Safari Health and Safety Tips
Is travel to Tanzania safe?
This is the question we are asked most often by prospective travelers.
Africa’s biggest enemy is the international media who represent all 46 African countries as a single entity and not as unique and individual countries with their own characteristics and governments. This misrepresentation is actually due to lack of education on the part of the media.
It would come as a surprise to many people to find out that there are, in fact, areas that are worse off in more developed countries than in the “dangerous” African countries. No country can claim to be 100% safe, and so as with travel to any new or unknown destination, it is advisable to take certain standard security precautions. Visitors should take the same precautions as they would normally take in any other destination worldwide. Keep an eye on your purses, wallets, passports, money and cameras when walking in a crowd. Avoid walking in the cities at night and place valuables in your hotel safe. Choosing a knowledgeable operator such as Vacation 2 Africa as your specialized African tour operator is the best move you could make.
While staying at African safari lodges and tented camps you are typically far removed from human settlement, so crime in the camps is virtually non existent (we have never heard of it and have been traveling to the camps for years). We advise that valuables be locked away or kept under the supervision of the camp or lodge manager, or better yet, left in the hotel safe if you are at all concerned.
We are extremely knowledgeable about the continent (having been born and lived there) and can therefore minimize any possible risks for our guests. Most of your travel time in Tanzania is likely to be spent away from the large cities where crime is most prevalent. You will be visiting areas and regions that are remote and where crime is almost non-existent. Even if your African holiday involves spending time in the cities, having a company like ours who are able to choose the appropriate lodging, locations and simple security advice, you will find the cities we recommend are as safe as travel almost anywhere.
Finally, we simply do not recommend destinations that are not completely safe. This is why you will find that we do not recommend every country in Africa. We have lived in Africa, we know its cultures, and we know what is safe and what is not. In the same way we only recommend the finest African safari camps.
What medical health precautions and issues are there?
As vaccination requirements change on occasion, we recommend that you check with your local doctor or health department for the latest health precautions. You are not legally required to have any vaccinations unless you are traveling from a region where yellow fever is prevalent, in which case an inoculation will be required against the disease.
Certainly you need not rush off and get every possible inoculation and take every pill under the sun just to travel to Africa. Do not go overboard with the information put out by the disease control centers. We return time and again to Africa and to the bush and have only ever taken Malaria prevention tablets. A course of anti-Malaria tablets is advisable and many doctors advise a dose of Hepatitis A vaccine. We recommend that you visit with a local travel health specialist for complete details and safety.
Food and Water
Many parts of Africa do have problems with their water and foods, however, the food and water in Tanzania is much safer than the rest of Africa, especially in the African safari camps and hotels you will be travelling to. We have never had a problem in these places though all our years of giving tours. Please do not over-react to the detriment of you own enjoyment.
As long as we’re discussing water, one thing you must be careful of, especially during the hotter summer months and in the desert areas, is dehydration. Plenty of fresh bottled water is always available at all of the camps throughout the day and should be consumed regularly and in quantity. We have seen many guests, even experienced African travelers, who forget to drink enough water and become dehydrated. A case of dehydration will usually put you out of action for up to a day – and is no fun. All the camps stock re-hydrating tablets which help to set you right again, but we wanted to mention it as this is the most common ailment we have observed among guests on African safaris. Drink lots of water!
Information on Malaria
The most important health consideration in Tanzania is Malaria and it is strongly recommended that prophylactics (i.e., oral tablets) be taken as a preventative precaution. We will not “talk down” this risk as we both know people, albeit all individuals who live and spend time in the Africa bush, who have contracted malaria. This is NOT something to take lightly and it can be a lethal and at the very least, a long and uncomfortable disease.
Malaria is an infectious disease caused by the parasite called Plasmodia. There are four identified species of this parasite causing human malaria, namely, Plasmodium vivax, P. falciparum, P. ovale and P. malariae. It is transmitted by the female Anopheles Mosquito. It is a disease that can be treated in just 48 hours, yet it can cause fatal complications if the diagnosis and treatment are delayed. It is re-emerging as the #1 Infectious Killer and it is the Number 1 Priority Tropical Disease of the World Health Organization. The CDC estimates that 300-500 million cases of malaria occur each year worldwide and 1.5 million to 3 million people die of malaria every year (85% of these occur in Africa), accounting for about 4-5% of all fatalities in the world.
Anopheles mosquitoes start biting by late evening and the peak of biting activity is at midnight and early hours of morning.
All of the camps provide mosquito repellant in the tents and in the lounges and on game drives. Most also provide mosquito “coils”, an incense-like slow-burning substance that produces a smoky repellent that can be lit inside the tent before heading for dinner so that the tent is cleared by bed time. Finally, the majority of the camps provide mosquito netting over the beds to keep the “mossies” out while you sleep.
The best precaution against malaria is to reduce the likelihood of being bitten.
Protect yourself against bites in the evenings and early mornings by applying mosquito repellant, wearing lightweight long pants instead of shorts and covering the ankles, especially. At bedtime, use mosquito nets without fail. Use bug spray after sundown.
The next best precaution is to begin and complete a full regimen of anti-malarial medication for your African safari. The medication usually begins before you leave and is completed after returning home. Check on the internet or with your physician for further information.