How to Keep Safe during your Safari in Africa
Though medical and safety concerns shouldn’t prevent you from embarking on journey in Africa, it is advised to be properly informed and well prepared in terms of vaccinations, malaria prophylaxis and health insurance, before you set foot on the African continent. You must follow a few guidelines to avoid malaria, sunburns, insects and illness’s like diarrhoea, and take proper precautions to avoid the dangers of the bush.
For best travel medical advice, please consult specialized sources :
- Fit for Travel – Edited by Scottish National Health Services, it will give you detailed information per destination country.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from the US goverment provides also destination health advice per country, special needs travel info and advice when travelling with children, and more.
- WHO International Travel & Health Guide is a comprehensive reference guide in the form of PDF chapters. You can check about malaria, yellow fever requirements, etc. The web site also proovides short evaluations per country on a map.
- The National Travel Health Network and Centre (a UK institution) provides valuable ghalth information, updates and country evaluations for the traveller.
Proximity is best though: always consult your medical practitionner before you come, and pack the medicine you may need.
Visit a travel clinic or your doctors surgery, at least 4 to 8 weeks before departure, in order to give time for immunization to take effect.
Make sure your routine vaccinations are up-to-date: measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), diptheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT), poliovirus vaccine.
Consult your doctor for other vaccines required - typhoid, Hepatitis A and B, and Rabies will usually be recommended.
Malaria is always a concern when travelling in Africa, especially during the seasons ranging from mid-February to the end of June, in urban areas with poor sanitation systems, and in the hottest regions (Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Mana Pools, Okavango Delta…).
As our camps are generally in remote locations, the chances of contracting malaria are slim, but preventative measures are strongly advised because you will be travelling in malarial areas.
It is important to protect yourself with malaria prophylaxis: Malarone, or doxycycline – your doctor will be able to help you get the right medication to suite your requirements.
But you must bear in mind that malaria may be contracted despite taking tablets. One of the best ways to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes is to use insect repellent liberally and often, especially from dusk onwards. Wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers/slacks in the evenings. Camps and lodges provide guests with insecticides and/or mosquito coils for use in the tents. Please use them.
Camps and lodges are reasonably prepared in terms of 1st aid kits and practitionner to handle minor issues mishaps. Knowing that safaris have risks, in the event of serious injuries or disease you will have though to be evacuated to Johannesburg in South Africa, as local medical facilities are not adequate. You must have a solid travel insurance to face these unfortunate and expensive casualties.
Even in the early morning at dawn, during the winter, the African sun is very harsh and sunburn can spoil your safari and skin cancer from serious sun burn is a risk. Be particularly precautious if you go on a canoeing safari, a walking safari, or water rafting at Victoria Falls. Make sure to pack adequate clothing, a hat and enough good sunblock cream.
Although there is often exaggeration about insects in Africa, they are attracted to spotlight during night drives, and are generally active in the morning and evenings. Insect repellent keeps them away.
It is very important that you drink plenty of water especially during the warmer months. It is generally recommended that one drinks at least 2 to 3 litres of water a day to avoid dehydration.
Tap water in towns such as Victoria Falls, Cape Town and Johannesburg is generally safe, but it may be safer to drink bottled water or use potabilization tablets. In our camps we supply bottled water for our guests.
Diarrhoea is a common problem when travelling in the developing world. Food preparation in the camp and lodges does fit safety standards, but you must pay attention about what you eat and drink, especially if you are eating food from cafes or fast food restaurants, and bring relevant medication (rehydratation salt, etc) in case.
Attacks by wild animals are rare. However, no safari in Africa can guarantee total safety.
Our camps are out in the bush. There aren’t any fences between you and whatever predators are in the area, so always listen to the safety advice of camp staff and guides regarding wild animals.
Dangerous animals can and do wander through camps. Your guide will accompany you from your room to the public areas once night falls. Never walk away from the immediate confines of the camp without your guide. Don’t leave your tent open at any time, and if you are in a lodge always close the door to your room. After retiring for the night don’t leave your room/tent and never sleep with your tent open.
When on a game drive or game walk always obey the instructions of your guide. He is the expert and your life may depend on heeding his advice.