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Follow the Swallows!

7 min read

Updated 01 September 2021

Picture of Chris McIntyre

By Chris McIntyre

Managing Director

*A version of this article originally appeared in the September 2021 Bush Telegraph newsletter. You can read our recent newsletters and sign-up to receive these in your inbox on our Bush Telegraph newsletter page.

It’s already September and in the northern hemisphere, Autumn is in the air. The schools are back and swifts and swallows are beginning to flock together for their epic 6,000 mile migration to their wintering grounds in Africa.

For our friends in southern Africa, the days are getting warmer, the wildlife densities are increasing at the waterholes and guests from around the world are again relaxing around campfires. The safari buzz is tangible: shared experiences and deep connections with wildlife and wilderness are bringing everyone together.

The world is opening up. Most nations have now replaced travel restrictions for vaccinated people with testing. From the USA to Europe, people are travelling freely again, cautiously and carefully, but with great optimism and knowing they’ll have wonderful tales on their return.

At Expert Africa, the delight and gratitude expressed by our returning travellers is amplified this year. Do check out their often euphoric trip reviews as they recount safaris experienced in these unusual times. Our travellers’ reviews are invaluable not just for inspiration, but also for giving you added confidence and reassurance when planning your own trip. Then take a look below at some of the incredible last-minute travel deals we have on offer, and chat to us for more.

Travel in Expert Hands

Image: Kifaru House

It is a truth universally acknowledged that travel during a pandemic is harder. With apologies to Jane Austen, it is as simple as that.

For a long time, many of our travellers were unable to travel and disappointment and uncertainty reigned. Our team spent their time rearranging complex itineraries while getting to grips with myriad global regulations. Travellers faced a host of obstacles, including nagging safety doubts, ever-changing and even contradictory ‘official’ advice, reams of bureaucratic paperwork and medical testing.

And yet, for many of us, the desire grew ever stronger to venture far and wide, to immerse ourselves in wild landscapes, seek out unusual creatures, meet new friends and expose ourselves to diverse cultures. We wanted to travel. And now that we can, we just need to balance our wanderlust with added practicalities and care – and that’s why safari travellers contact Expert Africa.

For us, the joy of safari planning has returned. More than ever, it’s the depth of our team’s destination knowledge and our longstanding partnerships on the ground that give us a head start. Never has our experience and attention to detail been more important.

Expert Africa’s promise to you is that we will not only provide superb bespoke safaris, but that we will hold your hand as much as you need through the travel process and ensure you are free to simply enjoy your holiday.

On the ground in Africa, the bushcamps, safari lodges and beach retreats that we work with have implemented comprehensive Covid-19 health and safety policies, from social distancing protocols to intensive cleaning programmes. Their regimes include disinfecting vehicles, requiring all staff in camp to wear masks and sanitising when moving between rooms.

Tourism staff from guides to chefs have been prioritised in the vaccine rollout of many African countries, and the practicalities of arranging Covid-19 tests for travellers are all in place. Nurses fly into remote bush airstrips to conduct tests, allowing travellers to continue on safari while test results are produced for their flights out.

For all our travellers, you can rest assured we’re here to help handle the complexities and organisation. There’s a good reason we’re called Expert Africa: if ever travel required expert guidance, it is now.

The Okavango Delta….at that price?!

Image: DumaTau Camp

Loved by wildlife enthusiasts, wilderness-seekers and documentary film-crews alike, the Okavango Delta is a magical, watery wonderland. The world’s largest inland river delta, its papyrus-lined channels are enchanting and its palm islands and floodplains teem with wildlife. From freshwater turtles to wild dogs, it’s a veritable African Noah’s Ark, punctuated with superb safari camps.

The luxury of this pristine environment and exclusive lodges come at a price though: the Okavango is usually very expensive. So we’re enormously excited to announce a phenomenal 2021 end-of-year offer to indulge in all the wonders of the Delta for a fraction of the usual price.

For the rest of this year, our fantastic 8-night Pangolin Safari is available for any bookings made within 30 days of travel for an incredible US$4,100 (£2,982/€3,470) per person sharing. The usual price for this time of year is US$10,590 (£7,695/€8,953) per person sharing – a saving of US$12,980 (£9,426/€10,975) per couple.

This is an extraordinary offer: contact us now if you can travel in the coming weeks. It’s an amazing opportunity.

The Serengeti Migration – unprecedented availability

Image: Serian Serengeti

Undoubtedly one of nature’s greatest spectacles, seeing the drama of the Serengeti’s great wildebeest migration is on many wildlife enthusiasts’ wish-lists.

Safari camps based along the migration path can be booked up years in advance, but not this year. There is unprecedented space during the peak season of September and October in some of the best Serengeti camps, and there are also some great deals available if you speak with us. At the risk of hyperbole, there’s really never been a better time for a last-minute trip to see the migration.

If a later date is more convenient, the gorgeous Namiri Plains Camp is probably at its best when the migration passes through between November and January, and unusually it still has space. With beautiful tents, panoramic vistas, and a phenomenal record of big cats sightings, taking advantage of their last-minute specials could well be your best decision this year.

Citizen Science Milestone

Image: Shipwreck Lodge

While all of us in the Expert Africa team are mad about wildlife, many of us – with backgrounds ranging from physics to economics and geography to zoology – are as fascinated by facts and figures as we are with the latest safari hotspots.

Back in 2018, we pooled our scientific skills and animal addiction, and launched a Citizen Science project to better track the wildlife in the areas in which we specialise. Our hope was to quantify our travellers’ sightings from various camps and parks to enable us to build up a picture of the animal populations in East and Southern Africa.

We wanted to be able to quickly and accurately compare sightings to educate ourselves, improve our travellers’ chances of seeing their favourite animals, and help our partners on the ground monitor wildlife changes. Understanding how any animal population changes over time is vital for many conservation initiatives.

This project relies entirely on the support of our travellers to record information about their sightings of 26 key African mammals. We cannot thank our amateur researchers enough for embracing our idea: this week we passed the milestone of 30,000 wildlife surveys received.

Already wildlife researchers have begun to use our data: one research group has been able to extend their distribution map for the brown hyena as a result of our findings.

In time we’re sure that these insights will help researchers more and benefit conservation across many species and areas. Meanwhile, for now they certainly help our team and our travellers to understand the chances of wildlife sightings in places that they plan to visit.

Check out our wildlife tracking pages to seek out the best spots for your favourite mammal, and give us a call if it isn’t featured so we can use our own knowledge to guide you more precisely.

If you’ve been inspired and want to find out more, give us a call or enquire now to speak to an expert.

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