Kilimanjaro and COVID: all the latest updates for travellers to Tanzania

* LATEST NEWS

On this page you’ll find all the latest updates regarding COVID and Kilimanjaro. In other words, how the global pandemic may affect your plans to climb Africa’s Highest Mountain.

In summary, at the moment it is possible to climb the mountain. It’s relatively straightforward too. So as long as you want to climb Kilimanjaro and COVID rules and restrictions are something you are happy to comply with, then it’s possible. Depending, of course, on the rules in your home country and whether overseas travel to Tanzania is possible for you.

Anyway, here are the latest bulletins on the pandemic and how it affects Kilimanjaro climbs.

16 March 2022

At last: COVID tests to enter Tanzania no longer necessary for those who are fully vaccinated!

It’s the news we’ve all been expecting – and waiting for! At last the Tanzanian government have amended their rules and, from today,  there is no longer any mandatory testing for those who are already fully vaccinated

Just to be clear – if you aren’t vaccinated, then the existing testing rules still apply.

Do remember that while this is good news for many people, you do still need to obey any restrictions imposed by your home country (or the country you’re heading to next after Tanzania). So do your research, and don’t assume that you are free from any COVID restrictions just because you’re fully vaccinated.

13 December 2021

Important news for US Citizens

The US government has introduced fresh restrictions in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant. In brief, US citizens, regardless of their vaccination status, must both have a test and a negative test result within 24 hours of travelling by air to the US. 

The only alternative to this is if you have recently had COVID, and have documentation to prove that you have recovered, then you may be able to travel to the US.

You can read the official wording of this new policy here:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html

As the official test centre in Arusha (and many other Tanzanian cities) are currently promising to turn around the test only within 48-72 hours, this means that climbers will have to take their test with a private doctor/healthcare specialist in order to comply with US rules. This will be more expensive than the regular test centre fee. They may also not work as long hours as the test centre – so your itinerary in Tanzania may have to be altered so that you can visit the doctor when his practice is open.

Changes for other passport holders too

Other governments have also brought in tighter measures to try to combat the spread of Omicron in their countries. Rather than listing these restrictions here, we just need to emphasise the importance of reading the rules that apply in the country you are flying to from Tanzania. This will probably be your home country, of course, but may not be. You should also check the rules of any countries that you are flying via (eg Qatar, Netherlands etc). Again, this is because they may have imposed their own restrictions that will impact your travel plans.

1 November 2021

Good news for vaccinated travellers! If you are fully vaccinated, and can prove this, then certain airlines will allow you to depart from Tanzania without having to have the negative PCR test. This means that fully vaccinated travellers who are on one of those airlines no longer need to hang around after their trek to get a PCR test and wait for the (negative) result.

Of course, you do need to check with the airline that you are planning to fly with. If they are not one of those that are making allowances for fully vaccinated people, then you need a negative COVID test to leave the country. KLM are one airline that is allowing fully vaccinated people on their flights without a PCR test result. But it’s vital you check with the other airlines.

Note that you will still need to comply with the entry requirements when arriving in Tanzania. These include a mandatory ‘rapid’ COVID test on arrival for which you must pay US$10 (see below).

8 October 2021

From 4am on Monday, 11 October, Tanzania is no longer on the UK’s so-called ‘red list’ of countries. This means that you no longer need to quarantine at your own expense on returning from Tanzania. Please visit the relevant Tanzania page on the Foreign office website for details of the current restrictions in place for travellers returning to the UK from Tanzania.

WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR TRAVELLERS TO TANZANIA

The current COVID rules for travellers to Tanzania is as follows:

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COVID AND KILIMANJARO: STEPS YOU NEED TO TAKE IN ORDER TO ENTER TANZANIA

  1. All travellers visiting Tanzania have to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate upon arrival. You need to take the test within 72 hours of their arrival into Tanzania
  2. All travellers flying into any of their international airports (including Kilimanjaro Airport) have to undergo enhanced screening for COVID-19 including a mandatory rapid test (probably a lateral flow test). In all probability this will delay you from leaving the airport for at least thirty minutes. You will also have to pay US$10 (previously US$25, but reduced August 25th 2021) for the privilege too, which you pay in cash on arrival. The Government of Tanzania is also implementing temperature scanning for all international passengers arriving into Tanzania.If you test positive for COVID-19 on arrival, you may be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
  3. All passengers travelling to Tanzania must complete an online Traveller’s Surveillance Form. This form must be submitted no more than 24 hours before arrival.

 

You can find the form here: https://afyamsafiri.moh.go.tz/?mc_cid=58f295e72e

In addition to the above, the government also introduced one other restriction. This is for travellers from India only, where the Indian variant of the virus is wreaking havoc. If you are travelling to Tanzania from India then you must quarantine in a Government designated hotel for 14 days.

STEPS YOU NEED TO TAKE IN ORDER TO DEPART TANZANIA

To fly out of Tanzania you need a negative PCR test, taken no more than 72 hours prior to your flight out. There are test centres in Arusha, Karatu (on the way to Ngorongoro Crater) and even in the middle of the Serengeti. The price for this test is US$50. (This was reduced from $100 on August 25th 2021; though note that the charge to have the test at Seronera in the Serengeti was always US$130; we assume this has been reduced too though are awaiting clarification on this point.) You need to book and pay for the test online beforehand. Your tour operator will help you sort this out and, if they are as good as us (!), will take you to the test centre. They should also sit with you while you take the test, and take you back to your hotel afterwards too.

So far the while testing process has, in our experience, been pretty smooth. Indeed, all of our climbers have received their test results within 48 hours of taking the test, and so have been able to fly home. But you do need to remember, at least if you’re booking your trip for this year, to build in a few days after your trek and before flying home to give yourself time to take the test, and get the result.

Fully vaccinated travellers

What if I am fully vaccinated. Do I still need to take these tests? Please see the 1 November bulletin, above. The answer depends on who you’re flying with. It also depends the country you’re flying from (and back to).

If you’re fully vaccinated it won’t make any difference to the hurdles you have to overcome to enter Tanzania. But if you’re with an airline such as KLM, they will allow you to fly home without a negative PCR test as long as you are fully vaccinated.

Of course the rules on re-entering your home country at the end of your trip are still relevant. So you may, of course, still have difficulties getting back home. Because negative COVID tests and periods of quarantine are often necessary.

But we will, of course, keep you posted if there are any developments on that front too.