– Updated July 2022 –
If you're considering a safari for 2023 and beyond, we want to provide you with the best information on how you can book that trip. With health and safety on the top of everyone's mind, travellers are looking for new and safer ways to see the world.
Although there's nothing new about an African safari, it has always been one of the safest ways to travel. But will it be safe to travel to Africa in 2023? And can you travel if you are not vaccinated? We answer these questions and more, so you can make a safe and informed decision about travelling in Africa during COVID-19…
Is it safe to Travel to Africa in 2023?
Africa remains a safe holiday destination, especially for safari. Unlike train travel, a resort or cruise vacation, you will not come into close contact with large numbers of travellers – social distancing is inherent in the African bush. Not only does safari travel keep you away from crowded places, but it also provides you with the healthiest natural air to breathe, far from big cities and pollution.
Despite the initial dire predictions, Africa has managed the COVID-19 pandemic very well. The number of daily new COVID-19 cases in Africa has remained significantly lower than most other countries in the world. This chart from Our World in Data shows the seven-day rolling average of new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people:
Do I need to be vaccinated to travel to Africa?
Although most African countries are starting to require COVID-19 vaccination certificates, visitors who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to undergo PCR testing prior to departure or on arrival. Visitors who are not vaccinated, however, are required to undergo the necessary PCR testing prior to departure.
See our handy resources to stay up to date with COVID-19 travel requirements:
Do I need special COVID-19 travel insurance?
Comprehensive travel insurance cover is essential during any vacation in Africa. Your travel insurance should protect you against cancellation and curtailment costs if you cannot travel, or must cut your vacation short because of an unexpected event like:
- Illness, injury or death, or a vehicle accident on your way to the airport.
- Being called to jury duty, quarantined or home damage before you depart.
- Losing your job or experiencing a terrorist attack.
Travel insurance also gives you peace of mind while you travel, covers emergency medical expenses, and provides a 24-hour hotline.
What preventative measures are taken in Africa to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmissions?
Very strict health and safety protocols are adopted throughout East and Southern Africa: hand sanitiser stations, temperature checks, social distancing in public spaces, and the wearing of masks are not only standard practices, but also respected by all.
Travellers coming to East and Southern Africa are expected to abide by the COVID-19 regulations at all times.
What can I do to ensure my safari has minimal COVID-19 risk?
We recommend planning a single destination holiday to avoid multiple connecting flights at different international airports, numerous customs facilities, crowded places, and sundry COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
There are countries in Africa that offer visitors way more than just game viewing. Countries like South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania deliver a variety of experiences from seeing incredible wildlife and landscapes, enjoying world-class services and cuisine to basking on exquisite beaches – without having to cross international borders.
Also, some safari camps and lodges can be booked exclusively. That’s right, you’ll have it all to yourself – ideal for families or a group of friends. Private safari villas and suites are also available, and more suitable for those who want the privacy and exclusivity that comes with a sole use accommodation, but have a considerably smaller entourage.
While you'll always have a clean and secure stay on safari, booking an exclusive-use property will eliminate any lingering worries and doubts. You will have no contact with outsiders besides your personal staff (housekeepers, butlers, guides, etc.) who remain the same throughout your stay. All frequented areas like lounges, bedrooms, and vehicles are regularly and thoroughly cleaned to always ensure peak hygiene.
Most safari camps and lodges also provide guests the option to book a private safari vehicle for the duration of their stay. Not only does this allow you to enjoy game drives without other guests on board, but you’ll also be able to decide your own safari schedule.
Our Africa Safari Experts can tailor-make an itinerary around your travel wishes and ensure that the timing is right – so you can spend sufficient time in certain areas and complete your COVID-19 PCR test (if required) before continuing to your next destination or returning home.
What is the health screening process on arrival in Africa?
Generally, travellers will be screened upon arrival (airport or land border) for any COVID-19 symptoms, and for any contact with someone who has been infected with the coronavirus. If a traveller displays any COVID-related symptoms or have been in contact with an infected person, a COVID-19 test at the traveller’s own cost is then required. If the test result is positive, the traveller will be required to quarantine at a designated hotel at their own cost.
The COVID-19 health screening processes may vary depending on the country you visit – see the latest COVID-19 entry requirements for Africa.
Once I enter an African country with a negative PCR test result, will I need to be tested again or can I move around freely?
Most countries in East and Southern Africa only require a negative PCR test result to enter if you are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, whereafter you can move around freely throughout that country. Some countries may require an additional COVID-19 test upon arrival – see the latest COVID-19 entry requirements for Africa – but generally you will only need another test before returning home if your home country and international airline require it.
What COVID-19 protocols are being followed at safari lodges and camps?
The highest levels of COVID-19 precautions and protocols are followed across our trusted network of safari lodges and camps. Not only are they in line with country-specific government procedures and guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO), they also follow:
- The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
- The International Air Transport Association (IATA)
- Park.Doctor (an NPO that connects doctors and conservationists)
Vigilant personal hygiene is the single most important priority at safari camps. Staff have been trained in the correct sanitising and personal hygiene procedures, with a strong focus on limiting any possible transmission of communicable diseases. See our informational resource on COVID-19 protocols at safari lodges.
Safari lodges and camps are generally designed to be small and intimate (the number of rooms or tented suites ranges from six to twelve), fully immersing you in beautiful natural settings. Dining takes place at your own table, often outdoors, spaced a safe distance from others to ensure privacy and safety. During game drives and road transfers, the number of passengers in a safari vehicle is also limited. These vehicles generally accommodate up to six guests on three rows of tiered bench seats, ensuring safety and a great view for each passenger.
In addition to following strict COVID-19 protocols, many lodges and camps across East and Southern Africa also have fully vaccinated staff. Chat with one of our Africa Safari Experts about booking a safari at fully vaccinated lodges and camps.
Do I have to wear a mask on game drives?
In some countries, safari guides and trackers are required to wear face masks to adhere to COVID-19 protocols. It is not mandatory for guests to wear masks in open safari vehicles – especially if you’ve booked a private vehicle for exclusive-use, or it’s only your family or group of friends in the vehicle.
However, if you are in an open safari vehicle with other guests, it is considered polite and respectful to have a consensus before removing your face mask.
Are there special COVID-19 protocols for gorilla trekking?
Because gorillas share about 98% of human DNA, they are highly susceptible to many of the viruses that we carry, and coronavirus is no exception. In order to keep these majestic creatures safe while supporting the local communities and gorilla conservation through ethical tourism, our trusted safari partners in destinations like Uganda and Rwanda have been operating under strict safety protocols such as:
- Only allowing travellers that can produce proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test result to trek gorillas. See the latest COVID-19 protocols for Rwanda and Uganda.
- Anyone with high body temperatures and other signs of illness, including flu and a cough, will not be allowed to trek.
- Trekkers must wear surgical face masks and carry additional masks.
- Regular temperature checking and sanitisation procedures are in place and must be observed.
- Trekking group numbers have been reduced and gorilla viewing distances have been increased.
Do returning safari travellers need COVID-19 tests to re-enter their countries of residence?
Some travellers (regardless of vaccination status) are required to produce a negative COVID-19 test result upon returning home. This may also be required by the airline that you are travelling with. It is recommended that you confirm these details with your travel agent or local government.
Ready to Start Planning Your Dream Safari?
Get in touch with our team of Africa Safari Experts to help tailor-make a trip that’s right for you: