COVID on Safari! Now What? A question that pops up repeatedly is, “what will happen if I test positive for COVID on safari?” “Will I land up in some backstreet isolation in a remote town in Africa?”
While at Safari Guru, we know all too well that meticulous planning and preparation generally ensures event-free travel, yet nothing quite prepares you for the moment of COVID rearing its nasty head. This new global norm is not something we can control, as mostly it is contracted before travellers even arrive for their much-deserved vacation!
Safari Guru recently sent a couple of old friends, and multi-repeat clients on a six-night luxurious birding safari into the Okavango Delta, in pristine Botswana. As is now commonplace in our new COVID world – and expected – all travellers need to present a negative PCR test on arrival in most destinations in which we offer specialist safaris. Furthermore, another PCR test is required to travel onwards to a new country or return home with 24 hours of their departure. It’s worth noting that health and safety guidelines are frequently changing in African safari countries, and it’s always recommended to speak to an Africa Safari Travel Specialist before embarking on your travels and request up-to-date travel guidelines for each destination.
Typically it’s plain sailing, and guests receive negative test results paving the way for their onward journey. But, what happens when this isn’t the case, and someone somehow contracts asymptomatic COVID and receives the dreaded positive test results the evening before or on the morning of their departure?
Safari Guru, was confronted with this exact situation when one of our travellers in a luxury safari camp tested positive in his mandatory PCR test a mere 24 hours before wanting to get on his plane home.
Firstly, it should be said that for ultimate convenience, Safari Guru had arranged the PCR tests to take place in the clients’ room of the last camp in their extended safari itinerary. Everything was carefully planned to maximise their safari time in the Okavango Delta and minimise any COVID inconvenience, except for the now positive test result. The test result was not as expected, as it never would be when general symptoms are not present.
Private accommodations in camp were provided to the COVID positive guest while we presented a number of accommodation options in Maun, Botswana’s safari’ capital’ for his mandatory quarantine. In the process, Safari Guru coordinated with camp operations and our Botswana-based ground handlers to expedite his evacuation out of the bush and on to Maun, by private helicopter. On arrival in Maun, we had arranged a private transfer to the nominated lodge, where our guest spent five days, fully catered in his own suite overlooking the river.
Sure it was an inconvenience, but overall he reported it was actually a lovely experience simply relaxing, catching up on his work emails and eating, drinking while chilling with the views before receiving – at the end of the five days – his all-important negative PCR test.
In the meantime, our Botswana colleagues had re-organised his flight, and his extended stay was covered by insurance.
The second traveller, with a negative test, by choice had continued on with his travel plans home; albeit, slightly jealous that his companion had an enforced travel extension, and even managed to tick off additional birds on his extended vacation in the riverside suite!