April 30, 2020
Covid: the road still to be travelled.
I arrived back from wonderful South Africa last Tuesday on schedule and have been in touch with all of our clients who have holidays booked with us. All are deferring or are in the wait-and-see box.
I am always concerned about our clients’ safety and whether or not they should travel and I am also deeply concerned about the communities throughout our regions that depend on tourism for their livelihood, especially those in poorer countries where there will be little or no government support.
Tourism is a key driver of conservation, and anyone who goes to a national park, reserve or private wildlife concession is contributing to preserving natural habitats and the animal kingdom. During this pandemic much of the conservation work will be continued by many dedicated people in the field, but with declining funding this will of course become harder.
More than ever I shall now not be able to take travel for granted. I am fortunate enough to have been to Sub-Saharan Africa about eighty times in the last thirty-five years and have had new experiences on every visit. On this latest trip I had two.
The first was when I was in the Kalahari, staying on the remarkable Tswalu Reserve. One afternoon our ranger Mark and tracker Ben spotted the tracks of wild dog who were on the hunt. Ben is a master of his art and successfully found the dogs who had cornered a mother and baby oryx. I have come across wild dog on several occasions, but what I had never seen before was two antelope standing their ground and using their long sharp horns to keep the dogs at bay rather than running away. We had to leave the sighting as darkness was descending, but on revisiting the area the next morning it looked as if the oryx had escaped and the wild dogs had taken a red hartebeest instead. Survival of the smartest?
A few days later, in a private concession on the edge of the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park in Zululand, our guide Biyela wanted to check out a lioness whom he had seen from a distance, crouching by the partly flowing Umfolozi river. The lioness had three hungry cubs to feed and was waiting to pounce on prey as they came down to the river to drink. He warned us that we were going to have to drive along the wet riverbed at a relatively high speed if we were to get close enough to see her.The big land cruiser bumped down a steep incline, the noise of the throbbing 4.2 litre engine in low ratio increasing as we careered along the wide expanse of sand and water. Within minutes we saw the lioness who got up as we approached, perhaps surprised to see a safari vehicle moving a little faster than usual. We couldn’t stop as the Toyota would have sunk deep into the sand, so we whooshed on, water splashing all over us, until the guide skilfully navigated his way to a safe exit point. It was the quickest lion sighting ever, but a lot of fun!
I shall be sending out a few blogs on India over the next few weeks which I hope will give inspiration for future holiday dreaming.
I am available to talk about any travel related subject on 0207 723 5858.
Please do stay safe and well during this difficult time.
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