Staying Healthy & Well on Safari in Uganda
Staying Healthy on Safari Advice – Tips and Information that will keep you Well
Staying Healthy on Safari Advice for Travelers to Uganda. Enjoying your Safari in Uganda and Rwanda without getting sick by following our Health Advice – Tips – Information and for starters put aside the myths and wrong perception that Africa, and Uganda in particular. The reality is that you are more likely to become sick, eating a contaminated Salad in the USA than coming down with Malaria on a Safari in Uganda.
Africa’s Diseases get enlarged through the press which most often is not near the area affected by an outbreak. This leads to the perpetuation of the myth that Africa is a continent rife with disease, dangerous, and a continent to stay away from, and that includes the Pearl of Africa, Uganda.
The reality is quite different from the Perceptions from afar. The Myths and false news reports about Africa and Uganda often are about tropical diseases that might cause apprehension about traveling here but rarely beset travelers, and none of our clients have become ill on a safari.
The dreaded Ebola has visited Uganda in the past, and if any country is prepared to deal with outbreaks of fevers or viruses, it is Uganda. The track record receives high international recognition. The Zika Virus has its roots in Zika Forest near Entebbe Airport back in the late 1940s but is not found in Uganda today,
Crossing the road in downtown Kampala 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.
Staying Healthy on Safari Advice begins with Common Sense – do not leave it at home, but bring it on Safari, you will be glad that you did.
Know the Risk Factors for you, know what you need to do to stay healthy on a safari in Uganda. It is always best to know before you go to know the risk factors and how to prevent illnesses such as Malaria, Intestinal Ailments. Know Before You Go once again, the Common Sense Advice that we can give you. Do Remember, we have never had a client wind up in a local hospital due to an illness they contracted on Safari with us.
Know before you go – Staying Healthy on Safari Advice – Tips – Information
Get them from your local doctor familiar with the Tropics such as 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 in Rwanda 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.
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 for longer trips and where you will be with children
- Tetanus Booster
- Meningococcal Meningitis
- Yellow Fever Is required for Entry into Uganda
Tourists coming on a Safari does not take most of the above, but it is best to check with your medical provider for recommendations that fit you and your lifestyle.
Proof of Yellow Fever Inoculation is required when you enter Uganda. There are no active cases of Yellow Fever in Uganda presently, however, we are in what is called the World Wide Yellow Fever Zone, and the vaccination is preventative Step. The Inoculation is good for life. If you want to enter Uganda and do not have a Yellow Fever Certificate, you will be required to be inoculated at your expense at the point of entry such as Entebbe International Airport.
Malaria poses the single biggest health threat to travelers to Africa and Uganda and Rwanda, though elevations above 3000 meters are malaria free and in the higher elevations of Uganda 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 (Generic Versions are now available. 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
One of the biggest problems with being bitten by the malaria-carrying mosquito is wearing 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.
Tsetse Flies and sleeping sickness- Uganda’s national parks, like elsewhere in East Africa, came into being when Sleeping Sickness was brought on by the Tsetse fly. That was over 100 years ago and up to the 1920s. Tsetse flies are still here, but there is no sleeping sickness in the savannah parks.
Malaria-carrying mosquitoes are at work at night. In the daytime Dengue Fever carrying mosquitoes are the menace 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 who become infected with Dengue Fever and not insect repellent spraying visitors.
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. 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 only to have safe water on store shelves. Make sure that the seal is intact. 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 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.
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 adequately cooked food that is hot when it arrives at your table. If food is piping hot – even if sanitary conditions were not followed, you would be fine.
Stay away from that are raw 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 – check how things are heated – small 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 (many doctors do not recommend Imodium) 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
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. Purchase a spray can of DOOM and spray your room. Include closets – they hide in the corners and the upper cupboards also. Use the mosquito net and a fan, flying things do not like to move against the wind created by the fan. Avoid walking barefooted outside – there is a slight chance you can come down with a case of jiggers – sand fleas.
Tsetse Flies can carry sleeping sickness (no cases of sleeping sickness in Uganda in recent years) 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.
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 merely 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.
Note: If you are taking doxycycline as your as anti-malaria regiment, 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 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, 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 – 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…later on many suffering are merely 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 on 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. 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. Recent trends have shown that ABC is not working in areas such as Kabale, Fort Portal, and Hoima.
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).
Wasp attacks are a rarity but do happen. They were one-of-a-kind-events as in 2018 when an American woman died of one during Gorilla Trekking in the Ruhija area of Bwindi Forest.
There are things that you can do to 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 Ebola response, Uganda is in a league of its own.
In June of 2019, Ebola crossed over into Uganda with a family the Democratic Republic Congo that was seeking medical attention. They brought Ebola with them, and it was contained in a matter of days.
We have an Ebola Updates page where you can find the advice that you need s to how to avoid Ebola should there be an outbreak.
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, one stumbling attempting to get out of the way of a vehicle. Both had adequate insurance.
We do not sell insurance but give you some guidelines as what to look for 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. accommodations can be made who are not as fit, including Sedan chairs for Gorilla Treks.
We suggest some walks or hikes before your safari mainly it includes Gorilla Trekking or Chimpanzee Trekking. Hikes or Volcano Climbs fall into the same category.
A right level of fitness makes it easier for you as you trek the Gentle Giants of the Forest in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
Before you, Safari takes some good hike back home, and you will be fine here.
Pack a First-Aid Kit:
First-Aid Kits come in all sizes and shapes. Pack the essentials. Below is a US Center of 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 has been used as a transit point for drugs going to places as far away as in Europe.
Lodges usually have first aid kits, ask for plaster and not a bandaid. We have first-aid kits in vehicles.
Local Clinics are readily available for a first response before going to a better hospital. First-Aid kits are rarely needed but good to have.
We know Uganda, we live here and work here. We welcome Visitors each welcoming them to the Pearl of Africa, your home.
Your well being while on Safari is our Foremost concern, and we want you to feel comfortable on Safari, 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.
Should an infectious disease such as Ebola break out in Uganda while you are on Safari we will give you the options that you have as to cancel the remaining safari or make changes in your itinerary should that be necessary.
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.
Health Advice – Tips – Information. The visitor on Safari in Uganda rarely 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…