Traveling to South America During Coronavirus
We are living in a strange time. It is difficult to express in words how the world is feeling right now, other than an overwhelming sense of anxiety that has a hold on nearly everyone. Our constant exposure to the twenty-four-hour news cycle surrounding Covid-19 has us incessantly worrying.
But perhaps this incessant worry is excessive. While we understand that many are scared of the coronavirus, there is more to be concerned about during this crazy time. We ought to be concerned about the loss of rational thinking and culture of fear that has befallen the world. Yes, the disease can be dangerous to some, but the global hysteria we are seeing perhaps is surpassing the actual risks themselves.
We understand that there are reasons to be concerned: at the time of writing this (March 12, 2020 11:45am central time), there are 130,305 cases of the virus and 4,756 deaths. 68,678 of those infected have recovered, meaning there 56,871 active cases. We understand that things feel scary, but the outcomes of panicking might be even scarier.
Here is a brief list of the things we are scared of during this time: People hoarding masks, contributing to a global shortage. Even worse, people stealing masks from hospitals. The stock market tumbling. Travel restrictions. A single bottle of hand sanitizer costing $250 on Amazon. People panic-buying boxes of pasta and toilet paper. Grocery store shelves being empty, emitting a post-apocalyptic feeling. Weddings being cancelled.
But most of all what we fear is the sensation of fear itself. Instead of facing this global challenge together with a sense of unity, rationality, and community, we are practicing widespread panic, suspicion, and an every-man-for-himself attitude. We can choose to isolate ourselves in fear or we can choose to work together to solve this global problem. Between fear and kindness, the choice is ours.
Therefore, we implore you. We implore you to be kind to your neighbor. We implore you to take a break from the news and go outside. We implore you to stop the fear-mongering. We implore you to practice compassion, always and now more than ever.
We also encourage calling racism out for what it is. Not every person of Asian appearance is Chinese. And not every Asian person has coronavirus.
As a leading tour operator in South America, we are going to address a common frequently asked question as of recently:
Should I cancel my trip?
The World Health Organization (WHO) does not explicitly suggest cancelling travel plans. In fact, they have stated, “In general, evidence shows that restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations . . .” Of course, this is a personal decision that depends on a variety of factors, such as age, current health status, and if you are planning on traveling to a country that is currently experiencing high infection and transmission rates. We personally don’t suggest that you cancel your trip. Again, we reiterate that this is a personal decision, and we don’t encourage hopping on a plane if you are not comfortable doing so. If you are planning a trip, check your government’s travel advisories before planning anything.
Can I get a refund?
Although we still encourage travel to Ecuador, the Galapagos, and Peru, we understand if that is not possible at the time given this strange situation we’re all living through. Thus, we have modified our cancellation policy with greater flexibility. We have changed our cancellation policy to a 50% refund on tours if cancelled at least one week in advance. The refund is exclusively for the purchased tour and does not include items such as park entrance fees and plane tickets. In addition, we remain committed to changing travel dates and listening to each client’s case regarding cancellations and changes in an independent manner.
If you travel with Gulliver Expeditions, we will make every effort to ensure your safety. Health and safety are our number one priority, and especially in these times, we will go to great effort to protect you to the best of our ability. We are ensuring with all providers (i.e. hotels, vehicles) that everything is consistently disinfected and clean. We are also ensuring that none of our guides are sick, whether they have a cold or anything more serious.
Given the situation, we are offering discounts on our tours. We encourage you to contact us if you have any questions regarding tours, cancellations, and changes.
We also encourage facts over fear, compassion, and clean hands.