Travel has been in the press a little more than we would usually like – it is the travel industry that has been hit harder than any other industry by the pandemic but we are seeing signs of recovery. We have actually managed to have some clients go on their planned trips in July and August 2020 as East Africa opened up and allowed guests to enjoy what is for many, a long planned and bucket list style safari. We also have guests travelling in September and October – we have been in constant touch with all of our clients and have been overwhelmed by their resilience both in the face of having to postpone their safaris but also in their determination to travel if it is at all possible.
WELL, we have good news, it is possible. I wanted to take you through a few points of travelling to Africa from either the USA or the UK. I personally have been to Tanzania (July 2020) and Kenya (August 2020) from the UK – but wanted to also share some information on travelling from the USA as kindly shared with us by our lovely clients:
FLYING & TRANSITING THROUGH AIRPORTS
Long haul flights are currently at about 40% capacity which makes social distancing very easy – the same of course applies at the airports. All international airports are not only doing temperature checks, but also have hand sanitiser available at stations throughout and clearly marked signs to assist with social distancing – masks are also compulsory throughout all airports worldwide.
A HEPA air filter is fitted in 90% of modern aircraft which cleans the air in such a way that your chances of catching any kind of airborne virus is very very slim.
Many of you will need to transit through Heathrow when flying to Africa from the USA – this is perfectly possible and very much allowed. If you have one or two days between your connecting flights you would have to isolate in a nearby hotel for those days, then returning to the airport for your onward flight to Africa, although ideally your flights would have a better connection time than this. You are allowed to collect luggage off one flight, and re check in for another flight.
Your easiest connecting routes into Africa from the USA are via London Heathrow or Addis Ababa – both airports are fully equipped to deal with the ‘new normal’ (I have personally been through both in the last two months).
OR – even better, take a direct flight from New York to Nairobi and connect to your safari in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda or Zambia from Nairobi (these countries are open and welcoming tourists).
ON LANDING INTO AFRICA
Before you fly we will have assisted you with pre purchasing your visas (very easy via online e-visa systems), filling in online health forms (again a very easy process) and getting a COVID test certificate (again we have everything in place to easily assist you with this) if needed. Once all of the above is in place your entry into Africa be it Nairobi Airport, or Kilimanjaro/Dar es Salaam Airport, or Lusaka Airport will be seamless and very easy – as has been my own personal experience at these airports in the last two months. Africa has adjusted to the new normal with surprise efficiency and the airports have been a pleasure, with social distancing also taken very seriously.
At every single airport you land into we will have booked you an expedited service with our team on the ground which means you can often be out of the airport in under 30 mins with your luggage. At this point you’ll be met by a private driver and taken onwards to your hotel, flight or safari location.
Even before the pandemic we used private charter flights for guests to get around Africa with ease and we will continue to use these whenever guests want to ensure as little contact with other people. The sanitisation of vehicles and aircraft is done at least twice a day and taken extremely seriously by our ground teams.
The World Travel & Tourism Council represent tourism globally and is made up of the World’s leading travel and tourism experts. They have assisted countries with their policies on how to keep guests safe when travelling under these new extraordinary circumstances. They have scrutinised each country worldwide (and continue to do so) and when the countries’ policies are up to scratch and being implemented at every single camp, lodge and hotel the country can then be awarded the WTTC Safe Travel Stamp – we are very proud to say that the following countries we deal with have achieved this:
Kenya – open for safari guests from the UK & USA
Tanzania – open for safari guests from the UK & USA
Rwanda – open for safari guests from the UK & USA
Mauritius – still remains closed until further notice
South Africa – still remains closed until further notice
We do expect Zambia and Botswana to be added to this list shortly as they have both been exemplary.
On a personal note I have had some of the most special African experiences I have ever had in the last two months – seeing the Serengeti and Masai Mara empty is bittersweet as it is a huge worry for wildlife and community conservation to see so many jobs threatened – but on the other hand to see the migration on my own was out of this world. We specialise in getting you to the wildest most remote parts of Africa with amazing wildlife but few tourists, however the Serengeti and Masai Mara do naturally attract a larger number of people especially when the world famous wildebeest migration is on.
Not only will you be doing a huge amount for Africa by travelling there in the next months – you will also receive numerous special offers, private vehicles free of charge and will be treated like the hero you are for travelling during this tricky time. Having been out in Kenya and Tanzania myself I am confident in our ability to keep you safe when on safari, where social distancing is the norm and the infection rates have been low anyway.
Published by Rose Hipwood – MD – 1st Sep 20