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COVID PCR Testing for travelers

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What do you need to know about PCR testing and your travel plans?

Staying up to date with the latest travel logistics around Covid-19 can be time-consuming. However we have done the hard work for you. In most cases, this is not as problematic as you may think. And it is getting easier by the month! But you will need to be mindful of what is needed.

Use the following as a guide but please double check the latest advice at least 2-3 weeks prior to travel.

Yes there are challenges, especially if your (postponed) trip involves 2 or 3 countries. Below we outline some crucial tips for planning a trip now. And how it differs in each country.

LAST UPDATED 16 MARCH 22: This blog is intended to help when planning future travel but it is manually updated. This is still a volatile time in international travel and so when rules or advice is changed for a destination, the official Government sources will be updated far more rapidly. Verifying the most up to date information through official channels remains the responsibility of the traveller.

For now the reality is that PCR testing is currently the modus operandi for most of Africa, even for the fully vaccinated. However this is starting to change to only being required for people who are NOT vaccinated. But much of Africa will probably wait until this is the norm in Europe. With some notable exceptions (Botswana, Namibia, Kenya), virtually ALL of our Destinations currently require a negative PCR test for anyone arriving into the country. This usually needs to be completed within the previous 72 hours – but there are some country variations.

At this stage, you may also need an Exit test if this is required by that destination, by the departing airline, or by the next country that you are visiting. So please be aware of what is required by your airline and your onward/home country. Cedarberg Africa assists our clients with requirements and logistics

Note: There is no mandatory quarantine requirements for all travellers (except in Madagascar) for any of our destinations. However some (Ethiopia and Mauritius) do require quarantine for non-vaccinated travellers.

Tips for Planning NEW Trips:

  • We recommend that you try to focus on ONE country so that the testing is simple: one test on the way in. And possibly one test on the way out, depending on your home country requirements. Now that Botswana has waived PCR tests for vaccinated travellers, you could add Botswana. If you are up for a second test, especially if it’s easy to get, you could include another destination such as Victoria Falls.
  • South Africa now states that anyone in possession of a valid PCR test can re-enter the country, as long as the test is not older than 14 days. Thus if you went to Botswana, or Victoria Falls, you would not need ANOTHER test to re-enter South Africa.
  • If you do need a PCR test at the end of your trip, to enter another country or head home, we recommend trying to not end with your safari. As that is more of a hassle to get a nurse to come to your game lodges. The easiest option is simply allow enough time to test at Johannesburg or Cape Town Airport (Express PCR tests take only 2 hours) as this is also simple and hassle-free.
  • Allow enough time to get an exit test done without feel stressed. In some other countries that may mean a final night in the capital city which may not have always been needed. Don’t try to fight the system. Embrace it and enjoy the sights of that city. Every city in the world has something interesting to show you, even if your main love is wilderness and wildlife.
  • In many countries/cities you may be able to choose to have a Standard or an Express test. So decide upfront whether you are happy to pay for the convenience. Or whether you want to plan the trip to reduce testing costs.
  • Similarly, in many destinations, a nurse can fly to your game lodge, if you are on safari. This is perfect in many ways, as no time out of your safari. But naturally comes with a price tag.

Note: No-go countries for those who are unvaccinated against Covid-19: Botswana, Kenya, Mauritius, Ethiopia

We will assist you with itinerary planning so that testing is at a minimum disruption to you.

Some airlines also require an antigen tests. For example KLM requires all passengers to have a negative rapid antigen test within 4 hours of their flight.

Straight-forward PCR test costs are not included in our quotes. But we will ensure enough time for testing prior to departure, and discuss the options with you as we design itineraries with you. If you decide to have a nurse come to you, then we do included that in our itinerary cost.

General info:

  • Mask-wearing and social distancing are mandatory in all public areas, except when eating at restaurants or at your lodge. But it varies by country as to how much it is enforced. In our experience, it is mainly enforced at airports and in shops. Much less so in the open air. It really doesnt impact your holiday much at all.
  • Travellers who recently recovered from Covid-19 will need to present a letter of exemption from their medical practitioner, if they are still testing positive even after recovery.

Read the following info for your destination(s) and follow the Links which are updated on a regular basis.

Traveling in Africa safely

South Africa

Needed for Arrival:

Covid-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to date of departure with name and signature of the conducting certified medical practitioner. Needed for all travellers over the age of five years.

Note: We are hoping that this will be changed in the coming weeks.

On Arrival:
  • Presentation of Covid-19 PCR negative certificate
  • Vaccinated people currently still need to present a PCR test result on arrival.
  • Temperature & health screening
  • All travellers to complete a simple Traveller Health Questionnaire prior to arrival or upon arrival at the Ports of Entry (this is given to you in the airplane).
  • All travellers with symptoms, or who haven’t done a Covid-19 test, will remain in quarantine until a negative COVID-19 test is conducted at their own cost.
On Departure and PCR testing if required
  • There are numerous clinics and drive-through facilities available for testing in South Africa.  You may also be able to get a PCR test done at your hotel or game lodge prior to departure (to be pre-booked).  The standard test now costs R500. But if the nurse is coming to your hotel/game lodge then the cost is currently being quoted at R2,000 to R3,000 per person plus the test.
  • Johannesburg Airport has an Express testing site (R1,200 per person) which takes 2-3 hours which many of our clients have used. if you arrive in the early afternoon, you will be ready to board your homeward flight.
  • Biosmart.com have several testing sites in Cape Town with 24 hours results. For an additional small fee, if you test before 10am, you will have the results on the same day.
  • Standard PCR Test Results currently can take up to 24 to 48 hours, depending on the location, but are usually less than 24 hours in the big cities. Though we don’t recommend cutting it fine. Tests can be done by any small town GP as then send away the results to the nearest lab. So dont’ worry about being away from a city.
  • Rapid Antigen tests (needed by KLM and some airlines) are readily available in Cape Town and Johannesburg. These take 15-20 minutes for the results to come back.

More Information:

Frequently Asked Questions by Dept of Health

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Adventurous Self drive - Sani Pass into lesotho

Botswana

Needed for Arrival:

NEW: Negative PCR test is no longer required for all fully vaccinated and boosted travellers. (The booster shot is required within the last 6 months prior to arrival in Botswana.) See HERE for what that means.

If not vaccinated, you will need a negative PCR test within 72 hours of your flight to Botswana. And on arrival, you must receive one dose of a Covid-19 vaccinnation at their port of entry (free of charge).

So if you do not wish to get vaccinated, then currently you cannot visit Botswana!

Travellers under 12 years are exempt from needing to be fully vaccinated.

On Arrival:
  • Presentation of Valid Vaccination certificate OR Covid-19 PCR negative certificate
  • Non-vaccinated people will be given one dose of a vaccine.
  • Temperature & health screening
  • Travellers without a valid negative Covid-19 test certificate will remain in quarantine until a negative test is conducted at their own cost
  • Regardless of your vaccination status, there is also a mandatory rapid antigen test at Botswana border points on arrival (complimentary). Children must also have this test. This is a rapid test and only takes 15 mins.
  • Travellers who are symptomatic upon entry, or who develop COVID after entry, must self-isolate for 10 days until a negative test is returned.
On departure and PCR testing:

Each traveller departing Botswana must present a negative Covid-19 test certificate taken within 72 hours prior to departure.

  1. Recommended: PCR Test can be taken in Kasane on arrival, either before transferring to your Chobe lodge, or arranged by the lodge during your stay (PCR test costs are for your own account.)  Results take 24 hours. So we recommend at least 1 night, preferable 2 nights at your Chobe lodge.
  2. PCR Test can be taken in Maun (results within 24 hours). But then you will need to overnight in Maun.
  3. A nurse can be flown to your safari camp for test and then results are emailed to be presented at airport on departure in both Maun and Kasane.  The cost for this varies between $340 and $360 per person. This includes the cost of the test and the nurse to fly to your camp. Must be pre-booked.
General tips and info:
  • We recommend you start your Botswana safari in Maun and finish in Kasane, if that’s possible.  This way you can get your exit PCR testing done in Kasane, proceed to your Chobe lodges without disrupting your holiday.
  • If you are not going to Kasane then we recommend paying for a nurse to fly to your camp.
  • TIP: If you are only staying 1-2 nights in Victoria Falls then if you take the PCR test on the morning prior to your departure, then you should be able to use the same test to return to South Africa. (Especially if your original test to get into South Africa is also less than 14 days old.)

Safe Botswana safaris

Namibia

Namibia

Needed for Arrival:

NEW: Namibia now no longer requires a PCR test if you are fully vaccinated

All non or partially vaccinated people must present a Covid-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to arrival flight with name and signature of the conducting certified medical practitioner. Needed for all travellers over the age of five years.

On Arrival:
  • Presentation of Covid-19 PCR negative certificate, if not vaccinated. Travelers should validate their test results through the African Union Trusted Travel or the UNDP Global Haven systems.
  • Temperature & health screening. See this guide for How to use the Trusted Travel Platform.
  • All travellers to complete Traveller Health Questionnaire prior to arrival or upon arrival at the Ports of Entry. (Handed out on the plane).
  • Vaccinated people currently still need a PCR test on arrival.
On departure and PCR testing

There are numerous laboratories and testing centres in Windhoek where the test can be done.  Results are generally guaranteed via email within 24 hours in Windhoek. There is an express testing option which gives a 5 hour turnaround. (But this costs 3 x normal price).

You can also take tests at Tsumeb, Keetmanshoop & Swakopmund en route back to Windhoek during weekdays only. However please allow 48 to 72 hours prior to departure in order to guarantee the results are back in time.

A nurse can also come to your camp to conduct the test and then results are emailed to be presented at the airport on departure in Windhoek.

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Cedarberg-Africa-Namib-Desert-Namibia-flying-SS-700
Southern-Honeymoon-romantic-couple-Fish-river-canyon-SS-700

Zimbabwe

Needed for Arrival:

COVID-19 PCR test within 48 hours prior to departure for Zimbabwe

NEW: Only vaccinated travellers are allowed to cross the border bia Kazugula border post (from Botswana). But as Botswana is now requiring you to either be vaccinated. Or agree to be vaccinated on arrival, this is immaterial. (As unvaccinated cannot visit Botswana.)

On Arrival:
  • Presentation of Covid-19 PCR negative certificate. Travelers should validate their test results through the African Union Trusted Travel or the UNDP Global Haven systems.
  • Temperature & health screening.
  • All travellers to complete Traveller Health Questionnaire prior to arrival or upon arrival at the Ports of Entry.
  • Vaccinated people currently still need a PCR test on arrival.
On departure and PCR testing:

You can take a PCR test in Victoria Falls.  Results generally available 4 – 6 hours, so we recommend that option.  Some hotels can arrange the test done at the hotel. 

Plenty of Outdoor activities in Zimbabwe

Zambia

Needed for Arrival:

Covid-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to date of departure. Needed for all travellers over the age of five years .

On Arrival:
  • Presentation of Covid-19 PCR negative certificate.
  • Temperature & health screening.
  • Travelers from countries deemed high risk will be required to take a COVID-19 test on arrival at their own cost and undergo 14 days quarantine, even with a valid negative PCR test certificate
  • Unvaccinated travellers with symptoms, or who haven’t done a Covid-19 test, will remain in quarantine for 14 days.
  • Fully vaccinated travellers with a negative PCR test certificate will be exempted from quarantine
  • All travellers to complete Traveller Health Questionnaire prior to arrival or upon arrival at the Ports of Entry.
  • Vaccinated people currently still need a PCR test on arrival.
On departure and PCR testing:

You may need to produce PCR testing before boarding your return flight.   Each airline has their own Covid testing requirements- it is your responsibility to check your airlines requirements before being tested. 

  1. Some Lower Zambezi & Luangwa camps: A nurse can be flown to your camp for test and then results are emailed to be presented at airport on departure.  The cost is approx $360 per person. This includes the cost of the test and the nurse to fly to your camp.
  2. Tests can also be done in Mfuwe at a local doctor. There is an additional cost of US$250 (on top of the test costs) per test to cover procedures and transport, and the results are guaranteed within 72 hours (although normally less than that).
  3. PCR Covid tests can be done in Lusaka with a turnaround time of 48 hours.
  4. PCR Testing is done at the Livingstone Teaching Central Hospital.  Testing times are subject to availability. Results will be available in 48 hours.  Approximate cost: $260 per person including transfer to and from the hospital.
  5. Livingstone lodges: A qualified practitioner is able to go to selected lodges and camps to conduct the required PCR test. Test results will be emailed to the guests. Payment is made on check-out.
Kafue-Shumba-Camp-bush-breakfast
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Lower-Zambezi-Old-Mondoro-canoes-channel

Kenya

Needed for Arrival:
  • All travellers, over 18 years of age, both in and out of the country, must be fully vaccinated.
  • NEW; PCR tests are no longer required for fully vaccinated visitors.
  • Exemptions will be made for those whose medical condition precludes vaccination (with a letter from your medical practitioner detailing the medical reason.) Or gfor travellers who have had Covid-19 within the preceding 90 days, (again with a letter from your medical practitioner detailing the active infection and recovery.)
  • All eligible, but unvaccinated travellers – presumably those between the ages of 5 and 18 – must take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to departure flight to Kenya.
  • All vaccination certificates need to be uploaded into Gloven Haven prior to boarding their flight to Kenya.
  • All travellers (incl. those in transit) must complete the Travellers Health Surveillance Form. On submission, travellers will receive a QR code to be presented to Health Officials on arrival.
  • All travellers must register for a Trusted Travel Code (TT Code) prior to arriving in Kenya.
On Arrival:
  • Vaccinated people currently still need a PCR test on arrival.
  • Presentation of Covid-19 PCR negative certificate, TT code & QR code from Traveller Health Surveillance Form. (Note they may only ask to see you paper test. But be ready to show the QR code on your phone.)
  • Temperature & health screening.
  • All travellers with symptoms or who haven’t done a Covid-19 test, will remain in quarantine until a negative test is conducted at their own cost.
On departure and PCR testing:
  • PCR Tests are available in Nairobi with results within 6 to 24 hours.
  • Rapid Antigen tests are available at Jomo Kenyatta Airport with results within 6 hours.
  • However PCR tests done elsewhere in the country take 36 to 48 hours for results to come.

Mara lodges: A qualified practitioner is able to go to selected lodges and camps to conduct the required PCR test. Test results will be emailed to the guests. The price approx. $150-$180 per person plus the test costs ($100)

For those that do need a COVID-19 test pre-boarding, this must also be digitally verified and a TT code obtained.  Testing need to be done at least 24 hours before departure.

Memorable and unique destinations

Tanzania

Needed for Arrival:

All Travellers over five years old must take a COVID-19 PCR test within 96 hours of arrival into Tanzania and complete an an online Traveller’s Surveillance Form. This form must be submitted no more than 24 hours before arrival. This form will generate a QR code to be shown on arrival.

On Arrival:
  • All travellers to complete and submit Traveller Surveillance 24 hours before arrival. Link to form. On arrival show your PCR test/QR code either on phone or paper copy.
  • All travellers entering or leaving Tanzania, will be subjected to enhanced screening for COVID-19 including temperature scanning.
  • Travellers from selected countries (with high numbers of Covid-19 cases) will have to also take a Rapid Antigen test (15 mins results). The cost for the Rapid test is US$10 and can be pre-paid when completing the Traveller Surveillance Form, or on arrival.
  • Travellers who test positive on arrival will be required to self-isolate for 14 days
On departure and PCR testing:

Currently tests can be done in Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Karatu (near Ngorongoro Crater) and at Seronera in the Central Serengeti.  Testing needs to be done 72 to 48 hours before departure.  The test must be done in the early morning, by 10am as the tests depart for Dar es Salaam for central testing. Price varies around $100 – $150pp.

Beautiful beaches in Tanzania

Uganda

Needed for Arrival:

All Travellers over three years old must take a COVID-19 PCR test within72 hours of arrival into Uganda.

On Arrival:
  • Covid-19 PCR negative test certificate taken within 72 hours of boarding your flight to Uganda is required.
  • No need for a further PCR test on arrival (since February 2022).
  • Temperature & health screening
On departure and PCR testing:

All departing passengers (four years and older) will also need to test negative in a PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure. There are testing sites in Kampala and Entebbe. We recommend an overnight stay prior to departure.

Kampala has a Express Testing Site which takes 6 hours. Otherwise normal PCR tests take up to 24 hours.

Bwindi Mountain Gorilla

Rwanda

Needed for Arrival:
  • Covid-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to departure flight to Rwanda. Needed for all travellers over the age of five years. This is the only requirement for vaccinated.
  • All travellers must complete a Passenger Locator Form online. On completion of the form, travellers will be provided with a Unique Health Code (UHC) which you must present on arrival. travellers.
On Arrival:
  • Presentation of Covid-19 PCR negative test certificate.
  • Complete a short health questionnaire on arrival.
  • All arriving travellers will be required to take a PCR test /Rapid antigen test on arrival at a cost of USD 65. Payment details are found on the Passenger Locator Form. Travellers must self-isolate until they received their test results But vaccinated travellers are not required to quarantine. HOWEVER Unvaccinated arrivals will be tested for Covid-19 again on arrival then taken to a designated hotel for 24 hours, awaiting results (USD 60 per test).
On departure and PCR testing:

All departing passengers will also need to test negative in a PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure. Passengers should book and pay for their tests at least 2 days prior to departure through the online platform available on the Government of Rwanda website

Important Note:

Tourists are required to take a PCR test 72 hours prior to visiting any National Park (except for Akagera). Tourists visiting Akagera are required to take a rapid antigen test, available at numerous walk-in clinics in Kigali (RWF 10,000). No tourist will be admitted to any National Park without a valid negative test result.

Choice of Beach Destinations

Mauritius

Fully vaccinated tourists can enter but must show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the last point of embarkation. Full details are on Mauritius Now.

If staying at a hotel, you must do a mandatory Rapid Antigen test on arrival before you can explore the island.

Unvaccinated travellers with a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the last point of embarkation may enter but must quarantine in their room for 14 days in an official quarantine hotel. Further PCR tests will be mandatory on Day 7 and Day 14.

So basically Mauritius is only allowing fully vaccinated travellers to visit.

Mozambique

Tourists must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival into Mozambique. For travellers using the South Africa land border a negative PCR test is valid for up to 7 days before entry.

Seychelles

All visitors must present a negative PCR test, taken within 72 hours prior to departure, and must stay in approved resort hotels. Full details are on the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Tourism website and the ‘conditions for entry’ section of the Ministry of Health website, which outline all requirements for entry and pre-travel conditions which must be met.

All passengers will be temperature checked at all ports of arrival. If symptoms of COVID-19 are found to be present, tests will be conducted. Those found to be positive will be quarantined and re-checked.

Mozambique-Beach-SS-700
Honeymoons in Africa - Seychelles

Madagascar

Technically Madagascar has re-opened to international visitors from November 2021.

However

  • Covid-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to departure flight to Madagascar.
  • On arrival, a second PCR test is one and you are required to quarantine for 48 hours (2 nights in an approved hotel in Tana) until the results are returned.

Ethiopia

  • Covid-19 PCR test within 5 days prior to departure flight to Ethiopia.
  • Before arrival, all passengers must complete a Passenger Health Registration Form.
  • All passengers arriving in, departing from or transiting Ethiopia should validate their COVID-19 RT PCR test via the Africa Union Trusted Travel or UNDP Global Haven systems (you will need to register an account on one of these sites). These systems will generate a digital Trusted Travel reference code for your test, which should be presented upon request.
Transiting Clients
  • Transiting passengers are exempt from the current quarantine restrictions for COVID-19. Passengers transiting for 24 hours or less can remain in the departure lounge of the airport. For transits over 24 hours, you will be taken to a designated transit hotel for the duration of your stay. The maximum transit time is 72 hours.
  • Both transit passengers and arriving passengers will be subject to further health screening on arrival.
Travelling to Ethiopia
  • If you are fully vaccinated (or have a certificate of recovery from COVID -19 within the last 90 days, there are no further requirements. However unvaccinated travellers would need to complete 7 days mandatory self-isolation on arrival.
  • Latest updates are available HERE.

Malawi

  • On arrival, visitors will need to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.
  • You are requirted to submit your Covid-19 test certificate to generate a Trusted Travel (TT code). Click HERE to create a TT account, upload your PCR test certificate.
  • On travellers arriving without a PCR test, will have to do a Rapid Antigen Test at their own cost.
  • All travellers who are not yet vaccinated will be offered a Covid-19 vaccine (complementary) at the point of entry. However we understand that this is not mandatory.

Departing visitors will need to provide a valid “Travel Certificate” to immigration showing that a negative COVID-19 test has been taken at any of the five government-designated testing centres within 72 hours of departure. Digital verification of COVID-19 certificates has also been introduced, in line with the Africa CDC’s Trusted Travel Framework.

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Ethiopia - Southern Turmi village
Cedarberg-Africa-Lake-Malawi-fsherman

Eswatini

If you are travellers into Eswatini from South Africa, and returning to South Africa, there is no requirement to have a PCR test

Lesotho

Covid-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to date of entry into Leostho. Needed for all travellers over the age of five years

Digitalised AU Trusted Travel certificates will be required for entry and exit.

Travel with a contented heart


This article is courtesy of Cedarberg Africa

Cedarberg Africa is a travel and safari company specializing in Southern and East African tailor-made itineraries. As we have special rates with all the hotels and game lodges, booking through us will cost no more than booking directly, and sometimes less. So our expertise and knowledge come at no extra cost to you!

Feel free to contact us if you want us to plan a trip that will revitalise your body and mind for you!

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