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Is it safe to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic to Tanzania?

Päivitetty: 7. marras 2020

Selim Tanfous joined our trip to Tanzania in October 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic as Tanzania is reopened for tourism. But before booking a trip, many of us ask the critical questions during the COVID-19 pandemic lingers: Is it safe to travel? Is it worth the risk? A lot has changed since the world trickled down through each level of society because of the Coronavirus pandemic. But tourism is recovering with small steps. The devastating impact of COVID-19 on the global tourism sector is clear. For Tanzania, a collapse in demand has led to an unprecedented shock that has affected many people's lives who are feeling the impact. This slowdown of tourism is impacting livelihoods. We hope that sustainable tourism can arise again slowly as tourism has the power to transform the world for a better place. Traveling during the pandemic has to meet the safety guidelines. Our customers come from all over the world and depending on the current pandemic situation of each country, some people are allowed to travel. Customers' and hosts' safety is a top priority for us. We've made a number of updates to our corona prevention guidelines. These are in line with recommendations from the World Health Organization and following the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Safe Travel protocols. To put it in a nutshell; we minimize the risks and take care of all essentials Corona preventions as follows:

  • Our staff and host family are tested before the tour departures. If anyone on the team has symptoms of COVID-19 during the trip, they refrain from providing the service.

  • High hygiene in our bush camps and homestays include handwashing facilities with soap and water at all times.

  • Every traveler has his/her own tent

  • The car and other shared spaces are disinfected regularly.

  • Staff wears face masks in the car, and we encourage clients to wear them too.

  • We provide free face masks for our clients to wear in the car.

  • All our activities are outdoors with social distancing. We serve meals "al fresco" (dining outside) only. When we're outside, fresh air is constantly moving.

  • We don't spend time indoors or with large crowds of people.

  • COVID‑19 PCR tests and travel certificates are available in our destinations and we help our customers to arrange appointments to get tested

But let's have a chat with Selim and explore more what he has to say about traveling conscious and safely during the ongoing pandemic times. What is your main reason to travel? And what made you travel during the COVID-19 pandemic?

I travel mainly to expand my horizon, discover new cultures, and connect with people from different countries. It's so enriching and helps me put my way of seeing life into perspective and, in a way, value the roots I belong to as well. It's almost food for my soul, and it allows me to regenerate my mind and body. 

I chose to travel during the pandemic for a few reasons:  I needed to have a vacation after a year of intense work, almost 365 days without a real break became unsustainable. The second reason is that I couldn't stand the situation where I had to give up on something I love so much indefinitely, I had to prove to myself and others that we could safely travel even during the pandemic. The last reason I learned to live in the present and grab opportunities when they come, and what Visit Natives offered was not to be missed. 

Why did you choose to go with Visit Natives?

For 20 years now, I have been following various TVShows on indigenous people and was always fascinated and intrigued by their way of living and was always curious to understand them better, to be able to understand their culture, and also to share my vision of the world with them.  VisitNatives was the only one offering this far from the traditional touristic experience. I was looking for something immersive, off-the-beaten tracks, and centered on the indigenous people. When I traveled with you last year, it was an eye-opener, and I understood better the word of responsible travel better.  

Was traveling different during the pandemic?

Well, I had to adjust to all the new procedures required to travel. Certainly lengthier and a bit hectic, but I felt safe, and since most airports and planes are empty, it wasn't bad. It is not something that would stop me from traveling again; we have to learn to live with this new virus.

How was it to stay with Datoga and Maasai families in Tanzania?  Sharing the life of these unique tribes knowing their history is just priceless. We live in a society where we barely see a neighbor welcoming his new neighbor, but when I visited the Datoga, Masai, or Hadzabe, I just felt they still carry these values that we hardly find genuinely nowadays: hospitality without conditions.  I was not a white stranger that just came to observe or take pictures, but I was welcomed warmly, introduced to most sacred rituals, and, most importantly, had a lot of fun experiencing their traditional way of leaving. Even fetching water from a distant well turned out to be a moment full of laughter and joy. Can you share some highlights from your last trip?

It's always hard to answer this question. There were many, but if I want to remember some everlasting memories: with Datogas, we were able to break the ice very quickly, and it leads a memorable night where we shared stories and intimate questions for hours; it was again proof that people are people wherever we go, we have the same dreams, sensitive to same comments and joy is driven by simple things. The second moment for me was when the sun was setting in Ngorongoro after our arrival by a few hours. it got suddenly quiet. We could hear only the cowbells, and the breeze was cool enough to calm and start soaking the energy of this place that felt on another planet Is there any advice that you would like to share with other people who are thinking of booking a trip now?  To me, this is the right time to travel: it is not crowded and really allows you to enjoy a lot of these remote and untouched places. Also, it is the most sustainable way to help the tourism industry and indigenous people get through this tough period. Just follow the extra travel advice, and everything will go fine.  Do you have any future travel plans already? 

I wish I could clone myself so I can enjoy multiple places I want to visit. I have a long wish list :). On a more serious note, I didn't have enough time in Ngorongoro so I definitely want to come back and experience other aspects of Masai life, especially when they start migrating cows to other locations. There are two other trips I hope I can make in the near future: attend the biggest Tuareg festival in Niger and spend time with the Eagle Hunters in Mongolia.

Thank you, Selim, for sharing your travel story with us. We had such a great time traveling together and we hope to see you soon again! Are you interested in traveling with us? Our next departure is in January 2021. Join us on this extraordinary journey and walk beside zebras and gnus in the most beautiful nature, commonly referred to as the 8th wonder of the world. We camp in the wild bush, where you can listen to nocturnal sounds like hyena's laughing or lion's roaring. During the day, you learn Maasai bush medication and holistic healing. We only take four travelers on this trip, so it's very intimate and safe. Send us a message or explore our website to learn more.

A breakfast with a view in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

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