'Single supplement' dropped for some safaris

03/27/2011 12:00 AM

03/27/2011 12:06 AM

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the decision of Lion World Travel to charge only $2,199 per person for a one-week Kenya safari leaving from Washington, D.C. (including airfare) throughout March and the first week of April, and $2,299 for the same trip in the latter part of April, the month of May and many dates thereafter. It was obvious to me — as I pointed out in an effort at sarcasm — that the unusual price (several hundreds of dollars less than the competition) was brought about by using Ethiopian Airlines as the carrier from Washington, D.C. I was immediately besieged by numerous angry e-mails from readers who claimed that Ethiopian Airlines is a fine and reliable carrier, and I subsequently issued a full-throated apology.

Lion World Travel (800-387-2706; www.lionworldtravel.com) is making further news with respect to many of the dates on which it is charging $2,299 per person for this remarkable trip. Throughout the month of April, from May 1 to May 15, and from Nov. 1 to Nov. 21, Lion World will waive the single supplement. Single people traveling alone will pay not a penny more than $2,299 for their African safari throughout the dates in question; they pay the same amount that each member of a couple traveling together pays.

Moreover, Lion World will henceforth add a special section to its website describing its African safaris, listing other dates on other programs where they also will waive the single-room supplement. This is a reflection of the heavy demand they have received from single people for their Africa tours.

The development is an important one. It is possible that we are at last seeing a crack in the steadfast refusal of tour operators to waive the discriminatory single room supplement. If the Lion World initiative proves successful in attracting additional business, it is possible that not only Lion World, but other tour operators, will follow, and at last rid themselves of this burdensome charge.

I would suspect that the lodges in the Masai Mara that Lion World uses for its safaris are rarely booked to total capacity; consequently, permitting single people to use what otherwise would be empty rooms involves no additional cost to those lodges, and in fact brings them extra income. If only other tour operators could perform the same mathematical exercise in this time of slow travel!

An African safari comes as close to being an indispensable trip as any in travel. It is mystical, magical and enthralling to witness the world as it was before human beings inhabited it. And that's exactly what happens when you drive overland into the game parks of Kenya — areas where there are no roads, no power lines, no human habitations other than occasional safari lodges and dining halls — and turn your gaze onto thousands of wildebeest and giraffes, elephants, lions, monkeys and cheetahs, all roaming in totally unconcerned fashion among the untouched precincts of nature.

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