General News - April 2010
Update on flight crisis UK - 21 April 2010
As at 2200BST, April 20th, all UK airports are expected to reopen. With six days backlog of passengers, there may continue to be long delays in returning passengers to the UK.
The UK Government today repeated their belief that under Reg 261. all EU airlines are obliged to offer accommodation and food to those unable to return. This obligation normally arises after customers have checked in, but since this has been impossible in most cases, customers should ensure they have notified their airline before incurring costs.
Airlines are not obliged to place customers in 5 star hotels and in some cases, an absence of any reasonable accommodation may mean there is little alternative to remaining at an airport.
Some airlines have clearly accepted this responsibility, some have manifestly not done so. It is imperative that customers keep all receipts and make claims upon their return. In addition non EU airlines have no responsibility if passengers are outside the EU at the present time.
Tour operators have an obligation to offer assistance to customers. For those unable to travel within a reasonable period, they are entitled to a full refund of all money paid.
We suggest that customers claim under their own insurance policy for a delayed departure, however, policies vary considerably. Some will pay and some will not. In cases where there is no valid insurance claim, we as your tour operator are responsible for refunding our clients IF YOU HAVE BOOKED YOUR WHOLE HOLIDAY THROUGH US. If you have booked just sections of your holiday through us, your best option is to keep all receipts and invoices and claim from your insurance company.
For those in resort, the major operators are continuing to offer accommodation and assistance in resort. Some operators are choosing not to for commercial reasons.
This is an unprecedented situation. Our legal advisor at ATTA believes there is the potential for customers to make claims under the Package Travel Regulations, specifically Reg 14 and the CAA are advising customers who call that that may be the case.
They are not seeking to enforce this against operators and for example they believe operators could legitimately expect customers to pay for their own food, since they would have to do so at home. There is certainly no obligation to keep customers in their original accommodation pending a return to the UK.
If self catering accommodation is available, there is no reason why this should not be used once the original holiday has been completed. It is up to each individual tour operator to take a personal decision in this regards.
In all cases our customers should contact your own insurers. An unscientific study of four insurance policies today suggests that a number are willing to accept claims but customers must mitigate their loss, that is to say, keep the claim as low as possible,
Whilst people such as John Cleese have paid 3000 Euros for a taxi across Europe for himself, it is unlikely any insurer would consider that to be a reasonable claim. However in a very helpful statement earlier today, the Financial Services Ombudsman expressed concern at attempts by insurers to avoid liability and has invited all claimants to copy the Ombudsman scheme into correspondence!
Zambezi on BBC Radio 4 - 16 April 2010
On BBC Radio 4's travel discussion programme, presenter John McCarthy will be joined by our Zimbabwe expert.
The Zimbabwe Bradt Guide will be published in June 2010 and available for sale through the Bradt Travel Guide website at a special rate of £12.79. Zambezi's Directors have both made major contributions to the guide, written and researched by author Paul Murray.
And also this w/end...
Fellow Director is being interviewed at periods between 4-8pm Southern Africa time on Sunday April 18th 2010 on E news channel and will also be discussing Zimbabwe.
Record rainfall Kavango and Zambezi catchment - 12 April 2010
heading our Victoria Falls office, finally moved over the Easter break to a permanent base in a lovely rambling farmhouse in the leafy suburb of Victoria Falls.
Although situated 2 km's from the Victoria Falls themselves, the floodwaters can be felt by the windows rattling, heard by the constant roar of the water, and saturated by the early morning mist from the spray, now reaching hundreds of meters above the Falls.
The garden here is like a mini rain forest with wonderful plants and birdlife.
Chris sneaks out of the office to visit our clients who pass through the Zim side of the Victoria Falls for a chat and a drink at their respective hotels. It’s wonderful for us to have a person on the ground with so much experience and knowledge of the area and surrounding region.
For those that would like to meet Chris and have a chat over a drink do feel free to call him on +263 (0)13 44427 (Victoria Falls office) or Mobile (Cell): +263 (0) 914 109581
We have had a record season of rainfall since October with over 800mm (364 inches) falling so far. The Kavango and Zambezi catchment in North western Zambia and the Angola highlands are still experiencing heavy rain with the river still rising. We expect the Victoria Falls flood to peak at the end of April.
Other good news is the elephants have returned to the village, and are wreaking havoc in some gardens at night.
A bull elephant in a friend’s garden bulldozed the entrance gate to the property down when the owner tried to chase him out of the garden. The moral of the story is open the gates before you try to expel your uninvited guest!
Its wonderful to see old and new faces returning to Northern Zimbabwe to experience our wonderful reserves of Victoria falls, Hwange National Park, Matusadona National Park and Mana Pools National Park.
Chris's lush garden in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe - Photo 07 April 2010
What's up in Zambia - 7 April 2010
Just a short update on happenings in my neck of the woods (South Luangwa National Park). Early March we had to move out of our house because it got flooded, two weeks later the water levels in the lagoon dropped and we were able to move back into our house. We had a bit of a scare a couple of days later because the water levels came up again but thank goodness went down just as quick!
Today the water has dropped so much in the lagoon it’s difficult to believe we had to move out a couple of weeks ago.
Our house will be renovated later in the year once the major renovations to Mfuwe Lodge and the Bushcamps are over. I’m so excited I can’t wait knowing we won’t have to move out ever again!
The river is also dropping fast its about half its capacity.
The renovations to Mfuwe Lodge are going quite well and things are starting to take shape. Its really been quite a nightmare being in the middle of it all, the banging, breaking of walls, re-thatching machinery running continuously dust every where. I’ve been tempted to leave the valley and work else where but then I also wanted to be part of it all from start to finish.
We haven’t had a chance to go on any drives in the park except for one in early March when we saw lion in a tree just opposite the last chalet facing the road. We're not sure whether they were looking for a meal or keeping their toes out of the water!
Written by and photos by Delene Dempster from our Mfuwe office in the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Happy Easter - 1 April 2010
As we approach the start of the fourth month of the year, the Zambezi team is hard at work preparing safaris for the coming months.
Already 232 of our guests have enjoyed a safari with us since the start of our new year and these have been very varied in nature. As usual almost half of our guests have visited either Victoria Falls or another location close to the Zambezi.
We've also had a number of guests experiencing the thrill of a migration safari in the southern plains of the Serengeti and others who've summited Mount Kilimanjaro. More unusual are our school groups who've enjoyed visiting camps and local village schools on the Masai Mara in Kenya during March.
Over Easter we have quite a few guests challenging themselves in various adrenalin filled activities around Victoria Falls including bunji jumping and walking with lions.
All that remains is to wish all our guests and associates a very happy Easter and may those in the northern hemisphere finally start experiencing some sunnier, warmer spring weather!
The Zambezi Team - John, Trish, Chris, Delene, Liz, Jackie, Debbie, Jane, Char, Mark and Fi and not forgetting Ash and Corrie our web duo and the office dogs Digger, Jet, Tarmac, Izzy and Maisy.
Nothing exciting around the Devon office today except a couple of jackdaws building nests in our mossy roof (and please note clear blue sky)! Photo Corrie Berry.