As I write this, I am on my eighth international long haul flight since November last year. After the year we’ve all had, I’ve learnt not to take anything for granted, and so as you can imagine my excitement is palpable. I’m heading back to Africa, the land I love so very much. If it’s true that we protect what we love, then I feel sure that the Africa that I know and love is in good hands. I say this in recognition of all of you, our dear clients and partners – a dynamic, visionary group of thoughtful, adventurous and determined people, whose collective understanding of the enormous power that travel and tourism wields, remains one of our greatest assets.
The joyous anticipation of being back with friends, colleagues and clients in a few hours is matched by the realization that for me, flying is the pinnacle of freedom. I have always felt an undeniable truth in the observation: ‘the wealth of the experience is the freedom within it’. To my mind, the ultimate wealth is freedom. In fact, it’s a mantra upon which I’ve built ROAR AFRICA. Perhaps it was my formative years in boarding school, or the life-long clock watching of city living, that has driven this concept into my heart and mind, but it has certainly informed the way in which we curate everything you experience when you travel with us.
From the start of ROAR AFRICA my vision was to move people – not just physically, but emotionally and intellectually too. Since September last year, it has been my immense privilege to bring back 20+ families to Africa, with some staying up to a month or six weeks. It’s a feat I consider both a marvel and a miracle, for despite the ongoing travel hiatus, these clients not only trusted us enough to travel, but recognized the important social, economic and environmental benefit that follow as a result. In turn, they witnessed the overwhelming gratitude your presence elicited with the camp staff, and in fact all those you interacted with on the ground. On more than one occasion, we collectively felt humbled by the realization of how many lives are dependent upon the few of us lucky enough to make these journeys back into the wild. For while we as a species focus on our own survival, there are others out there fighting for the survival and protection of way more than just themselves, whilst offering up warm, welcoming smiles and gratitude without fail.
While the industry at large prepares for its inevitable comeback, at ROAR AFRICA we’ve been implementing a sustainable travel philosophy for the best part of a decade. In fact, in 2014, as a speaker at the BRICS International forum, I spoke of the impact of tourism on economies. I believe that our very human desire to accrue places rather than experience them, is what stops us from discovering the shared humanity that exists across cultures, geographical boundaries and language barriers everywhere. As a result, every itinerary seeks to counter that in ways that have become ever-more critical.
For while the media seems to be suffering from a negative bias…we know there is so much to celebrate and a lot of work to be done. The longed-for vaccine has arrived and while there is much we don’t know, if you have opted to be vaccinated, the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are effective against the strains identified in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Brazil. While travel feels much harder with PCR tests and flight changes, I can vouch for the fact that it is worth every bit of effort, and you can rest assured we will hold your hand and make it as seamless as possible every step of the way.
As you have come to expect from us, our team of travel professionals ensure that everything is pre-vetted, from airport arrivals lounges to lodge transfers, to fully tested lodge staff and even the flying in of nurses to administer PCR tests for your convenience. Our promise to you is to remove all the obstacles that could potentially stop you from getting out into the wild as safely and seamlessly as possible. It’s our job to think about the worst case scenarios too, we also have a team of doctor’s on stand-by to fly in and treat you or to medically evacuate you out, should the need arise. While every country has different requirements, and they can change without warning, if you have the mindset to adapt to change and gently welcome it, knowing we have your back every step of the way, there is no better time to travel.
Next week I will be in Kenya to welcome 18 guests (mostly from the USA, Ireland, Bali and Spain) for our annual Women’s Empowerment Trip. There can be no greater testament to the enormous power of collective will than that. If we as a global community can achieve that, despite all the obstacles that currently face the travel industry, I know that change across all the other sectors is inevitable.
So when you’re ready to venture out into the world again, and I encourage you to do it soon - Africa needs you, and we will be ready to take you there safely.