A force for the absolute good

By | Wednesday, 2nd September, 2020

The following is the fourth in a series of letters from Will Jones to Journeys by Design friends, clients and colleagues following lockdown. This one went out early August. Following the soft launch of the newly revamped website, the emphasis here is on RARE, regenerative travel, and the need for increased transparency.

I do hope all is good with you and your family. Since my last letter, for every tentative step forward the world takes, so it seems to take two back – such is the pernicious nature of Covid-19.

On our own front, we’ve been refining what it means to be an Africa-specialist travel operator – now, next and for as long as Journeys by Design continues to operate. As in many sectors, Covid-19 hasn’t so much as changed the way we think about travel as to supercharge the necessary and the inevitable. By which I mean, as mentioned last month, it’s clear that we all need to travel less, and that when we do, to ensure that the impact of that travel is such that it really does change lives – for the better, for the long term. In this respect, our concern for the environment has to come first, with travel a secondary and healthy byproduct of that concern.

All of which, I know, is easier said than done. However, for me, the need to travel less and to travel with purpose dovetails neatly with the kind of travel I was fortunate enough to experience as child, and which we have done our best to champion since the inception of Journeys by Design in 1999. It’s why we set up Wild Philanthropy and Tekula Capital. It’s why we invested so heavily in Wild Expeditions. And it’s why most of what we make is ploughed back into supporting the ecosystems that for all these years have been its destinations.

I know many of you know this, having either travelled with us, been involved in Wild Philanthropy, or served over the years as pioneering example and invaluable sounding board. I mention it only because it is the meat behind the aforementioned refining of our approach, as illustrated on the newly revamped Journeys by Design website. I’ll let you have a proper look for yourselves, but for now, the main spoiler’s the fact that we’ve introduced RARE, as distinguished from CLASSIC. Formalising something we’ve been doing informally for years, this is the by-definition rare safari – that is, the privately guided, off-google, unrepeatable, deep-dive adventure, as designed for those travellers comfortable with a certain level of reasonable risk.

If this were all, however, then it wouldn’t be nearly enough. The RARE safari is more than going back to simpler days, when travellers placed their hopes and dreams in the hands of the most adventurous of private guides. It is, for us, the future of truly sustainable travel. Longer, slower, and possessed of the lightest of footprints, it is designed to contribute much more to the world than it takes from it, and to demonstrate in no uncertain terms that travel can be a force for the absolute good. It is for this reason that each RARE trip includes a $5,000 environmental pledge, and why we limit ourselves to designing just 30 such safaris a year.

Refinement-wise, there’s much more to share, but – as is my wont – I’ve gone on for far too long. Do have a browse of the site for yourselves. In the meantime, you will, no doubt, be hankering after this month’s quote. Here it is, clothing company Patagonia’s seemingly counter-intuitive and therefore extraordinary campaign line: ‘Don’t buy this jacket.’ Both company and line have served as inspiration for much of what we feel, think and do. Don’t buy our – indeed, any – safari; unless you know its long-term impact. Please do drop me a line. I look forward to hearing from you.

Image copyright Cam Anderson Raffon 

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