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Problem with East Africa Safaris this year?

We booked a safari for July 2020 and it was postponed for July 2021.

Our safari tour company says that all is set for this year, except for one detail. Our safari starts in Kenya and ends in Tanzania and Tanzania requires we have a negative COVID-19 PCR test prior to flying out for home in the USA. If we simply went back to Kenya, apparently Kenya has the same rule.

Problem is that going into the bush for the safari we are away from any testing center. The problem is that the test results are supposed to come back in 72 hours (even that is not always the case). There are the quick tests available at the international airports, but the governments require the PCR tests. Apparently, the safari companies are trying to persuade the governments to accept the quicker antigen test. Usually, these tests for the virus are mandated by countries before you enter. Not sure why those African countries are requiring the PCR tests to fly out of the country? We are hopeful that one or both of these governments will change that policy.

Posted by
3666 posts

Isn't it the US that requires a negative result prior to arriving? It doesn't make sense to need the test to fly out of the country; but if so, I would be asking for chapter and verse from your 'company'.
Also, how are they managing any Tanzania requirements of entry? And Kenya's need for quarantine?
But that is February news. You are going to have to wait for July news.
Also, I suggest you start regular reading of TripAdvisor Tanzania forum. There are many local safari company owners there who may be better able to explain. I don't know the Kenya forum as well, but I would be lurking over there as well.
Plenty of people are doing safaris, so they will know what is happening.
May I ask who is providing your safari? If it is OAT, then ask them who is the ground providers for both the Kenya and Tanzania sections....and then I would review those company's websites for on the ground details.

Posted by
4432 posts

The quick antigen tests have proved to be inaccurate, so no surprise that people want PCR tests.

Things may change before your trip for the better or worse. You may have to stay an additional 72+ hours at the end of your trip to get the PCR test.

The world isn’t really ready for free international tourism yet as your dilemma highlights.

Take up any queries with your safari provider. As no one here will have been on a safari for more than a year, we can’t give any advice, as we have no direct experience.

Posted by
11929 posts

The US is requiring the test, and the airlines have to enforce it, just as they make sure you have the appropriate travel documents for entry to the US before you board the plane. If they let you on the plane and you are denied entry into the US because you did mot comply with the test requirement, the airline is responsible.

There is no way to know at this time if that CDC requirement will change in time for your trip. Frankly, I hope they keep it until it is safer to admit travelers from abroad; that is, when infection rates are much lower, new more contagious variants are not circulating, and most of our population has been vaccinated.

Posted by
12126 posts

Its the US that requires the test, so fly home through, and lay over at, an airport that has a testing site. Istanbul comes to mind.

Posted by
7306 posts

We were allowed to take the antigen test when we flew to the States three weeks ago. However, if you itinerary has a plane change anywhere (Germany, France, Netherlands, England) you would be subjected to that country’s rules, which most probably would be a PCR.

Posted by
4648 posts

The USA Order (a link was provided) requires either a NAAT or antigen test. A PCR test is a NAAT test. A PCR test is not required to enter the USA.

My correspondence with the safari company (Good Earth Tours) via email indicated that the local safari companies are also surprised at the PCR requirement. They are trying to get the rule changed.

Good Earth Tours has great reviews and a good reputation. I researched safaris extensively and picked them because of quality and price. Most of the US based travel companies that offer safaris cost double or triple of what we are paying for our safari. Also, we are booked in the Premier lodging (highest of three levels) and our safari is private for only four persons.

Another thing that I have discovered is that PCR tests for COVID-19 don't have to take 72 hours for results. These tests can be found in the USA or Europe for quick results, but the East African results can take 72 or more hours.

Hopefully, in 2-3 months, perhaps the required PCR test to depart Kenya and Tanzania will change to the quick test (antigen) at the airports.

Posted by
3666 posts

Nice that you are using the local agencies. So some of the information was a little lost in translation. You may need religious your safari or flights to allow for testing, but over in TripAdvisor, some are getting results in 48 hours.
By the time your safari comes up, there will be new rules and your company should have plans. That's all anyone can expect.
Though it is an annoying thought, you may need to register your plans to return to Arusha, take the test and then do parks like Tarangire and Lake Manyara, or Arusha NP biding your time for the test results.
It's too bad that they aren't allowing border crossings between Mara NP in Kenya and Serengeti NP in Tanzania to allow a circuit getting you closer to Arusha at the time required.

Posted by
4648 posts

Maria,
Thanks for your interesting post. Our safari is 9 days, 8 nights and we plan to arrive one day early in Nairobi to recover from the jet lag from two long flights back to back.

I raised the possibility of doing something like coming into a major city for the test and going back on safari, but it for our 8 night route, that would pretty much destroy the itinerary. What we could do is do the original 8 nights, then at Arusha, take the test and go back out, as you suggested. However, that would turn into a 12 day, 11 night safari and add more dollars and more time. My wife and I are retired and could to that, but my Son and his friend are in their 40s and still employed and don't want to do that.

Posted by
3666 posts

That's a fast safari for 2 countries but we do what we can; I get that.
I expect over time, we will find out how reliable the rapid tests are, and see how many iterations of the rules happen between now and then.
All you can do is keep an eye on the links here. It's stressful waiting, but we have to give it time. It's too early in the vaccination and rapid test process to know what impact or changes will happen between now and then.
I hope it all works out.

Posted by
69 posts

Right now Tanzania is considered a level 4 by the US government and all travel discouraged. Below is a link to the US Embassy in Dar Es Salem --capital of Tanzania--where they provide instructions on how to schedule the test(s). They do indicate tests results are often delayed. Right now no vaccines are being administered and basic protocols such as mask wearing are not commonly followed.
We were meant to be in Tanzania last summer (for our third time) and of course covid changed that. We're now scheduled for July, 2022 and hoping things will be vastly different then.
Geovagriffith --- I sincerely hope things turnaround this year so you and your family can visit. At this time, as you know, it's a wait and see scenario. When you do get to go it will be life altering.

https://tz.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

Posted by
1964 posts

I am not familiar with the policies of Good Earth Tours, but other safari providers such as Micato, A&K, &Beyond, or Africa Inscribed are coordinating inclusive PCR tests onsite, in-the-bush, often at the last camp location. This was not a "standard" but due to the change in return-to-the-USA-policy, they've had to adapt.

Perhaps you could reach out to Good Earth Tours and see if they intend to do the same - or at least provide "in-the-bush" testing for a fee? As mentioned, everything seems very fluid and companies and travelers are adjusting almost daily. Good Luck!

Posted by
4648 posts

Great news for us. Our safari tour company just advised us that they have arranged for the PCR test to be performed while on safari, so we will not be delayed flying home.

Posted by
3666 posts

Excellent. I am sure you are relieved that you have a solution...if it is still required.