Why This Could Be Your Year to Take a Safari
The unprecedented events of 2020 have turned the trip of a lifetime into the trip you should take in the months ahead. BY PAUL BRADY
JOHN AND Kathy McIlvaine are not the sort of people who just stay home. They’ve chartered their own 12-metre catamaran in the Seychelles; they flew to Tanzania just days after the end of the first Gulf War. “It was an Abercrombie & Kent tour, and they had 24 guests signed up. Kathy and I, plus two friends, were the only ones who showed up for the 14-day trip,” John recalls. “ We felt like we had the whole of Tanzania to ourselves.”
It was an experience the couple, both retired executives living in Jacksonville, Florida, figured they’d never duplicate. That is, until this past fall when once again they were among a tiny number of Americans to visit East Africa on a safari. “One of the reasons we wanted to make our trip— other than our cabin fever —is that we’re both big conservationists,” John says. “And one of the things we knew we could do to help just goes over there to spend some money.”
Another way their recent journey was reminiscent of that first safari 30 years ago? The quality of the wildlife sightings. “We spotted a pride of lions—a male, three females, and five cubs—and we just sat there and watched them for two hours, not being pushed away by another vehicle, just talking with our guide,” John adds.
Moments like these are no longer unusual, owing to the pandemic, which upended the safari industry throughout 2020. Borders across the continent were closed, and demand at lodges plummeted.
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