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Updated: Dec 31, 2020

As we all know all too well, 2020 was not the year anyone hoped for. What we can hope for, is that this situation teaches us (the whole world) something about compassion, collaboration, communication and that some things only can be achieved by standing together and working hard, in situations that demands something extra from us…….. So we want start off by giving all of our travelers a big pat on the back for the support you have shown us over the past 10 months!

Covid status in Africa and Tanzania

We will not make any assumptions or conclusions from a scientific point of view, as we are a safari company and not medical professionals with experience on epidemics or pandemics. So we can only report on what we see from our point of view. Based on the numbers that are released, the northern parts of Africa and South Africa have been the hardest hit regions. Central Africa and Eastern Africa (below equator) have the least amount of registered cases. This region pretty much share the same climate, which some would argue are not ideal for Covid to thrive in. Although not conclusive, there are scientific reports that shows that countries where the population have used malaria prophylaxis over time, have far less cases of Covid. This could potentially be a result of some form of herd immunity.

In Tanzania, things are pretty much “back to normal”.

This might seem strange based on the current status in Europe and America, but that is how it is. Although safari lodges and operators take preventive measures as part of their new routines, there are very few things in Tanzania indicating the world is in the middle of a pandemic. Currently, Zanzibar is buzzeling with visitors for the holidays.

Effect on people and wildlife

In an earlier blogpost, we described both the direct and indirect consequences of the pandemic in Tanzania and our region in Africa. For the people and animals in Tanzania, the consequences of the imposed outbound travel band from Europe and America, are far more damaging than the pandemic itself. Travel and tourism makes up close to 20% of the country´s GDP, and the industry hosts close to 15% of the workforce in Tanzania. With virtually no safari travelers, millions of people are without any income as there are really no efficient unemployment benefits that works.

With few, to no safari clients out on the savannah, this also increases the risk of poaching, as an “active park is a safe park”. For the part of the population that lives close to the national parks and rely on income from passing/visiting safari travelers, the temptation of poaching is all to understandable when you have no money. As we have exhorted for years; creating jobs and sustainable income in surrounding/bordering areas to national parks and other wildlife areas, is the best way to preserve the wildlife and protect it from poaching.

How is Tanzania Explorer doing, and what have we been up to?

Naturally it´s been a very tough year for us, as with the rest of our industry. We have seen far too many of our colleagues in the industry not being able to handle the situation and sadly had to close down. But we are still here, and will be here in the future. We have good set-up, and our company is built brick by brick with no demanding external investors or debt. Until September, we were still going with pretty much 100% of salary and the team. As we saw the 2nd wave in Europe and America approaching, we have since then been running at about 75%. This fall we have had some voluntary leave/vacation among our team members, but we have been able to keep all positions and no jobs are lost in our company, something that we are very proud of.

-But with few safaris and few visitors, what have we been up to?

As we are used to being pretty busy and never really had time to reach the “nice to do list”, we definitely had some tasks on our hands. Our vehicles have gotten some extra TLC (care), we have had photo-training sessions and most importantly -updates on all our routines. Naturally we also had to put in place new “emergency routines” for potential lock-down in our villa, disinfection routines of our safari vehicles etc.

We have been optimizing trips and itineraries, more extensive training of our team as well as investigating new trip-combinations, activities and lodges. We have also been preparing a very exciting recycling project in Beach Street! From March this year, we have bought a container, built recycling machines and are soon ready to start on our very own beach-clean-up project at our beach in Kawe! We are super excited about this, and more news will come as we are planning to be operational in Q1 2021.

We are known as an expert on Tanzania. And we will always have our main operation and priorities set on Tanzania, hence our name! But as we have had travelers who has been visiting us many times in Tanzania, we have also gotten requests for other countries in the past few years, from returning clients. So in the beginning of 2019 we started a project with the aim to set up a sister-company in Zimbabwe, who would handle that region the same way we have done things in Tanzania the last decade. Fortunately, we have two Zimbabweans in our Safari Planner-team, so this was perfect! We were ready to launch in the beginning of this year, but then Covid hit, so we pressed the pause button. The good thing is that this has given us a year to continue the planning and development of itineraries, conducting site-visits and picking our preferred camps and lodges. In addition to our typical varied safari adventures we are known for in Tanzania, we will do more specialized safaris in this region. From river safaris on the Zambezi River, horseback safari in Zimbabwe, to delta exploration in Botswana and desert adventure in Namibia. So stay tuned for updates!

So what are our predictions for 2021?

As this blogpost is written, Europe and America is setting negative records every day in terms of people directly affected by Covid. In Tanzania however, things are looking pretty normal and Zanzibar is pretty much full with tourists. We wish we had a crystal ball, so naturally this will be a qualified guess……but there are many things that point in a positive direction.

With 3 vaccines that now look set to be approved both in Europe and America before the new year, and in some countries the vaccination has already started, the world is surely moving in the right direction. Naturally, it will take a few months for these to have a large impact on the R-number. But the world must also move forward. There is no way the world can afford another lock-down on a global scale in 2021 as the consequences of imposed travel bans are arguably as bad as the pandemic itself. This is reflected in financial decline and millions of jobs being lost, on top of the lives that are lost to the pandemic itself.

Our prediction is that it will be a slow start to 2021 for the safari industry in Africa.

As restrictions ease, we could see a slight increase in travelers in February, when many people traditionally have a winter holiday and some prefer a warmer climate. As the effect of the vaccines kick in, in combinations with a more non-Covid friendly warmer weather arriving in the Northern hemisphere, we feel pretty positive about June and onwards. Naturally with proper measurements still in place. So we prepare for a close to normal summer of 2021, but will naturally take all precautions on our trips to ensure they are safe at all times for all our travelers. As the fall of 2021 approaches we do believe that we are back to the “new normal”.

When we started on 2020, we were almost fully booked for most part of our high seasons. Very few of our clients have cancelled their trips, meaning they are moved to 2021 or later to “open dates”. So we really do prepare and hope for a busy year. We have also experienced a steady increase of requests over the past month, and been busy producing new itineraries and travel plans, which we love!

So all in all, we have a pretty positive outlook on 2021, at least for the 2nd half of the year. We do have guests currently in Tanzania, and we have put extra measures in place to be able to conduct any kind of safari & beach adventures with immediate effect, in a safe manner. So whenever your government allows you to travel, and you feel ready -you can rest assure that we are stand-by to serve you in Tanzania!

We also want to extend a special gratitude to all our clients who have postponed their trips and not cancelled -you have directly contributed to saving jobs and income for people in a tough period.

From the bottom of our hearts -thank you!

We wish all our followers, supporters, past and future travelers, a safe Festive Season with your loved ones!

Big virtual travel hugs from the whole Tanzania Explorer team

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Yes, it is still a crazy world out there. Yes, we still need to take precautions as it might last for a while. Yes, it's time to start planning your next vacation!

Choosing the right kind of vacation, that YOU feel comfortable about, is the most important thing. You simply won't enjoy any kind of vacation, unless you feel safe, well taken care of, and get any worries you may have, removed before your trip. Hopefully this blogpost will give you the exact reassurance you need, why a private safari is the ultimate safe trip to book next.

Since our beginning, more than 95% of our trips have been private safari itineraries. The last 5% are group-Kilimanjaro trips, special expedition trips and a few fly-in safaris.

Covid or no Covid, we consider private safari trips as the best way to enjoy your safari experience regardless of the situation. But now, more than ever, private safaris are without a doubt the safest way to enjoy your wildlife experience in Africa. Here's why;

Private safaris are the safest choice by far

Many belive that the term "private safari" is equal to a more expensive and luxurious trip. You can surely make this statement true, by choosing over-rated luxury lodges. But in general this is not the true meaning for us, when we talk about "private safaris".

For us, it's all about a customised trip for you, your family and your companions on the trip. Not having to compromise on anything, just because a "stranger" sharing the same vehicle as you, are into a different experience than you. Having a private safari, means that you set the inclusion on the itinerary. You decide that route and attractions to include with your private safari planner. You set the pace and priorities every day out on safari with your personal safari guide. If you want to spend 8 hours one day, just looking for that ONE bird -that´s what you do.

Pre-package safaris in groups can be amazing if the itinerary is exactly like you want it (which it rarely is), if the schedule departure dates fit, the price is right and you are lucky to get the perfect co-travelers in your safari vehicle, that you share with others.....

We do not share our safari vehicles. You do not share YOUR safari vehicle. From the moment you start your safari adventure with us, YOU and your travel companions are in focus. You will have your own private guide, and your own safari vehicle throughout the whole safari!

Now, more than ever -this is the right way to do your safari travel. As long as you feel safe about those you chose to travel with, like your family and friends, you are good to go. Naturally we take all precautions based on the current situation, like strict rules and guidelines when it comes to hygiene, sanitisers, disinfections etc. But most importantly; you will be in your "own little closed environment", unless YOU chose to step outside the bubble we create for you.

Stay away from ready made charter safari-packages and group trips for now

We have always chosen small, non-commercialised safari lodges and camps for the atmosphere, location and personal follow up. In the current situation, using these camps are perfect, because it will limit the amount of people you have to encounter on your trip. No queue, no large "buffet", no tight hallways to your room/tent, no unwanted passengers in YOUR vehicle.

The same principles are valid on the beach-part of your trip. We only use private vehicles for transportation to and from your accommodation. No shared van or mini-buss. Unless you WANT a typical resort at your beach destination, we always recommend smaller more private and intimate hotels or bungalows. So the same basic principles are used here, like on safari.

Start planning early, travel when you feel ready

We are all different, and want different things on our holidays/adventures. We all have different views on our intimate-zone, and we all have different elements that makes us feel safe, comfortable and free of worries. So don't push your trip, unless you feel you have the right precausions and safety measures for YOU to feel good about traveling.

But planning should always start early to ensure you spend good time deciding what you really want and weighing options. And when you are ready to travel, we will be here, ready to offer you the most safe and secure way to explore Tanzania and Africa...

PS! If you want to know why a trip to Africa could make a world of a difference to both animals, the local population and how it can prevent a new outbreak in the world, check this out:

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Yes, it is a bold statement. A far fetch thought for most. But this could be a reality.

In this blogpost, we will try to shed some light on some of the less spoken about consequences of the world not being able to travel, and why making a conscience choice about where to go next, could have a huge impact on wildlife conservation.

In worldwide media, people are encouraged to support their local communities, by visiting close by destinations and attractions. In lack of real alternatives, this is something we highly support. Visiting and enjoying local opportunities is a great thing to do, when the alternative is to stay at home. So, support your local community! However, in the long run, visiting Africa should be high on your list, and we will give you the best arguments yet, if you care about animals and wildlife conservation:

Like stated -travel locally when you have the option. The problem is that this works well in those parts of the world where people actually have money to spend on travel and leisure and are able to leave some money at a local attraction. In Africa and other less developed areas of the world, it´s not that simple. A vast majority of the local population are not able to visit their historical or natural gems. They simply can´t afford it. Protection of wildlife, endangered animals and fragile natural gems can only be done through funding from tourism. Local government cannot afford this alone. Like it should be the world’s responsibility and concern to protect the Amazonian rainforest, not only Brazils.

Estimates in a unique analysis by our greatest conservation organization in Africa, African Parks, suggests that the cost of proper protection of Africa´s wildlife is a minimum of $1.2 billion per year. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, on average, parks spend just $30 per km2 on protection, when the need was between $145-300 per km2.

Close to 16% of Africa has some kind of protected status. That is more than 4 900 000 km2 set aside for natural reserves, national parks and other protected areas. (Half the size of the United States to put it into perspective.) Needless to say, funding for protection from most African government is extremely low, without income from tourism. This is a $34 billon industry that has now dried up, more or less completely.

It´s not all about the money, we also need your eyes!

So, who protects the wildlife now that the tourists are gone? Park rangers hired by local authorities and governments, like they always do. But no army of park rangers could protect an area as vast as ½ the size of the United States. No matter how many rangers your hire, even if you had the funding, that job is almost impossible. So, who is then the ultimate protector? You. The visitors.

Not only through the money you bring for your adventure, but through your eyes! An active and frequently visited park, is the most protected park, since poachers stay away from highly visited areas where there is human activity.

Throughout the pandemic, there are numerous publications that claim that the Covid-19 virus ultimately comes from fruit bats in Africa, transported to humans who consumed endangered species, illegally trafficked from Africa to other continents. Primarily Asia.

So, what is the situation now? Many African parks are completely shut down. A free for all heaven for poachers. Also, local communities surrounding national parks, that heavily rely on tourism in their area for income, are now suffering. How will they generate income now? For many, poaching is tempting, since there are less of a chance getting caught these days with fever eyes on the ground. Knowing that the income from one elephant tusks could potentially keep your large family alive for years, the temptation might be too big. If it comes down to it, who would not put down an elephant if it meant saving your family from starvation? Yes, it might be hard to read, but this is the ultimate reality many places in Africa if essential income from tourism is not restored.

The current situation could therefore, further increase poaching and trafficking of illegal animals, which in turn could create new outbreaks and pandemics.

There are no relief funds for the local populations. There are no huge relief packages for local business most places in Africa. There are no alternatives. Africa needs visitors!

For now -stay safe and stay home! Travel locally and follow your local authorities’ advice when it comes to travel restrictions. But as soon as bans are lifted -get out there! Support nature, yourself and those who are not as well of as you, by visiting amazing wildlife and natural reserves. Your trip and your eyes could prevent poaching and trafficking of endangered animals. Your eyes could prevent a new outbreak. Your eyes could ultimately prevent a new pandemic, a new lockdown and a new crisis for your local community and your local business at home. Your visit to these areas could ultimately, save YOUR job.

…….and you will get an experience of a lifetime while helping to protect the environment -we promise!

Africa will be here, waiting for you to visit, enjoy and protect it with your presence!

Sondre Asdøl


PS! On this day, May 1st in 1873, the great explorer Dr. Livingstone died at the age of 60.

He has given names to many of todays most visited attractions all over Eastern and Central Africa.

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