Okavango Wilderness Safaris staff based in the remote Linyanti Wildlife Reserve in Botswana proudly received their COVID-19 vaccinations on 25 August 2021, demonstrating they are indeed #ArmReady. The effort comes as part of a dynamic vaccination drive led by the Chobe District Health Management Team (DHMT) in Kasane to ensure people living in remote wilderness areas have access to the vaccine. With some 150 people receiving the vaccination, the drive was a great success, and just the start of the company’s support of the National vaccination campaign.
“We are proud to have worked with the Chobe DHMT to ensure that this drive was as successful as possible, supplying the flights for the team to the Reserve, as well as full board accommodation and necessary road transport for all our camp staff and the DHMT”, noted Kim Nixon, Okavango Wilderness Safaris MD. “We are extremely grateful to the local DHMT for their support and to the Government of the Republic of Botswana for their tireless efforts to get the vaccination programme moving so swiftly. The wider drive to vaccinate all those in the Chobe area with DHMTs continues, across tourism operators, and we are fervently working to support the process until all in the areas we are proud to call home are vaccinated.”
Arno du Preez, Okavango Wilderness Safaris Linyanti Concession Manager added that it was so encouraging to see so many people waiting in socially distanced lines to get vaccinated, despite falsehoods and myths being posted on social media about the vaccines. “Our staff members couldn’t wait to pose with their ‘new Passports’ as they call the little blue vaccination booklet received once injected. We didn’t encounter any staff not wanting to be vaccinated, and all are extremely grateful for the ongoing efforts and support from our Risk and HR teams to help allay any fears in this regard and provide the necessary education and awareness as part of our wider staff COVID-19 drive to support Government’s and the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ pandemic education efforts”.
Kutlwano Keadimilwe, a waitress from DumaTau Camp, noted that she was happy to have received the vaccination: “I heard so many stories but I am now happy and can be more confident when working with our guests. I barely had any side effects”. Karol Kebadile, a barman at DumaTau also noted that he was thankful to have received the vaccine. “I’m sure our guests will feel more comfortable knowing we are vaccinated. We can hopefully now return to normal”, he said. With stringent COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place, wide open spaces, and vaccination roll-outs across all Wilderness Safaris’ regions of operation well underway, the company continues to create impactful journeys in this new world of travel.
“It is inspiring to see so many of our staff receiving vaccinations and to note an upward trend for the return of travel. Health, hygiene and sanitation, in relation to both guests and staff, have always been top priorities for us, and this has only been heightened in light of the pandemic. As a company, we have bolstered already existing measures in all our offices, camps, aircraft and vehicles, and are continuing to refine, adapt and implement these procedures in accordance with best practice”, added Malora Keevey, Wilderness Safaris Group Risk Manager.
A dedicated task team driving all COVID-19 related safety has been set up to ensure that all the latest advice is followed. Park Doctor, a not-for-profit medical organization working to initiate and facilitate partnerships between medical and conservation professionals, provides this medical support. Medical staff can also be flown into our camps in Botswana at an additional cost, allowing guests to travel simply and easily and to enjoy their safari with complete peace of mind.“The past year has provided us with many learnings that we continually share throughout the business. Our guests can rest assured that they will be taken care of every step of the way – from the minute they touch our business, and throughout their journey“, confirmed Kim.