The October heat is upon us with temperatures reaching 33c, but this is the usual for us as Malawi and Zambia builds up to the rainy season with which we've seen the first few storms whistle through.
The Game Viewing is prolific, the parks are void of the usual bustle of human activity and the wildlife is taking full, well deserved advantage of it!
With the peace and quiet, Thornicroft Lodge in South Luangwa N.P became the ideal resting place for a sleepy family herd of elephants, between two of their chalets.
2020 has certainly been a year for reflection, diversification, worry and stress and we're still wondering how much longer it can carry on for and what the future may hold.
As I'm sure for you, like us, 2020 was set to be a very busy season, so much so that in December 2019 we sent a recently purchased Hilux Twin Cab to South Africa to be fully Kitted and prepped for our self-drive options.
Fitted with a new range of roof tent that open easily using gas lift technology, our custom designed interior maximises space for supplied equipment, inclusive of the industry leader, 42lt Engel Fridge, Dual Battery System, a Large Fold Uo table, comfortable chairs and still leaves ample space for catering equipment and bags!
In February of this year, we sent a new Land Cruiser that we had just purchased to Tanzania for conversion. The conversion was done beautifully and its now ready for use. It has individual Aircon to all rear seats, an 220v inverter with charging ports [socket and USB] in the back for clients use , a winch, snorkel, pop up roof and so on– basically everything to make any journey or expedition special.
Our new Bus order from Toyota was stopped in April, however this is still on standby and will be re-instated once business rolls again.
Fortunately most of our clients postponed and we rebooked their travels for 2021, so we are hopeful 2021 will make up for some of our 2020 expectations. Our 2021 scheduled safaris, self drive and transfer rates have all been set, so please contact us if you have not yet received them.
Covid infection rates throughout this region have been much lower than previously anticipated although Africa is proceeding with caution. There are some interesting theories as to why this could be – maize has a high zinc content, lots of sunshine [vitamin D] , outside living, younger population and obviously reduced testing capacity. Regardless of the theories, the net result is that infections and more importantly hospitalization and mortality rates, are very low. We have however put in place travel safety procedures and protocols – click here to see what they are.
Zambia opened for international tourism in August and our Lodge, Thornicroft, received its first international visitors in September. Malawi opened the Airport in September 2020 and the 14 day quarantine requirement was lifted in October [as long as visitors arrive with a valid – no more than 10 days old] negative Covid test certificate, they can travel freely and immediately, whilst adhering to personal distancing, regular sanitizing and wearing of masks. If clients need to get retested before returning home, we are able to facilitate this and offer accommodation at Dzalanyama whilst they await their results.
Travel to this region now, for the enduring client, offers excellent deals, nocrowds and the freedom to pick and choose options. Our specials run to the end of June 2021, so do get in touch if you have any interest. The beauty of this region is that it affords us the opportunity to travel off the beaten track, away from densely populated areas.
We have been fortunate enough to be able retain most of our staff during this time, albeit on reduced hour basis. Rollings Moyo – the GM – achieved 20 years with Land and Lake, and took early retirement and Peter Nyirenda – stores and safari chef extraordinaire who has been with us for 30 years also retired – it was an emotional day at the end of September when we bade them farewell. Nadia and Dylan, our Managers at Thornicroft are also leaving us at the end of the year, as their contract expires and they are relocating to Germany. New lodge manager applications are now being considered.
Our guides and the workshop team have been very busy implementing 2 X projects that we managed to secure funding for, through a GIZ project that supports tourism stakeholders impacted by COVID – 19. They have been identifying sites, clearing walking and cycling trails, making trail signs through Dzalanyama forest. Following this we will be on a National Picnic site identification project that aims to establish fee paying picnic sites throughout Malawi in areas of particular beauty, interest and attraction. All this will bring extra employment to the area and provide a better tourist experience.
All this said, Malawi and Zambia remain open for business – Thornicroft remains open for Christmas and New year as usual, then will close in January till end March. Land and Lake remain open throughout and can provide logistics, support, self drive cars or reservations. Every precaution has been taken and is being actively implemented to ensure clients safety. We assure you that you can confidently promote Malawi and Zambia as a safe destination that follows necessary safety protocols. We wish you the very best of what remains of 2020 – and we hope 2021 proves to be more successful to us all.
Best Regards Mark and the Land and Lake team