Options for Travel Plans Impacted by the Pandemic

Given the unprecedented disruption to global travel, Next Adventure and our partners share, respect and understand your concerns about your future travel arrangements. We are all committed to helping travelers find an appropriate resolution for their specific circumstances and to make this process as positive and straightforward as we can. 

Generally speaking, there are three paths for travelers to consider:

  1. Wait-and-See: We can wait until closer to your departure date to see if it will be possible for you to travel as planned. Next Adventure is automatically delaying final payments until 6-8 weeks prior to departure to allow this assessment time.
  2. Postpone & Reschedule: We can work together to reschedule your travel arrangements. Next Adventure is having success rebooking trips (often for identical dates) in 2021 with minimal rate changes. We are currently focused on rescheduling trips on a case-by-case basis for departures in the next 60 days as our partners are addressing requests in order, and we appreciate patience and understanding as we navigate availability.
  3. Cancel: You may cancel your trip without rebooking and forfeit the deposit as per our Participation Agreement. In this case, you may consider filing a claim with travel insurance and provide documentation per the policy details. Please note, canceling out of concern for travel or government restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic are not usually a covered reason unfortunately. 

What to expect when postponing your trip

While it is surely a disappointment to wait even longer for your safari, Next Adventure travelers have a great team working for them. Generally, there are 3 major components that are involved in re-booking travel:

  • Ground Arrangements (with Next Adventure) – Based on your preferred travel window, Next Adventure collaborates with our partners to re-book services in Africa.
  • Insurance (with Travel Insured or another provider) – Travelers can easily change the dates of travel for existing travel insurance policies to cover the new travel dates
  • Flights (with AirTreks, another flight agency or booked direct) Most airlines are issuing credits or vouchers to rebook tickets, but in many cases it is a slow and mysterious process.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these components and how the processes are unfolding:

Ground Arrangements – Next Adventure

As we work with hundreds of partners in East & Southern Africa, it is not possible to have one single approach or policy. Generally speaking, we are able to offer travelers a postponement within 10-18 months, depending on the destination and partners. Deposits are kept as a credit towards rescheduled trips, but please be aware that seasonal or annual rate differences may apply when shifting to new dates. The balance payment will be due 10 weeks prior to the new date of departure. 

Once we have identified new available dates for your trip, most services, including gorilla permits, light aircraft transfers and accommodations, can be transferred seamlessly. You may encounter minor changes and cancellation fees, but the overall change in cost will be kept as minimal as possible. Most partners are able to honor the same rates, unless there is a change of season i.e. from low to high season.

This step usually takes about a week or two to fully rebook the ground services, and Next Adventure will send you a revised Confirmation Voucher outlining the new dates and services.

Insurance – Travel Insured or another provider

  • If you wish to release your reservations without rebooking, standard cancellation penalties apply per our Participation Agreement. We need your notification in writing to begin this process. Travel insurance coverage and policies vary widely, so please review your insurance documents carefully. 
  • When rescheduling a trip, travelers can shift existing travel insurance policies to cover the new dates (https://help.travelinsured.com/s/article/How-to-Modify-Your-Travel-Dates). 

Here is a Travel Insured link with further information on coverage during the current circumstances: https://www.travelinsured.com/coronavirus/. Other insurance companies have released similar statements.

Flights – AirTreks, another flight agency or booked direct

This step is completely dependent on how your flights were booked, and it is also the slowest and most mysterious part of the process. Most airlines are issuing credits or vouchers to rebook tickets, but their customer services systems are completely overwhelmed and refunds are scarce or slow. Please be aware that flight schedules only open 11 months prior to departure, and we expect we all need to be patient with this process.

For guests who are Canceling or Postponing travel or for New Bookings:

  • Even though this may not yield the swiftest of results, continue to contact AirTreks at [email protected] (or the airline or ticket issuer) to notify them about your preference to cancel or reschedule your trip.
  • In some cases, AirTreks (or the airline or ticket issuer) will start the refund process right away.  In others, they may advise waiting until closer to departure to see if the airline offers more flexible options with COVID-19 policies that cover your specific travel dates. AirTreks will work with each guest and accommodate them based on their particular booking.
  • When AirTreks has confidence that the flight schedules are updated/accurate and unlikely to be cancelled or changed, you will be advised in order to start rebooking.  For guests traveling in 2021, flight schedules will not be available until we are within 11 months of the travel dates. As stated by AirTreks, “We are in daily contact with our peers at over 80 global airlines monitoring the situation so when the gates open, we will notify you.”

Other News:

  • AirTreks is building a new Customer Portal, which allows guests to log in and see their trip, and the status of refunds/credits/cancellations. 
  • They expect it will take 2 or 3 months until airlines reach full resolutions on the exact refunds and credits will be met. 

Next Adventure continues to monitor and evaluate the health intelligence reports we receive from governmental and private sources. We have an unprecedented record of safe operations in our 25 years of existence, and we will continue to exercise our established risk management program. Safety and the well-being of our travelers is our highest priority.

We hope this overview offers a helpful perspective on the various players and processes at play, and we are so grateful for your support, patience and understanding during this difficult time. Our thoughts are with our ecotourism and conservation partners in Africa as they weather the storm. Hopefully, we will all be enjoying Africa’s spectacular wilderness areas and warm hospitality very soon, and we encourage you to get in touch with us whenever you have any questions.

When to book what?

One common question we hear is “How far in advance should I start booking my safari?”, so we put together our recommendations for when different types of travelers should book different destinations and experiences.
The first thing to keep in mind is that there are great safaris to be had all year round, but there are certainly areas and activities that are more seasonal than others. Most camps and lodges work on a tiered basis with Peak or High season rates, Green or Low season rates and Shoulder season rates in between.
Peak/High season generally indicates the “best” time of year to visit a certain area due to migratory patterns, the height of grass and density of bush, and the availability of water, but it also coincides with the highest rates, the biggest crowds and the most competition for space at camps and lodges in the best locations.
Green, Low and Shoulder season refers to times of year when less people are traveling, maybe there’s the possibility of short afternoon showers, or the wildlife is more dispersed, but the rates tend to be 20-30% lower, there’s less crowds, better availability and the wildlife and scenery are still spectacular.
Some of our favorite off-peak season destinations are:
  • Kenya in February and March
  • The Serengeti,Tanzania in November
  • Hwange, Zimbabwe from November-April
  • Botswana and Namibia in May
The other thing to keep in mind is the size of your group. With couples, we usually have a bit more flexibility, but, with small groups, more lead time is always helpful especially if family units are important.
  • For Peak or High Season at Premier in-demand camps, availability is extremely limited, and we recommend booking 12-18 months in advance to have the most flexibility, the widest selection and the best luck lining up space. Destinations in Botswana, Tanzania and Namibia are either very popular or have a very low density of camps, so space fills up fast.
  • For Small Groups of Friends and Families, 9-12 months gives us a good window to line up a diverse range of activities, accommodations and landscapes. Safaris in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe tend to offer great value for families and groups, but the camps are small, and family units are few and far between.
  • If you have a narrow travel window or if you’re interested in specific areas or hands-on conservation activities, 9-12+ months gives us time lock in priority space and secure any necessary permits.
  • Booking 6-9 months in advance is usually enough lead time to find good combinations without having to make too many compromises. Often times, connectivity is key: direct flights are limited, the routing dictates the order of camps, and with 6-9 months out there’s room to navigate the availability and find top notch options.
  • For travel within 3-6 months, there’s lots of possibilities as long as you keep an open mind. We’re probably not going to find space at the most popular camps in the most popular areas during the most popular season with a short lead time, but we can always find high-quality experiences. We also find that planning a last minute safari around limited availability can result in unique itineraries with a bit of surprise.
  • With less than 3 months in advance of travel, we’d call that a spontaneous safari, and we’d take advantage of last minute specials or focus on off-season destinations. This might not be the best fit for a first-time or once-in-a-lifetime safari, but, if a window opens up and Africa is calling, there’s always somewhere spectacular to visit and people on the ground who’ll be glad to see you!
Whether you’re ready to start planning now or if there’s a safari out there on the horizon, get in touch to start exploring the options and charting a path to the perfect safari for you.

kenya masai mara

aerial zanzibar tanzania

New Flights + Better Connections = More Possibilities

A big part of planning a perfect safari is thinking through the logistics of international and regional flight connections. We’re excited to see a number of international carriers introducing non-stop flights from the US to hubs in Africa: South African, EthiopianDelta and Kenya Airways all now have direct flights, and there are more routes on the horizon.

We’re also seeing lower fares and improved connections for regional flights within Africa, so it’s getting easier to pair destinations in East and Southern Africa. This overall improvement in efficiency means it’s less expensive and more straightforward to get into our favorite safari destinations and move between them in comfort.

For instance, you can now fly from the Masai Mara to Entebbe and connect directly into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and there are daily flights between the Serengeti and Kigali which means travelers no longer have to pass through Nairobi or Arusha for their gorilla trekking extensions.

In Southern Africa, there are now nonstop flights between Vic Falls and Cape Town and the Kruger area, and there’s better connecting bush flights throughout Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. We’re also excited to see more options for private charters and helicopter excursions which can be a great experience for families and small groups of friends.

Overall, the logistics of moving around Africa’s great parks and conservancies are always changing, and we’re looking forward to finding the best fit for your safari. Get in touch.

Four Extraordinary Lodges

For this edition of our “Personal Picks”, we’re thinking outside-the-box to share four breathtaking lodges in unique, lesser-known parks and reserves that offer an excellent overall guest experience. 

Magashi  – Amalinda  – Mashatu –  Shipwreck

These areas don’t make it on many bucket lists, but they offer a superb safari with an uncrowded, exclusive feel at a great value.

Amalinda Lodge – Matobo Hills – Zimbabwe

Each of these lodges promises personal service, a wide variety of activities and a solid 4-night stay so you can really settle in and appreciate their distinctive settings. They pair nicely with more well-known safari destinations, and all four would make a great extension or centerpiece for a longer itinerary.

Magashi – Akagera National Park – Rwanda

Magashi is the newest camp in the Wilderness Safaris family located in the northeastern corner of Akagera National Park in Rwanda. This camp is opening on the 1st of December, and it is the result of many years of public/private partnership and local collaboration.
We see it as an excellent example of what’s on the horizon for new destinations where governments, communities, conservation and tourism work together to rehabilitate a wilderness area. Pair this with gorilla trekking experiences from the stunning Bisate Lodge.

Amalinda – Matobo Hills National Park – Zimbabwe

Amalinda is a stunning lodge built into the granite wilderness outside of Zimbabwe’s Matobo Hills National Park. It is a wild and historic place full of rocks and rhinos. Through decades of hardship and instability, this family owned and operated lodge has sustained a commitment to this unique place.
There is a huge variety of activities, from hiking and biking to tracking rhinos on foot and exploring pre-historic rock art, and the area is known for its sense of tranquility, rejuvenation and spirituality. This pairs with other destinations in Zimbabwe and South Africa, and there’s a great combo with Mashatu!

Mashatu – Tuli Block – Botswana

Mashatu is also a family owned and operated lodge located in a truly singular landscape where Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa meet, and it is unlike any of them with grand baobabs, spectacular vistas and a host of rare and unusual wildlife.
It’s perfect for multi-generational families with a variety of accommodation options from lightweight fly-camping to tented camps and a luxury lodge, and there’s a huge variety of activities including horseback riding, walking, biking and elephant toe-nail photography from a waterhole hide! Mashatu works well with other destinations in Botswana and South Africa, and there’s a great combo with Amalinda.

Shipwreck – Skeleton Coast – Namibia

Shipwreck is one of the most remote and far-flung luxury destinations in the world, and it’s an example of a bold statement in architectural design and conservation impact. This dramatic lodge was designed to match the stark, intense beauty of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, with its extreme environment and fascinating history.
The experience at Shipwreck is all about sand dunes, whale bones and wildflowers, discovering shocks of improbable life, and visiting a place very few people have ever been. Shipwreck is on the edge of the world, and it pairs well with other destinations on a dedicated Namibia itinerary.

There’s plenty more places we love that few people have heard of. Get in touch to learn more about these lodges and how to build your perfect safari itinerary.

Elephants at Chobe River

Wilderness Safaris – Travel with Purpose Itineraries

We’re excited to share a selection of new Travel with Purpose Itineraries from Wilderness Safaris. These special scheduled departures offer a glimpse into the conservation and community engagement work across a range of regions and eco-systems. Each of these itineraries includes:

  • Adventurous and impactful journeys
  • Truly spectacular and exciting destinations
  • Accompanied by Wilderness Safaris directors and independent experts
  • Absolutely unique, behind-the-scenes access to Wilderness Safaris and our partners


Travel With Purpose - Introduction (Monthly Journeys From May 2018 To April 2019) - January 2018

Zimbabwe – Hwange Elephant Collaring

Travel With Purpose - Zimbabwe - Hwange Elephant Collaring (14 - 19 September 2019)

Zimbabwe – Children In The Wilderness Annual Eco Club

Travel With Purpose - Zimbabwe - Children In The Wilderness Annual Eco Club (02 - 05 December 2019)

Zimbabwe – Hwange Journey With A Purpose

Hwange Journey With A Purpose (10 - 14 January 2020 & 07 - 11 February 2020) - Without Rates

Zambia – Kafue Predator Collaring

Travel With Purpose - Zambia - Kafue Predator Collaring (23 - 28 October 2019)

Namibia – Desert Lion Conservation

Travel With Purpose - Namibia - Desert Lion Conservation (15 - 20 November 2019) With Rack Rates

Botswana – Kalahari & Linyanti Concession – A Light Camp Footprint

Travel With Purpose Light - Purpose Itinerary - Botswana Central Kalahari Game Reserve & Linyanti Concession - A Light Camp Footprint (10 - 14 February 2019)

Become A Wilderness Eco Expert

Become A Wilderness Eco Expert (08 - 14 December 2019 With Ona Basimane)

Rwanda – Great Apes & Rainforests

Travel With Purpose - Rwanda - Great Apes & Rainforests (01 - 09 May 2019) With Rack Rates

Get in touch to plan your Travel with Purpose

Kili & The Snoring Rhinoceros

In the quiet pre-dawn, our small group huddled together around the tea and coffee that the camp staff had so beautifully laid out. There was a ripple of excitement among my colleagues and fellow members of Safari Professionals–we were seeing a rhino receive a veterinary field check-up and be fitted with an electronic tracking device today! For some of us, this was a first time close encounter with the ‘nitty gritty’ of conservation work. We were thrilled to see conservation efforts we’re so passionate about in action! All of us support the incredible work being done by Map Ives and Rhino Conservation Botswana, and we couldn’t have been more grateful to the entire team from Wilderness Safaris for facilitating this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

When the time came, like the quiet creatures we were setting out to see, our group slowly moved toward our waiting helicopters. As the helis zipped us along to the rendezvous point, I marveled at how anyone could find a rhino in the vast landscape that is the Okavango Delta. Waves of hope and undercurrents of despair washed over me–hope that conservation efforts like these were having a positive impact for rhinos and despair that the situation is so dire that these operations are essential to the survival of this extraordinary species.  

We touched down, and our small group met with the team of veterinarians who had identified a large adult male White Rhino for darting. It was an individual who had been relocated to Botswana some 20 years ago. The vet expertly tranquilized the rhino so that he could be fitted for his electronic monitoring devices. The veterinary team would also measure and check his overall health to document his condition. As we approached by vehicle and then on foot, I had to gasp at the sheer size of the rhinoceros. He was massive and lying peacefully as the vets quickly got their samples and measurements.

In the awed silence while watching them work, I could hear the rhino’s slow rhythmic breathing and watch his chest expand with each inhale. We could examine his enormous horn closely–even seeing the tiny fibers which make up this valuable commodity. We were able to touch the soft skin of his underbelly and his coarse mud-covered back.

I was filled with hope and my eyes teared up as the vets efficiently set the tracking devices in place and revived the rhino. Within a minute, our rhino stood and carefully scanned the area before sauntering into the nearby bush.

Get in touch to learn more about hands-on conservation safaris


Chimpanzee Trekking - Greystoke Mahale

New Greystoke Mahale Video

Nomad Tanzania just released a series of 3-minute videos about some of our favorite places including this one about Greystoke Mahale:

Remotely-set on the shores of Tanzania’s Lake Tanganyika, Greystoke Mahale is your home-base when trekking through the Mahale Mountains with one of the largest remaining populations of wild chimpanzees. It is also consistently praised for its tranquil setting and exceptional hospitality.

Chimpanzee Trekking in the Mahale Mountains

Chimpanzee Trekking in the Mahale Mountains

It’s easily one of the most unique places in the world, and one of Kili’s all-time favorite experiences. Here’s some photos of her trip there in 2012:


For more, visit the gallery here, then get in touch to start planning your next safari…

JKIA Fire Update

News of the fire at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport kept us up last night. From what we are hearing, the fire was not nearly as bad as it looked or as bad as initially reported.
We have heard that the terminals were not damaged by the fire, flights are resuming, and auxiliary Immigration and Baggage Claim Halls are being set-up.
Our thoughts are with the people of Kenya and all of our friends and colleagues on the ground in Nairobi, especially African Horizons Travel & Safari whose regular updates on this event have been greatly appreciated. We invite you to check out their Facebook page to stay up to date: www.facebook.com/African.Horizons
Get in touch if you have questions about how the Nairobi International Airport fire will affect your travel plans.
Stay safe everyone!

JKIA Fire Update via African Horizons

JKIA Fire Update via African Horizons

The Biggest Conservationists

This is a great editorial piece by National Geographic’s Steve Boyes. It’s long, but well worth the read. Plus, it’s full of some amazing photos. The gist of it lies in this quote:

Right now, tourists from around the world coming to Africa to photograph the continent’s wildlife are the biggest conservationists by far. The operators and establishment owners that attract these tourists by selling the dream of an African photographic safari are the new ambassadors for conservation.

And that’s why we love our clients. It’s your passion and curiosity that is helping protect the world’s wild life and wild places.

Thanks.

 

Everybody’s a photographer

Of course, digital cameras have revolutionized photography by making it possible for just about anybody to take great photos, but this is going a bit too far.

lioness with cameraHere’s the full story. I still don’t understand how the lioness got the camera, but I’m sure when the guide was able to get the camera back it was full of pictures of Land Rovers.

From Safari to Service

This is a great story. A mother and daughter from North Carolina went on a horseback-riding safari in South Africa and visited the Daktari Bush School and Animal Orphanage.  They were so inspired by their experience that when they got home they held a fundraiser to benefit the school.

Screen Shot 2013-05-04 at 12.36.17 AM

This rings so true with us at Next Adventure. So many of our clients are not only surprised by the wilderness, wildlife and hospitality they experience on safari, but they are also surprised by how moved they are by the experience and how connected they feel to Africa even years and years later.

Fantastic Footage!!!

Wow, have you seen this fantastic footage of a leopard killing an impala?

This was filmed by guest Martha van Rensburg at Mala Mala – one of the best established reserves in South Africa…A favorite spot as it is always chock-full of wildlife and action!