America is still the Land of the Free. Many nations close or limit travel opportunities to their citizens these days. For example, a UK citizen who wants to go to South Africa or any other “COVID hot-spot”, will have, on return, to quarantine in a hotel designated by the Government for 10 days – and will have to pay at least £1,750 for that out of his or her own pocket! The USA takes a different approach. Contrary to some information on the Internet, there is nothing that prevents an American from visiting South Africa for hunting or whatever other reason.
The travel ban signed by President Biden does limit the travel to the USA from a number of “hot spot” COVID locations, which is not limited to South Africa, but also includes the UK, the European Union, and Brazil. However, this only applies only to people who are not Americans. US citizens and permanent residents do have the right to travel to these locations – and return home.
Naturally, travel is not totally unrestricted. South Africa requires a negative PCR test for COVID, taken in 72 hours or less before the trip. The test certificate is to be presented to the carrier before boarding, and you won’t be allowed on the plane without one.
Some travelers are choosing to get the vaccine, however, a vaccination certificate is not yet considered by any country as a travel document that allows or is required for entry.
Similarly, you are required to produce a negative COVID test, taken three days before arrival, to fly back to the States. Any test recognized by US medical authorities is valid, and the three days, rather than 72 hours, to give more flexibility to people who fly early or late flights. Evidence of recovery from COVID, e.g. a statement issued by a clinic, is also good.
But otherwise there is no additional travel limit, so, at present, you CAN go for your South African safari.
In addition, the following recommendations apply:
- Get tested 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel.
- Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
- If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
- If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
- Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
It’s important to note that the above are recommendations, not legal obligations.
The hunting industry has recently been subject to criticism, because outfitters offer hunts in Africa “even in the COVID times”. It is not a secret that many people do not think that hunting is an essential activity, and a justifiable reason for travel. It goes without saying that COVID-19 poses a real risk to humans, and that it’s anyone’s responsibility to do what it takes to prevent further spread of the disease. However, there are a few factors to be taken to consideration.
Conservation is just as essential nowadays as public health. Our partners, the outfitters in Africa and elsewhere, are struggling just as much as any other tourism-related businesses during this pandemic. However, they are still managing and protecting huge areas of habitat with an abundance of species entirely dependent on hunting tourism. It is essential that they keep their operation going – and for that, they need hunters.
Hunting is different from a regular tourism activity or even a business visit. The latter usually take place in densely populated urban areas, where the risk of infection is high. Business travellers and tourists would typically stay in a big hotel, and eat in a packed restaurant; a business person may attend a meeting or visit a production site, get in touch with local personnel, followed by an executive lunch. A tourist may stay a few hours in a museum or a theater.
When you hunt, it’s different. During a typical South African hunting safari, you’re likely to be picked up at the airport by the outfitter’s own charter service, and proceed directly to the game farm or concession, which is located in a sparsely populated rural area. You won’t meet anyone except your safari personnel, and you will spend most of your time out-of-doors, where the risk of infection is negligibly low. Even your dinner after the hunt will be, as often as not, outside, around the braai (barbecue area)!
After all, those US states that closed non-resident hunting seasons in the spring of 2020 did not do any better in terms of COVID infection rates than those states that left their hunting seasons running.
Bookyourhunt.com brings together local hunting organizers and traveling hunters from all over the world. We strongly encourage every traveller to take the necessary precautions and follow national and international rules concerning COVID-19. However, laws and recommendations are different in every country. We do our best to provide up to date information on the latest travel restrictions and recommendations, but we are not a medical institution, and cannot pass judgement on which measures are effective and which are not, which to follow, which to ignore, nor what to do instead.
It so happens, that at present there is nothing, save the COVID test requirements, that prevents a US citizen or permanent resident from traveling to South Africa. The ultimate decision whether to take advantage of this opportunity or not is up to you. But whether you decide to go now, or put your hunt off, you will always find the best hunting offers from the most trusted outfitters on BookYourHunt.com
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