At last! Wilderness Safaris, who own or run around 50 safari lodges in Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa and now even Congo, plus luxurious North Island in the Seychelles, have realized that the domestic market is worth courting. To rectify this long-standing policy of pretty much ignoring the locals, they threw an enormous party for upwards of 200 people, with champagne and canapes, to which I secured a last minute invite.
It was a superb affair and their 15 min video had me shedding a few tears as they showed the beauty of the landscapes and animals where their lodges are to be found. My tears were really of joy at feeling so enormously blessed to have visited most of the areas. “How have I been so privileged” I wondered and squeezed out another tear that plopped into my champers! Along with ignoring South African travellers, they ignored South African journalists as well. No longer, I’m told! But just in case this was a once-off, I purloined another glass of bubbles from a passing waiter.
The party was to launch the Wilderness Safaris Residents Programme. It’s membership is limited (to I think about 500 members – I stand to be corrected) and for R5,000 you get a 2-year membership which allows you to take advantage of discounts amounting to 40-60% off the published rates at Wilderness safari lodges and Wilderness Air flights and road transfers. When you break it down, it’s an amazing deal and the only proviso is that you are resident of an African country (and have the funds to still spend upwards of R2,500 per person per night and fly into a remote location). All immediate family members listed on the contract are deemed principal members and a principal member must accompany each booking. This means anyone in your immediate family can take a discounted safari with up to 9 other guests. All Wilderness Safaris-owned lodges are included and they are speaking to the owners of the lodges they manage to get them included too.
Wilderness Safaris do a lot of good for conservation and the community and the Residents Programme membership fee goes directly to Children in Wilderness – a life skills educational programme for rural children.
If you want to know more email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website, or SMS “Safari” and your email address to 34007 (in South Africa).