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Nkuringo Safaris Beyond Covid-19

Nkuringo Safaris Beyond Covid-19

Updated August 10, 2020

We hope you have been safe during these very challenging times. The last three months have seen us trying to reschedule trips from March into August and we are closely monitoring into September and beyond. Nkuringo Safaris team and everyone in Africa is grateful to those choosing not to cancel.

Although we’re seeing the world beginning to ease into leisure travel, and while our destinations are still closed off to international interest, it is important to keep up-to date, stay informed and patient until things resume to a sense of normalcy.

Africa is soon calling you, that majestic adventure through the rolling hills, lush savannahs, encounters with mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, the cultures and the people of East Africa where we operate.

A cancelled trip to Africa has devastating social and environmental impacts. It has a trickle-down effect on communities that work in or support the tourism industry. One of the hardest-hit sectors is the Anti-poaching efforts as they now have limited people to help protect the animals as they lose funding to pay for these units. Unfortunately, one cancelled trip affects the entire chain. A great example is the recent killing of Rafiki, one of the most entertaining mountain gorilla and group leader.

Fortunately, our high hopes are beginning to show flashlights. For example, Uganda is open to only domestic tourism and internal travel is back to normal. Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda are all currently open (Since Aug 1, 2020) to international travel and the parks can be visited with strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place.

For example, if you book a Rwanda Safari, you’ll need to test and have a Coronavirus (COVID-19) negative test certificate issued 48 hours before your arrival and you’ll be subjected to a second test on your arrival with results given within 8 hours. If you don’t have the first test done from your origin country, you’ll be subjected to double testing in Rwanda 48 hours apart before you’re allowed into the countryside.

Your safari dream is beginning to reshape, and we encourage you to dream big. In the meantime, be safe, enjoy time at home and look for the bright spots each day planning your Africa safari with safari company that has flexible policies.

FLEXIBLE BOOKING TERMS

  1. Free cancellation or postponement until 40 days prior to travel date, with your deposit refundable. Certain itineraries may be excluded from the policy and your Travel Expert will advise you of any specific 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.
    If you have contracted COVID-19 and are undergoing treatment or in quarantine up to 48 hours beforehand 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 cancelled we will apply cancellation policies of the booked properties and Uganda Wildlife Authority.
  5. Regarding gorilla & chimp permits, UWA (Uganda Wildlife Authority) is cognizant of the fact 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 corona virus will not be charged for a reschedule at a later date provided the request is made before the tracking date – only 2 reschedules will be allowed for any activity (obviously the reschedule of permits is subject to availability).
    b. Any request for cancellation will follow the existing cancellation policy/procedure:
    – More than 90 days before the tracking date, 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 their policies as follows:
    a. For tourists wishing to postpone their park permits – removal of 7-day notice period prior to visiting date.
    b. For tour operators who submitted final payment for reserved permits – removal of the 30-day requirement prior to 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 with a 2-year period.
    e. MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) tourists who purchased discounted permits for mountain gorilla trekking are free to postpone within a 2-year period.
  7. For new bookings made from May 2020 for travel this year and in 2021, you may now change or cancel up to 30 days prior to departure in the event of a COVID-19-related reason — whether 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 suppliers policies, which will be advised in writing prior to 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. 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 travelling to, or the government in the guest’s country of residence issues a comparable advisory
  • The destination the guest is travelling to has entry restrictions in place that prohibit the guest from travelling, such as closed borders or extended quarantine requirements
  • International flights are cancelled without alternative routing available for guest to use to reach the destination(s) in the itinerary

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

Covid-19 Safari Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Open-spaces, sunshine and fresh air is 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 it is to oversee our procedures, operations and the guest experience – ensuring health and safety are at the forefront of our safari operations. On here we outlines the minimum of the policies and procedures we will require to book you in any facility and have in place for the safety of our guests and our staff your safari trip.

Our team and responsiveness is designed to be agile and adaptive, monitoring and working with the latest available information from the WHO, Ministry of Health, Government of Uganda and Uganda Wildlife’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). As such, practices indicated below may be adapted and changed as the situation evolves.

Safari Camps and Lodges

To ensure our guests safety, we have vatted and checked with all our suppliers for Covid-19 standards of operation. those that we find that have not complied with WHO, MoH and GoU standards, we have suspended from our booking sheet. We will continue to vet for operational standards in facilities we take our clients to, 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 handles wiped with sanitizer.
  • Handwashing and hand sanitizer stations set up around the public areas of the property so that they are readily accessible to our guests.
  • Public areas cleaned regularly throughout the day with focus on high touch areas such as armrests, tables and books, and during and after higher levels of guest activity.
  • All meals 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 well-spaced with room service offered for those wanting it.
  • A dedicated waiter to our guests is  encourage during their stay for their comfort and meeting their needs.
  • Menus presented verbally to each table, and then displayed by the waiter for the guests 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, and between guests, rooms will receive a deep clean with heightened focus on areas of frequent touch, 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 checking in to find a sign indicating that the room has been thoroughly sanitized, and also 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 pools that are well-kept with chlorine levels between 1-3mg/l, with the 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 will be well-spaced.

Covid-19 Tests for our Guests

We will be guided by The Ministry of Health and GoU Guidelines for administering tests to our guests, as well as WHO and IATA recommendations. Currently, it’s only the MoH that takes Covid tests in Uganda.

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 as well as 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 quipped with removable and washable/disposable headrest covers to be cleaned or changed daily after every trip. Your guide will open and close for you the entry door to the safari car, please do not touch or open door handles.

Each of our guides has their own vehicle that they look after, and is responsible for ensuring the hygienic cleanliness of the vehicle before and after each game drive. This includes cleaning areas of high frequency touch, 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 guiding 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. The safety and comfort of all guests is of the highest priority, and all our staff have received training in handling suspected cases.

Nkuringo Safaris’ Meet & Greet Services

Please do check on the latest government requirements for travel prior to 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 prior to your arrival.

Stay safe, Stay clean, Stay Calm!

We’ll enjoy the Africa safari sun soon!

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