After much hemming and hawing, the Flying Yanks got down to business tonight in a conference call. I'm pleased to report that we've decided to go with Africa Travel Resource as our outfitter.
These guys appear to have it all. They'll cater to our needs when necessary, but they're giving us freedom to get into trouble if we want. I'm generally skeptical of arranged group travel, but ATR doesn't seem to want us to have anything that feels packaged in any way. Nick at ATR has given me a ton of time to understand what we want, to describe their services and make suggestions that fit our skills and interests. This is going to be the trip that *we* want, I'm sure of it.
It also helps to see the multitude of recommendations for ATR on the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree discussion forum. Contributors to the Thorn Tree, for the most part, are knowledgeable, individualistic and ridiculously honest. I haven't seen anything on the TT that besmirches Africa Travel Resource; that gives me a lot of confidence.
We have a tentative itinerary from ATR already. We just need to iron out a few more details, and then we'll be all set. (Oh yeah, and we also need to hand over a bunch of cash, too. Details, details.) More on the exact itinerary later... but damn, we've got a whole year to wait for this thing to happen!