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COVID PCR Testing for travelers

Cedarberg-africa-Simbavati Hilltop Lodge

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

As we start to have our postponed clients travel again in 2021, and a few new clients as well, we are working through the logistics of having PCR tests. In many cases, this is not as problematic as you may think.

But there are challenges, especially if the postponed trip involves 2 or 3 countries. Below we outline some crucial tips for planning a trip now. And we outline how it works in each country.

Important: this blog is intended to help when planning future travel but it is manually updated. This is a volatile time in international travel and if 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 traveler.

In future we may have vaccine passports. But the reality is that PCR testing, or perhaps later on only a rapid antigen test if you have been vaccinated, is here for a while. Just like getting a Yellow Fever certificate or some extra jabs for an exotic trip. 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 will most likely need an Exit test if this is needed by the airline, your home country or or by the next country that you are visiting. So please be aware of what is required by your airline and your home country.

Tips for 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 one test on the way out. If you are up for more testing, especially if it’s planned well, you could include a second country. But three countries will probably involve more testing than you may want.
  • Discuss the “exit strategy” with our consultant when you start planning your trip. For example, in the past, we may have started in Cape Town. But now we recommend finishing there as the testing is very quick and easy and will hardly take any time out of your holiday.
  • Allow enough time to get an exit test done without feel stressed. In some 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 come to you at your game lodge. This is perfect in many ways. But naturally comes with a price tag.
  • Ideally, have an idea of which international airline you are taking, and the routing, as soon as possible. Each airline has testing requirements and then you can discuss this with your Cedarberg Africa consultant.

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

Note: Each airline has their own Covid testing requirements. It is your responsibility to check your airlines requirements before travel. 

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.

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.

On Arrival:
  • Presentation of Covid-19 PCR negative certificate
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 costs between R850 to R900. But if the nurse is coming to your hotel/game lodge then the cost is currently being quoted at R2,000 per person plus the test.
  • Johannesburg Airport has an Express testing site (2,200 per person) which takes 2 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 48 hours, depending on the location, but are usually around 24 hours in the big cities. Though we don’t recommend cutting it fine.
  • Rapid Antigen tests (needed by KLM and some airlines) are available in good facilities in Cape Town and Johannesburg. These take 15-20 minutes for the results to come back.
  • As said above, we recommend ending with a few days in Cape Town. But if you need to fly out from Johannesburg, we recommend taking the Express test or having a test done at your game lodge.
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Adventurous Self drive - Sani Pass into lesotho

Botswana

Needed for Arrival:

COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to departure.

On Arrival:
  • Presentation of Covid-19 PCR negative certificate
  • 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
  • Travellers who are who are symptomatic upon entry or who develop COVID after entry must self-isolate for 10 days with a test (at their own cost) in the second half of the isolation period. Close contacts of positive COVID patients will be asked to isolate for 10-14 days
  • Additional mandatory complimentary COVID-19 test at Botswana border points on arrival. (Children must also have this test). This is a rapid antigen test and only takes 15 mins.
On departure and PCR testing:

Each airline has their own Covid testing requirements. It’s your responsibility to check your airline’s requirements before being tested.

  1. PCR Test can be taken in Maun. But then you will need to overnight in Maun.
  2. PCR Test can be taken in Kasane on arrival, before taking your transfer to your Chobe lodge.  Results take 24 hours, or slightly longer if positive as results need to be confirmed.  So we recommend at least 2 nights in your Chobe lodge.
  3. A nurse can be flown to your 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.
General tips and info:
  • We recommend you start your Botswana safari in Maun and finish in Kasane.  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.

Safe Botswana safaris

Namibia

Needed for Arrival:

COVID-19 PCR test within 7 days of arrival.

On Arrival:
  • Presentation of Covid-19 PCR negative certificate.
  • Temperature & health screening. Travelers may be required to be tested for COVID-19 at their own cost on arrival if they present symptoms.
  • 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

There are numerous laboratories in Windhoek and town where the test can be done.  Results are generally guaranteed via email at 48 hours. There is a rapid testing facilities 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 airport on departure in Windhoek.

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Zimbabwe

Needed for Arrival:

COVID-19 PCR test within 48 hours prior to departure

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.
  • Travelers coming from or transiting through countries with Alpha and Delta variants may be required to take a COVID-19 test on arrival.
  • All travellers with symptoms, or who haven’t done a Covid-19 test, will remain in quarantine until a negative test is conducted at your own cost
  • 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. 

You can take PCR test at Laboratory in Victoria Falls.  Results generally available 4 – 6 hours, so we recommend and overnight in Victoria Falls before departure.  Some hotels can arrange the test done at the hotel. 

General info & tips:

Due to the 48 hour turnaround, we recommend NOT starting your itinerary with Zimbabwe at this stage.

Outdoor activities in Zimbabwe

Zambia

Needed for Arrival:

All Travellers must take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of departure to Zambia from the country of origin.

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.
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Lower-Zambezi-Old-Mondoro-canoes-channel

Kenya

Needed for Arrival:
  • All Travellers must take a COVID-19 PCR test within 96 hours prior to departure with name and signature of the conducting certified medical practitioner.
  • 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. This is an online process to be actioned as soon as the negative PCR test results have been received.
On Arrival:
  • Presentation of Covid-19 PCR negative certificate, TT code & QR code from Traveller Health Surveillance Form.
  • Temperature & health screening.
  • All travellers with symptoms or who havent done a Covid-19 test, will remain in quarantine until a negative test is conducted at their own cost.
  • 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. 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 24 hours before departure.

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)

Luxury safari destination

Tanzania

Needed for Arrival:

All Travellers must take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 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

On Arrival:

• All travellers must take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to arrival.
• All travellers to complete and submit Traveller Surveillance 24 hours before arrival. Link to form
• All travellers entering or leaving Tanzania, will be subjected to enhanced screening for COVID-19 including temperature scanning and a Rapid Test for those arriving from countries with high numbers of COVID -19 cases. The cost for the Rapid test is US$25.
• Travellers who test positive on arrival will be required to self-isolate for 14 days
• All travellers arriving from countries with new COVID-10 variants based on WHO daily updates or those who have travelled through those countries in the last 14 days regardless of route taken shall be subjected to rapid test at Port of Entry, followed by 14 days mandatory quarantine at their own cost.

On departure and PCR testing:

All travellers entering or leaving Tanzania, will be subjected to enhanced screening for COVID-19 including a Rapid Test for those arriving from countries with high numbers of COVID -19 cases. The cost for the Rapid test is US$25.

Currently tests can be done in Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Karatu (near Ngorongoro Crater) and at Seronera in central Serengeti.  Testing needs to be done 72 to 48 hours before departure.  Price varies around $150 – $180pp.

Beautiful beaches in Tanzania

Uganda

On Arrival:
  • COVID-19 PCR negative test certificate taken within 72 hours of boarding your flight to Uganda is required.

Fully vaccinated travellers: Individuals in Category 2 and 3 who have received their full Covid-19 vaccination and are asymptomatic will be allowed into the country without the need to test on arrival.

Country categorisation: Based on the current global trend of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Health has categorized countries in relation to the risk they pose. This categorisation will be reviewed and updated on a weekly basis.

Category 1 – India. All flights from India and all passengers originating from India were suspended effective 1st May 2021.

Category 2 – Travellers from the USA, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Tanzania. Any traveller from these countries including children will be subjected to a PCR Covid-19 test ($65 per person) at the Points of Entry including Entebbe International Airport.

Category 3 – Countries not in Category 1 and 2 are exempt from the above measures.

On departure and PCR testing:

There are testing sites in Kampala and Entebbe. We recommend an overnight stay prior to departure.

Bwindi Mountain Gorilla

Rwanda

On Arrival:
  • COVID-19 PCR negative certificate taken within 72 hours prior to first departure is required.

• 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.
• All 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

General:

Tourists are required to take a PCR test 72 hours prior to visiting a 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.

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 direct, and sometimes less. So our expertise and knowledge comes 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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Africa Travel Specialist

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