Well, well, well (three holes in the ground, as the old joke used to say….I digress), here we all are eh? September…yep, September; 9 months into a year which will doubtless live long in the memory…predominantly, I suspect, for all the wrong reasons! I think we can all agree that nobody’s “2020 vision” would have looked anything like this…anywhere. But, it is what it is, and it will be what it will be etc…and there’s pretty much bugger all we can do about it but keep looking forward.
As someone said to me a couple of months ago, “better to light a candle than curse the dark” and I hope that all of you out there are managing to keep positive.
People have asked me – a lot – this year how it affects people like me; the photographers and film-makers of this world, all of which we do on contract…and all of which have not been taking place in 2020. Indeed, not only has every guided trip been shelved, but also every commission (private and corporate) and overseas project too. All books have had 12 months added to their publishing deadline (thankfully!…as though I’ve been catching up…they are all still behind schedule!), all exhibitions were cancelled (which was a bit of a shame as I had two lined up in central London) and apart from the good people of Tonbridge who I was lucky enough to visit way back in February, every talk – so far (and with groups being limited to 6…the rest of the year doesn’t look great either!) postponed. I’m sure you’ve all got your own stories too, but when push comes to shove, we’re all still here (well, if you’re reading this…I’m making that assumption!) and doubtless our gardens are all looking incredible 🙂 You see…every cloud and all that!
So, enough of the 2020 debacle – let’s take a look at some stuff that’s going to be important to all of you from a travel perspective going forward.
Trips in 2021
Firstly, can I just say, we have been hugely grateful at everyone’s patience whilst we shifted every single trip (bar one) from this year to next. You have been super-supportive throughout as we have negotiated the logistical nightmare. I would also say a massive “thanks” to all the partners we work with overseas. All of them have accommodated us next year, at the same times we initially wanted, despite in many cases having to “bump” others out of the way who were already holding space for next year (but I’ve now used up all my favours earned over the last couple of decades!). All of you will have been dealt with individually on re-booking, so that is all in place now. There is a full summary of what’s going on in 2021 on the “Group Safaris: 2021” page.
As we stand today – 11 September – ALL OF OUR TRIPS IN 2021 ARE GOING AHEAD AS SCHEDULED. We had news this week from our people on the “inside” that Ethiopia for example is to drop its quarantine requirements from October, and we fully expect Namibia (which opened its airport on 1 September) to be in the same situation well before next year’s trips. Our North American adventures to Yellowstone, the Nakina and Alaska are all dependent on respective borders opening, but the venues will be open and as such, the trips will be running. Likewise we fully expect Brazil, Zimbabwe and Zambia (which has also just re-opened for tourism) to follow suit too. We have an international set of clients that travel, and as such we have to adopt the policy of “if the lodge is open, and the border is open, then the trip is running”. Any effects of returning quarantine (and I’ve just gone through it…it’s not too bad!) can’t be counted in unfortunately. The lodges and camps are completely right in saying “well, we’re open and the border is open…it’s up to you if you come or not…” and as such do charge us. As such, we have to be a bit – and I hate to say it – draconian on the deposit deadlines as we need to know if spaces are being filled or not. We will always try our best to ensure we make sure you’re able to go (and if not, do our best with you to mitigate it), but we do have to fill the spaces on trips and will have to offer them for re-sale if we think you’re not coming. If we do re-sell the trip we will always try and make it possible to either refund your deposit, or transfer it elsewhere; we’re in this to give you experiences, not bleed people dry! We will also be as flexible as we can be on the “final payments” too, rest assured.
However, I’m sure you all appreciate we have our commitments too – and it’s an imperative for me that the lodges, guides, drivers, other photographers, camp staff and all the associated individuals that make your trips so memorable, are not left high and dry. If we want places to visit and go back to, and we want wildlife to be there, we have to take a degree of responsibility. I accept that won’t be everyone’s view, but conservation drives everything we do.
With that in mind, all our profits from 2021 and 2022 are going directly to frontline conservation. Whether you book or go on a group tour, or put an individual bespoke adventure through us, we will ensure that as much as possible is recycled to the charities we support and the causes we champion.
Spaces in ’21
There are 1 or 2 spaces that have emerged (to be honest, most are under review as being partially reserved/held) in next year’s adventures as a result of this year, so if you would like to get on one of the trips and missed the boat, do have a quick look and ping me or Carrie an email. We can certainly then look to see if we can squeeze you on. If you don’t have any plans yet for 2021, then why not take a look at our “Tailor-made” page where you will see ideas and photo adventures to a handful of specifically chosen locations where we are able to make some pretty exciting itineraries for you! These are designed to operate within an optimum timeframe, but can take place in any year. So, if you have a last minute urge, we can get you clicking somewhere!
As you can imagine, next year is going to be bedlam for people like me. We have a full 12 months of work to catch up on, and essentially double the amount of work that needs to be factored in (without the guided trips!). Rest assured though that thanks to a bit of logistical Tetris, we’ve managed to make everything fit next year. If your trip was due to be led by myself (unlucky, sorry!) or one of my peers that I’ve worked with in the past (all funnier, younger and better than me!) then – with one exception – this has remained the case. It may be that the photographer leading your trip has now been swapped onto another because of clashes (and that includes me), but if you signed up for a photographer-guided adventure next year, whether it be re-arranged from 2020 or originally in 2021 anyway), then you can be confident that you will be in the hands of a true professional from start to finish. If I am not personally guiding your adventure, I will be on hand as much as possible in the build-up too to give advice (as well as all the materials we would normally send anyway), and if you’re in the vicinity of the South East – and we can make diaries match-up, then I’d be happy to spend half a day – free of charge – with you talking you through the conditions you will be working in and giving you some ideas and preparation. If we can’t do it in person, then Zoom (we’re all experts now, right?!) will be our medium of choice!
For 2022, we’ve got some exciting ideas and some great developments…that I am hopeful you will be able to take advantage of. You will be able to access the full info by clicking here, or using the link from the newsletter you received….or simply turning to the “Group Safaris: 2022” tab on the main menu. Any questions…do give me a shout! We’ve also broken down the three main types of photographic sojourn that we are offering going forward, and this info’ can be found on our “About Our Safaris” page…enjoy!