Read our expert insights for traveling safely in 2022.
Author: Harini Sriram
After a particularly tumultuous year, countries gradually opened up their borders just in time for the holiday season towards the last quarter of 2021. Intrepid travelers began plotting their next big trip. Families couldn’t wait to gather around the dining table and share stories with their loved ones after over a year of living apart. With the new variant detected in several parts of the world, however, conversations around travel and safety have resurfaced.
While these concerns are valid, we are here to reassure you that it is possible to travel the world even in these unpredictable times, as long as you continue to follow COVID-19 safety protocols and book with reliable companies. If you are uncertain about planning your next trip, read on as Kenya-based Florian Keller, our Chief Product Officer, Co-founder and Africa expert, shares his views on traveling in what is now the new normal, and why travel restrictions can be counterproductive.
Safari vacations are a safe option
If you are seeking an immersive, crowd-free wildlife experience, consider going on a safari vacation to some of Africa’s finest game reserves, especially in the shoulder or low seasons. Countries such as Botswana, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania offer plenty of opportunities to explore diverse landscapes while basing yourself at exclusive and sustainable safari lodges. From bush walks in Zambia to gorilla trekking in Uganda, the expansive continent is packed with distinct experiences. We believe in responsible tourism and giving back to communities, so whether you want to support a good cause or local sustainable businesses, we can point you in the right direction.
“I live in Kenya and was in South Africa recently and experienced first hand that all hotels and other travel providers follow very strict COVID-19 hygiene rules. I feel safe at all times in Kenya and South Africa and we receive the same feedback from all our guests.”
– Florian Keller
While traveling during the pandemic can be tricky, you can still get the most out of your vacation by following basic COVID-19 guidelines. Most lodges have stringent safety measures in places, and our travel teams are experts at COVID-19-safe travel, so rest assured that your trip will be seamless and pleasant.
It is also important to note that the existence of many of these game reserves depends largely on income from tourism. It is the only way they can afford to pay the salaries of rangers and other employees, ensuring that the animals in the game reserves are protected from poachers. In addition, poaching will increase if people lose their jobs in the tourism sector, as poaching is often a result of desperation and lack of alternative sources of income.
Travel bans are not sustainable
When the Omicron strain was first detected in southern Africa in November 2021, most countries closed their borders to the region, despite the fact that the variant was found in many other countries soon thereafter. South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa criticized the travel restrictions as discrimination. Even the WHO condemned the bans and stood in solidarity with African nations, calling for open borders. According to the WHO: “Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, according to the International Health Regulations, recognized by over 190 nations.”
As we have seen time and again, travel restrictions cannot stop the spread of COVID-19 and they could have a negative impact on the future willingness of countries to share critical health data on emerging variants. As Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, points out: “The speed and transparency of the South African and Botswana governments in informing the world of the new variant is to be commended. WHO stands with African countries which had the courage to boldly share life-saving public health information, helping protect the world against the spread of COVID-19. With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity.”
The message is loud and clear. Travel bans are not a feasible long-term solution, and easing border restrictions will help revive economies.
Where can you go now?
This question is on top of many people’s minds. While the situation on the ground is dynamic and unpredictable, our travel experts and coordinators across the world have access to real time updates on the latest developments, and are equipped to assist you with any support you may need. Visit our “Where Can You Go Now?” page to see our up-to-date recommendations for destinations.
“Eastern Africa has not been affected by any travel restrictions so far. The incidence rate in Kenya, where I live, is very low, and the country has a very transparent COVID-19 policy. So, from my perspective, right now is a fantastic time to travel to Kenya in particular.”
– Florian Keller
Travel restrictions have eased up across most countries, and many of them are welcoming fully vaccinated travelers. However, each country has its own set of policies, protocols, testing and quarantine requirements that are subject to change, depending on the situation. It helps to check online resources before your trip to stay on top of travel regulations, so you are better prepared. You can also go through our COVID-19 FAQs and our Carefree Guarantee that gives you the flexibility to postpone and rebook your vacation.
Responses from the scientific community and international governments will determine how 2022 pans out in terms of seamless travel. This, right now, is the new normal, so how about going on that dream trip you’ve been putting off?
Get in touch with our travel experts and plan your next holiday!