Travel to Africa during COVID-19
Safari – a cure for the lockdown blues
Leave stress behind and find peace in the African bush
With international travel slowly opening up again across the world, Africa is on top of everyone’s list of places to escape to…
If the walls of the concrete jungle are closing in on you and you feel a desperate need to escape the madness of endless lockdowns, pandemic panic and media overload, the good news is that travel is becoming more and more possible and Africa is most definitely a great option.
In fact, an African safari is one of the best ways to get away from it all, taking you to remote, uninhabited wilderness areas where social distancing happens naturally and your nearest human settlements are probably hundreds of kilometres away!
A safari gets you as far from the madding crowds as its possible to get and out into the wide open spaces and breathtaking landscapes of the African bush. Staying in small, exclusive and intimate safari camps and lodges you get immersive experiences of all things African, from fascinating tribal cultures to iconic wildlife species and everything in between.
Most importantly, African safaris can have a unique “super power” – the ability to help you completely reboot from the rat race, rejuvenating body, mind and soul in the process. It’s not uncommon for guests to undergo an extraordinary, transformative experience while on safari, feeling more rested, relaxed and revitalised both mentally and physically.
Viewing wildlife species in their natural habitat and observing them at close quarters also has a positive impact some have dubbed “animal therapy”. It may sound far-fetched but research has shown that there are significant emotional benefits to wilderness experiences thanks to increases in levels of endorphins like serotonin that leave you feeling marvelous and help to reduce stress.
So going on safari is actually good for you! But is it really safe right now?
African countries that are open for travel
While there is considerable debate over the relative safety of certain global destinations in terms of COVID-19, with some governments declaring certain African countries “off limits” or inadvisable for travel, once you cut through the kneejerk reactions and panic and get advice from people actually on the ground in the destinations you would love to go to, you begin to realize that your African travel options are actually looking quite good at the moment.
With popular safari destinations like Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa open for international travel, there’s a lot of choice in terms of where we can put a safari together. There are stringent health and safety protocols in place in the destinations and lodges and camps we use and these are highly effective, and when considered alongside the natural benefits of being in remote wilderness areas help to minimize the risks significantly.
Of course, there are still quite daunting travel restrictions in place in terms of documentation you will need upon entry and departure, COVID-19 testing and general entry and exit requirements. As these are prone to changing quite rapidly it’s best for you to get in touch with us and chat to us directly about what you will need to do to be eligible for travel to the destinations you are interested in. We will walk you through the pros and cons for each country and give you the latest updates and travel requirements.
Air travel and COVID-19 requirements
As a general guideline, most international commercial airlines currently require passengers to be in possession of a negative COVID-19 PCR test conducted within 72 hours of departure. This currently applies to people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in their home countries until the situation surrounding the various vaccines becomes more clear and rulings are made.
You will probably need a negative PCR test on departure as well, whether to another country or back home. Many of the destinations we work with and our partner lodges, camps and ground handlers are able to arrange in-lodge PCR tests or arrange transfers to and from authorized testing facilities to assist in this regard.
Of course, there are other vaccinations and health precautions that are prudent before travelling to Africa, so we absolutely recommend that you visit your health care provider or doctor at least six weeks before travelling to ensure you are up to date with vaccinations like flu, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), polio, hepatitis A and B and DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) and yellow fever.
We are happy to answer any questions you may have in this regard.
Out on safari – what to expect
We like to keep things small and simple in everything we do, choosing intimate safari camps and lodges in off-the-beaten-track destinations where wide open spaces and lots of fresh air make social distancing a breeze. Your game activities take place in open safari vehicles with a maximum of six people on it – usually two people per row with three rows of three seats. In certain camps and lodges you could have exclusive use of a safari vehicle for the duration of your stay, and if you are travelling with friends or family, you may be able to take over the entire camp or lodge on an exclusive-use basis.
If you hadn’t considered travelling in a small group, but have friends and family who would be interested in sharing the experience with you, chat to us about optimal group sizes and where we can recommend for the ultimate, exclusive safari experiences.
When it comes to food, you are going to be eating healthily wherever you stay, with lots of fresh produce and farm-to-table style menus that are focused on achieving balance and flavor. Meals are usually enjoyed al fresco in the African bush, and communal areas are usually open and well aired, if not altogether outside! In tented camps there is always a good flow of air through every enclosed space and lots of outdoor lounge and viewing areas to enjoy.
One country, multiple safari options
One recommendation during the current pandemic is to look at keeping your safari itinerary within one country, limiting the need for numerous PCR tests. It is possible to combine very different safari experiences while staying within the borders of countries like Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Zambia, for example.
We’re on hand to help advise you on the best combinations and absolute musts wherever you choose to visit. So get in touch to find out what’s available and easy to access and we hope to be sharing the African wilderness with you very soon.