Travel in the time of COVID

Updated 1st Dec, 2021

What will the new normal look like in Tanzania/East Africa and how best to be prepared so you can enjoy your safari and appreciate the wonder and the importance of nature in balance?

Before anything else, it is important to pack a large dose of patience and understanding, as the new normal will involve a lot more health checks and precautions, which will take up your time and may sometimes feel overly repetitive. There also may be changes to the ‘expected’ level of service offered during your safari, if this conflicts with social distancing recommendations.  However, these are all there to provide as much protection as possible for you and your guides, the staff, officials and anyone else whom you will come across during your trip. As the tourism community, we all need to offer reassurance that we take the COVID 19 situation very seriously and we want you to feel as comfortable and protected as possible in the circumstances.  The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has worked with the Tourism Industry to put together these SOP’s.

The new normal starts before you leave your home.

Please note that these travel regulations change constantly, and what has been stated here may not still be the case next week! As we are not responsible for booking the international flights, we rely on you to tell us of any requirements or any changes prior or during the safari that may affect your return journey.


On-line visas. Please make sure you organise an on-line visa rather than planning to purchase on arrival. This reduces congestion at the airport and allows the process to go more smoothly. The process can take up to a week.




Rwanda: visas obtainable on arrival.


Please make sure you keep track of your reference number and user name and password.

Passenger information forms or Passenger Travel forms. Some countries, eg Tanzania, Kenya , Uganda, Rwanda and the UK amongst others, require an on-line information form to be filled in before departure/arrival. Please check to see if you need to do this for your outward or incoming flights.

Tanzania requires this form to be filled in the 24 hours prior to arrival. This form links through to the booking and payment of the rapid tests on arrival. These are mandatory for all countries that have seen major affects from the Variants. The list changes and depends not just on your country of departure and transit but also your travel routes for the previous 14 days. If you qualify for a rapid test, the site willt ake you through to the payment, If you are exempted, then the form will end at the declaration. The cost is $10 per person

Kenya requires the form to be done online just prior to arrival and you will be issued with a QR code that must be shown to the Authorities. You will also need to complete a Trusted Travel form prior to departure with details of your COVID test uploaded. Instructions are on the COVID certificate.

Rwanda requires the form to be submitted within 72 hours of arriving in the country and you will receive an email confirmation that must be shown to the Authorities on entry.

Uganda All arriving passengers are now required to complete the MOH in advance of their arrival into Entebbe.

COVID 19 tests ARRIVAL INTO MAINLAND TANZANIA Tanzania now requires all passengers into Tanzania to have a COVID negative PCR test within 96 hours before arriving in the country. There will be an additional Rapid Test performed to all qualifying arrivals and payable through the website to the Authorities at $10 per person. There is also a contact trace form to fill in. This form is now part of the Health Declaration that is mentioned above and it leads to a payment portal for the Rapid Test and you should pay with either Visa or Master card.

COVID 19 tests  DEPARTURE FROM TANZANIA A few Airlines and most countries require a COVID 19 negative test before departure from Tanzania. Please make sure you have the most up to date requirements from your airline and country of return and let us know if a certificate is required, as this may necessitate a change in itinerary. NB most countries and airlines requiring a negative test, ask for a PCR test result and some may require a Rapid test done just prior to departure as well. We rely on you to keep us informed of any changes to the COVID regulations associated with your travel plans.

Tanzania Mainland  has few testing centers currently.  The tests cost $50 per test, payable in Ts Shs. (In addition, most hospitals will also charge a facilitation fee – payable direct) The process for getting a test and certificate is become much easier and quicker and more reliable but there are still some bureaucratic procedures to follow. We handle the booking procedure and payment for this for Mainland Tanzania, but we have to charge the VAT due on the above in order to comply with current TAX regulations. It requires us to have a copy of your passport, the date and place you want the test and your departure details from Tanzania. The booking is referenced under each passport number. On the mainland, the certificate is dated for when the certificate is issued not when the swab is taken. Results take 48-52 hours on average.

From a paperwork point of view, we have to register on the Government site between 13 and 5 days before the test is needed and we need a copy of the data page from your passport

There is a separate site for Zanzibar and Pemba. In Zanzibar, the test must be booked in advance but payment is made direct to the facility by Mastercard or Visa by yourselves. We are not able to book this on your behalf. We can assist with directions. There are now several places where you can get swabs including a mobile clinic that can come to your hotel for an extra charge. In Zanzibar and Pemba, the date on the certificate is the date the swab was taken.  The test costs $80per person and the mobile clinic is a supplementary cost.

When you go for your swab test, you will need to have proof of payment, which we will issue you if we are handling the booking and a copy of your passport data page.

Once the swab is taken and it has to be transported by the Regional Medical Authorities to the Arusha or the Dar es Salaam Government lab for analysis or on Zanzibar. The further your swab is from Arusha or Dar or Zanzibar’ , the longer the process can take. You need to have your passport with you and proof of payment when you go for the swab.

The lab does the analysis and then, assuming negative, the certificate is loaded onto the Government site (mainland or Zanzibar) and can be accessed by entering the passport number and clicking on the certificate tab.  The system sends an email and an SMS to the contact person in the application to let them know. Since your safari will often take you out of internet and phone contact, then we put our contact details and alert you to the progress. So far, certificates are produced approx. 50 hours after the swab is taken. On the mainland of Tanzania, the date on the certificate is the date the sample was processed in the lab.

These swabs can only be taken at a handful of official hospitals. There are 2 in Arusha, 1 in Karatu, 1 in Seronera, Serengeti, 1 in Northern Serengeti, 1 in Ndutu, several in Dar and 1 in Iringa and a couple in Moshi plus several on Zanzibar, one in Pemba and Mafia. Plans are afoot to open a couple more testing clinics on the safari circuit. We would not recommend planning on a travel time less than 60 hours after your test.


The procedures for the test will be different depending on which hospital you are going to for a test. However, all swabs have to be taken in the morning only and often by 1000am, to allow transportation to the lab the same day.


In Dar es Salaam, you will pay the hospital the cost of the test as well as the facilitation fee and they then organize the whole process. At IST, the cost is $180 per person for the one stop shop. This is by far the most hassle-free option.


The Tanzania Government has also stated that it is the international airline’s responsibility to make sure that travellers coming to Tanzania are not carrying the virus. This means people with COVID-like symptoms will not be allowed to fly. It will also probably mean extra health checks along with the any mandatory COVID negative tests will be required by the airlines as well, so you must check well in advance of travel. There will still be stringent health checks on arrival and if you have a temperature or COVID symptoms or develop them during your safari, you will be required to undergo another COVID test at the nearest Government facility and follow the official advice which may involve self-isolation at a designated hotel at your expense or admittance to hospital should that be required. Any costs as a result of this will be at your own expense.

All Airlines must operate the Advanced Passenger Information System so as to reduce delays at the airport. Passengers to Kenya must register on the Government’s Safe Travel App

As we know from the last few months, Government Travel Advice, COVID protocols as well as regulations and health recommendations (both in Tanzania, East Africa and in your home country and from The WHO) are subject to frequent change, sometimes with little notice. Please make sure you double check regularly before travel what the current situation is both in terms of your Travel to Tanzania and Return to your Home Country.

Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda and Uganda currently REQUIRE a COVID PCR negative test before visitors are allowed entry to the country.

In Kenya, this has a limit of 96 hours prior to departure, this is a generous timeframe which is usually easy to meet.

Rwanda and Uganda have shorter limits – 72 hours before arrival.  Rwanda and Uganda also require a second test to be performed on arrival.

Uganda and Rwanda: All arriving passengers (including children above 6 years) irrespective of vaccination status or country of origin, will be required to undertake a mandatory COVID-19 PCR test on arrival at the Airport. This is in addition to the negative PCR test certificate required to have been obtained within 72 hours prior to departure from country of origin.

Please check the actual limits and current regulations for entry before planning your departure close to the time of travel.

–       Arrival PCR Test certificate remains mandatory upon arrival taken in less than 72hrs.

–       Upon arrival in Rwanda and Uganda, passengers are subjected to a second PCR test at the airport. This is at a fee of US$ 60.00 per person in Rwanda and $65 per person in Uganda.

–      There is a mandatory night upon arrival in Kigali to all passengers in designated hotels as you wait for your results. You are not allowed to leave until the results come. They are usually ready well within 24 hours. This might require a change to your flight plans and safari itinerary.

–      In Uganda, no quarantine night is required for guests with negative PCR test certificates so you can continue on your itinerary as planned. But the results from a test on arrival take 4 hours and you cannot journey until the result is known. You may prefer to do an Entebbe overnight instead.

–      Mandatory departure test must be done by all passengers leaving the country and test must be valid for 48hrs. This might involve a change to your safari itinerary and flight plans.

–      Tourists visiting primate parks are required to have their COVID test valid within 72hrs and must at all times have surgical masks on during their entire trek. No other mask is allowed during the trek. Therefore it makes sense to have all Gorilla treks planned for the start of the itinerary and not at the end, if more than one destination is planned.

-If you test positive on the COVID swab on arrival in either Uganda or Rwanda, you will be quarantined at a designated facility or hotel, at your own expense.

COVID tests are more accessible in Kenya and Rwanda and Uganda than Tanzania.

There may be curfews still in place in Uganda and Kenya but both places allow exemptions for tourist traffic. Passengers travelling on flights in Kenya and Uganda departing during curfew hours will be allowed to travel to the airport upon presentation of a valid ticket.

Please note that neither The Map’s Edge Ltd nor the medical facility taking the swabs are responsible for ensuring the certificates are provided on time, nor are we able to influence the process. This is under the control of the Government Laboratory.


All three countries also have additional paperwork that is needed to be filled in and submitted prior to travel. Rwanda requires full travel insurance to be in place for all travellers.

All travellers must now have Travel Insurance, which we suggest is taken out at the time of deposit for the trip, which covers trip cancellation, postponement as a result of COVID 19 or other reasons, as well as medical cover. Please specifically check what the cover is for any COVID 19 related issues as well as evacuation insurance to your home country. COVID evacuation will not be automatically included and it does not form part of the Flying Doctor Emergency Evacuation Coverage that is provided with our safaris. That is purely for very high-risk medical emergencies.

Remember you will need a Yellow Fever Vaccination Card for Tanzania if you are coming from, or transiting through for more than 10 hours, a country on the WHO list of Endemic Countries. Yellow Fever is mandatory for travel to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

Flight information: make sure you have contact details of the airlines and that you have set up a way to receive notifications of any changes from them, even after you have left home. There does seem to be quite frequent changes to schedules, sometimes at the last minute. Check carefully what the up-to-date requirements are for travel on your flight, which will probably include the need to wear facemasks and possibly restricted service from flight attendants. They may require health checks and tests to be done prior to travel or additional time on check-in for tests to be performed.

Face masks – as per the new updated WHO advice, facemasks are recommended to be worn in all public areas and they are required in all airports and on flights. In Zanzibar, they are mandatory in public areas. In Rwanda and Uganda, you have to wear them when outside your hotel and in Rwanda for the entirety of the Gorilla trek and in Tanzania, for the entirety of the chimp treks. You will have to wear a mask at least some of the time. Bring enough for use of one per day or be prepared to wash and reuse. Do not expect the hotel/camp laundry to wash used facemasks. Whichever face mask you are most comfortable using, please remember to dispose of them carefully and responsibly and please cut the ear tags of any single use masks before putting in the rubbish. This is to prevent any possible issues of trapping animals or birds.

Hand sanitiser – every traveller should come with enough sanitiser to cover their holiday period, remembering that there is a limit of 100ml for any liquids in hand luggage on flights: a small bottle to carry in your day pack, that is easily accessible and a slightly larger bottle in your hold luggage. There will be sanitisers available in lodges, restaurants, vehicles and flights, but we think it is a good idea for you to bring your own and not rely on local sources.

Water drinking bottles – Where possible, according to the itinerary, we will be providing individual stainless steel, Throttle the Bottle, water bottles for everyone, as we have for the last 5 years. (  and facebook @throttle.the.bottle). These can be filled up throughout the safari and remain with you. For the few safaris where this is not possible and for mountain climbs and some bush treks, we would recommend that everyone bring their own suitable reusable water bottles with them.

Binoculars and Camera We always recommend that everyone has their own binoculars and camera for a safari, so as not to miss out on anything interesting. Now, it is even more important as you will not be able to borrow the binoculars of the guide and we would not recommend using any that are available to everyone staying in the lodge or using the vehicle. We would even discourage using the binoculars from members of your travel bubble.

Travelling to Tanzania (and similar measures will apply to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda). The following is a synopsis of the main points of the Ministry or Natural Resources and Tourism COVID SOP’s. They apply to all products and services relating to tourism and tourists and are the responsibility of each company, individual and institution involved to ensure compliance for the services they provide. The Map’s Edge Ltd is not responsible for enforcement or the SOP’s for any third-party service or product or individual, unless it is a Map’s Edge employee.

Airport check-in. All international flights will have a much longer check-in process as there are now lengthy procedures in place for travellers and for sanitising luggage and keeping airport staff protected. Some airlines are even suggesting arriving 4 hours before hand. Please check what your airline and your airport recommend. There will be strict social distancing measures in place in all the airports, and the recommended distance is at least 1.5m.

Paperwork Some countries require you to submit a Passenger Safety Health Information sheet of some kind online, before travel. Please check the requirements before leaving, to avoid delays. Landing cards will be issued on the plane to be filled in during the flight. Please remember to have your boarding pass with you as you disembark, as this will be checked as well. The first new check on the ground will be a health check/infra-red temperature/hand sanitiser and you will be required to fill out a form with relevant health details for the officials to assess risk as well as Contact & Trace information. Remember to have your itinerary with contacts available.

Immigration, Baggage reclaim and Customs will follow as before but with social distancing measures in place. Because of the need to sanitise luggage, you may find that the process takes longer than usual, and you will be required to lift all your own luggage inside the airport building.

The area outside the airport building where you would normally meet your transfer guide or guide will now be controlled and organised so that proper distance is maintained but it is still easy to meet up with your guide. There will not be groups of people standing there anymore.

When you meet your guide, they will be wearing a face mask and they will not shake hands but the welcome will be just as warm.

On arrival at lodges and camps, flights, park gates, transfers, restaurants and extra activities such as balloon trips.

The procedure will be the same each time and it can feel repetitive but sadly, it is necessary, even if you have already had your temperature checked twice that day already! Each company has to make sure they have done their checks, as required.

You will have your temperature checked (infrared) and you will be offered sanitiser or soap and water for hand-washing. All staff will apply social distancing measures. Lodges and guides are also required to do a temperature check each day you stay with them and keep records.

If you are on a mountain climb or trek, the guides will make sure that there is the recommended distance between walkers and between tents as well as the temperature and oxygen level checks. There will be luggage and full body sanitising process done at the entry gates for the climbs and limited numbers of people allowed on each route per day. The Parks are going to open additional downward routes to ease congestion.

If visiting the chimpanzees, you will have to wear a face mask and gloves at all times during the trek and you will be covered with a sanitising spray before each trek. This is to protect the apes as they are particularly vulnerable to human diseases. You will be required to have taken a COVID negative test within 14 days of your chimp trek, even if you did not have to provide one for entry to Tanzania or to board your flight.

If visiting Gorillas in Rwanda, you will need to come with a COVID negative test taken within 72 hours (subject to change). You will then have another taken on arrival and while waiting for the result, you will have to stay in an hotel in Kigali. Once the second test comes out negative, you will be able to proceed to the PNV and your Gorilla Trek. You will be required to wear face masks and maintain an increased distance from the Gorillas

All accommodation staff will have undergone special training and instituted protocols to ensure that both guests and staff are protected as much as possible –  by minimising contact and ensuring a very high standard of cleanliness in rooms and public areas – paying particular attention to things like switches, door handles, taps etc. They will let you know what their COVID policy is during the check-in briefing. To make it easier, we can let the camps/lodges know in advance if

  • You would prefer not to have someone come to clean your room each day
  • You would prefer not to have a turndown
  • You would prefer that towels/sheets etc are not changed during your stay.
  • Any particular requests that we can alert the camps in advance

There may also be special procedures in place for the use of the swimming pool or the lodge shop or the fitness gym (eg only one family or one group traveling together using the facilities at any one time). Spa treatments may not be available during this time, or the menu may be limited.

Meals should be served at table rather than Buffet-style (unless there are servers present) and tables will be used by individual groups and not shared. Waiters will make sure that contact is reduced to the minimum at the bar and restaurants. There may be restrictions on the number of people who can sit in the restaurants at any one time in the bigger lodges, so there may be specified meal-times. In some properties, you may be able to pre-order off the menu to save time.

Please refer to our more detailed COVID policy for Our Vehicles and Guides and transfers for information on what these protocols will now be. This does not cover Game Package options or hotel transfers, which are covered by the protocols instituted by the relevant lodge, camp or hotel.

If there are any changes to an itinerary required, as a result of a change in COVID regulations and protocols or any change that affects the provision of services by a third party provider, or any changes requested by the client, the cost of these changes will be passed on to the client. Any other changes (not related to COVID 19) to the itinerary will be covered by our regular Terms and Conditions.

Please note that The Map’s Edge Ltd is not responsible for ensuring that any of these COVID protocols are followed by any of the individuals, companies, institutions or services that clients will come into contact with during their safari, unless they are employees of The Maps Edge Ltd. The Map’s Edge Ltd supports the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism SOP’s and expects and requests that all tourism companies, service providers and institutions and all the staff of the service providers and institutions will likewise support these SOP’s. The Ministry requires all tourism companies and services providers to follow the SOP’s. Implementation of the SOP’s is the responsibility of the companies and institutions and individuals involved in providing that particular service.

The Map’s Edge Ltd cannot be held responsible if a client develops COVID 19 as a result of their safari booked through The Map’s Edge Ltd.

Please note that neither The Map’s Edge Ltd nor the medical facility taking the swabs are responsible for ensuring the certificates are provided on time, nor are we able to influence the process. This is under the control of the Government Laboratory.


Point of Contact for all issues relating to COVID 19 during a safari: The Ministry has asked us to appoint one person as a contact point for any issues concerning COVID 19. For The Map’s Edge, this will be Jules Knocker +255 (0)787 595 903 (Signal) +255 (0)627 925 608 (Whats App)

The official free call number for any COVID 19 concerns within Tanzania for the Ministry of Health is 199 – though I would recommend contacting us first.

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