The BBC’s A Perfect Planet – Exploring the Ndutu Plains of the Serengeti
Posted In North Tanzania on 4th January 2021
Incredible Sightings at Namiri Plains For those who have managed to travel over the past year or so have been lucky enough to witness some remarkable events without the normal crowds that are often seen in these National Parks. Whether […]Read More ⟶
2020 has been and continues to be a very strange year indeed. From unprecedented lockdowns within countries and international travel almost coming to a standstill, it has been hard to have seen the small, flickering light at the end of the tunnel, yet it is now shining brightly.
Whilst travel restrictions are relaxing around Africa, travel is becoming easier and more accessible again.
I escaped the hysteria and negativity of the UK for a couple of weeks at the start of October and swapped the doom and gloom for the sunny expanses of Tanzania. I wanted to see what travel was like during a travel ban and I was also interested to see how the camps and lodges have adapted and implemented Corona Virus protocols to ensure the safety of the travelling guests.
Heathrow was like a ghost town, and my flight with KLM to Kilimanjaro was only a third full meaning I had the whole row to stretch out on. Mask wearing was enforced throughout the journey and social distancing adhered to. I felt safer at the airport and on the plane than I did on any public transport in and around London.
Except a temperature check upon arrival, which was in place before the pandemic, Tanzania does not have any Covid requirements for arrivals, so it makes for the perfect stress-free destination. During my trip I visited Tarangire National Park and the Serengeti National Park and stayed in numerous different camps that were all operated by either Nomad, Singita or Asilia.
Whilst all three have their own unique styles when it comes to their lodges, they all have one common goal – implementing COVID procedures and ensuring guest safety. Every camp I visited (7 in total) had hand washing and sanitising stations scattered throughout. Upon arrival, temperature checks were undertaken and after every game drive I was greeted with a hand washing and sanitising ritual. Every member of staff wore their face mask morning, noon and night and I could not have felt safer. Communal dining has been stopped, as has any type of buffet lunch or dinner, so you do not come into unnecessary contact with anyone else.
Whilst all the lodges shared these common protocols, extra quirks were also added. Singita have a sanitizer machine where you and your luggage are sprayed with a fine mist once you have landed at their airstrip. Nomad have also removed anything from the rooms that they cannot easily clean and sanitize on a daily basis such as rugs and mats.
Staff at every camp are also tested and quarantined in a separate camp upon their arrival after their time off.
Whilst the camp protocols and procedures were very impressive, it was the game viewing experience that was outstanding.
Due to the lack of visitors, both Tarangire and the Serengeti were even more incredible than normal. In Tarangire, I saw one other vehicle whilst there and, in the Serengeti, whilst waiting for river crossings to occur, the maximum number of other cars we saw was four. This is unheard of.
Consequently, each wildlife sighting was intimate and almost exclusive, something which can be hard to come by during the peak seasons. Also due to the Covid protocols, game drives tended to be private, however when I did have to share a vehicle, social distancing was enforced. Unless you are travelling as a group, the maximum number of people allow on a vehicle is four (two passengers on the front row and two on the back row), this ensures the safety of everyone on board, but it also gives you a more personal and intimate game viewing experience.
Other highlights included the brand new Sabora Tented Camp which has recently finished its refurbishment, a night drive in Tarangire as well as the photographic vehicle supplied by Asilia.
Overall, the trip provided an excellent opportunity to visit some of the best wildlife viewing destinations on the planet when they have never been quieter, but it also gave me an insight into the lengths and measures camps have gone to ensure the safety of their guests and as I said before; I couldn’t have been, or felt safer!
If you can, travel now!
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