Essential Advice for Travelling Safely in Africa
Numerous travel companies tend to avoid directly discussing safety concerns. However, our stance is different. We firmly believe that by providing our knowledgeable travellers with accurate information and insights, we can contribute to ensuring their safety, preparedness, and overall satisfaction during their African vacation. With this in mind, we have curated a selection of our top travel tips that focus on promoting safe travel experiences in Africa.
To begin with, it is advisable to implement the same safety measures that you practise in your own home, regardless of whether you are visiting Venice or Vladivostok.
- Avoid ostentatious displays of wealth and keep the use of your digital gadgets to a minimum in crowded public places.
- To ensure your safety, it is advisable to avoid crowded downtowns and industrial or business areas during nighttime in cities.
- If you find yourself unsure, it is advisable to seek guidance from your concierge or tour guide and carefully consider their advice.
- It is always advisable to create duplicates of your travel paperwork and keep them in different locations.
- It is advisable to store your money in a secure belt that discourages pickpockets and to decline offers of help from friendly individuals when it comes to exchanging currency.
When embarking on a journey to Africa or any other exotic location, there are several important factors to take into account, especially for those who are well-informed. For instance, if you decide to go on a safari, there is a risk of contracting malaria and encountering formidable creatures like lions. Additionally, it is crucial to consider the cultural aspects and logistical challenges that come with exploring this region.
1. Personal Security
Internet research has made it convenient and effortless to stay informed about current events and destinations. Traveller forums such as TripAdvisor, government advisories from the US and UK, and well-regarded Africa travel blogs provide valuable information that enables individuals to quickly and easily stay updated on what is occurring in various locations.
Cape Town and the Masai Mara, famous tourist destinations in South Africa and Kenya respectively, offer a safe travel experience despite the High crime rates that may label these countries negatively. For instance, taking a leisurely walk along Cape Town’s Atlantic promenade during a summer evening is a perfect way to experience the safety and security these places provide.
It is advisable to exercise caution and refrain from taking photographs at border crossings or of government buildings. Additionally, it is important to maintain a respectful and cooperative demeanour when interacting with uniformed authorities. Gathering information from reliable sources, such as your hotel concierge and guide, can be immensely helpful in navigating unfamiliar surroundings.
Respect is key when visiting locations that hold religious or cultural significance, such as Zanzibar or the Maasai homelands. It is important to treat these places with the same level of respect that you would expect from visitors in your own community. Avoid taking intrusive photos of individuals and make sure to dress appropriately when visiting religious sites. In these regions, it is considered appropriate for both men and women to wear clothing that covers their knees, elbows, and collarbones. Additionally, women with long hair are often encouraged to tie it back or conceal it under a hat.
2. Your Health
If you are planning to travel to East Africa, it is advisable to consult a knowledgeable healthcare professional regarding the specific vaccinations required in that country. Proof of yellow fever inoculation may be mandatory for entry. It is highly recommended to receive vaccinations or booster shots for typhoid, tetanus, meningitis, hepatitis A and B, and rabies, especially if you have not received them during your childhood. It is important not to delay these vaccinations as some might cause temporary discomfort, and certain destinations may require the vaccination to be administered several weeks prior to travel.
It is essential to take precautionary measures against malaria. The most effective way to prevent malaria is to avoid mosquito bites. During the evenings, make sure to cover your legs, arms, and feet and apply insect repellent generously. Consult a healthcare professional for information on available malaria prophylactics. It’s important to note that these medications are potent and have several contraindications, which can be unsettling. Familiarise yourself with common side effects and be prepared to take the prophylactics before and after your safari experience. If you prefer to eliminate any risk, there are various malaria-free destinations in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean islands.
It is highly recommended to consume bottled water as it is inexpensive and easily accessible. When going on game drives or staying at Safari lodges and camps, they usually provide complimentary bottled water. Additionally, some establishments offer reusable bottles that can be filled with filtered water whenever necessary. Although Tap water is usually safe to drink in South Africa and certain lodges with natural spring water, it is advisable to avoid consuming tap water, using ice cubes made from tap water, or consuming raw fruits and vegetables that may have been washed with tap water in urban areas outside of South Africa due to the risk of waterborne illnesses.
When travelling to any destination, regardless of the time of year or location, it is advisable to always carry a hat and sunblock. This is particularly important in Africa, where the sun can be harsh and unforgiving, regardless of your skin type.
Dehydration is a common issue that can occur during vacations, often due to Overheating, overexertion, or inadequate fluid intake. Recognizing the early signs such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, constipation, extreme thirst, dry skin, lightheadedness, or dizziness is crucial. It’s not sufficient to simply drink plenty of water; replenishing lost electrolytes, similar to what athletes do, is equally important. If you suspect dehydration, consult a healthcare professional and consider adding electrolyte replacements to your safari first aid kit.
Remember to pack a personal first aid kit for your travels. Ensure that you have an ample supply of any prescribed medications you take on a regular basis, as it cannot be assumed that you will find the same medication in Africa. It is also advisable to have a compact first aid kit with you, containing over-the-counter medications for minor medical requirements. Consulting with your travel clinic or healthcare provider will help you determine which non-prescription medications to include based on your specific needs. If you experience an emergency situation, immediately seek an emergency medical evacuation service.
Let your agent and guide know. It is important to Inform your agent about any chronic illnesses or allergies you may have in order for both your accommodation and guide to be aware of any special requirements you might need. If you start to feel unwell during your trip, always notify your guide, hotel concierge, or lodge host. They will be able to best assist you in accessing proper medical care or adjusting your itinerary to ensure you have minimal exposure to the elements and convenient access to restroom facilities.
3. Ensuring Safe Travel
To become acquainted with the process of travelling from point A to point B, it is important to refer to the comprehensive travel document provided by our experts specialising in African safaris. Typically, travellers heading to Kenya arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and then proceed to Wilson Airport, located approximately an hour and a half away by car (duration subject to traffic conditions), in order to board a chartered flight to the renowned safari destinations within the country. Familiarising yourself with these specifics will contribute to a sense of confidence and relaxation during your journey.
One of the crucial aspects of travelling is pre-arranging airport transfers. It is at Airports and other travel hubs where travellers are most susceptible to being exploited due to their lack of knowledge. Instead of starting your holiday amidst the chaos of taxi drivers vying for your attention, imagine being welcomed with a smile and your name displayed on a clipboard. Our team of Africa Safari Experts takes care of all the necessary logistics well in advance.
If you are considering a self-drive holiday, it is advisable to focus on South Africa and Namibia. These destinations offer excellent road infrastructure, clear signage, suitable accommodation, and a variety of attractions. However, it is important to note that other parts of Africa may not be suitable for self-drive touring due to challenging conditions. These conditions include the need for exceptional 4X4 driving skills, navigating around wandering livestock, and relying on outdated or inaccurate signage and maps. For those who prefer road travel, hiring a private guide is a recommended option to ensure a safe journey throughout Africa.
4. Ensuring Safety during Safari Excursions
When you arrive, it is important to pay close attention to the safety briefing. In safari lodges, it’s common for the property to be unfenced, allowing wildlife to roam freely. While these lodges are regularly monitored and considered safe, it’s crucial to keep in mind that the animals you may come across are completely wild. They will respond defensively if they perceive you as a threat or aggressively if you behave as an easy target. It is highly advised against approaching or attempting to touch any wild animals.
Stay informed about malaria prevention. Utilise the mosquito nets and ceiling fans in your room and remember to apply insect repellent to any exposed skin during the early mornings and late afternoons, prior to your game drives, as well as in the evenings before dinner.
It is crucial to heed the advice of your guide when embarking on an African safari. They possess the knowledge and expertise necessary to ensure your safety during the journey. Immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the African wilderness is a key aspect of the safari experience. However, it is important to be aware and practical regarding encounters with potentially hazardous wildlife, insects, and exposure to the elements.