Uganda Safari Holidays Beyond Covid-19 - SOPs - Nkuringo Safaris

Uganda Safaris Beyond Covid-19

Nkuringo Safaris Beyond Covid-19

Updated OCTOBER 25, 2021

Our primary safari destinations, Uganda and Rwanda, are open for travel.

We hope you have been safe during these very challenging times. With the continued impact of COVID-19 on global travel, the Nkuringo Safaris team focuses on our guests’ safety, both current and future. Uganda’s current situation is that tourism is open, albeit with specific inbound restrictions – please endeavor to read travel restrictions and entry requirements before confirming your booking.

We’re happy to say that June through September were our busiest months since the pandemic crippled the travel industry. We see more travelers beginning to get back on the safari trails in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda, the destinations where we operate. We hope to see more get back to enjoying the fresh African air.

We’re confident to say that many of our clients who didn’t postpone or cancel their Uganda safari in the past months report great comfortability and assurance with the health and safety precautions in place. We have many new guests booking for 2022.

This suggests increased confidence in travelers looking to venture out into the world again. For those set to travel to Africa in 2021, we wish you a magical experience. We believe that East Africa is one of the safer destinations, both in terms of protocols adhered to at our personally-vetted lodges and the wide-open landscapes. Africa is calling you that glorious adventure through the rolling hills, lush savannahs, encounters with mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, the cultures, and Africans where we operate.

During 2020, we were heartened to witness over 90% of our clients deferring their trips as needed – a crucial element in ensuring our partner lodges and camps continue their conservation efforts and support the communities in which they operate. They play a significant role in everything from managing anti-poaching to employing people in regions where paying one person usually means feeding ten mouths.

In the past few weeks, we’ve been further heartened to see a decrease in the number of deferrals due to the recent developments in Uganda’s COVID-19 travel restriction of mandatory tests on arrival. While the data is clear that vaccines protect people from the effects of COVID-19, research is ongoing to determine whether a vaccinated person could still transmit the virus to someone else – so to be safe, we must assume there is still a risk of transmission.

With our travelers rescheduling their trips, these important initiatives remain intact. Nevertheless, we compel those guests not to postpone because of the wide vaccine availability, and we now know that a safari is one of the safest environments.

  • If you are traveling in the next few months, our goal is to stay in touch with you on any new developments. We implore all our soon-to-travel guests to ensure that they receive their complete vaccine jab before leaving their country.
  • If you are due to travel in the coming weeks and have not connected with you yet, please get in touch with your Uganda Safari Manager immediately to discuss the options available.
  • For any clients traveling in the later months of 2021, please get in contact with your Uganda Safari Expert, who continues to be your point of communication before, during, and after your trip. We feel the positive momentum here in Uganda and believe our destinations will continue to stay open throughout the year, subject to travel restrictions in your country of origin.

Since 2007, we have successfully navigated various crises and global disruptions. We are committed to creating once-in-a-lifetime trips while supporting conservation, communities, and sustainability in Uganda, now more than ever.

We wish you a safe, healthy, and fantastic time with your loved ones. We look forward to welcoming you back to our beautiful continent!

LYDIA NANDUDU, Managing Director

Flexible Booking Terms 2021

  1. Free cancellation or postponement until 40 days before the travel date, with 100% deposit refundable. Specific itineraries may be excluded from the policy, and your Travel Expert will advise you of any particular terms relevant to your booking during the consultation phase. Where suppliers offer postponement but not a refund, we will only pass on the supplier charges applied. 
  2. Within 40 days of the travel date, if travel bans relating to Covid-19 remain in place, we will work with our suppliers to extend or revise these terms. Otherwise, our standard cancellation terms apply.
    Suppose you have contracted COVID-19 and are undergoing treatment or in quarantine up to 48 hours beforehand. In that case, we will work with our suppliers to minimize financial loss and provide credits for future travel. Nkuringo Safaris reserves the right to ask for any reasonable evidence, written statements, and or documents to support the reasons for cancellation that are given.
  3. Should the new booking date demand an increase in cost because of a change in the travel season, then the new invoice will reflect the rate difference.
  4. For any bookings canceled, we will apply cancellation policies of the booked properties.
  5. Regarding gorilla & chimp permits, UWA (Uganda Wildlife Authority) is conscious that due to the above measures, some tourists may find it necessary to change their planned travel plans. The Authority has therefore just reviewed its reservation, booking, and cancellation guidelines as follows:
    a. Travellers whose travels have been affected by coronavirus will not be charged for a reschedule at a later date. Provided, the request is made before the tracking date. Only two reschedules will be allowed for any activity (obviously, the reschedule of permits is subject to availability).
    b. Any cancellation request will follow the existing cancellation policy/procedure:
    – More than 90 days before the tracking date, a 25% cancellation fee
    – 89 to 46 days before the tracking date, 50% cancellation fee
    – 45 to 9 days before the tracking date, 75% cancellation fee
    – 8 to 0 days before the tracking date, 100% cancellation fee
    c. These provisions will be in effect until 31st March 2021, unless otherwise changed after a review process.
  6. Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has also adjusted its policies as follows:
    a. For tourists wishing to postpone their park permits, remove the 7-day notice period before the visiting date.
    b. For tour operators who submitted final payment for reserved permits, remove the 30-day requirement before the visiting date.
    c. Travellers from countries with confirmed cases have up to 2 years to postpone their park permits at no extra cost.
    d. Tourists who purchased low season discounted permits for mountain gorilla trekking are free to postpone two years.
    e. MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events) tourists who purchased discounted permits for mountain gorilla trekking are free to postpone within two years.
  7. You may now change or cancel up to 40 days before departure in the event of a COVID-19-related reason — whether for reasons at home or in your travel destination — and receive a credit toward future safari. For tailored/private safaris, some exclusions and penalties may apply considering our supplier’s policies, which will be advised in writing before confirmation. Guests who cancel without rebooking will receive a credit toward future safari valid through December 31, 2022; credit is non-transferable and non-refundable. The applicable price of new safaris applies.
  8. Guest is responsible for non-refundable air fees, insurance, and other related costs.
  9. All other standard terms and conditions apply to the booking.
  10. Special terms are subject to change and can be withdrawn at any time.

COVID-19-related reasons for cancellation include:

  • Do Not Travel Global Health Advisory, or the government in the guest’s country of residence restricts all but essential travel.
  • Do Not Travel due to COVID-19 for the destination the guest is traveling to, or the government in the guest’s country of residence issues a comparable advisory
  • The guest’s destination is traveling to have entry restrictions that prohibit the guest from traveling, such as closed borders or extended quarantine requirements.
  • International flights are canceled without alternative routing available for guests to use to reach the destination(s) in the itinerary.

Due to the dynamic nature of the current situation, we will monitor the developments closely, and we reserve the right to make changes to the above policy from time to time and notify all agents accordingly.

Safari Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Open spaces, sunshine, and fresh air are an excellent environment for avoiding Covid, making an Africa safari one of the best leisure travel activities at this time.

At Nkuringo, we have assembled a Covid-19 Safari Response Committee whose job is to oversee our procedures, operations, and the guest experience – ensuring health and safety are at the forefront of our safari operations. Here we outline the minimum of the policies and procedures we will require to book you in any facility and have in place for our guests’ safety and our staff your safari trip.

Our team and responsiveness are designed to be agile and adaptive, monitoring and working with the latest available information from the WHO, Ministry of Health, and East African Governments. As such, practices indicated below may be adapted and changed as the situation evolves.

All travelers, irrespective of vaccination and country of origin, will have to present a VALID NEGATIVE PCR COVID-19 TEST CERTIFICATE, taken not more than 72 hours on arrival and exit. On arrival, all travelers will be subjected to mandatory covid-19 screening at their own cost (at $30 per person).  Find out more

Safari Camps and Lodges SOPs

To ensure our guest’s safety, we have vatted and checked with all our suppliers for Covid-19 standards of operation. We have suspended from our booking sheet for those we find that have not complied with WHO, MoH, and Government standards. We will continue to vet for operational standards in our clients’ facilities, especially our own facilities.

The following is what we observe;

  • Less or no inter-person contact and items of high touch sanitized thoroughly between uses.
  • Use of credit card facilities over cash for all transactions, with the card machine sanitized between uses.
  • Luggage handled with gloves, and luggage handles wiped with sanitizer.
  • Handwashing and hand sanitizer stations are set up around the property’s public areas so that they are readily accessible to our guests.
  • Public areas are cleaned regularly throughout the day, focusing on high-touch areas such as armrests, tables, and books, and during and after higher levels of guest activity.
  • All meals are plated and served individually, with no buffets for any meal. Dining times staggered as much as possible to avoid overcrowding and ensure social distancing at mealtimes. Tables in dining rooms are well-spaced, with room service offered for those wanting it.
  • A dedicated waiter to our guests is encouraged during their stay for their comfort and meeting their needs.
  • Menus are presented verbally to each table and then displayed by the waiter to make their choices – the guests will not need to handle it.
  • Use personal protective equipment for all service staff, such as gloves and masks.
  • Cleaning products will contain either 70% alcohol base or 0.1% sodium chloride. Between guests, rooms will receive a deep clean with a heightened focus on areas of frequent touches, such as light switches, taps, torches, handles, bedside tables, and stationery.
  • Each room will have a dedicated housekeeper who will be the only person to enter the room during your stay.
  • Guests check in to find a sign indicating that the room has been thoroughly sanitized and indicating their dedicated housekeeper.
  • Morning tea & coffee will continue to be delivered, and only by your dedicated housekeeper, with items having been cleaned and sanitized in the kitchen.
  • The WHO has indicated that well-kept pools with chlorine levels between 1-3mg/l, with a pH between 6.8-7.4, are safe. Guest numbers at the pools will be limited, and poolside furniture will be regularly cleaned between uses and well-spaced.

Covid-19 Tests for our Guests

All travelers, irrespective of vaccination or country of origin, have to carry a negative covid-19 test certificate issued not more than 72 hours before arrival. Plus, all travelers will be subjected to a mandatory COVID-19 screening on arrival.

If any traveler tests positive, the MoH will evacuate them to a designated COVID-19 isolation facility. Children under 18 who test positive for COVID-19 will be allowed to undergo home quarantine with their parent or guardian.

All travelers leaving the country must present a negative COVID-19 test certificate at all exit points, taken not more than 72 hours. Your Uganda safari trip manager will guide you to the nearest government-licensed lab and help you through the process.

Currently, it’s only the authorized hospitals and clinics that take Covid tests. When leaving the destination, your travel operator will drive you to a hospital for a test within the 72-hour time frame because a corticate is required for your exit (i.e., if leaving within 72 hours of your entry).

Face masks

The WHO has advised that the use of barrier masks and medical masks help contain the spread of Covid-19, and many countries have enacted policies requiring their use in public. Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya all currently have these policies in place, and we will require the same for our guests in the public areas. We will have free personal barrier masks available for all our guests while in camp, and our laundry systems will ensure they are hygienically cared for between uses.

Our staff throughout your trip will be wearing masks for their own safety and well-being and our guests.

Food and Service

Picnic meals while on game drives are encouraged – and of course, are thoroughly enjoyable! Hand-washing facilities and hand sanitizer will be available and hygiene strictly observed by your guide.

Safari Game Drives

Each guest group will have a dedicated vehicle and guide throughout their stay. We will offer a maximum of 5-6 pax per 6-seater open vehicle, with the passenger side sitting only 4-6 and the other driving shotgun.

Groups of 6 or more will have their own vehicles. The safari vehicle seats will be equipped with removable and washable/disposable headrest covers to be cleaned or changed daily after every trip. Your guide will open and close the entry door to the safari car for you; please do not touch or open door handles.

Each of our guides has its own vehicle that they look after and is responsible for ensuring the vehicle’s hygienic cleanliness before and after each game drive. This includes cleaning areas of high-frequency touches, such as door handles and side armrests.

Seat steaming-cleaning or alcohol sprays will be used to clean fabric covers between uses. A no-touch hand sanitizer dispenser will be available in each car.

Your guide will be wearing a mask throughout your journey with them for both their safety and that of the guest. The mask will be designed to not interfere with their guidance and ability to speak with their clients.

To assure your safety, your guide will be tested every 14 days for Covid-19 and will hold a COVID-FREE certificate to that effect. They’ll refrain from shaking hands, hugging, pecking, or kissing guests at all times for obvious reasons.

Guests With Illness Symptoms

We have a robust medical management team who will consult with the patient and staff, advise the relevant health officials, and guide actions based on the Ministry of Health requirements in each country we operate. All guests’ safety and comfort are of the highest priority, and all our staff has received training in handling suspected cases.

Meet & Greet Services

Please do check on the latest government requirements for travel before departure. We highly recommend applying for an E-Visa where possible.

Our driver will be waiting for you at the arrivals gate with your name displayed on a sign. They will be wearing a mask and gloves for handling your luggage and will keep an adequate distance. Our car will have been thoroughly sanitized with cleaning agents, alcohol, and steamers for the seats and seatbelts before your arrival.

Stay safe, Stay clean, Keep your facemask on!

The Africa safari sun is the safest place to travel!

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