Photo by David Cogswell
Travel to Africa is growing at 13 percent annually according to the World Tourism Organization, almost three times as fast as the international average of 5 percent, and Sherwin Banda, president of African Travel, Inc., sees a variety of reasons for that. Currency exchange rates make the destination a steal now. There is a sense of safety and security because African destinations are far from where terrorism is making its presence felt. And most important of all are the incomparable attractions of Africa itself, including the Big Five wildlife, its rich cultural diversity and its spectacular landscapes.
To keep up with the growing and evolving demand, African Travel has beefed up its selection of tours for 2017 with the addition of six new or upgraded programs. Sherwin Banda, the company’s president, said the new programs came about in reaction to feedback from customers.
One of the new programs is an outgrowth of the partnership between ME to WE and African Travel’s parent company The Travel Corporation. ME to WE offers volunteer tourism programs through which travelers stay in local communities and work on projects to help the communities.
In The ME to WE Kenya Community Experience guests will stay at Bogani Cottages and Tented Camp in the Maasai Mara and will learn about the ways of the Maasai and Kispigis communities, such as traditional Maasai beading, as they work on building a school. They will also go on hikes, visit a local market and a primary school.
The new Best of Botswana program is based on the wilderness experience of the Okavango Delta, with wildlife viewing and the experience of the unique landscapes of the increasingly popular Okavango region. The trip also includes a stopover to see Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Under Kenyan Skies offers the experience of staying in a high-end eco lodge while exploring the wildlife of two regions: Laikipia and the Maasai Mara. The trip includes game drives in open vehicles during both daytime and nighttime, guided walks, visits to conservation projects, a horseback safari and a meeting with an orphaned elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
The South African Adventure is designed to mix the urban pleasures of the culturally diverse city of Cape Town with safari experiences in two different private game reserves near Kruger National Park.
African Romance is an upgraded version of a program already previously offered. The new version extended the stay at a beach resort in Mozambique to four nights and added a fourth night in Cape Town and a full-day private winelands excursion. The new version of the program continues its previous three-night safari in a private game reserve near Kruger National Park, and cut out the overnight in the winelands.
Marine and Wildlife Encounter was given a makeover and now includes a three-night stay at Grootbos Garden Lodge. It also includes a stay at Shamwari Game Reserve, a conservation-oriented reserve with all of the Big Five and more, and an exploration of nature in the Cape Peninsula.