While it is absolutely in Team Kilimanjaro’s interests to encourage clients to visit Tanzania and use our Kilimanjaro and safari services, and we would therefore very much like to be able to advise that the Ministry of Health is competent to assist visitors with PCR testing, and to supply valid results within the requisite timescales, sadly, having already assisted many clients with testing and witnessed the procedures employed by the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, and received a great deal of feedback from tourists who are not our clients, we greatly regret that we are bound to disclose that the following are our findings:
While it is our professional duty to disclose the above, we would reiterate that to date the majority of tourists that we are aware of have received their results in time, and to date, no airline or government has identified the disparity between the “sample” date and the “test” date. Travellers are therefore nonetheless encouraged to visit Tanzania but should willingly undertake to accept the above risks as a condition of entry.
Before reading any further, please note (we cannot reiterate this forcibly enough): you need to attend the clinic at least 3 days before your flight - not 2 days before your flight.
Many travellers think that they must attend the clinic within 3 days of their flight, ie. less than 72 hours before their flight. If you do this your results will probably be late and you will be unable to board your flight.
We constantly get calls from people we have never spoken to previously, and who are about to travel to the airport - telling us that they attended the clinic two days ago and they still haven't received their results and they are worried they are going to miss their flight. When we sympathetically (but admittedly, somewhat uselessly) tell them they would have needed to have attended the clinic three days ago, not two days ago, they ask how then their results would still be valid if they were "tested" more than 72 hours before their flight?
The answer is that that within Tanzania the current working definition of the word "test" refers to the process that happens at the laboratory in Dar es Salaam (usually) the day after you provide the sample. And while this definition may appear to run counter to the logic of the various authorities worldwide wanting to ensure that within the arbitrary time period of 72 hours prior to boarding your flight you didn't have COVID, nonetheless, the Tanzanian authorities are required to adhere to this definition, otherwise it would usually be administratively impossible to comply with the 72 hour requirement.
Since the onset of COVID-19 and the immediate and dramatic subsequent loss in booking numbers suffered by tour operators as a consequence of travel restrictions imposed both by governments worldwide, and initially, the Tanzanian government itself, it has been surprising to TK that the Tanzanian government has not made more effort to make information available to prospective travellers explaining how to go about ensuring that they are able to comply with their own country's travel requirements on returning from their Kilimanjaro climb or Tanzanian safari.
This following information is provided to reassure prospective climbers that there is a straightforward way to enjoy the incredible tourism and adventurous opportunities that Tanzania offers, while ensuring that returning home afterwards is stress-free.
Since 4th January 2021 in principle you now need to register to be tested by providing your passport number and mobile phone number on the official test site: https://pimacovid.moh.go.tz. However, we have received frequent feedback that patients are not receiving SMS messages that contain the payment control number and which notify them that the testing is complete and that they should now pay via Mpesa. This situation can create unnecessary stress at the end of an otherwise restful and enjoyable holiday in Tanzania.
To combat both the issues of uncertainty related to communication with the hospital, and the challenge of reported confusion navigating the sample submission procedure at the hospital, we have trained a guide to assist travellers and oversee the whole process, and to liaise with the senior doctor in charge of testing. We hope that using our guide will eliminate most of the stress and hassle.
To use the services of our guide, we recommend a total payment of USD 20 per person paid directly to the local guide, with USD 10 of this paid once the samples are submitted, and the outstanding USD 10 paid once you're in receipt of your certificate.
If you wish to use our guide please contact us on WhatsApp and let us have your full name and passport number, details of the hotel you're staying at in Arusha, and your return flight date and time. We'll then arrange for the guide to visit you at your hotel at an agreed time. Your guide will then assist you in going to the clinic, submitting your sample, paying for the test, and receiving your results.
72 hours. The fastest results we have witnessed have been delivered in 52 hours, but since the certificate is a vital addition to travel documentation for some countries, we strongly recommend allowing 72 hours.
Once clients are tested, the sample is sent, usually the following day, by road to a laboratory in Dar es Salaam - a journey of 620km that takes more than 10 hours.
Of course, the notion of finishing your Kilimanjaro climb and then having to wait around for 3 days in Arusha is an unacceptable waste of time. Our recommendation therefore is for us to transfer you to Mount Meru hospital either the same day your climb ends or the morning after your climb.
Depending on tour interests and available budgeting, climbers may either consider a 3 days safari, or a succession of day trips within or near Arusha.
Please don't organise any activities following your receipt of the test results as most airlines and immigration officials need to see that the results of your test were obtained within the last 72 hours and a further day's delay may mean that more than 72 hours has elapsed before you reach your home border.