When Can I Travel to Africa? Covid-19 Restrictions in East Africa and Southern Africa Explained

Gaia   Kenya  

To say that the past year has put many of our travel goals on hold would be an understatement, and considering the latest figures on Covid-19 spread, the situation is unlikely to go back to normal anytime soon.

Between blanket travel bans, new Covid-19 strains spreading across Europe, and airplanes anchored firmly to the ground, many travelers who booked their African safari trip back in 2021 are still waiting to see when they’ll be able to finally experience the wild magic of an African safari — and the lack of reliable online information definitely doesn’t help!

So, what is the Covid-19 situation like in Africa, and in particular, in the Southern and Eastern African countries renowned as popular safari hotspots?

What are the rules in place, how safe is it to book your next safari trip there, and when are you going to be able to book your flights and accommodation with complete peace of mind?

In this brief guide, we want to give you all the information you need to organize your long-awaited safari during the Covid-19 pandemic, detailing all the rules and travel regulations in place in some of the most popular safari destinations.


While the country has reopened its borders for international travel, domestic flights coming into and out of the areas of Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu, and Nakuru have been halted until further notice.

The latest Kenya travel restrictions require international passengers to undergo a body temperature test upon arrival, show proof of a negative Covid-19 test no older than 96 hours, and have a QR code ready to show at the border for a completed Travelers Health Surveillance Form.

Note that not all travelers will be allowed to stay in the country without a mandatory 14-day quarantine: You can easily check if you are exempt by consulting the official list of quarantine-exempt countries.



The Government of the United Republic of Tanzania has continued to implement measures towards controlling COVID-19 Pandemic. Based on the global epidemiological situation and emergence of new variants of viruses which cause COVID-19, there is an increased risk of their importation into our country. As such, the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania has decided to elevate and enhance prevailing preventive measures especially those with regard to International Travel. In view of this, the Government is updating the Travel Advisory No. 6 of 3rd May to version No. 7, effective from 4th May 2021 to accommodate additional measures related to international travels as follows:

1. All authorities at points of entry should ensure adherence to preventive measures by travelers and staff including hand hygiene, use of alcohol-based sanitizers, physical distancing and wearing of face-masks.

2. Due to the current situation of COVID-19 epidemic in India, all flights to and from India are banned in Tanzania. This ban will be effective until further notice. The exceptions will be:

a. Cargo Planes, in which case the crew will not be allowed to disembark from the conveyance.
b. Planes undertaking operations that have been approved by appropriate authorities that relate to humanitarian, diplomatic as well as medical assistance.

3. Returning Tanzanian residents who have been in India as students, or for business purposes, or for medical treatment will be subjected to procedures as outlined in Number 4, 6 and 7 below.

4. All travelers, whether foreigners arriving from India or those who have travelled through India in the last 14 days regardless of route taken shall be subjected to rapid test at Point of Entry followed by stringent contact tracing and 14 days mandatory quarantine at their own cost. Travelers subjected for mandatory quarantine shall choose a place from the list(available at the airports or at https://www.moh.go.tz/en/) designated by the Government. Returning residents arriving from India will be allowed to isolate themselves in their homes under strict surveillance system. 

5. Upon arrival at any point of entry (airport, ground crossing or Ports), all travelers or returning residents will be provided with health information cards with toll free number and  advised to self-monitor for symptoms and signs. In case they develop any symptoms and signs, they will be tested and treated at designated health facilities by the Government at their own cost.

6. All travelers are required to truthfully fill in an online Traveler's Surveillance Form available within 24 hours before arrival to Tanzania.

7. All travelers, whether foreigners or returning residents will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test certificate upon arrival. The test should be based on Real Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing using sample collected within 72 hours before arrival to Tanzania.

8. All travelers, whether foreigners or returning residents entering the United Republic of Tanzania, will be subjected to enhanced screening for COVID-19 infection including rapid  test.  The cost for rapid test is 25 USD per traveler.

9. Travelers on transit in other countries more than 72 hours will be required to be re-tested by rapid test upon arrival in Tanzania.

10.Crew members shall be required to present a valid negative COVID-19 test certificate as a condition of entry or departure. In addition, they will be screened for symptoms and  signs  in line with the country's protocol.

11.While in the country, all international travelers should adhere to Infection Prevention and Control measures such as hand hygiene, mask wearing and physical distancing as deemed appropriate.

12.All arriving conveyances must provide Advance Passenger Information so as to allow the Authorities at the Points of Entry to scrutinize the manifest for possible high-risk passenger identification.

13.Pilot/Captain/Driver in command of conveyance should, prior to/on arrival, submit to Health Authorities at Points of entry dully filled conveyance health declaration forms (Health Part of General Declaration, Maritime Health Declaration and Ground Transport/Vehicles Health Declaration Form).

14.All Conveyance operators should adhere to Infection Prevention and Control measures such as hand hygiene, mask wearing and physical distancing as appropriate.

15. Arriving Conveyances will be subjected to decontamination at Point of Entry where necessary.

Additional Measures relating to trucks/vehicles carrying Goods and Services:

I. Have only 2-3 crew Members per vehicle to facilitate smooth border crossing in the region;

II. Crew members have to declare their final destinations at the Points of Entry (POE), and during their journey are allowed to only stop at locations designated by the Government;

III. Truck will be decontaminated before it is allowed to continue to its final destination if driver or crew members are suspected to have COVID-19 or tested COVID-19 positive;

IV. Driver or crew members will be subjected to enhanced screening at Points of Entry and may be quarantined or isolated at designated facilities at their own cost in case they are suspected of 

     COVID-19 infection;

V. In case crews are quarantined/isolated while on transit, truck owners/operators must make necessary arrangements to back-up their crew to ensure that goods are delivered to the intended destination;

VI. All drivers or crew members with negative COVID-19 may randomly be selected for re-testing upon arrival for quality assurance;

VII. In case of any medical emergency while in the United Republic of Tanzania, please call Toll Free Health Emergency Number: 199.

NB: The Travel Advisory will be reviewed from time to time as the need arises. 

South Africa

For the better part of later last year, South Africa has been experiencing a dramatic rise in Covid-19 cases as a result of a newly detected variant of the virus back in December 2020.

International travel, however, has resumed following a decrease in domestic cases, and visitors traveling by air can now enjoy the reopening of non-essential businesses and shorter curfews.

The restrictions in place require international travelers to present proof of a negative PCR test on arrival (valid within 72 hours from the time of testing), along with quarantining for 14 days in the case of a positive test result on arrival.


Namibia is also open for international travel, but visitors are required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test conducted within a week of arrival to the country, undergo a health screening, and provide a full itinerary of their trip.

You will only be required to quarantine for 14 days at your own expense if your results detect a positive status.


Zambia is open for international travel and visitors are required to undergo a health screening on arrival to check for possible symptoms of Covid-19.

In the case of symptoms showing, you’ll be required to quarantine for 14 days, while visitors with proof of negative status (conducted 72 hours before arrival) are exempt.


Rwanda has reopened its airports back in August 2020 and remains open for international travel with some strict protocols in place.

Visitors are required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test on arrival, performed 120 hours prior to entry, and only in the form of a SARS-CoV 2 Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test.

Travelers are required to upload their results on a completed passenger locator form before arrival, as well as undergo a second test at their own expense before entry.


Travelers looking to visit Uganda won’t have to undergo a mandatory quarantine, but they will have to be screened on arrival for symptoms of Covid-19 and transferred to a governmental facility for isolation if deemed at risk.

Arriving visitors will also be required to show a negative PCR test, conducted within 120 hours prior to boarding, in order to enter Uganda.


Botswana is another popular safari destination that has opened its borders for international tourism once more, but visitors are required to follow the safety protocols in place once they arrive.

Travelers are required to show proof of a negative PCR test, conducted within 72 hours of arriving in Botswana, as well as undergo a health screening and rapid Covid-19 testing if landing at Maun airport.

Visitors who show signs of Covid-19 will be required to quarantine for 14 days, and all international travelers will have to complete a locator form so that the health authorities will be able to get in touch if problems arise, especially if you have been directed to self-isolate.

Updated 5 may 2021

Entry Requirements into Botswana from COVID-19 High Burden Areas

1. Subject to Government Notice No 486 of 2020, Lifting of Prohibition of Entry into Botswana. and In line with the country's COVID-19 Five Point Response Plan, the Presidential COVID-19 Task Force advises the public that:

a. Following the emergence and predominance of the B.1.617 variant in the Republic Of India, all travellers originating from or transiting through Inda within the past 14 days, will be required to undertake mandatory quarantine at a site selected by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, for a period not exceeding 10 days at their own cost with immediate effect.

b. Travellers will further be required to undertake an exit COVID-19 test from day 5-7, at their own cost to determine whether they are released from quarantine/isolation.

2 .The public is reminded that all travellers entering the Republic of Botswana:

a. Have to present a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) negative test result no older than 72 hours from the time of departure from country of origin at the port of entry.

b. May be required, at his or her cost to undertake immediate COVID-19 testing and isolation or quarantine at a site selected by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Republic of the Congo

Travelers will be glad to hear that the Republic of Congo has decided to open its borders and airports to international visitors, however, there are strict protocols in place to keep the country safe from further Covid-19 spread.

International travelers are required to show proof of a recent (no older than 72 hours) negative PCR test, possibly undergo body temperature checks at arrival, and quarantine for 14 days.

If visitors enter without a Covid-19 test in hand, they’ll be required to get one at their own expense upon arrival.

While restaurants, bars, and other non-essential businesses remain closed, the world-famous Odzala-Kokoua National Park is now open to visitors.


Travelers looking to enjoy all the best that Ethiopia has to offer will find that most of the tourism sector has remained open, with restaurants and hotels still operating but carrying out the necessary safety protocols.

International travel to the country is allowed, but visitors are required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, performed within 120 hours of arrival, and self-quarantine for 7 days even in the case of a negative result.

Book your dream safari in 2021

If you have more questions or doubts about the current state of Covid-19 travel restrictions in the most popular safari destinations, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We can best advise you on when to book your safari trip, how to stay safe, and what tours are the best fit for your specific requirements and local safety protocols — your dream safari trip is just a click away!