Updated Dec 3, 2021
We at Safari Partners are continually monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic situation as well as the policies in place by the different camps, lodges and hotels we utilize throughout our itineraries.
Generally speaking, if you wish to cancel your holiday then you would need to recover your monies through cancelation insurance purchased before COVID-19 was ‘known event’. This would still apply even if you originally postponed your trip once. Alternatively, most camps, lodges and tour operates are offering to rebook your holiday for 2022, or even beyond. Please note this policy differs for each provider, and we can help you understand your options.
What about the new Omnicron variant?
The new Omincron variant was first identified in South Africa in late November 2021. South Africa has some of the best scientists in the world, and first-world genome sequencing capabilities. The discovery was a service to the rest of the world, one that was met unfortunately with significant and expeditious travel bans. Several experts have called these bans both unhelpful and ineffective. The scientists should be given time to do their work to determine if this variant warrants a higher level of concern as it applies to fully vaccinated travellers. When Delta was first discovered, the same response was taken, and within a few months countries were opening up their borders again when we understood that the risk to fully vaccinated travellers was limited. This may or may not be the case with Omnicron, however for clients who have travel booked beyond the next 90 days we would counsel that they take a ‘wait-and-see’ approach before requesting changes to their itineraries.
What if I want to cancel now?
If you were hoping to cancel with refund, you should be able to do so if you had cancellation insurance in place before COVID-19 was a known event due to the level being raised. Please check with your insurance company as each one has differing policies in place. We would be happy to assist you in getting you the documentation you need to make a claim.
What about airfares and my flight routing?
Airlines and air tickets are completely independent, and each will have their own rebooking or cancellation policies in place. You would need to contact that airline to discuss your options for flights (or work with us should we have booked air travel for you), including delaying or obtaining a credit for a future flight. Cancelation insurance would also be helpful in mitigating some of these costs should you have had it in place.
What is my responsibility for ensuring admissibility?
Many countries in Africa now allow entry for touristic purposes, however there may be COVID-19 testing requirements in place, and a short quarantine period may be required for a few countries. It is the responsibility of the client to ensure they are eligible for entry, however we are happy to work with you on understanding these requirements, and if any amendments to your trip need to be made. For multi-country trips there are testing options available to allow you to cross between borders. We will help you in securing these tests.
You will be able to defer your travel plans
We understand your concerns and want to be as flexible as we can with clients. Should you wish to explore the possibility of deferring travel for a year, we can move your booking to a later date with the following understanding:
- Deferral options are primarily offered for those departing in the next 90 days. If you are travelling after this date you will most likely be asked to wait to make your deferral request and it will dependent on the world and regional health situations at that time.
- It will likely be required that you have new dates of travel at the time of making your request and there could be a cut off point for travel to be completed by.
- Your final travel cost would be subject to the rates applicable at those new dates, and therefore could incur extra fees for increased rates.
- Should you have flights that are booked to coincide with these arrangements, the policies and penalties of these airlines would still be applicable and change fees may need to be paid.
- If you have already postponed once, this does not preclude you from doing so again.
What if I still want to travel?
If you have planned travel in the next few months, and understand your requirements to return to your home country, we would be happy to work with you on discussing the requirements for your itinerary. This could include COVID-19 testing requirements and any amendments that may need to be made to your itinerary. We have had clients successfully travel to Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana in 2021. They have had a safe and memorable experience, and have been consistently impressed with the measures that have been taken throughout their trip to ensure they are in safe hands. Travel is possible if you are willing to work with the adjustments that need to be made – and it can be rewarding!
What is being done to keep me safe?
At camps and lodges across the safari industry training has been taking place with local staff to ensure they are using best practices to protect the clients, themselves and their fellow staff members. These include limiting and containing the risk of infection within properties, covering both hygiene measures and cleaning procedures. Incident reporting systems are in place for staff to be proactive in attaining medical support at all times, and individuals who display symptoms and meet criteria for testing should be identified and directed through the correct procedures and medical channels.
I’m worried about travelling to countries where vaccination rates are low, isn’t Africa considerably behind in their vaccine rollout?
Vaccination rates in Africa remain a concern, and something we are first-world countries should care about globally. However, tourism in many countries in Africa has been identified as an essential service and in fact in many countries and many of the camps and lodges we work with they are at or nearing 100% vaccination rates with front-facing staff. Staff are tested regularly, and are subject to quarantine requirements before they enter the camp for their work shift, which can typically last anywhere from 4 – 12 weeks. Many camps and lodges can be thought of as bubbles where the staff have been cleared, and fellow travellers are either already vaccinated or have had to undergo COVID-19 testing themselves for entry into the country.
What is I get sick from COVID-19 whilst on my trip?
You may be concerned about what happens should you become ill on your vacation. Please be aware that should you display any symptoms that are consistent with those of COVID-19, it is likely you will be isolated and measures will be taken to ensure both your safety and the safety of your fellow travellers. It is imperative that you ensure your travel health insurance will cover you in the event you need to be evacuated, or medical procedures need to be initiated on your behalf. Please talk to your insurance company about whether you are covered for COVID-19 related health events and obtain insurance prior to travelling that will cover you. Proper travel health insurance is mandatory on our trips.
If you have any further concerns or wish to discuss your options, please don’t hesitate to ask.