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Tour Operators for Kruger / Vic Falls

DC
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Tour Operators for Kruger / Vic Falls

Hi - Potentially Planning a trip to South Africa for this fall and have been browsing through the available tour operators. I'm wondering if anyone has any information on either "Wild Journeys" or "African Overland tours"? Travellers are males in early 30's. Both of these operators seem to have reasonable prices for what we're looking for:

Either 5 nights in Kruger or 8 nights Kruger/Vic falls combo. After that planning a few days in Cape town, but will probably handle that independently.

Personally like to rough it, but want to go one step up from camping... basic accomodations (the "rest camps" in Kruger seem to fit the bill with bungalows/huts/cottages.

African Overland is obviously low frills and has an emphasis on camping, but they do offer accomodated packages. Wild Journeys seems a bit higher end and it's bronze and silver lines would fit.

Any info on these companies including age of participants, and troubles encountered, etc would be nice.

Thanks for any info.

Mike

Wayzata, Minnesota
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2,915 posts
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1. Re: Tour Operators for Kruger / Vic Falls

mike,

what is your budget per person for this trip inclusive of flights to/from vic falls? usually, if you give a price point and paste the exact tour you are considering from the two companies web sites, you will get better advice.

craig beal - owner - travel beyond

DC
5 posts
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2. Re: Tour Operators for Kruger / Vic Falls

Sure. Looking to spend $2,000 (USD) or less on tour trips - know that is tight (too tight to be worth it?)... but just seeing if it could work out. Here are a couple of the ones reference that I checked out.

8 day Kruger/Vic $1,949

www.wild-journeys.com/8KrugerVicFalls.htm

5 day Kruger $744 USD

africanoverlandtours.com/african-overland-de…

Wayzata, Minnesota
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2,915 posts
31 reviews
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3. Re: Tour Operators for Kruger / Vic Falls

mike,

for everything you are getting, the eight day trip is a reasonable value for the money. the rest camps are likely skekuza (south) and satara (north) in the KNP. you will likely have good game viewing and 2-star accomodations. they will be fine as you only are looking for a step above camping.

the flight to/from Vic Falls is still going to cost $400-500 unless you can find an SAA consolidator that purchases that flight in conjuntion with a trans-atlantic fare on SAA.

only because i have never heard of them, i would definitely look for a referal or at least pay the majority of the money on a credit card less than 90 days prior to departing.

craig beal - owner - travel beyond

UK (ex RSA)
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11 posts
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4. Re: Tour Operators for Kruger / Vic Falls

Hi

Check out Rhino Africa on web: http://www.rhinoafrica.com

They offer a good package from Kruger Park to Vic Falls (the same day).

Cheers

Wayzata, Minnesota
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2,915 posts
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5. Re: Tour Operators for Kruger / Vic Falls

Dear Mike,

I have been staying off the forums lately because they are getting sort of controversial. Here is my opinion on the charter with Rhino which I am sure will bring hate and discontent upon me.

The real company that offers this service is called Icon Expeditions: http://www.iconexpeditions.com/ Rhino Africa did not revolutionizes this concept. They buy the flight space from Icon. My company, like many others, have chartered planes from the Kruger Park to Vic Falls for years when we have groups of ten-twelve people. Many companies do this and do not claim to revolutionize the concept.

My concern is the charter company going bankrupt altogether or adding last minute charges to cover their expenses. The other negative outcome could be they cancel the flight for lack of customers and leave you stranded and in need of commercial air space. Before anyone asks, I will not name my sources, but I have heard from several large operators in Africa that the airline is begging for business from the major destination management companies. Beware!

I would be very wary of this type of charter. Many charter companies announce routes only to cancel service later when they do not have enough guests. To anyone that uses this plane, I would not pay a dime for the service until a few weeks before travel and I would pay on a credit card.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond

Tempe, Arizona
Destination Expert
for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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8,954 posts
58 reviews
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6. Re: Tour Operators for Kruger / Vic Falls

Craig is absolutely right in discouraging travelers from committing to a chartered service such as that. You have too much at stake, coming from other parts of the world with no real 'safety net' here to fix problems. That is the wrong money to save. He is also right in pointing out that fares from the US to South Africa on South African airlines that include the flights to and from Vic Falls offer the traveler the opportunity to save some real money. And there is no risk at all.

London
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7. Re: Tour Operators for Kruger / Vic Falls

Mike,

Just got back yesterday from a 5 day tour with Wild Journeys through Kruger. I have to say that we had a wonderful time and everything was completely well organised and smooth. We stayed one night at Skukuza camp, 2 nights at Satara and one night at a game lodge. Our guide, Carl, was so knowledgeable not only about all of the animals, but also the flora and fauna of the varying areas of the park. I would highly recommend Wild Journeys and I know that Carl is very flexible in creating a trip tailored exactly to your needs.

Have fun - South Africa is a truly magical country.

Gia, London UK

Toronto
1 post
1 review
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8. Re: Tour Operators for Kruger / Vic Falls

I traveled to Kruger, Chobe and Vic Falls last year with Wild Journeys. Everything was great and well organized. Wild Journeys can customize the tours to your needs. Carl is by far, a superiour guide for Kruger. Our group saw the most game and explored more areas of the park than other groups we talked with. Carl provided a wealth of information about all aspects of the park: flora, fauna, history, birds, wildlife, etc. He has tremendous respect for the park and animals. Wild Journeys wants to ensure you have a good trip. Their vehicle is comfortable and quiet so you have a great ride with good viewing, regardless the weather. Carl is up early with your coffee and ensures the group has a good day. He enjoys the trips as much as you do.

I recommend Wild Jouneys. They can arrange accommodation to suit your needs: basic rooms to posh hotela. Initiate contact with them and see what you think.

South Africa
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9. Re: Tour Operators for Kruger / Vic Falls

Mike, good advice there from Craig and Bwanadave. A bit late now already, but a few things I would like to add in answer to your question. Firstly, be sure to get full details of the nature of the trip. Some overland trips (even accommodated ones) are geared for young people, backpacker types and may require some form of participation (i.e. cooking or washing up duties, that kind of thing). On longer trips with bigger groups, sometimes the group dynamics become part of the experience, which can be great or it can be a nightmare.

Secondly, with regard to companies going bankrupt or disappearing with your money, it may be wise to book with a company that offers bonding insurance, for example through SATSA membership. This will protect you from the risk of losing money in the event the company defaults. I agree with the advice to research the company carefully and get some references. Good to see some positive feedback above, thanks for posting.

Lastly, check out the itineraries carefully. An 8 day Kruger and Vic Falls overland trip may in some cases give you only a few actual days in Kruger and at Vic Falls, and plenty of time on the road, travelling. Even if you fly, it would be necessary to spend at least one night in Johannesburg in between, as a stopover.

Birmingham
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10. Re: Tour Operators for Kruger / Vic Falls

I was interested to see that Rhino Africa are now offering a same day connection through to Livingstone.

When we travelled with them last July we had to transfer to J'burg, overnight, and then were put on a BA package to Livingstone - and despite the fact that the itinerary said the return would be from Livingstone, it was infact from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

Bit of a mix-up - and unfortunately I've never had a response to my request for a refund of the unexpected visa charges!