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Kenya Safari for group of 10 - OTA or Local Operator?

Kenya Safari for group of 10 - OTA or Local Operator?

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Old Jan 11, 19, 7:26 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Jersey City, NJ
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Kenya Safari for group of 10 - OTA or Local Operator?

I'm booking a Safari for a group of 10 adults (family) in August 2019. I've been in contact with two well reviewed Kenyan operators (Sunworld and Gamewatchers). They've both provided itineraries for 6 nights in a mix of Masa and Amboseli.

Sunworld came out to ~3000pp and Gamewatchers to ~4000pp, with flights and nice luxury tents. Sunworld is cheaper due to a little more driving and a lodge (not camp) the first 3 nights.

However, with 10 people, everything is magnified when price goes up just a little! So I looked at online travel agencies. I can book 3 nights in Amboseli and 3 nights in Masa at comparable places through hotels.com for something like this:

3 nights Amboseli, Ol Tukai: ($600/room-night) x 3 nights x 5 rooms = $9000
3 nights Basecamp Masai Mara: ($400/room-night) x 3 nights x 5 rooms = $6000

So that leaves about $15k for taxes, flights, transfers in Nairobi, and a few other things that come up. What am I missing? It is "safer" to go with a tour operator of course, but for that amount of savings (even just $5k conservatively) it seems worth it.

Anyone with expertise or experience with this, please help me out! Thanks.
alexj7 is offline  
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Old Jan 11, 19, 6:23 pm
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Join Date: Aug 2010
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What am I missing? Quite a bit. You are comparing oranges and grapefruits.
Just looking at Basecamp Masa Mara....
When I look at hotels.com--Where you got the $434/room number-it has NO details
Booking.com--when I look it is $512/room/night--Airport transfers NOT included, game drives NOT included, park fees NOT included (easily $100pp per day) game drives alone would be min 100pp per day, there's another $3000
Basecamp's website--the quote $2400 for 3 nights, or $300 per person per night, which includes everything

For 10 people, I'd never use one of those online sites to book. Also, you are probably going to be pressed to find availability for August 2019. Gamewatchers is will respected and will come up with an itinerary that works for such a large group.

Also Basecamp Masa Mara is outside the reserve. That means quite a bit of travel before you actually get into the reserve. If Gamewatchers is putting you in the Porini camps, they are in private conservancies which will have a lot less people especially in August. The camps cannot be compared.

Flight to Amboseli - $200 x 10 = $2000
Flight to Mara - $200 x 10 = $2000
Flight to Nairobi - $200 x 10 = $2000
Game drives in Amboseli = $3000 (maybe more)
Game drives in Mara = $3000 (maybe more)
Transfers to/from airstrip = $500 (maybe more)

So, I'm at $12,000 and you still have no idea of EXACTLY what is included.

You need to do some more research and compare apples to apples.

For 10 people you might consider Tanzania instead. It's more of an overland safari (no flying) and you would have your own guides/drivers/vehicles. Much more economy of scale for a large group. When I use Wayo Africa cost calculator for 7 nights / 8 people with luxury lodges and some tent camps it comes to $4,500pp. You have your own vehicle and guide and can make your own schedule each day. Something to think about with 10 people...
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Old Jan 11, 19, 8:52 pm
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Thanks for the response, it is helpful. I am leaning towards just booking Gamewatchers due to having experts handle it. You are correct, I overlooked the game drives not necessarily being included the hotel stay. It isn't explicitly called out which means very likely not included.
The Porini camps do look amazing. I've been reading up a ton and I originally found them thanks to FT. It's just a lot of cash multiplying by 10 so I'm willing to put in time and explore other ways.

As for availability, yes its a problem for 10 people but those are based on real availability. Both the OTA and travel agents were based on what is available currently for my exact dates.

I will look at your Tanzania suggestion closer, great points. Also helps if we go to Zanzibar after to avoid some of the issues transiting between countries.
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