October 9

Ebola in Perspective | Travel in Africa


October 9, 2014

At Rhino Africa we hold our clients’ safety as paramount. Safeguarding the trust our clients place in us is our highest priority. As Africa’s Leading Safari Company, we would never compromise the health or well-being of those who travel with us. We are committed to providing the most up-to-date and accurate information and will be updating our clients as the situation evolves.

As tragic as the effects of the virus are, irresponsible reporting has led many to believe that the entire African continent is in the throes of a fight against the Ebola virus.

Read the Open Letter that our CEO and founder, David Ryan, wrote to the media about irresponsible reporting on the Ebola crisis. To assuage concerns about travelling to Africa, Rhino Africa is offering our clients a guarantee:

In the event that a client’s home country government issues an Ebola related travel warning specific to any destination that forms part of the client’s itinerary, we guarantee a 100% refund on the land portion of the package booked through us.

By addressing the topic, we hope to reverse some of the harm caused by labelling Ebola as an ‘African’ epidemic rather than portraying it as a concentrated outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Presenting accurate and clear information about the size of Africa, the location of the outbreak, the vast distance between different parts of the continent and the nature of the virus will enable travellers to make educated decisions about travelling to Africa:

1. Africa is HUGE.

To understand the whereabouts of the virus and how it relates to the rest of Africa, one must first grasp the vastness of the continent. To put it into context, Africa is so large that the following countries can concurrently fit into it: India, Mexico, Peru, France, Spain, Papua New Guinea, Sweden, Japan, Germany, Norway, Italy, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Nepal, Bangladesh and Greece.

Map by Kai Krause
Map by Kai Krause

2. Ebola has only affected 6 of Africa’s 53 countries.

To date 6 of Africa’s 53 countries have reported cases of Ebola. Nigeria and Senegal are two such countries but the World Health Organisation has confirmed that both Nigeria and Senegal have stabilised and controlled the threat. It is widely accepted that the Democratic Republic of Congo is fighting a different strain of the virus which is unrelated to the outbreak prevalent in the other affected countries. Regardless of this distinction, the Democratic Republic of Congo is included in the below map which highlights countries that have been affected by Ebola verses those that have not. That leaves three countries in a concentrated area of Africa that are tackling the Ebola outbreak, namely Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. As alluded to earlier, irresponsible reporting has led to the outbreak being labelled an ‘African’ issue. Presenting the outbreak in this way is potentially disastrous for the African continent as a whole.

Map courtesy of www.tourismupdate.co.za.
Map courtesy of www.tourismupdate.co.za.

3. London, Paris, Lisbon and Madrid are closer to the Ebola outbreak than many cities in Africa including Nairobi, Arusha, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Now that you have a firm grip of just how large Africa is, you will appreciate that Southern and East Africa are a very long way away from the Ebola-touched countries.

As of 3 October 2014 | Map courtesy of the World Health Organisation
As of 3 October 2014 | Map courtesy of the World Health Organisation. Sadly, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Thomas Eric Duncan died on 8 October 2014.

The huge scale of Africa is evident when you consider that cities such as Lisbon, Madrid, Paris and London are closer to the outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia than the following African cities: Gaborone, Nairobi, Arusha, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Listed below, from closest to furthest, is the distance from Freetown, Sierra Leone to the respective cities:

Lisbon, Portugal: 2107 miles | 3678 km

Madrid, Spain: 2285 miles | 3390 km

Paris, France: 2919 miles | 4697 km

London, United Kingdom: 3061 miles | 4927 km

Gaborone, Botswana: 3495 miles | 5625 km

Nairobi, Kenya: 3509 miles | 5648 km

Renowned for its medical research facilities, the Kenya government are confident they could quickly contain an outbreak in the event of the virus moving East.

Arusha, Tanzania: 3539 miles | 5695 km

The Tanzanian president Mr. Jakaya Kikwete has allayed fears
over Ebola pandemic in Africa, saying this continent remains a safe destination for global travelers.

Cape Town, South Africa: 3587 miles | 5772 km

Johannesburg, South Africa: 3661 miles | 5892 km

The South African Health Minister stated that South Africa is well prepared in the event of an infected person entering the country. Border controls are on high alert and quarantine facilities are in place to minimise any potential threat.

4. Ebola is not an airborne virus.

It is important to know that the Ebola virus does not spread through the air like a cold. In other words, the Ebola virus is not an airborne infection. According to the World Health Organisation, Ebola spreads “through close and direct physical contact with infected bodily fluids.” For more a more thorough explanation please consult WHO.

The governments of Ebola-touched countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have pleaded for more support and it is crucial for the international community to show solidarity in this trying time. Relief is potentially on the horizon as various vaccines are being tested in Africa and other parts of the world. It is unfortunate to detract – even for a moment – from the true victims of the outbreak which, of course, are the individuals that have lost their lives or loved ones to the epidemic and the countries that are tasked with protecting their people. It is, however necessary to address unfounded fear because history tells us that the harm connected to life threatening viruses normally far exceeds the actual threat.

We hope we’ve provided some much needed perspective on the Ebola issue and that we have alleviated some of your concerns about travelling to Africa. In order to minimise your financial risks, we recommend booking flexible flight tickets that permit changes and are refundable.

Should you have any questions or concerns that we have not answered, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would hate for you to miss out on an African adventure based on irresponsible reporting.


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About the author 

Matthew Sterne

Matt discovered a passion for writing in the six years he spent travelling abroad. He worked for a turtle sanctuary in Nicaragua, in an ice cream factory in Norway and on a camel safari in India. He was a door-to-door lightbulb-exchanger in Australia, a pub crawl guide in Amsterdam and a journalist in Colombia. Now, he writes and travels with us.

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