Traveling to Africa may be easier than you think
We are under no illusion that travelling in a time of Covid-19 poses many challenges, but we’re here to tell you that travelling to Southern Africa may be easier than what you may realise. So, if you’ve been craving the sanctity of Namibia’s vast and empty spaces, South Africa’s rich biodiversity or Botswana’s iconic Okavango Delta, then you may want to scroll down to discover what travel tips, tricks and regulations to look out for when planning your next trip to Africa.
Where have our clients have started their self-drive safaris?
We’ve seen a promising rise in overlanding escapes since March 2021.
Most of our clients have collected their campers from our South African or Namibian depos this year.
We’ve also managed to accommodate clients traveling all the way into Zambia.
Our clients have come from far and wide to embrace Africa’s beauty.
Without the added factor of flights, we’ve seen South Africans enjoy the high accommodation availability, low tourist densities and lower travel rates across Southern Africa over the last two months.
We’ve also seen people venture to Africa from Germany, Switzerland and various other countries as the risk of Covid-19 continues to subside in Southern Africa and many other areas around the globe.
The state of Covid-19 in South Africa
Despite the negative press South Africa has received around the world regarding the Covid-19 variant first detected in South Africa (B.1.351), the country’s active cases have declined substantially since early 2021, with new infections also relatively stable. What’s more, contrary to initial concerns, the country has not seen an increase in cases since the Easter period. We are happy to report that around 292,623 South Africans have already been vaccinated, with the government aiming to have 40 million individuals vaccinated as soon as possible.
South Africa reopened for international travel on 1 October 2020, with flights available at the following airports: OR Tambo International, King Shaka International, Cape Town International, Kruger Mpumalanga International and Lanseria international. Current airlines flying to South Africa include: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air France, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, Lufthansa, Edelweiss Air, Swiss Air and Virgin Atlantic.
Traveling in and around Southern Africa
South Africa opened its land borders in 20 different locations in February 2021, including access into Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. From what we understand, extra staff have been deployed at borders and a ticket system is in place to limit congestion and Covid-19 tests being done at the border.
Health screening and Covid-19 protocols upon arrival in and departure from South Africa
You will need to download, print and complete the Traveller Health Questionnaire no more than two days prior to your arrival in South Africa. The same applies for departure. Upon arrival, you will need to provide a valid, printed certificate of a negative Covid-19 PCR test, obtained no more than 72 hours (three days) from the time of departure for South Africa. You will be expected to undergo screening for any Covid-19 symptoms or for potential contact with people who have been infected. There is no set mandatory quarantine period upon arrival in South Africa.
Travellers may be required to take a Covid-19 PCR test prior to departure and provide additional documentation depending on the requirements of your specific destination. Covid-19 PCR tests are readily available in South Africa – these tests typically have a 24 hour turnaround time.
What if I’m vaccinated?
Now that Covid-19 vaccines are widely available, many potential travellers are asking whether they’ll be required to undergo Covid-19 tests. Although vaccine passports are under consideration, the answer remains unclear as experts still need to assess the data around vaccine efficacy. For this reason, no traveller will be exempt from a country’s set Covid-19 travel protocols.
See what international travellers thought about visiting Cape Town during the pandemic.
Namibia has been a favourite overlanding destination during the pandemic, and for good reason. With just over two million people in a country of 800,000 square kilometres, the country has the world’s second-lowest concentration of people after Mongolia. What’s more, Namibia’s 4X4 off-road trails are a veritable utopian playground of 4X4 adventures for off-road enthusiasts, and offer peace-of-mind with the promise of pure isolation.
Currently, airlines flying into Namibia include: Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa, Eurowings and Qatar Airways. Arrival by air is allowed into Windhoek International Airport as well as Walvis Bay. At present, all countries are allowed to travel to Namibia, and travellers arriving in England from Namibia will not be required to quarantine for 14 days.
Health screening and Covid-19 protocols upon arrival in and departure from Namibia
Good news! You can now choose to provide either a Covid-19 PCR test OR an Antigen Rapid Diagnostic (ARD) test upon arrival. In both cases, the test needs to have been conducted within seven days of arrival.
Travellers will also be expected to submit their full trip itinerary and screen for signs of Covid-19 symptoms upon arrival. A negative COVID-19 test certificate, conducted within 48 hours of departing Namibia if your country of origin requires it.
Note: Covid-19 testing in-country is limited to a certain number of tests per day. All testing needs to be pre-booked and appointments must be made in advance.
Botswana started a phased reopening of international borders from 9 November 2020, after which air travel resumed at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone, as well as Maun and Kasane International Airports.
Airlines currently flying into Botswana include: Private charter flights, SA Airlink, Air Botswana, Quatar Airways and Ethiopian Airlines. Most road borders are open into Botswana and Martins drift has been the most popular with our clients, this border has been relatively quiet and easy to cross.
Health screening and Covid-19 protocols upon arrival in and departure from Botswana
Like in South Africa, arrivals are expected to present a valid Covid-19 test conducted within 72 hours of departure for Botswana. If you are arriving at Maun Airport, a Rapid Antigen Test (free of charge) is also required upon arrival, of which results will be available within 15 minutes.
When preparing to leave Botswana, travellers will be required to undergo a PCR test 24 hours prior to departure. This can be done via one of the following options:
- Arrange in-camp testing. A qualified practitioner will fly to a traveller’s camp or lodge to conduct a PCR test. This has to be booked 26 hours in advance for a minimum of two guests.
- Conduct a PCR test in Maun or Kasane Airport. Again, booking is essential and tests results will be available within 24 hours.
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