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Safaris 101 #6421
01/22/2008 05:22 PM
01/22/2008 05:22 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 364
Close to the water as possible
Flotsam Offline OP
Traveler
Flotsam  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 364
Close to the water as possible
I've been asked by a friend who is not internet savvy to help him plan an African safari for him and his wife. The trip is going to be primarily funded by award for 20 years of service, and they can add dollars to the award amount, so price is not particularly critical. Having never been to Africa however, I have no personal experience to bring, so I thought I'd go to the experts here at TTOL. Here are a few preferences they do have, then some questions.

They want to keep the duration to about a week, no 14 day marathons.

I know they like nicer accommodations etc, doesn't have to be 5 star, but certainly not "value" level either. They're only going to do this once in their lives, and want it to be special.

Beyond that, they really don't know specifically what they want, just to "go to Africa on a Safari and see the animals".

So:

Who are the better tour operators I should consider? Who should I avoid?

Where do we send them if they only want to spend a week? Can you list priority destinations starting with the "not to be missed", then "great if you have the time" to "don't waste one of your 7 days on it" sort of thing?

What is the best time of year to visit? Saving money is fine, but I don't want to hit monsoon season (if there is one) either.

Is there someplace or something we could include to kick up the "special" quotient without breaking the bank?

Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated. <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Cheers.gif" alt="" />


Flotsam

[color:"blue"]<sub>Some days it's just not worth chewing through the restraints.</sub> [/color]
Sponsors
Re: Safaris 101 [Re: Flotsam] #6422
01/22/2008 05:57 PM
01/22/2008 05:57 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 69,628
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 69,628
Central Florida!
Flotsam--not sure why you're involved in this endeavor, if you don't know anything about Africa?? Suggest maybe they should get a Wilderness Safaris book and read it cover to cover. Also, we have an extensive trip report in the Trip Report Archives. They really need to get the advice of an Africa expert. We booked our trip through Bert at Fish Eagle Safaris. Africa is really an extremely unusual destination, that they really should do a lot of research about before they pull the trigger.


Carol Hill
Re: Safaris 101 [Re: Carol_Hill] #6423
01/22/2008 06:31 PM
01/22/2008 06:31 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 364
Close to the water as possible
Flotsam Offline OP
Traveler
Flotsam  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 364
Close to the water as possible
Quote
Carol_Hill said:
Flotsam--not sure why you're involved in this endeavor, if you don't know anything about Africa??

<img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Laugh.gif" alt="" />
It's a long story, trust me. I've unfortunately developed a reputation for thorough research when it comes to travel, but as you've probably observed the vast majority of my travel time is devoted to tropical islands, not the African plains.

Having started reading the trip reviews here as well as all of the other voluminous material available online, I'm thinking you're correct - there's just too many decisions to be made for me to try and cover all of the bases for them. Is Bert's expertise and/or service limited to a specific portion of Africa, or would he be a resource for the entire place? I need to find somebody competent to hand these folks off to, and the days of experienced storefront travel agents have pretty much gone.

Thanks for your help and talking some sense into me... someday I gotta learn to say "no"!


Flotsam

[color:"blue"]<sub>Some days it's just not worth chewing through the restraints.</sub> [/color]
Re: Safaris 101 [Re: Flotsam] #6424
01/22/2008 07:40 PM
01/22/2008 07:40 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 69,628
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 69,628
Central Florida!
I think that Bert handles all of Africa, but truthfully when we contacted him, we knew that we were only interested in Botswana. If you really want to continue to be involved in this, you could contact him and ask him, as my impression is that he would tell you the truth.


Carol Hill
Re: Safaris 101 [Re: Flotsam] #6425
01/23/2008 06:34 PM
01/23/2008 06:34 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,949
Milwaukee
Joeswind Offline
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Joeswind  Offline
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Posts: 1,949
Milwaukee
You don't necessarily need a tour operator to have a great experience in Africa. With only seven days they aren't going to get far. Seeing as how they will probably be flying into Johanusberg, they probably would get the most out of going north towards or in Krueger National Park. We stayed at a place called Londolozi. They have their own game park and pretty much assure you will see the big 5 cats. It's a 5 star all the way and a beautiful resort and a first class safari. Here's the web site. http://www.londolozi.com/
7 days there may be a bit much. So you could cap it off with a trip up to Victoria falls.


Mike M.
Re: Safaris 101 [Re: Joeswind] #6426
01/23/2008 07:24 PM
01/23/2008 07:24 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 69,628
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Posts: 69,628
Central Florida!
Joe--It's the big five, yes, but they are not all cats. The mind goes when you're getting up there in age like me, but I think they are elephant, water buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard. Londolozi is beautiful, yes, but if you are going for a true safari experience, with seeing the most animals for a reasonable amount of money, there are much better options.

I would respectfully very much disagree that you don't need a tour operator for Africa if you want to get the most bang for your buck. Someone that is a professional in the area can give you advice with regard to your options and help you make a more informed choice, with regard to a very unusual destination.


Carol Hill
Re: Safaris 101 [Re: Joeswind] #6427
01/29/2008 07:46 PM
01/29/2008 07:46 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 1,341
South East US, Carolinas coast
sailn Offline
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sailn  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 1,341
South East US, Carolinas coast
we used for Bots and Zambia
www.pioneerafrica.net
he is a south african native and worked in the camps for years- now lives in new mexico. Very knowledgeable.
Dont go to a "lets look at the brochures" travel agent - you need someone who does a lot of AFRICA.

Last edited by edwardh1; 01/29/2008 07:47 PM.
Re: Safaris 101 [Re: Carol_Hill] #6428
02/03/2008 10:54 PM
02/03/2008 10:54 PM
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 2,925
Milton, MA
JudyG Offline
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JudyG  Offline
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Posts: 2,925
Milton, MA
Hey Carol, rest assured...your mind is very much intact...the Big Five are as you recall!

Re: Safaris 101 [Re: JudyG] #6429
02/04/2008 04:00 PM
02/04/2008 04:00 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 69,628
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 69,628
Central Florida!
Well, every once in a while I get a moment of lucidity! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Grin.gif" alt="" />


Carol Hill
Re: Safaris 101 - Micato Tours? [Re: Carol_Hill] #6430
02/06/2008 01:55 PM
02/06/2008 01:55 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 364
Close to the water as possible
Flotsam Offline OP
Traveler
Flotsam  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 364
Close to the water as possible
Carol, I've recommended my friends get in touch with Bert, we'll see if they take my advice.

In the meantime, I've also had highly recommended to me Micato Tours should they choose to do a "canned" tour vs. one more personally arranged. Do you or any of our other experienced travelers here have any experience with them?

Thanks,


Flotsam

[color:"blue"]<sub>Some days it's just not worth chewing through the restraints.</sub> [/color]
Re: Safaris 101 - Micato Tours? [Re: Flotsam] #6431
02/06/2008 02:12 PM
02/06/2008 02:12 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 69,628
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 69,628
Central Florida!
Sorry, don't have any experience with that company. A lot of times, the canned tours are fine. It's more a question of the fact that you end up with the same group of people everywhere, that we wanted to avoid. If the other folks are compatible with you, that's great! If not, these are really small places, so you can't really get away from someone you don't like. We actually had an older couple that we noticed in the airport in Joberg, because they were so odd, and we spent the first couple of days with in Africa at the same resort, and then ended up sharing a small plane transfer a few days later. They were so obnoxious that I can't imagine having them around during our whole Africa trip, as it would have almost ruined the whole trip for us, if they had been along! When we saw them coming out to the Cessna, we almost said, hey, we'll take the next plane! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Laugh.gif" alt="" />


Carol Hill

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