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Micato, Rhino Safari, africa direct v. direct booking etc.

washington, dc
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Micato, Rhino Safari, africa direct v. direct booking etc.

Has anyone used Micato? They seem to have a good reputation but I called and they are definitely pricey. Willing to pay if truly worth it. Are there other operators that people have used that they would recommend for a up market safari to south africa? What about Rhino Safari or Africa direct? Anyone done it on their own just booking through the camps? I worry about the transfers between airports and we may decide to go to Cape Town where an agent might be helpful to plan tours etc. We have been to South Africa once before and I have done a huge amount (probably too much!) research so have a good idea of possible itinerary/hotels etc...

Some post suggest cheaper to do it through an agent- is this true? I would appreciate hearing from actual travelers not travel agents.

thanks!

Hazyview, South...
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1. Re: Micato, Rhino Safari, africa direct v. direct booking etc.

I am not an actual traveller, but also not a travel agent. So I am not sure if I am allowed to reply?!?!

Nevertheless, I do.

Booking via a travel agent may not always be cheaper, but should definitely not be more expensive. We had a number of guests from Africa Direct which have all been VERY happy with Tanya's personalised itinerary, attention and planning of their trip.

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

washington, dc
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182 posts
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2. Re: Micato, Rhino Safari, africa direct v. direct booking etc.

Thank you for your post and I did not mean to be abrupt in my original post but I was trying to make clear that I would love to hear from people who have used one of the mentioned travel agents (or booked directly) and can recommend them-or not- from personal experience rather than from someone who is in the travel industry.

Maun, Botswana
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532 posts
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3. Re: Micato, Rhino Safari, africa direct v. direct booking etc.

Booking with an Agent or directly with the Lodge will not change the price much, as the Lodge uses a 'rack' rate - the rate they charge you, and the Tour Operator gets an 'STO' rate which is lower by anywhere between 10% to 40% BUT they will normally charge you the same rack rate the Lodge charges. Sometimes they can offer a lower rate.

Where the advantage of booking through a Tour Operator comes in is the logistics of your tour - all the flight and road transfers will be booked for you - doing that yourself would be a nightmare if many transfers are involved.

Another advantage is that you make one payment to the Tour Operator (or two if a deposit is required) whereas paying a lot of different Lodges and transfer companies could be very expensive.

Just make sure that your Tour Operator is a member of SATSA, and that you pay by credit card so as to benefit from the protection your card gives you if something goes wrong.

There are also a number of American Tour Operators that arrange tours in South Africa - they may offer you a more secure way of booking.

Hazyview, South...
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4. Re: Micato, Rhino Safari, africa direct v. direct booking etc.

Good advise, just one question:

Why should an American Tour operators offer a more secure way of booking?

That's a statement which I, if I would be a tour operator, would fight you on and find ridiculous.

On the other hand, if going to SA, why not let the SA operators do the business. That helps the economy much more!

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

Maun, Botswana
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532 posts
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5. Re: Micato, Rhino Safari, africa direct v. direct booking etc.

The reason Abangane, is that as an American, based in the USA and making a purchase with an American Tour Operator you are protected by greater consumer legislation than you would be by booking with an overseas operator.

Since the vast majority of the money paid for the tour will end up supporting the South African economy, I think protection for your payment is of greater importance.

Similarly, I would advise a UK traveller to book with a British Operator.

I am sure that if you were planning a tour to Mauritius, you would book through a South African Operator as it is easier, and safer than booking through a Mauritian operator

Hazyview, South...
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6. Re: Micato, Rhino Safari, africa direct v. direct booking etc.

I like to disagree, but that's me!

I actually do not know what needs to be protected. The CPA in SA is also very clear and when paying by CC, which is very common, you are protected any way.

But what I really DO NOT like is the "between the lines" message that one may read out of your statement. SA operators are in general no crooks and it is VERY safe to make use of them.

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

PS: you are welcome to call me Klaus, the way I sign my messages! Abangane is Zulu and means friends, and I am rather choosy about that.

Edited: 26 December 2013, 21:00
Hazyview, South...
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7. Re: Micato, Rhino Safari, africa direct v. direct booking etc.

Sorry story4110 for jeopardising your post for a general discussion,

I promise to pull out of here now.

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

Gold Coast...
Destination Expert
for Kruger National Park
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8. Re: Micato, Rhino Safari, africa direct v. direct booking etc.

Hi there Story

Maybe if you give a little more info about what type of tour you are considering? Presumably you are looking at staying on a private reserve in which case there is no need to use an agent for your safari, in fact some lodges can make the arrangements to fly you out to the reserves themselves. No issues with transfers between airports, at JHB, the domestic and international terminal are both under the one roof.

Thousands of us travellers do it ourselves all the time, however if you feel more comfortable using an agent then do so, just try to get one that has good knowledge of where you are planning to go!

To be honest it never ceases to amaze me the number of people we meet on safari who really had no idea of their options and just booked what their agent suggested.

It’s a long flight from Washington and you want to make the most of it! Good luck

Edited: 27 December 2013, 00:13
Sydney, Australia
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9. Re: Micato, Rhino Safari, africa direct v. direct booking etc.

My first few trips to the African continent way way back were booked through very competent travel agents in my home city but this was before the days of high technology, easy internet access, Trip Advisor etc. Despite that I still did a heck of a lot research beforehand so that I got to go where I specified and not be at the mercy of a third party promoting particular places . I think the key issue is to do your trip /travel homework before you go whether you use an agent or not. I do not think there is such a thing as too much research if you want to maximise your trip to best advantage to suit your wallet, interests, likes and needs.

I agree wholeheartedly with sandmans that it’s astounding the number of people who just go blithely along with their agent’s suggestions and don’t forget many of those doing such bookings have probably never been to the places they are recommending. It’s a shame to see that people despite spending good money come away disappointed. Some of the questions asked in here at times, show some people cannot be bothered making any effort whatsoever to do any prior research, get information or even use the TA search box and happily expect to be spoon fed a 2 or 3 week itinerary courtesy of TA posters.

My last few SA trips were all self-organised and booked but I did use Africa Direct this year for Sabi accommodation as result of a query I made to the owner from here and her helpful response ( I had not been there before ). The room rate she gave was a little bit less than the quoted price on the web site.

Whether you want upmarket lodges, hotels or budget style, self catering or anything in the middle check it all out thoroughly even things like weather, road conditions, scenic routes, safety concerns etc.

Basically a bit of time spent researching and investigating options, surfing the web, reading TA posts, travel guides and so forth will pay dividends in terms of achieving an enjoyable ,hopefully hassle free travel experience whether one uses a tour operator, travel agent or self-organises.

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Quito, Ecuador
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10. Re: Micato, Rhino Safari, africa direct v. direct booking etc.

I'm an actual traveler who booked my dream trip through Africa Direct last year. Of the several providers I contacted, Tanya was the only one who really paid attention to what I wanted to see/do and was very responsive to my questions. She really came through shortly before the start of my trip, when my return flight was cancelled and had to be rebooked; she was able to reconfigure my trip a bit and rearrange things so all went very smoothly. Probably the hardest part for her was calming me down! I purposely chose to go with a local provider rather than a U.S. one for the peace of mind of having "boots on the ground" if things went awry. Africa Direct came very highly recommended on the forum here so I felt perfectly confident in my choice.

I posted a trip report tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g293740-i9186-k615… if you want to read it.