How have the camps adapted to the new normal?
In Tanzania, we have been operating our Serian’s Lamai camp in the northern Serengeti since mid-July. Since reopening, we have since hosted a variety of guests: including some of our agent friends to help spread the message that 2020 is the year to come see the river crossings if you can travel and Serian is ready to host. Everyone has been delighted with their sightings in camp in addition to the fact that they have the entire Lamai Wedge to themselves, as we are the only camp operating in the space.
In Kenya, we have had a slightly slower start with international guests. On August 1, Kenya opened to international visitors. The initial list which designated countries exempt from quarantining on arrival has now grown to 130 countries, so that means Kenya is now open to most of the world (sorry to my friends in California, Florida and Texas, Tanzania is waiting for you ;). Now, that the confusion is settled, people are facing some challenges in securing a test which needs to be valid for 96 hours before arrival. So there are a few more hurdles involved with a trip to Kenya. However, it’s very possible still.
How has safari planning changed in general?
Under normal circumstances, we would encourage combining both Kenya and Tanzania in an itinerary; however, several challenges make that untenable at the moment. The changing regulations on the ground make it increasingly challenging to manage the logistics at this time.
Additionally, I think people are looking at safari differently. In the past, people wanted to get the most bang for their buck In terms of being able to tick a few highlighted destinations in a specific country. Nowadays, we are seeing more people who want to just come to stay with us and make that the destination of the trip. Similar to the way people use exclusive use villas, Airbnb homes, or perhaps a Gulet or a Yacht, more and more people are starting to wonder “why I don’t I rent a safari camp for a week or so?”.
Is safari the ultimate socially distanced holiday?
Absolutely! All of the activities in our camps: such as game drives, walks, fly camping etc., have always been private, and you keep your designated vehicle, guide and spotter with you throughout your stay. Our open cars get you that fresh, clean air and space that everyone needs these days.
What airlines are currently operating?
There are plenty of options depending on your preferences: KLM, Lufthansa, Turkish, Qatar, Ethiopian, and Emirates flying into either Nairobi or Kilimanjaro. Increasingly, we are also seeing some clients choosing to fly privately.
Are there changes to housekeeping and staff interactions?
Our staff wear masks at all times. Further to that, we have divided the camp into smaller pods with a dedicated team, so you will have a limited amount of staff interaction. It’s essentially an isolated pod. Once a tent is vacated, it will be cleaned and sanitized and left vacant for a minimum of 72 hours before guest arrival.
Are guests required to wear masks?
Yes, guests will need to wear masks if they are somewhere where social distancing is not possible. But while in the bush, this is infrequent.
Do travellers need any form of health insurance?
All guests staying with us are required to have fully comprehensive travel insurance, which provides at a minimum medical, evacuation, repatriation and cancellation cover. There are currently several insurance companies providing cover for travel to East Africa including Battleface, Campbell Irvine, Jubilee, and High Risk Voyager.
We also highly recommend that all guests take out AMREF Flying Doctor Membership at http://www.flydoc.org, which is a East African based medical evacuation service from the bush to an international hospital in Nairobi, and can be invaluable if you need to be evacuated quickly. It’s just US$16 per person for a month.
What would you say to someone nervous about travel, but considering a safari?
Keep updated on any changing travel restrictions. The IATA website is useful. Clients must be willing to have a degree of flexibility as rules and regulations are changing quite frequently. Also, slow down on the ground. You want to be able to really relax into space. Consider dropping some places from an itinerary and instead choose one location as a base for a week or more. You’ll get so much more out of it.
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