Africa prices?

When researching my first hunt in 2014 all of the agents I talked to said the cost was the same whether I booked through them or directly with the outfitter. They would be paid the deposit and forward it to the outfitter and be the go between of anything went sideways. I didn’t ask how they were paid but I used them as I was new to booking international hunts. On my subsequent 4 trips I’ve done the booking myself but if I can ever afford a trip to a more exotic destination like Cameroon, Ethiopia or Uganda I will go the booking agent route.

When a booking agent screws up, they always point fingers at the other guy (operator) you didn't contract with. Many tales on this forum and elsewhere of people saying "give me my damned money back" to which the most noble of booking agents says "if I agree to surrender all funds I earned to you and call it a total loss, I can give you back 15% for the disastrous situation with your hunt".

There may be some areas of the world you cannot hunt without a booking agent, but they cost a lot and are indeed, commissioned sales people. If anyone has ever been in sales, you realize you must often sell products you don't really believe in. Caveat emptor with middle men that separate you from the ultimate recipient of your cash.
 
You're mistaken with the prices when Covid hit.

They came down a long way and actually has nothing to with outfitters increasing prices.


Egg prices 2014 : $2.02 / 2024: $2.52. (% 24 increase.)

Milk Prices 2014: $3.69 / 2024: $ 4.36 (% 18 increase.)
During covid my wife negotiated a reduced elephant trophy fee. We reduced our prices not because we had to, but because we considered it the right thing to do.

When we say that we endeavor to operate at a 20% margin that is what we do. If our costs go up or down so do our price.

I could care less about the prices of eggs, milk or sod in the USA.

Lon
 
You are wrong. The price you get from a booking agent is the same price you get booking direct. This is of course unless you are dealing with unscrupulous people. Then who knows.
Phil you are correct and wrong. In our case we cut no deal with any booking agent. If we find that a booking agent has trolled the net for our prices and then Fxxx the client he is either not allowed on the hunt or pays double what the hunters daily fee is. If the agent is from certain countries there will be no hunt.

I hope I have made that clear how we operate. Have our clients been screwed by these cxxxx yes and when we find out the client is informed with the agent present.

Lon
 
Phil you are correct and wrong. In our case we cut no deal with any booking agent. If we find that a booking agent has trolled the net for our prices and then Fxxx the client he is either not allowed on the hunt or pays double what the hunters daily fee is. If the agent is from certain countries there will be no hunt.

I hope I have made that clear how we operate. Have our clients been screwed by these cxxxx yes and when we find out the client is informed with the agent present.

Lon


Ultimate irony, @Tokoloshe Safaris . You have expended more than a million dollars on equipment, vehicles, concessions, improvements so you can operate as a safari company. You have taken all the risk with tribal issues, risks of losing your lease, running anti-poaching out of your own pockets, donating bore holes and school improvements for the privilige to operate. You pre-purchase your tags. You provide medical care to staff whether they are billing that month or not. Basically, you've imperiled a fortune by American standards all for the hope of ~20% profit margin which you've indicated you do not always achieve.

Meanwhile, some a-hole in the US or Europe goes to a tradeshow, finds customers, and makes ~20% while imperiling no capital, having zero skin in the game, and achieving that 20% margin with a mere 1-4 hours of total work whereas the Operator puts hundreds of hours of work in before and after the hunter's stay, not counting the 24x7 nature of your 14 day hunt for the client.

That's in a nutshell, the difference between the skin in the game of the booking agent versus the operator.
 
Let’s break down the math with my crude estimates:

2 elephant @$12000 each = $24,000
1 hippo @$6000
2 croc @$4500 each = $9000
1 hyena @$1000

Total trophy fees = $40,000

Tiger fishing for 3, plus 14 days dangerous game daily rates for 3 men for $10,000? That’s $238 per guy, per day for daily rate with free transport to/from airport (that should be more) and tiger fishing (that should be more).

Sounds like a pretty darned good deal to me. You certainly couldn’t do that in RSA on a Ranch for anywhere near that price, and of course no tiger fishing either.
You got the trophy prices a bit high and the daily fees a bit low, there was also gun rental and ammunition. The total price was $47,000.00. No agent involved, repeat hunters.

Lon
Ultimate irony, @Tokoloshe Safaris . You have expended more than a million dollars on equipment, vehicles, concessions, improvements so you can operate as a safari company. You have taken all the risk with tribal issues, risks of losing your lease, running anti-poaching out of your own pockets, donating bore holes and school improvements for the privilige to operate. You pre-purchase your tags. You provide medical care to staff whether they are billing that month or not. Basically, you've imperiled a fortune by American standards all for the hope of ~20% profit margin which you've indicated you do not always achieve.

Meanwhile, some a-hole in the US or Europe goes to a tradeshow, finds customers, and makes ~20% while imperiling no capital, having zero skin in the game, and achieving that 20% margin with a mere 1-4 hours of total work whereas the Operator puts hundreds of hours of work in before and after the hunter's stay, not counting the 24x7 nature of your 14 day hunt for the client.

That's in a nutshell, the difference between the skin in the game of the booking agent versus the operator
Thank you Rookhawk, your spot on.

Lon
 
Clearing trophies question: I just got back from Dallas picking up my last shipment from SA. I have cleared my last 5 shipments, no issues if you have the correct paperwork. First go on the F&W website and use EDecs to file the 3-177 form, and the other paperwork that the shipping company has provided. When they clear it, you will get clearance from them by email (eDecs) no charge and you don't have to stop at the F&W office to pick it up. Next take the correct paperwork to US Customs. They require 1. 3-177 form, 2. packing list of trophies, 3. invoice for amount paid for taxidermy, 4. airbill of shipment, and NEW this year, a passport. I spent about 10 minutes in the Customs office to get clearance. They now charge $10.00 for this service. Then go to the shipping company with the Customs clearance and pick up your trophies. You just saved yourself about $500.00!

I have done the clearance even when I had a lion and elephant, no problems. The key is the correct paperwork. Remember F&W is not required to open the crate for inspection. They only do that if the paperwork looks suspicious, or is incomplete. So, the shippers documents are very important to be correct and complete.

And, shop around for shipping agents. I got 4 quotes. The difference was over $2000.00 between the 4 quotes! Hope this helps.
 
During a previous hunting year we had a Russian client. We were originally contacted by his “friend” who spoke English and Russian. His friend the translator said the Russian wanted to hunt ele, hipp, croc & hyena with us. Near the end of the hunt he was hunting Hyena he had shot 5. He joked five thousand, five thousand. We told him no, twenty five hundred. That night he found out his friend the “translater” had charged him a 100% markup.

Several things happened 1. I stayed awake all night listening for the gun shot.
2. The translator asked to be taken to vic falls the next morning, he had to be in some “stan”. 3. The Russian booked the same hunt all over for 30 days later.

Lon
 
Nobody deserves to be screwed. The Russian could afford the hunt 90% of our hunters cannot. I have a feeling the “translator” refunded a hell of a lot of money. As a point of interest on the next hunt we were able to communicate with the Russian just fine. One thing he said war in Ukraine bad for business. I guess arms was not his business.

Lon
 
Ultimate irony, @Tokoloshe Safaris . You have expended more than a million dollars on equipment, vehicles, concessions, improvements so you can operate as a safari company. You have taken all the risk with tribal issues, risks of losing your lease, running anti-poaching out of your own pockets, donating bore holes and school improvements for the privilige to operate. You pre-purchase your tags. You provide medical care to staff whether they are billing that month or not. Basically, you've imperiled a fortune by American standards all for the hope of ~20% profit margin which you've indicated you do not always achieve.

Meanwhile, some a-hole in the US or Europe goes to a tradeshow, finds customers, and makes ~20% while imperiling no capital, having zero skin in the game, and achieving that 20% margin with a mere 1-4 hours of total work whereas the Operator puts hundreds of hours of work in before and after the hunter's stay, not counting the 24x7 nature of your 14 day hunt for the client.

That's in a nutshell, the difference between the skin in the game of the booking agent versus the operator.

Exactly my feeling about agents
Zero risk near zero cost all profit
Operator carries all the risk amd all the costs amd minimal margin
 
Phil you are correct and wrong. In our case we cut no deal with any booking agent. If we find that a booking agent has trolled the net for our prices and then Fxxx the client he is either not allowed on the hunt or pays double what the hunters daily fee is. If the agent is from certain countries there will be no hunt.

I hope I have made that clear how we operate. Have our clients been screwed by these cxxxx yes and when we find out the client is informed with the agent present.

Lon
Lon
There are certainly some crooked booking agents. I was screwed by one on a mountain lion hunt but the outfitter made it right. I just heard an unbelievably tragic story about some Asian hunts with a somewhat well known agent. I’ve had good luck with the Hunting Consortium.
That said booking agents can serve a very good purpose and save the outfitter big money on marketing.
Sounds like youve had a bit of trouble!
 
Lon
There are certainly some crooked booking agents. I was screwed by one on a mountain lion hunt but the outfitter made it right. I just heard an unbelievably tragic story about some Asian hunts with a somewhat well known agent. I’ve had good luck with the Hunting Consortium.
That said booking agents can serve a very good purpose and save the outfitter big money on marketing.
Sounds like youve had a bit of trouble!


@Philip Glass I've never used Hunting Consortium before but I've also never heard ill will towards them. I know nothing of their booking services, but I know several reputable operators/PHs that use them in some capacity. Specifically, its financially non-feasible to be a Zim operator and get a table at SCI. I think the booth is $10k-$20k, OR a donation of a hunt. Obviously, with Zim prices for trophy fees going to the gov't, a working PH or operator cannot give away $16,000 of cash-cash to donate a $20k hunt, so they don't get a booth. Some of those guys have a deal going with Hunting Consortium so they can sit at their booth and make bookings. The rest of the Zim guys seem to do their bookings at the SCI/DSC bars!

So the question would be, if you have on good account a reliable operator with strong personal references you verified, and you can meet with them at SCI/DSC in the bar, are you really sure you want to meet with them at someone's booth where there may be a finders fee assigned? I don't know how the sausage gets made, but I know nothing is free, and an operator bumming space at a booth isn't free for them so they'll pass that cost on to your hunt of course.

@Tokoloshe Safaris care to set the record straight? How do these "borrow a booth at the show" arrangements typically go and is that creating justification for a finders fee or a commission that could have been avoided meeting an operator elsewhere?
 
Clearing trophies question: I just got back from Dallas picking up my last shipment from SA. I have cleared my last 5 shipments, no issues if you have the correct paperwork. First go on the F&W website and use EDecs to file the 3-177 form, and the other paperwork that the shipping company has provided. When they clear it, you will get clearance from them by email (eDecs) no charge and you don't have to stop at the F&W office to pick it up. Next take the correct paperwork to US Customs. They require 1. 3-177 form, 2. packing list of trophies, 3. invoice for amount paid for taxidermy, 4. airbill of shipment, and NEW this year, a passport. I spent about 10 minutes in the Customs office to get clearance. They now charge $10.00 for this service. Then go to the shipping company with the Customs clearance and pick up your trophies. You just saved yourself about $500.00!

I have done the clearance even when I had a lion and elephant, no problems. The key is the correct paperwork. Remember F&W is not required to open the crate for inspection. They only do that if the paperwork looks suspicious, or is incomplete. So, the shippers documents are very important to be correct and complete.

And, shop around for shipping agents. I got 4 quotes. The difference was over $2000.00 between the 4 quotes! Hope this helps.
Absolutely spot on for all items. That is exactly what I do only as a Canadian. Horror stories of storage fees and clearance charges on here make me wonder "wow there are lots of US hunters who love to burn money". If I can spend an hr and save $ on D&P, shipper, and import myself it only means I can go back sooner for more.

I watch closely this site, it sure is awesome seeing African outfitters stating what I learned long ago. Only Safaris I used US agents were the ones where all the BS happened. Long list of promises unfulfilled. Still regret to this day taking the high road after I met the old man, when Wayne had the lying piece of crap in his living room and I got 10 mins alone with him. I should have smashed him many times.

Now I email direct to outfitter. I agree there are some hunts where an agent seams a must, but those hunts are beyond my reality for now.

Thanks to the outfitters who added to this thread. Notes taken.

MB
 
The outfitter and booking agent I use to book my East Cape hunts lists, and I can say it is, 100% money back if a client has to cancel or reschedule a hunt prior to boarding the plane to depart on their trip. As I had to reschedule my first Africa hunt 3 times due to hip surgery.

For 2025 I booked directly with the outfitter at the SCI Convention after paying my deposit the outfitter referred me to his booking agent here in the states for simplicity of making payment(s).

I've done both booked hunts with a booking agent and directly with the outfitter. My experience no difference in fees.
 
I bet you had a great trip to Zambia!

Now touching base on your question not all of South Africa is high fenced there is lots of low fenced cattle and sheep farm country that a guy can hunt lots of great options in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal area both areas hold some key species in them as well such as the Vaal Reebok, Blue Duiker, Southern Oribi, Sun, and Red duiker just to name a few. They both offer great experiences in some spectacular country from the mountains and rolling hiss to hunting just off the coast making for a great trip and including some great attractions for your wife to keep her happy lol

Namibia also offers great free range hunts with big free range areas such as the Caprivi or cattle fenced country. With some specialty species such as the Damara Dik Dik, only hunted in Namibia and the cheetah not importable to the US but only hunted in Zimbabwe outside of Namibia.

Both countries off very affordable hunts with great areas, good accommodations, spectacular food, and attractions that your wife could enjoy as well besides hunting.

Zimbabwe offers some good affordable hunting as well but you will be limited on options and when adding key specise the prices seem to climb fast.
 
Phil you are correct and wrong. In our case we cut no deal with any booking agent. If we find that a booking agent has trolled the net for our prices and then Fxxx the client he is either not allowed on the hunt or pays double what the hunters daily fee is. If the agent is from certain countries there will be no hunt.

I hope I have made that clear how we operate. Have our clients been screwed by these cxxxx yes and when we find out the client is informed with the agent present.

Lon
I don’t understand why someone would use an agent when someone like Lon is the easiest person to deal directly with. On all my hunts I have done my own homework relying heavily on AH.com and have always been very happy
 
I don’t understand why someone would use an agent when someone like Lon is the easiest person to deal directly with. On all my hunts I have done my own homework relying heavily on AH.com and have always been very happy

I'll be better prepared to answer your question maybe during but most definitely after my 2025 hunts.

For now I can say, obviously not all foreign (outside the US) outfitters have a representative in the US. Personally and from my Zimbabwe experience; I have become more apprehensive on sending money, especially the amount of money for an African safari, by wire transfer to a bank account outside the US.

For those that do wire transfers routinely and are confident in sending wire transfers it probably isn't a big deal. For the first timer it most likely is concerning.

Using a booking agent gives me a bit more relief-security becuase when I deal with a booking agent here in the states, that I can simply call, give credit card information to them (especially giving out my cc info) and later as questions and /or should changes or problems need to be addressed, a simple phone call can usually takes care of it. Unlike trying to communicate with an outfitter thousands of miles away in a different time zone, in an area that doesn't have reliable phone and internet service, and the outfitter is the owner/operator/PH (and especially when) they are with client(s) on the ground.

Having the right booking agent, especially for first timers going abroad, can help relieve the stress on booking dates, (if they are coordinated with a travel agency flights, providing customs,TSA, traveling with firearms, travel/trip insurance advice and other information), and information on other than hunting activities in the area.

Is using a booking agent a necessity? No. But they can be a good asset to use.
 

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