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Travellers Share Their Safari Experiences During COVID-19

What is safari like amid a pandemic? In the past few months, we've been fortunate to have had a handful of intrepid clients travel to Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Plus, some of our own staff have travelled to Kenya and within South Africa to experience an African safari in our new reality. We're happy to share some first-hand accounts of our travellers' experiences from their safaris in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa – and even gorilla trekking in Uganda – during COVID-19 .

Although Africa continues to see positive momentum with most African safari destinations now open to international visitors, restrictions and COVID-19 travel guidelines change regularly. If you're planning on travelling, ensure you stay up to date with the latest requirements.

Kenya Safari

What it's like going on a Kenya safari during COVID-19

Nairobi, Masai Mara & Amboseli, January 2021

Our trip was AMAZING! Our Africa Safari Expert Emma did such a wonderful job, planning and organising everything perfectly. Everybody was so helpful and wonderful. From the time we arrived until we went into security back at the airport to go home, everything was taken care of. That meant it was even a vacation for me as a mom! I’m a planner and might have control issues (I’m sure Emma noticed since we planned the trip almost two years in advance), but everything was so well planned and each step so clearly communicated that it made everything completely stress-free.

My kids’ most memorable moments were seeing four baby cheetahs and their mom eating a gazelle in the Masai Mara, and kissing the giraffe at Giraffe Manor. My husband has mentioned many times how hospitable everyone was. My eight year old even said last week, “I miss Amos (one of our guides in Amboseli), he was funny”. Every place we went to and stayed at was completely different, so there’s no way to pick a favourite, but I enjoyed the carefree time we spent exploring as a family, and seeing my kids and husband have so many new first experiences.

We love animals and the outdoors, so it was wonderful to see it through their eyes for the first time. I do wish we would have been able to go to the elephant orphanage and in the Masai village, but we understand the limits with COVID. I was nervous about traveling during the pandemic, but honestly, I felt very safe the entire time in Kenya. People wore masks, checked temperatures, and kept their distance.

We really appreciate everything you did to organise our trip. The excellent planning and organisation has given my family memories that we will have forever.

– Crystal, January 2021

Crystal stayed at:

Samburu & Masai Mara Safari, January 2021

Our entire Kenya safari was completely seamless: from the pick-up at the airport to travelling to three safari camps and back to Nairobi for the COVID-19 tests before flying home.

Our driver/guide, Lenny went above and beyond to ensure we saw everything – and I mean everything! As soon as we arrived in the Samburu Reserve, a family of elephants welcomed us. That's when we realized this trip would be a trip of a lifetime!

Samburu was my favorite of the entire trip. It's so rich in wildlife and you can drive off-road into the bush to see everything up-close and personal. Even the lions came sniffing around our 4x4! On our first game drive in Samburu we were lucky to see lion cubs playing with their mum and an elephant family crossing the river.  Plus giraffe and cheetah... So amazing!

The Masai Mara was incredible and it was amazing to meet a local Maasai tribe. We also saw five beautiful cheetahs and followed them all day!

I was seven months pregnant on this trip, but that didn't stop us from having an adventure of a lifetime!

– Linoy, January 2021

Linoy & Francis stayed at:

Laikipia & Masai Mara Safari, October 2020

On Kenya Airways, the entire cabin crew was in full PPE and all passengers were hand sanitized and offered a packaged wipe to use at their seat. Arrival in Nairobi was efficient: first a medical officer checked for negative COVID-19 test certificates, while the next station scanned Health Registration forms via QR Code and took body temperature scans. Everyone was wearing masks at our first hotel and our bags were even sprayed down with sanitizer before entering.

In Laikipia, at the sublime Segera Retreat, we rarely saw the other guests. Dining in private at every meal almost felt like we were at home – the ultimate in social distancing. The staff were extremely prepared, always in masks and checking our temperatures daily.

At Angama Mara, I counted just seven other vehicles over four days, and two were from our lodge. We had our own safari vehicle and would drive for hours with large swathes of the Masai Mara all to ourselves. The Wildebeest Migration was still lingering about thanks to the late rains, so we were extremely fortunate to be there at this time. If you have the inkling and are able to do so, there are real rewards to travelling now.

– Ryan, Go2Africa, October 2020 

Ryan stayed at:

Kenya Safari, September 2020

Health and safety protocols were spot on in Kenya. All staff wore their face masks and hand sanitiser was always available in the restaurant, safari vehicle, etc. Social distancing was also adhered to. We were so lucky to have had a private safari experience with a fantastic guide, Agnes. She made us feel so welcome and she had a wealth of knowledge. Furthermore, we felt extremely safe at all times and she certainly went that extra mile to ensure we had a fantastic experience..... It was a very special holiday; one I will never forget.

– Beverley, September 2020

Gorilla Trekking

Experiencing gorilla trekking during coronavirus

Uganda Gorilla Trek & Kenya Safari, October 2020

The staff at Bwindi Lodge way exceeded our expectations; incredible people that made our trip for sure. The hospitality and service were the best we’ve experienced in our lives – above any hotel we’ve ever stayed at. The people at Bwindi Lodge are beyond extraordinary, their warmth and kindness are truly unforgettable. The place is beautiful, the forest is something magical to witness right beside you, and the food is delicious.

Our gorilla trek was an amazing experience and also exceeded all our expectations. We got to do the trek with no other tourists / visitors, just the two of us and our guides. That was really cool and we felt very special. Before starting, I was a little nervous about the gorilla encounter but once we got to the gorilla family, I felt everything but fear. To the contrary, I felt pure peace. Seeing these animals’ faces, their stares and family dynamics almost felt like we were co-existing with other (more interesting) human beings. The hour and 15 minutes we spent with them felt like 10 minutes – we did not want to leave!

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When we got to our honeymoon tent at Kempinski Camp in the Masai Mara, we were blown away. Our tent looked right over a river filled with hippos, the common areas were very luxurious, and the cuisine was first-class. This is one of the most amazing accommodations we've ever been to. It's truly magical, right in the heart of the savannah. We felt so tiny and special. We met three other couples from India and France and spent three nights hanging out with them in the camp’s common areas. It was wonderful and a great highlight of our trip.

At first, we thought the hot-air balloon safari was expensive and Eloy was a little resistant to do it. But I insisted and now he's grateful that I did! It was a life-changing experience. We were lucky to witness the Wildebeest Migration into Tanzania, so we got to see Africa at its finest. We’ve never seen so many animals running free in their habitat, which felt so infinite. Once we landed, Eloy said he’d pay triple the amount if he knew just how incredible this experience would be.

Giraffe Manor was TOP NOTCH. What an amazing way to conclude our Africa trip. This hotel is so elegant and dreamy, we could stay and live there forever. The house is warm, charming and luxurious – it felt like we were in a movie. The service and staff are AMAZING, and always tried to make our stay the best. And they achieved it! Our room was beautiful, and the main house and common areas were so cozy.

This was a life-changing trip and our hearts are beyond happy. Our crazy decisions to be some of the first tourists to arrive in Uganda since March and to be one of the first couples to do a multi-country trip to Africa were SO worth it. Every PCR test, every uncertain and nervous moment… Everything was worth it!

– Fer, October 2020

A note on gorilla trekking in Uganda during COVID-19

Mountain gorillas share 98% of our DNA and are therefore highly susceptible to many of the viruses that we carry, and coronavirus is no exception. In order to keep these majestic creatures safe, the Ugandan government has put a number of safety protocols in place for gorilla trekking:

  • Travellers are required to produce proof of negative COVID-19 test results on arriving at Entebbe International Airport (no older than 72 hours) and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
  • Trekkers must carry two surgical masks, double-layer material masks with filters or N95 masks
  • Regular temperature checking and sanitisation procedures are in place and must be observed
  • Groups will be limited to 6 travellers who must maintain a distance of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between one another
  • The viewing distance is set at 10 metres (33 feet)

Fer & Eloy stayed at:

Tanzania Safari

Going on a Tanzania safari during COVID-19

Tanzania Safari, September 2020

Hello! Our Tanzania trip is amazing so far. The first two camps have been very good with safety – hand sanitizer is always available, you wash your hands upon arrival at camp, and everyone is wearing masks. Roho’s employees quarantine prior to going to work at the camp too.

– Jonathan, September 2020

Jonathan & Lisa stayed at:

South Africa Safari

Visiting South Africa for safari during coronavirus

South Africa Safari, September 2020

The airport experiences were pretty seamless. In Cape Town, as you enter the doors, you submit your health form, have your temperature taken, and then move to the check-in counters. On arrival in Johannesburg, we were met by our driver who transferred us to Marataba. All our transfer vehicles were clean and stocked with water, sanitiser, wipes, masks, and had onboard Wi-Fi. Safety measures at the lodge included temperature checks on arrival as well as every morning. The staff all wore masks, and sanitiser and wipes are readily available.

– Tracy, Go2Africa, September 2020

Tracy stayed at:

Hear what other international travellers had to say about their trips to South Africa during COVID-19

Wesgro – the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape – chatted with a few international visitors about their trips to Cape Town just before they departed South Africa:

Daily temperature checks and sanitser at Marataba Safari Lodge.

Sanitiser, wipes and masks in the transfer vehicle.

Health checks at Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport.

Book Your Safari With Peace of Mind

For all new bookings made between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021 that are affected by COVID-related restrictions and complications, we commit to:

  • No cancellation fees and 100% refundable deposit 65 days before your travel date.
  • Deferring your trip with no penalties 65 days before your travel date.

See our flexible COVID-19 agreement.

Considering a Safari But Cautious of Travelling? 

See our updated COVID-19 T&Cs and our advice on safety: 

Ready to Plan Your Trip of a Lifetime?

Chat with someone who’s been there. Get in touch with one of our Africa Safari Experts: