Practical Health Tips – Advice and Information for your Safari
Here is How to Stay Healthy While on a Safari in Uganda – It is all about Prevention
How to Stay Healthy While on a Safari:
Here is how to stay healthy while on a Safari in Uganda. The last thing that you want is to become ill while on your African Dream Safari. The good news is that most travelers on Safari arrive and leave healthy. Wellness on a safari is not the exception but the norm for most tourists despite what they have read and are worried about.
Yes, you can get sick on a safari, just like you can get ill at home or on a trip anywhere in this world. It is all about prevention, which is a lot better than having to get treatment.
Africa, and that includes Uganda, is often portrayed as being filled with strange illnesses and maladies. That is often exaggerated and not the reality that travelers encounter on a Safari in Uganda.
The English Philosopher Aldous Huxley said it best when he wrote, “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”
How to Stay Healthy While on a Safari? It all begins with “common sense.” We suggest that you do not leave home without it.
2020 was the year the world stood still. No one traveled. Much of the world was on a COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Uganda was spared from harsh winds that blew across the globe. Many in the medical community gave is that Uganda is one of the world’s youngest countries. What was feared and even predicted by some, such as Melissa Gates, never happened. Africa, for once, was spared from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Everything shut down in Uganda, including the national parks, tourist destinations, and Entebbe International Airport. In October of 2020, the airport reopened for travelers and tourists. Tourism COVID-19 Protocols have been put into place by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the World Health organization’s advice. Those protocols are referred to as COVID-19 Standard Operation Procedures.
The COVID-19 Protocols or Standard Operating Procedures have changed how Safaris are now conducted with your health and wellbeing in mind. It is not only about your health but about the well-being of our closely related cousins, the Gorillas, and Chimpanzees. We suggest that you read them before you arrive for your safari.
Thank goodness COVID-19 vaccinations are being distributed and administered. Even in Uganda, they will soon arrive. There is even serious talk of a COVID-19 passport that shows that you have been vaccinated. Most likely, Uganda will embrace such a move that allows for freer travel.
How to Stay Healthy While on a Safari? Know before you go
We strongly suggest that as you plan your safari, you know the risk factors on a safari. Read our below advice and become acquainted with what has worked for our past clients. Take preventative measures such as being vaccinated against yellow and see your doctor or visit a travel clinic to receive a malaria prevention prescription.
The good news is this, we have never had a client wind up in a local hospital due to an illness they contracted on Safari with us. We did have a woman who stumbled and fell and re-injured her shoulder. That required an air-evacuation with the reliable AMREF-Flying Doctors. You can read more about that service below, and today, all our clients on a safari are automatically covered on a Safari with us.
Beyond this page, you obtain information in your country, such as the CDC in the US or NHS in the UK.
We strongly suggest that you look and sign up for travel insurance. You will probably not use it, but you are covered in case of a medical emergency. We do not sell such insurance but give you advice that you can read.
How to Stay Healthy While on a Safari? Here are Preventative Measures that you can take:
How to Stay Healthy While on a Safari? Find out by reading the below information that we have put together—data based on past clients who have had safaris without a health-related incident.
Vaccinations for your Safari:
Get them from a doctor familiar with the Tropics, such as one at a travel clinic. In the US, the County Health Department is the best place for immunizations such as Yellow Fever and others.
A Yellow Fever Certificate is required for entrance into Uganda. A Yellow fever Certificate is necessary for Rwanda if you have visited another country where it exists, and it is suggested to have to be on the safe side. Recent findings show that one Yellow Fever Vaccination will last a lifetime, but regulations have not been changed to keep up with research.
Pregnant Women and Young children are exempt, but you must use DEET-based insect repellent or the Australian RID to protect against daytime mosquitoes that spread yellow fever.
Since 2017 a Yellow Fever Card must be presented to be allowed into Uganda. There is simply no way around it for Adults.
Other immunizations to Consider:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B vaccination is needed for longer trips and with children, such as in a school.
- Tetanus Booster
- Meningococcal Meningitis
- A Yellow Fever certificate is required for entry into Uganda.
Check with a well-informed doctor familiar with tropical diseases and follow the recommendations.
Fight the Bite – Prevent Insect Bites:
Bert McCoy made a statement that might make you think, ” If you stay long enough in paradise, you’re bound to get bitten by mosquitoes.” Uganda has been called paradise by Winston Churchill as he traveled through the country in 1907. You just might get bitten on a Safari. However, not every bite brings about malaria, yellow fever, or sleeping sickness. It must be an infected female mosquito biting you.
You can take simple steps to prevent mosquito and bites from other insects such as wasps on a safari. We have created pages to find all the necessary information on avoiding insect bites by fighting the bite.
We have found that the Australian RID Insect Repellent works best in preventing insect bites. It works on all mosquitoes, including the pesky Tsetse Flies.
There are areas in Uganda where there are few mosquitoes, such as in the Gorilla Highlands. The insects that bother you there are annoying flies but few mosquitoes. Yes, you might get bitten after all. “Everything in Africa bites. The safari bug is worst of all.” ~Brian Jackman.
Staying Healthy on Safari Advice is wearing the proper, protective Clothing, shoes, and hat.
A gorilla or Chimpanzee Trek is not a walk in the park. You are in Equatorial Africa, but what you wear is not about being a fashion statement or day on a tropical beach, but for a rainforest jungle. For example, taking the gorilla trek, shorts, or tank tops would expose you to nettles, thorns, shrubs, and esky flies. The best antidote is wearing protective clothing.
Even on the Savannah, long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, hats, boots are your best protection against the troublesome Tsetse Flies. The neutral color of clothing is also of importance. Avoid blue for shirts or tops. For example, on the Savannah, Tsetse flies are attracted. Stay Well by Dressing right for your Safari and the activities you will be doing.
Don’t drink the Tap-Water:
Don’t drink tap-water in Uganda or Rwanda-consider tap-water unsafe, do not even use it to brush your teeth and avoid swallowing it while taking a shower. Bottled water is readily available, and major brands are considered safe.
Stay away from ice cubes – when ordering juice, ask if bottled or boiled water was used in making something like a passion-fruit juice drink. Coffee and tea- water is usually cooked and considered safe.
Do not buy plastic sacks of water from street vendors or small shops – it may be inexpensive, but you do not know how the water was handled. You do not need to bring things for treating the water; bottled water is readily available in various sizes and is reasonably priced.
Do not drink the tap water at your hotel or lodge.
Avoid Idi Amin’s Revenge – Travelers Diarrhea:
Travelers Diarrhea is one of the common ailments that beset travelers. To avoid that problem for our clients by using lodges with high hygienic standards.
We discourage eating food prepared by the roadside or street vendors. Contracting Idi Amin’s revenge (travelers’ diarrhea) is avoided by eating adequately cooked food that is hot when it arrives at your table.
Stay away from raw food such as salads, ice-cream, ice cubes. Most safari lodges follow proper food handling practices in most instances, and you should be fine in regards to salads. If you cannot peel it, do not eat it.
Buffets anywhere offer a breeding ground for travelers’ diarrhea. Look at how things are heated. Small candles do not do the job, especially when sauces and curries are involved.
Bring some Imodium (though not recommended by many doctors) and Ciprofloxacin, wan antibiotic, and welp in extreme cases. Follow directions, including instructions for getting fluids back into your dehydrated systems.
Rarely have we seen our clients (once) come down with extreme cases that left them unable to go about their Safari or travel-related itinerary. It is more common with ex-pats living here and throwing caution to the wind.
Bring some Imodium (many doctors do not recommend Imodium) and Ciprofloxacin antibiotic, which will help in extreme cases. Follow directions, including instructions for getting fluids back into your dehydrated systems.
Above all, wash your hands before eating or use a hand sanitizer.
Sunburns are easily acquired in Uganda or Rwanda’s equatorial sun, so get out the sunscreen lotion and put it on thick, and repeat applying it while out in the sun. We suggest that you pack sunscreen lotion and bring it with you.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat, and it will protect your neck and face. You can even purchase one locally. In many cases, you will find them where souvenirs are sold.
If you are going on a boat ride on the Nile or Lake Victoria, Lake Kivu- lotion is the key to avoid getting burned.
It is not much fun having a portion of your body burning up with a sunburn, prevent it, and with skin cancer on the increase, it is merely a wise move to do so.
Note: If you are taking doxycycline as an anti-malaria regimen, be aware that your skin will become sun-sensitive, and you need extra protection.
Scratches and Nicks – Prevent Infections:
Most scratches and nicks can be prevented by wearing protective clothing. Someone who is off to track gorillas should not be doing so in shorts and a tank-top – that is inviting trouble.
Tracking gorillas, chimpanzees, hikes in Rwanda or Uganda is often through the bush, thick forests where branches can easily scratch you. Some nettles can sting you, and insects that can bite you can lead to infections in our tropical climate.
The best prevention is to cover up with long trousers, long-sleeved shirts, hats, and in the case of gorilla tracking even using gardening gloves.
Skin infections caused by scratches, nicks, insect bites can easily break out and cause discomfort and problems. Clean the wound, cut, scrape, insect bite with a right antiseptic solution, and that will prevent infection or further infection in most cases…to begin with, dress smart, dress right for the African Wild.
Bilharzia is a nasty ailment, and it is hard to diagnose the disease that is found in many lakes in Uganda and Rwanda – even at times in ponds that are so-called Bilharzia Free.
The disease is transmitted through tiny snails that penetrate the skin and find their way into the liver. Symptoms are fever, cough, abdominal pain. It is best prevented by following some steps.
Avoid bathing, swimming, wading near a village on the lake – stay in the water for less than ten minutes. Dry your body thoroughly with a towel rubbing briskly. Swim early in the day, rather than later. Cover yourself with insect repellent before swimming – it may offer some protection. It is also recommended when White-Water rafting on the Nile at Jinja in Uganda.
Best advice – swim in a pool instead of a lake or slow-moving river despite someone saying it is Bilharzia Free.
Wasp attacks are a rarity but do happen. They were one-of-a-kind-eve as in 2018 when an American woman died of one during Gorilla Trekking in the Ruhija area of Bwindi Forest.
You can do things o help prevent such an attack and how you react if one should occur while you are on a Safari in Uganda.
We have created a particular page if you like more information as to what to do. How you dress is one of the most important things. Most visitors on Safari do not wear the protective clothing that they see Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers wear.
How to prevent a Wasp Attack or protect yourself during one – find the answer here.
Ebola is in Africa. It has been found that almost half of the outbreaks are not recognized since they come and go in isolated areas. Uganda has been hit by Ebola 5 times.
Each outbreak was contained faster than the previous one. When it comes to the Ebola response, Uganda is in a league of its own.
Ebola has reared its ugly presence once again in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The World Health organization has dispatched teams to aid in the fight against ebola.
If a new outbreak happens in Uganda, we will post it on our site. Uganda’s Ministry of Health has assembled one of the best response teams to infectious diseases such as Ebola. The Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, is highly respected for her past accomplishments with Ebola and in recent times with COVID-19.
Travel Insurance – it can be most useful in times of Emergency:
It is something every Safari Traveler should have for that added protection. Unexpected things can happen. Things that happen at home can also occur here. You may trip and fall, nothing to do with the Safari, it just happened, but now you need care.
We have had two medical evacs in our time. Both had to do with a client tripping, one in a bathroom. The other one stumbled, attempting to get out of the way of a vehicle. Both had adequate insurance.
We do not sell insurance but give you some guidelines on what to avoid and what to avoid.
Safaris in Uganda are out of the vehicle and on the Trail to see Mountain Gorillas or Chimpanzees. A moderate level of fitness is recommended.
We suggest that you prepare for your gorilla trek by becoming fit before gorilla tracking, volcano, or the Rwenzori Mountains climbs. It will make your time on a safari more enjoyable.
Being fit makes it easier for you as you trek the Gentle Giants of the Forest in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
Sedan chairs, where porters carry you in and out during your Gorilla Trek, are available. Let us know since we will have to arrange that service before your tracking day.
For most, being moderately fit is adequate. You are assigned a gorilla group with your input, age, and level of fitness.
Pack a First-Aid Kit:
First-Aid Kits come in all sizes and shapes. Pack the essentials. Below is a US Center for Disease Control Packing List that you can download. It goes beyond the First-Aid Kit and gives you choices as to what to take.
Prescription – be sure to have a copy of them with you. Keep medication n original containers. Customs look at things and decide whether to investigate further. Uganda is being used as a transit point for drugs going to places as far away as Europe.
Lodges usually have first aid kits, ask for plaster, and not a bandaid. We have first-aid kits in vehicles.
Local Clinics are often available for a first response before going to a better hospital. First-Aid kits are rarely needed but good to have.
We have First-Aid Kits in our vehicles. The driver-guides have had first-aid training and know what to do or where to take you in case of a problem on the safari
There is nothing like an exclusive Wellness Safari in Uganda with Kabiza Wilderness Safaris.
Unwind, Unplug, and regain your inner and outer balance on a Wellness Safari in the Pearl of Africa.
Stay at exclusive Luxury Lodges, many with an in-house Spa or other wellness programs.
Wellness Travel is on the increase worldwide. Wellness Safaris are relatively new, and we are one of the only Ugandan Tour Operators that offer them.
Wellness Safaris are individually crafted to suit you and your wishes. We can include wellness challenges that will push you to your limits or take the gentler safari route.
A Wellness Safari in Uganda, there is nothing that compares to it.
We’ve got you covered on a Safari with us:
We know Ug. We, we live and work here. We welcome Visitors, each welcoming them to the Pearl of Africa, your home.
Your wellbeing while on Safari is our Foremost concern, and we want you to feel comfortable on Sa. We, we want you to feel safe and secure.
None of our clients have become ill on Safari in over a decade of being in Business, and we are doing our part to keep it that way. Use your common sense, obtain some travelers’ insurance before coming to Uganda on Safari, and as our clients in the past, you will be fine.
We strongly urge you to purchase Travel Insurance for your Safari Trip to Uganda. If you happen to need the coverage, you will be glad that you followed our advice.
We, in turn, include AMREF Flying Doctors air-evacuation insurance for all of our clients. It covers the air-evacuation with a medical team to Nairobi, where your travel insurance takes over while receiving care at the renowned Aga Khan Hospital there.
Places for Medical Emergency – Uganda
- The Surgery – 2 Acacia Avenue, Kololo. Tel: 0414256003. 24 Hour Emergency Service Tel: 0752756003, Ambulance Service. Tel: 0752 756003
- International Hospital: Down from Rest Corner in Muyenga up from Kabalagala and then down toward Namuwongo. Everyone knows the International Hospital, Tel: 0312200400, Ambulance Service: 0772200400/1
- Sterling Dental Clinic: Located on Kampala Road in Bhatia House.