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.
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
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 BWP980 (+-USD100.) The test results will be ready in 3 - 6 hours, so it is possible to arrive early the airport, do your test, and then depart. 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 or Kasane”.
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.
Arriving in Zambia is relatively easy, given that your PCR test must not be older than 14 days. 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, then the best way to get tested is to 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, Kenya, and Uganda
With Tanzania not requiring a PCR test before travel, it is much easier to do multi-country itineraries in East Africa than Southern Africa and for the majority of itineraries; you will simply need to get tested in your home country before departing for your journey. For example, if you wish to visit Kenya and Tanzania, you can get a negative PCR test done at home, travel to Kenya and then travel to Tanzania afterwards without needing to do another test. It is also possible to go gorilla tracking in Rwanda or Uganda first and then go to Tanzania for a safari to the see the great migration.
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.
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.
Photographer, conservationist, dive and field guide, teller of bad jokes.