Anderson Expeditions announces the launch of their Specialist Expeditions portfolio… written by Richard Anderson
Some time ago we took a decision to actively expand our offering beyond the traditional safari areas in Africa. We have learned many lessons and garnered wonderful insights from our leading of trips over the past 5 years to the Zakouma National Park and more recently to Ennedi, both in the distinctly “off-piste” Chad.
A primary learning, and one that twins with our core essence as a business, has been the reaffirmation that unlocking these remote wilderness areas to travellers does indeed add significant value to the respective conservation efforts in these areas. Travellers to these destinations become contributors to the broader business of conservation here, they become both emotionally and financially invested – this excited us and motivated us to do more.
There is no doubt that safari tourism is a critical financial pillar on which the African continent’s biodiversity and its people will rely more heavily in the future. The current pandemic crisis and the effect it has had on increases in poaching and bush meat harvesting is a case in point. The death of the silverback gorilla Rafiki in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest NP of Uganda is amongst the more startling and heart wrenching examples of this effect.
If you consider that neighbouring Rwanda has essentially built their burgeoning tourism industry around a single animal species (Mountain Gorilla) it becomes increasingly clear just how tenuous these conservation and social upliftment efforts can be. It further reminds us how critical it is that we in the tourism industry continue to provide the maximum support possible to these efforts – especially to those “off the radar” areas. Despite the temptation, now is not the time for bargain hunting. The impact that a sudden paucity of tourists, and thus by extension an equally sudden and significant reduction in conservation revenues, has on a wildlife area has now been brought into stark relief.
At the same time, we have observed the global trend that sees travellers gravitating towards the more exploratory, adventurous and immersive types of experiences. Today’s traveller wants to be less consumptive and more participative. They aspire to be more active and farther away from other people. This new wave of traveller has a revised definition of luxury, and finds this luxury more readily in a low use, low impact wilderness experience than in their linen thread count. A desire for simplicity in infrastructure twinned with a depth and richness in experience is what drives them.
It is our view that travel preferences are shifting towards the expedition as we define it. Shifting towards a vision of travelling together with a team of elite guides and an expedition crew who journey together across the Sahara or into the rainforests of the Congo basin. Longer stays in hand-picked locations where the focus is on flexibility and prioritising the use of customised programmes for the travellers.
A year ago, Sandra Schonbachler joined the Anderson Expeditions team to focus on building and managing these Specialist Expeditions. Sandra arrived having made a career of developing safari products in such places as Madagascar, the Republic of Congo, Uganda and Mozambique, and she has used all her experience to help eventualize our renewed focus on Specialist Expeditions.
And then the world changed… The greatest gift Covid-19 has given the Anderson Expeditions team has been the time to apply ourselves to building a portfolio of these Expeditions and over the coming months we will be introducing you to these exciting travel options. All of them work with and directly contribute to a prioritized conservation partner in the region where the expeditions travel. They are to be led by some of the best expedition guides in Africa, as always prioritising safety, flexibility and backed up with slick logistics.
At their core, these expeditions exist to take our guests on life changing, impactful, active and participative journeys to some of Africa’s most dramatic and remote wilderness areas.
Of course it goes without saying that we will continue to develop the more traditional safari experiences in concert with these specialist trips, so we are by no means replacing one for the other, but are broadening our offering to further align our core business values with our offering.
It is with great excitement that we’ll be bringing you our Specialist Expedition portfolio in the coming weeks and hope to have our old (and new) friends and clients joining us on an adventure of a lifetime soon!
The unfolding adventure can be explored on our website page devoted to these Specialist Expeditions.