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Celebrating (hidden) smiles this Watch Wednesday

The look on our team’s faces this week as guests stepped across the threshold into the reopened Zarafa could have been bottled! The guests’ smiles (from behind masks) of the welcoming staff were just as precious.

I want to place this in context and why it is worth us all celebrating today.

Over a year ago, we closed Zarafa to consolidate our available beds into fewer camps. Some camps have reopened in the interim for regional and local travellers. Still, Zarafa, our managers, and camp staff have been waiting almost in limbo and extremely patiently for this moment. We are not in tourism just for the work. We work at Great Plains because we have hospitality in our DNA and we LOVE hosting. That drought just broke!!!

We just heard from a recent guest who travelled to our Selinda Camp saying, “…and you guys are nailing the protocols!”

I want to answer below the many questions we have been fielding as guests get their vaccinations done, as borders reopen, and as dreams of travel begin to take shape once again.

The camp protocols seem now to be the least topical because it is now largely understood that being on safari is one of the safest, least exposed experiences in the world.

You are outdoors. Dining is in the open air. Social distancing has always been a service element in our style anyway. We have spent a year training for diligent mask-wearing, social distancing, reduced touch points, serving with care, and enhanced cleaning styles of hosting. We have infrared and chemical cleaning for housekeepers. Our staff get tested before coming to and leaving from camp with mandatory isolation until an all-clear is given. Each camp or area (if we have more than one camp in a concession) has isolation tents. Where appropriate due to distance, a medically equipped tent like you would expect in any military operation at the ready.

Besides that, I have to say, we have been really careful and diligent for over twelve years about all these protocols anyway.

A safari is an outdoor experience and our camps, largely under canvas, are spacious and airy. Each has the capability of private dining, and we can service that. Guides wear masks all the time now and, like all our staff, have undergone training on one significant aspect: how to smile with their eyes!

A warm Great Plains’ smile is so much of who we are that the worry for me was whether we might lose that. We haven’t.

As vaccines roll out, we have offered them to all our staff for free. We have spent the last number of months checking out the medical facilities in each country for efficiencies once again, something we have done all along to give us comfort if there ever was a medical emergency in a remote camp anyway. We have arrangements in place with doctors on call, with medical evacuation, and with nurses who fly in and do your departure PCR tests in camp for the convenience of not needing to do it in town. I am confident that we have thought of just about everything and have tested with dry runs scenarios repeatedly.

Like Zarafa and our team there, we are ready to welcome you, confident that you will be in good hands.