While much of the world remains closed to Americans, luxury adventure tour operators are slowly resuming travel to some of the more far-flung locales that have reopened to international travel.
African destination specialists Extraordinary Journeys, in partnership with safari company Great Plains, this week announced a November trip to Kenya that it said was designed to jump-start safe, private, luxury travel back to the African continent.
The Return of the Safari Pioneers is a 12-day trek that will enable travelers to experience Africa's great wildebeest migration from the safety of a carefully controlled social distancing bubble.
The company has chartered a 30-seat Boeing 787 through Kenya Airways that will fly guests from New York JFK to Kenya. Guests will have a private check-in at JFK and then pass through customs via Kenya Airways' first-class lounge to ensure minimal contact.
Several initiatives have taken shape to alleviate visitors' safety concerns raised by the Covid pandemic.
The trip also includes private air transfers between camps, safari vehicles that have been adjusted to seat just four people and accommodations at camps that have been redesigned to hold no more than 10 guests at a time. And of course, strict new cleaning protocols are in place.
Elizabeth Gordon, co-Founder of Extraordinary Journeys, said the trip offers adventurous travelers the opportunity to see the great migration with few others around.
"The great migration is a bucket list item, inside of a bucket list item, for safari guests," Gordon said. " People wait for years to get the right booking to view the migration in an exclusive setting void of other tourists. This year, the area is all yours. Travelers will truly be able to have a personal, private, socially distant safari all wrapped up in great wine, expertly prepared cuisine, exclusive service and chartered in-country flights. This truly is a trip of a lifetime during one of the most unique times of our lives."
The trip, which starts at $43,000 per person, includes stays at four camps: Ol Donyo Lodge, Mara Plains Camp, Mara Nyika Camp and Arijiju. Highlights include game drives in the Masai Mara, horseback riding at Arijuju and Ol Donyo, treks to explore the lava tubes and mountain biking at Ol Donyo, lessons in Masai and Samburu cultures and access to top-of-the-line camera equipment for photography at Mara Nyika, Mara Plains and Ol Donyo.
Metropolitan Touring, meanwhile, announced this week that it is among the first companies to resume trips to the Galapagos.
After a five-month pause, the company said its Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel on Santa Cruz island began hosting guests Aug. 3. And on Aug. 7, La Pinta, one of three small expedition vessels in the company's fleet, began cruising the islands again, with four- and six-night itineraries.
The company said it has adopted extensive biosecurity protocols at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and onboard La Pinta and has been working closely with government authorities and the operators of airports in Quito and the port city of Guayaquil to improve health and safety.