Those willing to play by the rules may be treated to animal sightings that are usually quite rare.

By Meena Thiruvengadam
September 17, 2020
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South Africa — one of the nations hardest hit by coronavirus — is preparing to reopen its borders Oct. 1, its president has announced.

Foreign travelers will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure and undergo temperature checks after they land at airports in Cape Town, Durban, or Johannesburg.

Any traveler attempting to enter South Africa without a negative COVID test or while exhibiting coronavirus symptoms will have to quarantine for two weeks at their own expense.

A pandemic-era trip to South Africa will be different in other ways as well. While beaches, game reserves, hotels, and restaurants will be open, a midnight curfew will be in effect and alcohol won’t be sold on weekends. On weekdays, alcohol for personal consumption will only be sold between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., The Points Guy reports.

Face masks will be required in all public spaces, and all visitors will be required to download and use a contact-tracing app.

Those willing to play by the rules may be treated to animal sightings that are usually quite rare. South Africa’s Kruger National Park has been photographing Africa’s iconic lions becoming more comfortable lounging around as crowds have thinned.

South Africa closed its borders to foreigners in March. It has since reported more than 650,000 coronavirus cases and more than 15,000 deaths.

It’s planning to begin reopening by allowing travel to and from a list of countries perceived to have coronavirus transmission under control within their borders. According to Reuters, tourists from the U.S., Britain, and France did not make the cut. The data will be evaluated every two weeks to make any adjustments to the list.

South Africa’s reopening plan paves the way for its citizens to begin traveling abroad again as well. But with many countries still restricting travel from South Africa, they’re likely to find themselves with limited options.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.