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Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Betinski, Oct 26, 2012.

  1. Betinski

    Betinski Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 26, 2012
    Hello, Next year I plan on taking a dream trip to either Africa or the Galapagos Islands. Not ready to talk gear yet... though from different threads looks like my EM-D will be taken and perhaps by then my Canon 7D will be sold! My question is does anyone have an excellent tour company for either trip that you can recommend? Can't afford real luxury but want a top guide, a history of great safety and great reviews by former clients. I want to go to both places equally... I think finding a wonderful tour company will make the decision for me. Thanks! Jill
  2. Ropes4u

    Ropes4u Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 24, 2012
    Adam Clements is a renowned safari guide, if your shooting guns or cameras. But it depends on your budget and which country you want to go to.

    Tanzania would by my first choice, Namibia my second. The first will require a guide the later could easily be done with a rental car.
  3. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Africa: For southern Africa, small family operated Bush Baby Safaris cannot be beat! We have traveled with Pierre and Karen Duval twice and have referred friends, including friends who are traveling right now. South Africa safaris | South African tours | South African safaris Pierre is also active on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/BushBabySafaris

    Karen does most of the planning and everything is totally custom. She will make recommendations, of course, but itinerary, length, budget, ... everything is up to you. Deposit payments are insured by the SA tourist associations and, at least for guided groups, there is also an extensive medical/evacuation insurance policy. Ask for details.

    They will also plan and book a self-drive for you, but their estimated extra cost for having a private guide for two is 10%. If you have four, they estimate that having a guide actually saves money. It has to do with high rental car costs and the fact that guides stay free at game lodges, hotels, etc. Having a guide is great. You don't get lost, you don't waste time on places or attractions that are no good, and you have someone to solve problems that occur along the way.

    The nice thing about a custom tour is that when you want to stop for pictures or to delay a little bit for a shot, it is all up to you. Nobody pressing you to keep moving, etc. Get up for sunrise photos, go out for sunset photos, whatever you want. Much to the annoyance of my wife, I held us for an hour waiting for a couple of male lions to do something more interesting than sleep but it never did happen.

    Two bodies, 14-140mm and 100-300mm will cover the bases for you.

    Galapagos is an entirely different matter: The Ecuadorian government only permits about sixty boats on the islands and not all are available at any one time. All of the tour companies are reselling the same boats. So what you want to do is to sleuth out the names of the boats, then search to find the web sites of the companies who actually own and operate the boats. Almost all are limited to 16 or 18 passengers, which is very nice. They all travel almost the same itineraries as well, with island landings scheduled a year in advance for each boat. This spreads the tourist out (you won't see many others) and levels out the load on the islands. Ecuador is desperately trying to harvest the tourists' money without destroying the park.

    Once you have found the boats you can select from luxury levels, emphasis on diving or not, boat configurations, etc. Then get references. Finally, negotiate for discounts. When we were there about three years ago things were slow and we got about 40% off, dealing with the actual boat operator. Look carefully at the price quotes, though, as some will omit the necessary flight from mainland Guayaquil and/or the required park fees.

    In the Galapagos you get so close to the wildlife that a single body with a 14-140 will pretty much do it. This also makes things easier getting on and off the Zodiacs that get you from ship to shore and on the "wet" landings.

    Feel free to PM me for additional info or to talk on the phone. I can also email you a spreadsheet that identifies many of the Galapagos boat operators.

    And, of course, I can't resist reposting a Galapagos and an Africa photo that some here have seen before. Motivation for you, I hope:

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  4. Betinski

    Betinski Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 26, 2012
    Wow! Great info and great photos=great motivation. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my question. After I do a bit more of my own research I may just pm you. Thanks! Jill
  5. jasminef

    jasminef New to Mu-43

    Sep 26, 2012
    This summer I spent 5 weeks in Africa on an overland tour called Africa-in-Focus (Africa Adventure Safari Tours & Africa Overland Travel | Africa-in-Focus)
    They're a photography oriented tour, so you'll be with a bunch of other people who won't think you're crazy every time you decide to take 5,000 photos of the same animal. The guide also gives a lot of practical advice on photography along the way (I drove him nuts with questions). It looks more expensive than some of the other overland tours, but that's because they include all the costs upfront (if you do the math they're all roughly the same price).

    Some of the pics I took: http://freneticperipatetic.shutterfly.com/
    (with a Rebel XS... it was travelling with a DSLR this summer that persuaded me to try to find a smaller, weather/dust proof option!)
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