Need for travel planners/ agents

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Marshian, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. Marshian

    Marshian New Member

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    I will be traveling to South Africa this summer and hunting in the nearly Kimberley. I was planning on not using any travel agents/ services, etc as I dont see their need. My thought is to book plane tickets on a major carrier to Johannesburg and then take a South African airline over to Kimberley. If I have my firearm permits completed and paperwork in order, what is the point of a travel service such as Gracy, etc? Has anyone encountered problems at OR Tambo with corrupt officials wanting bribes. etc when it comes time to pick-up my guns or some other reason a travel service is needed? It seems that for a level-headed and prepared person, you can do all your travel planning solo, unless Im being naive. Thanks.
     
  2. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Marshian

    i suggest you give it a go.

    As far as airports go many have there hands out.
     
  3. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I bought the girls at the SAPS in OR TAMBO a "cold drink" as a thank you for doing their job.
    I spent hours waiting with their fellow officers and they gave me a chair to sit in.
    We had no issues with firearms transiting/ approvals.

    Travel Agents job is to KNOW the issues and address them beforehand so you do not have to. It is a convenience and a reassurance during your travel. You decide.

    Any determined, informed, intelligent person can make their way through the process. Have patience when you run into a snag and be polite. The rude folks do not get to the front of the line.

    Good Luck.
     
  4. Code4

    Code4 AH Enthusiast

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    Marshian,

    I have always planned and booked my own trips, done my own paperwork and made my own way without issue. This has included car hire in RSA and flights to and from Zimbabwe from Jo'Burg.

    Last trip I did roughly what you plan to do, flew into J'Burg and completed all the paperwork and the next day flew to Bloomfontein on a domestic South African Airways flight. The only thing to watch is that some of the aircraft are not licensed to carry firearms due to the cargo hold configoration. Make sure the plane you book on is correctly configured. Not a problem I'd think with the larger seating flights to Kimberley. You will need to supply a credit card number if you book a domestic flight on line. Make sure you have that exact same credit card (not a new replacement) when you travel

    You will have to wait at the firearms counter at Jo'Burg but I hear that is speeding up now. Rather than pay for someone to do the paperwork I'd rather do it myself and pay for another animal to shoot. I have never had to bribe anyone and never will. The people with their hand out are usually the booked drivers and 'escorts' from the Hotels and B&B's. There is always someone ready to help if you ask politely. I have always treated the airport staff with respect no matter what their job. I do not shout or demand my 'rights' (you don't have many in another country). I speak softly, smile quietly and share a joke. Get the staff laughing with you not at you and you will be fine. Avoid the safari clothes when travelling and any beggars will give you less attention than the load mouth with the zebra skin hat band. I have always progressed quickly in the line ups bybeing patient. I find this works in most airports around the world, not just Jo'Burg. I adopt the attitude that I am a guest in someones elses country and act as I would expect them to act in mine.

    A lot of people don't even try to do it themselves because it is a new procedure. I can assure you it is not rocket science.
     
  5. Mike70560

    Mike70560 AH Fanatic

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    Marshain,

    In the last four years I have been to Tanzania once and Zim three times. Each time I used Gracy Travel to book my flights. I have flown more than I care to remember and never use a travel agent except for Africa. My suggestion would be to price your tickets on you own, then price tickets with Lori at Travel Express (she posts and advertises on AH), Steve Turner (Travel with Guns), and Gracy. I have not been able to beat their prices by booking on the internet. And in the event you have a problem with connections, lost luggage, etc. it is nice to have somebody working for you.

    As posted above the SAPs paperwork is not that difficult. However I used Gracy's service each time along with their meet and greet service twice. I feel it has been worth every penny. After traveling for 24 hours it is nice to have the help. You do not have to wait in the immigrations line (still have to wait for rifles), when we check in for the flight to Zim we go through the first class line, we get overweight carry-on on the plane with no problems, etc. It is just much smoother. And in the scheme of things it is a small cost.

    Good luck on your hunt.
     
  6. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I would have a travel agent book the airplane tickets and hotels if needed. The rifle paperwork I would do myself and follow the above directions.
     
  7. Jaco Strauss

    Jaco Strauss AH Elite

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    Guys, nothing can replace pre arranged importation as far as rifles are concerned doing it any other way into SA is just stupid( please excuse the brutal honesty) it is a service that runs at $100 total and is worth every penny, as far as flights give debbie trinidad at Custom travel a buzz they have good rates, once again pre arrange rifle importation, I would caution all on this site not to be to familiar with SAPS officials, these guys are absolut dogs and will turn on you quicker than a pitbull on a poodle!

    My best always.

    Riflepermits.com (Henry Durheim) is one option.
     
  8. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    I always did my own paperwork, and never had a problem.
     
  9. Hartzview Hunting Safaris

    Hartzview Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    Hey Marshian,

    Contact Lori Ginn at travelexpress@montana.com. She will take good care of you like she does with all my clients. You will not be dissapointed.

    Enjoy your hunt and be sure to post a report once your back!

    All the best,

    Jacques
     
  10. Code4

    Code4 AH Enthusiast

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    Well Jaco, you've just called five of us stupid. I would suggest that is probably not the best way to attract future clients. If Marshian is a first time flyer or visitor to South Africa, then he should at least do what MIKE70560 suggests.

    I'm sure the SAPS people have treated you a lot different to the way they have treated me.
     
  11. Nyatiboss

    Nyatiboss AH Senior Member

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    Hi

    Oliver Tambo is fine if you keep an eye out at all times. They have cleared many of the 'undesirables' who used to hang around and pilfer !

    A guy should collar ( airside )you whilst you are waiting for your firearms and he will take you to the Police Station ( landside ). I found these guys and the Police very helpful, but don't give them ANY hassle and certainly don't attempt any form of inducement to the SA Police. The firearms baggage guy is tippable though.

    Best to pre fill a SAPS South African Police firearms temporary import permit. You can get these online or I can send to you by email.

    Beware taxis . Only take one allocated to you by the taxi rank organiser and unwise to go into the parking lots. Stay with the taxi rank guy. Several people will try and 'help you' with bags and want tipping. Just use the one guy.

    If you are staying overnight in J'burg, stay at one of the airport hotels, use their shuttles and don't do any distances in taxis at night.

    Internal flights. Pre warn your carrier that you are bringing firearms and get them to confirm in writing acknowledging this. Also beware that they all charge excess baggage, both ways, so stay under the limits. If your international flight is SAA then maybe use their internal flight guys SA Airlink. Might help on the baggage allowance.

    It's all just common sense really !

    Have a great trip.

    Tony
     
  12. Jaco Strauss

    Jaco Strauss AH Elite

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    Code4 if the shoe fits!

    Pre arranged imports makes sense and saves all my clients allot of time especially after an 17 hour flight, true most times all will go well if it happens not to you'll wish you pre arranged, thats the bottom line.
    If you feel as a hunter its worth taking the risk and saving 100 usd by all means but being African and knowing Africans, you'll get burnt one just keep on coming, personally if I was traveling I would prefer all my ducks in a row.
    Me and mike are refering to pretty much the same service, henry meets you takes you throughto the firearms desk and is you representative there it does help having this after a long flight!

    I appologise for the stupid comment did not mean to offend you but let me rephrase ..... Its silly not to use such a service, it has been proven (very much like a vehicles airbags).

    But seems like you guys a veterans....

    My best always!
     
  13. Jaco Strauss

    Jaco Strauss AH Elite

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    Code 4 thanks for the suggestion will mill it for a while.

    My best always.
     
  14. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Jaco, as a victim of "airbag failure"! :) The problem with pre arranging these permits from a Canadian perspective, for instance, is that both countries want the other's export or import permit before they will process theirs. ie. It is a catch 22.

    After trying to fight with the governments of three countries at the same time to provide the prearranged service the required information, we just gave up.
    We took the completed forms on one at a time and just dealt with them in order as we arrived in each country.

    Prearranged permits may work really well for some folks and some countries. We tried, did not work for me.
    Maybe we got difficult people initially.
    When the guns entered RSA they breezed through. Got the SAPS on a good day too!
     
  15. graybird

    graybird AH Veteran

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    I've done it both ways.

    The first time I did it on my own. Luckily, I found a very helpful porter and he knew what needed to be done. Had he not been there, not sure I would have known you had to go to a couple different offices to check and re-check the rifles for your connecting flight. I flew straight thru to Durbin without staying over night in Joburg.

    Last trip, we pre-arranged all of our gun import information. It cost us $100 each, which in the grand scheme of things revolving around a safari is nothing more than an incidental. Once the guns arrived in the SAPS office, it was open the cases, have the officer check the rifle serial numbers against the paperwork and out the door we went. They then assisted with check in the following morning as we stayed at the Afton House that evening in Joburg on our way to East London. I would/will pay for this service again as like I said before, it is merely a drop in the bucket when considering the total cost of the safari.

    I used Kathi at Wild Travel to book all of our flights. One of my hunting partners lost his luggage on the return trip to the U.S. After a couple of days, Kathi located it still sitting in Joburg. Her staying on the return of the luggage was professionally done and I will certainly use her services again.

    As to the beggars in the airport, I did run into one while getting all of my paperwork completed on the first trip. The officer was going thru the paperwork and a guy kept saying something to me while grabbing his throat. I couldn't understand a single word he was saying and after about 5 minutes he finally left. The officer looked at me and said he was wanting money so he could get something to drink. I had never seen this guy, much less did he help me, until he walked into the officer office.

    Having said all this, I think it is worth the extra $100 for a piece of mind when I travel all that way with firearms. Also, paying a travel agent is worth it's weight in gold should a problem arise, even when returning without your luggage!

    Good luck on the hunt!!!
     
  16. Jaco Strauss

    Jaco Strauss AH Elite

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    Brickburn correct, I have some guys from Alberta and Edmonton come in every year and they ussually just use my rifles I do understand that the canadian perspective is a different one that is true.
    Just goes to show sometimes you can be prepared and things still dont work out ;-)

    Once again I do appologize my aim was not to insult anyone, I simply wanted to mention that as an outfitter I truly believe that pre arranged importation does have it advantages alot more so than not having it done, IF you have not prearranged and there are two flights hitting a terminal with 20+ firearms on it (it has happened) and you are not pre arranged you will wait a while, should you lose any paperwork while hunting the guys that helped you with your importation can also help you, if you are prearranged it just gives the non kosher SAPS individuals less of a hold on you,

    please understand that I am nor are any outfitters making any money of prearranged imports but we have seen that it works especially if things dont go as planned.
    In the end it is still your choice as a hunter we/I am only making a reccomendation, from a local's perspactive that have 30 - 40 clients coming in a season.

    My very best always.
     
  17. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Jaco,

    You're just having too much fun with United Airlines and had to let it out somewhere.

    I watched one of those twenty plus firearms planes unloading. I was on it. Coming from the USA side you are much more likely to have the place full of hunters in high season.
    The porters grabbed the guns and took them to the SAPS office and everyone got to line up. I mean everyone.

    I was smart and only had a bow!! More reason to hunt with a bow in my mind.

    I may just nick name you air bag just to bug you. :)
     
  18. 6MM

    6MM AH Veteran

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    We booked our own Flights Detroit/Atlanta/J'Burg not a big deal.

    Used Riflepermits.com for the import and that was worth even though between Fed-X/Service/tip it was $200. There were 15 guys waiting we breezed in opened the case and out we went. Very nice after a 17 hour flight.
     
  19. Jaco Strauss

    Jaco Strauss AH Elite

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    6mm henry's a legend glad to hear it was hassle free for you too.

    My best always, airbag aka jaco ;-)
     
  20. Terry Blauwkamp

    Terry Blauwkamp CONTRIBUTOR AH Member

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    I am sold on using a Booking agent for tickets, and a pre-arranging SAPS firearms permits with someone like Air-2000.

    Even though I go thru JoBerg 2 or 3 times a year and know my way around, I still use their service.

    Same with booking tickets on line, when something goes wrong, who is going to help you?
     

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