Your African Safari – Covid19 Update

Dear Ultimate Africa Clients,


As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve we are working diligently to stay updated in this changing environment, and to be sensitive to the needs of all our guests, our staff, and the many safari camps and lodges that support / finance the rural communities and wildlife of Africa.


If you are concerned about your travel plans we are here to help you make well-informed decisions. Please call us at 1 800 461 0682. NOTE: We do ask you to please wait until 30 days before travel to call so that a more accurate assessment of your travel arrangements can be made. 


Early September 2022 Update: 


Americans are allowed to travel freely and go on safari in Africa… flights are operating and there are no quarantine requirements. The requirement for a negative test to return to the USA ended June 12, 2022.


Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travelers to enter Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

Safaris are outdoors and far from most populated areas, and nearly all safari staff are vaccinated and regularly tested – risks are therefore greatly reduced. 
In South Africa if you test positive, but don’t have symptoms, you do not need to quarantine / isolate… 
Most travel insurance policies now cover Covid like any other medical issue… and some even cover daily hotel costs (with limits). Clients in December who tested positive before departing the USA were reimbursed by their travel insurance.
Most safari properties are not offering postponements or refunds as they are far removed from populated areas and staff / guides are vaccinated.


General update:


Despite dire predictions Africa has handled Covid very well (see graphic below). 


Your African Safari – Covid19 Update


In South Africa, where Covid has been easily the worst in Africa, cases are down 84% from their mid December high and close to 50% of the population has been vaccinated (as a comparison in the USA 62% of the population has been vaccinated). In Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe 88% of the adult population has been vaccinated. In Botswana 73% of adults have been vaccinated, and with millions of surplus doses, they are offering free boosters for arriving travelers and residents. 


Throughout East and Southern Africa tourism workers are considered essential when it comes to vaccine eligibility and over 95% are vaccinated. 


Doctors are largely in agreement that Covid vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness and death. Infections, resulting in hospitalization and death, can occur… statistically they happen more in older people and those with compromised immune systems.


We also have new oral treatments, such as Pfizer’s anti-viral pill Paxlovid, which studies show reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by 89%.


Regarding safaris – all African safari countries are open, the camps and lodges have great protocols in place, and in most camps staff and guides are fully vaccinated  (never mind that a safari is a great social distancing vacation and does so much good for the planet), travel insurance is treating Covid like any other medical issue / illness (see note below), there are no quarantine requirements for vaccinated tourists to enter countries, and testing can be done at many safari camps and lodges as well.


Testing requirements have started to fall away for vaccinated travelers (Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe now allow fully vaxxed travelers to enter without testing. Rwanda and Mozambique are the last hold outs) or those who can provide evidence of recovering from a Covid infection. 


With every changing requirements we will advise all travelers of Covid tests needed before, and during travel, approximately 4 weeks prior to departure.


With regards to travel insurance most policies cover Covid under medical just as any other medical condition would be covered. This means if you test positive before travel you should be able to cancel your arrangements (please note you must be under a doctor’s care), and if you became sick while traveling hospital costs should be covered. Please note coverage for Trip Interruption / Delay and / or Medical Expense benefits requires a confirmed diagnosis and proof of illness from a physician – again you would need to be under a doctor’s care. Many policies now also cover quarantine costs up to certain dollar amounts / number of days.


Many travel insurance companies offer supplemental “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage at additional cost at the time of your policy purchase.  These supplemental policies typically limit reimbursement for “any reason” cancellations to 50% to 75% of total costs.


If a traveler recently recovered from Covid prior to travel, and is concerned about testing positive, documentation of recovery from Covid in the past 90 days may be sought from their doctor and used in lieu of a negative test according to the CDC and numerous airlines. Not all countries in Africa are on the same page and negative PCR tests are still required by some.


If a traveler were to test positive for Covid in Africa, which may still occur even after vaccination as no vaccines offer 100% protection, they may (or may not) need to self-isolate – typically at a bed and breakfast, hotel, or even at safari camps at their own expense… there are no government run Covid quarantine facilities for tourists that we are aware of. Trip Interruption / Delay  and / or Medical Expense travel insurance coverage may partially cover missed travel arrangements and /or quarantine costs due to a positive test – please contact your travel insurance provider for specific details. 


Where trip postponements due to Covid were allowed in 2020 and 2021 most suppliers are no longer allowing these.


Botswana: Fully open. Travelers must be vaccinated and show proof. No Covid-19 test required for vaccinated. Unvaccinated travelers 12+ years of age must present a negative RT-PCR test result, not older than 72 hours before arrival and will be subject to additional testing. PCR test required to depart.


Kenya – fully open. No Covid-19 test required for vaccinated travelers. Proof of vaccination must be uploaded to and you will receive a QR code (this does not apply to travelers under 18 years of age). Eligible unvaccinated travelers (travelers with medical conditions precluding vaccination must provide a letter from a recognized medical practitioner detailing the medical reason precluding vaccination and travelers who have recovered from an active COVID-19 infection or received convalescent plasma in the preceding 90 days must provide a letter from a recognized medical practitioner showing that the person may have recovered from an active infection in the preceding 90 days) must present a negative RT-PCR test carried out within 72 hours before arrival – starting from date of sample collection (children under 5 exempted) and also pay US $30 for a rapid test upon arrival. Anyone whose travel originated in the following countries, or who transited through these countries, must undergo a rapid antigen test at the point of entry, free of charge: South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia, Ghana and Nigeria.


Malawi – fully open / present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 3 days of arrival. Travelers must be vaccinated and show proof.


Mozambique – fully open / vaccinated travelers do not need to test however must show proof of vaccination. All unvaccinated travelers, with the exception of children under the age of 11, must present a negative PCR test for COVID-19 taken within the previous 72 hours. Traveler’s who do not submit a vaccine certificate or PCR test must do an antigen test on arrival. 


Namibia – – fully open / no testing / no vaccine requirements for travel.


Rwanda – fully open / vaccinated travelers do not need to present a test. Tourists visiting the country’s national parks will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours. A negative RT-PCR test result is required for all visitors wishing to see primates at Volcanoes, Nyungwe and Gishwati-Mukura National Parks, while an Antigen Rapid test result is accepted for other parks. Please note, while not mandatory for entry into Rwanda, virtually every service in public requires patrons to be fully vaccinated. 


South Africa – fully open / no testing / no vaccine requirements for travel. Those who test positive in South Africa with no symptoms do not have to isolate. 


Tanzania – fully open / no testing for vaccinated travelers ages 6+. Vaccinated travelers must present a valid vaccination certificate with QR code for verification upon arrival. Unvaccinated travelers, and those who are not fully vaccinated, will be required to present a negative PCR / NAAT based COVID-19 test taken within 4 days of arrival. Unvaccinated travelers will be subject to a Rapid Antigen test upon arrival – payable direct US $10 (US $25 in Zanzibar). Travelers must complete the Traveller Health Surveillance Form via for Tanzania and for Zanzibar within 24 hours before arrival. Travellers will receive a confirmation code, including a Unique Health Code, to be presented during primary screening upon arrival in Tanzania. Travellers originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, France, India, Malawi, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States of America, Rwanda and South Africa will be required to book and pay for a Rapid Antigen Test prior to arrival. They can do so using an automatically generated control number received after completing the Traveller Surveillance Form via at a cost of USD 10 per person per test for Tanzania Mainland and at a cost of USD 25 per person per test for Zanzibar. Test results are available approximately 15 minutes after sample collection. Travellers who receive a positive result on their Rapid Antigen test will be required to undergo a mandatory RT-PCR test, payable direct. In the event of a positive RT-PCR test result, the symptomatic travellers will be isolated for treatment at designated health facilities.


Uganda – fully open / no testing for vaccinated travelers ages 5+.


Zambia – fully open / no testing for vaccinated travelers. Vaccinated travelers must present a valid vaccination certificate. Unvaccinated travelers, and those who are not fully vaccinated, will be required to present a negative PCR / NAAT based COVID-19 test taken within 3 days of arrival. Children 12 and under exempted.


Zimbabwe – fully open / no testing for vaccinated travelers. Unvaccinated travelers will need to provide a negative PCR test within 48 hours before arrival. Children below the age of 12 are exempted from all. Fully vaccinated to enter Zimbabwe means one dose of a single dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson or both doses of a two-dose vaccine such as Astra Zenica or Pfizer. A negative COVID-19 PCR test is no longer a requirement for departure from any Zimbabwean international airport or land borders unless the onward destination or airline requires it.


IMPORTANT: Even vaccinated travelers can test positive for Covid. Most doctors still advise avoiding crowded indoor environments and wearing N95 masks when around others. 


IMPORTANT: The above Covid notes and testing requirements are subject to change at any time. We recommend reaching out to the relevant embassies and airlines for the latest information. We cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies in the above information.


Stay well,


Ian Proctor
Ultimate Africa President
“I first visited Africa in the late 1980s. I came face to face with a wild elephant, and fell in love with being on safari! I made it my goal to create an African travel company that was all about authentic wildlife experiences. Many years later we are one of the top African travel companies in the Americas – known for arranging custom safaris to East and Southern Africa; personal trips, no cookie cutter stuff.”

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