HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERNS ~ Gorilla Tour Booking Safaris

Is it safe to visit East Africa?
At Gorilla Tour Booking Safaris, our number one concern is your safety. If we felt that traveling to East Africa was unsafe we would not arrange African safaris. Certain countries are generally considered safe while others are not. We actively discourage travel to destinations that we consider unsafe for any reason. For example we were offering gorilla safaris in Congo and we stopped once we realized it was becoming un safe. That explains why we have not had any single incident since inception.
In general petty theft is common in Africa’s major cities and towns. Visitors should take the same care as they would normally take in any other destination worldwide. Keep a close watch on handbags, wallets, and cameras when walking in crowded places. Avoid walking at night and place your valuables in safe deposit boxes at hotels where they exist.
Whereas at safari lodges and tented camps you are typically far from human settlement and crime is virtually nonexistent. We still advise that valuables be locked away in a room safe or kept under the supervision of the camp or lodge manager while on safari.
Importantly, travel safety concerns arising from a negative event in one African country or region do not apply to Africa in total just as travel safety concerns in Florida do not apply to a trip to Lake Tahoe.
When planning an African safari, it is best to work with a company that has intimate knowledge of country you intend to visit – not just its wildlife and attractions but also its unique cultures, economy and government as safety issues often stem from these areas. All of Abacus African Vacations’ consultants are from Africa or have lived for many years in Africa. We are not travel agents reading from a catalog and travel guide books of tours. We work and stay in Africa from year to year and we are refreshed from time to time to expand our knowledge.


Aren’t wild animals dangerous? 
While viewing wildlife there is a degree of danger as the behavior of wild animals cannot be guaranteed. However most animals are frightened by the sight / smell of humans and rather than attack, will flee (unless cornered or provoked). Attacks on humans without provocation are rare if not non existence.
While on safari you will be accompanied by licensed guides who are well trained and armed with an amazing understanding of the wildlife with which they share their lives on a daily basis
At your tented camp or lodge it is not uncommon for wildlife to wander through as camps and lodges are typically not fenced. An attack on a sleeping traveler would be highly unusual. Never venture outside your accommodations at night without your guide. Always consult with your guide/s when in doubt.


What shots or medicines do we need before traveling? Or what are the medical health precautions and issues?
As vaccination requirements change on occasion, we recommend that you check with your local doctor or health department for the latest health precautions. The most important health consideration in East Africa is Malaria and it is strongly recommended that prophylactics (i.e., oral tablets) be taken as a preventative precaution. You are not legally required to have any vaccinations unless you are traveling from a region where yellow fever is prevalent, in which case an inoculation will be required against the disease.
Certainly you need not rush off and get every possible inoculation and take every pill under the sun just to travel to Africa.  Do not go overboard with the information put out by the disease control centers. We return time and again to Africa and to the bush and have only ever taken Malaria prevention tablets. A course of anti-Malaria tablets is advisable and many doctors advise a dose of Hepatitis A vaccine. We recommend that you visit with a local travel health specialist for complete details and safety.

More on Malaria: The most serious risk while traveling in East Africa on safari is malaria. For most travelers, a safari to Africa raises a number of red flags regarding health issues. For east Africa (Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania) health concerns and inoculations are the same as those for travel to South America or East Asia. The vast majority of traveler’s to Africa return from their safaris happy and healthy!
No matter where you travel in Africa a course of anti malaria tablets is essential and many doctors advice a dose of Hepatitis A vaccine. All childhood vaccinations should be up to date. We recommend that you visit with a local travel health specialist in your home town for further details.

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by the parasite called Plasmodia. There are four identified species of this parasite causing human malaria, namely, Plasmodium vivax, P. falciparum, P. ovale and P. malariae. It is transmitted by the female Anopheles Mosquito. It is a disease that can be treated in just 48 hours, yet it can cause fatal complications if the diagnosis and treatment are delayed. It is re-emerging as the # 1 Infectious Killer and it is the Number 1 Priority Tropical Disease of the World Health Organization. The CDC estimates that 300-500 million cases of malaria occur each year worldwide and 1.5 million to 3 million people die of malaria every year (85% of these occur in Africa), accounting for about 4-5% of all fatalities in the world.

Humans get malaria from the bite of a female malaria-infected Anopheles mosquito. When a mosquito bites an infected person, it ingests microscopic malaria parasites found in the person’s blood. The malaria parasite must grow in the mosquito for a week or more before infection can be passed to another person. If, after a week, the mosquito then bites another person, the parasites go from the mosquito’s mouth into the person’s blood. The parasites then travel to the person’s liver, enter the liver’s cells, grow and multiply. During this time when the parasites are in the liver, the person has not yet felt sick. The parasites leave the liver and enter red blood cells; this may take as little as 8 days or as many as several months. Once inside the red blood cells, the parasites grow and multiply. The red blood cells burst, freeing the parasites to attack other red blood cells. Toxins from the parasite are also released into the blood, making the person feel sick. If a mosquito bites this person while the parasites are in his or her blood, it will ingest the tiny parasites. After a week or more, the mosquito can infect another person. The safari camps in Southern Africa are not located in densely populated areas and this greatly reduces the risk of being infected by malaria.
Anopheles mosquitoes start biting by late evening and the peak of biting activity is at midnight and early hours of morning. Protect yourself against the bites in the evenings and early mornings by applying mosquito repellant, wearing garments that cover the body as much as possible, and at bedtime, by using mosquito nets without fail.

All of the camps provide mosquito repellant in the tents and in the lounges and on game drives. Most also provide mosquito “coils”, an incense-like slow-burning substance that produces a smoky repellent that can be lit inside the tent before heading for dinner so that the tent is cleared by bed time. Finally, the majority of the camps also provide a mosquito netting over the beds to keep the “mossies” out while you sleep. Wearing lightweight long pants instead of shorts and covering the ankles especially is also very helpful during dinner and in the evening hours. Use the bug spray after sundown on game drives as well.
Remember that the best precaution against malaria is to reduce the likelihood of being bitten. The next best precaution is to begin and complete a full regimen of anti-malarial medication for your African safari.  The medication usually begins before you leave and is completed after returning home.  Check on the internet or with your physician for further information.


What foods should we avoid?
What about drinking water? In the vast majority of cases it is safe to eat ALL of the foods offered by lodges and camps as they take great care to ensure that food is prepared in a healthy manner. If you are really worried about contracting a “stomach bug” don’t eat salads, avoid ice cubes in drinks (many places use purified water for ice cubes – simply ask if you are concerned), and eat only fruits that have thick skins which are peeled (oranges, bananas).
Although water in many cities and small towns is purified and safe to drink, it is wise to drink only bottled drinks which are readily available (ask that water is opened in front of you as they may try to reuse the container at some of the larger, lower quality, hotels). In addition don’t swallow water during a shower and use purified water for brushing teeth. Don’t worry – bottled water is readily available in all lodges and camps.


Are there a lot of insects?
Generally no. As an example the peak wildlife viewing months of May through October in southern Africa occur during the dry winter when insects are not a problem. Most travelers never see more than 4 or 5 mosquitoes a day. For those of you traveling at other times there will be more insects however for most travelers the positive aspects of their safari experience far outweigh any annoyance caused by insects.

PACKING LIST

We’ve never been to Uganda before, and are unsure of what to pack in terms of weather appropriateness. Any tips?
1. 2 –3 pairs of light weight slacks/trousers – that can dry quickly (if wearing on treks)
2. 1 pair of shorts
3. 1-2 long sleeved shirts
4. 3 short sleeved t-shirts
5. A waterproof and windproof jacket like a Gortex
6. 1 sweater or sweatshirt
7. 1 skirt (for women)
8. Swimsuit (and a plastic bag)
9. Strong waterproof walking boots – pants should be tucked into socks and boots while
Trekking (heavy soled rain boots also work well)
10. Pair of sports sandals like Tevas
11. Hat-wide brim or with a visor for sun protection
12. Sleepwear
13. Underwear
14. Lightweight wool socks
15. Gloves – gardening or similar (for gorilla trekking)
Miscellaneous
• Sunscreen
• Sunglasses with neck strap
• Insect repellent with DEET
• Small day pack
• Flashlight
• Binoculars
• Alarm clock- though our staff will wake you!
• Ear plugs
• Extra batteries – Some safari Lodges have facilities for recharging batteries
• Camera and extra lenses
• Film particularly fast film for the gorillas.
• Personal toiletries
• Prescription medicines and possibly prescription itself
• Kleenex tissues
• Wash cloth and plastic bag (if needed)
• Ziplocs and other plastic bags for wet clothes
• Sewing kit (needle, thread, safety pins)
• Small notebook

• First Aid Kit including anti-diarrhoea medicine, rehydration sachets, aspirin, cold medication, antiseptic cream, band-aids, motion sickness pills, lip balm, eye drops and personal medication.

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Gorilla Tour Booking Safaris is one of the top holiday brands in Uganda that exclusively caters to the unique needs of tourists who are interested in Gorilla Trekking Adventures,  Wildlife Safaris, Bird Watching Tours, Cultural Packages, Mountaineering Adventures, Quad Biking & Cycling Tours, Camping and Honeymoon Trips  With a global approach and local knowledge, we take your Ugandan and Rwanda holiday/Safari experience to an all-new level.
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