Q – Set with a two-week tour of southern Africa that begins in Cape Town and ends in Johannesburg. This mid-August vacation includes two nights in Victoria Falls where I am reading the water has completely dried up and the Falls are no more. We are working with a local safari operator based in Johannesburg and wondering if they will eliminate the Victoria Falls. We found them on the internet and they seem to have hundreds of “likes” so we’re trusting them to do the right thing. What options might be available if we decide to skip the Falls at this point? We are paid in full.
A – There is a growing pattern of weather affecting Victoria Falls that is quite complicated but boils down to the fact that October-November rainfalls are way down in tandem with serious heat issues and daily averages approaching 96 degrees. You should be fine in mid-summer although you will see evidence of decreased rains, drought, and the effects they are having on the majesty of the “Falls”.
We have no idea why you would have paid in full for a trip not scheduled for six months. It does not sound like you have any advocacy built-in – as you are working directly with a group operator. But most troubling of all is your failing score on our “Travel Naivete” Index. You were impressed by hundreds of “likes”?
“Likes” online do not require any sort of mental capacity – just some sort of forefinger. And if that doesn’t work, “Likes” can be easily purchased – in bulk.
Try to find out if your tour operator is accredited by any of the major US travel consortium groups. If not, see if you can secure any recommendations from past clients in your area. It is likely that your trip to Vic Falls is scheduled at the end of your journey just prior to your departure for Johannesburg and your flight home. Have your tour operator give you two options to replace the nights at the Falls if you are determined to skip them (not what we would advise)
Do feel free to call the tourist boards in New York for additional information about the company you are using and their recommended itinerary modifications.
Finally, make certain that the travel agent commission is being refunded to you in the pricing as you are not using an agent’s services.