East Africa now: a guest's perspective
As travel slowly finds its footing again, we’ve been lucky enough to welcome back some of our first guests, including one of our favourite wildlife photographers, George Benjamin (@georgetheexplorer). We’ve asked him to share his thoughts on his trip to East Africa and Asilia camps, thus far. Take it away, George!
Travelling during the times of COVID-19 can feel daunting but at the same time, from my perspective, it was an opportunity.
As a professional wildlife photographer, it’s extremely rare — in fact, unthinkable — that my East Africa work would lead me to silent savannahs and empty forests. To find such solitude has always felt like an unattainable dream. Well, this year has changed that.
I’m currently writing this blog from Sayari, an Asilia camp in the Serengeti in Tanzania, and it’s extremely that clear this part of the world is a popular for a reason: lions brushing through the long grasses, leopards atop the kopjes, cheetahs roaming the plains and of course, the Great Migration crashing across the Mara River. Except this time, I’ve essentially got it all to myself.
First though, let’s rewind and address the questions that beg to be answered: how did you get there? How was the travel experience? Is internal travel safe? Do you feel comfortable with the in-camp protocols?
The travel experience was easy. It felt calm, measured and appropriate. My route was London -> Doha -> Dar es Salaam and at each respective airport, social distancing was enforced, mask wearing required and hand sanitiser everywhere. The same applies for internal travel within Tanzania. It was smooth, easy and well regulated.
In-camp protocols go above and beyond. All staff members are tested when returning to camp, along with daily temperature checks from an on-site nurse. To protect staff, guests’ temperatures are also checked upon arrival. Social distancing is in practice, all staff wear masks and hand gel is aplenty. There’s also a lengthy and informative document in each tent, detailing the procedures put in place by Asilia to protect their staff and guests. As a repeat visitor to Asilia camps, this has been incredibly comforting.
Now for the best part, the reason why we all travel to this beautiful corner of the world: wildlife. It’s July, the busiest time of the year, and it’s quiet. So quiet. I’ve enjoyed cheetah hunts, leopards roaming the granite boulders of Kogatende, and craziest of all, witnessed over 10 wildebeest crossings practically all to myself. Truly once in a lifetime.
More than that, I feel like my custom here has never been more crucial. COVID-19 has devastated eco-tourism across East Africa, with communities and wildlife suffering as a result. These beautiful, tranquil wild areas rely on visitors to protect them; without you, without us, everyone loses. It’s a giant interwoven web of intricacies, with the bottom line being fairly simple: visit, visit, visit.
Come now, don’t wait. Enjoy the peace and quiet, soak up the serenity, sip cocktails on a sundowner, swap stories with your guide and make memories that’ll last a lifetime. Enquire today.
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