Let’s get straight to the point…some of the links on this site pay 1TattedPassport a referral bonus for anyone that is approved. For our complete advertising policy and details about our partners, please click HERE. Although using the links are completely optional, we are eternally grateful when you do.
Update 10/04/20: There has been a lot of confusion about the opening of the Ethiopian border. In the original post, I did not cite a reference, but I obtained the information from the US Embassy in Ethiopia which I have now added to the Ethiopian section below.
Update 10/05/20: I added requirement for 24 hour quarantine in Rwanda.
Making a trip to Africa is a life-changing experience, period!
The massive continent has so much to offer. Whether you’re seeing the “Big 5” in the epic safaris of Kenya, experiencing the unrivaled sunsets of Zanzibar, sipping wine in Cape Town, diving deep into history in Senegal, or relaxing on the honey-colored beaches of the Seychelles, you’ll recognize there is so much more to the iceberg.
The problem? With so much to do and see, you can quickly exceed the budget.
Given the current pandemic, it’s even more difficult to find a destination that is budget-friendly and open to Americans.
That is why I’ve compiled a list of 7 amazing (& cheap) African countries that are open to Americans right now.
AMAZING AND CHEAP
Although we’ve seen prices decrease over the past year or so as airline competition has heated up, traveling to Africa can be expensive. Roundtrip economy fares of $1100 (or more) used to be the benchmark. Now you can expect to pay ~$700 depending on what country you plan to visit.
But with miles and points, we’re spending pennies on the dollar (if any money at all) to get there so, let’s focus on which borders are open and the expenses once we arrive. Here are some amazing countries…
COUNTRY #1: EGYPT
Popular Airport: Cairo (CAI)
Opened Borders: 1 July 2020
Popular Sites and Cost: Though very popular, Egypt is one of the cheapest countries to visit and since you’ll probably enter the country in Cairo, you have to visit the Giza Pyramids. Of course, there are plenty of “guides” that can offer a “premium experience” but if you’re on a budget, definitely check out the Giza Plateau. Tickets are only $10USD.
If your budget is a bit more flexible, Egypt Pyramid Tours has a day trip that includes a visit to the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx, and a trip to the Valley Temple for only $35USD.
Entry Requirements: Upon arrival, travelers have to present a valid visa, wear a face mask, complete a health declaration card, show proof of travel health insurance, and complete a temperature check.
COUNTRY #2: ETHIOPIA
Popular Airport: Addis Ababa (ADD)
Opened Borders: 10 August 2020
Popular Sites and Cost: Addis Ababa is one of Africa’s largest cities. With so much to see, I recommend a trip to the National Museum of Ethiopia which houses national treasures including the partial skeleton of “Lucy,” a tiny human believed to have lived over three million years ago. Entry fee: $1USD
Entry Requirements: Upon arrival, travelers have to present a negative PCR test taken within 5 days of arrival. Surprisingly, visitors are not tested again upon arrival while residents are required to self-isolate at home for 14 days. If passengers are unable to present a negative PCR test, a 7-day mandatory quarantine at a government designated hotel is required at the travelers own expense and a subsequent test will be administered at the 7 day mark (per the US Embassy in Ethiopia update on 2 Oct 2020).
COUNTRY #3: KENYA
Popular Airport: Nairobi (NBO)
Opened Borders: 1 August 2020
Popular Sites and Cost: Kenya, the east African country that draws ~2 million visitors each year, is known as “the safari capital.”
I trust you’ve seen pictures on social media of people eating breakfast while simultaneously feeding Giraffes as they peak their heads though the hotel windows. That’s fun but it’s also going to cost you at least $700/night to do that.
If you’re in search of seeing the nature at its finest but for much less, I recommend visiting the Nairobi’s National Park. Entrance Fee: $45USD and you’ll see more animals than you’ve ever seen in your life.
Entry Requirements: Upon arrival, travelers have to present a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test conducted within 96 hours of arrival.
COUNTRY #4: RWANDA
Popular Airport: Kigali (KGL)
Opened Borders: 17 June 2020 (and everyone from every nation can visit…EVERYONE!)
Popular Sites and Cost: Rwanda is at the top of my list for places to visit in Africa. I’ve completed extensive research and Kigali appears extremely easy to navigate on a budget.
Among favorite activities for visitors in Rwanda is the gorilla trekking tour in Volcanoes National Park, however, that will cost a pretty penny (~$700+USD) depending on your “must-haves.”
If that is a budget buster, with a quick google search, I was able to find several gorilla trekking tours on Trip Advisor for 1/3 of the price above.
Entry Requirements: Before arrival, passengers must take a PCR test within 120 hours of departure. Upon receiving the negative results, passengers must email them to firstname.lastname@example.org before their departure.
According to the US Embassy in Rwanda, Passengers must also bring a copy of the negative results to show customs upon entry into Rwanda. Upon arrival, travelers will also be tested again before beginning their 24 hours of quarantine at one of the Government of Rwanda’s designated hotels while waiting for the results of their COVID-19 test.
Note: Travelers are responsible for making a reservation at one of the designated quarantine hotels before their departure for Rwanda. You can find information about the quarantine hotels here.
The best time to visit Rwanda is from mid-May to mid-October (dry season). There are many nice (and cheap) hotels but even if you prefer a chain hotel, the Marriott cost just north of $100/night but look at the award availability…
COUNTRY #5: SENEGAL
Popular Airport: Dakar (DSS)
Opened Borders: 15 July 2020 (though land and sea borders are still closed)
Popular Sites and Cost: Dakar is a mood! With a vibrant social scene and several pristine beaches, you’ll be well ahead of the curve when your friends “discover” this gem.
If you’re seeking a more relaxing experience, look no further than Ngor Island as it should take no more than $5USD and 15 minutes to put your mind at ease.
Entry Requirements: Upon arrival, travelers have to fill out a health declaration form, present a negative PCR test taken no longer than 7 days before departure, and undergo medical screening and temperature scans.
COUNTRY #6: TANZANIA
Popular Airport: Zanzibar (ZNZ)
Opened Borders: 1 June 2020
Popular Sites and Cost: Zanzibar is majestic and hosts A LOT of visitors from Europe with plenty of money to spend. The popularity and exclusivity of the island leads to an increase in prices. However, if you can strategically plan a trip during the “off-season,” you should have no problem scoring luxury experiences for pennies on the dollar.
Once you arrive in Zanzibar, just let the island come to you. You won’t be disappointed!
Americans can apply for an eVisa or obtain a visa on arrival for $100USD.
Entry Requirements: Upon arrival, travelers don’t have to do anything as Tanzania is accepting tourists under regular ‘pre-covid’ border rules. No mandatory quarantine period is currently in place, however temperature checks, mask wearing, and social distancing is in effect.
COUNTRY #7: ZAMBIA
Popular Airport: Lusaka (LUN) or Livingstone (LVI)
Popular Sites and Cost: Zambia is one of the cheapest countries to visit in Africa. One of the many favorite activities is visiting the iconic Victoria Falls National Park.
Victoria Falls National Park is the Zimbabwe protected area of the shared natural wonder of Victoria Falls with Zambia’s protected area being Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. Together, these two national parks protect the world’s largest waterfall; Victoria Falls. Entry Fee: $30USD
The falls are worth the price but if you’re of the frugal variety, don’t worry, Zambia serves as a mecca for backpackers, and where there are backpackers, there are plenty of deals.
Entry Requirements: Upon arrival, travelers have to present a negative PCR test taken no longer than 14 days before departure, and tourists do not have to quarantine on arrival.
HONORABLE MENTION: Zimbabwe
The sole reason that I did not add this amazing country to the list is because Zimbabwe announced they will reopen their airports for international flights today (1 October 2020).
Personally, Zimbabwe falls into my TOP 3 favorite countries of the world. The food is delicious, the hospitality is unrivaled and…well, I’ll save the remaining details for another blog. 😉
Although it hasn’t been covered in the news, Africa has been very strict on containing the spread of the virus, with most countries going into complete lockdowns earlier this year. In other words…no one in, no one out. Given the cases are relatively low across the continent, many nations are slowly and responsibly reopening.
And for clarity, this is not a political post (despite Google showing “how to purchase second passport” as the most searched question in the last 24 hours). 🤣
This list is simply a compilation of my personal experience in these countries and research that began long before any political debates.
There are several other countries that have reopened to international travel also but if you’re planning any future travel, all the countries mentioned above are solid bets and open as we speak (…or read).
Stay tuned for a follow-up post that details all the best ways to use miles and points to arrive in these amazing countries.
Have you been to any country in Africa? What was your experience?