Our guide to volunteering post Covid-19
We have been asked a lot of questions recently about volunteering post Covid-19. With that in mind, we hope this guide to volunteering in the current climate reassures volunteers about the safety procedures we have put in place at Imire. We have also given some current information about travel to Zimbabwe.
You can also download our Covid-19 FAQs document.
- Is it safe to travel to Africa?
Airlines and airports have put in place strict and comprehensive health and safety policies to build a renewed confidence in air travel. It is worth checking out the IATA (International Air Transport Association) website and reading their guidance and advice for airlines. Their blog posts about how air is circulated on planes, and links to research into the transmission of viruses on board aircraft are also interesting.
We suggest that you contact your preferred airline or visit their website to find out answers to the following questions before booking your flight or getting on board:
- What is your airline cleaning protocol?
- Will cabin crew be wearing masks?
- Do you test your cabin crew regularly?
- How do you implement social distancing on your planes?
- Can I visit Zimbabwe now and is it safe?
Zimbabwe is open to international travellers arriving by plane into any of the three major airports - Harare, Victoria Falls and Bulawayo. Zimbabwe began a partial 30-day lockdown on January 4th 2021, but tourism operations are exempt, as they are deemed critical to employment and the economy. The exemption is testament to the health and safety protocols put in place by tourist facilities throughout the country.
Thanks to rapid and strict lockdowns in 2020, Zimbabwe has suffered fewer cases compared to other countries around the world, and a significantly reduced number of deaths. Find the latest rates for Zimbabwe.
Imire is located 1.5 hours and 120km from Harare, in the heart of Zimbabwe’s rural farmlands. Population density in the Imire / Wedza district is very low, and the remote location of the reserve means that we and our staff are fortunate to be naturally isolated from large population centres.
- Are Zimbabwe’s borders open?
There are currently no restrictions on the nationality of travellers coming into Zimbabwe. Each of the main airports are open to international tourists.
- Do I need a PCR test to enter Zimbabwe?
Yes. The entry and exit requirements for Zimbabwe are as follows:
- A negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate on entry (no more than 48 hours old at the time of your first flight’s departure).
- Itinerary and details of accommodation booked in Zimbabwe.
- Completed health questionnaire (provided inflight on your last flight into Zimbabwe).
- Health screening (temperature check) on arrival.
- A negative PCR test for your exit, no more than 72 hours old at the time of departure (we will organise this for you).
- Normal visa rules apply - please check your eligibility prior to departure.
- Is there a quarantine when I get to Zimbabwe?
There is no quarantine upon arrival. Should your temperature be flagged when you go through Harare Airport's temperature screening, you will be required to undergo another Covid-19 test at the airport, which has a 2-hour turnaround time. If your test result is positive, you will need to isolate for 2 weeks. We will assist you with this.
Information for Imire volunteers
- Will I still be collected from the airport?
Imire staff will collect you from Harare International Airport on arrival and transfer you in our vehicle to Imire (subject to our normal arrival policy). We have a 16 seater minibus, but will take no more than 8 people at a time to ensure adequate social distancing. Masks must be worn at all times inside the bus by both volunteers and staff.
- What safety measures are in place at Imire to protect volunteers and Imire staff?
All our hospitality staff, including guides, housekeepers, gardeners, drivers and rangers have been trained in Covid-19 precautions and protocol. They are equipped with masks and sanitiser and are fully aware of social distancing guidelines. We have implemented an enhanced cleaning procedure in our vehicles and in the lodge and volunteer accommodation, to ensure that the risk of transmission is as low as possible.
We ask that volunteers and visitors play their part by wearing masks in public places (as mandated by Zimbabwe law), using hand sanitiser and wipes, and frequently washing their hands.
Our staff are provided with adequate supplies of PPE, including masks, wipes, soap and sanitiser. Staff and their families do not leave Imire, except in very specific and managed circumstances. This adds an additional level of protection and security for both themselves and visitors to Imire.
Other health and safety protocols:
- All volunteers and staff are temperature screened daily at breakfast time.
- Hand sanitiser is available in the accommodation and on vehicles (please bring your own supplies as well).
- Vehicles are regularly cleaned throughout.
- Rooms are deep cleaned daily.
- Are there any activities which are no longer part of your volunteer programme?
We will be continuing our wildlife activities as normal. The local schools are currently closed, so volunteers will do alternative and appropriate activities within the rural villages.
You may opt out of any activity you are not comfortable doing, and stay behind at the volunteer accommodation.
- What if I get sick?
We will take you to our private doctor in Marondera as a first port of call. Rapid Covid-19 tests are available there. If you become more seriously unwell, we will transfer you to the private Borrowdale Trauma Centre in Harare (www.traumazim.com).
All volunteers must have international travel insurance to ensure you have the option to pay for private medical treatment. Your insurance must also include the option to be flown home.
The benefits of volunteering
Tourism is a much needed local employer in Zimbabwe and is vital to the conservation operations of organisations like Imire. We need visitors now more than ever. The Imire Team is here to try and answer any and all questions or concerns you may have about travel under the current circumstances.
We believe that volunteering is well-suited to post-Covid travel.
- Imire is in a remote, isolated location, well away from large towns and cities
- Zimbabwe has a relatively low Covid-19 case rate compared to other countries
- You will be working outside for the majority of the day, in a small group of like-minded travellers
- Volunteering is a great addition to your CV, or a great way to take a break from the chaos and re-evaluate
- You'll be working on projects that have a direct impact on wildlife or communities
Hopefully this guide to volunteering has given some reassurance to people thinking about joining us soon. We believe that Imire is the perfect destination to spend time away from the chaos of everyday life - doing meaningful work outside in the fresh air, contributing to conservation, and living in a safe, natural, family-run environment.
Please know that we are here help to in any way we can with information and putting you at ease about any travel plans you may have (or want to have!). If you have any specific questions which are not covered in the blog or in our Imire Covid-19 FAQs document, please send us an email!
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