With 2022 around the corner, Africa experts have shared their top trends to Africa for the coming year:
Exclusivity and privacy
"We expect to see more requests for private experiences that allow guests to enjoy specific attractions in the most exclusive way possible," said Wayne Nupen, regional touring director at AndBeyond.
"'Restorative safaris that make a positive impact to conservation and communities are sought after, as well as intimate and authentic experiences that not only offer guests life-changing experiences, but that also give back to the world in a way that inspires positive action," said Wilderness Safaris' chief commercial officer Hadley Allen.
Elizabeth Gordon, co-founder and CEO of Extraordinary Journeys, said family travel remains one of the top types of itineraries she is booking.
This is echoed by Allen, who said Wilderness is also seeing an increased demand for family travel, which includes multi-generational family safaris, as well as smaller groups, where for instance mother and daughter are traveling together.
"There is a desire among these families to create memories and to reconnect with one another and with nature after months of lockdown," she said. "There is a recognition that an African safari presents the perfect opportunity to do this, while experiencing extraordinary wildlife encounters, adventure and wide-open spaces in some of the most pristine wilderness areas in the world."
Also, according to Sherwin Banda, president of African Travel, multi-generational family groups are outpacing prior years in terms of demand and travel.
According to Allen, travelers are spending more time in one place instead of visiting multiple countries, thereby avoiding the need for more Covid tests, which results in a more relaxed journey.
Karen Zulauf of Deeper Africa has seen a similar trend and said travelers will increasingly opt for one country only with cross-border safaris taking a back seat.
Banda has also seen a single-country focus, largely driven by the frustration around protocols.
"They are staying longer in one country, spending more and delving deeper," he said. "They are connecting in a much more profound way with the destination than ever before."
Back to basics
"To Americans, Africa will always be about its wildlife," said Jim Holden, president of Holden Safaris. "Suppliers may offer different versions of the safari experience, but whatever the differences, the essential experience has to include the morning and afternoon game drive."
Holden explained that until we all learn to live with Covid, without the stop-starts we've been experiencing the past two years, he doesn't see people looking for "new" safari ideas. "The tried-and-true safari focused on wildlife is still the main reason Americans enquire about safaris," he said.
Solo travel is growing
Solo travel to Africa has increased by double-digits, according to Banda. "We've never seen this demand of people who are prepared to travel by themselves," he said. "One of the blessings of Covid is that the attitudes have changed. They now think, 'I want to travel but I have nobody to travel with. I'll just do it by myself.'"