When you check into a clean safari lodge, your room becomes your home away from home, with a few exceptions: that hundreds or even thousands of strangers from every corner of the world who have slept there. And the safari lodge staff may not have the same standards of cleanliness that you do at home even with strict national guidelines.
Because the Covid pandemic has changed the face of leisure travel, safari lodges and hotels are monitored to follow strict operating standards to keep guests protected from coronavirus by cleaning their safari lodge rooms thoroughly. It’s nice to have someone fold up your towels and make your bed while you’re out exploring the African savannah, but in terms of sanitization, a neatly made bed does not equal a clean safari lodge room.
Studies have shown that germs frequently lurk on places like light switches, television remotes, and telephone keypads, even in hotel rooms that otherwise appear clean—disturbing evidence of what might be waiting when you drop your safari bag into a room. Are you prepared for a dirty bedspread, a scummy toilet, or even a bedbug infestation? It’s highly unlikely that a slightly soiled bathroom floor will put your life in danger, yet an unclean safari lodge room could affect your health; apart from covid, the most common afflictions are colds or stomach viruses.
Try the following steps to achieving a clean hotel room for more sound sleep on your next safari trip to Uganda.
Put your black light away. We’ve all seen footage of people scanning dark rooms with the revealing black light; stains and smears, invisible in the daylight, pop up in the most unexpected and shocking places (not the pillowcase—anything but the pillowcase). But traveling with this device, which is great for dramatic effect on television, is far from necessary. Here are a few other, less obsessive things you can do to rest assured you have a clean safari lodge room.
The MoH has set standard operating standards for Uganda safari lodge and hotels cleanliness, find out if your safari lodge is adhering to the list first. Call ahead and ask how the lodge will be protecting you from the latest health scourges.
Published SOPs, Price, location, or a brand name will not guarantee completely sparkling clean digs. So until some “clean commission” starts sending out fastidious officials to size up dust-filled safari lodge room floors around the country, your best bet is to find out what your fellow safari travelers are saying.
Most travel and hotel review sites have cleanliness as a category for evaluation. The largest hotel-review site is TripAdvisor with user ratings of thousands of hotels, restaurants, and businesses around the world. Reviews will reveal hidden secrets about finding a clean safari lodge and more.
Yes, you’re paying (and tipping, hopefully) so that housekeeping will keep your safari room in order. And I must admit, I’ve never once sprayed, dusted, or polished anything in a hotel room, so I can’t blame you if you choose to leave your toilet brush at home.
But if you’re feeling a little icky in your dumpy budget safari lodge room or you just want to be extra cautious, simply hitting frequently touched surfaces with some antibacterial wipes could subtly protect you from the coronovirus and make your life a whole lot cleaner. Key hotel room places to disinfect for germs include the phone, door knobs, toilet handle, ice bucket, remote control, and bathroom faucet handles. Another option is to wave a UV wand over places prone to germs.
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 heart around the world at this time.
Frequent hand washing has been proven to reduce the transfer of covid-19, colds, viruses, and will prevent bacteria getting from whatever it is you’re touching (why is this remote control sticky?) to your mouth, eyes, or nose. So even if your safari lodge room is poorly sanitized, some good ol’ hand washing will keep the icky germs at bay.
Better yet, keep a portable bottle of hand sanitizer with you and use it whenever you think you touched something icky.
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 hotel’s altogether.
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.
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.
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.
It’s not about having a clean safari lodge room anymore. It’s about staying safe from the most dangerous pandemic in recent history and avoiding common travel infections while having the fun of your life on a one-in-a-lifetime safari trip. Keep your mask on please, avoid contact and make sure you disinfect whenever you have to. The savannah open spaces and rainforest are a perfect getaway post covid lockdown, prepare yourself to enjoy that with a calm mindset. Our safari consultants have already checked out the best safari lodges to stay in, and of course they’re clean with great deals on the rooms. Send them an email [email protected]
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