In a new and unfamiliar place, your health and safety should be your top priority. Taking an African safari is an amazing opportunity, but it will definitely come with its own health risks. One of the best ways you can stay healthy during your safari is by protecting yourself from mosquito bites, which are often the cause of sickness and disease, including malaria. If you’re visiting an area where malaria is common, there are certain precautions you can take in order to ensure your safety and make your trip as enjoyable as possible.
Let’s start with the basics: be sure to bring insect repellent! Your safari will be much more enjoyable if you carry a bottle of bug spray along. For the best quality, look for repellent with large amounts of DEET. The higher concentration of DEET, the longer the spray will last. It might be tempting to buy the cheapest repellent you can, but lower quality products will ultimately prove ineffective. Shop online to find the best deals (and the highest quality) before you leave.
Long Sleeves and Pants
Long sleeves and pants can provide protection from the blazing sun, but it will also shield you from those pesky bugs! When protecting yourself from mosquito bites, make sure your clothing fits well and that the fabric is thick enough to guard your skin. If the weather doesn’t allow for warmer clothing during the day, long sleeves can always be worn in the evenings as an extra precaution.
Avoid Bright Colors
Neutral colors, like beige and dark green, tend to be the best option for safaris because they won’t get dirty or alarm any animals. Neutrals are also great because they won’t attract as many mosquitos (or tsetse flies, another pest you might encounter). While you may see locals wearing bright colors, it is best to be cautious and try to blend in with your surroundings. Hopefully, the mosquitos won’t even notice you.
Another basic item that has proven to be incredibly effective is the mosquito net. While sprays and clothing can offer protection while you are out during the day, mosquito nets are your best bet when you are trying to sleep. Few things are as irritating as bugs buzzing away while you are trying to get some shut-eye—so do yourself a favor by looking at the different nets available. You can also spray your tent with bug spray for extra protection.
While many of these items can be found once you arrive, it is best to do all your shopping before your trip. In the long run, this will save you time and stress; you won’t want to spend your entire trip shopping! By taking extra precautions, your chances of getting sick are significantly lowered, and you’ll have peace of mind about your health. Remember to talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns you may have before your trip.
Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa