Covid-19 Statement: Tuesday 30 November 2021
Where do we stand currently – in terms of travel in the present environment?
For us, and many of our clients, it feels a little like “Groundhog Day” as we discuss the feasibility of forthcoming safari trips to Southern Africa in the next 3-4 weeks. We are talking to those travelling soon and those who would be due to make balance payments.
If your African travel is still many months away: at this stage, we expect people to be able to travel as planned. There is cause for concern around Omicron – but not for panic.
We are sure that Governments around the world will not want to penalise South Africa for its scientific rigour and openness, nor to disincentivize other countries from alerting others to threats that will inevitably spread, with or without travel bans. We have faith that those countries which have imposed temporary travel restrictions will not keep them in place any longer than they are needed. Please do keep similar faith with us in Africa. If you cannot travel now, please reschedule.
As we know, the scientists expect to get some meaningful lab tests within 2-3 weeks. With luck, those will find both that existing vaccines do provide protection against Omicron. But of course there can be no speculation on that yet.
What clinicians have begun to comment on is that early signs over the last ten days (since the first cases were found) are that the illness in people who test positive with Omicron is mild. So we hope that this feeling grows into certainty over the next month. But, again, we must wait and see.
Here for you and looking forward!
So how are we approaching it at Cedarberg Africa? This Covid-19 statement summarises how we aim to help.
Flexibility around new bookings:
We have always offered Personal Safari Planning completely orientated around each client and their needs. Because we have an experienced team, with a knowledgeable and empowered consultant dedicated to you, we’ve always been able to be more flexible than many others.
Now, more than ever, we are prepared to tailor overrides to our standard terms and conditions.
Now, more than ever, we can be flexible in terms of deposits.
So don’t let concerns over risking your holiday money get in the way of securing that dream African adventure to look forward to. Do ask us. We are happy to negotiate with our partner suppliers on a case by case basis.
Many suppliers are waiving deposits and even changing cancellation terms during this time of Covid-19. All are being very accommodating if you book, and then have to postpone to later dates.
Already booked and travelling in 2021 or early 2022?
Getting a handle on the pandemic continues to be challenging. If you are due to travel in 2022, we encourage you to wait until approximately 10 weeks prior to travel, to discuss whether it will be possible. As this will depend on where you are coming from. And where you are going to.
We will contact every client at that time to discuss the outlook. If the situation does not look good for your trip, we will explore options including re-scheduling your itinerary for another time, amendments and cancellations.
If you don’t wish to wait:
If you don’t wish to wait until 10 weeks prior (when final balance is due), feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.
But, as the situation continues to change week by week, you may still be able to travel as planned. So if you decide you do not want to travel on the booked dates, we’ll work with you and our partners (such as hotels, safari camps and airlines) to defer dates to suit you, if at all possible.
However there may be change fees, especially if you choose to defer ahead of time, such as seasonal price changes, flight change costs and a nominal admin fee. (Naturally we will try to keep these as low as possible.)
If you wish to cancel, we will endeavour to recover supplier deposits where possible. But the reality is that African safari companies have had virtually no Government assistance during the Pandemic. So some suppliers are sticking to their Terms and Conditions in cases of outright cancellation.
The past few months have been unbelievably tough for many of us, and many industries such as Travel.
Naturally if you are unable to travel this year, we would love you to reschedule.
To have a meaningful and life-enhancing treat to look forward to when the time is right
- he last year have been tough going for most people. Even those of us lucky enough to have safe havens at home are bound to be eager for a change of scene, when the pandemic has ended, or when enough people are safely vaccinated.
- Lots of people tell us that they want to get away for a restorative holiday, just as soon as it is safe to do so. But we do appreciate that other people may prefer to ease back into normal life more slowly and look forward to their trip further into the future.
To support those less fortunate in emerging economies, especially in Africa
- Not to beat about the bush (pun intended); by postponing a trip planned for the time of the pandemic (rather than cancelling outright), you will be making a massive difference to the lives of people in a poorer part of the world.
- Jobs in tourism support many more people than you meet in person and the ‘trickledown effect’ gets money straight to communities working hard to ‘be the change’ in Africa. For example, tourism contributes 8.6% to South Africa’s total GDP and accounts for 1.5 million jobs.
- Many wildlife conservation areas and community conservancies rely entirely on tourism. The absence of visitors brings the immediate prospect of hardship and job losses. Even when a lodge is privately owned, whether by investors, a family or a wealthy philanthropist, the necessary closures are painful. Large numbers of safari (and other unique) accommodations are tiny, very expensive to operate and run on 95%+ occupancy rates. many are also the sole employer, education provider and health provider within their community.
- There is a threat to animals too. With rangers laid off, and poverty rising, poachers could soon prey on the conservancies amazing wildlife.
To make sure you still get the holiday you wanted and planned
- In another angle on this, the more people who postpone, the more robust the Africa safari business will be. This means that the friendly faces, exuberant and helpful staff and and super-knowledgeable wildlife rangers will be there to welcome you when you do make it here!
Space – the final frontier
- To enjoy the precious luxury of space and wide open landscapes has always a beguiling feature of a safari in Africa. That is unchanging.