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-   -   Booking Agent for Botswana Safari + Etosha/Bwabwata in Namibia (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/africa/1952465-booking-agent-botswana-safari-etosha-bwabwata-namibia.html)

dcstudent Jan 22, 19 7:05 pm

Booking Agent for Botswana Safari + Etosha/Bwabwata in Namibia
 
Hi all,

Looking for advice on choosing a travel agent to assist with booking a safari for November 2021. I know it's too early to book now, but I'm struggling with looking for an agent. There are tons of companies that will book these for you, and too many have alot of 5* reviews from posters (on say TripAdvisor) that are suspect (only 1 post). Also, are there any advantages/disadvantages to booking through a local planner (in Maun) or a US based one?

At the moment leaning towards Travel Beyond in the US or Safari Lifestyles in Maun.

It's interesting, I've never felt this nervous planning a trip. Every trip I've gone on so far has been completely self-planned - and even this one I'll book my own flights/rental 4x4/hotels(in cities), but with the huge expense of this trip I'm quite nervous about picking a poor provider and having the trip not work out.

johan rebel Jan 23, 19 12:06 pm

Where in Etosha, and where in Bwabwata?

Johan

dcstudent Jan 23, 19 5:37 pm


Originally Posted by johan rebel (Post 30691148)
Where in Etosha, and where in Bwabwata?

Johan

Looking at 2 nights each in Halali and Namutoni in Etosha. From my research it appears that these are supposed to be bookable by the public but that safari operators somehow book them completely up in advance before reservations open to the public, so it looks like I need to find an agent that can actually get me space.

I want to stay at Ngepi in the Caprivi which will arrange drives in Mahango and Bwabwata. It appears that individuals can actually self-book at Ngepi.

Jasper2009 Jan 24, 19 10:00 pm

I can vouch for Travel Beyond and the expertise of their agents. The owner - Craig Beal - also is an active FTer (SafariCraig) and has shared a lot of valuable information on FT over the years.

One thing to potentially keep in mind when booking a safari via a tour operator or travel agent is that you're probably paying a premium for their expertise and experience. This doesn't necessarily have to be the case - especially at high-end and luxury properties - but the nature of booking safaris is much more challenging andf time-consuming for travel professionals than booking trips to other regions (I'll just mention the need to contact many lodges individually to check availability and deal with a "different" attitude towards time vs. the ability to check inventory and rates instantly online). So if you value that, there are many good reasons to use a reputable tour operator, but if you're planning to take the operator's information and book the same lodge for $50 on Expedia, it probably won't be a mutually beneficial relationship.

SanDiego1K Jan 24, 19 10:56 pm

Travel Beyond is an excellent recommendation. I've also used Chris Liebenberg of Piper Heath. I was networked to him by Craig Beal. Chris was born and raised in Namibia and has extensive knowledge of the safari industry there. He is also very knowledgeable about many of the African safari destinations.

A lot of safari camps only have 6 to 10 rooms. Folks are allowed to make provisional bookings while they sort out their travel arrangements. A good agent will work with the camp to determine if there is softness in any of their bookings. It's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The process goes much more smoothly with a well connected agent.

dcstudent Jan 25, 19 11:30 am


Originally Posted by Jasper2009 (Post 30697701)
I can vouch for Travel Beyond and the expertise of their agents. The owner - Craig Beal - also is an active FTer (SafariCraig) and has shared a lot of valuable information on FT over the years.


Originally Posted by SanDiego1K (Post 30697856)
Travel Beyond is an excellent recommendation. I've also used Chris Liebenberg of Piper Heath. I was networked to him by Craig Beal. Chris was born and raised in Namibia and has extensive knowledge of the safari industry there. He is also very knowledgeable about many of the African safari destinations.

Thank you both. I totally get that you're paying - in part- for expertise and I'm more than willing to do so. I have no intention of getting said advice and then trying to book everything myself. I just think it will be a combo of agent booked/planned and self-booked. For instance:

Virgin to Johannesburg from Washington, D.C. (Self-booked w/ miles)
4x4 (self booked w/ avis - points)
Kang, Windhoek, Walvis Bay, Livingstone, Nata, Francistown & Jo-burg, self-booked (points at Protea where possible)


Etosha, Bwabwata, Kasane (including Chobe and r/t transfer to Livingstone Zambia), Okavango Delta, Linyati, Kalahari all agent arranged.

dcstudent Jan 28, 19 6:14 am

Just an update. Spoke to Craig, and like SanDiego1K, he sent me on to Chris as my safari is both self-drive and Namibia focused so he thought Chris would be a better fit. Already talked to Chris and starting to work with him. Btw, really enjoying Chris, but also wouldn't hesitate to work with Craig in the future. Just his willingness to admit that his focus isn't the best for what I was looking for and that he personally made introductions and put me in touch with someone else was a fantastic example of going above and beyond.

Thanks all!


Originally Posted by SanDiego1K (Post 30697856)
Travel Beyond is an excellent recommendation. I've also used Chris Liebenberg of Piper Heath. I was networked to him by Craig Beal. Chris was born and raised in Namibia and has extensive knowledge of the safari industry there. He is also very knowledgeable about many of the African safari destinations.


Originally Posted by Jasper2009 (Post 30697701)
I can vouch for Travel Beyond and the expertise of their agents. The owner - Craig Beal - also is an active FTer (SafariCraig) and has shared a lot of valuable information on FT over the years.



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