Planning your safari
This is a brief overview of all the "other" issues you need to think about when planning your trip to Africa. Its worth taking a few moments to read through the advice on the pages below and follow through on some of the links.
Click here to see "What to bring" on your safari.
We don't dispense medical advice! Instead we've included some brief summaries on things that you should consider plus web links to additional info sources ...
Speak to your doctor before you travel - get accurate and current advice on inoculation requirements and any recently recognized medical precautions that may be necessary. There are a few "definitive" websites listed below - visit them before finalizing your safari plans.
Common medical concerns on safari include the following:
Malaria: caused by a mosquito borne parasite, malaria is endemic in all of our main safari areas. From experience we've found the worst time of year for malaria generally from mid February to the end of June. The incidence of malaria diminishes as the season gets drier and cooler but there is still a risk even at the end of the dry season before the new rains. The best precautions are physical barriers in the early evenings and at night (long trousers and sleeves, 30% plus deet-based repellents, mosquito nets). You need to watch for the symptoms for several months after your return home - it's important to get treatment very quickly if you've contracted malaria. If you develop flu-like symptoms then get a quick and simple blood test without any delay to be on the safe side. [...more from FitForTravel, CDC and MedicinePlanet]
Diarrhoea: a common problem when travelling in Africa. We've seen advice recommending that even salads should be washed in bottled mineral water?! That's extreme, the reality is that food preparation and presentation in some of the remotest camps is better than the fare you'll get in many well known hotels in Europe and North America. Just be sensible about what you eat and drink, and bring suitable medication in case. [...more from CDC]
Sunburn: The African sun even during our southern winter from May to July is fierce. Aside from the long term risks of skin cancer, a bad sunburn could spoil a safari. The greatest risk of serious sunburn is on the lower Zambezi canoe safaris, white water rafting at Victoria Falls and on walking safaris. There's no need to get extreme with precautions unless you're particularly sensitive to the sun. Be sure to bring a hat, long sleeves, strong sun barrier that suits your skin type and sunglasses. On canoe safaris a towel or "kikoi" covering the legs is essential.
Medical services: Even the remotest camps are reasonably well geared to handle minor mishaps in terms of first aid practitioners, trauma kits etc. In the event of a serious accident, Johannesburg in South Africa is the only real option for immediate high care evacuation in Southern Africa. Ensure that you have adequate medical insurance - as a rule the remoter and less developed the destination, the more expensive the evacuation.
Required inoculations: Recommendations are changing constantly, we recommend that you take a look at the CDC updates and consult a medical professional.
Some valuable web sources for medical guidance:
- Fit for Travel: An excellent all round source of travel health information - used by our own doctor friends...
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Destination updates, reference materials, current news, special needs travel info, travelling with children, excellent checklist, hotline numbers...
- MedicinePlanet: San Francisco based team - premier health resource for travellers, visit the Adventure Travel Center or get specific updates on the individual African safari destinations...subscribe to this site...
- US State Department: medical information for Americans travelling abroad, includes a very valuable listing of addresses of Med-Evac and Travel Insurance companies plus additional regional tips etc.
- British Department of Health: Simple but comprehensive advice for British subjects travelling abroad with extensive introductory material, planning and treatment
Unless you've planned well in advance we strongly recommend the use of consular services to obtain visas (a small premium could save a lot of hassle).
For advice and help on obtaining Visas:
European or USA residents we recommend Global Visa and Passport Proffessionals
Best one-stop shop for visas and advice (used to be Thames Consular).
25 Wilton Road
Lower Ground Floor
PO Box 61744
US residents use the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs
Canadians go to the Department of Foreign Affairs