by David Ryan on May 13, 2020
11 min read

Sadly, we know that now is not the time to travel. We don’t know when it will be, but we do know that when travel comes back, it will be epic. We will be reunited, and we will reconnect our guests with Africa. Our job right now is to make sure we are on hand to guide our clients and guests through Covid-19, whether it involves postponing, cancelling or planning a new African adventure.

The world we live in today is quite different from what it was just a few weeks ago. We are collectively living through the most harrowing crisis of our lifetime, but we are determined to rise to this generational challenge. As Africa’s Leading Safari Company, we will continue to look to tourism as the force that uplifts Africa’s poorest communities and protects her wildlife.

Tourism not only enriches the lives of our incredible guests, but supports millions of livelihoods across our continent. As such, we at Rhino Africa are committed to redoubling our efforts, to ensure we help maintain decades of conservation built on the foundation of bringing guests to African soil. Nothing brings us more joy than the ability to share our passion for Africa with our guests, so whether you are postponing or planning your next African holiday, we encourage all our guests to keep dreaming of your African adventure, because at her heart, Africa represents the spirit of belonging and connection that we are all seeking right now.

Here are a few FAQ’s that will hopefully provide our guests, and those looking to travel to Africa, with some additional information on what to look out for as they navigate this time.

Postponement of existing bookings

We promise to be as agile as possible when rescheduling your holiday

Our team will go the extra mile to move your holiday to a time that is more suitable.

We recognise that given the current travel bans, quarantines and social distancing requirements imposed on us all during this time, it is unlikely that travel to Africa, and in particular South Africa, is going to be possible for the foreseeable future – and no one is more disappointed than us!

In the first instance, on behalf of myself, our Rhino Africa family and all our lodge, hotel and logistic partners, in addition to the communities and conservation projects we serve, we want to encourage you not to cancel your dream African holiday, but to rather postpone and rebook to visit Africa at a later, more convenient time. For those of our guests whose travel plans have been disrupted by Covid-19 specifically, our Travel Experts remain on hand, ready to guide you through every step of the postponement process.

Postponement

Your flexibility in supporting a postponement, and your intention to return, would mean that we at Rhino Africa, in addition to our many partners, can keep the home fires burning and many of our staff employed, whilst continuing to uplift communities and protect Africa’s endangered wildlife. In an effort to provide viable alternatives to cancelling your African holiday, our Travel Experts remain on hand to provide various options with respect to postponements.

  • Book new dates

Working with one of our Travel Experts, we will re-book your itinerary to visit Africa at a later, more convenient time. Under this option, we will re-secure all the logistical and accommodation requirements at dates that are suitable for you. As 2021 is building up to be a bumper travel year, as everyone makes up for 2020, bear in mind that African hotels and lodges are mostly small, boutique properties with limited availability. To avoid disappointment and best meet your new date requirements, we recommend that our guests settle on postponement dates as quickly as possible. In addition, our Travel Experts will work as hard as they can to minimise postponement costs, as we continue to work with our supply partners to hold 2020 rates where possible.

  • Book new dates later

If you don’t have dates just yet, and would like to wait for more certainty around when to travel, an amendment to our non-refundable deposit Terms and Conditions will ensure your current deposit payment is protected against future travel. Our Travel Experts will temporarily cancel your existing booking, while holding all deposits, both with ourselves and with our partner hotels, lodges and logistics providers to ensure that when you do have dates and are ready to travel, we are able to re-book your itinerary without delay.

  • When should I make the decision to postpone?

At the heart of this Covid-19 crisis lies a great deal of uncertainty, and despite all the scenario analysis, forecasts and assumptions, we simply do not know with certainty when international travel will resume. As such, working with both our guests and our partners, we continue to work on the principle of making a full assessment 60 days prior to your scheduled departure.

At this point in time, based on whether travel looks likely or unlikely, given continued or less restrictive travel bans, quarantines and social distancing requirements, our Travel Experts will engage and advise you accordingly.

  • If I postpone – when should I postpone to?

Using the South African Government’s risk assessment strategy, worst-case scenario, uninterrupted international travel is expected to resume February 2021 into March 2021. While we certainly hope for a faster recovery, that would allow for international flights from December 2020 onwards, we continue to plan for the worst and hope for the best. In light of this assessment, for guests wishing for greater certainty, our recommendation is to postpone to a date after 1 March 2021.

Cancellation

While grateful for the support of guests able to postpone their travel, we recognise that in some instances guests are simply unable to avoid cancellation. In order to ensure we offer viable alternatives to cancellations, in the form of postponement options, guests wishing to cancel confirmed bookings, will be subject to our standard terms and conditions, and our 30% non-refundable deposit policy will apply.

Despite having done a considerable amount of work upfront to design and book our guests African Holiday, a considerable amount of these deposit payments have already been paid over to our hotel, lodge and logistical partners on the terms of their own non-refundable deposit requirements to secure availability; many of these partners continue to enforce these terms and conditions.

Of course, we remain on hand to assist our guests with their travel insurance claims as a result of cancellation through Covid-19.

Planning your African adventure during Covid-19?

Covid-19 might be spoiling the travel party, but we look forward to working with our clients in getting you back on African soil as soon as it is safe to do so

Let’s work together to bring your African adventure to life when we can travel again.

Many guests have asked us if now is a good time to plan and book their next African adventure. With a strong conviction that this moment will pass and travel will be back, our immediate attention is focused on how we guide our guests wishing to still plan and book through these uncertain times. It is one thing to take advantage of the tail-winds that Covid-19 will inevitably bring, as tourism recovers, but much like the 2008 financial crisis, ensuring our guests holiday investment is protected, is of primary concern.

Our conviction comes from the belief that in addition to the incredible experiences Africa has to offer, the shared humanity of this crisis, which is truly global, has already seen millions of people and businesses stepping up to support those in need. We believe the established indirect and direct connection between tourism and poverty alleviation, education and wildlife preservation will be a strong motivator for our guests to come back to Africa in support of these amazing causes.

The reality is as global destinations and source markets reopen, guests will have a plethora of options available for travel, but few destinations have the impact story Africa does. So, for guests who wish to travel with a conscious and give back, Africa should be at the top of your travel list. 

Community upliftment and wildlife preservation is central to the Rhino Africa story, so when asked whether now is a good time to start planning and booking your African adventure, the answer is a resounding yes.

Travel insurance and cancellation policies

The tourism industry needs your support

1 in every 10 people rely on global tourism to put food on their plates every day.

Over the years, many of us have become complacent when it comes to travel insurance in protecting our holiday investments. While we recognise all travel insurance is limited in respect to coverage for Covid-19, we have adjusted our standard terms and conditions for new bookings accordingly, to provide our guests coverage. Sufficient travel insurance cover for cancellations or medical emergencies is absolutely essential in fully protecting your holiday investment. Regrettably, we are not permitted to offer travel insurance directly. However, we have done the research on your behalf and have excellent recommendations for you, including “any reason” cancellation protection.

When Should I Book?

Covid-19 is the perfect time to plan your next travel

The benefit of planning your future trip now is that you’ll have more time to do research

While many destinations in Africa can be enjoyed year-round, Africa is seasonal when it comes to certain wildlife spectacles like the Okavango Delta floods or the Great Migration in East Africa. Given limited availability due to the bespoke nature of wildlife tourism, it is highly recommended that when adding Africa to your holiday destination of choice, you start planning and booking your African Safari some 6 to 12 months in advance, depending on the destinations you wish to visit.

The consequences of Covid-19 means that all guests destined to travel to Africa for this year’s peak safari season (May to August) have had to either postpone to 2021 or cancel. Given a trip to Africa is often a “once in a lifetime” experience, the vast majority of guests have opted to postpone, meaning availability for 2021 is harder to find as ever.

If we add the risk assessment strategy, worst-case scenario, as discussed above, in the interest of certainty, our recommendation is that guests continue to plan and book their African holiday, but for travel after 1 March 2021. 

Why Should I Book now?

Taking advantage of the tail-winds Covid-19 provides, here are a few good reasons why booking your next African Adventure is the best thing you can do right now.  

  1. Flights have never been cheaper than right now –  you don’t have to travel now but booking now will save you money for when you do; when the Covid-19 outbreak is over.
  2. You can book a 2021 African Holiday at 2020 prices.
  3. You get more value for your money in Africa right now due to highly favourable exchange rates.
  4. It’s the perfect time to ensure you get front row seats to the wide variety of wildlife spectaculars in 2021. From Kruger to the Okavango Delta, to the Great Migration and Great Apes.
  5. You help keep the home fires burning and many of staff employed, whilst continuing to uplift communities and protect Africa’s endangered wildlife. 

Who Should I book with?

You remain our primary concern during this time

Rhino Africa’s priority remains the well-being and safety of all our guests.

In a world of uncertainty, choosing your African travel partner has never been more important. In most cases, when guests book with a local agent that does not reside in Africa, there are several intermediaries involved in curating a single African itinerary. These agents rely on destination management or wholesale companies in order to facilitate hotel and lodge contracts in addition to logistics. 

The reason for this is the fragmented nature of the safari industry; small agents are simply not geared for contracting directly and hence rely on these intermediaries for their guests’ travel. This distribution channel, which we refer to as the B2B channel, poses great risk to guests in time like Covid-19, as guests are required to rely on the liquidity of all these intermediaries in the delivery of their African Holiday.

With over 16 years experience, as Africa’s Leading Safari company, Rhino Africa is an African-based specialist tour operator arranging tailor-made wildlife safaris and holidays throughout Africa. Our understanding of the guest experience, combined with extensive first-hand knowledge of the hotels and lodges, makes us experts in creating magical and memorable African holidays. Moreover, the direct nature of our business – linking guests directly with hotels and lodges – negates the need for intermediaries, significantly reducing a guest’s risk in times of uncertainty.

Through the relationship-centric approach of Rhino Africa’s direct business model, we have not only seen the positive results in maintaining a large proportion of guest travel, that have chosen to postpone, but we are able to provide first-hand and relevant information to guests still wishing to plan and book their African holidays. 

While Covid-19 has arrived and has thoroughly rained on our 2020 travel parade, there is indeed a silver lining. As I keep telling everyone, if you are not able to travel right now, then use this time to plan for when you can. As Africa’s leading Safari Company, contact us, and let one of our Travel Experts start planning your 2021 African safari today.

Finally, and most importantly, I want to thank you, our guests. So many of you have sent us messages of support. Truly, these have lifted our spirits and provided much-needed comfort in a challenging time for our industry. When this crisis passes, we will look forward to reuniting, and repaying your kindness with the unique Rhino Africa experience you know and love.

With love and gratitude,

David and the Rhino Africa Team.

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