Your African Safari – The Coronavirus

Dear Ultimate Africa Clients,

 

As the situation surrounding COVID-19 unfolds we are working diligently to stay updated in this changing environment, and to be sensitive to the needs of all our guests, our staff, and the many safari camps and lodges that support / finance the rural communities and wildlife of Africa.

 

If you are concerned about your travel plans, please call us at 1 800 461 0682. We are working with each traveler on a case-by-case basis and are here to help you make well-informed decisions.

 

Our focus is outlined below, in this order:

 

  1. Getting clients home. Several clients are wrapping up safaris and wish to remain on their trips and take their chances getting home. Others have shortened their trips.
  2. Re-accommodating our clients with trips planned in late March, April and May. Based on the generosity of our suppliers in Africa, which stems from our long relationships, we don’t anticipate any clients will lose monies other than commercial airline penalties.
  3. Chatting to our many clients traveling after June 1 that have questions about their arrangements. We are working closely with our safari camps and lodges to offer flexible deposit / payment terms. With each safari being customized and unique, we will do this in date order on a case-by-case basis and appreciate your patience.

 

Most safari camps and lodges are allowing our guests traveling before June 1, 2020 to defer their trip to a new start date within 12 to 18 months of the original start date. The general stipulations are that you need to rebook the same trip, with the same number of guests, for the same time of year. Very few suppliers have released policies for clients traveling after June 1, 2020 and are asking us to make final payments for upcoming trips on schedule. If things do not improve I would expect the postponements / re-accommodations would continue.

 

As far as I know, only a handful of suppliers anywhere in the world are offering to refund deposit money. Please keep in mind, we work on contracted rates with hotels, so online terms and conditions / penalties are not the same for us. Many hotels have changed their online terms and conditions in the past few weeks to attract customers, so they are irrelevant.

 

Most travel insurers are allowing travelers to change dates without having to purchase a new policy. Most are not covering for cancellation due to fear of the Coronavirus or new government restrictions.

 

We are evaluating the situation with each client’s airfares on a case-by-case basis. Generally speaking, airlines are not allowing refunds of nonrefundable tickets and are not waiving cancelation penalties. Airlines are waiving change fees for travel up to late May, but clients are responsible for fare differential, and in most cases the new travel dates must start before December 31, 2020. To stimulate sales, some airlines are also waiving change fees for tickets purchased in March regardless of travel dates.

Update as of March 25, 2020: South African Airways is allowing tickets issued prior to March 25, 2020 AND any new tickets issued up to August 31, 2020 to be changed for travel up to March 25, 2022! In addition routings may be changed as well as travelers!

 

We thank you for choosing Ultimate Africa Safaris to plan your African safari. Over 24 years we have weathered many storms. We remain committed to providing our clients with the best service possible in planning your incredible African adventure and ensuring Africa’s wildlife and wilderness areas thrive!

 

Stay well,

 

Ian Proctor
Ultimate Africa President
“I first visited Africa in the late 1980s. I came face to face with a wild elephant, and fell in love with being on safari! I made it my goal to create an African travel company that was all about authentic wildlife experiences. Many years later we are one of the top African travel companies in the Americas – known for arranging custom safaris to East and Southern Africa; personal trips, no cookie cutter stuff.”

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