutely no indication of prices. I'll ask them for price indications on those itineraries plus I may also I'll design (on my own) a draft itinerary, which may not be what I finally do, and ask them to quote/ comment on that. That shouldn't take too long as there won't be any designing of the itinerary to do, and will give me enough of an idea of their prices AND their responsiveness to narrow my list down to just a couple. Those couple I will ask a bit more of but I will, as I have always done in the past, make it clear to them that I am still dealing with 2 operators.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:00 PM
  #69
 
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OK, now I'm seriously starting to wonder about my brain cells leaking away. Time was that I would never confuse right and write, my brain would subconsiously pick the right one! Sigh.... guess those days are gone.

While I'm at it, Mitch, I agree. If one could find out all the information and prices one needed without operators/ agents one wouldn't need to ask them much, just get their quotes or book directly. But given the (perfectly understandable) tendency to keep exact costs and so on hidden, the only option is to make enquiries.
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Aug 4th, 2005, 01:46 AM
  #70
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Just to say that I have received a very nice e-mail from Mark this morning & will now put this whole experience behind me.
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Aug 4th, 2005, 08:33 AM
  #71
 
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Really? When you say put it behind you, do you mean move on and forget about Taga, or do you mean you are working with them again? (If you mean the latter, that must've been some e-mail!)
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Aug 4th, 2005, 08:49 AM
  #72
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Lisa,
We're already progressing discussions on an itinerary for next year with someone else so I wouldn't now switch to TAGA.

Would I contact them again - maybe, because I can see that they have provided exceptionally good service to other people; on the other hand, if I feel that the operators that I have worked with in the past can offer what I'm looking for then maybe not.

and maybe TAGA wouldn't want to work with me!

That's my absolute last post on this subject - I just wanted to be fair to Mark and provide the update above that he had sent me a very nice e-mail.
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Feb 7th, 2006, 10:04 AM
  #73
 
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Hi,
I recently contacted Taga about a 2006 safari to Namibia and Botswana and had a couple of email exchanges with Sherise in which we each asked and answered some quick questions.
I'm traveling alone and do not want a private or custom safari and I mentioned two trips from their website that interested me, told her my itinerary and dates were flexible, and asked her to give me a general idea of what was doable and the best time to go.
She replied with a specific dated itinerary, which included neither of the trips I had mentioned, and had an overnight in Maun between trips at the cost of $665. She also did not answer a number of my questions.
I wrote back and said the $665 overnight was not acceptable and asked when the 2006 dates would be posted so that I could do my own planning from their website and then contact her with specifics. That was more than a month ago and I never heard back.
This was a big turnoff to me. I felt she expected me to accept the first thing she threw at me, even when it did not conform to what I requested. This seems pretty unreasonable, particularly when it just involves combining some pre-set itineraries. I even told her I'd do the work myself and she did not even bother responding to my request for the dates.
So now I'm searching for another southern Africa safari operator.
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Feb 7th, 2006, 10:18 AM
  #74
 
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Many of you seem to be experienced safari goers. I'm planning my first safari and want to go to Namibia, SA, and Botswana, in that order of preference, for about three weeks, give or take.
I want to experience luxury tented camps, but not necessarily for the whole trip. I don't mind basics for a couple of nights. I'm traveling alone and will therefore need to take scheduled departures.
Does anyone have any suggestions or advice?
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Apr 18th, 2012, 03:31 PM
  #75
 
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Just another thread that does not speak highly of Mark or Taga Safaris. I see Mark got in a Backlink for no apparent reason.
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May 25th, 2012, 09:56 AM
  #76
 
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This post really does go back many years but I am excited to say that right now as I write I have guests on Safari at Arathusa Game Reserve and then are going to Cape Town and Selwyn Davidowitz will be doing their tours.

Yours on Safari
Mark
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May 26th, 2012, 06:53 AM
  #77
 
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I realize it must be months since your travel agency has had a booking and you had a need to tell the world. We don't care. Your post has no relevancy to the thread.
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May 26th, 2012, 09:40 AM
  #78
 
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Oh My
Seems like luangwablondes is a complete idiot and Fodors cannot pick up on this. Just goes to show the verity of this Forum.
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May 26th, 2012, 10:13 AM
  #79
 
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Mark
Nearly all the rest of the Travel Agents follow forum rules regarding self promotion. You couldn't do it several years ago and now you are doing it again. Have you missed the fact that many of your posts have been deleted by moderators?
I won't touch that name calling issue of yours.
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May 27th, 2012, 09:48 AM
  #80
 
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Luangwe blondes
You have a point and I admit I have violated these rules. Maybe I will just have another Mosi and kill off those dead brain cells. I sent you an email so do respond.
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