Three giraffe on Kilimanjaro mount background in National park of Kenya, Africa

When Toto sang “it’s going to take a lot to drag me away from you”, in their hit song “Africa”, they couldn’t have possibly expected something as powerful as covid-19.

For the most part, traveller favourite countries in Africa are closed off to visitors, and may be for some time. That doesn’t mean all, nor does it mean forever, so here’s when each country is signalling they may be ready for visitors again, and which options are already open…

Travel Restrictions

Many countries in Africa are already welcoming visitors back, but that’s hardly the only part of the travel equation right now, in a covid-19 world. Even the countries which are open may require negative covid-19 testing, or quarantine on arrival, so each potential trip requires extra planning.

Additionally, each departure country may also have specific advice about travel right now, with some specify that only essential travel is advised, while others may require a quarantine upon return.

Be sure to read up on the latest information before booking any travel, and always look to book with companies offering flexibility, if plans change. Since countries can change entry requirements or restrictions in a flash, be sure to read up on the latest updates for each country, up to the moments before travel.

This list focuses on African countries which typically attract the most visitors, while remaining low on travel safety risk lists, such as those from the US State Department, or UK Foreign Travel Office. For information on other countries in Africa which typically experience higher travel warning levels, check out the Kayak covid-19 entry updates.

Algeria

Algeria has made travel pretty simple for the time being: it’s suspended. With the exception of humanitarian missions, no travellers are allowed in whatsoever. If you were thinking about some culinary delights in Algiers, or a trip into the desert, think again, for now…

Angola

Luanda, the seaside port city is a highly underrated destination in Angola, and Africa at large but it’ll be quite a while before you can experience it for yourself. All flights to Angola are suspended, and there’s been absolutely no update on when that may change. Angolan citizens are able to reenter though.

Botswana

Botswana is an insider favorite for safaris and secluded getaways, with the endless wonder of the Kalahari and the stunning Okavango Delta. Unless you hold a passport from Botswana though, it may be quite a while before you’ll be able to return.

Botswana has reopened domestic flights, but the external border is closed to arrivals, with the exception of returning citizens. a large scale domestic travel campaign is in motion, and pending any safe success, the country may relook at opening to outside visitors once again.

Cameroon

If you’re thinking of near term travel to Cameroon, think again. As stated on official entry restrictions “passengers are not allowed to enter”. Exceptions are made for residents and nationals, and some limited passenger flights are resuming.

Even residents and nationals must provide negative covid-19 tests to be allowed on board, and still must isolate for 14 days on arrival.

Cape Verde

It’s hard to think of a more tranquil and idyllic place to escape for winter sun than Cape Verde. With volcanic cliffs, crystal blue waters, top notch sailing, diving and more, it’s a travel paradise, with great weather virtually year round.

The country remains off limits for now, with all passenger flights suspended and entry restrictions for all outsiders, but small rumbles indicate travel is inching its way back. Ferry service for essential travel has resumed, and air travel may be back in time for a winter getaway.

Only time will tell, but with 20% of the economy dependent on visitors, the country is looking at safe solutions to return travel as quickly as possible.

Egypt

Egypt is a green light, if you’re into travel right now. The country reported no new covid-19 cases from travellers after a month of tourism, and key attractions in major cities are back open. With fewer people around, the experience is arguably better than ever.

Visitors need to fill out a public health card prior to arrival, and are supposed to have travel insurance in place for the duration of the visit. Cairo, Sharm El Sheikh, so much to see, and you totally can right now.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia has reopened for tourism, but not without important safe guards. If you do make the trip, it doesn’t get more welcoming than Ethiopia, and you can always count on incredible coffee to wipe the jet lag off too. Plus, there’s at least 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites and so much to offer.

Ethiopian Airlines has also resumed service to a variety of European and Middle Eastern cities, and transit passengers are allowed to fly through Ethiopia once again.

All travellers hoping to enter Ethiopia are currently required to present a negative covid-19 test taken within 5 days of arrival, but must also quarantine for up to 14 days on entry. Plans to reboot tourism via shorter quarantine measures are underway.

Ghana

Ghana is currently closed to visitors, but rumors of a return to international travel are already swirling. In the last week, Aviation Ministers were forced to deny rumors of leaks that international flights would resume in the coming weeks.

Basically, things are still uncertain, but it’s sounding like reopening to outsiders is at least up for discussion, unlike some countries which have already committed to remaining closed through to 2021.

Three giraffe on Kilimanjaro mount background in National park of Kenya, Africa

Kenya

Kenya is always a popular choice whether it be coffee tourism, safari, or just a change of scenery in Nairobi. It’s going to be an even more popular choice for those traveling now, because it’s one of the few that are open.

Kenya is aggressively pursuing the reopening of tourism and international commerce, allowing non symptomatic passengers from a variety of countries, like Canada, China, Ethiopia, Japan, South Korean Rwanda, Morocco, Namibia, Switzerland, Uganda, and the United States to enter without quarantine.

All travellers must present a recent negative covid-19 result on arrival. International flights are back on once again, which means this is a definitive option, though with new case spikes, one that travellers should approach with ethics and caution.

Mauritius

Mauritius experienced booming tourism growth in recent years, thanks to blossoming food scenes and stunning resorts, not to mention some of the world’s best rum.

The secluded, Indian Ocean nation made the early decision to close ports, including incoming flights, and has fared much better than many African nations in battling covid-19.

No time frame has been specified for reopening, but pressures are mounting to reboot responsible tourism, for a country with over 1/5th of the workforce reliant on visitors. Tourism officials have hinted that final measures, such as mandatory testing are being discussed, and it may not be all that long before some visitors are allowed back.

Morocco

Few countries around the world rely on tourism more than Morocco, and latest estimates indicate the country’s tourism sector is the fourth worst off, globally due to covid-19.

Morocco is currently concentrating on boosting domestic tourism, and encouraging Moroccans living abroad to visit. Long term residents, Moroccan nationals and their families are eligible to enter, and the country is actively promoting tourism to these groups. For everyone else, it’s wait and see.

Namibia

From off road treks in the Namib to the city delights of Windhoek, Namibia travel has been trending in recent years, but like everywhere else around the world, covid-19 has put an end to that.

Accordingly, Namibia is quickly re-evaluating its border plans. The country originally planned to ban all outside flights until September 30th, but President Hage Gingob has changed tact, allowing select international visitors with immediate effect, during a trial period lasting until mid September.

All visitors during the trial must present a recent negative covid-19 test, and must remain in one area for seven days upon entry. If the trials prove to be a success, wider international tourism could be welcomed from the end of September.

Nigeria

Everybody loves Lagos and Abuja, and it might not actually be long before Nigeria lets you back in to visit.

Nigeria’s airports currently remain closed to international travel and only nationals or residents are allowed to enters, but Hadi Sirika, Aviation Minister for Nigeria suggests international flights, with international visitors, will return in weeks, not months.

For the immediate term, Nigeria is focusing efforts on boosting domestic and regional tourism, promoting opportunities for travel in the South, and Southeast of the country.

Rwanda

As one of the few places on earth where travellers can come face to face with gorillas in the wild, Rwanda is an incredibly special destination.

For those hoping to visit, a covid-19 test, and some screening on arrival is all that stands in the way. Travel to Rwanda has restarted, even for international visitors, and all travellers must supply a recent negative covid-19 test.

On arrival into Rwanda, everyone must take another covid-19 test, and await results at a dedicated hotel facility for up to 24 hours. Upon negative result, travellers are released to continue their trip.

Reunion

Perhaps less buzzing with tourism than neighbouring Mauritius, but still a lovely place to visit, Reunion has reopened. For now, entry is restricted to European Union member states, as well as those from the United Kingdom, Monaco, Andorra and The Vatican.

If you do go, you’ll need a recent (72 hour) covid-19 test, and you’ll need to self isolate for at least 7 days.

Seychelles

After months of lockdown, a getaway to the sun, sand and heavenly relaxation found in the Seychelles sounds pretty ideal. For travellers from quite a few countries, you absolutely can.

According to the latest travel data, travellers from: Austria, Belgium, Canada, China (People’s Rep.), Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macao (SAR China), Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates are able to enter, provided they bring a recent negative covid-19 test.

South Africa

South Africa has stunned the world, reopening to international travel from October 1st, 2020. Initially, authorities said the country would not open until mid 2021 at the earliest, but now the government has confirmed an October 1st reopening date for most international visitors.

This is welcome news, with Cape Town a perennial favorite for winter sun, and Johannesburg, Durban and surrounding areas always incredible places to begin a safari or road trip.

Tanzania

Looking on a map of world travel restrictions during covid-19, Tanzania was one of only a handful to never meaningfully limit international entry. The country is open to visitors, practically as normal, and this includes Americans.

The only thing required? Fill out a “Traveler Surveillance Form” – their words, not ours – form and present it to authorities on arrival.

Tunisia

Tunisia is open, kind of, but not without headaches. The country has deployed a traffic light system, where countries are placed in red, orange or green status, based on their handling of the pandemic. Red countries can’t enter, while others can, and either way, you’ll need to self quarantine on arrival.

With the rapidly changing nature of the entry restrictions, it’s best to use the official Timatic Entry Restriction Tool used by airlines to determine whether you can go, or what you’ll need to do if you can.

Uganda

With the stunning Rwenzori Mountains and rare access to gorillas in the wild, Uganda holds a special place in many hearts. Unfortunately, the feelings inside will be as close as it gets to visiting, for quite some time.

Uganda has closed its borders and suspended all flights, except for humanitarian missions and repatriation of Ugandan citizens. In the interim, the Uganda and the EU are cooperating on financial relief packages to salvage the estimated $25 million in tourism losses per day.

Zimbabwe

Just today, Zimbabwe reopened Victoria Falls and surrounding rainforests, bringing one of the world’s greatest tourism attractions back in action. For now, Zimbabweans will be the only ones able to enjoy the spectacular sights.

Like many countries, Zimbabwe is focusing on domestic tourism while the country grapples with covid-19, but President Mnangagwa took the reopening as a chance to signify the country’s commitment to becoming a world class tourism destination by 2030.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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7 Comments

  1. Haven’t been able to plan anything as for as going to SA to see my girlfriend and family just hope there’s a change in plans by the government

  2. Where is the report on Zambia, which shares a common border with 8 other African nations & is a very popular tourist destination – we have Vic Falls as well?

  3. We missed Climbing Kilimanjaro the Tanzanian pride, and the African highest peak. Neighbors see it from far… But we physically touch its top.

    You are welcome to Tanzania not only for Kilimanjaro treck but for Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire, Manyara, Mikumi, Ruaha mentioned just a few.

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