Africa’s safari areas have made great strides in recent years to combat poaching and promote conservation. Tour operators on the ground, led by some of our favorite preferred partners, have done admirable work not only in fostering wildlife preserves but also in making sure the communities they operate within benefit from the tourism dollars flowing in. From jobs to schools to health initiatives, safari-goers and safari companies have been supporting the communities that support them. The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened that, as a lack of business leads to less funding for animal sanctuaries, fewer jobs for locals and more poaching as opportunities to earn money dwindle.
There are, however, now several countries in Africa’s safari areas that are accepting American travelers. With that comes the opportunity to glimpse some of the world’s most stunning wildlife and stay in some of the world’s best lodges and have the places practically to yourself.
The vast grasslands of Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa are open to travelers. Kenya requires a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of arrival, along with a health screening upon landing. Tanzania might test you on arrival depending on your screening. Once there, you have open to you the majesty of Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Olduvai Gorge open to you, along with cultural visits with the Maasai people and oh so many beautiful creatures.
Neighboring Rwanda is also open to visitors with a negative test within five days of arrival in addition to a negative test on arrival (you’ll have to spend a day in quarantine at your lodging to await results). Once cleared, travelers can go gorilla trekking and birding in the country’s verdant national parks. Uganda is also open, with a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival required.
Moving south, Zambia allows visitors in with a negative PCR test taken within two weeks of arrival. You will also need to inform officials of where you will be staying for potential follow-up screening. You can still go on safari there and visit Victoria Falls, though anyone crossing to Zimbabwe not only needs a negative test taken within 48 hours, there is a 14-day quarantine.
Namibia’s dunes, wildlife and birds are open to you if you have a negative test taken at least 72 hours but no more than seven days before your departure. Going to South Africa is more complicated but possible as part of a longer itinerary as you’ll need to spend at least 10 days in a low-risk country (the U.S. is high-risk) first. You’ll also need a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure, a government contact tracing app, mandatory travel insurance and a health screening on arrival.
In the wide open spaces of Africa’s safari areas, you’ll be able to go on private or small group tours with a feeling of safety and security, see amazing animals and cultures up close and help spur the local economies. And you’ll easily avoid the crowds.
Is Africa one of your dream travel destinations? If so, Botswana should be on your list.
Seeing the animals from the water offers a different amazing vantage point. I did a land and boat safari in Chobe National Park when I was in Botswana and the highlight was seeing so many elephants playing in the water on the boat safari. The Okavango Delta is a great spot for a safari in a mokoro which is an adventure! Botswana can be paired with Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and or South Africa.
Keep in mind, it is best to plan at least a year in advance for Africa as many of the top lodges fill up quickly as they are limited in space. When you are ready, I am excited to plan your African adventure! Email Stefany at: firstname.lastname@example.org and or email@example.com.
In the beginning of March I was in Africa. When we stayed in Kasane, Botswana, we went to Victoria Falls for the day on the Zimbabwe side. If this waterfall is on your list, when it is safe to travel again, get ready to get drenched! When we first got there we opted not to rent their rain jackets as they were still wet and that grossed us out. Luckily, I was wearing my North Face jacket, so both phones I had in my pockets stayed dry. The view was breathtaking! As we kept walking to take a look at the view from each lookout point, it got foggier and the rain was coming down harder. We started to run to get to each point faster, but about midway through I turned back around as I realized it would be too foggy to see anything by the time I got to the end and I did not want to chance losing both phones, as I was on a work trip! It felt great to be back in Zimbabwe again seeing this spectacular site and note taken that North Face is amazing!
The sound alone is powerful at Victoria Falls! It is located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe on the Zambezi River and is one of the world’s largest waterfalls at 5,604 feet in width. It is believed that David Livingstone, a Scottish explorer was the first to see the falls in 1855 and named them after Queen Victoria. This World Heritage Site also has the nickname of “The Smoke That Thunders.” It’s twice the height of Niagara Falls. Its only rival is Argentina/Brazil’s Iguazu Falls in height and width.
We all have that big adventure we’ve really wanted to go on but have put off for one reason or another over the years. The opportunity will always be there, we tell ourselves. If there’s one thing we know after seeing life abruptly come to a halt, it’s that things can change in a hurry and nothing is truly guaranteed. Once it’s safe to travel again, it’s time to take that adventure. And the time to start dreaming about it and planning it is now.
As part of our “Travel Dreaming” series, Dr. Travel himself Paul Largay spoke with three people who know their way around an adventure: Lesa Bain of Lindblad Expeditions, Don Martinson of Natural Habitat Adventures and Ashish Sanghrajka of Big Five Tours & Expeditions. They’ve always specialized in going off the beaten path to seek out what there is to discover in the remote areas of the world. With those places soon to be more sought out than ever, they’re the ones to turn to for an authentic and sustainable adventure. There’s no better time to get started with the planning and settle on the dates when more is certain. As Dr. Travel put it, “What coronavirus has not stopped is our curiosity, our need to know and, most importantly, our desire to dream.”
With that, our guests shared some of their favorite adventures, from polar bear viewing in Manitoba to gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda to getting up close and personal with Adelie penguins in Antarctica. Whatever your definition of adventure, these companies can accommodate it while making you feel comfortable at the same time.
Expeditions are not, “eating borscht and sleeping on a wooden pallet,” Bain said, Lindblad trips offer the opportunity to go on an exerting hike then have a great glass of wine when you get back. Martinson stressed the abundance of options on a Nat Hab trip. There are always activities for those who want them, but no one is left out if not feeling up to the challenge. For instance, on Nat Hab’s Yellowstone wolf quest photo adventure, participants have the option to snowshoe to Old Faithful or ride to the iconic geyser in a coach. Sanghrajka noted that on the same trip in Colombia, guests can paraglide then do a rum tasting with the mayor of Cartagena’s son. “It’s the stuff you can’t script that speaks to me,” he said.
While as Martinson said, if you walk across a football field unassisted, you can go on most of these trips, you might want to ease yourself into adventure, especially if you have young kids. The Galapagos is a great place to dip your toe in the water. “Each time you go, it’s a different experience,” Bain said. “It’s great for kids and a good precursor to Africa.” Martinson also recommends the Galapagos, along with national parks and Costa Rica for getting kids hooked on adventure and science. Sanghrajka relayed that he first took his kids to Guatemala, where the roasted marshmallows in steam from an active volcano before watching another spew lava from deep within the earth. “When your teacher asks what you did for summer vacation, you’re gonna win,” he told them.
As the kids get older and your family works it way up the adventure rung, you can discover places such as East Greenland, “a place that made me feel smaller than I’ve ever felt before” as he kayaked around huge icebergs and waterfalls in a transformative experience. While the guides are world-class and the accommodations comfortable, some places are hundreds of miles from the nearest five-star hotel. “It’s not about the thread count, it’s about the animal count,” Martinson said. If you’re an avid diver exploring the waters of the South Pacific, Bain noted, that’s where true luxury lies, in making a dream come true.
What remote adventures are on the horizon for when we can finally escape and get back out into the world? Bain recommends the Russian Far East and Northeast Passage from Norway to Nome. Martinson is keen on small-group and private excursions in America’s national parks. Sanghrajka is excited about northern Peru. “Kuelap is 1,000 years older than Machu Picchu and sees about 100 visitors on a busy day,” he said. “The third highest waterfall in the world is there. I can’t wait to get up there.”
We know we can’t wait to get out into the wide open spaces again and take the road less traveled. We’re thrilled to have partners who have blazing trails in these remote areas for years. “When you people say we’re going to want to get out of the box, I say we’ve been waiting for you. What took you so long?”
Do you wish to see animals in their own natural habitat amongst vast landscapes? Are you longing to feel a sense of peace in nature? If so, Africa is an ideal spot for you.
This video shows the highlights of Stefany’s trips to Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Morocco. Seeing animals in their natural habitat is so magical. Africa is a place that does change you. Stefany experienced her first safari in the Ngorongoro Crater where she saw a plethora of animals including zebra, wildebeest, hippopotamuses, elephants, lions, flamingos and other bird species and more. Stefany met and bonded with a family in Zimbabwe who took her with them “zebra chasing” on their mission to relocate 200 zebras to Harare. She took part in a zebra capture and also had the opportunity to be part of a mission to capture a male roan in the Bush to bring him to a camp to breed with female roans! Talk about once-in-a-lifetime experiences! In Namibia, she sipped on a happy hour cocktail while admiring a mother hippopotamus with her baby. In Botswana she took a boat ride to Boro Village in the Okavango Delta to see how the locals lived. In Marrakesh, she enjoyed fun meals and the market where she bargained to buy 2 lamps she now has on her patio. In Casablanca, she was amazed by the architecture, ornate detail and beauty of Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in Africa. She had a lovely lunch at Rick’s Cafe there.
From her first trip there, she fell in love with the continent. Everytime she goes back, she falls more in love with Africa. Do you want to see the Big 5? Contact Stefany at firstname.lastname@example.org and or email@example.com to start planning your African dream trip.
Even though they can’t welcome guests right now, our fabulous partners have gotten incredibly creative delivering the best virtual experiences possible to keep you entertained and dreaming of travel while you’re sheltering at home. That’s one of the things we love about our preferred partners, they’re always focused on service and delivering high-quality experiences. There’s enough below to keep kids and adults occupied and learning for as long as necessary. There are some stress relievers, from meditation tips to cocktail recipes. We and our partners are here for you, and we can’t wait to welcome you back with open arms once we can all get back out into this great big world.
Paws Up: Via Instagram live, the Montana ranch resort is streaming yoga classes and cooking classes, teaching wilderness foraging and leading expeditions to identify the area’s animals. There will even be an expert angler offering virtual fly-fishing from the Blackfoot River.
Austin Adventures: Via Zoom, the U.S.-based adventure company is conducting Virtual Adventures for Kids, with topics including Yellowstone, a virtual zoo tour and bike maintenance 101. The webinars are designed for kids 6-12, and you can register at the link.
Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa: The wellness resort will put on Facebook live sessions on how to stay healthy at home each Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m. Eastern. The videos will feature recipes, exercise tips and methods for maintaining mental health while cooped up at home.
&beyond: Since you can’t go to Africa, the luxury safari and tour operator is bringing Africa to you with recipes, music playlists, animals videos and book and movie recommendations for kids and adults.
Beyond Times Square:: Born and raised in New York, this tour operator has a virtual tour of NYC featuring the Met, MoMA, Central Park and panoramic view from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building. For those looking to get away from crowded cities, BTSQ is introducing Stress-Free Getaways to places such as the Hudson Valley and Cape Cod, with sanitized vehicles, sanitizer provided and guides following CDC guidelines.
Natural Habitat Adventures: Each day at 3 p.m. Eastern, Nat Hab is offering a daily dose of nature. The hourlong webinars have titles such as “Why Do We Love Bears So Much” and “No Foolin’! You Can Create Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard.”
Context Travel: Scholar-led Context Conversations seminars are $35 each and discuss Beijing through the ages, how Venice has dealt with disaster, disease and over tourism across the centuries, the aesthetics of Tokyo. The In Context podcast is free, providing updates from Rome and city overviews for when things open back up.
Lindblad Expeditions: Each day, Lindblad is posting a virtual program with wildlife videos, moments of bliss, photography tips and recipes (that last part is mostly for the parents, but the rest is family-friendly).
Canyon Ranch: Be strong, be well with meditation videos, tips for managing anxiety and ways to boost your immune system.
Four Seasons New York: This isn’t an interactive activity, but well worth highlighting: The Four Seasons New York, temporarily closed to reservations, is providing free rooms for doctors, nurses and other medical personnel working long hours on the front lines.