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Ellie
By Ellie 23 February 2022

COVID-19: Africa and your safari

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve monitored the impact COVID-19 has had on the travel industry. Here we discuss how it changed our travel plans in 2020 and 2021, but why we are optimistic for something much closer to ‘normality’ for 2022.

Travelling in 2020/2021 during the height of the pandemic

At the end of 2019, very few people had even heard of the coronavirus that came to be known as COVID-19. But during January 2020 both the UK and the USA had experienced their first few cases, and at the end of the month the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency. Just two months later, in March, many countries were advising against all but essential travel – and suddenly, the world seemed a lot smaller. By June 2020, most of Safari Africa was closed. 

There were windows of opportunity to travel in 2020-2021, when people jumped at the chance to take their holidays. But the governments of most nations have largely advised their citizens to avoid non-essential travel. 

During this entire period, a specially put together team within YZ postponed and reorganised thousands of holidays, re-creating trips for those who became unable to travel over their original sets of dates. Our suppliers have been incredible through all of this, helping us to shift schedules with minimal fuss.

What is now happening with travel in 2022

Thankfully today, almost exactly two years since the UK went into its first lockdown, the news is much more positive. With the lifting of travel restrictions and many adults fully vaccinated, the world is open again. Safari Africa has risen to meet all the challenges of the new testing regulations, with PCR tests available in all but the remotest camps.  Barely a day goes by that we don’t receive an email from a client letting us know that they’re ready to travel: ‘had the jabs – now get me to Africa!!’

 

"Traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the best experiences... If I could book again during a pandemic, I would. The simple fact of having each place practically to ourselves was priceless... Regardless of COVID or not, I would highly recommend using YZS for your trip to Africa. The representatives on the ground helped make the extra paperwork and testing needed for COVID painless. We just showed up and they handled the rest. YZS took the stress away and we have the best memories of a lifetime because of them. They truly were angels looking over our trip (through planning our trip, to pre-departure and also while we were on our trip) to make sure things were seamless and going as expected."

So what’s happening in the YZ office? Since October ’21 we have seen a substantial increase in the number of enquiries and a great desire to travel again. We’re struggling to meet the level of demand for last-minute safaris, and space for 2022 is already looking pretty full. Confidence in booking holidays has returned, and people are keen to secure their next adventure to Africa. 

We’re still contacting all our travelling clients before their trip is due to depart, updating them on the new travel requirements with PCR testing and health forms now needed to visit most African countries. We’re talking to them about what travel is like now and passing on the experiences and great feedback from our clients who have travelled. We’re finding that everything is running very smoothly in relation to PCR testing on the ground in Africa. For many of our UK clients travelling to one country, PCR testing while in Africa is no longer necessary.

What has a lack of tourism meant?

Of course, the impact of far fewer tourists taking their holidays has been overwhelmingly negative for Safari Africa. And that concerns us the most. The lack of much-needed revenue from park fees and conservation levies, has left a huge hole in the finances required for vital conservation. Local communities who rely heavily on tourism are really struggling. There is no government support for these communities, so we are hoping the lifting of travel restrictions has come just in time to allow them to recover. We’re also hoping that we’ll see no long-lasting impact on wildlife due to increased poaching.

As a tour operator, we have seen how resilient our suppliers in Africa have been in terms of finding ways to remain positive.

Going on holiday in 2022 and beyond

The UK’s red list travel restrictions to all African countries were lifted on 11 October 2021, allowing fully vaccinated travellers to pack their bags and go on their long-awaited safaris. We’ve seen how the travel and aviation industries have quickly worked to fully understand and introduce the necessary procedures to comply with new regulations.

Confidence in travel and in booking travel to Africa is increasing every day. Most of our clients who are due to travel in the coming months have confirmed they do want to go, and the Yellow Zebra team has made all the necessary arrangements. It’s wonderful for us to be getting back to doing what we love and what we do best – booking and organising safaris.

The testing requirements are ever evolving, mainly in a positive way – things are getting easier and less expensive, so testing is no longer a barrier to travel. With this new confidence in place, we’re hoping that 2022 will be the year we all go out and explore the world again.

We the Yellow Zebra team are buzzing! We have not been this excited since the pandemic began, and we are enjoying getting back to doing what we do best – sharing our knowledge of Africa and planning safaris. We are following all our travelling clients as they journey through Africa, with smiles on our faces. We are SO happy to be able to do this again! There really is nothing better than getting a message from a client who is having the best experience of their life while on safari in Africa!

If you’re thinking of booking a trip with us but have not yet done so, please take a look at our book with confidence guarantee. Then, just give us a call to start planning your holiday! We’re happy to answer any questions you have about travel, and to address any of your concerns.

Why Trust Yellow Zebra with your African Safari?

"Yellow Zebra are genuine specialists; they know the African bush like the back of their hand."

Brian Jackman, safari expert for The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Condé Nast, and the BBC

Europe's Leading Safari Tour Operator 7 years in a row

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