At long last, international travel is finally open again to most of the world. It has seemingly become standard that every country you visit now requires a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours, (except for Tanzania, which does not require any test.) For some people, they even need to get another PCR test before they can return to their home country.
It might seem like a pain, but in reality, the test itself can be done quickly and near your home. A good way to think of it is that it is the same amount of effort as getting anti-malaria pills before your trip to Africa, or even a yellow fever vaccine, which used to be mandatory. It seems to be the timing requirement that scares people more than the actual test itself, but as with all international travel, one just has to be prepared. I’m sure my fellow Africans will relate when I say getting a PCR test actually seems like less of a hassle than needing to get a visa to travel to Europe or America.
The unfortunate reality of needing to get a negative PCR test is that it has made multi-country itineraries difficult and it seems like that for the foreseeable future, single-country holidays will probably be the way to go. Fortunately, this is not much of a problem in Africa, where the countries are massive and the scenery varied. It is easily possible to spend 1 – 2 weeks in any Southern or East African country. We have however figured out that it is possible to combine South Africa or Tanzania with one other country.
South Africa has the best infrastructure in Africa and while it might be annoying, it is easily possible to take an hour out of your day to get a PCR test done in Cape Town or Johannesburg before moving on to your next country. South Africa is also the major transit hub for travellers visiting Botswana and Victoria Falls. As long as you have your negative PCR test, you will be allowed to transit through South Africa to other countries. Tanzania does not require a negative PCR test, so it can be combined with any other destination. That is enough about Covid19 now; in this blog post, we want to show you just how much is possible to see and do in one African country. As always, for more details and itinerary suggestions, you can find everything you need on our website by clicking on any of the hyperlinks below.
Most famous for the great wildebeest migration, but now famous for being the easiest country to travel to in Africa because no PCR test is required to enter Tanzania. When speaking about Tanzania, it is very difficult not to just name drop its most famous destinations: the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Mount Kilimanjaro, Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve.
Tanzania has some of the biggest and most densely populated game reserves on the continent. If you want to see lots of animals, then the northern reserves are for you. If you want to escape the crowds and infrastructure and have a truly wild experience, then the southern reserves will be your ticket. And all of these safaris are easily combinable with a week long beach getaway on several neighbouring islands. Zanzibar is the most famous island, but there is also Pemba and Mafia Islands for something more rustic. Due to the fact that Tanzania does not require a negative PCR test, it can be easily combined with Kenya.
The birthplace of the safari, and home to the other half of the great migration, in the Maasai Mara. Kenya has other awesome game reserves, such as Amboseli, which is a photograhers delight, Lake Nakuru for rhinos and Laikipia, where you can have a safari with a difference. Laikipia offers a variety of safari activities you won’t find anywhere else in Africa, like cycling safaris, lion tracking, dog tracking, horse riding safaris, and a visit to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee sanctuary. Kenya is slightly more lenient with its Covid19 rules, the negative PCR test only needs to be not older than 96 hours.
Everyone has heard of the Greater Kruger Park for some of the best wildlife safaris on the continent, as well as the beautiful city of Cape Town, home to Table Mountain, Cape Point, Robben Island and penguins. It is easy to spend 7-10 days exploring the Greater Kruger Park and Cape Town, but South Africa really does have so much more to offer. In a previous blog post, we spoke about all the fun you can have along the Garden Route, from waterfall hikes, to wine tasting to whale watching and boat cruises.
For beach bums, there is the province of KwaZulu Natal, where the Indian Ocean is warm and tropical. Near isiMangaliso Wetland Park, you will find kilometres of unspoilt beaches. KwaZulu Natal is also home to some excellent game reserves, such as Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, Phinda and Nambiti, meaning it is possible to have an amazing Big 5 Bush & Beach combo just in this one province. As mentioned earlier, due to the testing facilities available, it is possible to combine South Africa with any of the countries coming up below, you just need to ask us how.
Namibia is home to the oldest desert in the world, from which the country gets its name – the Namib desert. It is also the second-most sparsely populated country in the world (after Mongolia.) A country the size of France and Germany combined, but with only 1.5 million inhabitants means that there is space and wilderness everywhere you go. Windhoek is the capital city and is located right in the middle of the country. This is where all Namibian safaris start and it is easily accessible with direct flights from Europe.
Namibia best game reserve is Etosha National Park, where you will find the largest concentration of black rhinos on the planet. There is also Fish River Canyon, which is the second largest canyon in the world. But perhaps its most famous site is Sossusvlei, where you can find some of the biggest sand dunes in the world, in a spectacular ochre colour. Sossusvlei really does look like an alien landscape and is unlike one you can see anywhere else in the world. Due to the vast distances between all these fabulous destinations, many Namibian stand-alone safaris take between 7-10 days. All safaris end in Windhoek, where PCR testing facilities are available. You can see all of our favourite Namibian safaris, both driven and fly-in, on our Namibian page, here.
Famously one of the best places to go on a truly unspoilt African safari. We offer a number of 7 -10 day safari packages in Botswana which take in the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve, Savuti, Chobe National Park and the Kalahari. When you are in Botswana, you truly are in the wilderness. Cellphone signal and wifi is limited and the dirt roads seem to go on forever without any direction to them.
The appeal of Botswana is the lack of infrastructure, but this also makes it tricky to get a PCR test done. The challenges are currently being addressed however, with Covid19 testing facilities being set up in Maun and Kasane. A number of 5-star luxury camps also offer testing in camp. They will fly a doctor to you. Currently, clinics are not open on weekends, so timing is important. The ideal would be to arrive in Maun, get tested, have 2 nights on safari and then return to Maun to collect your results before proceeding to your next destination
The most visited destination in Zimbabwe is without a doubt Victoria Falls. Most travellers will tag on two nights in Victoria Falls to a much bigger itinerary in South Africa or Botswana. It is easily possible to tag Victoria Falls on to the end of any South African itinerary, by getting a PCR test done in Cape Town or Johannesburg, or even at Victoria Falls Airport. Please remember that these tests cost money, usually between US$50 – US$70.
But there is so much more going on in Zimbabwe than just Victoria Falls and we highly recommend looking at our Zimbabwe combinations page for inspiration. Zimbabwe has some excellent game reserves, such as Hwange and Mana Pools, with world class lodges in them, catering for everyone, from 3-star to 5-star guests.
Zambia is currently the second easiest country to travel to in terms of Covid19 requirements (Tanzania, below, is the easiest.) Zambia only requires a negative PCR test not older than 14 days, which often means that you can visit another country before coming to Zambia and your PCR test will still be valid. For that reason, it is now easiest to visit the Victoria Falls from the Zambian side. Even though this is the country’s most famous attraction, there are some spectacular game reserves and national parks, with very few tourists around, which guarantees a tranquil and peaceful safari.
Although they are not as well known as other reserves in Africa, Kafue, Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa all have an abundance of space and animals. South Luangwa has a reputation for having the densest leopard population in Africa and many of the reserves offer supreme walking safaris for the truly fit and adventurous.
Uganda is most famous for gorilla trekking and for many people, Uganda is only a three night add on to a much larger safari so that they can see these magnificent creatures. However, Uganda has many more reserves than just Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (where the gorillas are found.) If you have a look at our Uganda page, you might be surprised at how much is on offer. Queen Elizabeth National Park is seen as the premier National Park and is where you can famously see tree climbing lions. There are over 100 species of mammals in the park, including Ugandan Kob, an antelope you won't find anywhere else in the world.
After your gorilla trekking, you can also head to Kibale and go chimpanzee trekking too. Some might argue that Uganda is the best place to see primates. See how many you can tick off as you go along.
And thanks to the fact that Tanzania does not require a PCR test, it is still eminently possible to start your safari with 3 nights of gorilla trekking before heading to the Serengeti. You will need a negative PCR test before entering Uganda.
Africa is open for travel again and as you can see, there is so much to do in each country that it is possible to build a 7 – 14 day single-country-itinerary that will leave you feeling enriched by the experience. In addition, Africa is probably one of the safest places to travel to right now, what with it being summer here for the next 6 months and due to the fact that on safari, you are in the middle of nowhere, away from the crowds, with the only other people around being travellers who all had to test negative before they could come on safari. Contact us and let’s start planning your journey.
Photographer, conservationist, dive and field guide, teller of bad jokes.