Big Game And Tiny Insects: Staying Healthy And Safe On A South African Safari

With its breath-taking vistas, beautiful scenery, bustling big-city shopping and European-style food, South Africa offers plenty of ways to bring home memories, photos and souvenirs when it's time to return home. The last thing you want to carry home with you is a nasty bug bite or an illness that leaves you flat on your back. Fortunately, if you are planning a safari to South Africa, there are many ways you can protect yourself and stay healthy during your trip.

Get Your Vaccinations

You should already be up-to-date on your regular immunizations. If you're not, it's a good idea to get them before traveling to South Africa. Make sure you have had the following before embarking:

  • MMR
  • DTP
  • Hepatitis B
  • Polio
  • Chicken Pox
  • Annual flu shot

Additionally, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated for rabies, typhoid and Hepatitis A if you're going to South Africa.

Evading Illnesses

There is always some risk for getting sick from food or water-borne illnesses, and South Africa is no different. Just as you would anywhere else, make sure you wash your hands before eating or drinking. Don't drink unpasteurized milk, and don't order your usual steak medium-rare. Make sure it is cooked all the way through. Raw milk and meat can be carriers for many bacteria and viruses like Rift fever and cholera.

Most of the tap water in South Africa is safe to drink, but if you're headed for rural areas only drink water that you know came from a bottle.

Don't Get Bit

No one likes being plagued by mosquitos and flies, and there are plenty of bugs in South Africa, especially in rural areas, farms, and game reserves. To protect yourself from mosquito bites, wear long sleeves and pants if you're out in the country. Spray yourself with an insect repellant containing at least 20% DEET to keep ticks away as well as mosquitos.

Malaria is not a big risk in most parts of the country, but recently several outbreaks have been reported along the north and east border areas. If you're visiting these places, including Kruger Park, stay indoors as much as possible, always use DEET, wear long sleeves and pants, and sleep under a mosquito netting. Right now, it is recommended that you use an anti-malarial drug between October and May.

Making sure you take precautions when eating and drinking, get your vaccines, and try to prevent bug bites will help your trip to South Africa be a healthy and happy one. For more information, contact companies like South Africa Travel & Tours.