IMPORTANT BENCH AFRICA UPDATE - 20 MARCH 2020
To our Bench Africa followers and family,
The current outbreak of COVID-19 is an unprecedented event, the size of which hasn't been seen in recent memory.
While so far Africa has been largely spared the effects of the virus when compared to Europe, Asia or the US, the atmosphere of uncertainty and the travel restrictions put in place by various governments around the world have made international travel a near-impossible proposition, at least over the next month.
Our advice to anyone currently travelling in Africa is to return to Australia as soon as is feasible. This is due to the ban announced by The Department of Foreign Affairs and Smarttraveller.
The safety and well-being of our travellers is our highest priority. We have reached out to all Bench travellers who are either currently travelling or departing before 30th April to run through their options, encouraging travel postponements rather than cancellations. Rest assured that while we are working with our suppliers to come to the very best resolution for you, Bench Africa acts as a wholesaler and therefore in some situations our hands are tied. We may not be able to recover money that has already been paid out or that is committed to be paid out to suppliers on your behalf, as much as we want to.
It is now that the African people, wilderness and wildlife need our support more than ever, and when this blows over (and it will) you are going to need to get away, and what better place to replenish your soul than Africa? So, if you are in a position to do so then we are strongly encouraging you to postpone, rather than cancelling outright.
If you really must cancel, then we have a simple "What we can get back from our suppliers, you will get back from Bench" policy and we will endeavor to recoup as much as possible. We are not enforcing any Bench Africa admin fees or cancellation fees.
For travel booked from 1st May onward, we will be consistently assessing the situation. As it stands, we are planning for a return to business as usual, until we are advised otherwise.
It has been a trying time for all, especially those in the travel industry. To all of you who have been in touch, thank you for your kindness, practicality, and support. The Bench team is well and in good spirits, despite the conditions. We've been sending Australians to explore Africa for 51 years, and we look forward to the near future when we can continue to do the same.
Please feel free to contact our friendly and helpful team at Bench if you have any specific queries.
Once again, we thank you all for your patience and understanding. We are truly saddened that we don't get to introduce you to the magic of Africa right now, but we hope that soon the coast will be clear and we will be right here, ready and waiting.