Current COVID19 Update
We continue to see progress as international travel begins to open up. Last week, the US State Department lowered the travel advisory level for several of the countries in which we travel. Previously, there was a blanket level 4 – “Do Not Travel” – warning for all international travel. For many countries, the warning has been lowered to a level 3 warning, which is “Reconsider Travel due to Covid-19.” While the number of countries in Africa that have actually opened their borders is very limited, we see the State Department’s action as an encouraging sign that is consistent with our sense that travel to our safari destinations in Africa will begin to return just after the first of the year.
We continue to stay in touch with our friends and colleagues throughout Africa, in order to update you on developments that may affect future safaris. Each country is establishing safety protocols for international travelers and safari operations. We will continue to monitor each destination’s progress as safety protocols are finalized.
In addition, many of our partners in Africa are creating their own safety protocols, which will often exceed those that are required. Examples include certified staff training in the new “Covid-19 Travel Safe” hygiene and physical distancing procedures, contact free arrivals and registration at safari lodges and camps – and sanitizing of safari vehicles before each use.
In some countries, national parks and reserves have opened up for domestic tourism – allowing everyone to get used to the “new normal.” While the actual dates of welcoming international travelers will vary from country to country (Tanzania is already open!), we do anticipate that the turn of the New Year is the most realistic earliest date when we will be able to visit most, if not all, of our favorite safari destinations.
A very high percentage of travelers who expected to go on safari in 2020 with us have re-scheduled their safaris in 2021 – and we are very grateful. We are also thankful that our partners in Africa have almost universally kept their 2020 prices through 2021. We are finding that this high rate of re-scheduling is a trend within the safari industry, which has created an interesting situation: we are already finding that some of our favorite lodges and camps already have limited availability. If you’ve been dreaming of your own safari, 2021 will offer you an opportunity to realize those dreams at prices we aren’t likely to ever see again. All it takes is a call (800-779-2146) or reach out to us here to see what your safari may include.
As we open our eyes on a new world – the post-pandemic world – I first share the good news with you that our friends and colleagues in Africa are well and safe. I speak with many of them regularly and I’m inspired by their optimism and their resilience. Frankly, stay-in-place orders can be much more challenging in places that don’t have the resources we are blessed with in the U.S.A. And there is one common theme throughout our conversations: they miss meeting new friends or welcoming old friends and sharing the magic of the wildlife they love so much.
The second piece of good news is that 94% of our travelers have re-scheduled their safaris into 2021. Our travelers’ commitment is especially encouraging to our partners in Africa. In addition to being able to employ their teams, they are able to continue their important conservation initiatives and insure on-going support for their communities.
Looking forward, we may emerge with some of the same dreams that we’ve carried with us over the years. And our desire – or, perhaps, our need – to return to “normal” is likely to fuel our actions over the next several months. If you are among those who are drawn to Africa’s incredible wildlife, I’m sure you’ll agree that there is one overriding subject that must be considered above all else: YOUR SAFETY. Keeping you, our travelers, safe and healthy remains as our top priority.
As countries begin opening their borders and welcoming international travelers, we will continue to monitor conditions in each of the destinations we love. If you feel the pull of Africa – and her magical wildlife – I encourage you to think about planning your safari, whether it may be later this year or in 2021. Aside from the excellent prices we are beginning to see, your safari will help sustain our friends and colleagues in Africa and support their conservation and community programs.
Tom LaRock, Founder and Managing Director