Written by Travel Beyond owner Craig Beal
Africa’s tourism industry has suffered from safety and health misconceptions in the wake of several highly publicized incidents in the media. In all of Africa, last year’s Ebola coverage has caused a downturn in tourism, despite the fact that there were no cases of Ebola in Kenya or Southern Africa.
The net result of these tourism challenges is what we at Travel Beyond have come to expect when a luxury tourism product is in need of occupancy: virtually all safari lodges, hotels and safari circuits are on sale for 2015’s peak season (now through October) with many deals extending to 2016. Below, we outline a few great opportunities for travelers looking to capitalize on the incredible availability and pricing.
A Host of Kenya Offers
Despite the recent challenges facing Kenya, Travel Beyond is having a great year selling trips to Kenya and reaping the rewards from our massive investment in educating our staff on the destination in 2012-2015. In this time, our safari consultants have collectively spent more than four months in Kenya enjoying the exceptional wildlife and cultural experiences that the country has to offer and seeing virtually every four and five star safari lodge in the country.
The 2015 price for a high quality Kenya safari is lower than any time in the past five years and lower than any comparable alternative safari destination in their peak season. Because of these factors, Kenya is now the best value in the world for luxury experiential travel and especially for a safari. As one of only seven US based tour operators recommend by the Kenya Tourism Board for planning a safari, we hold all the specials and will pass them on to you!
Excluding the million+ wildebeest and zebra herds present during the great migrations in July-September, the year-round resident animal population (including big cats) in the Masaai Mara and adjacent private lands is only rivaled by Chief’s Island in Botswana (Mombo & Chief’s Camp) and the Sabi Sands (Singita, MalaMala, etc.). In addition to time in the Mara, our clients often visit Lewa Downs or Meru which are the best rhino habitats in East Africa. This is a common private safari “circuit” and one that is further incentivized by the plethora of specials and discounts for the current peak season. The zebra and wildebeest have already started crossing the Mara and Talek River so the period of the next three months is an excellent time to be there!
Most Kenya circuits will result in 9-10 nights spent at safari lodges and 18-20 morning and afternoon animal activities often including Land Rover/Land Cruiser game drives, horseback, camelback, or hiking safaris. If you are interested in the details on the best current values in Kenya, let us know!
Southern Africa: Wilderness Safaris
Wilderness Safaris, an esteemed partner of Travel Beyond in Southern Africa, is offering some great pricing for October 2015 in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. October showcases a transition from winter to summer, giving guests the last views of animal excitement around the few remaining water sources, the arrival of migratory birds and the least chance of rain compared to the other summer months.
In addition, Wilderness Safaris just renewed their 6-Country Special offers for the 2016-2017 travel period, granting an easy and cost-efficient way for safari guests to combine multiple countries into a comprehensive tour of Southern Africa. For more information, contact us.
In other Wilderness Safaris news, the renowned Mombo Camp is being rebuilt! Largely because of its position relative to the panhandle of the Okavango Delta, Mombo Camp offers the best general Big Five animal viewing in Botswana year round. Travel Beyond has sent thousands of guests to this camp over the past 25 years with the best results. On my first afternoon game drive in January 2015, I saw the Big Five and a pack of wild dog in a four hour timespan. The Mombo Concession always delivers!
Following the recent renewal of the camp’s 15-year lease on the land, the existing Mombo Camp will be torn down and completely rebuilt starting on November 1, 2015. The new Mombo Camp will open later next year and be the crown jewel of Botswana. During construction of the new camp, guests will stay in same concession (land), but far removed from the construction at the interim Mombo Trails Camp.
Mombo Trails Camp will open on November 1 with seven tents and the same guides, vehicles and staff as Mombo Camp, but at heavily reduced rates. The service (food, board and staff) and wildlife experience will be the same as always! The tents are classified as luxury canvas tents with an approximate interior space of 500 sq. ft., zippers for doors, two proper twin beds, and an indoor shower/toilet; nothing fancy but better than a luxury safari in 1985!
The camp will be sold on 40% discount vs. the current Mombo rates. Better rates are available if combining with other Wilderness Safari camps. If you measure safari value by animals seen per dollar spent this will be one of the best values in Africa. When the new ultra luxury Mombo Camp opens on July 1, Mombo Trails will shrink to five tents and then disappear forever on Dec 31, 2016.
Please call us soon if you are interested, as the new camp is filling up fast! In addition, for guests who want their own vehicle and guide will need to book quickly, as Mombo Trails only offers one private vehicle.
As always, as America’s oldest and largest tailor-made independent safari company, we can plan your entire trip door-to-door. We look forward to hearing from you.