Being on a wildlife tour in East Africa had become a normal for adventure lovers until the COVID-19 pandemic broke-out. The pandemic was publicly declared in December 2019 and by March 2020 its effect on tourism were greatly felt. At the time countries completely locked down their economies thereby hindering international travel and tourism.
After a full year of living with the virus, tourism is slowly resuming and taking shape. Countries came up with guidelines to ensure tourists on any wildlife tour stay safe and enjoy their tours and safaris.
Amidst all these there are many potential tourists who have still failed to secure their wildlife tour. Below are a few major guidelines that will help you effectively plan a wildlife tour to East Africa during the pandemic.
1. Use a local tour operator
Tourism has become strict with regulations being announced time and again necessitating a use of a local operator when planning. This will enable you get timely updates regarding any new regulations about your planned wildlife tour.
Tour operators play a big role in organizing ground logistics effectively. They help in booking accommodation, transportation and permits activities one will be engaging in. During this pandemic its safer and convenient to have someone helping you manage your travel plans to avoid any disturbances.
2. Plan your Travel Itinerary in Advance
Planning your travel itinerary by knowing what activities you will be engaging in is very vital now. This will help you know how much you will be spending on a particular activity and at a particular destination.
The primate national parks have their own COVID19 regulations and by planning your itinerary in advance you will easily know what will be required at a particular destination.
This saves a lot of time at the destination giving you chance to maximize the wildlife tour experiences there. While discussing with the local operator ensure to Select where you want to Visit to visit.
This mainly refers to the season when you will visiting. East Africa has two main season the peak and the low season. The peak tourist season ranges from June to September and from December to February. Here tourist numbers are high and many destinations are busy.
When planning to visit in this peak season ensure to book in advance. This COVID- 19 season many want to escape the stress and have getaways by going for a wildlife tour therefore book early enough for the peak season.
The low tourist season is from End of March to May and October to November. With limited numbers, a wildlife tour during this season is exclusive and some people prefer this. It could also work out better for the corona-virus pandemic times as people are told to ensure social distancing.
When visiting primate national parks like Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Volcanoes National Park and Mgahinga and Virunga parks, this would be the best time to visit. Mountain gorillas are main attractions in these parks but highly demanded. In-case you prefer exclusivity then the low season would be ideal.
4. Keep it simple
Ensure to keep it simple when packing for your wildlife tour. With the many travel restrictions now the last thing you need is a lot of unnecessary stuff while on tour. Depending on the number of days and destinations you will be visiting you can pack enough and just what you will need.
There are usually Packing lists provided to guide you on what to wear and what to bring on tour. Make sure to go through the packing list and get what you will need early.
5. Travel safe
Having COVID-19 negative results, face masks have become the new travel normal lately. At international airports they will require you to present COVID-19 results to know your current status. For some East African countries like Rwanda, on arrival you are subjected to another COVID19 test. While you wait for the results you will be required to stay 24 hours in mandatory quarantine.
Once the results are out and when you are negative its when you will be allowed to go on tour. Incase you feel sick or get checked and you have the virus or any other medical issue its better to first recover.
Don’t forget to bring your face masks or hand sanitizers as well to keep you safe every step of your wildlife tour.