The Best Ways to Get Around Africa
By Kent St. John, GoNOMAD TRAVEL DESK GUIDE
Big and full of mystery and diversity, Africa is the second largest continent, yet has only 10% of the world’s population. Over 1,000 different languages have been identified and countless tribes recognized. Africa is complex, yet simple, comfortable, yet peculiar, unique and a challenge to any traveler. Here are some tips to help you prepare for an unforgettable African adventure.
HEALTHY, IF NOT WEALTHY
Being prepared for basic health concerns will greatly steel a traveler with preventive armor. Use travel health-related websites such as cdg.gov to pinpoint problem areas and preventive remedies. The English also have some great health sites such as fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk that are also very helpful.
For a complete run down on health issues in Africa contact The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) at sentex.net or in the US call 716-754-4883. The IAMAT is non-profit organization and can provide you with a list of English speaking doctors worldwide. Membership is free, but donations are welcome.
- Malaria and Dengue Fever Spread by female mosquitoes, Malaria and Dengue Fever are perhaps the most feared and prevalent diseases in Africa. It is inadvisable to travel in sub-Saharan Africa without appropriate prophylaxis. The choice of anti-malarials such as Fansidar or Malarone is dependent upon where you are traveling and your own health. Some additional simple precautions can help avoid a dreaded bite.
- Dress with long sleeved shirts and long pants after dark.
- Sleep in screened in areas. Use mosquito netting to cover your bedding.
- Use smoke coils in your living area.
- Use a bug repellent with DEET. Rubbed into cotton (i.e. your clothes) it is a very effective repellent.
- Mosquito-repellent ankle and wristbands are great for local protection.
Some symptoms of malaria and dengue fever are fever, nausea, headaches and joint and muscle aches. If you have any of these symptoms get immediate medical attention.
- Immunizations An African adventure first aid kit needs to be a bit more advanced than a regular one. In addition to all the standard health care items, make sure to bring a course of antibiotics that will help with stomach ailments, extra anti-malarial medication, sterile latex gloves, a sterile syringe and needle, and condoms. Remember that AIDS is spreading throughout Africa like wildfire. Don’t take chances with your health.
- Help Please Algeria
Hospital Mustapha, Place du 1 Mai, Algiers Tel: 67-33-33
Centre Medico-Social-Cooperation Francaise, Yaounde, Tel: 230-139
Centre Hospitalier et Universitaire de Brazzaville, BP 32 Brazzaville, Tel: 82-88-10
Black Lion Hospital, Addis Ababa, Tel: 511-211
Aga Khan Hospital, Vanga Road, Mombasa, Tel: 226-182
Nairobi Hospital, Valley Road, Nairobi. Tel: 722-160
Jetoo Hospital, Volcy Pougnet St., Port Louis, Tel: 212-3201
Rhino Park Health Center, Rhino Park, Horsea Kutako Drive, Windhoek, Tel: 225-434
Hospital Principal, Ave. Senghor, Dakar, Tel: 823-27-41
- Buy travel insurance. If there is any place where it could come in real handy, it’s Africa. Make sure your insurance covers any “adventure” sports you plan to do, and provides for emergency evacuation, if needed. Long-term and multi-trip policies are a good, inexpensive way to keep you covered for the duration of your trip. If you are going on a tour or safari with a company from home, check with them for travel insurance.
- Pack light. Distances are great in Africa and clothes and other essentials are cheap. If you don’t think you really need it, don’t bring it.
- Bring sunscreen. The African sun is notoriously strong. Don’t underestimate its power.
- Bring something to donate. Medical supplies, school supplies and yes, money, are all useful. Don’t bring candy to give to children. If you cAn, volunteer and donate your time. Even an afternoon of playing soccer with village children or tutoring math will enhance your experience and theirs.
- If you’ve been putting off buying a zoom camera or telephoto lens, do so before going on safari in Africa. Most experts agree that a lens of 200mm is the minimum you should have for close shots. Binoculars will also greatly add to your safari experience. You can always give them as a gift when you leave.
- Also, if you plan to bring a video camera, remember that you should be careful not to zoom in to “get closer” to the animals you see, particularly if either you or the animals are moving. If you do zoom in, you may get a quick close-up shot of the elephant wading into the river, but you may also get nauseous watching it. Stay in a wide angle and everyone will enjoy your African adventure video more.
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