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-   -   If Covid-19 Postpones My September Safari (https://www.fodors.com/community/africa-and-the-middle-east/if-covid-19-postpones-my-september-safari-1680161/)

Songdoc Apr 25th, 2020 08:56 PM

If Covid-19 Postpones My September Safari
 
Gamewatchers Safaris: Flexible booking terms for customers planning to travel once the Kenya government allows visitors to come back on safari and beach holidays.
With the continued spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to many countries in the world, including in North America and Europe, we understand the anxieties that many prospective travellers may have at this time and are fully sympathetic to those concerns. We are monitoring the situation closely and follow the advice of the World Health Organisation, international governments and the Kenyan authorities.
As a result of the government announcement to suspend travel into Kenya from infected countries for a further 30 days, we are temporarily revising our booking terms and conditions as follows for anyone booked to travel within the next 30 days or to travel between 1 to 6 months from now:

ē For people travelling in the next 30 days, for those in infected countries who are no longer able to travel to Kenya, we can postpone the booking and carry forward any prepayment to be used as a credit towards a new date of travel at a later time within the next 12 months once the restriction has been lifted to allow travel from the customerís country.

ē For those booked to travel in 1 to 6 monthsí time (31 to 180 days) for anyone anxious or uncertain about travelling, we will agree to postponement with no amendment fee. For those postponing, we will allow payments made so far to be carried forward to later dates within 12 months of the originally booked date, subject to availability and added cost if there are seasonal differences in cost if travel is in a different season from the date originally booked.
This is a relief. Amy, how about your plans?

Kenya has halted all international arrivals through May 5th (so far).

I'm guessing that when travel resumes there will a new normal, as drastic as the changes instituted after 9/11. That might not be all bad if it prevents colds and flus from being spread on planes. Despite disinfecting my area, I often get sick after flying.

sf7307 Apr 26th, 2020 04:45 AM

That's wonderful - so you'll still be able to go, but maybe a year or year and a half from now. That's what we're figuring at this point too, but of course, we hadn't booked anything yet. So, April or October 2021, we hope!

Songdoc Apr 26th, 2020 09:18 AM

sf7307: We might be there at the same time.
I had assumed I would lose my $3,000 + deposit, so I'm relieved. I wonder if the travel insurance will cover the subsequent trip. I guess I'll find out.

Songdoc May 17th, 2020 09:33 PM

I was curious so I checked the flights I reserved to -- and from -- the safari in Kenya at the AA website. When I clicked on the itinerary I received a message telling me to contact the reservations dept. Turns out the flights I booked (with AA FF miles) no longer exist. I would have thought the airline would have sent an email, but I guess they are swamped.

The long legs (14+ hours and 16+ hours) had been booked in business class on Emirates, which has those awesome mini suites. The available flights are on BA.

It doesn't matter because I will almost certainly postpone the trip until next year.

surfmom May 18th, 2020 06:12 AM

Have you seen the Adopt an Acre?
Check it out: https://www.porini.com/adopt-an-acre/

I admit - I was impressed with Gamewatchers response. They are doing everything they can - to keep funding coming in for their people in Kenya, to keep customers happy. Better than my other experience with a tour operator!

sf7307 May 18th, 2020 06:20 AM


Originally Posted by surfmom (Post 17107171)
Have you seen the Adopt an Acre?
Check it out: https://www.porini.com/adopt-an-acre/

I admit - I was impressed with Gamewatchers response. They are doing everything they can - to keep funding coming in for their people in Kenya, to keep customers happy. Better than my other experience with a tour operator!

I saw that and thought it was brilliant. I wanted to share it with songdoc but couldn't re-find the email, so glad you posted it.

Songdoc May 18th, 2020 06:46 PM

Wow! That is brilliant. Thank you so much for sharing!!!
I love that they are doing that!

CaliNurse May 24th, 2020 08:05 PM

Aloha, Songdoc. Likely you already know this, but in case not.... For the cancelled flights booked with your AA FF miles, the "miles redeposit " fees will be of course waived. (I cancelled milage flights for next month, which are still on the schedule, but redeposit fees were waived. I felt $225 richer.)

What 's happening with your Emirates flights? Is no-penalty cancellation available?

Songdoc May 24th, 2020 10:48 PM

Thanks, CaliNurse. The Emirates flights were part of the itinerary booked with AA FF miles, so I'm assuming the miles for the entire booking will be eligible to be reinstated w/o a fee.

I can't imagine that I'd be going this year, but I won't cancel until it is much closer to the Sept. date.

amyb Jun 14th, 2020 11:54 AM

I don’t want to hijack this, but I would like a gut-check. I’m approaching the point in time when I will have to decide what to do about my trip in August. Clearly I’m not going. The question is basically whether to rebook next year or cancel and lose the deposit.

However that’s not my question. I called my trip insurance company yesterday and wanted to see what they advise. I posed it as “what if” there are still no flights from here to there and/or I am not allowed in to Zambia (which as of right now is not issuing travelers visas). The rep said “you would have to fly there and we would reimburse you to quarantine there or turn around and fly home”. Seriously. I thought she was joking. Then she directed me to the list of unforeseen covered events and repeatedly kept dwelling on the one that is “my job is making me stay home” and strongly recommended that I talk to my employer about that. I said that I work for lawyers and it is unlikely that they will sign a notarized document lying that I need to stay home. She replied “well that’s how most of our customers are getting refunds.” Seriously. It was such a foolish call that I’m tempted to call back and talk to someone else or a supervisor. I just cannot fathom that no flights and/or closed borders don’t translate into Trip Interruption or Cancellation.

If I made a decision today, I would likely rebook but for some point in the very distant future. I don’t see myself getting on a plane before next summer. I’m going to see how far out I can book and if maybe I can change the destination. Zambia has such a limited season before it gets too hot to be there, it would either be Aug-Sept 2021 or not again until 2022.

CaliNurse Jun 17th, 2020 03:46 PM

AmyB, can you cancel for a "medical reason"? I'm guessing would be covered under your trip insurance policy.

A few months ago on the Asia Forum (and probably others) there was much expressed frustration/irritation/confusion about what travel policies do or don't cover, and in what limited ways they define trip cancellation/interruption. Grrr!!!

Songdoc Jun 17th, 2020 05:15 PM

<“you would have to fly there and we would reimburse you to quarantine there or turn around and fly home”.>

That's insane!

<I just cannot fathom that no flights and/or closed borders don’t translate into Trip Interruption or Cancellation.>

I suggest calling a supervisor. That's ridiculous.

If it were me, rather than lose the deposit, I would see what else it could be applied toward. If you don't need to add any additional money at this time, there would be nothing to lose by applying the deposit to a trip you might -- or might not -- take.

My trip needs to be cancelled by late July -- 6 weeks prior to travel. The deposit can be applied to a future trip to be taken within one year of the date of my original trip (Sept. 11). It looks like the camps in Kenya will probably be open. But I wouldn't feel safe flying -- or being in Kenya in case I were to get sick.

Keep us posted, Amyb.

CaliNurse: I think you can only cancel for a medical reason if you are actually sick -- not concerned that you might get sick.


amyb Jun 18th, 2020 04:22 AM

Thanks CaliNurse and SongDoc. I have asked if I can instead apply whatever deposit I have left after non-refundable parts (like the bush flights) are taken out of it to a trip to Kenya much later in 2021. It'll be far too hot in Zambia after mid-September to go and I don't want to spend that kind of money and be miserably hot. Kenya is gorgeous in November and I might feel comfortable going then. I need to cancel in Zambia by the end of the first week of July, so I'll have a decision in a few weeks.

I guess what really bothers me is the very strong suggestion by Travel Guard that I ask my boss to lie that I'm needed for work which is the only exemption that might work for me (I'm not needed at work at the end of August, in fact I'm wrapping up a huge project August 1 and they are demanding my team take time off after it which is why I planned it like this) but that others are doing it too. Isn't that insurance fraud? It's like one of those "what would you do for money" games. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to lose the money, but I also want to be able to sleep at night.

Oh and the other thing, if I cancelled the trip entirely, Travel Guard won't refund the premium I paid on unused policy. They said that was only for people who booked within a certain period of time, so there's another $650 out the window! It could however be applied to another safari if I were to rebook.

Songdoc Jun 18th, 2020 05:11 PM

<I guess what really bothers me is the very strong suggestion by Travel Guard that I ask my boss to lie that>

I suspect many people would be grateful for that "
out" and would have no qualms saying, "I deserve that money back and it doesn't matter how I get it."

I hope you get to apply your deposit to a fabulous trip. But if not, having a clean conscience is worth more than the deposit.

CaliNurse Jun 20th, 2020 01:30 PM

Songdoc, thanks. You are correct that only actual illness (self, family member, travel partner) --not merely the fear of it--applies for trip interruption/cancellation. However, it 's another possibility, along the lines of the insurance company suggestion for getting an employer involved. I guess each person makes their own "cost/benefit analysis."

AmyB, no concrete suggestions...just "feeling" your frustration and disappointment,. Iirc, this trip to Zambia was in celebration of a big birthday!?

amyb Jun 21st, 2020 09:33 AM


Originally Posted by CaliNurse (Post 17118792)
AmyB, no concrete suggestions...just "feeling" your frustration and disappointment,. Iirc, this trip to Zambia was in celebration of a big birthday!?

Yep. Iíve decide to stay 49 for another year and have a do-over next year. I had four other trips before safari planned as well as a few other special events all cancelled. Just not meant to be I guess! I hope it all works out for the best for all of us! I did adopt some land in Mara North though, which actually did make me feel as if all was not lost.

CaliNurse Jun 24th, 2020 03:26 PM

You have a great way of looking at the situation, AmyB. Congratulations on the land adoption! How did you do that?

To you , Songodc, et al, thought you'd appreciate this article for its "We're not alone" sense. It's illustrated with a photo from a Botswana safari.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/that-bi...=djemwhatsnews.

An excerpt: "She was scheduled to go on a two-week journey with her family to South Africa and Botswana this June to celebrate her daughter’s acceptance to medical school. In April, the travel company she booked through told her she would lose her deposit of $14,000 if she canceled the trip because even though the borders of the countries were closed, the camps were still planning on being open in June, and the borders might reopen by then. Her travel insurance, which included trip cancellation, didn’t cover a pandemic.

'I was in a bind,' says Ms. Howell, who owns a custom home-building company with her husband based in Lawrence, Mass. In mid-May, the travel company told her the longer she waited, the fewer options she would have to find dates next summer, since everyone else was deferring. Ms. Howell decided to reschedule the exact same trip for June 2021: That way she didn’t lose her deposit, but she does have to pay an additional $2,000 for the annual rate increase."


amyb Jun 25th, 2020 04:13 PM


Originally Posted by CaliNurse (Post 17120633)
You have a great way of looking at the situation, AmyB. Congratulations on the land adoption! How did you do that?

To you , Songodc, et al, thought you'd appreciate this article for its "We're not alone" sense. It's illustrated with a photo from a Botswana safari.

Offbeat Safaris has an ďadopt a plotĒ campaign in Mara North. Iíve stayed there twice (and will again someday) and love that conservancy and its people. It seemed the natural choice. Itís a similar fundraising effort as what was mentioned further up-thread.

I couldnít read all the WSJ article behind the paywall but get the gist. Weíre definitely not alone. And I completely understand that no one could foresee pandemic, not even the insurance companies.

Today is Anthony Bourdainís birthday and as a big fan Iím remembering him today with a nice gin and tonic and watching back some of my favorite episodes. Next up, Kenya! Iíll try not to cry...

Songdoc Jun 26th, 2020 08:52 PM

I also got blocked by the paywall, but I get the gist, as well. Thanks, CaliNurse.

Amyb: I hope you enjoyed celebrating Mr. Bourdain.

Safari_Craig Jul 30th, 2020 04:31 AM

Hi Folks,



I have not been on here in a while.



SongDoc, Kenya opens their borders on August 1 to Americans and I am flying there on Sunday on Delta/KLM. I have my second covid test today and that should be the final hurdle. I am getting and old fashioned paper visa put in my passport today by the Kenya embassy in DC. My travel companion got his e-visa approved. If you wanted to switch your plans and go in Sep 2020 you probably can.



We have clients arriving in Tanzania on Tuesday. A friend of mine own Africa Adventure Company in Florida and another friend owns Extraordinary Journeys in NYC/DC. Both companies had clients arrive in Tanzania this week and they are having a blast. NOBODY is there!



Insurance policies roll over with TravelEx and TravelGuard. In other words, you can change the date on the policy. We had 22 of 300 (ish) customers defer their 2020 trips to 2021 or 2022. Of the 22, the only successful insurance claims were (1) pulmonologists or other doctors canceling for work reasons with letters from their managing partners in their group (2) a family of six cancelled and got a full refund because their 22 year old got called up into the national guard which happens to be covered. No coverage for any of the other things mentioned above like “no flights” etc. I am sure the family in the Wall Street Journal ended-up not having to pay a cent more.



AmyB – Nick Aslin from Zambia Ground Handlers (he ran Norman Carr for years) told me the new target date for Zambia is Sep 1 and Emirates will probably start flying again mid-August.



Anyway, if you guys want, I will update you when I get back if you want.


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