This is where using a professional tour operator becomes essential as the advice of where to go and when, and what deals are being offered by which lodges, will be at their finger-tips. In the current climate ‘stay for 5, pay for 4’ deals, or the like, are becoming more frequent.
The tour operator will also have a finger on the pulse of exchange rates as this can have a substantial bearing on costs. For instance, currently the South African Rand is weak against Sterling, so trips to there and to Namibia are incredible value at the moment.
Apart from booking the safari, consideration needs to be given as to how Jon & Sharon are going to get to Africa. Flights are far more flexible (route-wise) and dynamic (price-wise) than they ever used to be. There is though one general rule which holds true in most instances – the more convenient the flights are for you (i.e. routing and timings), the more they will cost. Again your tour operator will be able to give you current advice on this. And make sure that whoever you book flights through has an ATOL licence. Without one you have no financial protection.