Which African countries are open for travel?
Date of update: 18 May 2021
We were all dreaming about our next holiday when suddenly, without warning, the world changed. The first cases of the corona virus were discovered and the Covid-19 pandemic spread rapidly all over the world. But has it stopped you from dreaming about Africa? If it hasn’t, the next questions are: which African countries are open for travel? And when is it safe to travel again? The answer is unfortunately not a fixed starting date or a simple yes or no. We can’t tell you to travel or not, but we can give you the information to help you weigh the variables and make that choice for yourself. The good news is that most countries are open for travel again – with no quarantine, only a valid test!
Consider this e-book as a guide to help you decide. Since this information changes all the time, we will regularly update this e-book. There are many countries in Africa, each with their own regulations. From a practical point of view, we have to limit ourselves to ‘our’ countries in Southern and Eastern Africa.
There are many pieces of a puzzle that need to fall in place before you can travel again and realize your African dream Experience. You need to be able to trust your booking agency and know that you are safe, not just being told something just to get you to book. We pride ourselves on giving honest information and we will tell you right away whether your plans are possible or not.
These puzzle pieces can be roughly divided in four categories: your home country regulations, airline regulations, whether your African destination is open and how safe it is to travel locally. (Note: we focus in this e-book exclusively on the Covid-19 consequences, not on any other diseases or regulations).
1. What are my home country regulations?
This varies wildly from country to country and can change on short notice if infections in your holiday destination increase or decrease. So, this information you need to look up yourself. Things to look at include:
- Are you allowed to travel to your destination of choice?
- Do you need to go into quarantine upon return, does vaccination make a difference?
- Does your travel insurance cover cancelations linked to the Covid-19 pandemic? And if not, does your booking agency give full refund or free rebooking to a later date if you need to cancel due to Covid-19, like borders closing? Yes, we do at Tales from Africa Travel – we’ll let you know how that works before you book.
- Does your travel insurance cover hospitalization and/or repatriation flights due to falling ill during your holiday? Does that cover all members of your party?
- Is your government embassy open and will it support you during your holiday?
- Some countries demand a negative Covid-19 test not older than f.i. 72 hours at the moment of departure. Are you sure you can get the result of your test in time?
2. What are the airline regulations?
These depends on the country you fly from and on the airline you want to use. It’s not possible for us to give all the different regulations, but here are some points to consider:
- Most airlines demand a negative Covid-19 PCR test not older than 72 hours before boarding, however this varies per airline. This is also obligatory for the return flight and for any stopover flights! If you travel with Tales from Africa Travel, we’ll send you all information where and how to do this.
- What are the cancelation procedures if you have to cancel, both due to the situation at home as well as due to the situation at your destination? Do you get a voucher or a cash refund, or a choice between the two?
- What are the rules onboard – this is especially important if you have a long flight. Carrying a mask all the time is obligatory, but how does it work with meals, entertainment, service? This will be different from what you are used to!
- What happens if you catch Covid-19 on your flight? Some airlines, like Emirates, will pay your hospital bill, others will not.
3. Which African countries are open for travel and what are the main rules?
Africa is a huge continent, so we’ll limit ourselves to East- and Southern Africa and the countries where we organise holidays. In the table underneath you will find the current situation with the numbers, when the country is expected to open and some of the main rules that they have put in place. Generally speaking, the number of deaths related to the number of infections is much. much lower than outside Africa and the recovery rate is much higher. Though there is as yet no clear medical explanation for it, this is likely due to a combination of factors, including the much higher percentage young people.
Note: negative Covid tests are for time of departure of home country, not arrival date!
4. How safe is it to travel in my destination?
Last but not least, how safe is it once you have arrived? This is where local knowledge and trust really come into play. We are on the ground in Africa and know what is going on.
- Generally speaking, the Covid-19 cases are concentrated in and around the major cities. In most game reserves and small communities’ cases are virtually non-existent. Hence if you travel directly to a game reserve upon arrival, your chances of meeting someone who carries the infection are very low. We can’t guarantee a zero risk, but we will suggest an itinerary that minimises the risks of catching the Covid-19 disease.
- Most places have very strict regulations in place to minimise the risk of catching Covid-19. There are different protocols for lodges, game drive vehicles, other transport, trains, local flights, restaurants, excursions, sight-seeing etc. At Tales from Africa, we check with all we book for you that they actively conform to the regulations and execute them without exceptions. As a result, you might for instance have your meals served in your room and not in the restaurant, or have no buffet-breakfast but a more limited choice served at your table.
- Tales from Africa has received the Safe Travels compliance with Covid-19 industry protocols stamp and we make sure that our partners adhere to minimally the same standards.
We hope to have given you the information you need about which African countries are open for travel to help you make your decision. We do understand your concerns and if anything is unclear, or if you would like to discuss any of this with us to help you choose, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
Download here the e-book of the 18 May 2021 update of ‘Which African countries are open for travel?’
This is not an official document but an e-book (titled ‘Which African countries are open for travel?’), written with the sole purpose to give you information on which you can base your own decision whether, when and where to travel to those African countries that we have first-hand knowledge of. The decision to travel is solely your own decision and we are therefore not liable in any way for any costs or consequences, whether material or immaterial, deriving from that decision.
All the information in this e-book is sourced from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center and other relevant information sites. Though we check our information and try to the best of our abilities to ensure it is correct, we can’t be held liable for any mistakes in the information contained in this e-book.