Travel Trends 2021

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With global lockdowns and travel plans interrupted for most of 2020, we are all eager to stretch our wings and explore as soon as it is safe to do so. More than ever, it is important we spend our time in the right places, enjoying the most rewarding experiences. As avid explorers we look forward to spending more time planning and relishing every moment of the travel experience and fully appreciating the memories afterwards.

With almost two decades of experience in luxury African travel, here's our predictions for how our travel priorities will change as we plan ahead:


For 2021 travel we'll slow down and revert to how we used to holiday - with fewer, but longer breaks. Short haul will mean just that, a long weekend visiting family, or to the nearest beauty spot or beach. Longer trips will be more mindful, experiential and with a defined purpose; often marking a life milestone (birthday, honeymoon, anniversary, retirement) or fulfilling a lifelong dream like witnessing the Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania; or experiencing the full force of nature's energy at Victoria Falls.


We'll increasingly crave space, remoteness and safe havens in areas of outstanding natural beauty. Going 'off grid' will appeal to more of us and destinations where travellers can maximise their time outside, after months of confinement, will be the most sought-after. For some, a safari on the vast plains of Kenya or Tanzania will top the list. For others, the idyllic island retreats of the Indian Ocean, such as the Seychelles, will offer the ideal tropical paradise. Enjoy the best-of-both worlds with our African twin-centre bush and beach trips, which combine a safari with a luxury island stay and offer experience, relaxation and seclusion.


The pandemic has taught us to respect the fragility and interdependence between humans and nature, shining an even stronger spotlight on ethical wildlife tourism. Wildlife interactions in 2021 will focus on watching nature in its rightful habitat, at a natural distance, alongside expert guides. Travellers will seek out genuinely authentic safari experiences and sightings of endangered animals will be more highly prized than ever. Niche wildlife trips such as whale watching, gorilla trekking and rhino tracking are also predicted to grow.


A positive impact of the pandemic will see us make more conscious travel choices, allowing sustainable tourism to really take centre stage. Africa offers some of the planet's most pristine, untouched areas of natural beauty and it is important to the Mahlatini team that we help preserve these. Responsible tourism is the standard within Africa's luxury tourism sector; in tandem with our supplier network we continue to ensure tourism directly supports local communities, as well as wildlife and land conservation. Mahlatini gives back through our established charity partnerships including Save the Rhino, Pack for a Purpose and One Tree Planted. Hand-in-hand with our charity partners and trusted suppliers we hope 2021 will be a year of surpassing our sustainable travel goals and moving to 'regenerative travel', letting us explore and experience Africa in a smarter and greener way than before.


Our clients are already making conscious decisions to visit destinations and communities that need tourism most; to travel with those they have missed the most, and to embark on experiences that have a more fulfilling and positive impact long after they return. Aligned to this compassionate approach, more of us will want to experience destinations in greater depth, but in less obtrusive ways. Cultural experiences involving some aspect of volunteering work with ongoing philanthropic opportunities will increase in demand, as well as more immersive safari options such as walking safaris (Zambia and Zimbabwe) and water safaris (Okavango Delta and Chobe, Botswana).


The Covid-19 crisis has exposed the value of booking with a reputable tour operator. Luxury consumers will look beyond price and will seek out those who have built trust and provided service excellence during the crisis. They'll be wanting to engage with brands that humanise the booking and travelling process, requiring empathy, honesty and flexibility. As the world of travel becomes more complex - destinations with new entry requirements, airport procedures and dynamic travel policies - travellers are going to need more expert help and guidance than ever before. Mahlatini customises every single trip, removing the stress and ensuring every last detail is planned to perfection, with the right amount of adventure and relaxation.