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African Safari Travel, Malaria, Vaccination and Packing Tips

Updated on March 26, 2009

Must read before you go for your African Travel

Malaria and vaccinations

Except for a few areas in South Africa, malaria is prevalent in most of Africa’s safari country. If you are travelling to a malaria area, you'll need to take the following precautions:

* Apply insect repellent to exposed skin - recommended repellents contain 20%-35% DEET, and there are a number of brands on the market.
* Wear light coloured, long-sleeved clothing and long pants if you are outdoors at night.
* Use a mosquito net if your tent or room is not screened or air-conditioned; and spray insecticide or burn a mosquito coil before going to bed.
* Take the malaria tablets recommended for the region you are travelling to, and keep taking them until the course is complete.
* If you come down with flu-like symptoms either during, or within four to six weeks after, your visit to a malaria area, seek a doctor's advice immediately and tell them you have been in Africa and what pills you were taking. Blood tests will quickly diagnose if you have malaria. Of our ‘more than 10,000’ African travellers over 16 years we only know of two people that caught malaria on an African holiday.
Tanzania Tour Safari Africa

General health and other vaccinations

* Besides malaria, there are other insect-borne diseases such as dengue fever and sleeping sickness. However, these are less common and using the same precautions as you would against mosquito bites, namely long-sleeved, light coloured clothes and trousers, repellents and mosquito nets, will help prevent them.
* Your guide will advise you if the tap water is safe to drink. Many travellers do however prefer to stick to bottled or boiled water just to be on the safe side.
* Use common sense when it comes to food and beverages. If you are unsure of their origin, don't touch them.
* If you are walking, it is best to wear shoes at all times.
* AIDS is rife throughout Africa, so if you're planning to have intimate contact with the locals always use condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
* Avoid handling strange animals, especially monkeys, dogs and cats.
* Avoid swimming in stagnant water.
* We recommend you discuss the following vaccinations with your doctor, depending on the length of your safari, the areas that it visits and the standard of hygiene can expect you may wish to consider
o Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG)
o Hepatitis B if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment
o Rabies, if you come into direct contact with wild or domestic animals
o Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries
o Booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults, as needed
o A yellow fever vaccination certificate may be required for entry into certain countries, particularly if you are coming from a country in tropical South America or elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa. For example into South Africa from Kenya or into Australia from East Africa.
Kenya Wilderness Safari
Be sure to see your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for vaccinations to take effect.

A few ideas on what to pack …

Once you have booked your safari we will send you a more detailed kit list appropriate to that trip but for now think along the following lines ….

* Some cheaper camping safaris require that you bring a sleeping bag or blanket and towel.
* Comfortable walking shoes and khaki, brown or beige casual clothes. Long-sleeved shirts and trousers will help protect you against the sun and insect bites. Take a warm jacket for early morning game drives; and, if you are travelling in summer, make sure it's water-proof.
* Smart-casual clothes for evening wear, although a few up-market destinations will expect something more formal.
* Sunblock, sunglasses, hat
* Malaria tablets & insect repellent
* Prescription medications - make sure you have enough to last during your trip, as well as a copy of your prescription.
* Basic medical kit of over-the-counter medicine such as anti-diarrhoea, head-ache pills, antibiotic powder – just in case!
* Visa or MasterCard credit card and/or cash and travellers cheques. Diners and American Express are not widely accepted.
* And of course your photographic gear with 3 times the film you think you will need!

Yes, bring the totos!

Totos is Swahili for children and Africa is a wonderful destination for children of all ages. African people have a huge respect and affection for children and are extremely kind, careful and supportive with kids. The weather is warm, the air is clean & fresh, there is plenty of open space and lots to see and do. Many of the private lodges we recommend are owned by people who have raised their own children in the bush and the bigger lodges often have special activities planned for younger travellers.

On safari kids have a great time – they love seeing the most common animals - baboon or elephant families, spotting zebra and giraffe. Quickly they learn to identify colourful birds and fascinating insects. Lions are a thrill for a few minutes but they are often lazy and children get bored watching them snooze! Ideally on a family safari you will have your own vehicle so that the game drives can be planned to suit your group – your children may prefer shorter more frequent drives with a bit of lodge play-time in between.

When planning a family safari it is important to provide lots of variety and we can incorporate such things as horse back riding (for the novice & the experienced rider), camel treks, boating or rafting, fishing, bush walks, cultural visits, the adventure of night drives, bush picnics and much more. Lodges and camps with swimming pools are always popular with kids and there should also be plenty of time to run about and kick a ball.

At meal times children can be accommodated at earlier times and with special requests – pizza or pasta, sausages or chips may appeal more than the dinner you look forward too. Many lodges offer some level of child minding, from special kiddy game drives to tent look out’s while you enjoy your dinner and tired children have an early night.

We are parents too and have been taking our children on safaris from the time that they were very small. We will use our first hand experience to help you plan a safari that suits your family group.

A few specifics that may help in your planning –

* There are a few oddball factors, such as a cultural inhibition over washing the clothing of very small children but plenty of changes should solve that problem.
* Breast-feeding should be discreet as some religious groups may object.
* Baby formula and foods should be brought from home as they can be difficult to find and very expensive.
* Disposable nappies are only available in major cities and can be expensive – thankfully as you empty your suitcase of nappies you can re-fill it with souvenirs!
* A good sunblock and hats are a must for all but particularly so for new skins.
* You may wish to consider bringing a car seat, baby back-pack or a stroller (a good place for baby to nap in the shade of a tree while you enjoy your lunch). We have also been known to take a blow up floating ring for use in the swimming pools.
* Before bringing your children to Africa you should speak to your family doctor, you will need to consider malaria protection and vaccinations.
Don’t be put off by any of these issues remember we have all be taking our children to Africa for years and have only hundreds of happy memories, fabulous photos and colourful souvenirs to show for it!


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    • profile image

      Safaris in Tanzania 

      7 years ago

      Yellow fever Vaccination is now compulsory in order to enter Zanzibar. Yellow fever vaccination should be done at least 10 days before traveling to Tanzania.

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