At the time of writing, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus infections in Tanzania. The government has implemented measures to screen incoming travelers at airports, ports and border posts, in an effort to detect and prevent a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the country. Between January 30th and February 27th, 2020, a total of 11,048 incoming visitors had been screened.
As the global cases continue to rise in Asia and Europe, many travelers are looking to change their travel plans and consider traveling to East Africa instead, where there are yet to be any confirmed cases in the region.
While the world is still learning more about this emerging infectious disease, the evidence so far suggests that healthy individuals are less likely develop serious symptoms even if they catch the coronavirus. Seth Kaplan, an aviation analyst at Kaplan Research, remains optimistic about the situation. “Two months from now, coronavirus is probably not going to be eradicated. But if it has stabilized, people may go ahead and book [their travels],” says Kaplan. A global poll by Skyscanner, an online flight search company, reveals that 75% of the people surveyed believe that it will be safe to travel internationally again in 6 months’ time.
The end of the day, the decision on whether to travel is yours. We at Amani Afrika are monitoring the situation to help travelers stay informed. Here are our top 6 tips to consider when booking a safari holiday to Tanzania during this uncertain time.
Seek out an insurance policy that allows you to “Cancel for Any Reason” (CFAR).
Cancel for Any Reason coverage is the only coverage option available for new policies to cover coronavirus, according to InsureMyTrip. TravelGuard, for example, offers a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) option as an upgrade on several on their comprehensive travel insurance plans. It is a great option that allows travelers to cancel their trip for any reason that is not otherwise covered in their base plan, provided they cancel their trip more than 48 hours before their departure date. Don’t forget to read the fine prints to make sure that you meet their criteria in order to be eligible for their coverage.
Your trip cancellation insurance should be in addition to your regular “travel insurance” that you seek out to cover for unexpected circumstances or emergency situations that may arise during your travels. For example, many insurance companies may not cover for Mount Kilimanjaro trekking in their standard policies. World Nomads is one of the few insurers that cover safari tours and trekking up to 6,000 metres in its standard plan.
Choose an airline that has flexible cancellation or postponement policies.
There is no need to worry about traveling to most countries at the moment. “The risk of catching a serious viral infection on an aircraft is low”, David Powell, a physician and medical advisor to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Airline ventilation systems are really good at filtering out airborne germs. The air in aircraft cabins is much fresher than in your home or office. However, it is wise to keep yourself up-do-date with the latest information surrounding travel risks.
Airlines like KLM offer to waive change fees for customers currently booked on flights to affected countries. Lufthansa and Qatar Airways also offer new “coronavirus compassion” policies by extending the flexibility to existing ticket holders to postpone their travel dates.
Book safari accommodations that have flexible cancellation or postponement policies.
Many luxury safari accommodation providers have already relaxed their cancellation policies to allow travelers to postpone their travel at no financial penalty. Here are some examples.
Elewana Collection that manages properties such as Arusha Coffee Lodge, Tarangire Treetops, The Manor at Ngorongoro, Serengeti Pioneer Camp, Serengeti Migration Camp, Sand River Masai Mara and Kilindi Zanzibar allows agents already holding space on behalf of their clients the option to defer their travel at no financial penalty for arrival before 30th June 2021.
andBeyond Travel that runs properties such as Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Serengeti Under Canvas, Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp, Klein’s Camp, Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp and Bateleur Camp allow guests to hold the value of the payment made for new and existing bookings as credit for future travel within a year.
Asilia Africa that operates properties such as Sayari Camp, Olakira Camp, Dunia Camp, Namiri Plains, Jabali Ridge, Mara Naboisho Camp, Rekero Camp, Encounter Mara Camp and Ol Pejeta Bush Camp allows travelers to postpone travel arrangements for travel up to and including 31st May 2021 on a rolling 60-day basis.
Kantabile Afrika with Cherero Camp and Aurari Camp in its portfolio allows travelers to postpone their travels without any financial penalty up to 31st December 2021. And you may apply the credit on Cherero Camp, if you were booked at Aurari Camp, if you decide to travel in June 2021, for example.
Terms and conditions apply for the above policies. For example, traveling in a different season from the one you originally booked would result in a different rate. Please contact your travel agent for specific rules that are applicable for your particular booking(s).
Choose a safari tour operator that has flexible cancellation or postponement policies.
In addition to accommodation providers, working with a tour operator that is understanding and compassionate about a situation like this certainly helps. Amani Afrika does not impose financial penalties if travelers decide to postpone their travels to a future date. This would be subject to each of the service providers’ policies on cancellation and postponement. That means, we would keep the value of all payments made as credit towards a future re-booking. We will provide you with a new quote according to your new itinerary that would account for any changes in price, i.e. accommodation, airfare, park fees, etc. and apply the credit towards your new booking.
Opt for a privately guided safari with a reputable tour operator, rather than going for shared game drives.
“Common sense precautions” help when it comes to protecting yourself and others from contracting the novel coronavirus. Other than frequent hand washing, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that we maintain social distancing. Put in the context of a safari holiday, what’s a better way to accomplish that than taking a privately guided safari so you can have your 4×4 safari vehicle all to yourselves, rather than being confined with random strangers who came from all different places?
When you book a “game package” with a safari camp, often times, you are stuck with having to share a safari vehicle with at least 2-4 other travelers. Because the accommodation providers charge by the seat, it is often more expensive than booking a private safari tour with a local tour operator that could offer you a safari vehicle on exclusive basis. Don’t believe me? Check out Amani Afrika’s privately guided luxury safari packages and compare, or contact us directly for a quote of your dream safari holiday in East Africa.
Listen to the WHO, CDC and your local authorities for travel advice.
As we advance into the 2020’s, we learn that the world is a very connected place. We must not panic amidst situations like this and decide on the best course of actions for ourselves and others. As global citizens, the best way to handle a situation like this is to stay calm, act rationally, and listen to the experts. Agencies such as the WHO and CDC routinely publish situation summaries. Stay up-to-date on travel advisories regarding your destinations, as well as countries you will be transiting through over the course of your travels.
Some of our clients who are still planning to stick with their travel plans think that if they worry too much, they will never go anywhere. Others are taking precautions and decide to postpone their travels until the situation stabilizes. Whatever the course of actions you choose to take, the decision is yours. The best we can do is to support you with your decision and to give you peace of mind when you decide to book your travels with Amani Afrika.