Why Botswana?

Jul 8th, 2011, 08:32 AM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
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My sister had to have blood drawn for a test in Zanzibar, which is much less medically sophisticated than Botswana. They were careful to show her that they were opening a new syringe package so that she wasn't worried. I'm sure that Gabarone or the SA hospitals would be equally careful.
ShayTay is offline  
Jul 8th, 2011, 10:18 AM
  #42  
 
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I love it when I use boldface to emphasize my mitsakes.

The insurance outfit that hauls you back to the hospital of your choice is called Medjet Assist, not whatever I'd typed.
DonTopaz is offline  
Jul 10th, 2011, 08:17 AM
  #43  
 
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Diane, one other thing to ask your travel agent - emergency evacuation when it is dark. Most safari camps and lodges are in more remote locations and not sure if they have provisions for evacuation due to the lack of landing/take off facilities at the airstrips in the dark. Yet, check on this if it's a criteria .....

You will love Botswana .... i think, you go in with a positive mind and relax and enjoy the trip all will work out well. Good luck!!!!
HariS is offline  
Jul 10th, 2011, 09:10 AM
  #44  
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Thanks...must admit THAT is not something I had considered but will certainly add it to my ever-lengthening list...

I had thought about letting my thread peter out because you have all provided a ton of information for me to follow up.

H-o-w-e-v-e-r... while I have everyone "on the line" I'll ask about a couple of current (non-medical) personal topics if anyone is so inclined to address them:
1. FOOD: Are some of the camps and/or safari companies known to have better victuals than others?

2. DISCOUNT BUSINESS CLASS FARE operators: As I've been starting to check route possibilities (generally PDX > Europe before taking SAA to JNB or whether leaving from IAD or JFK makes more sense) I have encountered numerous links to sites that advertise anywhere from 20-60% off international business class fares. Does anyone have first-hand knowledge of the validity of these claims?

3.Until my Bradt guides arrive I've been playing around with various non-traditional safari operator packages...most recently SAAvacation.com which offer good prices on several permutations of travel to Batswanan (is that the correct adjective?) camps that include airfare. Anyone have experience with such packages?

4. Otherwise, my current thinking is researching four camps in which to spend 3-4 days each, ending with a houseboat trip on the Chobe and Victoria Falls.

Whew!! No wonder it takes a year to plan :-S
Diane
OregonMaiden is offline  
Jul 10th, 2011, 09:33 AM
  #45  
 
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Carrots 'n Carwash--love it!

Never thought about evac in the dark. Hari was your comment based on personal experience on South Africa? I recall something along those lines.

Food--very good at any reputable camp. Too good and then there are the sundowner snacks and treats at tea.

Could you post the SAA itinerary here for more comments.
atravelynn is offline  
Jul 10th, 2011, 10:14 AM
  #46  
 
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As for the business class fare question:

In the not-so-distant past, any legitimate business class fare was enormously more expensive than economy fares -- typically, if an economy rt to Europe cost $600, a business class rt might cost $7000 or $8000. Much of that has changed in the past few years. There are now ways to buy business class tickets (excluding frequent flyer award or award+cash tickets):

- Full fare business class: This is the traditional business class ticket -- fully flexible in terms of changing dates or canceling, and extremely expensive

- Discounted business class: This is a relatively new type of fare. It generally costs roughly half as much as full-fare business, but there are advance purchase requirements (usually 30-50 days), and the penalties for changing or canceling are severe. You can buy these fares directly from the airlines. Not all flights/routes will offer this fare.

- Consolidator business fares: These are discounted business fares offered by companies called consolidators. Many such companies are legitimate, others are not. Some consolidators sell directly to the public, while others will sell only through travel agents.

Don
DonTopaz is offline  
Jul 10th, 2011, 12:21 PM
  #47  
 
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SAA currently has a "two for one" special: http://flysaaspecials.com/air-only/SAA-BOGO/ I don't know if it would fit your schedule, but it might be worth looking at. I think you have to book by Friday, though.
ShayTay is offline  
Jul 10th, 2011, 12:29 PM
  #48  
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Hi again,
Atravelynn---did you mean the "Vacation" packages or the flight route? Assuming the former, here are four of the offerings (admittedly they do not spend a ton of time at any of the camps):
#1. The first is "Discover Botswana" from $5875 with Desert & Delta Safaris. It outlines two nights at each of the following camps:
Chobe Game Lodge
Savute Safari Lodge
Camp Okavango
Leroo La Tau in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
INCLUDES:
Round trip coach air on South African Airways from New York (JFK) or Washington (IAD) Airport to South Africa OR Tambo International Airport ~ Regional coach air in South Africa as per the itinerary (Johannesburg - Livingstone, Maun - Johannesburg) ~ Light aircraft flights (Kasane - Savute Safari - Camp Okavango - Leroo La Tau - Maun) ~ Accommodation as per the itinerary ~ Meals as per the itinerary (8 x breakfast, 8 x lunch, 8 x dinner) ~ All local drinks (South African wines & spirits) ~ All road transfers as per the itinerary ~ Scheduled safaris as per the itinerary ~ All game viewing and park fees while on safari in Botswana ~ laundry - Emergency medical evacuation insurance.

#2. "Unforgettable Botswana" from $6980:
2 nights Stanley's Camp
3 nights at Chief's Camp
1 night at Chobe Chilwero.
INCLUDES:
Round trip coach air on South African Airways from New York (JFK) or Washington(IAD) Airport to South Africa OR Tambo International Airport ~ Regional coach air in South Africa as per the itinerary (Johannesburg - Maun, Livingstone - Johannesburg) ~ Light aircraft flights (Maun - Sanctuary's Stanley's Camp - Chiefs Camp - Kasane) ~ Accommodation as per the itinerary ~ Meals as per the itinerary (6 x breakfast, 6 x lunch, 6 x dinner) ~ Teas, coffees and all local drinks at camps/lodges, with the exception of premium bands and champagne ~ All road transfers as per the itinerary (Boat & road transfer across border to Livingstone from Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero) ~ Scheduled safaris as per the itinerary ~ All game viewing and park fees while on safari in Botswana ~ laundry

#3. "Luxury Botswana" from $9505
2 nts. Baines Camp
3 nts. Chief's Camp
3 nts Chobe Chilwero
INCLUDES: Round trip coach air on South African Airways from New York (JFK) or Washington(IAD) Airport to South Africa OR Tambo International Airport ~ Regional coach air in South Africa as per the itinerary (Johannesburg - Maun, Livingstone - Johannesburg) ~ Light aircraft flights Maun - Baine's Camp - Chiefs Camp - Kasane - Livingstone ~ Accommodation as per the itinerary ~ Meals as per the itinerary (8 x breakfast, 8 x lunch, 8 x dinner) ~ Teas, coffees and all local drinks at camps/lodges, with the exception of premium bands and champagne ~ All road transfers as per the itinerary ~ Scheduled safaris as per the itinerary ~ All game viewing and park fees while on safari in Botswana ~ Elephant activity at Sanctuary Baines’ Camp ~ laundry

#4."Botswana Kaleidoscope" from $9145
2 nights Chitabe Camp
2 nights Little Vumbura
2 nights Duma Tau
2 nights Toka Leya

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Don thanks for the info...the most recent "links" that I ran into were along the lines of:
1. http://www.budgetbusinessclass.com/flight-search.php [lots of Africa]
2. http://www.cooktravel.net/
3. http://alphaflightguru.com/
4. http://www.1st-air.net/index.cfm [primarily Asian but includes So Africa]
Are these then consolidators?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sharon just saw your 2-for-1 SAA e-mail. I'll take a look but afraid we're not that close to finalizing ANYthing yet. Good to know offers like that exist. I have signed up for their newsletter.

Diane
OregonMaiden is offline  
Jul 10th, 2011, 01:18 PM
  #49  
 
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Diane, I don't know any of the sites you mentioned, but none are among some trusted consolidators that I'd use. (The first site I looked at had, under their "news" section, stuff dated 2008. That would concern me.) You should be aware that some web sites advertising low-cost business fares are using frequent flyer award tickets that they purchased from individuals who wanted to sell their FF miles. This isn't Illegal in the sense of violating any criminal laws, but it is against the airlines' rules. If you buy one of these tickets and try to use it, and if the airline discovers it, then you can and will be denied boarding. And the airline won't give you any money back; you'd have to chase the web site where you bought the ticket.

As for the packages you listed, the key word is almost surely the word "from" -- as in "Unforgettable Botswana" from $6980. That means that the price is $6980 in the low (rainy) season, and almost certainly much, much more when you actually do want to go.

Don
DonTopaz is offline  
Jul 10th, 2011, 01:43 PM
  #50  
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Thanks Don...guess the next logical consolidator-related question would be which are your "trusted consolidators"? ;-)

The good news is I just checked the Star Alliance award chart and it looks like we have enough miles to join the queue for Business Class tickets to JNB (once we figure out the plan, of course...)

Trusted consolidators would be a good back up plan though.
Diane
OregonMaiden is offline  
Jul 10th, 2011, 05:21 PM
  #51  
 
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That's definitely the way to go. I save up my miles and go Business Class when I can. You can book up to 330 days in advance, although seats sometimes come available later on. I've heard of people booking their outgoing flight with a return date just a day or two later, then paying the rebooking fee to move out the return flight to the actual date they want on the first day it's available... anyone tried that? I've found that if I wait until 330 days before my return flight, the outgoing flights can be full. I've also had the situation where I could only get Business Class for some, but not all legs of the trip. I took what I could get, then kept calling. Eventually, I got all legs booked in Business Class.
ShayTay is offline  
Jul 11th, 2011, 01:23 AM
  #52  
 
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The "330 days" thing is something of a myth. Although some award seats for some airlines do become available at that time, the majority of award seats becomes available at other times. Some airlines, including some of the best choices for getting to JNB, make award seats available as much as 360 days before flight date.

Diane, please feel free to contact me off-line if you want (contact info is in my profile).

Don
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Jul 11th, 2011, 06:35 AM
  #53  
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Good morning folks,

Don, thanks for the offline invite---I may indeed take advantage once the trip specifics are more in mind.

To both you and Sharon: it seems like there is a link SOMEwhere that easily counts "days backward" to help us on the days we're feeling too lazy to add up all the months. Does that sound at all familiar?

Also I've never been clear on whether the day I want to fly is the 330th or 331st day...
Diane
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Jul 11th, 2011, 08:18 AM
  #54  
 
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Don, I'd be interested in knowing what airlines release seats for sale or as awards at 360 days. Could you share that info? As I noted earlier, I agree that award seats are released by the airlines after that 330-day window, depending on how their sales are going. To get on the KLM flight to JRO, for example, you usually have to grab the seats early, as the plane usually sells out. For JNB, you have more choices and a better chance of getting there with award miles. Diane, my Dayrunner calendar has, for each day, how many days to the beginning and end of the year. Perhaps something like that would work for you to help count the days.
ShayTay is offline  
Jul 11th, 2011, 09:08 AM
  #55  
 
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FWIW, here is a countdown clock. Gives days, hours, min, sec from now until whenever. You can punch in a date, like June 6, 2012 (then hit return key) and see that it is 330 days out. http://www.7is7.com/otto/countdown.html

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jul 11th, 2011, 09:41 AM
  #56  
 
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Lufthansa releases award seats 360 or 361 days in advance, and of course that includes Swiss, LOT, and other integrated partners. BA opens them up 355 in advance.

Getting business & first seats on overseas flights is an intriguing art. When you're trying to arrange complex itineraries that involve multiple intercontinental flights -- RTWs, or most itineraries between the US and Africa -- the difficulties and considerations increase geometrically. Someone with little or no experience at arranging premium-class award travel (and I'm not directing this at the OP) is going to have a bear of a time scoring RT bus or first tickets to Africa for the dates they want. There are just too few seats available, and too many tricks and strategies (and pitfalls!) they they haven't yet learned.

Don
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Jul 11th, 2011, 09:56 AM
  #57  
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No offense taken Don What isn't clear about, for example, Lufthansa releasing seats earlier than United, will United Mileage + members be able to access them at that time or have to wait until United's 330 day window materializes?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For people that prefer to go forward and add days--- I did just track down this site where you can add whatever number of days you wish and come up with a theoretical travel date.

http://www.timeanddate.com/date/dateadd.html
Diane
OregonMaiden is offline  
Jul 11th, 2011, 11:02 AM
  #58  
 
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This has turned into an inch-by-inch progression, and I don't get the sense that I'm contributing to a goal being reached. I'll leave this to others to continue. Cheers,
DonTopaz is offline  
Jul 11th, 2011, 04:28 PM
  #59  
 
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Thanks for your input, anyway, Don. I know that one Fodorite is on the phone right now with Delta trying to get a ticket to Africa later this year. The agent has been working it for over an hour. If you can get an agent like that, you might be in luck!
ShayTay is offline  
Jul 12th, 2011, 03:38 PM
  #60  
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As a closing note before ending this thread I wanted to say one final thanks for the all the help you provided.

My Botswana Bradt guide arrived this afternoon (yay!!), so my next step is to delve into possible itineraries and safari operators incorporating lots of your advice and ideas.

My apologies if I prolonged the exchange unnecessarily. After I get a handle on specifics, stay tuned for my "Botswana: Take 2."

I'll sign off for now with gratitude and affection for the wonderful world of travel and Fodor travelers.
Over 'n out...
Diane
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