Safari guides in South Luangwa, Zambia
Safari guides in South Luangwa, Zambia

Published on April 22 2020
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Why now is a good time to plan your African safari—by rescheduling or booking


  • Tour operators have indicated that they are not charging fees to reschedule. This is not always possible if you cancel.

  • Around 30% of tour operators surveyed are asking people to postpone until 2021.

  • More people are postponing than canceling, according to our survey results.Over 195 tour operators participated in this survey.

  • 2020 rates for safaris postponed into 2021 are being offered by many tour operators.

Last updated: 16 June 2020

The first quarter of 2020 ended in unchartered waters. On March 11, WHO declared the SARS Corona virus, COVID-19, a pandemic. To help quell the rate of transmission, travel restrictions and bans were put in place. To help protect African wildlife, especially wildlife with close genetic ties to humans, parks and game reserves were closed. The boisterous safari industry was hushed to a mere murmur in April. At Your African Safari, the number of quote requests were down 80% from April 2019. But safari tour operators did not sit idle. Virus updates, mainly negative, saturated the media and infiltrated phones, tablets and televisions. With no word on when restrictions would be lifted, anxious travelers with upcoming safaris inundated tour operators with emails, calls and texts. Some to get reassurance that their deposit was not lost, others to cancel and avoid paying fees.

Do you still have bookings for Q2 2020?


Most safaris still booked for Q2 2020 were for Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, respectively.

The importance of rescheduling your African safari

Your African Safari surveyed tour operators and asked how they are helping clients deal with their bookings. Around 200 tour operators participated in the survey. The resounding response was ‘asking that they postpone and not cancel’. Why is this so important? The deposit paid on a safari is used to help cover staffing and operating expenses, but it goes beyond that. Many tour operators use funds to assist their local communities with food, education and shelter. Other tour operators help protect wildlife by supporting rangers, or by volunteering their time and/or vehicles. Pulling that deposit has a domino effect on an African community.

Why should you rebook? Comments from tour operators.

“Tourism is a huge lifeline to many in Africa. Operators and accommodation providers on the ground often keep their staff paid and fed in hard times and indeed help with local villages around the camps with schooling, medical facilities and even school lunches. Take away tourism and this lifeline stops. Guests could look at the safari destination they were visiting, look at the operators, look at their foundations and what they are trying to achieve, and donate knowing that their funds will reach the most in need. The money must be properly received and channeled.”
Sue Preater, Tracks Safaris
“We can understand clients would like refunds of their deposits as they are concerned companies will go bankrupt and they will lose their money. Those funds had been expected to allow businesses to continue to run so by requesting refunds rather than postponing it means more staff having to lose their jobs and more likelihood of businesses going bust because those running costs are gone.”
Mara Explorers
"Postponing means saving jobs and supporting local communities." 
Botswana Holidays
"When the world gets back to some kind of normality and people want to travel again there is potentially going to be availability issues in key areas as the 2020 and 2021 clients will all be wanting the same accommodation. By rebooking now this has now been secured for them.”
Kathryn Haylett, Your Safari
"The most important thing is to communicate clear and proactively. Outline all the options and their cost implications. We have been negotiating with suppliers to ensure clients can postpone without penalty, even if they don't have new travel dates yet.”
Onne Vegter, Wild Wings Safaris

Most people are opting to postpone, not cancel, their safari

Our survey results indicated that tour operators have seen more clients postpone than cancel their safaris

May 11: 34.3% vs. 65.7%
May 12: 34.7% vs. 65.3%
May 15: 34.3% vs. 65.7%
May 26: 36.1% vs. 63.9%
May 27: 35.6% vs. 64.4%
June 1: 35.2% vs. 64.8%
June 8: 34.8% vs. 65.2%
June 12: 34.5% vs. 65.5%

May 6 data: Roughly 77% of tour operators are asking people to rebook for later in 2020. Only 23% are suggesting next year.
May 11 data: 73% are asking to rebook in 2020.
May 15 data: 71% are asking to rebook later in 2020.
May 26 data: 71% still asking to rebook for later in 2020.
May 27 data: 71% still for 2020.
June 8 data: 71% still for 2020.
June 12 data: 70% for 2020

“We are rescheduling as many as possible to 2021, which we feel will be the most responsible and will give them more peace of mind. It means a tight year for us, but 25 years in the industry has given us a good grounding.”
Africa 2000 Tours

COVID19 silver lining?

The decrease in bookings is not specific to tour operators or to Africa. Globally, the hospitality industry has taken a hit. Gross profit in hotels is down over 110% from last year.(1) US restaurants have laid off over 8 million people.(2) The fitness industry is also suffering and, like tour operators, gyms are asking people to continue paying their monthly dues to help keep them afloat. (3) But, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are positives to come out of all this, especially for those who have postponed their safari or who are planning one for next year.

Zebra and baby

You can get a better deal on your safari

2020 rates for safaris postponed into 2021 are being offered by many tour operators. Even if you’re just planning your safari, it’s worth seeing what the pricing options are, especially if you pay in full in 2020. This gives tour operators some fiscal runway and gives you a better deal on your safari.

“We are keeping our rates on postponed bookings the same for 2021 to encourage travellers to reschedule for 2021.” 
Umlani Bushcamp Timbavati Private Nature Reserve

Parks will be less crowded

Tourist numbers are expected to be down in 2021, even in peak season. Parks that were straining under overtourism, including the Serengeti,(4,5) Kruger and Masai Mara, may get a chance to do things differently now to help keep overtoursim at bay.

“Sad to say that, but we expect less visitors in 2021, because of this crisis. Less tourists means better experience for the guests who postpone.” Gabon Wildlife Camps
“The wildlife is benefitting from this pause in human activity. Worldwide there is a major slow down / stop on wet meat markets, of which main protein source is wildlife—local and exotic. In South Africa, kudu are roaming the streets of Pretoria, families of banded mongoose are running across roads, penguins are strolling down the beach road in Simons Town, dolphins are taking advantage of no surfers in Durban…which have always been there but their movements have been limited somewhat due to boats in the water, they now move relatively freely.”
Drew Abrahamson, Captured in Africa, South Africa
“We've not seen a specific increase in wildlife numbers as a result of COVID19. The only change from a wildlife perspective is that they seem to be all over the road at the moment, probably enjoying the park being a bit quieter!”
Sarah Hall, African Parks, Rwanda
“We don’t have much opportunity to get out and about as we’re busy with camp preparations and also trying to save fuel/pennies, etc. But we have had some epic news and sightings, including seven new cubs being born in the Musekese Pride and our much loved leopards are putting on a show most evenings.”
Phil Jeffery, Jeffery and McKeith, Zambia

Booking your upcoming safari

As countries gradually phase out of lockdowns and self-quarantines, travelers with bookings will weigh their options and plan accordingly. It is our hope that those with the means to postpone their safari will do so. We also encourage people who are planning a safari to consider booking for 2021 or 2022 and paying their deposit, and more if possible, in 2020.  

Lioness with cubs in Serengeti Tanzania

“Africa is not going away, and she will welcome you back with that warm glow that radiates from the beautiful people and her myriad animals and birds.”
Tony McKeith, Busanga Safaris

Survey participants

We would like to thank all the tour operators who participated in our survey. We are grateful for their input and support. If you are a tour operator and would like to participate, go to survey here.

Below are the tour operators who were willing to help. Not all are listed. Some wished to remain anonymous.

AAA Express Adventure Ltd

Absolute Zambia Safaris

Adventure Three Sixty Kenya

Adventure Vacation Safaris

Africa 2000 Tours

Africa A-Z

Africa Calls, Ltd

Africa Kosher Safaris

Africa Outland Tours & Safaris

Africa Royal Trekking

African Apes Holidays

African Beads Safaris

African Finfoot Safaris

African Jacanca Safari Tours

African Jungle Adventures

African Pangolin Safaris

African Paradise Safaris

African Route Safaris 

African Scenery Holidays

African Travel Tour

African Wild Tours


Afriqueen Adventure

Afro Honeyguide Adventures

Almighty Kilimanjaro

Amatungulu Tours

Ames Boat Tours

Anastasia's Africa

Bantu Pathfinders

Barefoot Safaris

Bazanya Safaris Uganda

Benroso Safaris

Big 5 Africa Tours

Bio D Island LLC

Botswana Holidays

Breezy Tours & Travel Kenya

Broadafrica Tours and Safaris

Bujo Tours and Safaris Co. Ltd

Busanga Safaris

Bushland Adventure Travel


Captured In Africa

Chem Chem Safaris

CrissCross Namibia Safaris

Daktari Travel

Destinations Africa

Diakopes Expedition Limited

Duma Explorer/Chaka Camps

Eagle Eye Safaris

Eagle Safaris Uganda 

East African Safaris On Ground Limited

Eastland Adventures

Escape to Adventures Safaris

Essenia Safari Experts Ltd

E-Trip Africa

Expedition Kenya Safari

Experience Africa Safaris

Falcon Safaris.

Flight of the Eagle Safaris

Foot Slopes Tours and Safaris

Gabon Wildlife Camps

Ganyana Safaris Uganda

Gazelle Safari Company

Godson Adventures

Goldfish Tours

Gorilla Biome Safaris

Gorilla Hub Tours

Great Adventure Safaris

Great Lake Expeditions

Happy World Safaris

Hills in the Mist Tours

Homeland Adventures Kenya

Horizon Horseback

Indigo Safaris

Isibindi Africa Lodges

Jawamu Tours and Safaris

Jumbari Family Safaris

K Safaris

Kafunta Safaris

Kalahari Skies

Kendirita Tours and Travel Limited

Kenya Budget Safaris

Kenya Expresso Tours and Safaris (KETS)

Kenzan Wildlife Safaris

Ker & Downey Africa Group

Kibera Holiday Safaris

Kiboko Safaris

Kiboko Tours and Travel ltd.

Kilimanjaro Tanzanite Safaris

Kilipeak Adventure Limited

Kruger Africa Safaris

Kubwa Five Safaris

Kwezi Outdoors

La Mara Tourism

Leading Expeditions- Africa Holiday Travel

Leyu Tours

Lion Rider Safaris

Lost in Africa Limited

Mamaland Safaris

Mara Explorers

Mara Triangle Safaris

Marangu Treks & Safaris Ltd

Marhaba Holidays

Matea Tours & Safaris

McCallum Safaris, Tanzania (operates under Old Nyika Safaris and Safari Royal Holdings)

Memorable Journeys

Migration Kenya Safari

Morindat Tours & Travel

Mulanje Outlook Travel

Mytrip Connector Company

Natural World Kenya Safaris

Ngaiza Adventures

Nhongo Safaris

Nyati Travel

One Horizon Africa

Outback Adventure Safaris

Outdoor African Tour safaris

Ovacado Adventures Ltd

People's Choice Tours

Percia's Travel Agency

Pinnacle Adventures and Safaris Ltd

Promised Land Tours Limited

RA Safaris Limited

Ramon Safaris Namibia

Red Rocks Eco Tours

Remarkable Africa

Roncook Safaris

Roots Tours and Travel

Routes Kilimanjaro Adventures

Roy Safaris

Royal Paw Safaris

Sababu Safaris

Safari DMC Africa

Safarika Africa

Safariline Defender Tours

Samson's Safaris

Savannah Explorers Ltd

Shadows of Africa

Shalom Safaris East Africa

Shipungo Safari and Tours

Shoebill Safaris

Signature Safari

Silver Spark Africa Safaris

Sirikwa Travel

Standard Safaris

Sunset Photography Safaris

Tanganyika Ancient Routes Limited

Tanganyika Outdoor Safari and Adventures

Tazama Africa Tours and Safari

The East African Safari and Touring

The Heritage of Africa

Top Cream Tours and Safaris

Topi Trail Safaris

Tracks Safaris UK

Traipsing Africa Safaris and Tours

Transtrek Safaris Limited

Twinkle Star Tour and Safari Ltd

Ubuntu Travel

Ucango on Safari

Umlani Bushcamp Timbavati Private Nature Reserve

Urbema Safaris

Vienna Uganda Tours and Travel

Visit and Tour Rwanda

Wild Extracts Safaris

Wild Peak Adventures

Wild Planet Safari

Wild Ridge Bush Trails Safaris

Wild Safaris and Travel

Wild Wings Safaris

Wildlife Eden Safaris

Wildlife Tours - Rwanda

Wild Photos Safaris

Your Safari

Zantrips and Tours Ltd

Zoo Adventures

About the author

Has been on: 15 safaris

Your African Safari (YAS) is a safari-planning resource for anyone planning an African safari. It features information on over 2600 tour operators including company and vehicle descriptions, user reviews, safari itineraries and photos. It also features detailed information on 14 countries and 84 parks and game reserves.

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Said on 10 May 2020 20:28

Postponing of trips and tours is the best way to go in the tourism recovery process.

Direct Kenya Safaris ltd

Said on 11 May 2020 17:26

All the 2020 Bookings was canceled. Its so difficult but we have to cooperate with it until normalcy takes place. I would request whoever is reading this please stay home this pandemic time life will continue after it.

marconicolai kropp

Said on 11 May 2020 03:59

I have only one booking postponed to Aug 2021. All others Cancel. Difficult times. Without external finance, I found difficult to have business continue working until end of the year. Will be interesting to survey, how many of the small business can stay on business without income and for how long.

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