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Covid-19 country by country update and when you can travel to each

Written by Thomas Power | 25th June 2020 |

Category: Knowledge

Costa rica osa peninsula hummingbird on heliconia flower c matt power

Originally published: 29th May 2020
Last update: 26th June 2020

This article is dedicated to sharing as much information as we can in relation to the places we travel, including practical details of their Covid responses and what we think travel is likely to look like when you are there.

Whilst we are at a stage in the Covid pandemic where there is substantial information, there is far more we simply don't know. These are opinions based on our reading and conversations combined with our many years of experience, but that doesn't make us experts. Please read on with this firmly in mind. 


Panoramic view of the Alhambra

Spain is widely expected to be included on the list of 'Air Bridges' that the UK government are set to release next week. This means that any trips to Spain, possibly as early as 4th July, will not be subject to the 14-day quarantine period on return. Spain has already said Brits will not be asked to quarantine on arrival.

This is tremendous news for our partners throughout the country. Never have our relationships with our partners - many of them old friends - been more important than the past few months. Having stood together through the most difficult moments, it is an immense relief that we can, cautiously, begin to look forward with more optimism and a renewed desire to share the special places we love.

What this means for our trips is that we anticipate that our existing bookings for July and August can depart once the FCO relax their advice for travel to Spain. Given the anticipated Air Bridges announcement, this change should swiftly follow, possibly on or before July 4th.

Spain were quick to produce a comprehensive list of guidelines which all of our partners have received and will strictly be following to create a safe environment for your trip. Travel between all regions is also now permitted, allowing us to move freely around the country. So, aside from the odd disinfectant wipe, and perhaps reducing time in cities where appropriate, we expect to deliver our trips to the exact same high standard as always.

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A rabelo sailing at sunset on the Douro in Porto

As you may have read, it looks likely that, because of a small peak in cases, Portugal will not be included in the list of Air Bridges expected to be announced by the UK government in the next few days. That means anyone visiting the country, for now at least, would still be subject to the 14-day quarantine period on return. This is a blow to a country which relies heavily on its tourism industry, and especially summer arrivals from the UK. For our trips, and thus for our partners in Portugal, it is simply too early for the decision to have a material impact.

To give some context on the latest situation, Portugal's 7-day rolling average of new cases has climbed steadily from 188 on 15th May, to 332 on June 25th. The average 7-day rolling deaths currently sits at 3.6. Based on information from our partners on the ground, these increases are largely attributed to rises in Lisbon's social housing districts, illegal gatherings in the Algarve and the reopening of care homes to visitors. Lockdown measures are therefore being brought back locally where outbreaks have occurred. In the Alentejo, where many of our guests spend most of their time, there have been four deaths in the entire region.

In May, the government issued comprehensive and detailed guidance that hoteliers, drivers, guides, car hire outlets and restaurants must adhere to when travel resumes. All of our partners will follow these procedures to ensure a safe environment is created for you throughout your trip. As many of your days will be spent outside exploring, the actual impact on your holiday will be minimal.

For our trips, we don't anticipate this latest update having an impact on our booked, or any new departures, which we are confident will recommence from late August. It simply does not make sense to have you walking across the open countryside of Portugal during the peak of the summer - that's no one's idea of fun.

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Stunning Perito Moreno Glacier

We are yet to see any national regulations for hygiene relating to tourism such as Spain and Portugal have prepared but we will be working with partners to make sure that Covid Safe regulations are agreed and applied.

The number of new cases continues to rise steadily and our degree of confidence in the Argentine response to Covid isn’t great, though our confidence in our partners to do the right thing is high. With this in mind, we hope that it’s a destination which we will start to fully operate again from November. Watch this space.

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Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro

Given the uncertainty over reporting of data and because trips to Brazil invariably involve time in the wonderful cities of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador along with multiple internal flights, Brazil remains off the menu for now.

Although the wildlife of the Pantanal and Amazon, mountain landscapes of the Chapada Diamantina, jungles of Iguazu and coast around Boipeba and Paraty are not themselves significantly impacted, we can’t send you to Brazil in good conscience until we know more about the true situation, particularly in the cities.

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The deep blue waters of Patagonia's Lago General Carrera

The Chilean travel season really starts in October with November being ‘lift off’. Since most of our trips are very much concentrated in the great outdoors regions to the north and south of the country where the impact of Covid has been minimal, we really hope to be able to operate fully in Chile this coming season. At the moment it's still too early to say with real confidence though.

With cases focused in metropolitan areas, we might look to minimise your time in Santiago, having you stay at the airport hotel rather than venturing into the city, given that the vast majority of cases are clustered around the major cities.

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Costa Rica

Squirrel monkey in Osa Peninsula

Costa Rica's response to the coronavirus outbreak has been exemplary and infection rate is remarkably low. We've also seen comprehensive guidelines on what future travel will look like and have a high degree of confidence in the response taken.

We are still hoping to deliver already booked holidays to Costa Rica this summer, but doing so is dependent on the Costa Rica government reopening its borders and our own UK government allowing us to return without the need to quarantine, as per the anticipated Air Bridges with many European countries. For anyone looking to book a new trip, we will probably be looking at December onwards, after the rainy season and into 2021.

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Blue footed booby showing off its feet

Our assumption from early on was that Ecuador and the Galápagos would be off limits until September at the earliest, despite hopes of a July resumption in the archipelago. With flights to Quito resuming and the Galápagos now largely free of covid, it is theoretically possible travel will be possible in August. The most likely scenario remains a fuller reopening in September and October. As with all countries, this is a fluid situation, so it's best to get in touch if you're thinking about an autumn visit.

Start planning: When to visit where in Ecuador >>

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Coffee beans grow in the highlands of Nicaragua

There has been no lockdown in the country, and I don't mean that in a planned Swedish way either. The pandemic has been largely ignored with repeated reassurances/claims by president Daniel Ortega that there has been no local transmission. I’m afraid the stories coming out of Nicaragua of hasty burials, altered death certificates and limited oversight of testing means that there is no credible means of knowing what on earth is going on. The Ministry of Health website is remarkably quiet on the matter of Covid.

Given the above, we simply would not consider sending anyone to Nicaragua for the foreseeable future. We will continue to try to establish some certainty to help support this lovely country but for now, it’s off the menu for us.

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Machu Picchu bathed in golden sunlight

The current stance in Peru is that the government will open its borders from October onwards. This is not to say travel will not be possible in September, which is still some way off, but July and August departures are unlikely. As with much of Latin America, Peru is a bit behind Europe in infection rates and so we proceed with caution.

Infection rates in all of the high areas of Peru (Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and Arequipa) are very low. The same cannot yet be said of low-lying Iquitos (for Amazon cruises), Lima and the coast around Trujillo and Ica. So it may be a case of choosing your destinations carefully if you are looking to visit this year.

If you are looking to go to Peru later this year, let us know as, if we can get you there, it will be amazing to experience the high Andes in such quiet times.

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