Fresh air. Sunshine. Wide-open spaces. Open vehicle game drives. The sheer expanse and diverse beauty of the African savanna make the region a great 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.

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.

Last update: 23.11.2020

South Africa

Cape Town South Africa by Wim van den Heever D3 S6433

Cape Town, South Africa

(Image: Wim van den Heever)

South Africa is open to all countries except for leisure travellers from high-risk countries. The official list of high-risk countries not permitted entry for leisure purposes is revised every fortnight. The latest updated red list which currently stands at 22 countries (down from 57), can be found here.

If you're a tourist from a high-risk country, you will be able to travel to South Africa provided your passport indicates you have spent at least 10 days in a low-risk country such as Namibia before coming to South Africa.

Health screening and COVID-19 protocols

  • Arrivals must present a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test that is not older than 72 hours from the time of departure for South Africa. In order for the PCR test to be considered valid, it must have the name and signature of the certified medical practitioner who conducted the test. Your test result must be printed (not on your phone) and in English.
  • Arrivals will be screened for signs of COVID-19 symptoms or for contact with people who have been infected with the coronavirus.
  • Arrivals will be asked to download the free COVID Alert South Africa mobile app. You can find out more about how the app works here.
  • All foreign nationals must have travel insurance. Make sure that your travel insurance covers the cost of any coronavirus testing or quarantine measures.

Mandatory quarantine

Mandatory quarantine is not required, unless:

  • you fail to present a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test. Should this be the case, you will be required to enter mandatory quarantine at your own cost and remain there until (1) you have either tested negative for COVID-19 or (2) the quarantine period of 10 days has been completed.
  • you show any COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with an infected person in which case you will be required to take a mandatory COVID-19 test at your own cost. If the test result comes back positive, you will be required to enter a 10-day quarantine period at a designated site at your own cost.

Namibia

Wim van den Heever D517766 ethosa

Etosha, Namibia

(Image: Wim van den Heever)

Namibia's borders are open to travellers from all countries. If you're planning a longer visit to Southern Africa and South Africa is on your radar but you're unable to travel directly to South Africa because you come from one of the 22 high-risk countries on South Africa's travel ban list, stopping over in Namibia for a 10 Day Best of Namibia Safari, for example, will allow you to meet South African entry requirements.

Health screening and COVID-19 protocols

  • Arrivals must present a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test that is not older than 72 hours from the time of boarding their international flight to Namibia.
  • Upon arrival in Namibia, all travellers will go through a health screening and temperature testing procedure and will be required to submit their full travel itinerary.
  • Visitors to Namibia are NO LONGER required to retake the COVID-19 PCR test five days after entering the country.

Mandatory quarantine

Mandatory quarantine is not required, unless:

  • a visitor's PCR test is older than 72 hours but less than seven days. In this event, the traveller will be required to submit to a supervised quarantine of seven days.

Zimbabwe

Blog Southern Africa Travel Update Zimbabwe Gorges Lodge Sunset cruise on the zambezi

Sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, Zimbabwe

(Image: Gorges Lodge)

While land borders remain closed, Zimbabwe's international airports are open to travellers from all countries.

Health screening and COVID-19 protocols

  • Arrivals 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.
  • Upon arrival, all travellers will undergo health screening and temperature testing protocols.
  • A fee of $60 will be levied on travellers tested at ports of entry.
  • Standard social distancing protocols, regular hand sanitisation and the wearing of masks are mandatory.

Mandatory quarantine

Mandatory quarantine on arrival is not required, unless:

  • arrivals show symptoms associated with COVID-19.
  • arrivals don't present a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate upon arrival.
In both these cases, the traveller will be required to (1) quarantine at their own cost at a designated isolation facility for seven days, and then (2) self-isolate for a further seven days at their own cost.

    Zambia

    Blog Southern Africa Travel Update Zambia South Luangwa Lion Camp

    Bushwalk in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

    (Image: Lion Camp)

    Zambia, like Zimbabwe, 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

    • Arrivals must have a certificate of a negative COVID-19 test that has been conducted within 14 days of arriving in Zambia.
    • Arrivals will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms upon entry and are required to adhere to standard COVID-19 infection mitigation protocols like social distancing, wearing face masks, and personal hygiene for the duration of their stay in Zambia.
    • Visitors will be asked to monitor themselves daily for two weeks post-arrival in Zambia for coronavirus symptoms and, if they start showing signs, report to the nearest health facility.

    Mandatory quarantine

    Mandatory quarantine is not required, unless:

    • an arrival is exhibiting signs of COVID-19 infection, in which case, they will have to quarantine for 14 days.

    Botswana

    Blog Southern Africa Travel Update Botswana African Bush Camps Linyati

    Mokoro safari in Botswana

    (Image: African Bush Camps Linyati)

    On 9 November 2020, air travel resumed at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone, Maun, and Kasane International Airports. Airlines servicing these three airports are Airlink and private charter flights.

    Health screening and COVID-19 protocols

    • Travellers must present a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test result that was conducted within 72 hours of departure for Botswana.
    • Upon arrival in Botswana, travellers will undergo health screening for COVID-19 symptoms.

    Mandatory quarantine

    Visitors showing COVID-19 symptoms will be required to:

    • undergo a PCR test, and possibly self-isolate and or quarantine for 14 days.

    Tanzania

    African Travel Advice Tanzania Ngorongoro Crater

    Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania

    (Image: Ngorongoro Crater Camp - Tanzania)

    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

    • Visitors are NOT required to present a negative COVID-19 test on arrival.
    • Visitors will undergo temperature scanning on arrival and if they show symptoms of COVID-19, they may be required to undergo enhanced screening, including a Covid test.

    Mandatory quarantine

    If visitors are tested for COVID-19 on arrival, they may be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

    Please note:

    While the government of Tanzania has removed mandatory 14-day quarantine requirements for visitors on arrival, as well as the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test, the airline you are travelling with may require a negative COVID-19 certificate, or your country of origin may require a negative COVID-19 certificate upon departure.

      Kenya

      African Travel Advice Kenya Maasai Mara

      Masai Mara, Kenya

      (Image: Onne Vegter)

      Kenya reopened its borders for international travellers on 1 August 2020. Depending on the country of origin, some travellers may be required to quarantine (see the section "Mandatory quarantine" below for further details).

      Health screening and COVID-19 protocols

      • If you travel to Kenya you will need to obtain a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken within 96 hours of flying.
      • The negative COVID-19 test must be a negative PCR test result. If on arrival, you present the Kenyan authorities with a negative rapid test result, you will need to enter mandatory or voluntary quarantine for 14 days, depending on an assessment of your ability to quarantine.
      • You need to fill out an online "Travelers Health Surveillance Form" for the purposes of contact tracing.
      • You will be screened on arrival.
      • If you are displaying the symptoms associated with COVID-19, you will be required to quarantine in the place you are staying for the first 14 days of your stay. Passengers travelling in the two rows surrounding you on the flight will be traced and required to quarantine for 14 days.

      Mandatory quarantine

        • Some travellers may be required to enter mandatory quarantine, depending on their country of origin.
        • A list of approved states and territories whose travellers are exempt from quarantine can be found here.
        • Travellers displaying COVID-19 symptoms will be required to quarantine for the first 14 days of their stay. Passengers travelling in the two rows surrounding them on the flight will be traced and required to quarantine for 14 days, too.

        Other COVID-19 safety measures

        • There is a nationwide curfew is in place between 11 pm to 4 am.
        • Face masks must be worn in public places and social distancing etiquette must be observed.
        • Social distancing rules apply when using private vehicles. This means that anyone driving a car may fill only 50% of the vehicle's seat capacity.

        New E-Visa protocols

        Kenya's Immigration Services is in the process of fully automating its visa issuance process. As such, from 1 January 2021, visas will no longer be issued at the airport or any immigration border. Instead, all passengers from countries that require a visa to enter Kenya will be required to apply for and obtain an e-visa online before boarding their flight.

        In Africa, we always have time ...

        Southern Africa Travel Update Mozambique Take time Dimitry B

        Time is on your side in Africa.

        (Image: Dimitry B)

        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 may have a watch but we have the time."

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        About the author

        Dianne
        Dianne

        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 the oldest stories known to mankind - the lure of Africa.