African Portfolio Covid-19 Updates
To our valued clients:
We are delighted to report that Africa is very much open for business; we are traveling again! Travelers are reporting that the pristine open spaces and vast, exclusive wilderness on safari provides an exclusive, remote, rejuvenating re-connection with nature and wildlife – far removed from crowds and contagion concerns.
As the world slowly recovers from the effects of the pandemic, we suspect there are some travelers itching to plan a getaway, while others are not yet confident in the safety and security of travel.
We are extremely empathetic and appreciative of both your desire to pursue an adventure as well as your travel trepidations. We recognize that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic likely will remain throughout 2021 and probably also reach into 2022. Therefore, the health, safety and well-being of our valued clients, the travel community and our partners continues to be our top priority. In an effort to alleviate your concerns we want to keep you well informed and provide you with as many tools of encouragement as possible.
Our safari partners have carefully assessed every risk – from touchdown in country to wheels-up homeward bound – and tailored preventative measures that ensure the health and safety of all guests and staff. In line with the latest recommendations from leading authorities like the World Health Organization and the CDC, strict protocols have been implemented to ensure safe environments and experiences throughout your stay. We are ready to welcome you back to our partner safari camps and lodges; all of the countries we travel to in Africa are open to travelers from the USA.
That being said, international travel is continuing to evolve, and we recognize that the resulting uncertainty raises many questions around planning a trip to Africa. Testing is still very much a requirement and does take careful planning and coordination of logistics to meet the varying requirements of each country with minimal impact on your safari arrangements. There is also additional paperwork and online forms that require completion prior, during and after travel. In an effort to minimize your worry and provide security and peace of mind, we’ve streamlined the process as much as possible and provide detailed guidelines for you to follow.
COVID-19 may have done away with handshakes, hugs and kisses but our partners and colleagues are anxious to welcome you with a warm African smile instead!
African Portfolio would like to assure all our valued clients and future prospective clients that we are financially strong and secure and continue to operate in a conservative, fiscally sound manner as we have done since the inception of the company in 1993. We have had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau since 1999, a further testament to the reputation and professional business management of African Portfolio.
At African Portfolio, we have taken several steps to solidify our multi-year financial planning, including securing funds to allow us to withstand a potentially prolonged period of reduced travel. The result is that you can book your future travel with African Portfolio with confidence. During these uncertain times, we understand that clients may be more concerned than ever about the safety of their payments. In order to address these concerns, African Portfolio has implemented further measures to ensure all client payments are safeguarded.
It is important to us that our clients have peace of mind knowing that their payments are kept separately to the cashflow of our company’s day-to-day operations. African Portfolio continues to maintain a separate, protected, ring-fenced account with Citibank where client payments are deposited until such time as payment is due to the suppliers. This is in compliance with procedures monitored by our independent accountants, Mazars USA.
As you begin to think about travelling again, you can book with confidence that African Portfolio will be there to make your trip as safe, secure and comfortable as possible.
With all the rules and regulations, figuring out where Americans can travel at the moment is no easy task, so we’ve compiled a list of the latest travel status of African countries we book travel to. Currently all travelers returning to the US must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before your flight departs to the US. More information can be found on the CDC website. In addition, you should also check with your airline to confirm any COVID-19 related requirements for air travel.
Please note that this is an evolving situation. We will continue to update as the world changes. For the latest information on traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the International Air Transport Association .
- Borders – Open
- Entry Requirements: Negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of arrival. A rapid antigen test is required on arrival.
- Departure Requirements: Negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of departure from Botswana
- Borders – Open
- Entry Requirements: No fever or symptoms on arrival and negative COVID-19 PCR test within 96 hours of arrival.
- Borders – Open
- Entry Requirements: Negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of arrival.
- Departure Requirements: Negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of departure.
- Borders – Open
- Entry Requirements: Negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of arrival. Children under the age of 11 are exempt from presenting a negative test.
- Borders – Open
- Entry Requirements: Negative COVID-19 PCR test within 7 days of arrival.
- Borders – Open
- Entry Requirements: Negative COVID-19 PCR test, from a certified laboratory, done within 72 hours of departure. The results of this test must be be submitted to the Rwanda Development Board before departing the country of origin and needs to be shown on arrival in the country.
- Quarantine: A second test will be administered by health authorities on arrival at Kigali Airport. Guests must wait in a quarantined room at a designated hotel for the results, expected within 24 hours. Accommodation and testing all at traveler’s own expense.
- Departure Requirements: All travelers departing from Rwanda must test negative for COVID-19. The only accepted test is a SARS-CoV 2 Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) performed within 72 hours before departure. Testing at traveler’s own expense.
- Border – Open
- Entry Requirements: No fever or symptoms on arrival and negative COVID-19 PCR test taken a maximum of 72 hours prior to arrival.
- Borders – Open
- Entry Requirements: No fever or symptoms on arrival and negative COVID-19 PCR test taken a maximum of 72 hours prior to departure
- Borders – Open
- Entry Requirements: No fever or symptoms on arrival and negative COVID-19 PCR test within 96 hours of departure. A rapid antigen test is required on arrival.
- Quarantine: If symptomatic, at traveler’s own expense
- Borders – Open
- Entry Requirements: No fever or symptoms on arrival and negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. On arrival, travelers will be subjected to a PCR COVID-19 test, at the traveler’s expense. Travelers will have to wait for their negative results before proceeding to their final destination in Uganda. Fully vaccinated, asymptomatic travelers are not required to test on arrival.
- Departure Requirements: Negative COVID-19 PCR test done within 72 hours of departure.
- Borders – Open
- Entry Requirements: No fever or symptoms on arrival and negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of arrival. Children under 5 are exempt from testing requirements.
- Quarantine: On arrival, unvaccinated travelers coming from “high risk” countries (Not US) will be subject to a PCR test and must quarantine until a negative test result is received.
- Borders – Open
- Entry Requirements: All travelers will be required to have a negative COVID-19 PCR test obtained within 48 hours of departure.
Due to pre-payment requirements and substantial cancellation fees imposed by suppliers, as always, we strongly recommend trip cancellation insurance to protect your investment against unexpected changes or termination of your travel arrangements.
For 20 years we have partnered with Allianz Global Assistance, who offer a range of travel protection plans that include different benefits and benefit limits. Travel insurance can protect you from certain financial risks and losses that can occur while traveling. These losses can be minor, like a delayed suitcase, or significant, like a last-minute trip cancellation due to a natural disaster or to trip interruption due to a medical emergency overseas.
Please note, Allianz travel protection plans generally do not cover losses related to COVID-19 (as is true of the majority of insurance policies). However, Allianz will provide protection of your travel investment in the event that you become ill with COVID-19 while traveling. Additionally, given the rapid rise in travel bans, please ensure that no travel ban is in place during your dates of travel prior to purchasing a travel protection plan. Allianz plans do not cover losses directly or indirectly due to government-imposed travel bans or similar restrictions related to COVID-19.
Claims due to known, foreseeable, or expected events, epidemics, government prohibitions, warnings, or travel advisories, or fear of travel are generally not covered, and coverage can vary by state. As of March 2021, Allianz offers an Epidemic Coverage Endorsement which includes new covered reasons for certain specific epidemic-related situations. Please refer to plan details for more information. The Epidemic Coverage Endorsement, and the covered reasons added by this endorsement, may not be available for all plans or in all states.
Allianz travel protection plans include up to 28 covered reasons for trip cancellation, depending on the plan. To learn more, go to www.etravelprotection.com
Cancel Anytime Coverage
While many travel insurers have reacted to recent spikes in risk by pulling certain types of products from the market altogether, Allianz has worked to make carefully considered modifications to their Cancel Anytime plan, enabling us to be able to offer you this more flexible option for coverage in the coronavirus world of travel.
The Cancel Anytime plan provides the extra flexibility of knowing you can cancel your trip for almost any unforeseen reason (not COVID-19) that the Classic plan does not already cover at 100% and receive 80% of your non-refundable trip cost back in cash. Travel benefits are capped at $10,000 per trip cost and importantly, you must purchase this plan within 14 days of your initial trip payment. So while you would be unable to cancel your trip due to a travel ban, a government imposed restriction or fear of coronavirus, you could cancel due to another unexpected reason not requiring the same documentation and ‘covered reason’ criteria as the Classic plans.
Should I avoid flying altogether?
Health authorities, including the CDC, maintain that the risk of infection on airplanes is low. Contrary to popular belief, cabin air is less of a concern; virtually all commercial jetliners are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, similar to those used in hospital operating rooms, capable of blocking 99.7% of airborne microbes. Cabin air is circulated vertically, from ceiling to floor, and refreshed every two to three minutes. Have a look at this video for a detailed description of airflow in cabins . It might just make you want to jump on a plane tomorrow. Between flights, airplane cabins are scrubbed down with anti-microbial disinfectants. However, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others in the confined quarters of an airplane, especially now that flights are fuller than they’ve been in the last few months, which is why most airlines now require passengers to wear masks during the entire flight. Airlines are also modifying in-flight food and beverage service to limit contact between customers and crew.
Should travelers get a visa in advance?
It is possible to get a visa on arrival for most of the countries we travel to, but we recommend getting one in advance for entry to Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania and you must apply online for a Kenya visa. Visas can be applied for online at least four weeks before travel. You will be required to complete an online form, make payment and submit your application online. We will provide guideline instructions in your pre-departure documents.
What is different about procedures at the airport?
We recommend arriving 3 hours before departure due to increased procedures at check-in including the required completion of health and contact tracing forms and the provision of a PCR negative certification. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has increased cleaning and disinfecting equipment and surfaces at screening checkpoints.
What happens if you are found to have a temperature?
If you have a fever—considered by medical professionals to be a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher—you likely won’t be permitted to board a flight, or, if you are arriving somewhere from another country, you’ll be referred to local health authorities. Those who might have been exposed to a suspected case but aren’t exhibiting signs of illness may be sent to quarantine.
Do travelers need to have proof of a negative Covid-19 test before departure?
Please visit our Current Travel Status webpage for updates on requirements by country but also note that your air carrier will likely have their own procedures as well. Where countries or airlines require a negative Covid-19 PCR test as a condition for traveling, certificates will need to be presented upon arrival; and there will be enhanced screening for Covid-19 infection upon arrival in country. There will be no mandatory quarantine on arrival unless a traveler presents with symptoms. Anyone with symptoms and signs related to Covid-19 infection will undergo enhanced screening and may be tested via a PCR or rapid antigen test. Travelers are encouraged to observe adherence to infection prevention measures, such as good hygiene, wearing a mask and keeping a physical distance from others.
What luggage should travelers bring?
For all shared charter flights, it will still be necessary to bring a soft-sided luggage bag meeting the specified weight restrictions. Please note however that luggage will be regularly wiped and cleaned so we’d recommend not bringing anything too delicate or which may stain easily. In addition to our regular suggested packing list consider including these essential safe-travel supplies:
- Cloth face masks
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)
- Disinfectant wipes (at least 70% alcohol) for surfaces
Is there any point in buying travel insurance if coronavirus isn’t covered by it?
Yes, as always we strongly advise insuring your trip for unanticipated covered reasons requiring cancellation. Most trip-protection policies won’t refund you for cancellation of an upcoming trip due to fear of coronavirus. But there are plenty of other reasons to insure your trip; you might get a partial refund if your policy includes trip interruption coverage and you fall ill while traveling (this is currently covered by Allianz, African Portfolio’s recommended insurance provider), or have to return home earlier than expected, depending on the circumstances. For more details, read our updated discussion on Travel Insurance on our website. Another option is to buy a much more expensive “cancel for any reason” policy. These CFAR plans, as they’re known, frequently cost 40% more than basic insurance, and the coverage often pays out only 60% to 80% of your total expenses, compared with the full cost paid by regular policies. Travelers should make sure to check the fine print for any exceptions.
Arrival in Country
What experience can travelers expect when arriving into both East and Southern Africa International Airports?
Rest assured international airports are well prepared for the arrival of visitors with new coronavirus protections and measures in place. These measures include:
- Travelers must wear masks throughout the airport and surrounding perimeter
- Travelers must adhere to social distancing measures of a minimum of 3 feet
- There are hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the airports for travelers’ use
- Travelers will be asked to fill in a form regarding their recent travel history
- Travelers will have their temperature taken at immigration
- Travelers may be required to take a rapid or PCR test on arrival
- Once travelers exit the arrivals terminal they will be met by their safari representative
- Luggage will be disinfected before being put into the transfer or safari vehicle
What happens On Safari?
In addition to the below questions and answers please read the News & Updates section on our website for Sample Safari Lodge COVID-19 FAQs and Sample Safari Lodge COVID-19 Safety and Hygiene Protocols
When and where will travelers be asked to wear masks?
- All travelers must wear masks in public places including airport grounds, at park gates and on any domestic flights.
- If travelers want to explore a village, town or city we recommend you wear a mask.
- If travelers prefer to do so they can remove masks while inside a private vehicle.
Will safari camp staff be wearing masks and safety equipment?
Safari operators are cognizant of the negative effects of wearing masks for too long and therefore want to ensure they are looking after staff welfare as well as maintaining sensible safety measures. Referencing local government guidance, the majority of camps and lodges have implemented the following measures within Covid-19 protocols:
- On transfers or game drives, drivers and guides will wear a mask however will need take regular breaks to get fresh air.
- While in camp, staff attending to guests will adhere to social distancing (6 feet as far as possible) and waiters will wear masks when serving guests.
- Back-of-house staff will adhere to social distancing with other staff members and will not wear masks unnecessarily.
- Housekeeping staff will wear Personal Protective Equipment when cleaning rooms
What happens if a traveler becomes ill while on safari?
If you think you may have contracted the virus it is advisable to self-isolate as priority. Should symptoms develop and medical assistance is required, either camp/lodge personnel and/or our local representatives will source the nearest specialist center /testing facilities to identify appropriate health support. All travelers must be covered for emergency medical evacuation. Any transportation and medical costs incurred would be for the traveler’s own account.
What happens if a traveler tests positive for COVID-19 while on safari?
Anyone who tests positive will immediately be notified and put into quarantine at the current property or a designated facility to manage the outbreak. You will remain in self-isolation/quarantine unless further testing shows you no longer have the virus. Some properties have indicated that if space is available and there is zero impact to remaining guests or staff, they can choose, at their own cost, to isolate in-property.
What will happen if there is a sudden outbreak of the virus in the country while I’m traveling and the borders are closed?
It is best to contact your national embassy, insurance providers, our local ground operator and African Portfolio who will assist you with the best course of action. Any quarantine or extended stay costs would be for your own or your insurance provider’s cost.
What will happen if any of the pre-booked services on my itinerary are forced to shut or no longer operating while we’re in country?
You will be provided with a 24-hour emergency number and our local representatives will assist any travelers that may need help with their change in arrangements and negotiations on cost implications with the cancelled service.
Before returning home
Can travelers get a Covid-19 test done before returning home if required?
Safari operators have identified reliable local testing centers and will work with us to put arrangements in place for PCR testing where this is absolutely necessary. Please note this may result in additional night(s) in your departure city to conduct the test and wait for the results. Testing upon departure will be a function of your airline policy and/or requirements for re-entry to your country of origin.
As I am sure you are all well aware, the pandemic situation around the world is fluid, so please note that information and rules and restrictions may change. We are doing our best to stay up to date and to keep you as informed as possible. Needless to say we will provide detailed, customized information to all clients who have booked travel with us now and clients who are booked with us, and getting ready to travel …