Travel from South Africa to Germany during Covid

The rules for travelling between countries are changing daily. I would like to share my experience about travelling from South Africa to Germany on the 6th of January 2021.

It is important to note that I have residence in both countries and are therefore allowed to travel between them. Tourist travel to Germany is not allowed at the moment. This can of course change at any time.

I was booked with Lufthansa, for a direct flight from Johannesburg to Frankfurt. Please not that currently the rules for connection flights are different.
The following paperwork were required:

We did our Covid Test at OR Tambo. The Test centre is opposite the InterContinental Hotel. There is a big statue of O.R Tambo. There were four mini vans that was converted to mobile test centres. We arrived at around 10:40. There was already a queue. Take a pen with you to fill in the forms. You stand in one queue to make your payment, then go to another queue to do the test. We waited about 45 minutes to pay and another 50 minutes to get to the test vehicle. The test itself takes about a minute. They did a nose swab in one nose cavity. Keep your invoice as this is proof of your test. You will receive a sms with your results and you can then contact them to email it to you or you can collect your results the next day at the mobile test centres. We received our results at around 03:15 the next morning. The test date and time is on the report.

Arriving at O.R Tambo the next day, we had to go to the domestic section to drop off our bags. Our passports and Residence cards were checked before you can go to the counters. At the counter they asked for a Covid test report. After that you go to security, there they ask for the Exit Questionnaire.

At the boarding gates, you are again asked for your passport and residence permit. The boarding procedure was as per normal. We were told on the plane that the German authorities require an “Einreisemeldung”. You could fill out one on the plane.

Arriving in Frankfurt, we were told than we can de-plane 30 pax at a time. The border police were waiting for us and checked for passports, residence permits, Einreisemeldung and your negative covid test results. Plan some extra time in for this.

Customs and passport control was a per normal. After collecting our luggage the process was also as per normal.

We boarded a train to Stuttgart and will stay in quarantine for 5 days, after which we will do another Covid test. If this is negative we are released from quarantine.

Travel to South Africa during Covid

There is a lot of uncertainty about travel at the moment. The rules change on a regular basis and are not always as clear as they could be.

I travelled from Frankfurt, Germany to Johannesburg, South Africa on 15.12.2020 with a direct flight from Lufthansa. To read more about the PCR Test I did hop over to this page.

The rules on the day of travel:

  • International travel to South Africa is allowed
  • You need a negative PCR Test to travel to South Africa. You can also read more here

After we got our test results, we checked in online for our trip. You can print out your boarding pass of get in on the Lufthansa app. No questions about the PCR test were asked, you were also not informed about the Health Questionnaire that you need to fill in.

Arriving at Frankfurt airport, we could only drop off our bags. There were no Economy check in shelters open. If you have not checked in yet, you could do so at one of the machines. Help was readily available. After dropping off our bags we went through security. The queues were not too long but we arrived a bit early to allow for extra security checks. At the airport itself there were not enough health checks, it is fairly easy to check for high temperatures, and I hope the implement it. There were sanitising stations available where you could sanitise your hands.

Arriving at our gate, we could sit in the waiting area, although there are not enough seating available. Some seats are blocked off to allow for social distancing. There were constant announcements that people should wear a face mask covering your mouth and nose, but this was unfortunately not controlled. There were a lot of people ignoring the rules and putting themselves and others at risk. I did take this up with the floor personnel and was just told it gets controlled.

At first it seemed not too over crowded, but they announced that the PCR Tests must be controlled and everyone formed a line. It then became apparent that this flight was fully booked. We flew with a Boeing 787-8, which has 276 Economy seats. You can see the seat map on Seatguru.

I felt very uncomfortable with the amount of people and lack of mask and distancing control. The airline announced that they had upgrades available, and I decided to take it. The price for the upgrade costed around the same as what I paid for my economy ticket, but I think it will be influenced by demand. The atmosphere in Business class was very relaxed and people could keep their distance. The food was excellent. Just one tip if you do fly business class, do not recline to completely flat, it is not very comfortable, it is not comparable for instance with an Emirates flat bed.

During the flight we were given the Health questionnaire forms to fill in. We already completed ours online and printed it out. You do get a code to present when you complete it digitally but I think they were not prepared for that yet so take a printed copy or complete the forms during the flight.

Arriving at O.R Tambo, we de-planed row by row. When you get to Passport control you are diverted to a queue where they check your PCR test and take your Health Questionnaire form. Have your passport ready as well. Make sure you are in the correct queue, there is one for International passport holders and one for SA passport holders, it looks like one row but it is not. After they check your documents, you then move onto passport control where your temperature is monitored.

If you have a negative PCR Test, your questionnaire and passport ready when you arrive, the process is extremely smooth and almost normal. Tip, if you are at the end of the queue where they check your PCR Test, it is going to take a while before you can collect your luggage, so if you are in a hurry, try to walk fast after leaving the plane.

Corona PCR Test at Frankfurt Airport

Here is a short description of the Covid PCR Test I did in the middle of December 2020. This was for travel purposes which you have to pay for yourself.

I registered online at Centogene Frankfurt Airport. The Test Centre is on the bridge as you walk from the Long distance trains to the Terminals. You can also select a test centre airside in the Transit Terminal. I selected the Premium 24 hours test, and added the €9 Identity verification. You will have to upload a copy of your passport.

You cannot make an appointment, you just pitch up with your documentation. You must bring your test confirmation papers with the QR codes on, as well as your identification documents like your passport. Do not eat or drink anything 15 minutes prior to your test.
After checking your documentation you are redirected to a queue. When you get to the front of the queue they ask for your printout. You then wait to be called

Next you will go to the testing booth. They use a swab in your mouth and throat, but do not collect material from your nose cavities. They take two samples.

When finished, you report to the desk where your identification will be verified.

The results will be sent to you via an Email with a link. You can then log into your account and download your report. You can choose to print the report in English

The report shows the date and time of the test, as well as that of the results.

I went on a Sunday really early (arrived just after 07:00) and there were no queues, we waited max 15 minutes to be tested. We received our results the same day, after about 5 hours. The report was available to print or save as a pdf. Other people waited longer it really depends on the time of day.

Corona PCR Test at Stuttgart Airport

Here is a short description of the Covid PCR Test a friend of mine did at the beginning of December. This was for travel purposes which you have to pay for yourself.

The person made an online appointment at the Stuttgart Airport Medical Centre. The Centre is on the 1st Floor to the right if you stand in front of the building. When we last checked there were no more appointments available for December 2020.

The appointment was scheduled for 10:30. They arrived at the Medical Centre and reported at the reception desk where you have to present your appointment confirmation.
After checking your documentation you are redirected to a queue. When you get to the front of the queue they ask for your Medical insurance card, if you do not have one all your details must be filled in manually. You must also present some form of identification like your “Ausweis”
You then pay for the consultation which was €54,96

Next you will go to the testing booth and fill in the forms. Hint take your own pen with. They do a normal test with a swab, first in your throat then in both your nose cavities

When finished, you will be given piece of paper with a QR code on it , with this code you can check your status at the CeGat Labs website.

You will receive a separate bill for the lab work, The total was €65

If your test results re positive, they will phone you. You will receive confirmation that the test is being processed (by checking the website) at around 15:00 the following day. The results in the case of my friend was available at 16:15. They were able to download the results as a PDF file. The report was in German and English. They show two dates on the report, one is the test date (only date no time) and the other is the result date, also no time.

Flying during the Covid-19 pandemic

View from above

Many people are feeling very excited to travel again. Summer holidays are calling and most of us feel the need to break away from our daily routine. There are also those who feel a bit more anxious about travelling and would rather stay home. This too is understandable. The first flight I took post lockdown was definitely nerve wrecking. Hopefully my shared experiences will help you make informed choices about your holiday plans.

I booked a flight on a low cost carrier from Stuttgart to Hamburg. This is a relatively short flight. The flight’s departure time was moved numerous times. I found this very inconvenient, although rebooking was made very accessible.

The flight

I decided to book a business class ticket. The aeroplane configuration was 3 seats in a row and in business class there is a seat open between you and your fellow passenger. I know some carriers in the US leave the middle seat open in economy class but this was not the case with the Eurowings. Unfortunately the business class lounges were all closed so no perks there!
I checked in online, and dropped my luggage at the counter. The agent avoided as much contact as possible. I used the Eurowings app to check in and to display my boarding pass.
The airport was basically empty and only one duty free shop was open. This is slowly changing and as more flights are taking off, the more shops will open. Do not bargain on buying food or drinks at the airport. There were some vending machines for bottled water and soft drinks.
Security was very slow. You have to take off anything that might set off the sensors. No pat-downs are allowed, so if you set off any sensors its back in the row. Take note of this as it can waste a lot of time to go through the screening again.
Boarding was pretty fast and passengers were asked to check in their hand luggage as the flight was fully booked and there were limited over-head storage. Yes the flight was fully booked! There were not one seat open. You need to scan your own boarding pass at the electronic gates, so make sure your phone is charged or you have a good print out.
I had to wear a mask from the moment I entered the airport. You are only allowed to remove your mask when eating or drinking. My advice is to wear single use masks as they are more breathable than cloth masks.
Drinks and snacks were sold on the flight.
I did not use the toilet facilities as it was a short flight and it is something I would rather avoid. Take sanitising wipes with just in case and make sure you clean the door handle and everything else you may touch. Sanitise your hands afterwards.

Empty airport (Hamburg)

The things we worry about:

Air quality.
According to IATA, the air is very safe and clean “
In fact, these European Aviation Safety Agency studies  showed that “the cabin/cockpit air quality is similar or better than what is observed in normal indoor environments” such as offices, schools and home dwellings.
Modern aircraft have high efficiency air filters similar to those used  in hospital operating rooms. They capture more than 99.9% of the airborne microbes in the filtered air.”

Social distancing
This is just not possible. You can keep away from other passengers at the airport, maybe during boarding but not on the aeroplane.

I would say this is your own responsibility. Keep sanitising wipes or gel (preferably alcohol based) with you and use them often. Wear your mask and do not touch your face until you can wash your hands as prescribed by the WHO

When not to travel
Do not travel when you are infected with Covid-19 or when you are feeling unwell. Also avoid travelling when you are in the high risk group.

Triberg Waterfalls

Triberg is a popular tourist town in the Black Forest, in the southwest corner of Baden-Württemberg Germany.

The Triberg Falls are one of the the highest waterfalls in Germany with a total plunge of 163 meters. The falls are in the river Gutach and consists of seven plunge stages/steps. The town of Triberg is at the bottom of the falls

Triberg Waterfalls

There are three entrances to the Falls. The main, and also most well know entrance is at the bottom of the falls and easily accessible from Triberg.  Look for a parking spot or use one of the parkades.

The other two entrances can be reached by traveling further along the road.

Footpath at the middle entrance





Know before you go

  • The falls are open whole year round.
  • There are 3 entrances
  • The falls are open Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 17:00. Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00
  • The prices per ticket at time of publishing were €3.50 per adult. Children under 8 can go in for free and those between 8 and 17 pay €3.00 per ticket
  • If you have a Triberg Guest-Card you can enter for free
  • There are no restaurants. The only options are before entering
  • Parking and good public transport options available
  • You will need about 1 to 2  hours to go walk from bottom to the top, less if you start at the top. Wear comfortable shoes and enjoy the magnificent scenery.
  • It can be muddy
  • You can buy nuts to feed the squirrels
  • More information on the Triberg Tourism Website.

The experience

I have been to many waterfalls, and the one at Triberg is definitely not the most spectacular. What adds to the experience is the fact that it has seven stages, and is set in a really beautiful nature park and woods . Looking down towards the town is breathtaking and makes for the most great photo opportunities. Take time to appreciate the fauna and flora along the well kept pathways.

The awesome stuff

Breathtaking nature.
Easily accessible via train, bus or by road.
The paths are well comfortable and well kept.
Stunning lookout points

The less awesome stuff

It can become overcrowded during the peak times like weekends.
Walking from the bottom entrance to the top is only advised if you are fit or a regular hiker, it is pretty steep.

The verdict

It is well worth a visit. Take time to just enjoy the beauty of nature


Triberg Waterfalls

Bridge over the river

One of the seven steps

Well kept paths

Stunning nature



Taking photos of the Eiffel Tower at night

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognised Tourist attractions in the world. More than 6.2 million visitors enjoyed the romance of the Tower in 2017.   I can only imagine the number of photos taken. But these snaps can land you in hot water as publishing photos of the Tower illuminated at night is illegal.

A Short history of the Tower

The tower was constructed between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance to the 1898 World’s Fair.  It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower.
The tower is 324 meters tall and it has three levels for visitors.

The current golden illumination was attached to the Tower in 1985. It was invented by Pierre Bideau and consist of 336 projectors equipped with high-pressure, yellow-orange sodium lamps.

The tower was lit up in 1989 to commemorate its 100 anniversary,  and in 1990 a French court ruled that the display was an “original visual creation” and that it can be protected by copyright. The court of Cassation upheld the ruling and the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE) now considers any illumination of the tower to be a separate work of art that is copyrighted. It is therefore illegal to publish contemporary photographs of the lit tower at night without permission in France and some other countries for commercial use.

Information taken from the SETE website – The Eiffel Tower image rights

Free user

The image of the Eiffel Tower by day falls within the public domain: its use is rights-free, and may therefore be reproduced without prior authorisation by the SETE, the managing company of the image of the Eiffel Tower on behalf of the Mairie de Paris.

Controlled use

The various illuminations of the Eiffel Tower (golden illumination, twinkling, beacon and events lighting) are protected.
The use of the image of the Eiffel Tower at night is therefore subject to prior authorisation by the SETE. This use is subject to payment of rights, the amount of which is determined by the intended use, the media plan, etc.

Views of the Eiffel Tower taken by private individuals for private use do not require prior agreement. However, professionals must contact SETE, who will inform them of the conditions of use governing images.

What does mean for the average tourist taking snaps at night?

According to Art Law Journal the posting of private photos on social media or a use with limited economic value should not be a problem.
Those using the images for commercial use needs permission.  Also take note that if you take a picture of Paris at night and the tower happens to be in the picture, it is allowed as long as the tower is not the main focus of the photo.

So now you have the facts … and can make an informed decision before you  post your holiday snaps on social media.


Links and references

Sociéte d’Exploitation de la tour Eiffel
Art Law Journal