Traveling in the Covid-19 era can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Jennifer Beugelmans and Kenneth Horst recently traveled from the U.S. to East Africa with Giltedge Africa.
"It was amazing," Beugelmans said. "East Africa had never been on our bucket list, but when we realized this was a trip that we could make happen quickly, we jumped at the chance to go. Everything about our trip felt surreal. From the safari to the ocean, we had an incredible experience."
Horst said the flights, hotels and tours within Africa were first-rate, on time and well organized.
"We didn't experience any extraordinary delays due to health procedures," Horst said. "The airports were rigorous in checking temperatures and Covid tests, but the delays these procedures caused were minimal. That said, few people were traveling so I can't be certain that these checks wouldn't cause delays if there were more people."
Related report: African Travel rolls out its Platinum Collection for 2021
Related report: Going back to its roots, A&K relaunches small groups in Africa
Tim Smith, who also took a trip to East Africa with Giltedge, said that in terms of safety, ironically, many people will be safer in Tanzania and Kenya than they will be in their home countries.
"The Covid requirements for entry into Kenya are, for example, far more onerous than getting into the U.K.," he said. "You can take comfort from knowing that other travelers have had clear Covid tests; and once you are out and about, it is hard to think of a more Covid-safe trip -- you eat outside most of the time and spend most of your day outside. When you are at the lodge, you are in your cabin most of the time and the lodges all took great care to ensure a proper regime was in place."
Both Beugelmans and Horst agree the safari experience was 'unreal.'
"To be so close to animals you've only seen on National Geographic was unlike anything I could have expected," Beugelmans said. "The landscape was majestic, and I have never felt so relaxed in my life. I am well-traveled, and to be honest, going on safari was not high on my destination list. I'm so glad that this opportunity presented itself. I would definitely do it again. In addition, the tour companies we worked with (Gilt Edge in Tanzania and Lynn Clark at Travel Leaders in the U.S.) were amazingly attentive, so every detail was taken care of."
Horst said that more direct flights from the U.S. would make the experience more accessible.
"The trip there was a bit arduous -- and made more so due to Covid restrictions in our layover city, Doha, [Qatar]. I think the visa process could also be made clearer (this is specifically about Tanzania). I'm pretty tech-savvy, and I had trouble completing the application online and had to pay a local party to do it for me at the airport. That was a drag and different from other online visa applications I'd completed for other countries. That said, the people in East Africa that we met were the ultimate hosts, and they are doing everything they can to make tourists feel welcome."