Going on a safari is extremely exciting and rewarding we wouldn't want to be ruined by sickness.
Good preparation is the best way to ensure that you won't get sick, or even worry about getting sick while you explore the jungles and traverse the savannah. And that is where vaccinations come in.
Before we go any further, please remember that vaccinations are not a 100% guarantee against sickness and that each person is different so talking with your doctor is very important.
Check For Outbreaks
After choosing your travel destination and activities, you should check with your tour operator (or newspapers) about any possible outbreaks or surges in sickness.
While some of the outbreaks will already be talked about in international media - such as Ebola and Zika, others might be unknown to someone who isn't in the country.
This is a small but important activity to help you prepare for the trip. If there is nothing to worry about, then great. If you learn of some outbreaks, then you can decide - based on your doctor's advice.
Some outbreaks to look out for include Ebola, Zika virus, Coronavirus, Rabies, and Tetanus among others. It will be different depending on the country/region you intend to visit.
Check With Your Doctor
Whether you find that there are new surges in disease or not, you should check with your doctor. Your doctor shall give your travel-specific advice on what you can do or shouldn't do.
You have to be forthcoming about your destination, length of trip, activities, diet and many other related things.
Again, this is to make sure that while you are on safari, your only worry is being present and enjoying every little moment.
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The most widely and commonly required vaccination for travelling in Africa is the yellow fever vaccination.
In many countries, direct flight with no layovers in yellow fever prone countries might be allowed without the strict requirement of the yellow fever vaccination certificate. This is however not the standard procedure and you are advised to get the vaccination before setting off for your trip.
The yellow fever vaccine is administered only once and you never have to get another shot again.
Depending on the situation with disease outbreaks and prevalence, the following vaccinations can also be important. In most cases, no one will ask for these but situations change.
In general, vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and the Common flu are recommended considerations.
What About The Coronavirus (COVID-19)
International travel is reopening after months of shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic which has turned 2020 into a bad year for everyone.
Many countries currently require that a traveller present a recent coronavirus test certificate which indicates that he/she is not infected. The certificate does however need to be obtained within the last 72 hours.
We are not regarding this under "vaccinations" but it is something you should know. As more people get vaccinated, the effects of vaccines are being felt in all parts of the world.
While the vaccine doesn't completely eliminate COVID, adding the other prevention measures is very important and can help everyone.
While On Safari
To keep with the spirit of prioritizing your good health while on safari, here are some other things you should consider as good health precautions.
1. Hand Washing.
As humans, we touch so many unclean surfaces each day and transfer those germs into our systems. As we have learnt in 2020, Washing hands can save lives. If you can also avoid touching most surfaces, all the better.
2. Dietary Restrictions
As you plan your safari, don't forget about your dietary preferences. This is important information to communicate to your hotel/lodge in time such that they are fully prepared and you have no need to worry about your food.
This means you will need to be measured on how much new food you get to try. Maybe some research can give you an idea of what to stay away from. You can also consult your hotel or tour operator.
3. Careful On The Street Food
In cases where you travel through an area experiencing a surge of disease, especially food-related diseases such as diarrhoea or cholera, you should be extremely careful with street food. If possible, you should not take street food.
4. Careful On The Swimming In Lakes
Before you jump into a lake or pond for a swim, first ask around. Some of these water bodies are dirty or have diseases such as bilharzia. Additionally, some water bodies have dangerous animals such as snakes, crocodiles, hippos and more.
Other precautions like using sunscreen, sleeping under a mosquito net and carrying helpful rain gear are also as important.
Related article: How to stay healthy on an African Safari
After The Safari
After your safari, you are hopefully in good health and full of wonderful memories.
Sometimes it doesn't happen like that and people catch malaria after reaching home. Malaria might delay showing signs especially if your immune system puts up a good fight.
We recommend that after your safari, you should get in touch with your doctor once again for a routine check-in. This is to make sure that you are fine and follow any doctors orders he/she might offer.
Ultimately, the vaccines you will need are determined by where exactly you are going and the activities you will be engaged in while you are there.
This article is meant to give you a slight idea of some things to consider and arise some questions which should all be answered by your doctor. Each country will require different things and as conditions change, so do those requirements.
All such measures are in place for the benefit of everyone and we advise that you always check for the very latest information or contact someone in the area.