If you’re bored with spending your holidays lazing by the pool or basking on the beach, an African safari can offer a real taste of adventure leaving you feeling refreshed and revitalised.
But being a more exotic location means that you need to prepare in advance to make sure you meet the health requirements, as well as taking care of yourself after you arrive.
Here are a few essential health care tips which will ensure that you enjoy your African adventure holiday.
If you check the regulations you might find that you don’t need to have any vaccinations in order to be able to travel.
However, there is a big difference between what is legally required and what is recommended, and in order to avoid falling ill, it’s a very good idea to have some vaccinations before you travel.
You should obtain advice about what’s best for the area to which you are travelling, but as a general rule getting vaccinated against yellow fever, hepatitis A and B, polio (booster) and typhoid is a must. You might also want to consider getting protection against rabies.
There is no vaccination against malaria so if you are travelling to a high risk area, you will need to take a course of preventative medication before you arrive.
There are lots of different medications available so speak to either your GP or the pharmacist to find out which type you will need.
The NHS website, Fit for Travel, has a lot of excellent information about whether anti-malarial treatment will be required.
Even if you do take anti-malarial treatment, it will not absolutely guarantee you immunity; it reduces your chance by around 90%. You should therefore still take steps after you arrive to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos, such as sleeping under an insecticide-treated net and covering up with loose clothing.
Avoid the mosquito and its bite at all costs
You won’t want to pack too much for an African adventure holiday but if you are going to be staying in remote areas, with no access to shops such as chemists, then you need to take some essentials with you.
A basic first aid kit is a good idea; plasters, gauze roll, adhesive tape, anti-histamines, diarrhoea treatment, oral rehydration treatments and painkillers can all be helpful to have on you.
If you don’t have to use the rehydration treatments, give them to a local before you leave. Dehydration often kills young children in Africa and a simple rehydration treatment could save a life.
After you arrive
Even if you are fully prepared, you will still need to take precautions after you arrive.
Never under-estimate the heat of the African sun; even if you already have a healthy tan, slap on the sunscreen from the minute you are due to step outside. At dawn, the air may seem cool and the weather overcast and cloudy but within a few hours; it will be scorching hot and sunny. Don’t risk getting caught out.
Being out in the bush means that you will come into contact with plenty of flies; they are part of the natural environment and can’t be avoided. These insects could well include biting horseflies. Therefore take plenty of insect repellent and smother yourself in it morning and night to avoid feeling like a human pin-cushion.
Swimming in fresh water
Whilst on safari it can be very tempting to enjoy a refreshing swim in the crystal clear fresh waters that you will find on your travels.
Although you might be told that the waters on safe, it’s not recommended that you swim in any fresh water in Africa, or even wade in. This is because of the presence of the parasite which causes bilharzia (schistosomiasis).
An infestation of Bilharzia
This nasty parasite burrows into the skin of swimmers and if it isn’t treated properly can cause long term and permanent damage. Different treatments are effective during different parts of the parasite’s life cycle, so even though you may see medication for sale whilst in Africa, it won’t usually work.
Nearly all of the fresh waters in Africa are contaminated by this parasite so the risk is extremely high. Don’t swim, paddle or wash with water collected from a lake unless it has been treated.
Going on an African adventure holiday should be a fun experience and if you follow a few basic rules, there’s no reason why you won’t have a thrilling time. The above steps are just a few sensible precautions which will help ensure you stay safe whilst enjoying yourself along the way.