Travel health tips

How to stay healthy while travelling in Africa

Based on our experience (we’re not doctors!), here are our top tips for staying healthy while travelling in Africa specifically:

1. Eat safe – Avoid street food that may have been cooked hours earlier and sitting out in the sun ever since. Only eat fruit that’s been washed in clean water or can be peeled. There’s an old saying that we try to stick to: “Boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it.”

2. Keep your hands clean – Always wash your hands before meals and if you don’t have access to water, use the hand sanitiser that should always be in your bag!

3. Drink bottled water – While it’s safe to drink local tap water in South Africa and Namibia, we don’t recommend it in any other African country. Bottled water is always available – depending on where you are and what you’re doing it will either included in the price or available at a small cost.

4. Don’t touch animals – mammals carry rabies, so it’s best not to touch dogs or cats and beware of bats and monkeys. Just don’t get close. Needless to say we don’t recommend touching the big mammals you’ll see on safari!

5. Keep your shoes on – Obviously we always recommend you keep your shoes on when you’re exploring the great outdoors of Africa. This is to avoid thorns, insect bites, scorpion bites and hookworm – larvae may be present in soil or sand. We’ve never had a case and don’t want you to be the first!

6. Don’t swim in still water – Fresh, still water can carry schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia) so please try to avoid swimming in any water bodies that are still and fresh.

7. Stay hydrated and covered up – Take every step you can – such as carrying rehydration sachets –  to avoid overheating if you’re travelling in hot climates or during the summer.

8. Layer like an onion – Mornings and afternoons can be very cool on a game drive, and in the evenings temperatures can drop quickly.

If you don’t dress right you can catch a chill as you drive in this cold air. We recommend you wear layers that you can remove as it warms up – and put back on when it cools down again.

What if…

If you do happen to fall ill while you’re on holiday in Africa, there are a few key things you can do to give your body the best chance to recover:

1. Rest as much as possible

2. Eat well and drink plenty of fluids

3. Go smoke-free and alcohol-free

4. Don’t be a martyr – if you’re in pain, treat it with appropriate painkillers

5. Keep a record of your symptoms and timeframes – if they persist, it will make it easier for a doctor to diagnose and treat you

6. Follow the instructions for any medicine that you take

7. If you have a high fever, take action. The normal body temperature is 37 degrees.

8. Seek medical advice if you’re worried you might have something serious

Be sure to seek immediate medical attention if you have any of the following:

• A fever that spikes and can’t be controlled by medication

• A fever that persists more than 48 hours

• A fever accompanied by an altered consciousness or bleeding

• A fever, and you’re getting dizzy

• A fever, plus your pulse rate is fast, weakened or irregular

• A fever, plus decreased urine output

• Headaches and a stiff neck

• Difficulty breathing


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