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How soon should we book a safari?

Beaverton, Oregon
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How soon should we book a safari?

Hi,

My wife and I are planning a Tanzania safari for 2012 (to celebrate my retirement), probably in September 2012. We are strongly considering booking with Africa Dream Safaris. We're thinking of an 8-day safari with 3 days added on for Zanzibar.

My specific question is "How soon should we book the safari? The company (Safari Dream) told me that there are limited numbers of tents available (true) and they are already booking safaris for November 2012. I have no reason to disbelieve the person I'm corresponding with, but they obviosuly have a vested interest in our booking early, so I would like to hear from anyone on Tripdavisor with experience whether we should book soon, or wait until say, we're 12 months out, for example?

Isle of Man, United...
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1. Re: How soon should we book a safari?

I would not book this far ahead. 12 months is about right for really prime places (Ndutu lodge,Christmas to late Feb for example. Kirawira in April/May) but otherwise not.

It sounds as if you have somewhere special in mind when you say "limited tents available". I don't know anywhere that is special enough in September to warrant this.

How can you book ahead of knowing what Plane tickets are available?

By all means make your plans and draw up an Itinerary that you like but as to actually booking it I doubt you can as some Lodges won't even have opened their Booking diary.

Edited: 29 November 2010, 21:49
Stanley, Falkland...
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2. Re: How soon should we book a safari?

I very much doubt agents like ADS will know as to what the prices for camps will be that far ahead.

So no camp will confirm a booking. They may hold a place provisionally until the 2012 prices are confirmed, but thats about it.

What would be interesting to know is what places are you considering visiting that require booking 22 months in advance? Sounds unbelievable.

Beaverton, Oregon
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3. Re: How soon should we book a safari?

Thanks for your opinion on this.

$500 is required to reserve a spot for whichever timeframe you decide to go (like you said). I will ask whether this will gaurantee the "price" if I decide to do it a year in advance.

No place, including ADS, requires booking this far in advance. It was simply a suggestion that was offered and I was just wondering when we should book.

ADS so far, has been extremely responsive to every question I've had, which is a good sign.

Beaverton, Oregon
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4. Re: How soon should we book a safari?

Thanks for responding!

I think I will wait until at least 12 months out.

It appears that a few of the possible places we might stay during our safari (if we choose ADS) have 8 or less tents, and to me, that sounds "limited".

I am not that worried about plane tickets, at least not yet.

Isle of Man, United...
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5. Re: How soon should we book a safari?

Peter's post has jogged my memory.

Even when booking a lodge 18 months out I was advised this was not a firm booking until the Deposit was paid and to settle this 60 days prior to arrival as they did not even have Rates that far forward.

When trying to get another room I was waitlisted but confidently told extra space would open up when some bookings lapsed due to no deposit.

It seems that a lot of operators take space in anticipation of a booking and then just let it lapse when they fail to sell the space. A practice I deplore as it prevents others the comfort of a firm booking.

ADT may be doing this for you.

Edited: 29 November 2010, 23:40
Beaverton, Oregon
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6. Re: How soon should we book a safari?

Yes, ADS has a similar policy it seems. You pay $500 to reserve a spot, but nothing is set in stone until you agree to and confirm the itinerary. It appears that the safari price, once I agree to it and sign, is locked in even if we book it 12 months out (I will confirm this). The balance is due 90-days prior to departure.

You can cancel anytime prior to 90-days before departure, but you have to eat the $500 per person reserve fee, which is another reason to wait until 12 months instead of 18 months. A lot can happen. If you cancel after 90 days, you pay for half the safari, or wait until after 60 days, you eat the entire price. This seems straight forward to me and understandable, give the business they are in.

I'm still wading through the information I was sent. They also recommend trip insurance, which is a good idea when planning ahead like this.

nyc
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7. Re: How soon should we book a safari?

Prices for 2012 won't even be available till mid-2011... some maybe in May others often after June and even Aug/Sep. Likewise, airline tickets aren't available till schedules come out for booking at 330/1 days prior departure.

Unless you're using one of ADS own tented camps, and for these they should be more liberal than if using other well-known tented camps, no need to book before 12/mo out... even 9/mos is good.

Sept is peak season for camps in the Northern Serengeti, but there are quite a few options up this way.

I'd wait. My 2-cents.

Have you only contacted ADS? Or other tour operators/outfitters (4 or 5 is a good number so you can compare offerings).

Beaverton, Oregon
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8. Re: How soon should we book a safari?

ADS is the first company I've talked to, but we will be shopping around for sure.

Arusha, Tanzania
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9. Re: How soon should we book a safari?

It is best to book as far in advance as you can, a year if possible. This gives you much more chance of getting your desired accommodation, tour operator and getting your itinerary and routing perfect so that you are satisfied with it

However, as some people have mentioned already, there are restriction, such as changing rates and the availability of international flights so far in advance.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Tom

Isle of Man, United...
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10. Re: How soon should we book a safari?

Coming back in here. What ADS are suggesting is verging on outrageous. Locking in prices is meaningless and there will be a bucketful of 'exceptions' and yet they expect you to 'eat' the $500pp? A joke!

As you say "A lot can happen". (that is why Insurance is a must if you do place a deposit!)

Most operators of course do ask for a Deposit of around 30%, maybe more, before they will book and this is fine given the market. But not $500 so far up front for nothing in return.(Except to tie you in to them!!! One sided or what?)

As sandi says. Shop around. You can do much better for less. (IMHO!)

By way of practicing what I preach I can say that I have just paid 50% of my next trip (9 mos hence) with the balance due on arrival! I have also paid 100% direct for one particular place (Full board and services) to get 2010 prices.

And I AM insured!