When you check into a safari lodge, your room becomes your home away from home, with the exception that it has been occupied by hundreds or even thousands of strangers from around the world. Unfortunately, not all safari lodges and hotels uphold the same cleanliness standards as you may have at home. Although there are strict national guidelines in place, the pandemic has heightened the need for vigilance in ensuring that safari lodges and hotels follow strict operating standards to protect guests from the coronavirus.
While it’s nice to have your towels folded and your bed made while you’re out exploring the African savannah, a neatly made bed does not necessarily equate to a clean safari lodge room. Studies have shown that germs often lurk on commonly touched surfaces like light switches, television remotes, and telephone keypads, even in hotel rooms that appear clean.
It’s essential to be prepared for the possibility of a dirty bedspread, a scummy toilet, or even a bedbug infestation. While a slightly soiled bathroom floor may not put your life in danger, an unclean safari lodge room could potentially affect your health, leading to illnesses such as colds or stomach viruses.
How Do I Make Sure My Safari Lodge Room Is Clean?
While it can be tempting to use a black light to inspect your safari lodge room for hidden stains and smears, it’s not a necessary tool for ensuring a clean and comfortable stay. Here are some other, less obsessive measures you can take to feel confident about the cleanliness of your safari lodge room:
Check online reviews
Before booking your safari lodge, read online reviews from previous guests to get an idea of the lodge’s cleanliness standards. Pay attention to any recurring complaints about cleanliness, and consider looking for alternative lodges if there are too many negative reviews.
Observe staff cleaning practices.
When you first arrive at your safari lodge, take note of how the staff cleans the room. Do they use clean gloves and supplies for each room, or do they reuse the same materials? If you have concerns, don’t hesitate to ask the staff about their cleaning practices.
Bring your own cleaning supplies.
While it’s true that housekeeping is responsible for keeping your safari lodge room clean, there’s no harm in taking extra precautions to ensure your personal hygiene and safety. While it may not be necessary to bring your own toilet brush, there are other simple steps you can take to maintain a clean environment.
If you’re staying in a budget safari lodge or feeling a little uncomfortable with the cleanliness of your room, consider using antibacterial wipes to disinfect frequently touched surfaces. This simple step can help protect you from viruses and bacteria, including the coronavirus. Key areas to focus on include the phone, door knobs, toilet handle, ice bucket, remote control, and bathroom faucet handles.
Another option is to use a UV wand to disinfect surfaces prone to germs. This device can quickly and efficiently kill bacteria and viruses on surfaces without the need for chemicals or wipes. However, it’s important to use the wand correctly and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Ultimately, taking these extra steps can help ensure a clean and comfortable stay at your safari lodge. By being proactive about your personal hygiene and safety, you can enjoy your trip with added peace of mind.
Wash Your Hands
In the interest of not sounding like your mother, I would like to preface this by saying that it doesn’t bother me if you chew with your mouth open or your shirt isn’t tucked in. Hand washing, on the other hand, is near and dear to mine and everyone’s hearts around the world at this time.
Frequent hand washing has been proven to reduce the transfer of germs from surfaces, such as remote controls or door handles, to your mouth, eyes, or nose. Even if your safari lodge room is not properly sanitized, good hand hygiene can help keep germs at bay.
In addition to washing your hands frequently, it’s also a good idea to carry a portable bottle of hand sanitizer with you. This can be especially helpful when you’re out exploring and can’t access soap and water easily. Use hand sanitizer whenever you think you may have touched something dirty or contaminated.
If you are traveling luxury to see gorillas, where would you stay?
Ditch the Bedspread
You’ve probably heard this one before. Most hotels do not wash heavy bedspreads after each unique guest. The frequency of laundering varies from hotel to hotel, so if the idea of an anonymous stranger cuddling up with the blanket that now lies across your queen bed creeps you out, call your safari lodge and ask how often the staff washes the bedspreads. Or bring your own travel-friendly blanket and remove the hotels altogether.
Avoid the Glassware
There’s no guarantee that your room glasses and mugs aren’t simply rinsed off under the tap by the cleaning staff or even wiped down with the same sponge that’s used to clean other parts of the bathroom. Sickening, I know!
The quick way to deal with this is to run your cup under hot water for a minute or two before using it; this will kill most bacteria. Or you can pack a travel mug from home.
Do You Think I Could Find Bedbugs?
Reports of bedbugs in hotels across the world have been rising, probably in part as a result of the comings and goings of world travelers—bedbugs are found around the world and can easily hitch a ride across the ocean in a neatly packed suitcase. Not even luxury safari lodges are immune. They usually come over in the baggage of international travelers.
Bedbugs are a nuisance, but they’re not dangerous—their bites do not transmit disease as do the bites of ticks and fleas. They’re tiny, but they can be seen with the naked eye and resemble small, reddish-brown ticks or cockroaches. These minuscule menaces feed at night, and their victims will develop itchy red bumps within about 24 hours of a bite.
Bedbug bites are similar to mosquito bites (and we have a healthy distribution of mosquitos around Uganda), so before you throw a fit at your safari lodge’s front desk when a red bump appears on your arm, give the hotel the benefit of the doubt and check your room for other signs of bedbugs—especially if you are staying in a place that has lots of mosquitoes.
Trending gorilla safaris
To find evidence of bedbugs, look first under the mattress. Do you see reddish-brown spots (the dried excrement of the insects) on the underside of the mattress or on any other part of the bed? It’s hard to spot the actual bugs—these guys are sneaky and their flat bodies allow them to hide in the smallest mattress crevices during the day—but it is possible to see some bugs, especially if there’s a major infestation. You can also check between couch cushions or between the carpet and the wall.
If you discover the above signs of bedbug life, call the front desk immediately and do not put your suitcase, your coat, or any of your belongings on the bed or near the site of the infestation. In most cases, the hotel staff will already be aware of the situation and will move you to another room. If you have an inauspicious encounter with a stubborn front desk person, request to speak to a manager or even the safari lodge owner if necessary.
With the current national standards for hotel cleanliness, under no circumstances should a traveler be expected to pay for a bug-infested room. If the hotel staff refuses a room change or a refund and you are 100 percent certain that your room is infested, find alternative lodging and write a review on your favorite hotel review site. Do your fellow travelers a favor and let them know that their money is better spent somewhere else.
Fortunately, getting stuck with a bedbug-infested hotel room and a surly safari lodge staff to boot is unlikely. Yes, bedbug cases are on the rise all over the world, but the majority of hotel rooms are free from these irksome insects.