Written by Julie Graham
— updated 30 March 2021 —
Many countries in Africa are entering a new phase of recovery after the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic quite literally brought the world to a standstill. Part of this phase is the reopening of airports, removal of curfews, and the slow and steady reintroduction of international tourism, guided by new and improved health and safety protocols.
A renewed sense of hope has brought with it a renewed excitement about travel again, and safari travel has never looked more enticing than it does now. The striking natural landscapes of the continent are more beautiful than ever – the animals are abundant, the bushveld is flourishing, and the land is thriving. It is something one has to experience first-hand to really grasp the magic. As explorer and author William Burchell once said, “Nothing but breathing the air of Africa, and actually walking through it, can communicate the indescribable sensations.”
While there are a number of wonderful destinations in Africa that have been deemed safe and have opened their borders, we have selected some of our favorite Southern and East African COVID safe destinations that are ready to welcome travelers from around the world to experience this magic for themselves. See the new guidelines, protocols and safety requirements needed for your favorite COVID safe destination in Africa below.
It is highly recommended that you regularly check government and airline websites for updates as the requirements are constantly changing.
On the 1st July 2020, Kenya was awarded the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travel Stamp in recognition of the country’s adoption of the global health and hygiene standardized protocols dubbed ‘Safe Travels’. International travel to this wildlife mecca resumed on the 1st August 2020, and safari tours to Kenya were able to resume again. As from 26 March 2021, Kenya announced a ban on all inland travel in the capital Nairobi and out four other counties. No road, rail or air transport will be permitted in these 5 areas.
Countries allowed to travel to Kenya
Travelers from the following countries are required to undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days at their own cost: Brunei, Czech Republic, Kuwait, Spain and Switzerland. There 205 other countries (this list is updated 9 March 2021), however, that are exempt from mandatory quarantine.
Kenya Airways, Emirates, RwandAir, Lufthansa, Qatar, British Airways, Ethiopian Airlines.
Also an approved and recognised user of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travel Stamp, Tanzania announced its lift on the ban of travel on 18 May 2020, just in time for the great annual migration. International flights arriving and departing from the country began, and travel to Tanzania has been a relatively stress-free affair.
All countries are allowed to travel into Tanzania and there is no mandatory quarantine upon arrival. The country is open for international travel.
Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar, KLM Royal Dutch, Emirates, Kenya Air, Precision Air, Swiss, Turkish.
The iconic tropical spice island of Zanzibar, just off the coast of Tanzania, also reopened its borders to all travelers on the 6th June 2020, welcoming tourism back to its pearlescent sand beaches and warm Indian Ocean waters.
All countries are allowed to travel into Zanzibar and there is no mandatory quarantine upon arrival.
If a COVID-19 test is required as from 9 March 2021 you can book an appointment for COVID-19 test and obtain your certificate in Zanzibar through the following website www.zanzibarcovidtesting.co.tz . Cost is from $80 for PCR test and from $25 for a antigen rapid diagnostic test.
Mango Airlines, Precision Air, Oman Air, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Air, Qatar, Emirates, Kenya Airways, Coastal Aviation, Auric Air.
Also awarded the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travel Stamp, Rwanda’s airports reopened for commercial flights in August 2020, allowing international travellers back into the country for tourism once again.
All countries are allowed to travel to Rwanda, and though there is no mandatory quarantine on arrival, travelers are required to be tested at the airport and must wait between 8 – 24 hours for their results in a designated hotel.
Travelers from all countries must provide a negative COVID-19 test on arrival..
All travelers must fill out a pre-arrival form and upload your COVID-19 test certificate via www.rbc.gov.rw/travel prior to arrival.
All travelers arriving will be screened upon arrival and take a second PCR test to confirm the negative results of the tests done prior to arrival. You will need to wait at least 24 hours in a transit hotel. There is special rates at transit hotels.
If visiting any national park in Rwanda, you need to visit the parks within 72 hours of receiving a negative PCR test result. Akagera National Park however is different in that they require a Rapid Antigen Test (found in Kigali at various clinics).
When departing Rwanda you must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 120 hours before departure. You do not need another test if you have arrived and departed within 120 hours.
Private charter flights, Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways, Emirates, Egypt Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, RwandAir.
Uganda resumed international passenger flights to Entebbe International Airport on the 1 October 2020, allowing travelers to visit this gorilla trekking destination once again.
Uganda is open to all international travelers and there is no mandatory quarantine required. However, passengers who exhibit signs and symptoms of an infectious disease will be transported to an isolation centre for a COVID-19 test. The results will be available within 24 to 48 hours.
All travelers must provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test result issued within 120 hours of departure for Uganda.
All travelers will undergo temperature checks and health screening on arrival and departure.
While in the country, all international travelers will be expected to adhere to protective safety measures such as hand hygiene, wearing masks and keeping a physical distance of 1.5 metres as deemed appropriate. If a foreign national tests positive for COVID‑19 he/she will be taken to a COVID‑19 treatment centre, or repatriated for treatment outside Uganda at their own cost following COVID‑19 medical evacuation procedures.
On departure from Uganda, all travelers are required to arrive at the airport at least 4 hours before their flight and present a negative COVID-19 PCR text result issued within 120 hours of departing from Uganda.
Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, Uganda Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air Tanzania, Kenya Airways.
On the 9th November, Botswana lifted its international travel restrictions in a phased manner, resuming air travel from Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone, Kasane International Airport, and Maun International Airport.
All countries are allowed to travel into Botswana and there is no mandatory quarantine upon arrival. Travelers will, however, be required to remain in contact with local health authorities for a period of 14 days doing self-monitoring. They are required to fill in a traveler locator form.
All travelers to Botswana are required to present a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test result, conducted within 72 hours of departure for Botswana.
Strict health screening for COVID-19 symptoms will be conducted on arrival.
If arriving at Maun International Airport, a rapid antigen test (complimentary) is required. Results are provided within 15 minutes. Please factor this in when booking light aircraft flights from Maun.
For departure out of Botswana you will need to present a PCR test 24 hours before. We can arrange in-camp testing or you can do a PCR rest in Maun or Kasane Airport (bookings essential) and results are required within 24 hours so then you will need to overnight in Maun or Kasane. Your Ker & Downey Africa travel specialist will arrange these for you.
Private charter flights, Airlink, Air Botswana, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airways.
Our Recommended LuxVenture Trip in Botswana:
As from 1 March 2021 air travel remains open for international travelers, but land borders are only open to returning residents and essential services. If traveling from Victoria Falls to Kasane (Botswana) we can arrange a light aircraft scheduled flight for you so you don’t need to go through the land border, this means then that you can still travel between Victoria Falls and Kasane/Chobe area.
You can visit national parks and designated tourism facilities as long as you are within curfew hours (20h00 to 5.30). Hotels and lodges are exempt from the mandatory business closures. Your Ker & Downey travel specialist will be arranging this for you.
All countries are allowed to travel to Zimbabwe and mandatory quarantine is not required unless travelers display symptoms of COVID-19. If symptoms of the virus are apparent, travelers are required to stay at a designated isolation facility for 7 days, then self-isolate for another 7 days.
Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways Air Tanzania, Airlink, Fastjet (as from 15 March 2021).
Namibia reopened its borders to international travelers wanting to holiday in the country from the 1st September 2020 and announced its new implementation protocols to revive the country’s tourism initiative. Entry to Namibia will only be allowed via Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek. This renowned safari destination is characterised by the endless desert landscapes and sand dunes that disappear into pristine coastlines, and is definitely worth experiencing.
All countries are allowed to travel into Namibia and there is no mandatory quarantine upon arrival. Quarantine is required if a swab done in the country displays a positive test result as stipulated below. Entry is only allowed into Namibia at the Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek.
Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa, Eurowings, Qatar Airways, Airlink, Mack Air.
Zambia opened its borders to safari tours and experiences earlier this year to all foreign nationals. There are limited domestic flights happening twice a week between Kaunda International Airport and Mfuwe International Airport, and between Kenneth Kaunda and Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport in Livingstone so travel within the country is easy.
All countries are allowed to travel into Zambia and there is no mandatory quarantine unless travelers display symptoms on arrival after being screened. If signs of COVID-19 are evident, travelers will be required to quarantine for 14 days.
Ethiopian Airlines, RwandAir, Kenya Airways, Emirates, Turkish Airlines Oman Air, Airlink, Proflight.
It is time to rediscover wonder in some of most breath-taking COVID safe destinations in Africa. Get in touch with one of Ker & Downey® Africa’s expert LuxVenture® Designers today to plan your dream safari or beach escape that showcases the very best of this magical continent!