Updated April 2, 2020.
We at Safari Partners are continually monitoring the developing world health situation as it relates to COVID-19 as well as the policies in place by the different camps, lodges and hotels we utilize throughout our itineraries.
Currently there are confirmed COVID-19 in many places in Africa although their numbers remain low in comparison. There are measures in place at many borders and international airports throughout the region that range from screening to mandatory quarantine, or outright travel bans on certain nationalities. The situation however is fluid, and will continue to be monitored as it develops. We intend to act on facts and not fear, and will defer to the advice from authorities such as the WHO and the Government of Canada Travel Advisory Warnings.
The Government of Canada and the United States have advised against non-essential travel currently, and those who do travel will have to undertake a 14 day self-quarantine period on return with more limited options to return home.
For those with imminent travel in the next 30 – 90 days, please contact us about options to defer your travel now. For those with travel beyond this time period, most camps and lodges are taking the stance that the travel will take place as planned and you should adopt and wait and see approach.
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’. Alternatively, most camps, lodges and tour operates are offering to rebook your holiday for either later this year or into 2021. Please note this policy differs for each provider, and we can help you understand your options.
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. We would be happy to assist you in getting you the documentation you need to make a claim.
Why you should consider waiting to cancel
If you have travel planned that is more than two – three months away, it may be prudent to take a ‘wait and see’ approach to see how the situation unfolds over the next few months. As the situation changes, we are seeing more generous cancelation and deferral policies being brought out by hotels, lodges, tour operators and airlines daily. These policies may become more generous or forgiving over time, and it is entirely possible that closer to your final payment date you may have more options to defer your travel with less financial impact. We understand it can be hard to fight the urge to cancel now, but waiting may be the best financial decision you can make, at least up until your final balance is due.
Additionally, with many people rebooking or deferring travel until 2021, it could be an excellent time to travel in Africa with quieter parks and more opportunity to enjoy its natural sights without many crowds should things become more settled.
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 hav 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. One complication we have seen currently playing out is that many airlines will have a limitation to which date you can re-book or obtain a credit for and some are limiting travel to taking place on or before December 31, 2020,
If your air travel happens to route through a country which would deem you inadmissible to your travel destination, it is incumbent upon you to speak to your airline about rerouting your itinerary to allow you to travel to your destination safely. You may even want to reconsider any stopovers in either direction to minimize your exposure, or to be preemptive in allowing your clearest path to your destination.
What is my responsibility for ensuring admissibility?
There are strict entry rules in place now at many of the airports and borders in Africa, it is the responsibility of the client to ensure they are eligible for entry. This means they should not have recently travelled to a country, or be from a country, deemed to have a major outbreak, and are required to self-report any symptoms at the time of entry. We cannot be held responsible for clients who may be subject to quarantine or refused entry because of these policies.
What if I can’t get to my travel destination?
If the case arises where either your home country is not allowing outbound travel, or there is a restriction by one or more of your travel destinations against your home country, you will be allowed to defer your travel plans until a later date. This date is subject to the policy of each of the camps and lodges, but expect it to be within nine months to one year.
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 60 – 90 days. If you are travelling after this date you may 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.
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 being put 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.
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.