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General Health Advice
Due to the conditions and state of the roads you do have to be prepared for most eventualities. It is fair to say you must generally be in good health and must be able bodied for a normal safari. Those with disabilities should seek medical advice about the suitability of a safari and/or search out specialist agencies catering for your specific disabilities.

That said the biggest obstacles are: sun; food poisoning/gastric problems; dehydration; insects; sleep (or lack of it); and alcohol consumption. None of these should be underestimated.

Depending on your state of health and bearing in mind you'll be travelling to remote locations without hospitals in every town, you may wish to consider insurance for the flying doctor service. Your travel agent should be able to advise the best cover for your needs.


Dehydration
The best advice overall with regard to health is to keep your water intake up - but don’t drink the local water even in the best hotels! Use bottled water, which is provided in your rooms in most of the lodges - even to clean your teeth!
Picture of a water bottle to remind tourists to keep their water intake up.
Even in covered safari buses you will need sun hats and high factor sunscreen - if not total sun block. Note in their desire to offer that 'close to wildlife' experience many exclusive four-wheeled drive vehicles in the private parks do not provide any cover! The cooling effect of a moving vehicle can often mask the symptoms of sunstroke. Remember to keep topping up your water level – it is surprising how much fluid you lose, even when sitting still for hours at a time! If necessary buy extra supplies from the lodge's gift shops to be sure. Aching muscles all over your body can indicate dehydration and lack of salt. If you do not have rehydration tablets then a spoonful of salt in a glass of 7-Up is an effective remedy (I can confirm from personal experience it does taste as bad as it sounds), but you will need multiple measures for total replenishment. A severe case of sunstroke can seriously disrupt your itinerary, spoiling the trip for everyone.


Stomach Upsets
In many cases you will be eating unusual food (if you're the type to bring your own food with you, what are you doing in East Africa - leave it to those that appreciate its wonders) and I must say you’ll be an unusual traveller if you don’t experience one bout of Delhi-belly during your safari. So keep the Imodium handy! (On our first safari one girl was planning to steal a hotel towel to make a nappy for her husband – luckily the thought frightened him so much he recovered enough to make it to the next stop without mishap).

Don’t forget your personal toilet roll!
Picture of a toilet roll - an essential part of your packing!


Medical Kit
Photo of a first-aid kit as a reminder to discuss your trip with professional medical staff long before your departure.
We now keep a travel medical bag stocked up which was prepared by our local surgery especially for the more adventurous travellers. (One couple we came across planned so well they visited their local doctor who prepared a range of drugs for them and taught them how to use the syringe. He couldn’t wait to test his new skills on me when I was bitten by a small scorpion – I declined his offer when the camp supervisor advised it wasn’t deadly and would simply sting for 6 hours, which it did).


Sleeping
Depending on what you wish to experience, night-time can be quite daunting. Even in the lodges you’ll be aware of strange noises and they all sound as if they’re just outside. You may welcome the close experience of the wildlife or end up having a sleepless night full of nightmares. If you are of a nervous disposition you may need some sleeping tablets to ensure you get the most from your safari. A single bad night’s sleep could drain your energy preventing you getting the most for the rest of the trip.
Picture of sleeping pills to give a graphic reminder that some may need assistance sleeping in the strange surroundings.


Insects
Reminder to take all precautions against mosquito bites - malaria ( only one of the deseases they carry ) is still one of the world's biggest killers!
Finally to insects. You’ll come across many insects on safari. The best way to deal with them is to stop them biting you in the first place. So long sleeved clothing and jeans are best worn in the evening, with lashings of insect repellant on the ankles, wrists and neck. Don't forget to regularly check for ticks if walking in long grass. I followed all manner of 'remedies', such tweasers etc before I was advised to smoother it in vacceline and wait for it to drop off. It did a couple of days later - shorter than my recovery from the blister caused by the cigarette burn!

Malaria is still one of the main risks for Western travellers. So check with your doctor early, as most courses must be started at least a week before departure to ensure you don't have an allergic reaction to them. Malaria quickly becomes immune to new treatments and it's important to make sure you have the best protection from it. Your doctor should refer to the latest published treatments recommended for your area of travel before prescribing them.

If your room doesn’t have a mosquito net above the bed, ask reception as soon as you arrive if they are available. Remember the local staff are not very good at dealing with routine procedures and may ‘forget’ your request.