Book safari through PH or Agent

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Markschu, Nov 19, 2013.

  1. Markschu

    Markschu New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2013
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have been told advantages and disadvantages to both. One friend tells me horror stories about booking through agents and advises me to book through the PH directly. Is there a con census here?
  2. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    Messages:
    5,826
    Likes Received:
    84
    My Photos:
    32
    Member of:
    Northeast Wisconsin SCI chapter, Lifetime member of NRA,RMEF
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa (East Cape, Guateng and Limpopo)
    I have always booked straight with the outfitter but one advantage of using an agent is he or she can wire money after the hunt to set the money due after the hunting is done. It's a very attractive option.

    Another good thing an agent can do smooth out possible unrealistic expectations that a PH can maybe use to sell a hunt. An agent wants you to have a happy hunt, so you book more hunts with him or her and they can continues to get a small commission.

    I'm not saying outfitter are liars or anything like that, far from it, most Ph's want you to have a excellent time and return again and again with family and friends. It's just that there are a lot of outfitters out there and people can be picky in their expectations of the hunt sometimes.
  3. Wheels

    Wheels GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2012
    Messages:
    1,017
    Likes Received:
    17
    My Photos:
    45
    Hunted:
    Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania
    Welcome to AH.

    I have always booked my hunts directly with the outfitter. Even here in the USA. I like to talk/email with the person I am going to hunt with. You find out about their personality that you don't necessarily get with agent involvement. If you are looking to book with an African outfitter ask on this website what peoples experiences are with them. Check references. If you book with an outfitter that advertises on AH/or is a member, people on this website can probably give you references and there may be hunting reports.

    Saying that I have nothing against agents. There are many good ones out there I would trust. They may even make it easier in dealing with trophy fees, helping on travel ideas, dealing with shipping trophies etc. If you haven't hunted Africa before, an agent might make it easier on a first trip. Good luck on your plans.
  4. Cliffy

    Cliffy AH Elite

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2009
    Messages:
    1,060
    Likes Received:
    2
    My Photos:
    7
    Hunted:
    Hunted Zim, RSA (2), Namib(2), going again, Calif, Oregon, Arizona, Texas, Virginia, Idaho, South Dakota, Montana, Nevada, MO
    OK I'll step in first
    My first hunt was done through an agent and worked out wonderfully. My next also went through an agent (a well known magazine advertiser at the time now retired) and was just as good. My next 3 have been done on my own talking to PHs at the Dallas Safari show each time. My wife and I have worked out a method of interviewing that has seemed to work well as all the rest have been fine also. We have gone so far as to teach and help 6 other first timers in booking their first safaris. It has worked out so well for us that we are now working with one particular outfitter on his marketing here in the US.
    Both ways can be good if you do your homework. There are fine outfitters on this forum and there are fine agents as well both here and at DSC.
    Most of the "bad" issues I've heard of have been from misinformation or expecting something not discussed in the beginning or by going on low price alone. You have to check out references! You have to know enough to know when something is too good to be true.
    The best way is to be referred by a pleased client. First hand info is always good.

    The best way I recommend is to go to the Dallas Safari Club show in Jan and talk to all the different outfitters there. That's how we honed our skills.
  5. Cliffy

    Cliffy AH Elite

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2009
    Messages:
    1,060
    Likes Received:
    2
    My Photos:
    7
    Hunted:
    Hunted Zim, RSA (2), Namib(2), going again, Calif, Oregon, Arizona, Texas, Virginia, Idaho, South Dakota, Montana, Nevada, MO
    So wheels and enysse beat me to the send button I guess I was watching too much TV while I was typing!
  6. Wheels

    Wheels GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2012
    Messages:
    1,017
    Likes Received:
    17
    My Photos:
    45
    Hunted:
    Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania
    I was watching a guy on Kimmel sing "the drunk driving, crack smoking mayor of Toronto" pretty funny....and enysse beat me to the send button.
  7. RogerHeintzman

    RogerHeintzman AH Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2009
    Messages:
    307
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Aberdeen, South Dakota
    My Photos:
    32
    Member of:
    SCI (Sioux Falls, SD) RMEF, NWTF, NRA, NTA, BCSC, SDTA, NDTA, P&Y,
    Hunted:
    Canada (Ontario,British Columbia,Manitoba), USA (Colorado,Montana,Wyoming,Texas,South Dakota), Africa(Limpopo,NW Province, East Cape, Kwazulu Natal,) Namibia
    Welcome to AH.
    I have booked more hunts myself but have used a couple of agents with no problems. Using agents, you have lots of pull if you encounter problems along the way.

    One thing to ask a agent is, have you personally hunted with the outfitter. If not, shy away from them unless you get very favorable references.

    Become a SCI member and you can request or look up thousands of hunt reports on outfitters from all over the world. Those that have been there and done that.

    Have fun with the searching.

    "A Dream can be relived, again and again in Africa"
  8. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Messages:
    2,390
    Likes Received:
    23
    My Photos:
    68
    Member of:
    NRA, NA Hunt Club
    Hunted:
    Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe (2), Namibia, South Africa (2)
    I think an agent is the way to go especially for the first timer. I have used them on all my safaris except the one I'm planning now but I am going for my first return trip, same guy I hunted with in '09, Bosbok Safaris. Just booked my flights today with his recommended travel agent. I will meet Phil at the local (more or less) outdoor show in January and give him part of the trophy fees ahead of time. We are in email contact all the time as well. The agent I used with Bosbok the first time wasn't really much help and was slow to reply to questions. I had used them before in '96 and they were much more attentive then. The wire transfer option some agents offer is a big help too.
  9. Bushwack

    Bushwack AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2009
    Messages:
    549
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Rustenburg, North West Province
    My Photos:
    38
    Hunted:
    Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa
    Nothing wrong booking directly with the Outfitter. Some of us can actually comply contracts...:D
  10. KMG Hunting Safaris

    KMG Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Elite

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2010
    Messages:
    1,279
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Eastern Cape, South Africa
    My Photos:
    58
    Member of:
    PHASA ; SCI ; DSC ; Eastern Cape Game Management Association ; PE Pistol and Rifle Club
    Hunted:
    South Africa, Namibia, New Zealand
    True that!
  11. Spooksar

    Spooksar AH Veteran

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2013
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    7
    Hunted:
    South Africa, Namibia, Canada (BC, Alberta Nunavet)
    My first was with an agent, I had no idea of what I was doing. The next hunt was direct with the same PH. I have 3 hunts booked in the next 2 years all direct booked. The first 3 trips thought me a lot. So now I feel that I have a good grasp on how to do it. Check references, read articles and have realistic expectations.
  12. Paw Print

    Paw Print SPONSOR AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2012
    Messages:
    800
    Likes Received:
    14
    My Photos:
    3
    Member of:
    PHASA HSC
    Hunted:
    South Africa,Zimbabwe,Mozambique
    Agree with Bushwack!
  13. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    6,929
    Likes Received:
    119
    My Photos:
    396
    Member of:
    KZN Hunters Assoc
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Canada, USA, Mexico
    Never ever book with a PH directly.

    Now that I have your attention. :)



    Booking with an OUTFITTER directly is just fine. Booking with a PH is illegal (RSA).


    After having read the amount of information and stories I have, I know that you can be misled or misinterpret what an agent or an Outfitter says and in some rare cases they can be crooks.

    I don't know why, but I always felt better about booking directly when I could get enough information and references.

    With an agent you have to check them out as well.

    If I was heading into a country where there was little or limited information available and money transfers might be suspect I think an agent would be priceless.
  14. Paw Print

    Paw Print SPONSOR AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2012
    Messages:
    800
    Likes Received:
    14
    My Photos:
    3
    Member of:
    PHASA HSC
    Hunted:
    South Africa,Zimbabwe,Mozambique
    Brickburn,thank you for clarifying that,be sure to ask for an outfitters and PH license,as often your outfitter will be your PH.
  15. billc

    billc SILVER SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    694
    Likes Received:
    74
    My Photos:
    34
    Hunted:
    united states canada mexico south africa
    I myself like the direct way.Who better to deal with then the people doing your hunt.They have the answers to your question no middle man to get things mixed up by chance.I have had no trouble dealing direct and handling any money issue but have only saved some dollars.You may not pay extra with an agent but you wont get the extras must will give you dealing direct.Someone is paying the agent mainly the outfitters.If you dont have the time or dont like dealing with all the small details then a agent maybe the way to go.I look at it as part of the trip and enjoy the planning and working out the details myself.You pick the right outfit it is actully one of the easy parts if it becomes a headache dealing direct may be a sign you need to look elsewhere.Good luck in the planning of your trip
  16. Markschu

    Markschu New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2013
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for all the advice. I am almost ready to "pull the trigger" on booking my trip. Have spoken to several really good outfitters in Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. All good hunts but I believe Zim will probably fill my needs nicely. Thanks again for helping this newbie fulfill his new Africa obsession.
  17. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Messages:
    2,390
    Likes Received:
    23
    My Photos:
    68
    Member of:
    NRA, NA Hunt Club
    Hunted:
    Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe (2), Namibia, South Africa (2)
    In booking my flights with a non hunt booking agent recommended by my PH, they have me flying with Jet Blue, then connecting with SAA at JFK. Only problem is JB does NOT transfer your rifle for you to SAA. So when I land in NY, I have to grab my rifle at baggage and re check it in at SAA! I will have 5 hours on the ground to do it, but I would have way preferred not to have to. Fortunately the arriving and departing terminals are 5 and 4, right next to each other. Problem is, I am not sure how much of a pain it will be. Hopefully not too much.:mad:
  18. Wheels

    Wheels GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2012
    Messages:
    1,017
    Likes Received:
    17
    My Photos:
    45
    Hunted:
    Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania

    Let us know who you book with.

    When you get back we want to see pictures and would love to read a report. Good hunting.
  19. Adrian

    Adrian BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2013
    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    0
    My Photos:
    10
    Hunted:
    England
    I've been looking into various outfitters and sending a few emails off to prospective hunting outfits in Namibia.

    Personally I would prefer to book direct, have my questions answered by the people I am spending my money with and who are in the best position to give me information.

    I contacted one outfitter and their email went through to an agent in the U.S..

    So far my questions have remained unanswered. I have been asked to call him direct via the telephone and when I explained to him I live in the U.K. and due to time differences and cost I would prefer we communicate by email he merely suggested we use Skype.
    Not only is this impractical for me I would also prefer there to be a record of our dialogue I can refer back to if necessary.

    Needless to say I will not be giving my business to the outfitter he represents.

    I will also add that this is not James who is member HuntingAgent.com on this site.
  20. HuntingAgent.com

    HuntingAgent.com SPONSOR AH Enthusiast

    Joined:
    May 30, 2013
    Messages:
    308
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Texas
    My Photos:
    73
    There are pro's and con's to both sides, of course since I'm an agent I have a vested interest in peoples hunts and making sure they go smoothly.

    One of the reoccurring topics here is references and expectations. all of the outfits I work with, either myself or one of my staff have hunted with them and have first hand knowledge of the area, camp, food, staff, and trophies. I have seen far too many outfitters provide a reference list that is years out of date and/or comprised of friends and family that will gladly vouch for them. Of course I think using an agent is the best way as we have built these relationships with our outfitters and have firsthand experience on the hunt. Rather than rely on a provided list, we spend our hard earned money to make sure clients are treated fairly.

    Of course the other thing is expectations. Outfitters/PH's have one hunt to sell, theirs. I'm sure their motives are not malicious, but they want you to buy their hunt. So they make that hunt sound attractive to you and exactly what you are looking, hoping once you are in camp they can make you happy. Agents on the other hand have access to dozens of outfitters each with a slightly different selling point and specialty. The customer can work with an agent and tell him exactly what he wants and a price range and the agent can get him set up on the hunt and the experience he expects.

    The other thing we hear about is the money side of things. agents are paid directly by the outfitters. 99% of the time the price is the same if you book direct or through and agent. but if you use and agent and the hunt is not right, you have someone on your side (local) to help make it right. If your hunt goes bad and the outfitter will not take care of it, you have very little pull for him to fix it, he already has your money. Agents on the other hand may be holding funds for them and can work through the situation to make it right and get you a refund or a replacement hunt. At any given time I may have 20-30K in my account for an outfitter, there is no better leverage than me holding your money. Sometimes you can get a price break by skipping the agent, but by saving a few bucks you may be shorting yourself as well. By using an agent in the same country, you can call us just about anytime and we are there to help you with questions, flights, permits, exporting firearms, importing trophies, just BS, hunting stories etc. Additionally if you are not happy, I'll give you my home address and you can drive down here and whoop me if you want to.

    Overall my point is agents are here to assist clients with their hunt and they work in their best interest of those same clients.

Share This Page