While we stay home to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, we’ve been checking in regularly with our partners in Tanzania, our guests at home and aspiring future travelers. Here’s a glimpse at how all of us connected to Thomson Safaris are keeping our spirits up during the time of COVID-19.
1. The Staff at Gibb’s Farm is Staying Busy
The staff at Gibb’s Farm have been making masks out of kitenge, a colorful East African fabric often worn around the waist or over the head.
Gibb’s Farm is a time-tested favorite among many of our safari guests. This historic lodge outside Ngorongoro Crater is a vibrant paradise filled with rustic comfort and wildlife. So, while North America hunkers down, what is life like at one of our favorite homes away from home?
Nick and Sally, the husband and wife managers at Gibb’s, have sent us a series of letters about what the staff is doing to keep their spirits up during this time, when they aren’t housing any guests.
Things are as lively as ever for the 130 staff members on the farm. Everyone is pitching in to help tend the gardens. Every week, each staff member receives a full basket of fresh farm produce to ensure they are getting plenty to eat without having to go to public markets.
One challenge they face is finding a reliable source of face masks, which are hard to come by on the outer slopes of Ngorongoro Crater. The crew has turned to making cloth masks out of kitenge, a colorful East Africa fabric often worn around the waist or over the head. They look fantastic!
With fewer people around, Gibb’s Farm has become a haven for wildlife from all around. An abundance of birds have flown in, and baboons make daily raids on the farm. The staff have also seen hyenas, leopards and elephants roaming the perimeter of the property.
2. Past Guests are Sharing Their Kindness and Appreciation
The last few weeks of March were filled with uncertainty, to say the least. When airlines began restricting and suspending flights in response to the Trump administration’s European travel ban, our team scrambled to ensure our guests could get home safely.
We’re proud to share that our guests in Tanzania at the time handled this news with amazing patience, kindness and understanding. Even with the chaos of constant changes to their flight schedules, they took time out of their safaris to let us know they were having the “trip of a lifetime,” or that the “guides were superb” and they were “not worried at all” knowing that we had their backs.
Special Interest Trip Manager Angela Jenkins counted on tacos to keep her going.
Special Interest Trip Manager Angela Jenkins said these kind comments reminded her of how resilient and patient our guests are.
“It was probably difficult for our guests to fully adopt the ‘hakuna matata’ attitude while on safari, given all the uncertainty around getting home,” she said. “But over a month has passed since everyone has returned, and guests are still sending notes of appreciation and checking in to see how everyone at Thomson is doing.”
Even amid the disruption of their dream trip, their positivity shines as a testament to the trust we have forged together. Once every guest who had been on safari in March came home, Angela said she received a box of chocolates as a “thank you” from one group!
“This was such a kind and thoughtful surprise,” she said. “I shouldn’t admit this, but those chocolates were gone in a matter of days!”
As we await the return of travel, we are banding together as a community to keep our travel dreams alive. While we won’t ask everyone to send us chocolates, we have asked you to submit your favorite safari photos that bring your heart back to Tanzania. We compiled your submissions, and we’re excited to share your stories. It’s been a joy to dream together as a community. Click here to watch the video.
3. Travelers Are Already Planning Their Next Trips
Every day, aspiring travelers call to talk about their dreams. In some cases, they are already booking trips! We’re seeing many of our departures for 2021 already filling up or selling out. This excitement gives us hope, and inspires us to look forward to the time when we can make travel dreams a reality once again.
Some of our guests weren’t able to travel this year because of COVID-19, but that hasn’t deterred them from their dreams, either. Of all guests booked in 2020, 42% of them have chosen to postpone their trip to 2021, and 45% are choosing to keep their plans in place while we wait for this disease to run its course. By keeping their trip on the books, whether for this year or next, they are saving local businesses and communities in Tanzania that rely on responsible tourism for employment, food and education. This commitment is critical to minimizing the impact of COVID-19.
Even as we wait things out from the quiet isolation of our homes, we’re hearing more and more every day from travelers eager to talk travel and book a trip. If you have an inkling of interest in going anywhere next year, we encourage you to reach out and start putting your trip together now.
Check out our Facebook page for daily videos, photos and travel inspiration. We’re hoping to #KeeptheDreamAlive together while we await the day we can return to the vast, open lands of Tanzania.