These African Countries Are Now Open In November To U.S. Travelers

As many countries in the northern hemisphere remain closed to international arrivals, travelers are turning their attention to the southern hemisphere, when peak tourist season is usually beginning.

Many countries on the African continent are now reopen to international arrivals, including U.S. passengers. And with the current trend towards outdoor pursuits in order to ensure social distancing, many travelers are reporting that now is an ideal moment to take a safari without the crowds.

Africa Adventure Consultants, a luxury African safari tour operator reported a large shift in October towards Kenya and Tanzania for last minute bookings (60% of enquiries, versus 37% in 2019) because they were already open to U.S. arrivals—travelers reported “incredible game sightings—and virtually solo, which was unheard of prior to Covid-19”.

Tanzania has far and away been its biggest last-minute seller; it’s a great safari destination, but crucially it was one of the first to re-open to foreign visitors including Americans and has very low reported cases of Covid-19. The second most popular last-minute destination in the last 60 days (for passengers traveling before the end of 2020) has been Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. 

Passengers traveling to areas under the highest Travel Advisory Level because of Covid-19 should check insurance policies to make sure they are still covered when they have been advised by their governments not to go.


Kenya—negative test within 96 hours of arrival

Kenya is home to the great rift valley, the wildebeest migration through the Masaai Mara, tea and coffee plantations and lush game reserves, with an ongoing reputation for providing sightings of the big five (the animals considered by hunters in the past as the most difficult and dangerous animals to hunt on foot—the African elephant, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceros).

International passengers, including from the U.S., are allowed to visit, provided they do not have a body temperature above 37.5°C (99.5°F) or a persistent cough, difficulty breathing or other flu-like symptoms upon arrival. Passengers must also show a negative PCR Covid-19 test within 96 hours of arrival.

The U.S. Department of State has a Level 3: Reconsider Travel alert to Kenya because of Covid-19 (as it does for most global travel) but also because crime, terrorism, and kidnapping are not unheard of in some border areas and in the capital Nairobi.

Injections needed: Yellow Fever.

Passport validity needed: 6 months.


Rwanda—on EU ‘safe’ lists, 24-hour quarantine needed

Rwandan tourism was put on the sustainable tourism map by primatologist, Dian Fossey, who famously studied and protected the gorillas in the volcanic mountains (the highest peak being Karisimbi, at nearly 15,000 feet, in the volcanic Virunga chain in the protected national park).

Whilst land borders are shut, international arrivals are allowed but visitors must be in possession of a negative PCR test, taken no earlier than 120 hours before departure. Upon arrival, travelers will be asked to quarantine for 24 hours in a hotel of their choice and take another PCR test, at their own cost, until they get a negative result (results arrive after approximately 24 hours). Travelers must fill out a Passenger Locator Form before departure detailing hotel arrangements, insurance cover and test results.

Rwanda has been a nearly constant fixture on the EU’s ‘safe’ list throughout the summer, meaning visitors from Rwanda are allowed to travel to EU countries because the infection rates of Covid-19 have been remaining low.

The U.S. Department of State has a Level 3: Do Not Travel Advisory to Rwanda because of Covid-19 (as it does for most global travel) but it is generally considered safe for issues such as crime.

Injections needed: yellow fever (if arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic or where there is an outbreak).

Passport validity needed: 6 months.


South Africa—requires negative PCR test

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Wednesday that South Africa would open up to everyone, provided incoming passengers had proof of a negative PCR test. The country opened its borders on 1 October but only to a select group of countries. Whilst he didn’t give specific details about whether U.S. arrivals and banned EU arrivals would be on the list, the implication is that they will be allowed to come.

“We are also opening up international travel to all countries subject to the necessary health protocols and the presentation of a negative Covid-19 certificate,” said Ramaphosa.

Whilst Covid-19 rates have been rising lately in some areas, including Cape Town (where many tourists begin their journey), it is believed that the lure of revitalizing a beleaguered tourist industry is greater than the threat posed by an influx of people.

South Africa usually welcomes 10 million visitors each year to its beaches and game safaris.

The U.S. Department of State has a Level 3: Do Not Travel Advisory to South Africa because of Covid-19 (as it does for all global travel) but also believes caution should be exercised due to increased risk of crime, civil unrest and drought.

Injections needed: yellow fever (if arriving from a WHO-designated yellow fever country).

Passport validity needed: 1 month.


Tanzania—negative PCR test if showing symptoms

Tanzania is a favourite for travelers because of the wide variety of sights on offer; Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa’s highest mountain), Serengeti National Park, Africa’s largest game reserve, the Selous, and Africa’s longest and deepest lake, Tanganyika. It is also home to many chimpanzee reserves and the tropical beaches of Zanzibar.

Tanzania opened its international borders in June without any restrictions but then added a directive in August that all arrivals needed to have a negative PCT test taken within 72 hours of travel.

It removed this requirement in September to where only arrivals showing symptoms of Covid-19 need to have a PCR test and/or go into quarantine.

Almost 2 million tourists visited Tanzania in 2019—revenue which the government is reticent to lose. At a press conference in May, prime minister John Magufuli said, “our economy must come first. It must not sleep. If we allow our economy to sleep, we will not receive salaries.”

The U.S. Department of State has a Level 3: Do Not Travel Advisory to Tanzania because of Covid-19 (as it does for all global travel) but also believes caution should be exercised due to increased risk of crime, terrorism and targeting of LGBTI persons.

Injections needed: yellow fever (if arriving from a yellow fever endemic country).

Passport validity needed: 6 months.


Zimbabwe—requires negative PCR test

Zimbabwe opened its airports to international travelers on 2 October, allowing visitors in from any country, providing they arrive with proof of a negative PCR test, taken within the last 48 hours. Airport screening is taking place and passengers showing symptoms will be asked to take another test costing $60.

Victoria Falls is one of the main attractions; locals call it “Mosi-oa-Tunya”, the smoke that thunders. At 350 feet high (108 metres), it sits on the Zambezi river, on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The U.S. Department of State has a Level 3: Do Not Travel Advisory to Zimbabwe because of Covid-19 (as it does for all global travel) but also believes caution should be exercised due to increased risk of crime and civil unrest.

Injections needed: yellow fever.

Passport validity needed: 6 months.


The Centers of Disease Control and Protection states that travel increases your chance of getting and spreading Covid-19 and that “staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from Covid-19.”

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