They say that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, but not being able to move beyond the living room couch has certainly ignited the ‘travel bug’ in all of us. The travel and tourism industry has changed significantly post Covid-19, so we have compiled this blog which tells you what to expect for the future safari experience with Governors’.
For the past several months we’ve been confined to the joys of home surveillance; laying low, attempting to educate our children (and our pets), perfecting the skill of home hairdressing and quietly obsessing over our new (but let’s be frank), less exciting lives. Counting our screen time minutes has replaced counting calories; the Sunday morning notification courtesy of our mobile device is enough to cause a mild case of anxiety. It’s all a bit of a blur to say the least. But don’t despair! We know the benefits of taking a healing holiday, and we are going to show you how it can be done – both during and after a pandemic.
Wildlife safari, Masai Mara – photo credit Will Fortescue
The desire to head off on the trip of a lifetime is burning inside us. An incredible journey to Africa, where the wildlife, scenery and culture will leave you in awe forever more, is what we’re after. Take us somewhere that truly touches the soul please. Thankfully, sunshine, fresh air and open space is an excellent environment for avoiding Covid, therefore making a safari one of the best activities to indulge in at this time.
Those of you who have stayed with us in the past will know that we are most loved and remembered for our ‘cast of characters’ – this being all our wonderful staff and camp-wandering wildlife that make up the Governors’ Family. Blossom the elephant, Tala the giraffe, the Marsh Pride of Lions and all the little mongoose and warthog who keep you company during your stay. A safari with us is not simply the greatest wildlife show ever; we are committed to providing a very unique experience that is rarely encountered elsewhere. Having to abandon your lunch table so that a herd of elephants can peacefully meander by, takes BBC’s ‘Come dine with me’ to a whole new level!
Elephant visitor at Little Governors’ Camp – photo credit David Clode
You might be wondering how we have tackled the ‘Covid Compliancy’ challenge, which has become the ultimate deal breaker for those considering a trip, well, anywhere. So, please give us ten minutes of your time (we know you’ve got it!) and let us talk you through how and why a holiday out here is the fastest way to beat the lockdown blues – and what exactly we are doing to make sure our staff and guests remain safe at all times.
Over the past couple of months, we have successfully assembled a Covid-19 Response Committee who are ultimately responsible for overseeing our operations, while at the same time maintaining an authentic safari experience. We have always had a Head of Security and a full time doctor based at Governors’ Camp in the Mara, along with representatives at all levels of departments who are in charge of the smooth implementation of these new procedures across all our properties. Heading up the response team is Governors’ founder and medical practitioner, Dr Romi Grammaticas. As you can see, you are in good hands!
While establishing the ‘new normal’, our biggest goal has been to retain the warmth and hospitality that we are so well known for. Unfortunately, we are putting the ‘so good to meet you’ handshakes and the ‘Karibu tena’ bear hugs on hold for the time being, and instead the arrival and checkout procedures will be done with no inter-person contact – which is, let’s be honest, how you would expect it.
We are excited to welcome you all back in a safe environment – photo credit Trix Hartley
Our guests will receive a full briefing on the latest safety measures in place and how these will protect them during their stay. Your luggage will be handled with the use of (non-disposable, but washable) gloves and sanitiser. The environment is clearly taking a really big hit at the moment, courtesy of the Coronavirus, and whilst we want to be extremely careful, we have specifically sourced reusable barrier items where possible – including government approved fabric face masks and face shields. Our staff will be wearing these for not only their own protection, but yours too, and our laundry systems will ensure that they are hygienically cared for in between uses.
We have purposely sourced reusable barrier equipment – photo credit Trix Hartley
Do I have to wear a face mask? Well, the WHO has declared that the use of barrier equipment will help contain the spread of Covi-19 and seeing as Kenya and Rwanda have both adopted the use of these in public areas, we will require the same in the public areas of our camps and lodges. We encourage you to wash your hands frequently and in fact we have set up hand washing and hand sanitising stations (with touch-free taps and auto dispensers to minimise contact with surfaces), throughout our properties. Speaking of contact with surfaces – all our public areas will be regularly and thoroughly cleaned, with a focus on high-touch items and areas such as armrests, tables and books.
Will our meal times be private? At Governors’, one of our most treasured and remembered guest experiences is dining out doors, under the shade of the Warburgia trees, while skittish families of warthog and mongooses scamper past your table. Consider them part of the furniture – there is no way of uninviting these guys. So, despite these little ‘gate crashers’ we shall continue with this magical tradition, weather permitting of course.
Enjoy the company of our ‘cast of characters’ as you dine – photo credit Will Fortescue
For now, it’s bye-bye to the buffet and hello to a plated, individually served and delicious new menu. We will need to stagger mealtimes so as to adhere to social distancing measures and we will be offering room service to those who would like it. Your dedicated waiter will be wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks and will verbally read to you the menu options. Picnic meals whilst out on game drives, will be individually packed, with hand washing and hand sanitising facilities available at the picnic site.
Picnic meals will be carefully packed and served – photo credit Patrick Reynolds
Housekeeping and your housekeeper: So far all of this is sounding very promising and encouraging! But what about my actual room which is where I will be spending a considerable amount of time in order to stay socially distanced? It turns out that many of our existing cleaning protocols and products actually work very well for handling Covid-19 and so we are simply but strongly complying with those. Not only will your room be thoroughly disinfected and sanitised before your arrival, you will have the pleasure of a dedicated housekeeper who will also be wearing protective gear including masks and gloves.
Housekeeping with protective equipment – photo credit Patrick Reynolds
Game drives and your safari guide: I’m worried about sharing a vehicle but I don’t want the expense of a private car. Fear not! This is the main element of the safari experience that should not be compromised and we are doing our best to make sure you are left with lifetime memories and beautiful wildlife images worthy of a hardback edition.
Your game drive experience will not be compromised – photo credit Will Fortescue
First up, your guide will be solely responsible for ensuring the cleanliness of his own vehicle – before and after game drives. This includes the sanitising of areas of high touch such as doors and armrests; seat steaming and alcohol sprays will become our best friends and secret weapons here. Your amazing and knowledgeable guide will be wearing a clear face shield which is designed not to interfere with their guiding skills and ability to speak clearly, ultimately allowing for a genuine rapport and top notch game viewing experience.
Your guide will personally oversee your sundowner experience – photo credit Patrick Reynolds
We will be offering a maximum of just four people per six-seater open vehicle, with the middle seats being kept free as an essential ‘buffer zone’. Groups of four or more travelling together will have a private car to themselves.
Game drive capacity will be private or extremely limited – photo credit Silverless
Our fantastic team, as well as our guests are our top priority. While on duty, all our staff live on-site, due to the nature of our remote and secluded locations. This is of course a huge factor in limiting the amount of exposure possibilities. Strict rotational systems of staff leave, along with an essential period of quarantine in a designated area of camp, will be implemented throughout the Governors’ Camp Collection. On top of this, daily health and temperature checks including symptom reporting will be mandatory for all our staff.
All staff will be wearing protective equipment – photo credit Patrick Reynolds
And what if I were to fall ill on holiday with you? Your enjoyment, safety and comfort is at the forefront of our entirety and existence. If you were to feel unwell, we have a robust medical management team who is readily prepared to take care of you. We will consult between yourself and our team on the ground (who have all received training in handling suspected cases), as well as taking the advice of the relevant health officials and guide actions based on the Ministry of Health requirements in each country we operate (Kenya and Rwanda).
As part of the Governors’ Camp Collection, you can travel in the safe knowledge that all our properties and staff are now fully Covid-compliant. Whether you take a flight with us on Governors’ Aviation or a hot air balloon with Governors’ Balloon Safaris, rest assured that you are in good hands. You can find a detailed overview of our Covid-Protocols on our website.
Governors’ Aviation – photo credit Will Fortescue
Earlier this year we opened Governors’ Mugie House in Laikipia: This is the latest addition to our stunning portfolio of camps and lodges and although the timing was not on our side, we are very confident that this is one of Kenya’s premier properties. Together with Loldia House in the Great Rift Valley and our award-winning Mara camps, we are now uniquely positioned to offer a full safari experience of Kenya’s best wildlife locations. Our aviation section provides connecting flights between each property and our balloon outfit covers the most scenic flight path in the Masai Mara.
Governors Mugie House can be booked exclusively for those who wish – photo credit Alisa Karstad
After nearly four months of ‘not going anywhere’, we know that most people are waiting for the green light and good reason to pack up and head off on a wildlife safari. Meanwhile, a desire for privacy and seclusion is being felt stronger than ever. These previously considered ‘status symbols’ are actually about to become the new normal – and perhaps this is the chance to jump on the bandwagon and experience exclusive travel.
Governors’ Balloon Safaris – photo credit Governors’ Camp Collection
At Governors’, we are delighted to offer fully private travel under the ‘Governors’ Private Safari’, to those who require it. Our small and intimate boutique properties such as Governors’ Il Moran, Private Camp, Loldia House and our new Governors’ Mugie House can all be booked on an exclusive basis. Contact us and we can tailor-make any dream come true including private charters with our own aircraft and even the possibility of a hot air balloon – all to yourself!
Loldia House, Great Rift Valley – photo credit Eliza Powell
You can book a private charter with Governors’ Aviation – photo credit Bill Kwasa
If you have any questions about the future safari experience with Governors’, simply get in touch. For more options, availability and special offers please drop us an email on email@example.com
By Jessica Savage, Governors’ Camp Collection