Travellers will be asking one big question right now: How can I travel safely post Covid-19 and will I still be required to observe social distancing? It’s a question that merits serious thought. The obvious answer is to travel privately. Not only does this ensure socially distancing from others, but it also enhances the experience of your luxury safari holiday or vacation.
With social distancing being advised by many governments for an inestimable period of time we have, essentially, two options facing us. The first is to travel domestically – and by road. That may of course satisfy some for a finite period of time but for many, our wanderlust will kick in and we will start to itch for something different and more exotic.
The more obvious question is how can one travel internationally which is more in line with the current political, social and climatic environment?
So how can you maintain social distancing on holiday/vacation? The obvious answer is to take a private safari or holiday.
Here are some post-COVID-19 social distancing holiday guidelines you can consider.
Naturally, it depends upon one’s budget. Ideally, we would take private, charter flights to and from our final destinations. That could mean, in the larger sense of the word (and assuming deep pockets), flying by private jet from the country of origin directly to the continent one is wanting to visit.
Or, if that’s a step too far for some, then to travel at least business class (ensuring proper social distancing but, ideally, flying first class and using first-class lounges and private ground handling at airports) on a scheduled flight to the continent - and pick up private aviation on arrival.
This is my top recommendation for travel in any case, even before this current situation. I have long fostered partnerships with private intercontinental flight suppliers and, in-country, recommend a unique selection of privately-curated, all-private trips around Africa and Asia with all travel by private jet or private turbine charter.
No minimum number is required and aircraft – whatever the make or configuration – are privately rostered to suit the party size. All such trips include all-private accommodation, catering and guiding with some of the finest wildlife and photographic guides on the continent.
If that is still a little out of reach/budget, what other options are there to take a holiday safely? I always recommend taking private charter flights in-country simply because it makes the most sense from both a privacy and an efficiency perspective – (it saves so much valuable time and is so much more flexible!). Depending on the numbers involved, it can also make better economic sense.
There are many private options! The first is to take a luxury private villa in Africa or in Asia. Obviously this is exclusive use and can simply be for yourself as a family. Or, if it is just a couple of you, there are perfect options for just two people! Add to that a private guide so that all experiences will be just that – private and curated around your interests, hobbies and desires.
A villa can either be perfect for a family group when on safari, or relaxing. How lovely to then have mouth-wateringly fresh meals served privately; if you then wanted to go out there’d be your own private chauffeured vehicle for you and, of course, your private guide with all your activities effected on an exclusive basis (which makes a lot of sense in any event) or your own private Landcruiser for your safari.
The second option is a private, mobile, tented camp. Whether on safari in Africa or in Asia, there are options of the most luxurious, wonderful, mobile tented camps which can be sited in stunning locations, just for one family group – or a couple!
Part of this could be an adventurous, simple fly camp for a night or two to really experience the bush! Once again: this comes with private guides, chefs and vehicles. All experiences on a safari like this will be utterly unique and tailored to each individual.
In India, this can even include locations in beautiful areas close to villages so one can walk each day and get beneath the skin of the locality, learning about the environment and witnessing its beauty in an uncontrived and natural manner.
For those with a marine (or diving) bent, how about a private yacht or dhow?
One can partake in private sea- or waterway-borne experiences pretty much anywhere in the world! Whether in Indonesia, Kerala (India), Vietnam, Cambodia or Myanmar, the Maldives, Seychelles, Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya or Tanzania; each offers a wealth of very different experiences.
From sailing down the Mekong, past lovely small villages, to the houseboats of Kerala where, again, one sees local life in all its glory and vibrancy. Then, in Mozambique, one can take a converted Arab Dhow (the original sailing boats the Arabs used trading down the African coast), camping out each night on a private island, snorkeling and diving during the day and swimming with dolphins. This was one of my most memorable family holidays. Everything is of course included and a trip like this is perfectly rounded off in luxury at a private villa on a private island!
Or, in Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, one can take a privately chartered yacht for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing and exploring scattered islands with a private specialist guide or, often, a private marine biologist for those who would really love to know more and who would like to donate to a marine conservation fund. How about diving with whale sharks in Tanzania?
If one doesn’t want a plethora of activities then there are yachts to simply relax upon and soak up the sun; swimming, snorkeling and reveling in luxury, privacy and exclusivity.
On the same – but yet very different – theme one can cruise the Galápagos Islands privately. What a fabulous way to explore and discover this magical region which abounds with unique adapted wildlife – once again with a specialist wildlife and photographic guide.
Private travel comes with the received connotations of carbon use. But, for those who want to contribute to a carbon-free environment once they reach their chosen destination, there are many opportunities on offer from horse riding (from simply a few hours to two weeks; one of the best methods to get close to wildlife and oh, so exhilarating!!) to cycling holidays.
The latter can be in wildlife areas or simply travelling by bicycle through rural villages in Central India or Tanzania - even around cities such as Cape Town. Bhutan is also a unique cycling destination; Paro is very beautiful and forested. Cycling amongst wildlife in Botswana, South Africa and Uganda offers some wonderful opportunities, too.
Canoe safaris are also a superb way to travel silently and explore the bush whether in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana or South Africa. One can get so close to wildlife! No motorized engines; a fabulous, quiet, peaceful way to explore the environment in the company of your private guide and always plenty of walking as well.
Which brings me to walking holidays, either as an entire holiday dedicated to walking, devoid of crowds or, simply, walking for a couple of days. These holidays could be walking from lodge to lodge in the Himalayas or, for example, in Central India where one can stay in a private luxury camp erected exclusively for you.
Other fabulous countries in Asia offer amazing walking holidays; Bhutan and Japan spring to mind. Walking is such a wonderful way to be immersed in nature and culture with your own guide and travelling at your own pace. One can take a walking holiday around the Cape, in South Africa, or – quite different - explore the pristine Namib desert (the oldest on the planet) in neighbouring Namibia.
A walking holiday in wildlife regions in Africa is simply the best! Walking is such an immersive experience and a walking safari is one of the finest ways of experiencing wildlife. Accompanied by an extremely professional and experienced guide one learns to walk downwind, allowing wildlife to be observed in their natural habitat with the privilege of witnessing their behaviour. One also learns about the medicinal properties of trees and plants, tracking “spoor” in the sand, watching the story of life unfold before one’s eyes.
Once again all of these carbon-free experiences can be taken in complete privacy and exclusivity.
Last but most definitely not least, we must all seek to embrace the most inspiring private, philanthropically inspired holidays. For the last 30 years I have advocated “travelling with a heart”, and moreover, in my opinion most importantly, a conscience. If this coronavirus outbreak has taught the world anything it has to be embracing a quieter, more considered, less stressful life; one lived in a more measured way.
The many acts of kindness that have rippled through communities and cities during the last three months have been overwhelming, bringing a sense of cohesion to these areas where often altruism, outside the self-enclave, had become almost extinct.
I would like to think that now, more than ever, travellers will be journeying with a more analytical, surgical, meaningful and positive approach. They will want to know if the places they are staying at are ethical; if those establishments benefit the local communities and wildlife (if applicable) and, most of all, if they can be held accountable within the local community and environment.
Now is the time and now, more than ever, travellers want to become involved, as at least a part of their holiday, assisting and benefitting - in a real way - the lives of local communities and the cause of conservation whilst also deriving a greater understanding of the region which they are visiting.
To this end, the charitable arm of The Explorations Company is perfectly placed to help any further desire to fund charities and small projects through its own charity, Explorations Plus.
Each traveller with The Explorations Company contributes to one of the regions they are visiting. On a higher level, those who travel may have had the opportunity to enhance their safari or holiday by meeting scientists and researchers or, perhaps, being part of a lion collaring or a rhino-chipping exercise to help preserve wildlife in Africa.
On a higher level still, Explorations Plus can offer advice to foundations on where they could contribute, having effected the necessary due diligence. Some donors have also taken part in assisting schools, medical facilities, communities and wildlife. Explorations Plus has just completed a charitable appeal for our six most in-need charities and have given a lifeline to these organisations during the coronavirus pandemic. In the end, it’s this sort of private involvement where the enrichment and fulfilment of every journey begins…..
If you would like any more information about private and exclusive travel to Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as information on philanthropic travel, please do feel free to contact me directly, or at The Explorations Company. Or you can dream for now at our Video Library.
Images courtesy of:
Ocean Island Safaris, Ol Jogi Kenya (copyright to Durston Saylor), Motswiri Private Safari Lodge, Chipembele (copyright to Edward Selfe), Ibo Island Lodge, Tropic Air, Dwarika’s Group Nepal, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, Kichaka Expeditions, Tusk and Mane Zambia, ABC Foundation.