My husband Chris and I recently returned from safari in Botswana and Victoria Falls. We’d been planning this trip since late 2019 and after postponements in 2020 and 2021, we were beyond excited to travel! What had once been planned as a milestone birthday trip for me ended up being a milestone wedding anniversary trip for us two years later. Toasting to our marriage surviving and thriving during a pandemic with two young children at home while on safari in Botswana ended up being better than any birthday wish I would have made two years ago.
While many COVID regulations have eased, vaccinations are readily available and much of the world has resumed normal activities, traveling during spring 2022 isn’t quite the same as it was pre-pandemic. Below are my top tips for traveling now.
After spending a lot more time at home over the past two years, one of the best things about being on safari was simply being outdoors. Our safari to Botswana and Victoria Falls offered endless opportunities to enjoy the beautiful scenery around us. Our open-air game drive vehicles offered fresh air and views of amazing wildlife and landscapes. We also enjoyed a mokoro ride (traditional dugout canoe), two different sunset boat rides, catch and release fishing, a walk with rhinos, the mighty Victoria Falls mist and hours spent lounging on our luxurious private decks in camp.
Would we have enjoyed the outdoor experiences if we’d been able to travel two years ago? Of course. But not delaying our plans any longer and traveling this spring made us even more grateful for each day we spent outdoors on safari and our appreciation for the experience was deeper.
We knew ahead of time that the trip we originally planned in 2019 would be slightly different than the one we ultimately went on in 2022, which ended up working in our favor! One of the camps we stayed in took advantage of having fewer travelers visit over the past two years and spent time refurbishing the camp. The improvements resulted in an even more beautiful camp and elevated experience. We were concerned service levels would have fallen a bit, like the experience we’ve had at many domestic restaurants and hotels. But instead, camp staff members and safari guides went above and beyond to make sure our safari experience was top notch and everyone was so appreciative of having guests return.
With COVID testing and vaccination requirements changing often, we knew the importance of regularly checking what our destination countries were requiring and working with our operations team to ensure our trip was planned accordingly. During the trip we had a last-minute international flight cancellation and a change to our COVID testing plan, so it was important to keep a positive and go-with-the-flow attitude once traveling too. Before the pandemic, having last minute hiccups might have dampened our mood. However, to travel in a COVID-world, we knew we needed to anticipate having changes, have our emergency contacts handy so we knew who to contact should a problem arise and not let bumps along the way overshadow the phenomenal trip we were having.
Many of the countries we traveled through and to required proof of vaccination in place of COVID testing. We were so happy we had gotten our documents in order ahead of time and had multiple versions of our vaccination records, so we didn’t have to waste time fumbling at airport checks.
We each had plastic vaccination card holders to protect the paper versions against travel wear and tear. We also had two types of digital back-ups. Africa Adventure Consultants recommends all travelers have proof of vaccination with QR code. Some states and health agencies provide QR codes, or travelers can generate a QR code for their vaccination record through a third-party site. Ask one of our Journey Specialists for details on how to get your QR code while you plan your safari. We also took photos of the front and back of our vaccine cards and saved it as a ‘favorite’ on our phones so it would be quick and easy to find should we need it. You don’t want to have to scroll back through hundreds of wildlife photos at the end of your trip to find the picture of your card!
I’m so glad our long-awaited safari happened this year, and I can’t wait to plan our return to Africa. I’ve known for years how special East and Southern Africa are and how memorable a safari can be, but even I was surprised at how meaningful it felt to be out in the world again after a challenging couple of years. If you’ve been on the fence about travel, I encourage you to speak with one of our Journey Specialists and make a plan to get your next adventure on your calendar. We all deserve some special time away after the years we’ve lived through.