Staying Healthy on Safari in Uganda & Rwanda
Simple Health Advice – Tips – Information for Safari Travelers to Uganda & Rwanda
Uganda – Rwanda Health Advice – Hints- Information for Travelers – Enjoy your Safari in Uganda and Rwanda without getting sick b.y following our Health Advice – Tips – Information while traveling on Safari in Uganda or Rwanda. Simply follow our advice, most safari travelers do not get ill while on safari with us.
Please keep in mind that your greatest health threat is traffic accidents in Africa – where we have traffic rules but they are often ignored – one reason we strongly recommend against self-drive in Uganda and Rwanda.
Crossing the road can cause you a lot more problems than all the tropical diseases you might be worried about. Simple steps as outlined below will keep you well during your safari in Uganda. Do not drink the tap water, avoid juices made with water such as passion fruit juice unless it was purified, avoid ice unless purified water was used in making it.
Avoid Street and Roadside food offerings unless you have a strong stomach. Avoid fruit that you have to eat without peeling.
Avoid swimming in lakes or rivers near shore or villages, avoid swimming in lakes or rivers where crocodiles or hippos. Just a few common sense approaches to keeping well and healthy during your stay in Africa.
The Best Way to staying Well on Safaris
Here are our Health Advice – Tips – Information for Uganda and Rwanda Travelers that will keep you well during your Stay in Uganda.
Get them from your local doctor, or travel clinic in some cases in the US – the Country Health Department.
Yellow fever is required if you have visited another country where it exists and it is suggested to have to be on the safe side. The Recent findings are showing that one Yellow Fever Vaccination will last a lifetime but regulations have not been changed to keep up with research.
You can get an exemption from your doctor – children under 9 years are exempt but you must use deet based insect repellent or the Australian RID to protect against daytime mosquitoes that spread yellow fever.
Most of the time you are not asked by immigration officials to verify that you have had a vaccination against yellow fever.
Other immunizations to Consider:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B for longer trips and where you will be with children
- Tetanus Booster
- Meningococcal Meningitis
- Yellow fever
Most of the above are not taken by tourists coming to Uganda, but it is best to check with your medical provider for recommendations that fit you and your lifestyle.
Malaria poses the single biggest health threat to travelers to Africa and to Uganda and to Rwanda, though elevations above 3000 meters are malaria free and in the higher elevations of Uganda and Rwanda you have less of a malaria threat from female mosquitoes that spread the disease.
Your anti malarial regiment should consist of Malarone – which is considered the best but also the most expensive medication. Doxycycline which works – but has a side-effect of making some sun-sensitive and mefloquine or also referred to as Larium. the latter causes some nightmares and other discomforts
It is Malarone, doxycycline and or mefloquine (Larium). These are the standard. Malarone is the best and most expensive, doxycycline makes some sensitive to the sun, mefloquine gives some of us nightmares. Start your regiment before you arrive in Uganda and follow directions as given by your healthcare provider.
One of the biggest problems with being bitten by malaria carrying mosquito is clothing, the wrong clothing. Stay away from shorts, short-sleeved tops, wear long-trousers, long-sleeved shirts – stay with neutral colors, no black and socks – malaria carrying mosquitoes tend to attack at low levels such as ankles.
Malaria carrying mosquitoes are at work at night. In the daytime there are Dengue Fever carrying mosquitoes and using insect repellent will do the job to keep them at bay. Certainly not as common as Malaria and you do not hear of many Ugandans or Rwandans who become infected with Dengue Fever and not insect repellent spraying visitors.
Part of staying healthy on a Safaris is wearing the right, protective Clothing, shoes, and hat. A gorilla or Chimpanzee Trek is not a walk in the park. Yes, 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. Taking the gorilla trek, for example, shorts or tank tops would expose you to nettles, thorns, shrubs, pesky flies. The best antidote is wearing protective clothing.
Even on the Savannah, long sleeved shirts, long trousers, hat, boots are your best protection against the troublesome Tsetse Flies. The neutral color of clothing is also of importance, avoid the color 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 to brush your teeth and avoid swallowing it while taking a shower. Bottled water is readily available and major brands are considered safe. In Uganda fake water has been sold, however, an effort has been made by the government and manufacturers to only have safe water on store shelves. Make sure that the seal is in tact. We provide bottled water to our clients on safari.
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 boiled 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.
A most common ailment for travelers to the third world- tropical climates. Rwanda has become quite strict in inspecting food-establishments to meet the criteria of proper food-handling, sanitary and hygienic practices and for the most part, there are no roadside food vendors as in Uganda.
The key to staying healthy and not coming down with a case of Idi Amin’s revenge (traveler’s diarrhea) is to cook properly cooked food that is hot when it arrives at your table. If food is piping hot – even if sanitary conditions were not followed you will be fine.
Stay away from that are raw such as salads, ice-cream, ice cubes. Most safari lodges follow good 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 – check how things are heated – mere candles does not do the job, especially when sauces and curries are involved.
Bring some Imodium (though not recommended by many doctors) and Ciprofloxacin which is an antibiotic and will help in extreme cases. Follow directions including instructions for getting fluids back into your dehydrated systems.
Rarely have we seen tourists (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.
Just eat properly cooked food and if it is not hot send it back. Wash your hands before eating with soap and water. Stay away from foods that are raw such as salads, fruit salads, ice cream and buffets with candles underneath them.
Bring some Imodium (Imodium is not recommended by many doctors) and Ciprofloxacin which is an antibiotic and will help in extreme cases. Follow directions including instructions for getting fluids back into your dehydrated systems.
You can get a safe drip – which will rehydrate you at most clinics – you can also use soda with some salt to rehydrate you and get you feeling better
Rarely have we have seen tourists come down with such extreme cases on safari with us, but have seen it more common with ex-pats living here and throwing caution to the wind.
In following the above avoidance suggestions – wash your hands before eating and after going to the washroom – you are increasing avoidance of Cholera and Typhoid.
Bites, bites, bites and more insect Bites:
Not only are there mosquitoes that infect you with malaria, but there are other dudus (insects) that can cause havoc such as Tsetse flies. The best is to spray your body with insect repellent.
Wear loose cotton clothing. I like jeans, even though they are heavy, and this is a warm climate, I find they protect quite well. Wear long sleeved shirts and avoid shorts in the evenings.
The best protective clothing on Safari is long trousers and long-sleeved shirts that is especially true when you are hiking or doing a nature walk.
In your hotel or lodge, have them spray in the evening as you go out for dinner. In many up-market hotels, it is automatically done as they turn down your bed for the night.
Please note: Budget – shoe-string- even moderate hotels, lodges do not make any effort to eradicate insects which include mosquitoes that can keep you up all night and there is nothing like spending a night with a kamikaze flying insects buzzing around your head. Purchase a spray can of DOOM and spray your room. Include closets – they hide in the corners and the upper closets also.
Use the mosquito net and a fan, flying things do not like to move against the wind created by the fan.
Avoid moving barefooted outside – there is a slight chance you can come down with a case of jiggers – sand fleas. In Rwanda flip-flop sandals are forbidden in order to eliminate jiggers.
Tsetse Flies can carry sleeping sickness and are found in most savanna parks of East Africa including in Akagera Park in Rwanda, and Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley Park, Lake Mburo Park and Queen Elizabeth Park.
Most DEET based repellent does not work with Tsetse flies – the Australian product RID does. Do not wear blue-tops, shirts in a savannah park, that color attracts Tsetse flies.
Please note that incidents of sleeping sickness have not been recorded in Uganda and Rwanda for years. Tsetse flies are simply an annoyance in Rwanda’s and Uganda’s Savanna Parks.
Spraying against tsetse flies also takes place, most visitors to our Savannah parks do not notice the nuisance as in some other East African Savannah Parks.
Sunburns are easily acquired in the equatorial sun of Uganda or Rwanda, so get out the lotion and put it on thick and repeat.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat – you can purchase even a locally made one.
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 simply a wise move to do so.
Best to purchase Lotions in your country of origin rather than in Rwanda or Uganda, the price will be lower and also availability.
Scratches and Nicks – prevent Infections:
Most scratches and nicks can be prevented by wearing the clothing. Someone who is off to track gorillas should not be doing so in shorts and a tank-top – that is inviting trouble.
Tracking of gorillas, chimpanzees, hikes in Rwanda or Uganda is often through the bush, thick forests where branches can scratch you easily. There are also nettles that can sting you and insects that can bite you that can lead to infections in our tropical climate.
The best prevention is cover up with long trousers, long-sleeved shirts, hat 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, scratch, insect bite with a good 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 – hard to diagnose the disease that is found in many lakes in Uganda and Rwanda – even at times in lakes 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…later on many suffering are simply tired and drained. It can be easily treated but 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. This is also recommended when White-Water rafting the Nile at Jinja in Uganda.
Best advice – swim in a pool instead of a lake or slow-moving river in spite of someone saying it is Bilharzia Free.
HIV- AIDS and STV’s are a problem in Africa, and in Uganda and Rwanda. Fortunately, most who come on safari do not partake in the nightlife of Kampala or the more subdued Kigali Nights.
Rwanda’s HIV rate is about 10% presently and about 7 % in Uganda, mosquito bar girls exceed 50% infected with HIV and many of them have a high rate of STD’s.
You are playing Russian Roulette. Condom use is a must if you cannot abstain. Many prostitutes are known to also rob you of everything, wallet, money, passport, watch, cell phone while you sleep. Recent police reports have shown that some use chloroform on the body to knock you out and then take your things.
This has happened in up-market hotels. Here in Uganda the slogan is ABC – A=Abstention, B=Be Committed, C=Condom or the Born Again (Balakole) which is mostly Pentecostal) and evangelical communities like to substitute C=Christ.
Statistics to sober you-almost 60% of prostitutes have STD’s and almost 50% are HIV positive. In recent years the HIV infection rate has been on the increase, attributable to the myth that ARV drugs cure (deal with symptoms, that circumcision protects you totally from HIV (reality it reduces the chances).
In the 90’s there was a joint effort from the President and his wife along with the faith communities and everyone else that joined forces to educate people about HIV. This educational process has waned and changed and the results are higher percentages of new infections.
Rwanda presently has a 10% HIV Infection rate – that figure dramatically rises prostitutes to over 50% – Stay safe – ABC.
Uganda and Rwanda along with all of East and Central Africa are Ebola Free. The Ebola Outbreak was in West Africa which is 5000 kilometers away from Kampala. If there is an Ebola Outbreak in Portland Maine you do not cancel your plans to visit Portland Oregon. European countries such as Spain were closer to the Ebola Outbreak than East or Southern Africa and yet the Ebola Hysteria swept through Western Countries such as the US with thousands canceling their safari plans for Africa.
Uganda checks every incoming passenger entering the country for Ebola including at the Entebbe International Airport.
Uganda sent teams of medical professionals to the affected countries in West Africa and one Doctor died there giving himself while keeping others alive. Uganda and Rwanda are Ebola Free.
Uganda and Rwanda are in what is called the Yellow Fever belt, normally Yellow Fever Outbreaks are normally in an isolated village such as the latest one in some small villages near Masaka.
The villages are far off the beaten tourist path and if you are on safari you will never get near them.
Prevention is a Yellow Fever Immunization that you can present to Ugandan officials when you enter Uganda or Rwanda. If you enter without a certificate you will receive an immunization at the point of entry like Entebbe or Kigali, it takes 10 days to become effective. Take it in your country 30 days prior to your Safari.
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 International Clinic and it was founded by Dr. Ian Clark who still lives in Kampala and is a weekly commentator in the New Vision Newspaper and was elected by a wide margin to the position of Local Commissioner 3 in the Makindye area of Kampala. It is the hospital that I use. Tel :0312200400, Ambulance Service: 0772200400/1
- Sterling Dental Clinic: Located on Kampala Road in Bhatia House.
Places for Medical Emergency – Rwanda
- King Faisal Hospital – Kigali
- Central Hospital of the University of Kigali
It is rare that visitor on Safari in Uganda or Rwanda becomes ill – the reality is that lodges take the utmost care to take care of their visitors and most safari companies such as Kabiza Wilderness Safaris will do their utmost to keep you healthy and well…enjoy Uganda, the Pearl of Africa…Rwanda – the Land of a Thousand Hills.
If you have any Health Advice – Tips – Information questions – please contact us