Fresh air. Sunshine. Wide-open spaces. Open vehicle game drives. Africa's sheer expanse and diverse beauty make the continent a fantastic post-lockdown destination for travellers looking for somewhere safe, remote, and away from large crowds, to enjoy a well-earned vacation. An African safari is just what the doctor ordered.
[Last update: 15.11.2022]
However, trying to keep up with the ever-changing entry requirements and travel protocols for each country can be rather overwhelming. We'd like to help you take the stress out of planning your trip by laying out each country's current COVID-19 entry requirements and health screening protocols. We'll keep this post updated as the requirements change.
With an estimated 80% of the South African population having some form of immunity due to a combination of vaccinations and previous infection and with fewer South Africans getting severely ill, the country has lifted all lockdown restrictions, mask mandates and proof of vaccination certificate entry requirements for travellers with immediate effect. Visitors to South Africa are no longer required to provide a vaccination certificate or recent negative PCR test, or proof of recovery from Covid-19.
Namibia is open for international travel and mandates regarding the wearing of face masks in public places have been lifted. All coronavirus travel restrictions have been lifted and arrivals are not required to present proof of vaccination status or a negative PCR test to enter the country.
The government of Zimbabwe has loosened entry requirements for tourists with immediate effect and Zimbabwe's international airports (Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls International Airports) are open to all travellers.
Health screening and COVID-19 protocols
- On arrival, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated arrivals 12 years and above must present a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test that is not older than 48 hours from the time of departure for Zimbabwe. The PCR test must be obtained from a recognized facility in order for it to be considered valid.
- Arrivals 12 years and above who can provide full COVID-19 vaccination certificates on arrival are not required to present a negative PCR COVID-19 Clearance Certificate.
- Fully vaccinated is defined as one dose of a single-dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson or both doses of a two-dose vaccine such as Astra Zenica or Pfizer.
- Travellers must complete track and trace information on arrival.
- Public health measures may include social distancing, hand sanitizing and wearing a face mask.
Zambia is also open to all foreign visitors. Depending on nationality, some travellers to Zambia can enter without a visitor visa while others can either obtain a visitor visa on arrival or apply for an e-visa before travelling to Zambia. Consult the Zambian Department of Immigration website for more information or ask your Wild Wings Safaris travel consultant for details.
Health screening and COVID-19 protocols
- Vaccinated travellers must present their vaccination certificates on arrival. No PCR test is required.
- Unvaccinated travellers must present a negative PCR COVID-19 Clearance Certificate obtained within 72 hours before departure. They should also upload their negative PCR test certificate to the Global Haven website before travel.
- All arrivals, regardless of vaccination status, must complete a health declaration form and undergo temperature scanning.
- Travellers with a body temperature equal to, or above 38°C will be tested for COVID-19 on their own
expense and will be required to quarantine at a hotel or government facility until their test results are
- Children, aged 11 and below, are exempt from the requirement to provide a negative PCR test or proof of
Public health measures may include wearing a face mask in public, frequent hand washing, social distancing, avoiding crowded places and seeking medical attention early if feeling unwell.
Botswana's airports and land borders are open and all lockdown restrictions, mask mandates and proof of vaccination certificate entry requirements for travellers were lifted with immediate effect on 28 September 2022. Visitors to Botswana are no longer required to provide a vaccination certificate, recent negative PCR test or proof of recovery from Covid-19 at ports of entry.
Tanzania has been open to travellers from all countries since 18 May 2020. When the ban on international flights into and out of Tanzania was lifted, the government directed all tourism entities to designate and adequately train Covid-19 officers to liaise with the country's Health Ministry. All hotels and tourist facilities went through a COVID-19 certification process and new standard operating procedures were introduced to provide a safe environment for locals and tourists.
Health screening and COVID-19 protocols
- On arrival, fully vaccinated visitors will be asked to provide their vaccination certificates with a valid QR code for verification. Only URT- and WHO-approved vaccines are accepted.
- Visitors who are not fully vaccinated or who are unvaccinated must present a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR or NAATs test result with a QR code taken 72 hours before departure.
- Unvaccinated visitors who can't provide Port Health Authorities with a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR certificate on arrival will be required to take a rapid antigen test at their own cost. Positive rapid antigen test cases will be required to follow up with an RT-PCR test at their own cost.
- Children aged 12 years and younger are exempt.
Kenya is also open for travel and travel requirements have been eased considerably.
COVID-19 protocols for arrivals
- Fully vaccinated travellers must present their vaccination certificates on arrival. Vaccination is defined as having received the prescribed doses of a specific vaccine's latest shot administered at least 14 days prior to arrival. No PCR test is required.
- Unvaccinated travellers must present proof of a negative PCR test, conducted within 72 hours of departure.
- Travellers who arrive in Kenya without a vaccination certificate or negative PCR test and any traveller with flu-like symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to take a rapid antigen test at their own cost. Positive rapid antigen test cases will be asked to take a PCR test at their own further cost and self-isolate.
- Children under the age of 12 are exempt.
All travellers exhibiting flu-like symptoms at any port of entry into Kenya are required to fill in a traveller's locator form on the Kenyan Ministry of Health web portal.
In Africa, we always have time ...
We are looking forward to welcoming overseas visitors to our shores and we can't wait to take you on that bush-break safari or island-style getaway you've been dreaming of. In light of the global pandemic and the changing face of how we travel and interact, we would like to remind you to 'take it slow' the African way.
Visitors can expect to be asked to follow standard Covid-19 protocols such as social distancing, wearing face masks in public places, regular hand washing and sanitising. They, like all citizens of the country they are visiting, may also be asked to complete health questionnaires and submit to temperature testing and health screening on arrival at airports and on checking into their safari lodge or boutique hotel, when visiting shops, entering restaurants and taking in tourist attractions.
This may lead to delays. Our suggestion is to take a deep breath, enjoy the moment and remind yourself of a saying we have here in Africa: "You wear the watch but we have the time."
If you have any concerns about how COVID-19 entry requirements might impact your African safari, please feel free to share them with us. While many agencies offer a standard one-size-fits-all safari package, most of our itineraries are tailor-made to your budget and travel requirements. You can rely on our experience in designing flexible itineraries to put a trip together for you that runs like clockwork, from start to finish.
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About the author
Dianne Kokkonidis was born in Johannesburg, grew up in the Transkei and spent years exploring Europe. She returned to South Africa to live on a farm in the Outeniqua Mountains when the call of Africa got too loud to ignore. She comes from a family of storytellers, so it's no surprise she's now found her way into writing about one of the oldest stories known to mankind - the lure of Africa.