Coronavirus/COVID-19 UPDATE

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

Updated 30 June 2020

We Are Travelers

Taking precautions now so we can get back on the road again.

COVID-19 is posing challenges that few of us could even imagine. My update written weeks ago, and the weeks before that have already become inadequate or obsolete. I want to reassure you that in crisis as a company and as individuals, we remain true to our core values of honesty and integrity and we will get through this. We want to be fair to all who we work with, through every step of the process. Across society, all of us are reaching for the tools by which to cope. We ask your patience as we work to retain the best value possible for our clients who have lost their tours. We also have deep concern for our lodges, and all the people out of work to whom our visits meant a livelihood.

We are also very much at work putting a strong 2021 calendar together. We understand that travel still feels uncertain, but also know that many travelers want a PLAN, something to look forward to. We have a TAG system in place now so you can hold a spot on November to March tours with just $100. We will check back with everyone holding a TAG spot on October 15, to see if you are ready to upgrade to a full deposit and actual registration. That gives plenty of time to make flights. If we need to push that to November 15, or even December for February and March trips, we can do so for many of them. We don’t want you risking funds and we do not want to return funds, your TAG can be moved if you prefer to any future adventure. We will also extend final payment due dates for any operating tour until such time we are assured they will go.

At Naturalist Journeys, we retain a strong network of experienced suppliers in the field and we lean on our very good relations with them as we look for solutions. New bookings was a real plus for them, strengthening our bonds. We are monitoring daily news updates, using professional consultants, and watching State Department and other government guidelines that affect travel. Our announcements will come in our eNews sent several times a month—you can subscribe online for free if you have not yet done so. Or just give a call or email note to the office.

Our client’s health and safety are our main concern, and that of our colleagues that provide us services. Our office staff are all working from home, so email is the best way to reach us. We do monitor phones and will get back to you. Those due to travel in the next three months have all been contacted, and some International destinations out farther than that.

We have taken the longer view to alternate plans as needed, making decisions at least three months out so our travelers can plan. For tours November 1 and onward, we are in a holding pattern for decisions. While being able to go seems at best unlikely, we do not want to preclude that as fast as we got into this, we could find a way through it. We need testing, and we need medical advances. But we are impressed with how many of our lodges, small ships and guides have already stepped up with excellent ideas on how we move (cautiously) forward.

On March 14, many of the world’s airports became closed or were put on notice to close as nations grappled one by one issued travel bans. On March 19, the US issued unprecedented Level 4 State Department warnings for travel to all countries outside the U.S. These two criteria, airport closures and Level 4 State Department warnings, were factors in our risk management assessment and dictate that we cannot operate tours once these are in place. We expect that these will be lifted as the situation improves, and we will work with providers on contingency plans and rescheduling options as needed if the alert gets Initially, none of us imagined the alert would hold this long, but we understand now we are in for the long-haul. Better to stay now, so we can GO! in the future.

We have had many supportive, wonderful notes from travelers, urging us to hang in there and be strong. We are a small, specialized, “boutique” company in the true sense, so our solutions may not mirror the giants of our industry. We are in contact with our partners and colleagues that have similar values, reputations, and goals. We treasure more than ever, our personal (and for the most part patient!) client base as we try to keep up with needs on both sides of the tour equation. We recognize we may not make everyone happy but we trust that all recognize the complexity of the situation.

Are we optimistic? Yes, we are travelers. Whatever the new “normal” is, we will find a way to do what we love to do best. Ask about “Personal Pursuits” -about how you might book one of our tours for your family or small group of friends.

Please keep your eye on the horizon! As you prune those travel urges for now to stay healthy, please know that your communications of support have meant a lot to all of us, giving us pause to reflect on who we are and why we do this. For some, travel is a luxury to be immediately pruned. For us it is one of the greatest joys of life. We know that our joy brings vibrancy to local communities that in turn secure a healthy and protected place on the planet for wildlife. We all stand to lose a lot in this chaotic time, but perhaps the natural world is at greatest risk if we halt our desire to be in Earth’s wild places.

Nature right now is just what we need! Even a short walk now that summer is heredoes wonders. Share your stories—we are sharing ours on Facebook and through eNews—keeping our optimism alive.

Hang in there, we are intent on doing so as well, and we will keep communication open through this time.
— Peg Abbott, and the team at Naturalist Journeys

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