Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. —Albert Einstein
Last week the Australian government released news that from 1st April the cost of flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin to Cairns will be discounted by 50% up til the end of July. If you've been thinking of taking that nature holiday somewhere within a couple of hours flight-time here's your chance to grab a cheap flight and experience the restorative benefits of North Queensland's ancient rainforests, stunning reef and outback savannahs. Matson & Ridley Safaris now offers a booking service for our favourite operators in North Queensland to offer you our choice of explorations and adventures with the best guides and accommodation options available. Travel operators in Cairns are really doing it tough due to their heavy reliance on international tourism, so your travel dollars will really make a difference up here. If you are thinking of heading up this way, please drop us a line and we'd love to help you plan your escape back to nature.
You can participate in efforts to conserve the Great Barrier Reef through Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef's Great Reef Census, now underway. Brainchild of our co-founder, Andy Ridley, this program is making great strides in our understanding of this World Heritage, massive ecosystem and helping conservationists identify and use 'feeder' reefs to help build reef resilience and recovery in the face of the ongoing threat of climate change. Read what Oceanographic Magazine says about the project here. Their work has just been documented in a wonderful new film by National Geographic Australia which you can watch here (approx 15 mins long). The trailer is below.
We are very excited to see that the Australian government is considering a travel bubble with Singapore, in addition to New Zealand, which would enable our friends in Singapore to come and visit us in northern Australia potentially within a few months. By the end of the year we hope to be able to travel in Africa again, with the Australian government's reassurances that all adults will have had access to the Covid vaccine by end of October (Qantas has also opened international flights for this time). That means it's time to start dreaming and planning for a return to those wide open spaces in the home of big cats and elephants for 2022 and beyond!
We are in close touch with our friends and colleagues in Africa, and we are there is spirit even though we are unable to be there in person. The crash of tourism in the African safari countries has been devastating economically, with almost 10% of Africa's GDP coming from tourism in normal times. There has been concerns among the conservation community that the loss of the income and jobs from tourism could result in an increase in bush-meat poaching and habitat encroachment.
One of the ways we've been able to help during the pandemic through the generosity of our safari guests has been to support the Akagera guides, firstly with a program of food support for the freelance guides and their families for a period of 4 months, and since the latter part of last year through development of a potato farm, providing alternative income to tourism in these tough times. The farm project is managed by Akagera local guide Godefroid Nyamurangwa, and has created lots of short-term work for locals in the community bordering Akagera National Park. Godefroid is a wildlife guide usually and my right hand man in the Akagera Elephant Project, but has now developed new skills in growing potatoes. He is using organic compost such as cow manure and ash. We were very excited to receive the news this week that the first crop of potatoes has now sprouted and hopefully soon will yield some good results for the local community.
Don't forget that when you book with us you're booking a safari that makes a difference. We're in this business as conservationists and we focus on working closely with the Indigenous people in the areas where we offer safaris to ensure the maximum benefits hit the ground. If you haven't already tried a safari with us, maybe it's time you experienced the Matson & Ridley difference!