At Safari Odyssey our invite is simple…come travel with us to Africa. For many going on a Safari in Africa is on top of your bucket list or an adventure you have worked towards. A dream that is about to become true as you have done the research online, you have purchased the tickets, and your ultimate trip is a month away. But for many this is the most intense stage of your Safari, as it involves loads and loads of logistics and planning before you board the plane and head to Africa.
With so much information available via google, we have decided to give you some sound solid advise. Because we have all traveled across Africa, living in Africa, we do have the inside track when it comes to your health and well being when travelling to Africa.
The key is to plan for how you will get health care during your trip, should the need arise. So let us start at the beginning. We do suggest a visit to your local travel clinic as soon as your tickets have been purchased, as it is important for you to receive the correct information and advise.
Review your health insurance plan to determine what medical services it would cover during your trip. Consider purchasing travel health and medical evacuation insurance if you have not done so before and remember to include and cover all the members of your family or your group of friends. If you are travelling alone, make sure you are covered and as always, scan in a copy of all the documents and email them to a relative or close friend, should you require copies.
We suggest you carry a card that identifies, in the local language if possible, and always in English, your blood type, chronic conditions or serious allergies, and the generic names of any medications you take. This is particularly important if you have any allergies. We recommend you always carry your allergy notification bracelet with you.
Also note that some prescription drugs may be illegal in certain African countries. We recommend that you do your research before you leave for your destination to verify that all of your prescription(s) are legal to bring with you. If you are unsure, ask your travel agent for advice. Do not solely rely on the advise of embassy websites, as these are not often updated in Africa with all the latest listings.
Bring all the medicines (including over-the-counter medicines) you think you might need during your trip, including extra in case of travel delays. Remember this includes medicine you may need for a layover. Ask your doctor to help you get prescriptions filled early if you need to. In some countries, medicine (prescription and over-the-counter) may be substandard or counterfeit. Bring the medicines you will need from your home country to avoid having to buy them at your destination.
If you are planning a solo trip, or an adventure off the beaten track, we suggest you carry a list of local hospitals and clearly mark these on your maps. Most Private Reserves and Lodges have medical staff on hand, but if you are doing a self-drive 4 x 4 drive, always make sure you have a list with you close by.
Many foreign hospitals and clinics are accredited by the Joint Commission International. A list of accredited facilities is available at their website (www.jointcommissioninternational.org).
We often receive queries on our website as to the vaccinations required when travelling to Africa and in particular the need for this. Keep in mind many countries in Africa is still in the process of developing their infrastructure to deal with an influx of tourists, while many countries have this in place. It is a fine balance between the risk of visiting places not so developed and destinations where you will find first world facilities. Our golden rule is: prevention is better than cure.
So what should you look at when getting you vaccinations? The list here could be quite long – particularly if you are camping out or back-packing in the rough. However, if you are staying in bigger cities and in fine hotels, the risks are considerably reduced. A Yellow Fever inoculation is required by law for most central African countries and you cannot enter many of them without proof of inoculation.
Malaria prevention is vital all year round in central and Southern Africa – and the disease has become resistant to some medications in some areas. In summer travellers are at risk in all of sub-Saharan Africa. Meningitis occurs in a belt across central Africa (mostly north of the equator) and inoculation is strongly advised.
Hepatitis A, Cholera, Typhoid and Diarrhoea frequently occur where water is anything less than 100% safe. Hepatitis B is transmitted like the AIDS virus – and the possibility of a blood transfusion or the sexual behaviour of the traveler will determine the necessity of this inoculation. The bush traveler may be exposed to Tick-bite Fever, Rabies, Bilharziasis, Sleeping Sickness, Filaraisis and other infections or parasitic diseases.
Your shortlist of possible requirements include:
Hepatitis A,Hepatitis B, Travellers Diarrhoea, Malaria, Rabies Anthrax, Cholera, Typhoid, Meningococcal Meningitis, Yellow Fever
How far in advance should you receive your Yellow Fever Vaccine?
You should be vaccinated at least 12 days before you travel to allow enough time for the vaccine to work. Some people may also be at risk as the vaccine could make them unwell. This should be taken into account and discussed with your preferred healthcare practitioner. We recommend you ensure you get vaccinated soon as you have purchased your tickets.
Another question we often receive, especially from our self-drive clients is what to pack in emergency kits if you decide on the self- drive option.
If you hire vehicles from us, you do not need to worry, as all our rentals come fully equipped with comprehensive emergency kits. In case you decided to embark on an adventure, it should consist of the following:
A clear zip-up waterproof bag with at least 2 pockets, containing the following:
Pain management: For headaches, easy to take and some have good anti-inflammatory properties. Remember to check if anyone is allergic to Aspirin or Paracetamol.
Ibuprofen – retail name Nurofen ; Paracetomol – retail name Panado; Aspirin – retail name Disprin; Ibuprofen, Paracetomol, Codeine combination – retail name Myprodol. This is a really strong pain killer to take along
Ointments: Antihistamine – retail name Anthisan; Antiseptic – retail name Germolene or Betadine. To disinfect wounds from minor cuts, scratches, grazes and burns.Anti-fungal cream –retail name Lamisil. For athlete’s foot (especially when camping) and other fungal infections – vital when travelling into the bush. Zam-Buk- a South African favourite. Ideal for chapped lips, skin conditions and all-round skin care.
For cuts and smaller wounds, including burns: Disinfectant wound wipes – these are handy to clean a wound before dressing it, especially when you are not near a bathroom and out in the bush. Antiseptic liquid – retail name Savlon. Great for cleaning and disinfecting wounds when you are near a bathroom. Burn treatment –retail name Burn gel. Soothes the pain from minor burns which can easily happen around a campfire or braai. Assorted plasters and spray plaster – Make sure you have a good supply of different sized plasters for minor cuts and scratches, spray plaster works quite well to keep wounds waterproof till you can have it checked out by a medical professional if required. A couple of self-adhesive bandages and gauze – we always take these along, for strapping up more serious wounds before getting medical help. Good medium size scissors for cutting bandages and great Tweezers for extracting pesky splinters and foreign objects.
Over-the-counter Medication: Anti-nausea – helps prevent vomiting if you get a stomach bug or food poisoning while you are travelling. To treat Diarrhoea – retail name Immodium. Together with retail name Rehydrate . Take a couple of sachets to help prevent the loss of fluid and electrolytes if one of you gets the runs. Antihistamine – to treat allergic reactions like skin rashes, hay fever and itchy eyes. Antispasmodic – to treat stomach and intestinal cramps. Flu medication – retail name ACC200 or Corenza C – Fizzy tablets ideal for when the sudden change in weather gives you travelers flu. We also recommend some lozenges for a sore throat –retail name Strepsils. And lastly- for a compromised immune system to stop the nasty odd cold sore , a couple of L-Lysine tablets, way better than all those pesky little tubes of cold sore medication.
We hope this blog has assisted you in making the logistics and planning stage of your Safari a bit easier. Now for the awesome part! Come travel with us to Africa!
Please note: we do not promote any of the retail brands as mentioned specifically, we are purely mentioning them to inform travelers and make it easier for you to purchase what is required when you arrive in South Africa to put your kit together or for refill purposes.