Here are the 10 most important things to look for when choosing a travel company to handle your trip to Africa. Whether you book with Ultimate Africa Safaris™ or another travel agency make sure you work with a company that:
1) has hands on knowledge and is independent. Make sure that whoever you book with has extensive personal travel experience in Africa. We know Africa intimately. Ultimate Africa Safaris™ was started in 1996. Each of our professional safari consultants has lived and worked in Africa. Our consultants spend 6 to 8 weeks each and every year in Africa; not only to ensure that each property meets the high standards we demand for our clients (it is our policy to regularly, and personally, visit every property we recommend, and many others besides), but also because we love Africa and its wild areas. Ultimate Africa Safaris™ managing director Ian Proctor has personally stayed at over 300 of Africa’s top hotels, lodges, and camps in East and southern Africa and has inspected hundreds more!
Unlike many safari companies that have a vested interest to recommend certain safaris or accommodations with which they have a financial stake or are shareholders, we have no vested interest. We do not own or operate any camps, lodges, or hotels ourselves and we are not contracted with specific tour operators to exclusively market their tours or safari properties. As such we are in a position to independently analyze all tour operators, destinations, and properties in a region, and offer our clients impartial and objective advice.
2) is prompt and reliable. Are calls answered? Are emails and phone messages replied to in a timely manner? Does the company offer toll free number? We are best known for our attentive service, attention to detail, and honesty. Based in Seattle, USA we are easy to reach. No need for middle of the night calls to Africa. Email us during the day and we will often respond within a matter of minutes. We are open between 9 AM and 5 PM weekdays and look forward to discussing the various travel options with you.
3) can handle all of your travel arrangements including accommodations, air tickets and travel insurance. Many foreign companies cannot book international flights or purchase travel insurance for Americans / Canadians. We can and it pays to have one agency watching over your entire trip from start to finish.
4) has great prices and does not charge a booking fee or additional fees for changes to your itinerary (and these can be numerous). We regularly compare our prices with our competitors to ensure we are providing you with a great value. If you find a better price, we guarantee to beat it by US $100 per person.
Ultimate Africa does not require an upfront deposit and we do not charge any booking or change fees. We do charge a US $50 person air ticket ticketing fee when issuing air tickets. We then handle all schedule changes / updates, seating, routing changes and so on.
5) accepts credit cards for payment without extra fees. Many companies charge a fee is you wish to pay by credit card. Foreign companies often charge an additional 3% to 10% in addition to fees charged by your bank. Charge cards provide better consumer protection than payments made by check or wire transfer. They also make payments simple. Ultimate Africa Safaris accepts payment by American Express, Master Card and Visa without any fees. In addition client’s paying by check can receive a 2.5% discount on land prices.
6) is USA based / licensed / registered. Only 14 states license or regulate travel agents. Of these states, there are currently only 6 states which require registration. Washington is one of these states. Ultimate Africa is licensed and registered in Washington State. State law also requires that we hold all client monies in trust.
7) carries liability insurance. The world is not a perfect place. Therefore Ultimate Africa carries a US $1 million dollar “Errors and Omission” insurance policy.
8) is a member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) which is recognized as the leading symbol of travel professionalism and integrity. This is the affiliation most often endorsed by the media when recommending how to find a reliable travel agent. All ASTA member agents must abide by ASTA’s consumer oriented ethics. Ultimate Africa is an ASTA member.
9) is endorsed by the International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN). To be endorsed by IATAN a company must show a multiyear record of annual sales exceeding US $250,000, must have approval letters from industry leaders, and must carry an US $1 million liability insurance policy. Fly by night companies cannot meet these requirements. Ultimate Africa is endorsed by IATAN.
We are also members of the Safari Professionals of the Americas – an exclusive consortium of America’s top African travel planning companies and we also have an A+ rating with the Washington State Better Business Bureau.
10) is friendly! Planning a trip to Africa is an exciting process, made even more so when you are working with a travel agent who is both friendly and passionate about what they do! Call Ultimate Africa toll free 1 800 461 0682 (we are in between 9 AM and 5 PM weekdays in Seattle) or email today for your free personal safari consultation. We often hear “I have learned more in 5 minutes on phone with you than I did doing weeks of research on the internet”.
Listed as one of Conde Nast’s 2015 “Experience Makers – The Pros We Use” Ultimate Africa trips have been featured in National Geographic Adventurer Magazine, Outside Magazine, United Airlines in flight magazine, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Frommer’s Travel, and other publications. Ultimate Africa has been featured on the “Wheel of Fortune”, PBS, and “The Doctors”.
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