During our time as Africa travel professionals we’ve seen our fair share of questions, such as :
‘What should I pack for my safari and what should I tip the tracker’
‘Can I train for my upcoming marathon while on safari?’
‘Will I be safe walking around in Cape Town?’
We thought we’d round up some of the FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS we’ve been receiving lately around travel in Africa in the time of COVID.
Being apprehensive about travelling to another country and wanting to be sure that you’ve considered all eventualities is to be expected. Our trusted and experienced team have been putting together complex Africa trips for over 22 years.
COVID has put a spanner in the works of course… but if there is a will, we can show you the way!
We have solutions and most of the answers to everything concerning Africa travel right now. And if we don’t have the answer, we are well connected to a wide range of suppliers and ground handlers.
Our job is to find solutions and ensure that your bucketlist trip is as frictionless, seamless and hassle-free as possible.
QUESTION: What are the health protocols when travelling to Southern and East Africa?
ANSWER: In line with all other countries around the world, travellers coming to Southern and East Africa will be expected to abide by the regulations which include mandatory wearing of masks at all times, practising social distancing in public spaces, regular washing or sanitizing of hands and presenting a negative COVID-19 test result as per the relevant country’s requirements or your international airline’s requirements.
QUESTION : If I’ve had my vaccine, can I travel freely in Africa?
ANSWER: Fully vaccinated travelers still need a negative COVID-19 test to enter Southern and East African counties as well as when board flights back to the U.S. and their home countries. Once the CDC and WHO have established if vaccinations are preventing Covid-19 transmissions, requirements can change again. We will update you as soon as we know more.
QUESTION : Should I worry about the so-called South African variant?
ANSWER: The media has done terrible damage by unfairly naming this strain after a country. The truth is that the 501.V2 variant could have emerged anywhere. The fact is that it was identified in South Africa thanks to the country’s advanced scientific community which has contributed enormously to research into Covid since the beginning. Sadly, history has not taught humankind much…. This is exactly what happened in Spain, when it was unfairly stigmatized after the naming of the Spanish Flu – which did not in fact originate in Spain.
South Africa is actually weathering the virus rather well. Infections are down, vaccination roll out has begun and people are being Covid responsible. Tourism and hospitality is vital to so many and so the tourism industry has gone to extra lengths to ensure visitors are safe.
QUESTION: Multiple PCR Covid Tests : How can I simplify my trip so that I can still have a quality safari without being subjected to Covid testing at numerous destinations?
ANSWER: We recommend you focus on exploring a single country destination more thoroughly. Our experienced consultants will advise you and design an itinerary that gets the timing right. ie: ensures you spend sufficient time in certain areas so that there is time to have your PCR test before continuing onwards to the next destination on your itinerary.
QUESTION: Once I’ve entered a country with my negative PCR test, will I need to be tested again or can I move around freely?
ANSWER: You don’t need a second test. Once you’ve entered one particular country with your negative test you can move around freely throughout that country. You will only need another test before returning home if your home country and/or international airline requires it.
QUESTION: Gorilla trekking- Apparently there are special Covid protocols?
ANSWER: Rwanda and Uganda have re-opened for tourism and Gorilla trekking is possible again. More details here. It is important to note that set Covid-19 guidelines that must be observed. All international travelers must test negative for Covid-19 72 hours before departure and will undergo another test upon arrival in Rwanda and Uganda. All participants must test negative 48 hours before the trekking date. Anyone with high temperatures and other signs of sickness including flu and cough will not be allowed to participate.
QUESTION: How is testing done at Johannesburg O.R. Tambo airport?
For Arriving Passengers
- Passengers arriving without a valid negative PCR test can test just before immigration
- The specimen is taken to the mobile labs and again result time is approximately 2 hours during which the passenger remains at immigration
- If the test is positive the passenger will need to isolate at their own cost
- Test cost is R800 and payment must be in local currency
For Departing Passengers
- There are mobile labs available just outside the SAPS area
- They operate according to flight hours – from first landing/departure in the morning to last at night – pretty much 24 hours
- Cost is R800 per test and results are available in approximately two hours
QUESTION: What is the health screening process on arrival?
ANSWER: Upon arrival in the port of entry, the traveller will be screened for any COVID-19 symptoms or for contact with people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. Should any traveller display any COVID-19–related symptoms or been in contact with an infected person(s), they will be expected to take a mandatory COVID-19 test. This test will be at the traveller’s cost. If the COVID-19 test comes back positive, the traveller will be subjected to quarantine at a designated site. The accommodation at a quarantine site will be at the traveller’s cost.
QUESTION: What about transit travellers?
ANSWER: Transit travellers through Southern and East African countries by air will be allowed to connect to their destinations, subject to them complying with applicable health protocols. ie: Travellers are required to produce a certificate of a negative COVID-19 PCR test that has been conducted within 72 hours of departure. Passengers arriving without a valid negative PCR test will be subjected to a PCR test in the airport at their own cost.
QUESTION: Do returning safari travelers need COVID-19 Tests to re-enter the United States?
ANSWER: All air passengers (above two years of age) flying into the United States must present a negative COVID-19 test or antigen test. The test needs to be conducted no more than three days before the flight and the proof of result will be checked by airlines. The rule also stands for those who have been vaccinated. The CDC also recommends quarantining at home after arrival, though it’s not mandatory. You might need a test in order to depart if the international airline or destination country requires it.
QUESTION: Do I have to wear a mask on safari game drives?
ANSWER: The guides and trackers are obliged to wear masks as they need to adhere to Covid protocol. There is no need to wear a mask on a open safari vehicle especially if you’re travelling with your family of friend group. However, if you are joined by other guests, it is generally accepted to be sensitive and to get general consensus. One of the big benefits of safair travel is that all activities and dining takes place in the spacious outdoors!
QUESTION: Do I need Travel Insurance?
ANSWER: Sufficient travel insurance cover is absolutely essential during your vacation. Most importantly, cover against cancellation fees should be considered a must, as you need to be protected against financial loss should you not be able to travel due to medical reasons. We always recommend that you take out a fully inclusive / comprehensive travel insurance when traveling to Africa.
QUESTION: What to Do When Returning Home From a Trip to Southern or East Africa
ANSWER: Travelers returning home are advised to self-monitor for symptoms and follow their country’s national protocols, which may include self-quarantine for the incubation period.
Curious about what an Africa trip could look like? The itineraries below take into consideration each destination’s air access, COVID requirements and our trust in our ground handling partners and preferred suppliers.
Click to explore our Virtual Itineraries