Founder of Indigo Safaris, Christopher Bartlett has been very busy. He spent a couple of weeks in Dominica with clients, swimming with Sperm whales. Then a week in St Eustatius checking out the diving. Earlier on, Director of Product and Sales, Ines Moosmann ,went on an eleven-night luxury camp and lodge inspection in Northern Tanzania.
In Tanzania, during a jeep safari the migration herds were spectacular to witness, and the comfort and service levels found at the lodges and camps that they visited in Northern Tanzania were exceptional.
In Dominica, Christopher and his clients encountered a pod of sleeping whales, had some very close encounters that would not soon be forgotten and even had the chance to see a very rare albino sperm whale calf.
Easily one of the busiest teams in the safari sector, Christopher and Ines believe that to offer truly authentic experiences it is best to experience them yourself first. And, as any avid adventurer would understand, this kind of active research and development into their trade is something they take very, very seriously and has given their tours a flavour that is uniquely their own.
Having past the midway point of 2021, Indigo Safaris are already preparing their new catalogue of adventures for 2022. These include a new wave of tours in South Africa, Papua New Guinea and Dominica that combine adventure and education on important topics such as conservation. Adding significant value to the already high standards of their tours by offering additional insight and a lasting understanding of the importance of these areas.
“Today’s safaris have to offer more to the client, who are more savvy and educated than ever before,” says Christopher, “Even while our tours have always offered something unique, special and colourful, we’ve made sure to update ourselves to maintain our reputation for outstanding experience.”
In the sea, these include underwater photography trips to the sort of natural events that most people can only dream of seeing up close. Such as the manta mating season at Hanifaru Bay in the Maldives and the Humphead parrotfish spawning in Palau. And, not to be left out, In St Helena the opportunity to witness the only adult Whale shark aggregation in the world, where these mysterious and gorgeous giants of the ocean gather en masse.
Additionally, he and his team are creating collections of African wildlife safaris that feature a theme of sleeping out under the stars, trips for solo travellers with no or little single supplement, and family-friendly safaris and beach breaks. These range from guests travelling to locations with their own sleeping bags, clothes and food for the good ol’fashioned camp out, to luxury “star beds” that provide all the comfort of a hotel room without any obstructions.
Thanks to the lack of city light pollution, the night sky found on a safari is completely different to what most people are used to. Instead of a dark and sometimes featureless ceiling, they find themselves looking into a bottomless ocean made bright by a million galactic stars.
Additionally, next year clients will be enjoying the best reefs in Papua New Guinea (September 2022), luxury catamaran tours to the Tuamotu archipelago in French Polynesia (November 2022), and the ever popular Photography Coaching Trips, where clients get to take full advantage of Christopher’s experience behind the camera as a professional underwater photographer.
“It’s going to be a great year for safaris and adventures,” he says, “I’m going to be extra busy!”
WHAT SHOULD SAFARI STAND FOR?
Given the recent challenges the travel industry has faced, Christopher believes that the safari sector has an opportunity to make a distinct change to how people make their adventures, holidays and travel more sustainable. Wildlife safaris are perfect vehicles for creating awareness of fundamental behaviours that can be adopted to significantly benefit the natural world. Especially when it comes to methods of offsetting the carbon footprint of their travel and ultimately their lifestyles.
“We lead by example,” he testifies, “As a company and as individuals, we offset through Sustainable Tourism International and Ecologi. We now also offset our clients’ footprint for game drives and road transfers, and encourage them to offset the cost of flights through Green Seat.“
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN BOOKING YOUR NEXT SAFARI
When you book a safari can make a huge difference to what you’re likely to see when on tour. Be them in the water or on land, successful trips are planned well in advance to ensure the best possible experience. Calendar events should be taken into consideration, things like the calving/foaling season of the great Wildebeest migration in the southern Serengeti, or the Humpback whale migration from the Turks to Caicos from Jan-March. Or, the spectacular rainy season in the Central Kalahari where the arid desert suddenly springs to vibrant, colourful life.
“Not everyone is looking for the same thing in a safari,” says Christopher, “So we make sure that we are able to offer a wide range of experiences so that our guests get the most out of it.”
There are different things to consider for each of the safaris. For example, the obvious one is that if you’ve never scuba dived before you should speak with Christopher regards to whether a scuba diving safari is best for you.
“Keeping an open dialogue and building up the relationship is not only how we keep the guests on our safaris safe,” says Christopher, “but also how we make sure it’s one of those key experiences they never forget.”
THE ALL-IMPORTANT WOW FACTOR
When choosing a safari, guests want that special quality that will make their trip stand out. They want to be amazed. And Indigo Safaris are not known for ‘nice’ or ‘average’ trips. At least not if you take into consideration the feedback from their clients. With words like “incredible” , “first class” and “perfect”- being used to describe the safaris, Christopher would probably think “nice” would be a cause for concern.
The demand for safaris, be them land or scuba, has increased since 2020, thanks to the pent up travel inside clients and the desire for diving. With so many spectacular locations on offer from Indigo Safaris, from the Caribbean to Papua New Guinea, the feedback on the tours has shown they’ve had a major impact. Not only on the client’s appetite for travel but also their individual sense of wellbeing.
Feedback is an essential part of the travel industry and Christopher and his team rely heavily on it to guide Indigo Safaris into the future. Paying attention to feedback from clients and acting upon that feedback proactively is the best way to exceed client expectations, which is something that Indigo Safaris has a reputation for doing.
Part of what Christopher reckons his success stems from is his own background and passions. His career in underwater photojournalism and filed guiding not only relied on technical expertise, but also in knowing where to go and when to go there to get that perfect shot in that perfect environment. By combining this with his passion for his field, which is what he also enjoys doing on his days off, the result is that guests are regularly stunned by what they get to see.
“But what makes a great safari is matching the right experiences and accommodation with the right clients,” he says, “Fortunately this is our speciality.”