Since the writing of our last blog post about single-country itineraries, many actors within the tourism industry have pulled together and made plans to ensure that multi-country itineraries are possible in Africa once again.
What has emerged as standard in Africa is that almost all countries, with the exception of Tanzania, require a negative PCR test before you are allowed to travel to them. This means that if you are visiting multiple countries, you generally have to get a new PCR test every time you depart one country and head to the next, though Zambia's 14-day old test requirement makes it possible to use your test done at home to enter Botswana, spend a week there, head to Victoria Falls on the Zambian side for a couple of nights, and then fly out.
For other popular countries and destinations, we will tell you how it easy to get tested inside each country, but first, we have made a table to show what the requirements are for you to enter the various countries in the first place.
A useful tool we have found for telling you the latest requirements to enter a country is this one:https://klm.traveldoc.aero/?WT.mc_id=L_DE_Email_ExactTarget_Newsletter_UPDATEJANUARY2021_null_SmartFun&WT.tsrc=Email&WT.i_vid=61577889
But the latest requirements should always be checked on each country's government website.
South Africa is the biggest country in Southern Africa and the economic hub of the region. It is also the transit hub for Southern Africa as many flights to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Mozambique transit through Johannesburg. This means that these other countries are often dependent on South Africa for getting travellers through to them and back out again, which made it important for South Africa to be able to offer speedy and easily accessible PCR tests.
Travellers departing from OR Tambo Intl airport in Johannesburg may now get tested and collect their PCR certificate at the airport prior to departure. The National Health Laboratory Service (www.nhls.ac.za/) is operating three mobile COVID-19 test units in clearly identifiable vans located opposite the InterContinental Hotel, just outside the terminal building. The service is available 24/7, at a cost of ZARR600 per person – cash, cheque cards and credit cards are accepted, except American Express. Children under five years do not require a test.
Results are available in four to six hours and you will be advised by SMS that the test result and certificate are ready for collection. After testing, you can wait for the SMS at the airport or nearby, collect the certificate, and proceed to fly, or the test may be done a day or two prior to departure if preferred, and the certificate collected on the day of departure. Please refer to this article for further information: https://www.tourismupdate.co.za/article/247-covid-19-testing-or-tambo
UPDATE: Due to local residents making use of the OR Tambo testing facilities, PCR test results now take 12 - 24 hours and we recommend booking a night of accommodation in Johannesburg after your safari in order to wait for results.
One of our preferred guesthouses in Johannesburg, Safari Club SA, is now offering day rooms to all travellers waiting for their PCR test results. Guests will be allocated a room for the time they are at the hotel and will have access to all the hotel amenities including bar services, swimming pool, use of the garden and ordering of meals. Transfers are included in the day room rate.
For guests heading to Cape Town, the situation is a bit different. Of course, you can book your flight home via Johannesburg in order to get tested at OR Tambo Airport, but it is also possible to take a few hours out of one of your days in Cape Town to head to the nearest clinic and get tested. Rates differ depending on the clinic, but prices of between ZAR600 – 1000 can be expected. We will be happy to show you where the nearest clinic is to your hotel.
In the Greater Kruger Park, South Africa’s wildlife gem and one of its most popular destinations, PCR testing is also possible now. A PCR clinic has been set up in the town of Hoedspruit, which is the nearest town to many lodges within the Greater Kruger Park. Lodges are able to transfer guests in between safari activities to the town of Hoedspruit to get a PCR test done. The cost of the test is ZAR850 per person, while the cost of the transfer will differ depending on the lodge you are staying at. Some lodges have gone a step further and are able to offer PCR tests in your room. Please ask us for an updated list of which lodges can do this.
Botswana is one of the most popular destinations for a wildlife safari due to the exquisite unspoilt nature of its wilderness. However this vast wilderness and lack of infrastructure which many people fall in love with also originally meant that getting a PCR test done would be difficult.
Several luxury bush camp and lodge operators have come together and are now able to fly clinicians into camps to take samples for testing. The samples will then be sent to the nearest major town for testing, with results to be expected back the following day. The results will then be e-mailed to the camp and can be printed out for you to take with you. The cost of this service ranges from +-USD275 - USD330 depending on the camp you are staying at.
If you do not wish to be tested in camp, it is possible to be tested at the airports of Maun and Kasane at a cost of BWP850 - 1100 (+-USD110.) The test results will be ready in 24 - 48 hours, so it is recommended to spend a night in Maun or Kasane while waiting for results.
For Maun, bookings and payment for the tests can be made online here: -http://www.pharma.co.bw/# - be sure to pick “Testing office – Maun International Airport"
For Kasane, booking and payment for tests can be made here: http://diagnofirm.co.bw/
Please note that you need to have a negative PCR test in order to depart Botswana, irrespective of where you are travelling to. It is not officially in the regulations, but the overly efficient border guards are asking all travellers for them and it is not wise to start an argument with a border guard.
The testing will be offered between 07h30 - 16h45 every day and Sundays from 10h00 – 12h45
Due to limited testing on weekends, the timing of your journey is important.
The primary destination of choice for any traveller to Zimbabwe is Victoria Falls, so this is where the government has focussed most of its efforts. PCR testing is now possible upon arrival or departure at Victoria Falls Airport, with a waiting time of 3-6 hours for the results. Alternatively, several luxury lodges offer in-house testing now. The cost of the test is US$60 per person, but this can change without notice.
Zimbabwe has re-entered hard lockdown on 08 January 2021 and travel is therefore banned at the moment.
The majority of itineraries to Namibia only include one or two nights at each destination, which makes getting finding the time to have tests done difficult. In addition, Namibia is a vast, sparsely populated country. We therefore recommend adding a night in the capital city of Windhoek at the end of your tour to get a test done at one of the private laboratories there. Windhoek is situated right in the centre of Namibia, so it is the starting and ending point for almost all safaris in Namibia and therefore you do not have to go out of your way to get a test done.
Zambia updated their entry requirements in March 2021 due to increasing infections in Europe. To enter Zambia, you must have a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours prior to arrival. To leave Zambia, you will need to get a another PCR test done. All travellers departing Zambia must be in possession of a negative PCR test certificate. Even if the country you are travelling to doesn't require a PCR test (such as Tanzania) you still need one in order to depart Zambia.
Many people visit Zambia to see the mighty Victoria Falls. There are testing facilities in the town of Livingstone, but is very difficult to arrange the testing on an individual basis, especially since you cannot pay for the tests with cash or credit card. Only EFT bank transfers are accepted. For this reason, hotels have stepped up to help guests arrange tests. You can pay the hotel for your PCR test and they will then transfer the payment to the Zambian health authorities. Private testing can be conducted at the hotel and the hotel will help to arrange this. The test costs between USD100 - USD150.
If you are going on a wild and remote safari in Zambia, to places such as Kafue, South Lungwa and Lower Zambezi, lodges are in the process of setting up testing facilities. The lodge will take a swab in camp and then fly it to the lab in Lusaka for processing. The cost for this is US$300pp. Alternatively, you can spend a night in Lusaka at the end of your safari. There is a private testing facility in Lusaka and you can prebook and pay for your test here: https://cidrz.timetap.com/#/
All test results take 24 - 48 hours to be delivered. Therefore, if you are only visiting Victoria Falls for 2 nights, it would be a good idea to get tested on the day you arrive.
Tanzania does not have any entry requirements for travellers. It is currently the easiest country in the safari industry to travel to. You will have to fill out a health questionnaire when you arrive and have your temperature checked, but you don't need a negative PCR test to arrive. You may need a negative PCR test to depart, depeding on the country you are departing to, or the airline you are travelling with. It is possible to get a negative PCR test in Dar Es Salaam, Arusha and Zanzibar. Tests cost between USD100 - 120 and resutls can take up to 96 hours. Please note that the current government advice is for travellers to undergo Covid19 testing a minimum of 5 days prior to departure to allow enough time for results to be delivered.
Kenya has perhaps done the best job of handling the pandemic out of all major African countries. Their testing facilities appear to be world class.
All arriving passengers on international flights must show a PCR COVID-19 negative certificate carried out within 96 hours before travel to Kenya (before departure) that has been digitally verified through the Trusted Travel (TT) Initiative or Global Haven. This will produce a QR code which travellers will be required to display to port health officials for them to be allowed to proceed to arrival immigration. From 01 January 2021, all travellers requiring a visa will need to apply for an e-visa in advance. No visas shall be issued on arrival in Kenya. For more information visit www.evisa.go.ke
When departing Kenya, it is possible to be tested in your hotel in Nairobi at a cost of US$120 per person. Results will be ready within 24 hours. It is also possible to be tested in some safari destinations, including the Maasai Mara. The collection point for testing in the Maasai Mara is in Mararienta, close to Musiara Gate and it costs US$110. Alternatively, the test can come to your camp, for US$140 per person (*min 2 guests.) Testing in the Mara his is subject to availability and results will take 48 hours. You only need to get a PCR test done on departure if the country you are travelling to requires it.
There are not widely available direct flights from many European countries or America to Uganda, which means some people are worried about their validity of their tests. Happily, to travel to Uganda, your negative PCR test must not be older than 120 hours, which means that even if you have to catch 2 or 3 flights to get to Uganda, you don't have to worry about your test certificate expiring before you arrive.
When departing Uganda, you also need a negative PCR test not older than 120 hours, but please bear in mind the entry requirements of the country you are travelling to from Uganda. PCR tests can be obtained in either Kampala or Entebbe. There is a 24 hours test which currently costs between US$65 - US$85, or you can pay more to have an express test done. The express test costs US$150 per person and results will be ready in 6 - 8 hours. It is probably safer to book a night in Entebbe and wait for your results.
Rwanda has a complicated set of testing standards. There is one testing standard for entering Rwanda and another one for entering Rwanda's national parks. Rwanda is implementing double testing standards. This means that you need a negative PCR test not older than 120 hours, but that once you arrive, you will be given a second test to confirm the results of the first test. The cost of this test is USD 60. In addition, you will need to upload your first test certificate to the passenger locator form link, here: www.rbc.gov.rw;
While waiting for the result of your second test, which will take 24 hours, you will need to quarantine in a hotel at your own expense.
To enter Rwanda's national parks, you need a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours. Happily however, you can use the test results from the second test you did upon arriving in Rwanda.
To depart Rwanda, you need to undergo another PCR test, which you are encouraged to book and pay for online at least 2 days prior to departure, here: www.rbc.gov.rw;
Seychelles is open to the world again from 31 March (except for visitors who have recently travelled to South Africa.) All you need to visit this tropical island paradise is a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours prior to departure. Visitors are strongly advised to get vaccinated before travelling, although it is not required. You may only stay in certified tourism establishments, although this shouldn't be a problem as anyone who travels to the Seychelles wants to stay in a hotel on the beach which offers a plethora of water activities.
You only need to get a negative PCR test to depart Seychelles if it is a requirement of the country you will be travelling to.
We have been working hard updating our website during lockdown and have added new pages specially dedicated to multi-country itineraries. If you are looking to explore as much of Africa as possible in one go, or tick off the biggest highlights, check out our pages for Southern Africa Combo Itineraries and East African Combo Itineraries.
Please remember that you will have to adhere to the lockdown rules of any country you are travelling to, such as curfews and mandatory mask wearing.
If you are unsure about anything, send us an e-mail or give us a call and we’ll do our best to make your ideal trip happen.
A British & Irish Rugby Tour is one of the greatest and most anticipated events in the sporting calendar. It only happens once every four years, the same as a World Cup, but due to the Lions dividing their tours between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, it is 12 long years before the Lions play the same opposition again. This means that bragging rights for a series win for or against the the British & Irish Rugby Tour last 12 years. It is a long time to wait to get revenge. Some international players go their entire careers without playing a game against the British & Irish Rugby Team.
Due to the infrequency of the tours as well as the high stakes, the ferocity of the contests between the British rugby team and their opposition leads to legends being born. Every rugby fan can remember in minute detail what happened on a previous tour, 12 years ago. Who will emerge from the 2021 tour as a new legend?
The Springboks were the last team to beat the British in 2009. Who will ever forget the epic second test match at Loftus Versfeld, where the Springboks won the series after the hooter had sounded, thanks to Morne Steyn’s 50-metre penalty goal. Many players still rate that test match as the most physical game they ever played in. It is no wonder, considering eight players were hospitalised afterwards
12 years before that, The British & Irish Rugby Team upset the 1995 World Cup winning Springboks in equally dramatic fashion when Jeremy Guscott slotted a late drop goal in the second test match to clinch the series after a magical Matt Dawson dummy and an Alan Tait try had set up a win in the first test. In fact, the two previous times the Springboks have played against the British Isles Rugby Team, they were world champions, and it is the same this time around. That should certainly give the series a little more of an edge, given how the Springboks beat Wales and England on their way to claiming the crown in Tokyo. Will a combined British Isles side be able to beat the world champions on their own soil?
The best part about the tour to South Africa is that it is happening in the home of wild animals, beautiful cities, good wine and friendly people. The tour provides the ultimate excuse to take a holiday to South Africa and experience all that the country has to offer, from a safari in the world-famous Kruger National Park to days exploring Cape Town (regularly voted one of the most beautiful cities in the world.) Spend your time watching rugby, making new friends and taking in beautiful landscapes. I daresay there is very little more that a rugby fan could want.
With this in mind, we have scoured all of our favourite lodges to see which of them have space around match days and also which of them are offering specials. Many lodges offer winter specials in South Africa, including free nights. You can rest assured of their quality because we have visited them and wouldn’t recommend them if we didn’t rate them highly. And given the weak state of the local Rand currency compared to the British Pound, you will be pleased to see how affordable safaris in South Africa are. Many safari lodges are all inclusive, which means that all your meals are included, as well as two game drives per day to look for wildlife. Elsewhere in the country, such as Cape Town and Johannesburg, we are able to arrange day tours and activities to help you get the most of your time here, whether it is hiking up Table Mountain, visiting the penguins, or learning about culture in Soweto.
Every booking will generate a donation to the excellent Restart charity that does vital work in helping rugby players with career-ending injuries recover and adapt to life after rugby. You can find the main tour page here. South Africa is a rugby mad country and you will be able to feel the excitement everywhere you go. Check out our packages on our British & Irish Rugby Tour pages and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are rugby fans ourselves, even if one of us happens to be a Springbok supporter. But we tolerate him because he lives in Cape Town and will take next year's defeats without blubbing on about the refs or alleged food poisoning.
The Kruger, possibly the best-known safari destination in the world, synonymous with safari. Established in 1898, The Greater Kruger Park extends over some 22,000 square km (8,500 sq. miles). That’s the size of Wales if you are European, and Massachusetts if you are North American. (If you are neither, it’s flippin’ big). It supports a total of 500 bird species, 145 mammal species, and 110 reptile species, including an estimated 13,000 elephants, 40,000 buffalo, 2000 lions and more rhinos than any other protected area. We aren’t allowed to say how many, but it is lots and lots. The only decent wildlife reserve with a higher density of rhino is Hluhluwe-Imfolozi in KwaZulu-Natal.
What's the difference between the Greater Kruger Park and Kruger National Park?
The Greater Kruger Park is comprised of the Kruger National Park (KNP) and a number of private reserves next to the KNP. The fences between the private reserves and the KNP came down 23 years ago allowing the animals to move freely..
The KNP is managed by Sanparks, a government-run organisation, and covers about 80% of the total area. Tarmac roads run through the middle of it, there are numerous large rest camps, of which at least half a dozen have over 100 one to four-bedroom units, camping sites, and fast food restaurants catering to self-drive clients. The private reserves are managed by groups made up of small lodges and camps. Many lodges and camps only have between six and twelve one-bedroom chalets or luxury tents. No self-driving is permitted, there are no tarmac roads, and vehicle movements are carefully managed.
From a fauna and flora point-of-view, there there is not much difference. The parks are next to each other and there are no fences between them, so the animals and birds who call the area home can roam freely, and are found in both. In saying that, however, the area is large, so habitats differ and of course animals gravitate toward whichever habitat is best for them. Some areas are better known for their leopard sightings, others for elephant, and so on.
The parks that make up the GKP are quite strict about how many people are allowed in at a time. This means that your safari experience is far more exclusive and you won't be trying to get through dozens of other cars to see a lion kill or catch that special photo of a zebra baby. This is not an exaggeration. I have seen 50 vehicles in a scrum to look at a pride of lion lazing in the bush 50 yards from the road between Satara and Skukuza.
Guided Wildlife Experiences
Game-viewing in the private reserves is facilitated and managed by experienced and knowledgeable guides with excellent tracking skills in open-sided 4x4 game-viewing vehicles with a maximum of 9 guests from your lodge in them. Some lodges limit it to six No self-driving is permitted. The majority of the time, your vehicle will be the only one at a sighting.This ensures that you see not only the keystone species, but also the birds and the little fellas, who are arguably equally important in the local eco-system. On each game drive you stop for a break at a scenic point, get out of the vehicle, and enjoy refreshments and snacks. Game-viewing can also be conducted on foot, allowing a greater understanding of and connection with the bush.
The lodges and tented camps in the private reserves are more high-end than those found in the KNP. With limited numbers of guests at each, you are assured of a far more private and exclusive experience. Hospitality is personal and service is a priority, to ensure that you get the best possible safari experience. All the lodges have a watering hole, river, or lake, meaning that there is good chance of seeing wildlife when you are not out on safari too. Many lodges are also unfenced, so having interesting visitors around the grounds is not uncommon.
Our favourite private Kruger reserves
Sabi Sand with Mala Mala covers 780 sq km. The Sabi River and Sand River run through the area providing diverse habitats for the huge range of animals. Sabi Sand is known especially for its big cat sightings, most notably of the elsewhere elusive leopard. We have never had a client who has spent three night here without a good leopard sighting. It is the least budget-friendly of the private reserves, but at the upper end of scale has some excellent value-for-money lodges, with excellent attention to detail and fine dining combined with top=drawer wildlife sightings. My “Big Five record” of 2 hours 35 minutes was set here. Granted, the rhino was a 10-second arse-end encounter, but we had 45 minutes with a leopard and her two cubs eating a kudu up a tree, and a 20-minute coffee break watching mating lions…..
One of the largest privately-owned reserves in South Africa, Klaserie covers 600 sq. km of land along the Klaserie River. The owners are strongly committed to conservation and the park hosts three great conservation projects: the Ground Hornbill Project, Rhino Protection and The Elephant Project. Generally, the habitat is more open than Sabi Sand, which is great news for cheetah fans. With less of a reputation than Sabi Sand, the prices for the same level of comfort are lower too.
Bordering the KNP on one side and Klaserie on the other, Timbavati is also a prime game-viewing area, and a hot spot for African wild dogs (Cape hunting dogs), my favourite mammal (other than my kids), great for cheetah, and also pretty good for leopard. It also has the only wild white lions left in the world. Lodge rates here are also, on average, lower than in Sabi Sand.
Balule, Thornybush, Umbabat, Manyeleti, are good private reserves, and there are also Jocks and Lukimbi private reserves within the KNP.
When to go
Dry season –May to September – Winter
There is virtually no rainfall during the whole of winter, humidity is very low. and there is almost no risk of malaria. As water becomes scarce wildlife is attracted to permanent water sources. Temperatures from the evening to mid-morning can be chilly.
Wet seasons–October to April – Summer
It is hot and humid in summer. Temperatures can reach over 40°C/104°F, although average daytime temperature is 32°C/90°F. Mostly rain falls in the afternoon or at night. The rains bring green grasses, seeds, flowers, and as a result, more birds. The rains also mean there is no dust, and, other than Christmas and Easter, fewer tourists.
Photographer, conservationist, dive and field guide, teller of bad jokes.