Safaris five years from now

25 years ago, when Next Adventure started offering custom, personalized safaris in Africa, it was considered an exotic niche experience for keen photographers, passionate birders and intrepid travelers. The entry requirements were complex, the standards of hospitality and guiding were inconsistent and there was virtually no glossy marketing photos or videos. 

Today, from the biggest celebrities to the royal family, safaris are celebrated as the pinnacle of luxury and adventure travel but still out-of-reach or off-the-radar for many. As popular destinations face damaging overtourism, particularly during narrow peak seasons, rates have sky-rocketed, and more brands are focusing on the ultra-high end of the luxury market.

 

Here at Next Adventure, we believe in the power of tourism to be a positive force in the lives of travelers as well as those communities who host, guide and care for us during our travels. With thoughtful choices and deliberate actions, sustainable ecotourism contributes to the protection of a wider footprint of wilderness as well as to the benefit of more remote communities who live with wildlife. 

 

5 ways safaris should change over the next 5 years

  • Greater representation of local communities in the ownership and management of tourism entities
    • Next Adventure supports sustainable ecotourism by promoting the most reputable operators as well as camps, lodges and conservancies that are owned, operated and managed by local communities. 

 

  • More awareness of safaris as an accessible and repeatable international travel option 
    • Next Adventure never talks about safaris as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you love nature and the outdoors, if you love animals, wildlife and adventure, there is a lifetime of experiences to be had on safari in Africa.

 

  • Increase in mid-career travelers, families and multi-generational groups
    • Next Adventure meets travelers where they are in their life, and we help find the safari that is right for them. We aren’t squeezing you into a scheduled trip or selling seats on predetermined itineraries.

 

  • Expanded safari calendar with more travel during green and shoulder season
    • Overtourism is a real concern in sensitive ecosystems. With all the focus on popular peak season safaris, Next Adventure celebrates more sustainable options that take pressure off of iconic destinations while also extending the benefits of tourism to more communities.

 

  • Progress in emerging destinations like Angola, Chad, Malawi and Mozambique
    • Prior to the pandemic, Next Adventure was excited to see good quality safaris developing in new areas. It takes a reliable pipeline of local talent, investments in infrastructure and robust market demand to make these destinations a success, and we’re looking for travelers who are ready to take the plunge.

 

Increasingly, the conservation of wild places and the livelihoods of remote communities rely on tourism, and one of the challenges ahead is how to grow ecotourism in a responsible and sustainable manner. Hopefully, we can inspire the next generation of international adventure travelers to love and explore the wilderness and consider more unique safari experiences.

 

 

Here’s our Top 10 Safaris for Every Kind of Traveler

Top 10 Safaris for Every Kind of Traveler

During the pandemic, we had plenty of time to reminisce about our favorite safaris and really examine which safari experiences are the best fit for different kinds of travelers. With 25 years of experience, we’ve personally visited all of these top recommendations below, and we’re confident you’ll find the seed for your perfect safari.

Top Premier Luxury Safari

Pamushana – Malilangwe – Zimbabwe

Photo by Singita

There are so many wonderful safari camps that offer truly luxurious experiences in beautifully remote areas, but we had to pick one. We had to pick one that consistently delivers the highest levels of hospitality, dining and guiding in a spectacular wilderness that you can have all to yourself. 

Singita has set the standard for safari luxury at their camps and lodges, but, behind the breathtaking design and attention to detail, Singita’s conservation footprint is just as impressive. No where is that better experienced than in remote southeastern Zimbabwe in the Malilangwe Reserve, 130,000 acres of untouched wilderness teeming with wildlife.

Pamushana is the pinnacle of a luxury with a style that celebrates the essence of being on safari: surrounded by nature and well taken care of with time for reflection and rejuvenation.

  • Remote and exclusive private reserve with no other lodges
  • Exquisite service with the highest caliber of guiding and conservation ethos 
  • Spectacular unique landscape with rocky hilltops, forests, gorges and lake views
  • Variety of activities: rock art, game drives, boating, walks, good rhino sightings

Learn more about Pamushana

Top Classic Luxury Safari

Duba Explorers – Okavango – Botswana

Photo by Great Plains Conservation

The best safaris focus on wildlife and guiding, but a classic luxury safari has to have a sense of timelessness and a little flair. There is a certain way that explorers, guides and naturalists have lived in the bush, and Duba Explorers embraces guests with true under-canvas luxury, an exceptional team and memorable bush dining experiences.

The location, in the heart of a private concession in the Okavango Delta, can’t be beat, and there’s a focus on appreciating the environment in style. The furnishings feel personal, completely unique and carefully selected. Even though the camp is tented and relatively lightweight, you can sink into the deep leather chairs and feel that you have everything you need and nothing more.

  • Quintessential Okavango Delta experience 
  • Varied game-rich habitats: forested island, floodplain, grasslands
  • Well rounded activities: game drives, boat, mekoro, walks
  • Top quality guest experience in camp, dining and on activities

LEARN MORE ABOUT DUBA EXPLORERS

Top Value Safari

Mobile Camping – Okavango – Botswana

The long road to Savuti

The long road to Savuti

Safaris at the lower end of the budget spectrum can be tricky. To keep costs down, they have to make compromises, but there are some priorities we can’t overlook. The Wilderness Dawning mobile camping safaris in the Okavango Delta strike a perfect balance of excellent guiding in world-class wildlife habitats with a homey, comfortable camping experience. 

If you’re watching your budget and can only go on one safari, we want to focus on value. Over 20 years, we’ve trusted Wilderness Dawning to deliver a consistently impressive, albeit rustic, safari experience with a lot of bang for your buck. This is a true journey with simple tents and cots, campfire cooking, great veteran guides and a couple hundred miles of pristine wilderness.

  • Nostalgic old-fashioned overland safari
  • All about the guide, wildlife and nature; no distractions
  • Affordable access to prime, pristine wilderness
  • Pairs with Victoria Falls and other extensions

LEARN MORE ABOUT Mobile Camping in the Okavango

Top Active Adventure Safari

Walking Safaris

For many travelers, the most memorable time on safari isn’t about big game, it’s about getting out of the vehicle and literally getting in touch with the bush. It is thrilling to feel immersed in an ecosystem that is buzzing with life while an expert guide shows you details that can only be appreciated on foot. Walking safaris come in many shapes and sizes, and we had to settle for two very different options. 

  • Immersed in the outdoors but with all the comforts
  • Appreciation for landscape and complexity of ecosystems
  • Top quality interpretive guiding
  • Thrilling contrast to vehicle-based wildlife viewing

South Luangwa – Zambia

Photo by Bushcamp Company

In South Luangwa, known as the birthplace of the walking safari, we love point-to-point itineraries where you can hike between permanent camps in the remote southern sector of the park. Games drives or walks are available while at the camp, but moving between the camps on foot is a special way to experience this dynamic and game-rich valley.

SOUTH LUANGWA WALKING SAFARIS

Lewa Conservancy – Kenya

Photo by Lewa Walking Wild

In Kenya, there are a number of walking safaris especially in the rugged Northern Rangelands, but our favorite is a multi-night, camel-supported fly-camping experience on Lewa Conservancy. Known for its large population of black & white rhino, Lewa offers dramatic high-country scenery, and your personal team of Masai guides know all the best sunset spots.

Lewa Walking Wild

Top Community-based Conservation Safari

Sarara – Namunyak Conservancy – Kenya

reteti

Photo by Kili McGowan

So many safari camps and lodges do great conservation and community development work, but Sarara feels like a camp that has grown out of a cause. It is a lovely bush camp with a dramatic setting on a private community-run conservancy. The guides are community elders and expert naturalists who can introduce you to timeless traditions as well as cutting-edge conservation. 

Reteti, on the neighboring conservancy, is the only community-managed elephant sanctuary in Africa, and the whole area is a cross-roads, literally and figuratively. Members of different tribes representing a patchwork of conservancies work alongside each other, collaborating with researchers and demonstrating a new model for sustainable ecotourism.

  • Menagerie of rescued animals in camp, favorite for children
  • Remote and spectacular scenery perfect for hiking
  • Relaxed cultural exchanges: ladies beadworking and singing wells
  • Reteti Elephant Sanctuary visits

LEARN MORE ABOUT SARARA

Top Family Safari

Lamai – Serengeti – Tanzania

Photo by Nomad Tanzania

All families are different, but most families are looking for some of the same things for their safari. Flexibility, privacy and variety are key to keeping everybody comfortable, engaged and happy. We’ve seen an amazing increase in family safari accommodations, but our all time favorite sits on a rocky outcrop with views over miles and miles of the endless Serengeti. 

Lamai Serengeti feels like the ultimate wilderness adventure fort in a prime region of the Serengeti with important kid friendly amenities like a fun, thoughtful staff, a pool, private verandas, a natural rock lookout deck and lots of areas for exploration. It’s about the ultimate wildlife experience with a fun place to call home.

  • Spectacular Kopje setting with views of Serengeti
  • Classic East Africa wildlife viewing
  • Family oriented guides and camp staff
  • Variety of lodge activities and spaces to explore

LEARN MORE ABOUT Lamai Serengeti

Top Multi-Generational Family Safari

Somalisa Acacia – Hwange – Zimbabwe

Photo by African Bush Camps

The key to planning multi-generational family safaris is finding a core experience that everyone can share while leaving room for other interests or destinations. Somalisa Acacia in Hwange National Park is a perfect setting for a multi-generational family safari, as a stand-alone camp or part of a longer circuit. It’s easy to access being a short flight or drive from Victoria Falls, and it combines well with Cape Town, Mozambique beaches or other safari destinations in Zimbabwe, the Okavango Delta or Sabi Sands.

The camp itself is stunning, with a dramatic unique design and regular visits from elephant herds who drink from the pool, and the neighboring sister camps offer space and variety for larger family groups. It’s the staff that really makes this camp a great fit. Young camp managers and hosts are enthusiastic to make you feel at home, and you’ll find veteran guides who can show you traditional bushcraft skills and tell captivating stargazing stories.

  • Flexible room configurations, luxury in camp experience
  • Casual and friendly staff, and family oriented guides
  • Something for grandparents, parents and kids
  • Convenient hub location for separate extensions

LEARN MORE ABOUT Somalisa Acacia

Top Remote Safari

Shipwreck Lodge – Skeleton Coast – Namibia

Photo by Natural Selection

Shipwreck-shaped cabins jut out of endless dunes where the world’s oldest desert meets the cold Benguela winds of the Atlantic Ocean. Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is known for its extremes, the harshness of the desert and the beauty of solitary landscapes filled with history. 

It’s a land of contrasts which is embodied by this quirky lodge that invites you to explore one of the most stark and inhospitable places on the planet. Game drives and walks explore dry riverbeds in search of the rare desert-adapted flora and fauna that survive in these harsh conditions. There’s quad biking and sand-boarding in the dunes, beachcombing turns up whale bones and century-old artifacts, and your guides share endless stories of shipwrecks, diamond mines and geologic time etched into this impossibly remote slice of African wilderness.

  • Ultimate traveler bragging rights
  • Unique and dramatic, sand dunes with fog
  • Extraordinary desert-adapted wildlife and plants
  • 4×4 and quad bike excursions, walking, beachcombing, ship-wrecking

Learn more about Shipwreck Lodge

Top Green Season Safari

Serian “The Original” – Mara North – Kenya

Photo by Alex Walker Serian

There is no better place to be than the Mara during the Green Season months of April and May. It’s truly paradise. The storm clouds over the escarpment are fantastic, and the wildlife seems to rejoice in the afternoon showers. Serian Original captures a freshness of the Masai Mara. It’s one of the most picturesque sites, right on the Mara River, and there always seems to be a breeze, sumptuous food and plenty of time to linger. 

Set in the private Mara North Conservancy, the name Serian means peaceful and serene, and, even though you’re in one of the best known wildlife sanctuaries in the world, you have it all to yourself. The camp provides a private vehicle for every booking, the guides are talented and enthusiastic, and you can walk the grounds, sleep in a treehouse and play with Wifi, the resident good dog.

Serian Original is a great destination all year, but during the Green Season when the Mara is reborn, it feels like the perfect retreat for rejuvenation.

  • Secret season with few guests in the Mara
  • Excellent year-round resident wildlife
  • Long stay to enjoy walking and treehouse sleepout
  • Fresh local food and wonderfully warm hosting

LEARN MORE ABOUT SERIAN “The Original”

Top Photographic Safari

Mashatu – Tuli Block – Botswana

Photo by Mashatu

Mashatu is a rare safari lodge that could find itself in almost any best-of category. The landscape is singularly impressive, there’s lots of different activities and the wildlife doesn’t disappoint. As a private reserve, Mashatu offers tons of flexibility, and it is a huge landscape that rewards a longer stay. 

Mashatu really shines for the photographer. There are sweeping vistas overlooking remarkable topography, unbelievable baobabs and a perfect quality of light that seems impossible to find anywhere else. On top of biking, hiking and horseback riding, the photographic hides offer something truly spectacular: a perfect protected hiding spot at ground level on the edge of an active waterhole shared by a wide variety of wildlife.

  • Multiple productive photo hides
  • Excellent photographic vehicles and tutors on site
  • High rate of “predator action” and kills
  • Great density of wildlife with some unique species

LEARN MORE ABOUT Mashatu

The Wide World of Safaris

Through the Next Adventure Lens

One of Next Adventure’s most rewarding pandemic projects was examining our data from the last five years on a bednight basis (per person/per night), looking at exactly where and how our clients travel and who we are as a company.

Here are a few interesting data points from one safari specialist providing creative custom itineraries with a focus on responsible operators and excellent value.

 

 

How do our clients travel

Over the last 5 years, Next Adventure designed custom safaris ranging from $300 to $3000+ per person per night for clients traveling to:

    • 12 countries in East & Southern Africa
    • 108 different wilderness areas (national parks, reserves & conservancies)
    • 458 unique accommodations (hotels, resorts, camps & lodges)

By far, our clients spent the most time in the Okavango Delta and the Masai Mara. Both areas are well-known for having a remarkable density of charismatic megafauna, and they both offer a mix of national parks and private concessions to suit a range of budgets, activities and accommodation styles. 

June and July are the most popular months for our clients to go on safari, coinciding with school breaks and the beginning of peak season when safari camps are full and rates are at their highest.

February, March and April are the least popular months which is our biggest opportunity to expand the safari calendar and take advantage of Green and Shoulder season specials. These months can be magical, and there are great values to be had.

sabuk sundowners kenya safari

 

Only 2 camp operators earn more than a 5% share of the bednights we book. The rest of our bednights are split over dozens of reputable portfolios and independent camp and lodge operators which speaks to our commitment to craft truly personal safaris for each client.

Of our top 5 local partners, we’ve been working with 4 of them for more than 20 years. The 5th, we’ve been working with for more than 10. These are the people we trust who will meet you on arrival, monitor your travels locally and respond directly to any concern, delay or interruption while you’re on safari.

 

Notable trends by country

  • While Botswana is known for having the most expensive safari camps on average, it is also home to what we consider the most affordable and best value safari.
  • South Africa sees our highest percentage of bednights at Premier level camps which is what South Africa does best: luxury, wine and wildlife.
  • Zimbabwe offers excellent overall value with the highest percentage of bednights at Traditional level camps, a great diversity of landscapes, mixed activities and a reputation for high quality guides.
  • Tanzania and Kenya often feature in single-country itineraries with direct international air access, iconic safaris & pristine beaches.
  • Namibia and Rwanda have seen the most growth in terms of insta-popularity and new luxury options, but they tend not to be on the list for first-time safaris. 
  • Uganda and Zambia remain under-the-radar, hidden gems that most of our clients visit on short extensions (primate trekking or Vic Falls, respectively), but they make for exciting single-country itineraries with great value at the Classic level and truly unique circuits.

 

While some companies follow market(ing) trends and high-profile bucket lists, we like to inspire our clients and use our expertise to design unique personal itineraries. When there are so many kinds of safari, what kind of safari is right for you?

 

Here’s our top 10 safaris for every kind of traveler

How the safari community is responding to the pandemic

One of our favorite phrases heard around safari camps is “make a plan.” It’s a fascinating mix of being completely prepared and spontaneous at the same time. The environments are challenging and constantly changing, and living and working in the bush means that safari guides and camp staff have to be creative, quick-thinking and resourceful.
The pandemic has forced all of us to make a plan, and here is just a glimpse of how the safari community is responding to the challenges of the pandemic.

Let’s Start Planning Your Safari


10 Reasons to Choose Africa First Post-Quarantine

Learn More About Our Partners At African Bush Camps


 

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, global travel bans and the temporary closure of many safari camps across the region, this is a time to be mindful of the vulnerability of communities living alongside wildlife areas. Over the last three years, 1.5% of every guest’s stay in our camps has gone towards community and conservation projects. Combined with the direct contributions that our camps make to local community outreach, this amounts to nearly 1 million USD of committed funds. For the first time, we are reaching out to former guests, African enthusiasts, agents, friends and relatives to bolster our resources via the Natural Selection Foundation and help support the thousands of livelihoods that will be affected by the temporary closure of our camps.

The COVID-19 Village Support program will be transporting food parcels to remote villages to improve the nourishment of communities in the face of this unprecedented viral threat. Furthermore, our Elephant Express buses will be on the road along the panhandle of the Okavango Delta assisting people with access to clinics via dangerous elephant corridors. Your support in this unprecedented initiative is welcome and cherished.

Learn More About This Project


Ultimate Safaris has begun a real-life Conservation Travel series, documenting the current real time behind the scenes life of active conservation in Namibia, putting Conservation first. Below is the first episode of their Covid Chronicles.

CHECK OUT THE ULTIMATE SAFARIS COVID CHRONICLES YOUTUBE PLAYLIST


Chipego Bike Shop in Nakatindi was Sanctuary Retreat’s first women’s social enterprise project. The five women who are employed at the shop chose the name which means “gift”. The passion of the five mechanics is infectious; they love having guests visit to learn more. 

Over the past three and a half years, these extraordinary ladies have repaired and sold over 3,500 bikes, generated over $100,000 in income to pay for five resupply containers and still managed to support five pupils through school each year, contribute to the maternity ward construction and donate 30 bikes to secondary school pupils and 18 to community healthcare volunteers!

In 2019, Sanctuary partnered with the Nakatindi community to begin another economic empowerment initiative, the Sishemo bead studio. When the news broke earlier this year that Sanctuary Sussi and Chuma was closing temporarily due to the virus, the ladies at Sishemo were faced with losing the vast majority of their customer base overnight. Without pause, the Chipego Bike Shop ladies stepped in to offer immediate support.  Since March, Chipego has paid the Sishemo ladies a basic salary, while also reducing their own bike shop salaries. Without this homegrown relief package, the Sishemo Bead Studio may have been forced to close its doors, leaving the ladies with no income to support their families.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS PROJECT


We have implemented a creative process that is motivated and underpinned by a deep-seated understanding and awareness of what our guests will value most in a changed world, and fine-tuned every aspect of the Singita guest experience. Teams across all properties and areas of expertise have ingeniously crafted a host of new ways to enhance our offering and the intuitive care & attention guests experience at our lodges and camps.

The past few months also saw the completion of a fully redesigned lodge on the Serengeti plains. Our elevated guest experience and the reimagined Singita Sabora Tented Camp are set to be game-changers for African safaris in future.

Staying true to the brand and our core values, we have not missed a beat in pursuing our 100-year purpose. Highlights included hugely successful donation drives towards both wildlife conservation and emergency food relief programs.


We have always been known as the pioneers and leaders in guide training and nature training, but we wanted to ensure we once again stand the test of time.

1. This meant that we had to be innovative and look at our offering. We asked ourselves: “how do we ensure that we adapt to changing times and ensure that we actually provide value”? We successfully adapted our Safari guide training and provided our first live online course. We didn’t want to go the typical on-demand route just yet, as we know the value in ensuring that clients connect with one of the most knowledgeable teams in Africa…so, we went online but in a very personalized way to ensure the connection with our team is at the forefront.
2. We also started streaming daily content via our partners such as WildEarth and PaintedDog.TV to the globe in a variety of ways to ensure that our clients stay connected to EcoTraining and African wildlife. Hopefully, you are all connecting your clients and enjoying the TV programs, daily virtual safaris, or even the broadcasts in China over the weekends.
3. The newest development is that we are now also starting to combine our footprint in East and Southern Africa to bring you the best of both worlds as one itinerary. This exciting first step as part of our “Best year of your life” approach will see clients starting their year in the Masai Mara in October before moving to South Africa, and finally Botswana in 2021.

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR PARTNERS AT ECO TRAINING

 


Classic Africa Safaris delivered food supplies to the 464 gorilla trekking porters who assist guests as they track the mountain gorillas on the slopes of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Due to COVID-19, tourism has been suspended and the porters’ primary means of income has disappeared. With the cessation of tourism, the porters are living in near poverty and struggling to sustain their families. Along with the support of our North American travel trade partners and past safari goers, we raised over $12,000. CAS donated a vehicle, driver and office team, and covered the costs of the 4-day journey to Bwindi and the reconnaissance mission last month. Mahogany Springs Lodge accommodated the CAS team at no cost during the supply delivery.


As we look to the future, we see a new era of travel emerging. Pandemic protocols will undoubtedly influence the way we operate, but we also sense a more fundamental change on the horizon and one that we welcome wholeheartedly. As travel reawakens, we hope to see both travelers and the industry seeking more responsible travel, governed by a heightened environmental consciousness and a greater appreciation for the planet. With this in mind, The Safari Collection is proud to have joined Tourism Declares, a global initiative uniting travel companies to take purposeful action against climate change.

With births, wildebeest and re-openings, we certainly have a new spring in our step here at The Safari Collection. Things are looking up!

Learn More About Our Partners At The Safari Collection


We have worked hard to ensure guests who visit us have protection, as well as privacy through our private airstrip, private guides, private conservancy, private groups, and more. We also wanted to ensure, given how tough the last few months have been, a good amount of spoiling and pampering with complimentary massages and bush baths. Lastly, we encourage everyone choosing to stay with us, to share our purpose of supporting all our conservation efforts while we provide a highly professional and truly memorable safari experience for our guests. We have also added a ‘Stay Longer’ safari in the Maasai Mara to help clients mitigate further Covid-19 risks of moving from one camp to another and from one flight to another.


For us, September is the start of our emergence. We are sharing our thinking and some of our future plans with you, at the same time we invite you to join us on our journey. Over the next four months, we will dedicate time and energy to evolving. Be assured we are more committed to the success of our members than ever before, and seeking out more visionary, authentic, sustainable and trusted experiences across Africa. It is amazing what opportunities arise in a crisis.

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR PARTNERS AT CLASSIC PORTFOLIO

Overview of Travel Guidelines and Entry Requirements

Countries Currently Open to International Travel

All of the countries in which we operate are currently open to international travelers with enhanced COVID entry requirements.

Details and procedures are constantly changing as each country has its own phased reopening plan, and many airlines have also implemented new protocols. Please check the links below or get in touch for our current recommendations.

Rwanda

Kenya

Tanzania

Zambia

South Africa

Zimbabwe

Namibia (Technically open to tourists, but access is generally through South Africa)

Uganda

Botswana


Air travel

In many ways, air travel is the biggest challenge as international tourism resumes. Entry requirements, flight connectivity and airport protocols are in flux, and there isn’t a lot of consistency across countries and carriers.

Airlines

We’ve found the following airlines have distinguished themselves in terms of reliability, managing schedule changes and leading on-board health & safety plans:



Airports

Even before the covid pandemic, most major gateway airports in Africa had mandatory temperature checks and other measures in place to support disease control. Here’s a glimpse at what these airports are doing now to welcome international travelers back.

Learn more about near-term safari travel

african horizons guide

Near-term Safari Opportunities 2020-2021

We’re excited to see African countries safely reopening and welcoming international travelers back to their borders. With a careful understanding of new protocols and entry requirements, it may be a great time for some travelers to take advantage of a safari in the near-term over the next 3-9 months.

Some considerations for travel in the near term

Pros

  • Uncrowded parks & nearly-exclusive wildlife viewing and trekking
  • Great value especially during the green season
  • Plenty of availability at preferred camps
  • Guides and camp staff are eagerly awaiting guests 
  • Camps can pull out all the stops with upgrades and added value experiences
  • Your presence safeguards wildlife and benefits community programs in the areas you visit

Cons

  • Navigating flight and airport protocols is more  onerous and uncertain
  • Countries have implemented advanced health screenings and entry requirements
  • Reduced options for multi-country itineraries
  • Some camps and domestic flights have not yet resumed operations
  • Travel insurance policies vary by provider and specific coverage and benefits can be unclear

The following countries have now opened their borders with responsible Covid protocols, and commercial international flights have resumed:
Kenya – Rwanda – Tanzania – Zambia

Tips for developing an itinerary in the coming months

  • Single country itineraries are key
    • International border crossings currently require time-sensitive Covid tests
    • Here are examples of single country itineraries in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda & Zambia
  • Reduce interactions with other guests through:
    • Less moving around in country
    • Longer stays at fewer camps
    • Private charters for transfers
  • Families or groups of friends can take advantage of exclusive-use of camps, lodges and safari villas.
  • Get familiar with the risks associated with air travel
  • Review the specific health protocols at the camps. Some examples below.

The camps and communities in these destinations have done an incredible amount of work to sustain vital services in the absence of tourism and to prepare for the resumption of tourism through extensive staff training and implementation of stringent new protocols.
Here are some favorite achievements and messages from our colleagues who are keen to welcome guests back to their countries:

Kenya

Rwanda

Tanzania

Zambia

Epic 350km fundraising walk in the Luangwa Valley

Read about the full project here

 Zambia Migration Safari in December 2020 is on!

Details and full itinerary here

HERE’S A FULL OVERVIEW OF TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS AND GUIDELINES WHERE WE OPERATE


Enhanced health protocols at safari camps and lodges:

Safaris are inherently a lower risk travel option as good quality safari experiences steer clear of crowds and offer intimate camps, small professional teams and wide open spaces. However, our colleagues have gone above and beyond to design and implement the highest health and safety protocols. Here’s a few examples:

wilderness safaris covid-camps
Asilia COVID-19-In-Camp-Protocols
SINGITA_COVID-19-HYGIENE-PRACTICES_fin
Time + Tide's commitment to safety _ Time + Tide

Let’s Start Planning Your Safari!

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.

Overview of Travel Guidelines And Entry Requirements

Maasai Mara Sunset - Kenya

Our message during the covid pandemic

Dear Travelers

After decades of guiding and working in adventure travel around the world, my parents, Richard & Louise McGowan, started a new company in 1996 to focus exclusively on crafting custom safaris for independent travelers. They called their new company Next Adventure. They understood that an African safari is unique in how deeply it connects with us, and so often a “once-in-a-lifetime safari” inspires a return to Africa, an appreciation for wilderness and a lifelong interest in conservation.

While the entire planet reels from this pandemic, our hearts are with the extraordinary array of people who make up the African safari travel industry: the guides and camps staff, the pilots and cooks, the housekeepers and laborers, and especially the communities in and around wildlife areas. The absence of visitors to these regions will have a dramatic impact where livelihoods and essential services are supported entirely by tourism. For those of us who promote and work in sustainable travel, it is a time to buckle down, reconnect, focus on gratitude and make a plan.

Though Richard passed away in 2007, we have kept true to his vision, and here are 3 things we’re grateful for as we stay the course in this challenging time:

  • We have strong relationships both with our clients and all our partners throughout Africa. It’s a joy to get to know each and every traveler, to match them with just the right experiences, and to hopefully build a long term relationship. Our tagline is “We take safaris personally,” and our work is truly personal for us.

  • We’ve deliberately kept Next Adventure a small family-centric business. While there are lots of benefits to being a larger company, safaris are special, and we want to be special. We want every aspect of the experience to be positive, and we’re grateful we can be nimble, flexible and creative through difficult times like these. 

  • We’re committed to an ecotourism model that benefits the land, wildlife and communities we visit, and we have the freedom to focus on safaris that matter to us and are meaningful to our clients.

Over the years, we have weathered many storms, and we have no choice but to look beyond today’s crisis toward a time when we can get back to doing what we love: sharing the best of wild Africa via our most trusted colleagues and friends.

The good news is that while our ability to travel can come and go, our human curiosity and wanderlust will always be strong. This is why we are so confident in the resilience of the travel industry, and we look forward to how sweet it will be when we can all start traveling again.

Keep well, and, whether you are a past client or just interested in learning more about who we are and what we do, we’d love to hear from you!

Warm regards,

Kili McGowan, CEO & Co-Owner

Learn more about supporting our ecotourism partners during this crisis.

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.

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!