Coronavirus and safe travel to Africa in 2021

We know that coronavirus will change the way we travel, if not forever, then at least the short and medium term. Having said that, with a few precautions and a bit of sensible planning, you can avoid many problems and have a stress-free experience. The key thing to do is book with the right companies and educate yourself on the guidelines you’ll need to follow – and keep updating yourself because these guidelines change on sometimes a daily basis.

We’ve seen a large number of enquires from frustrated volunteers longing to come to Africa and assist organisations that so desperately need visitors to return. We learnt in 2020 that putting off your dream trip may mean that ‘someday’ never arrives. With more bucket list trips being booked and many volunteer projects taking smaller numbers of bookings in 2021, if you don’t plan ahead you may find that your dream project gets fully booked early in the year.

We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions about our projects and destinations, to help you navigate concerns over cancelling trips, getting insurance and where you can actually travel to.

Can I travel to Africa?

The short answer is, yes! With the exception of Malawi, which remains closed to non-residents, there are no entry bans at the moment on visitors from any country who wish to join any of our programmes. As long as you follow the individual country’s entry guidelines you will receive a warm African welcome. All countries require a negative PCR Covid-19 test, taken within a certain number of days prior to departure. See our Destinations pages for specific details.

Read our blog post ‘Which countries in Africa are open to tourists’ for more details.Volunteers standing by acacia tree in Zimbabwe

Can I get a refund for my holiday?

Our projects have learnt from 2020 that flexibility is key. We are offering flexible payment terms, with deposits completely refundable up to 30 days prior to travel, and, for volunteers affected by changing Covid-19 travel restrictions, cancellations almost right up until the last minute – with no penalties. All our projects will accept postponements (due to Coronavirus) right up until 24 hours prior to travel, with no penalties. Read our coronavirus terms and conditions.

What if I can’t fly

We recommend you buy the most flexible ticket you can afford. Most airlines flying into African countries will allow last minute changes to flight dates and even allow you to change your destination if you get cold feet prior to leaving home. Many will also issue refunds if government restrictions place a ban on flying.

How do I get insurance?

2020 was the year people saw the value in having good travel insurance.

Trip protection and travel delay coverage may still be more than enough for some volunteers. But if you want additional peace of mind, the best way to safeguard your travels is a “cancel for any reason” travel insurance upgrade. This policy, sometimes referred to as CFAR, will typically cost 40% more than your standard insurance policy. But you’ll be able to back out for any reason, whether there’s a pandemic sweeping the planet or you’ve simply changed your mind about taking that trip.

We are in full support of the UK Daily Telegraph’s Unlock Long Haul campaign, to get countries with low Covid-19 case numbers onto the FCO ‘Safe List’, to enable travellers to purchase standard travel insurance. At the time of writing, most standard travel insurance policies will not cover travel to so-called ‘high risk’ countries, so we would recommend you investigate a specialist high-risk policy which also includes cancel for any reason insurance.

What if I can’t travel?

If the government in your country of residence or departure places a ban on international travel, you are able to postpone your volunteer trip up until the day before your planned departure, with no penalties (as long as you rebook within the following 12 months). If you are unable to travel because you are in self-isolation or you have symptoms of Covid-19, your trip can be postponed without penalties. Refunds will be issued on a case-by-case basis.

During 2020, we refunded each and every volunteer who wanted their money back.
When can I cancel?

It will depend on your project and the reason why you need to cancel. The easiest cancellations are those made more than 30 days prior to travel (full refund for whatever the cancellation reason). Our most popular projects will accept cancellations or postponements right up until the day of travel.

Do I need to quarantine on my return?

You will need to continue to check your own individual country or state’s travel restrictions. At the moment, UK travellers will need to quarantine for five days (subject to taking a test upon their return) after returning from any country not part of a travel corridor. The good news is that Namibia is part of a travel corridor, so requires no quarantine for UK and many European volunteers. We hope that other countries will soon have their quarantines lifted for UK volunteers.

Is it safe to travel to Africa?

Each of our projects has undertaken extensive risk assessments, and put in place a rigorous Covid-19 health and safety policy which meets the guidelines and requirements of their local governments. We can advise you on things like your nearest hospital or testing facility and help you understand the local requirements for international visitors.

Our first returning volunteers, who travelled to Africa in November and December 2020, each said they felt safe and secure while at the programmes, and were glad they made the effort to join the project. We are more than happy to put you in touch with a volunteer who travelled in late 2020 so you can ask them any further questions about their trip.

Watch Rhino & Elephant Conservation Programme volunteer, Katy, talk about her flight and her experience on the project in November 2020.

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Let’s get travelling again, in a safe and sustainable way.

Get in touch to ask any questions, or for details on our volunteer programmes.