Apples & Oranges: What do you compare in a hunt offer?

BRICKBURN

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..............
But if I wanted the closer camp, I probably could have spoken up and gotten it. Best to let those who are informed make the choice and glad I did. The train cars were awesome.

You had already arrived in country.
It is the offer comparison before the decision I am most concerned about.

I am certain that @Nyamazana Safaris would have done exactly as you wished. That is most certainly his reputation.
 

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....................
No ranches are the same, nor are PHs, accommodations, herds, etc. It will always be an apples to oranges comparison, or at best case, a Granny Smith vs. Fuji Apple comparison. ............

So, how is the rookie going to tell?
 

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Ultimately, whether you want it or not will always be your personal decision.

How do you compare these two. Tent and 5*. If they are the same price, no doubt someone is about to complain about the offer.

We correlate remoteness and a tent as being acceptable. I wonder about a tent in, for instance, the Eastern Cape.
Reading a recent Ele hunt report showed some pretty nice digs in an old train car. It took some more time driving. Would you accept a tent and sandwiches with a bucket shower for the same price?

Personally, if i was paying 5 star prices, I would expect 5 star service & amenities..... There are some in high end tent camps in Tanzania & places (i.e Masasi Four Seasons). However, not the same as a tent set-up taking a dump near the closest tree you can grab on to & drinking out of canteens.

If i was paying for some rock bottom deal..... I should not expect to arrive at the Taj mahal & be treated like a King.

For the first timer.... have to rely on & trust references, photos, websites.... go to conventions. See what suits one best. That's the true barometer.
 

Buckdog

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I truly believe there is no free lunch in the world. For instance the dirt cheap package hunts in RSA for the most part are on game farms where the outfitter/PH knows his costs of the animals is low and the animals are average size range. Some of them are "put and take hunts". If the first timer just wants to get to Africa and get a feel for it and take some average animals they are really a very good deal and I would just shop based on number of animals for a given package that you are interested in.
 
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Royal27

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If i was paying for some rock bottom deal..... I should not expect to arrive at the Taj mahal & be treated like a King.

This is where we all, and the rookie in particular, have to be careful.

I've seen many times where a small area and relatively rustic lodge are marketed as the same hunt as a more expensive free range or remote hunt, when they simply aren't. But, that doesn't stop folks, outfitters and client, from saying a 3 star hunt is a five star hunt.

Once you figure out you want an apple then and only then can you begin to compare apples.
 
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Biddleman

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Like it's been said, one has to KNOW what they want, WHERE they want to go, and HOW they want to do it. You can't compare anything until that is figured out. I personally never compare hunts for main animals, for example a buff, in 2 different countries. Too many factors can affect the outfitters/PHs cost to conduct it. It's not fair to them.
 

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South africa game farm hunt - price

DG game hunt - ph and location
 

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Like it's been said, one has to KNOW what they want, WHERE they want to go, and HOW they want to do it. You can't compare anything until that is figured out. I personally never compare hunts for main animals, for example a buff, in 2 different countries. Too many factors can affect the outfitters/PHs cost to conduct it. It's not fair to them.

This is the biggest issue. It is very hard to know what you want when you really have no idea what the options are! I am going back for a second time, and I now have a little insight, but I still I feel quite ignorant to be honest.
 

TByrd

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This is a great post. If everyone wanted to hear from a rookie/novice (for Africa anyways).....here you go. I will preface this with a little background info. No stranger to travel, flown into all 50 US States and 11 different countries/territories. Not a beginner outdoorsman/hunter....but never hunted in Africa. This being said, the vision that is hunting Africa becomes pretty intimidating as you move from "a dream" to a real goal. The way I am approaching this is to spend a period of time gathering all of the info possible. I have begun building an "Africa" trip binder/notebook. I know, this sounds pretty anal and lame, but I do this for any large trip. The process helps me stay organized and "compare" options. The tabs in the binder include (thus far) 1) Species notes, what animals am I really interested in? 2) Country/Culture/Political Environment. What is where (animals and side trips, points of interest. 3) Logistics and Travel to different areas. 4) Regulatory concerns (regarding firearms,etc). 5) Overall risk factors. 6) Cost analysis (animals, ph fees, accommodations, airfare, etc.) 7) Prep list/pack list/milestone calendar. 8) After the hunt and miscellaneous consideration. Whew....there is a TON to learn and consider.

This is the only way I could begin to get my arms around it. The BEST thing that I have done, is join this forum. I am new here, but I can't tell you how much you guys have helped me begin turning this dream into reality. While I'm at it, thanks to Brickburn and "all the other usual suspects" for sharing so much knowledge. This forum is a great way to start seeing who the "preferred" outfits are. And, start getting a feel for the more humanistic aspects of these fine outfitters...seeing how they interact with other folks. Hunting reports are invaluable as well.

I think you have to take your experience level into account as well. Some areas may better suit first timers than others?

Sorry for the ramble, that's just how this Rookie has started sorting out the Apples and Oranges.
 

Ridgerunner

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This is a great question. Having just been through this process I can offer my insight. Because I was taking my family I wanted to make sure where I was going was safe and that there would be plenty of things for them to do. After my post I got lots of great information from others on the board. I organize things in the spreadsheet so I could keep track of how much it would cost with each outfitter by animal as well as by extra excursions. From there I narrowed it down to the top five or six. Price was a criteria as well as how responsive the outfitter was and the vibe I got from them. From there I spoke to references from each outfitter. All were positive and made me want to book a hunt with that outfitter. I knew I had narrowed it down to four really good choices. When I started the process I thought I would try to book with someone that I had the chance to meet ahead of time, however in the end I ended up choosing the one that I felt was the best communicator, one that seemed very interested in providing my family with the trip, not just a hunt of a lifetime. The price wasn't the cheapest, but was not the highest and from what I could deduct was a good value for what you pay and the trophy quality as well as accommodations. It was definitely an interesting and fun process though.
 

Dr Ray

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It has struck me of late that offers are being compared without the knowledge of how to effectively evaluate and compare offers.

Asking questions for clarification or hacking an offer! There is a huge difference.
This is not a new problem, it rears its head on a cyclical basis on AH.
There tends to be a lumping of offers into a continental comparison: "Africa" vs the various countries.


Value for Money - that South African expression comes to mind. It is in the eye of the beholder.

It makes it pretty simple when the species can not be hunted anywhere else and there are only three Outfitters offering the opportunity. Mountain Nyala comes to mind. Pricing in that case is almost "if you need to ask, don't bother."

Other species however can be found in multiple locations and with many Outfitters.
Exclusivity along with the rarity of the species impacts the price.
Rarity example: Cape Grysbok, Sitatunga, Bongo, Black Rhino etc.

Exclusivity: Private reserve, large government concession, small holding/camp, rented concession.

Country: Taxes, concession fees, government fees, (I can't list them all), park ranger, etc.

Some other obvious hunt variables:
Leopard - With Dogs, Baited, Nighttime, Wild area, cattle ranch, etc.
Elephant: Tuskless, Own use, Trophy (size), crop raiding, etc.
Lion: CBL, Wild


So, how do you compare offers?

Pick the animals you want. Use a spreadsheet to itemise what is offered. Then study the days, concessions - like mountainous or ??
I also consider the distance from J'burg and connecting flights to say Port Elizabeth and so on.
The outfitter's reputation is another major factor too!
 
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It's the newcomers that I want to hear from. Pure curiosity I suppose.

Like many of you, I suppose, Africa has been a dream of mine since I learned to read. I have been thinking about a safari off and on for many years but it seemed so far out of reach financially that I never really thought it possible. My first career choice (Navy enlisted) was not a lucrative one and we spent many years living paycheck to paycheck. After retiring from the Navy in 1996 I went to work as a machinist and started making a little better money I was finally able to put back a few $$. A couple years ago I realized that I just might be able to pull off my dream trip. I really wanted my wife to come along so was looking at South Africa and plains game, I mentioned this plan to her and she had no desire to go but told me to go ahead with planning for myself. I had already done a ton of research and pretty well had an outfitter narrowed down then a couple of things happened, I realized that a lodge hunt was not what I really wanted for my first African hunting experience and I found this forum. Once those two things occurred my focus shifted and I started looking at destinations that offered a more wild experience and a traditional tented camp.
Once I had decided on this direction I singled out the areas that offered what I wanted and quickly came up with Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Tanzania. After narrowing down the geographical part I read every hunt report I could find and talked to people who had actually been to these areas and hunted. My next step was to get a hard number from the CFO. Honey, how much can I spend ? Once I had my budget I decided if I was careful I could make it to Tanzania, now I had to pick an outfitter my previous research had narrowed things considerably and after looking at websites (all a bit dated by the way) I sent e-mail information requests to three outfits, I got two e-mails and a phone call. One of the outfitters I contacted was priced out of my range but the other two were pretty close and in the end I went with the one who called, not simply because of the call but I had an immediate impression that I was talking to the right guy. After several e-mails, a few phone calls and some face to face conversations I'm quite sure I made the right choice for me.

Some of the things that helped sway my decision were (in no particular order).

Hunt reports, going back over ten years I couldn't find a single negative remark even from the folks who didn't get all the game they sought.

Honesty, I asked several leading questions that could have had a misleading answer but in every case the response was what I thought it should be.

A US bank account, just makes things easier for me.

A good record of getting the sought after game.

A willingness to make time and go out of his way to meet up for face to face questions.

Flexibility in the actual hunting arrangements and a willingness to work within my budget.

It didn't hurt that he is a forum sponsor either.

That's pretty much how things played out for me.
 

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I use Bayes' Theorem, doesn't everybody?????? :whistle:

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I am going on third trip to Africa in a few weeks and hunted with outfitters in the US. My thoughts are as follows.
  • What experience do I want? Guaranteed kill, top end Trophy? Exclusive hunting area or wilderness experience with reasonable chance at mature animal? Fancy lodge or place to sleep?
  • Once that decision is made I look at reputation/references/hunting reports
  • Then I look at price to get the best value for my money.
Of course to be honest, an offer with low price. just like tits does catch my attention. May not act but always fun to look at!
 

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My first trip i took my wife, we stayed at a very nice place, all the comforts of home (to be honest the food was better than at home but don't tell the wife)
second trip i stayed in a rustic 1800's homestead, not as many comforts as the first trip, but i knew that and was happy with the experience, was a short trip with nothing but hunting on the mind so i didn't bring my wife as she wouldn't have enjoyed it as much.
Next trip going back to the rustic 1800's homestead but with the wife, plans are to send her off to Capetown for a few days while i hunt.
For me i expected top notch service from whom ever i picked, saw the pictures of the camps beforehand but also not naive enough to believe every picture knowing that some "salesmanship" and "enhancing" didn't occur
Both times i believed something will go wrong and was prepared, both times i was not let down, so my trip was made even better
So many hunts to book, so little money and time
 

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When you make a decision on something that has as many variables as an African hunt I personally suggest using what I refer to as the big picture approach. In short, you take a pen and a pad of paper and write down all of the significant issues. Once you've created your list you then rewrite them listing them in order of importance. So, things such as lodging, quality of food, price, game animals desired, free range vs. high fence, the list goes on and on and includes anything that's important to you.

After you've made your list and prioritized it, you then begin to evaluate each operator, what they offer and, your perception of how they rate with each item. The process will be far from perfect but, at the end of the day, it will afford you some form of scorecard with which to make a decision. Most of your ratings will be determined from the feedback you get from the 12-15 prior clients that you telephone and inquire about these issues.

For me, the quality of food will be just as important as the quality of game. For others, the fact that someone actually made them dinner will be more than sufficient to appease them. That's what's great about the list, you are the one who ultimately decides what matters and to what extent.

At the end of the day your choice and trip will be based upon your priorities, wants and needs.
 

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The final choice is a personal issue and have a lot to do with trusting your own gut feeling, besides of TRUSTING the outfitter.
Recommendation that we could make, is to not under estimate the value of the references, word of mouth and returning client percentage.
We consider one of the important purposes of attending the hunting show/conventions to make ourselves available to the potential client(s) to meet us in person to put the client in a position to determine for himself if he/she "wants to spend" 7 or 10 or 14 hunting days with the PH in the field?
 

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I had a moment of pause today and for some reason this thread came to mind. It dawned on me that one of the main issues a newcomer faces, possibly without realizing it, is that most of them do not know the difference between a $10,000 buffalo hunt on a farm in RSA and a $20,000 buff in the wilds of Tanzania or Caprivi. When they look on line and the prices for a given animal vary so much I believe it confuses most to the point of frustration. This causes them to lean towards the lower end of the scale with the simpler logistics. This isn't necessarily a bad thing just an observation.

Apples & Oranges could not be a more appropriate title. Well done Brick.
 

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Great thread.

What I truly don't care for is the "contrived" African experience. I have twice been on ranches where the PH's stayed in very nice quarters, and the clients were in well appointed "tents" (of course, with ensuite bath and toiletries) to provide them a twenty-first century facsimile of the "safari" experience. Everyone gathered around the campfire in the evening. It was very nice, but just a little too much like boy scout camp or make believe. So I eliminate those opportunities from the start regardless of game or price. I hasten to add, there is nothing at all wrong with that option. Indeed, had I been able to take family on a hunt to Africa when the kids were young, that may have been the perfect choice. It just is of no interest to me now. So my price and experience comparisons begin after eliminating those options. That gets me into at least orange and tangerine comparisons.

I am taking my spouse with me on a "vacation" hunt in SA next year, and it will be in one of these large concessions bordering Kruger with the five-star accommodations. We'll spend as much time in Cape Town and wine country as I will spend hunting. In that case, I eliminated all the wilderness options and raised the accommodation variable considerably.

As others have suggested, decide what you want to do, what you want take, and in what environment you want to take it. That will at least narrow the options just a bit.
 

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