YOUR WELL-BEING ON SAFARI
Our Extensive COVID-19 Protocols

As a family business based in Africa for 55 years, we’ve been through dozens of crises both large and small, building resilience and experience along the way.

We’ve learned from such challenging incidents as embassy bombings, SARS, genocide, election disruptions, financial meltdowns and even Somali pirates on the high seas. And each incident has made us more adept at handling whatever crisis might come next. But let’s face it. It’s one thing to have a protocols such as those outlined here, but it’s a whole other order of magnitude to actually execute those protocols. And that’s where we excel. With offices in Africa and full-time staff there, Micato’s unique expertise ensures that safety protocols are followed to the letter.

During your safari, that responsibility falls principally on the shoulders of Micato’s expert Safari Directors—our highly-credentialed safari leaders who accompany you every step of the way. You’ll find our Safari Directors to be warm hearted, smart, and funny, too. But his job, beyond sharing his extensive wildlife knowledge and making certain you have a great time, is to ensure that safety protocols are followed in all locations and to safeguard your well-being. He’s also there to reinforce the notion that safety is a shared responsibility as indicated in the Micato Well-Being Pledge that we ask guests to take.

In addition, we’re pleased to advise that every Micato Safari Director, plus our 24/7 Micato Concierges and all other members of our safari team, have undergone CDC and WHO- approved certificate training courses on COVID-19 sanitation protocols, which include both academic and practical skills to ensure the highest level of care during your safari.

The services of East Africa’s famous Flying Doctors are also included in every safari as part of Micato’s comprehensive Passenger Protection Program. Micato is a member of the U.S. State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), and we retain Controlled Risks, the world’s largest risk assessment organization, to advise us on safety and security measures.

We will update this page whenever we get new information from the CDC, WHO, local governments, and our Micato offices on the ground in Africa. We’ve also partnered with the leading adventure travel companies in the world to share best practices, which has given us valuable insights and enhanced our safety protocols. Suffice it to say, your safari will operate at the highest levels of sanitation, hygiene, comfort and, as always, excellence.

Prepare to be safe, but above all, prepare to be awed by the splendour of safari.


 

When You Land in Africa

Micato Safari Director sanitizes vehicle

The moment you arrive in Micato’s Africa, you will be in our hands.

We never dreamed we’d say this after 55 years of meeting guests at the airport: We won’t shake hands or hug. But Micato’s famous hospitality will not be pushed to the side! The welcoming smiles of our team may be hidden behind masks but their warmth and enthusiasm will not be contained!

Beyond the crisp khakis of different shades and easy-to-spot “Micato Team” safari hats, our team’s “new” uniforms now include masks and gloves—with ample supplies of both for guests— ensuring that your first contact with our team will be as contact-free as your last, with plenty of hand sanitizer in between.

Every precaution is also being taken to sanitize and safely handle all luggage upon arrival and at every camp and lodge with our own disinfectant fogger machines.

And your Micato Safari Director will be your primary point of contact and, if you wish, your one and only outside interaction.


 

Micato Safari Director

Your Chief Safety Officer and safari team leader

Every Micato safari is accompanied by one of our highly-credentialed Micato Safari Directors who accompanies you exclusively in each country throughout your trip. This is very different from other companies who rely on a random assortment of shared drivers and guides, provided by camps and lodges.

Having a highly-trained leader for your safari, who in addition to monitoring COVID-19 compliance, gets to know your likes, dislikes, food preferences, dietary needs, what animals you’ve already seen, and what you especially want to see, makes a big difference.

  • Your Safari Director = Chief Safety Officer. If a safari camp or lodge or anyone anywhere along the way is not observing established safety and sanitization protocols, your Safari Director will quickly remedy the situation, leaving you free to enjoy your safari without having to concern yourself with such matters.
  • Your Micato Concierge = At your service 24/7. Your team on safari includes Micato’s 24/7 Concierges based at your hotel—like the Kempinski and Hemingways hotels in Nairobi.
  • Contactless Check-ins. Always. No Micato guest ever stops at the front desk—that’s always been our standard operating procedure. Your Safari Director fills out your check-in paperwork for you.
  • Contactless tipping… actually, NO tipping. (Which has always been our policy regardless!) These days, most of us are a little reticent about handling money so rest assured, there is NO TIPPING for anyone, anywhere on a Micato safari. It’s all included. It’s always included. And it always has been.

 

Game Drives

On every East Africa safari your team includes not only your Safari Director but an equally well-credentialed Driver Guide. Two dynamic experts, keeping you safe and delighting you every step of the way, versus the solitary guide most companies send along.

  • Constantly cleaned vehicles. Our drivers and field staff ensure your vehicle is thoroughly sanitized between guest activities, such as sightseeing, game drives, and airport transfers.
  • Sensible seating. How many guests will be in your safari vehicle? It depends on the type of vehicle, but in the bush, for example, we would limit a nine-passenger open-air vehicle to four guests, fulfilling our rule of thumb that limits vehicles to 60% of passenger capacity
  • Sanitation Kits, constantly sanitized. Your Safari Directors and Driver-Guides travel with their own sanitation kits that include touch-free thermometers, spray bottles with cleaning solution, alcohol-based wipes, disposable cloths, and lens pens to ensure regular sanitation of vehicles in the bush. The kits themselves are sanitized between game drives.
  • Sanitized soft drinks and other beverages. Water bottles and other beverages – your safari vehicle is stocked with a variety of complimentary ones – are washed and sprayed with sanitizer before being placed in the cooler, as well as in between drives.
  • Binoculars crystal clear and clean.   We loan you a pair of high-quality Nikon binoculars at the start of the safari— thoroughly cleaned and sanitized between guests and left untouched for three days before reuse. Or you may use our supplies and wipe them down with sanitizer yourself before every use. (You are always welcome to bring and use your own binoculars.)
  • Sundowners:  Sublime as always, safe in all ways.  You’ll still enjoy exquisite sundowner cocktails at twilight on the savannahs and picnic lunches under ancient baobab trees — although we operate them a little differently than in the past. Each sundowner location is now limited to an even smaller and more intimate number of people. Chairs are spaced very safe distances apart and waitstaff wear face masks and gloves with minimal guest contact. Plus, sundowner snacks are individually wrapped for each guest.
  • Private vehicles are available if you prefer. If you want your family or group to have a completely exclusive game drive experience, a private vehicle is available for a surcharge on every Classic Safari— and already included on our Private Classic and Custom safaris. Private Classic and Custom guests will also have a Safari Director all to themselves.

Safari Camps and Lodges

Since our first day on safari 55 years ago we’ve only used camps, lodges, and hotels that meet our high standards. And now, more than ever, we’re ensuring all the lodgings you visit during your safari not only meet and exceed government and industry standards, but demonstrate the very best practices in terms of social distancing and sanitization protocols.

  • Contactless check-in, now and always. Micato guests never stop at a check-in desk. All check-in documents are completed by our field team at every safari camp, lodge, and hotel you visit. Your merely have to sign the forms—using your own pen or one we provide, and your safari team physically handles the paperwork for you.
  • Before you arrive, every precaution will have already been taken. One of the benefits of having Micato offices in our safari destinations is we are there right now on the ground, triple checking that all your safari camps and lodges are following required sanitation and safety protocols, enabling us to address any shortcomings we see before you get there. In addition, our on-site Concierge Team is on hand to ensure all safety measures have been taken before you check into your city hotel.
  • Constant site inspections and lodge revisits are nothing new for us. We don’t just send our staff to inspect camps and lodges once a year. Our people are in those lodges on nearly a daily basis. And every camp and lodge abides by the highest standards: Ours. We don’t just rely on any given camp’s standards—we mandate compliance with Micato’s own safety protocols. (Which has always been the case, but more essential now than ever.)
  • Lodge and camp public areas are rigorously monitored by our team. Among the hygiene and safety protocols we look for are proper social distancing in public areas, including lounges, bars, pool sides, dining rooms and other meeting places. We also scrutinize cleaning and sanitizing routines, luggage handling practices, staff mask policies, and “back of house” protocols.
  • Your lodge room or tent will also be serviced as much, or as little, as you like. And we will make those same arrangements with lodge staff at every stop along the way. But you can be sure that before you cross the threshold of any guest room, it will have been thoroughly serviced—and our Safari Director will even personally check it out for you beforehand if you like.
  • Or perhaps you would prefer to skip hotels and lodges altogether? No problem. For those who wish private arrangements, we can arrange exclusive everything from fabulous villas to atmospheric safari camps just for you and your friends and family, all in the finest game viewing areas.

 

Dining

dining on safari

Whether indulging in a private multi-course meal under the stars at camp or checking out a trendy neighborhood restaurant in the city, your Micato Safari Director will be on hand to ensure your dining experience is not just safe, but spectacular.

  • Safe dining is a family thing. This may sound corny, but as a family company, it is important to us that our guests enjoy the same amazing, authentic experiences that our own family and our children love so much about a safari—and Micato Safari Directors share that enthusiasm. And suffice it to say, this passion also applies to ensuring that any dining experience we arrange for you meets the same safety standards that we would want for our own families. As Travel+Leisure says: Micato’s Pinto Family “treat their guests like well-loved, out-of-town relatives,” which you can trust is true now more than ever.
  • However you would like to dine, we arrange it. Since your Micato Safari Director is travelling with you, he is able to arrange and change dining experiences according to your mood and taste (which is always the case on a Micato safari!) and according to your comfort level. If you want to be more social, remain private, or some combination, he figures out the safest and most enjoyable way. Multiple dining experiences and locations are also available— unique to each property — and our team ensures you can dine privately if you wish, with your group of friends, in your tent, by the pool, wherever.
  • Your Safari Director meets with every chef, too. Upon your arrival at every camp, lodge, and hotel, your Micato Safari Director automatically meets with every chef to ensure all required safety protocols are in place for meals, sundowners, bush events, and other venues where food and beverages may be served.
  • We’re riding herd on the restaurants. As you might imagine, we are constantly scoping out all public dining areas and restaurants everywhere you go, ensuring the dining rooms are meeting Micato’s expectations for service— whether that means extending dining hours to accommodate Micato travellers, reducing the number of dining room tables, or further distancing them.
  • We get you the best table, as always. Concierges in cities make sure your dining experiences outside of the hotels are of the highest standard. And, as always, if reservations are required, we snag you the best tables.
  • Buffets modified or replaced with table service. Several of the lodges, camps, and hotels we use have some pretty terrific multinational buffets available. But we’re a cautious bunch, so wherever possible we’re having lodgings replace buffets with privately prepared or picnic-style gourmet boxed meals for Micato guests.

 

Your Comfort and Care

Micato Safari Director sanitizes binoculars

Cleanliness has long been an obsession for our team, especially given how many hours we spend out on the naturally dusty, sometimes muddy but always glorious savannahs. But these days, in addition to deep cleaning our vehicles, we have also developed the important habit of frequent hand sanitizer use, plus the spraying and wiping down of surfaces with sanitizer and sanitizing wipes—and we have plenty available for you, too! We also provide all guests with a personal Comfort & Care Kit of sanitizing supplies that we’ll be happy to replenish throughout the safari.

Always available on safari

  • Single-use face masks
  • Alcohol-based liquid hand sanitizer and wipes
  • Facial tissues
  • Moisturizer

personal sanitzation kit from Micato


 

Frequently Asked Questions

How has Africa been able to mitigate the effects of COVID-19?

African countries have had strict protocols in place for many years that have successfully halted the spread of Ebola when cases emerged in the past. In Kenya, for example, arriving travellers at border crossings and major airports pass under temperature scanners, are interviewed by CDC trained health officials and are asked to provide details of their onward itineraries in the event contact tracing is necessary. Many of the 55 countries in Africa also went into lockdown very early, having learned the lessons from past epidemics. Contact tracing is the order of the day and, like many places in the world, it is working. And strict protocols are still in place. In Kenya, for example, at the time of this writing, masks in public are still required (with a $200 fine for noncompliance), and there is a nightly curfew to prevent socializing in bars, nightclubs, and discos.

What specific steps are Micato employees taking to stay safe?

We’re proud to say that the Micato family of companies were “early adopters” of self-quarantining. For months, our worldwide team have worked from home, supplied with new laptops, technical support, training, and all the other infrastructure in place at our offices. All of our field staff are also tested before travel and staff temperatures are be taken daily.

In the field, our Safari Directors, Guides, Drivers, and Concierges are well trained and frequently wash their hands with soap and water, wear quality masks provided by Micato, carry personal hand sanitizer, and frequently sanitize their mobile devices and any other surfaces with which they come into contact.

Has your non-profit work in Africa continued during the pandemic?

Because Micato-AmericaShare has been embedded in African communities for decades, it has been heartbreaking to see so many unemployed and in need of food and safety supplies, like masks, for their families. Using our resources and infrastructure, AmericaShare launched an emergency food programme and partnered with sister nonprofit Huru to distribute tens of thousands of reusable cloth face masks to the community. For more about our pandemic response, see this article about Micato AmericaShare and Huru in the June issue of AFAR Magazine.