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, please call us at 1 800 461 0682. We are working with each traveler on a case-by-case basis and are here to help you make well-informed decisions.
As of early May 2021
Despite dire predictions Africa has handled Covid very well (see graphic below). Over 670 million vaccine doses have been purchased.
In South Africa, where Covid has been easily the worst in Africa, they have started vaccinations and cases have declined 93% since January 10, 2021. This led to an early easing of restrictions (restaurants, beaches, etc opening). In Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe 77% of the adult population has been vaccinated. Botswana has secured enough vaccines for their entire adult population. In Kenya tourism workers are considered essential when it comes to vaccine eligibility.
Here is the New York Times World Map of Covid from late April 2021:
Regarding variants Dr. Fauci noted January 25, 2021: “There is a very slight, modest diminution in the efficacy of a vaccine against Covid variants, but there’s enough cushion with the vaccines that we have that we still consider them to be effective.” Even Johnson and Johnson’s single dose vaccine, with a 72% overall efficacy, led to zero hospitalizations and deaths across 3 continents (including South Africa). “Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is very effective where it matters most: preventing hospitalizations and deaths. “We showed that there was an 85% efficacy against severe disease and 100% protection against hospitalization and death” according to Dr. Paul Stoffels, the chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson.
A quick note on vaccine efficacy: A 95% efficacy doesn’t mean 5% of vaccinated people get infected. When a vaccine has a 95% efficacy it means your chance of contracting the disease drops by 95%. As an example before vaccines if 1% out of 100,000 people got Covid that would be 1,000 cases. After the vaccine, that 1% is reduced by 95% and now only .0005% of the population is expected to get sick – 50 people. The actual percentage of vaccinated people in the Pfizer (and Moderna) trials who got COVID-19 was about 0.0004%. In addition all 3 vaccines were 100% effective at preventing severe disease 6 weeks after the first dose (for Moderna) or 7 weeks after the first dose (for Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, the latter of which requires only one dose). Zero vaccinated people in any of the trials were hospitalized or died of COVID-19 after the vaccines had fully taken effect.
Regarding safaris – all African safari countries are open, the camps and lodges have great protocols in place (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, there are no quarantine requirements, all travelers flying to Africa (excepting to Tanzania) must provide a negative Covid test to board, most camps and lodges are requiring all guests to provide negative tests upon arrival, and testing can be done at many safari camps and lodges as well.
Many travelers have asked how the South Africa travel ban will effect their arrangements and the simply answer is that it does not. There is a US ban on South Africans traveling to the USA but not on US citizens who are free to travel to South Africa and return home.
As of yet testing requirements have not fallen away for vaccinated travelers or those who can provide evidence of recovering from a Covid infection. We do however expect Covid passports, at some future point, and these may alleviate testing requirements.
With regards to travel insurance Covid is now covered under medical just as any other medical condition would be. This means if you test positive before travel you could cancel your arrangements (doctor’s letter needed), and if you became sick while traveling hospital costs would be covered.
If a traveler were to test positive for Covid in Africa (something we have not yet heard of within the industry) they would be quarantined in a bed and breakfast, hotel, or even at safari camps… there are no government run Covid quarantine facilities. Alternatively travelers may purchase a Covid Evacuation policy from CovacGlobal. Their motto is “Get Sick. Get Home”. Policies start from US $675.
For guests contemplating postponing their arrangements most suppliers are asking travelers to wait until 60 days prior to their trip to assess the situation. As of mid February almost all safari camps and lodges are open and there are no government restrictions. In cases where postponement is allowed, to the following year as an example, most suppliers are charging applicable rates.
Botswana: fully open / present a negative PCR test result, not older than 72 hours before boarding your first flight. Upon arrival travelers will receive a Rapid Antigen test free of charge.
Kenya – fully open / present a negative PCR based COVID-19 test carried out within 4 days before arrival date – starting from date of sample collection.
Malawi – fully open / present a negative test taken within 3 days of arrival.
Namibia – fully open / present a negative PCR or Rapid Antigen test result, not older than 3 days at time of arrival.
Rwanda – fully open / all travelers arriving in to, and departing from, Rwanda must test negative for COVID-19 within 3 days of departure (meaning that you get tested and get results no more than 3 days before your first flight). Additional PCR test upon arrival in Kigali and wait at hotel up to 24 hours for results… additional test before departure flight and must visit gorillas within 72 hours of a negative test (so do the gorillas right after your stay in Kigali).
South Africa – Fully open / present a negative PCR test result, not older than 72 hours before boarding your first flight. There is a US ban on South Africans traveling to the USA but not on American travelers who are free to travel and return home.
Tanzania – fully open / present a negative PCR based COVID-19 test taken within 3 days of arrival. Travelers may be subject to a Rapid Antigen test upon arrival as well – payable direct US $25.
Uganda – fully open / present a negative PCR based COVID-19 test carried out within 3 days before boarding in bound flight to Uganda. Another test must be taken within 3 days of departing.
Zambia – fully open / present a negative PCR based COVID-19 carried out within 3 days of arrival. Negative Covid test to depart the country.
Zimbabwe – fully open / present a negative test taken within 2 days of arrival.
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.”