One of the questions we get often asked by clients is how they can stay healthy on an African safari. After all, when you’re out on safari, there is limited access to medical support. Clients want to know how they can prevent themselves from becoming sick with illnesses we don’t see here in New Zealand. So today, we’re going to explain the steps you can take before you leave, and while you’re on safari, to reduce your chances of becoming sick.
Tips on Staying Healthy on An African Safari
In Africa, there are a few common illnesses you need to be aware of. They include diphtheria, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, malaria, meningitis, rabies and tetanus. Some of these can be vaccinated against, others like malaria, require you to take oral medication during and after your safari. Many of these illnesses are easily prevented by being careful with what you eat and drink, and avoiding insect bites.
The chances of you becoming sick while on an African safari are low. However, there is always a chance you may, and that’s why it’s important to prepare before you go. Make an appointment to see your doctor around 2 to 3 months before your departure date. Explain what your safari will involve and the areas you will be travelling in. They will then be able to advise you on the vaccinations you need, plus give you some tips on how to keep healthy while you’re there. Many family doctors are not familiar with tropical illnesses and you may prefer to visit a Travel Clinic which will have up-to-date information on any precautions you need to take. Depending on your travel plans in Africa you are unlikely to need all the options they may offer!
Here are some of our tips on how you can stay healthy:
- drink bottled water
- get all necessary vaccinations before you leave New Zealand
- avoid swimming or paddling in lakes and rivers
- only eat food which has been properly prepared
- use hand sanitiser and baby wipes
- pack a first-aid kit and include anti-diarrhoea medication
- apply sunscreen and wear a hat daily
- ensure you have enough prescription medication (always in the original packaging) to cover any travel delays.
- follow your doctor’s advice on any medications required during your safari
- wear insect repellent daily
- wear long-sleeved and long leg trousers in the evening in areas where malaria is common
- Use a mosquito net if there is one, although many modern safari tents are insect-proof and nets are not necessary.
While not a disease traveller’s diarrhoea is common when travelling. This may be caused by contaminated food and water, but often it can be your body’s reaction to the different foods you have been eating while on safari. This is where anti-diarrhoea medication comes in very handy!
Finally, it’s vital that you take out travel insurance before you leave home. All reputable travel operators will make this a requirement of your booking. Should the worst happen, and you do become ill, your medical expenses will be covered by your insurance company.
For more information on how to stay healthy on an African safari, we’re here to help! We’d love to chat with you about how we keep ourselves healthy on the many safaris we escort throughout Africa. Get in touch today!