Getting ready for my Safari trip
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redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States



rdcny

Robert, I really appreciate your extensive and informative response to my posting. And not to mention youíre impressive credentials PhD no less.

First of all, I agree with you 100%. You canít follow to the letter ďallĒ the
Recommendations made by the CDC. Its like those travel warnings made by the State Department. They are very broad and almost like a boilerplate.

I usually do my research from several sources then make my own conclusion, except my final decision as to the type of prophylaxis to take for malaria.

I am not the type of person that pops meds at a drop of a hat. As a matter of fact, I have even stopped taking all vitamins and minerals, since I done some research and based on my healthy life style I donít see any need, except my daily low dosage of aspirin period. Besides, I donít want to enhance the scent of flavor of my blood to attract mosquitoes by taking any vitamins before my trip.

You said that you donít like to take any anti-malaria drugs. So what do you do to protect yourself? I couldnít do as you do, heck Iím one of those lucky or unlucky people that attract mosquitoes no matter where I go. I got a bad case while in MN big time.

I started taking Acidophilus for about a week and will continue until my return. I donít think that I would not take any type of anti-malaria meds before or during my trip. But I feel that docyclyine would be the lesser of all evils, with the exception of the side effects that can cause extreme sunburn.

I am only concerned while traveling in Zanzibar, not during the safari trips. Iím also planning to go snorkeling for at least a day, and I will be wearing a diverís shirt with 50 SPF, but canít take any chances.

I am also aware that Eastern Africa, SP Tanzania you need to protect yourself against malaria with more potent prevention because the type of malaria that its common in the region.

Interesting enough I was watching a Nat. Geography DVD the other night about re-tracing Henry Morgan Stanleyís journey, and they showed one of the local man got early symptoms of Malaria, not a pretty sight.

Definitely, I will be asking the local guides how they cope with it, but Iím sure they would have a different type of immune system since they live there. I met a Kenyan the other day and he told me that he has to take meds when he comes to the US, not when he goes to Kenya.

But the cost of the meds he told me they are very inexpensive compared to what we pay. I was not surprised.

I am going on a Camping safari, not permanent, or tented. But according to the research and my extensive exchange of emails, they will provide mosquito nets. Today when I was at REI saw one of those mosquitoesí suits, but I thought that would be overkill. I will be wearing long sleeve, and long pants at night. And I might even bring a hat with a net that I took to Alaska.

I think Iíll be ok if I take some precaution, i.e., taking anti-malaria meds, spraying my bags and clothes with permethrin, and applying DEET. I canít or wonít take the kitchen sink. As it stands, it sure feels like it to me, albeit Iím a light packer. The heaviest stuff is my electronic and photography gear.

Iím still not too thrilled about DEET. The guy at REI told me to apply it sparingly and to wash my hands as soon as Iím done. But I know it will run off. I need to keep an eye on my camera. Iím going to take my cheap watch just in case.

Travel clinics are a huge business. They operate from the fear factor. If you read my previous postings how I feel about wasting my $$$$ going to a travel clinic to get the same information that they get from the same source.

I kind like the option we have here to go to a pharmacy that specializes and is licensed to administer vaccines for traveling. The pharmacist told me ďyou need to do research before you come here but itís totally customized and you do your own shopping, not getting a fits-for-all prevention strategy.

The local doctors are not too thrill about patients going to the travel clinics at the pharmacy, because they can loose some revenue.

You sound like this is your field or contagious disease or similar thereof. I can see that you have spent a lot of time researching about this field.

I think I have changed my mind about getting a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis B. I am not too worried getting from the places Iím planning to visit, but the fact that I would need a blood transfusion, that is something that Iíve been thinking about it. And after you mentioned it, I have seen the pros would far exceed the cons. Yes, I already had TT shots, and pneumonia, but not Measles vaccines.

JB

I agree with you, as I already told Robert, I couldnít go on this trip without taking any type of preventive malaria prophylaxis. This is a case where ďdo as the Romans doĒ would apply.

I couldnít travel to Eastern Africa like a native; my immune system knows that and would react accordingly.



Celbrett
Registered: Apr 24, 2008
Total Posts: 328
Country: United States

Great information here from both points of view.

A few more immunizations I have come accross in my research that I don't recall being mentioned:

1. Typhoid
2. Polio Booster
3. Yellow Fever (FWIR both Kenya & Tanzania get tagged as if you are are traveling from, you must have proof of immunization)



rdcny
Registered: Mar 09, 2004
Total Posts: 1042
Country: United States

Where to begin...If you have not been to Africa then reading about malaria makes this disease seem something one might encounter every day (well at least the mosquitoes that carry malaria). In East Africa I have traveled through much of Tanzania (including Zanzibar), much of Malawi, and parts of Kenya and (the) Zambia.

As one of of the people who posted info above mentioned (EBH?) on his trips to Africa he rarely sees mosquitoes...someone else mentioned he did not see mosquitoes in one place he visited but over by Lake Victoria he did. For me, crime (as in getting mugged) is a much more serious problem (especially in capitol cities in Kenya and Zambia) than malaria. Yes malaria exists and people (including tourists) get it...but you stand a very good chance of not getting malaria, especially of you dress properly and are aware of the behavior of mosquitoes. Ultimately it will come down to how comfortable you are with your decision to proceed. I remember before I first went to Africa in 1995-96. I read all the literature and noted how important some sources made the need to take drugs (at that time lariam/mefloquine). So I took the medication (starting 4 weeks before heading to Africa) - and while in Africa, there were other things that were much more of a problem...like clean water (I was not on safari - I traveled by bus on that first trip - and I stayed around all the Great Lakes - I was most interested in the cichlid fishes - the greatest diversity of freshwater fish in the world). Malaria was not the problem near the lakes - but people using the lakes as a sewer system was very bad...I wanted to go snorkeling to look at the wonderful fish but some areas were just ruined by human feces...the water was laden with bacteria...and if I went in the water and had a small scratch, it became infected...or if I swallowed some of the water, my stomach became ill...so though malaria was a giant scare in my mind before I left, what I encountered on the ground were different, and very real, problems.

For anyone going for the first time, fine take the medication. It is expensive and does take a toll on your body. But it will protect you physically and mentally. Once you return and plan your next trip to Africa, I think you will plan differently for what is important in terms of problems. Remember, you are likely staying in fine places that cater to western tourists...so the risk of getting malaria is there but much less than anyone living in a small hut in a remote village or even in the Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar where there are nicer (concrete block) houses. All of the tourist hotels will have mosquito netting - just bring some scotch or masking tape to cover over any holes...and don't sleep against the mesh netting!!!!

So if you get the medications at a discount, or if the worry of malaria is strong - take the medications - it will comfort your mind (and usually other family members who are not going with you). But do go to a bookstore and look at the traveler's guides to East Africa. Read the ones geared toward people traveling independently (in other words not the high end guides, like Fodor's, with lots of pretty photos...read the guides the students and others on a budget use. See what they say about malaria!

Regarding Zanzibar: I stayed in a person's house he had made into a small hotel. It had three rooms...at night I could hear the mosquitoes but the mesh netting protected me very well. Zanzibar was probably the place with the most mosquitoes - at night...but wear long sleeves, long pants and use deet and you will be OK walking around at night...and in your hotel make sure to set up the mesh netting properly. By the way, Zanzibar is safe at night...It is a wonderful Islamic place.

How to get vaccinations cheap? Well try the health clinic at the international airport in your country - they keep a big supply on hand and give these injections all the time. OR, if you travel through a place like Bangkok, Thailand - you can get boosters for about $30 USD each...sometimes less if you contact a doctor in town. There are books entitled, "Traveler's Health" - in the bookstore often on the same shelf as the travel guides to Africa. Take a look at one and read in the coffee shop - you can learn much for how to get inexpensive medications - indeed what types of medications you should consider when you are traveling...Finally, if you are going to be in a capitol city in Africa (or the airport in one of those cities), ask if they have a health clinic at the airport - it is possible to get medications there. Here in Thailand I can get ciproflaxin for about $1 USD a pill; in the USA it is at least $10/pill...so you have to do your research to save money...think outside the box, etc. There are ways to get medications inexpensively; to travel cheaply...and live safely. You have to do the research though...otherwise you fall into the "money trap" which is a big business for health and tourism. But there are other ways of doing things...I realize that I have had to learn alternate ways through the years - and for the first time I traveled I was caught in the typical take the drugs syndrome (and travel in western style everywhere) - but you will learn to do things a different way...if you want to try. It is not for everyone - it depends on your comfort level...and often if you are traveling with children (they are very vulnerable to diseases of all kinds because their immune system is not well-formed just yet), or if traveling with a wife - then it is more difficult to take alternate modes. But think - how is it that locals live or ex-pats live in these countries - they cannot afford to take medications and long-term use of any of these drugs is not good for your body...but yet these people live and seem to be happy...(but yes some do get malaria).

If you really want to scare yourself, read about the other diseases in East Africa: schistosomiasis (do not ever ever ever swim in a small pond that has no fish); the Tumbu fly; River Blindness...Tse-tse fly (I have swatted these with tennis raquets from the back of moving pick-up trucks in Tanzania), filiarisasis...Bot-fly - the list goes on and on! Africa is fascinating for diseases of all types. Mostly I was a afraid of street crime (especially at night - don't go out after dark in any African city - or take a guide with a gun), and bad food that made me ill (bring cipro).

Mostly bring your good luck and a sense of caution and wonder. Chances are if you take precautions you will be fine. I cannot guarantee that and indeed, you might get something in Africa...but you will get treated for it and be fine again. Overall you will be amazed with the people...I went in search of animals, fish and the African experience - it turned out for me that the people: their kindness, modesty and cheerfulness was the most salient experience...when a group of children begins to sing for you...or people get into a rhythm beating drums, sticks, the ground, the walls - and sing to it...a very moving experience. To think how much of Africa was treated by white and Arabic slave traders - yet see the kindness of such poor people still toward visitors such as myself - that is what I remember always...Lions are good...elephants are scary but amazing...the cichlid fish glorious. But I remember the people most in my heart!

Hakuna Matata!!!!

rdc



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

I also got the YF shot you have to in order to get entry + the
Visa

The others you listed its a judgement call not a requirement

See our previous postings about CDC's broad - fits - for all
Requirements vs other resources = your own customized
solution



rdcny
Registered: Mar 09, 2004
Total Posts: 1042
Country: United States

Yes to go to Zanzibar you will need evidence of Yellow Fever inoculation (protection lasts for about a year). However, yellow fever is not a problem where you will be in Zanzibar and Tanzania...it is a way for the government to make money. At the ferry terminal you will be able to purchase a fake "stamp" that says you have been inoculated.

If you can, take the overnight ferry (water is calmer at night) to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam. On the ferry your big problem will be people trying to sneak a smoke in the enclosed sleeping area (bring sleeping bag/pad)...and as is typical in Africa: you will be on a huge, nice boat (ferry)...but there is one way (walkway) on and off...not a very efficient or safe way of moving people on/off a ship. But this is Africa and there are so many contradictions...you'll see.

Typhoid - not worth the worry...occurs in epidemics and outbreaks - you will be long gone from an area by the time typhoid hits.



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

Rd

I must admit I had never expected my post would evolved into such an interesting thread. But more importantly, its the caliber of the people that have been participating on this thread. There has been no rudeness, making quick judgement or being condescending to each other.

Unlike, other forums I have to be honest I have tried to stay away from some of them because the behavior has been well, senseless childish. I'm glad that we have maintained a civil adult level and I thank you all for that.

I have a Safari trip in my bucket list for so many years, and I have been getting more excited as I'm nearing my departure date. However, I'm not sure if I'm getting more excited about going on a Safari or going to Zanzibar. I can't wait to be there and seeing the architecture at close range, and the culture, and the people wearing their regular garb.

I know there is a strong influence of Portuguese architecture in ZNZ. I'm almost anticipating that in a small way, similar to Macao Island across from Hong Kong.

I'm traveling solo, so no need to be worried about the kids of the wife, and that's why I need to be very careful stay healthy in my travels, and believe me I have had my share of getting really sick in several countries.

Now back to the malaria. I just finished a phone conversation with the tour operator, he is from Tanzania. He has contracted Malaria so he knows what its like. He suggested that I should take some preventive anti-malaria medication, even though in order to contract Malaria I have to be bitten by a mosquito that is already carrying the disease.

He also told me that the tents don't have mosquito nets but the tents would. I should keep the tent all zipped up at all times. And yet, I don't want to take a net, do you think I'd be fine

Taking the anti-malaria med. would protect the white cells. As a matter of fact, his girlfriend is caucasian (Canadian). They both were tour guides in November, she took Melarone ( so side effects).

I have no problem buying meds in a foreign country. I have done that many times and you can get almost anything meds w/o a prescription. But this time, I'm just going to use the meds that I'll buy from the US throughout the entire trip.

I don't travel with any type of paranoia, but by the same token practice common sense as you mentioned. I also don't take any chances walking on the beach bear footed. There are lots of debris, broken glass under the sand, even when snorkeling I take wear water shoes. I even take my own snorkel.

The only regret is not taking an underwater camera to capture some of the amazing fauna and coral, but have to put a limit as to how much I'm going to be spending and carrying on this trip.

I can appreciate your sentiment about not taking anti-malaria meds before going to E. Africa. I also realize that you are trying to express your personal opinion about the pros and cons taking any anti-malaria meds. But you also must admit that I am going through the same experience as you did in 1995. I guess we all have to go through that learning experience.

Perhaps, on my future trips to Africa I would react differently. But on my first trip, I'd rather not say I'm so sorry I didn't take any precaution to protect myself. As you said, this might be more mind over matter. I know that in my mind I'd feel better that I took something, now is which one.

Another thing that I'm excited is to experience the music that its very unique in ZNZ. I listen to African music all the time. I must have at least 20 different albums in my Ipod. Unfortunately, I won't be experiencing the musical festival they have early in the year.

I do wonder if you have any technique or suggestion dealing with the "papasi". I heard that is not an easy task trying to keep them away. I will be hiring a guide for a day or so in order to shield from them, but any other ideas.
There are a couple of places I was thinking for snorkeling Chumbe island or around Matembwe. I'm staying in Stone Town at a small hotel.

I can relate what you said about other things other than Malaria. Heck, I remember on one of my trips to Mexico I was very careful not to drink any water, unless it was bottled water. Well, one time taking a shower and somehow I forgot to close my eyes. The water got inside my eyes and into my system, the rest well you can figure it out.

I am entering Tanzania via Arusha that's where I'm getting my visa, and no I wouldn't dare trying to get a fake stamp. Upon my return to Arusha I'm flying directly from Kili airport to ZNZ I didn't see any advantage taking the ferry



rdcny
Registered: Mar 09, 2004
Total Posts: 1042
Country: United States

OK take the medication...no problem.

Arusha is really safe...a very large ex-pat community (mostly, if not all, European).

Papasi - I had to look this up - are tourist touts...not so terrible in my experience; just say no politely and firmly. You might have more difficulty with kids asking for pennies or sweets or whatever...

Sounds like you did your research...if flying from Arusha to Zanzibar, you will be fine.

At REI they have mesh tents (that have a heavier bottom) - you could set that up inside the tent they will provide for you in the field - then you surely would be safe from mosquitoes. If you are going to get bitten by a malaria-carrying mosquito it is after dusk, or at night while sleeping...so if you can surround yourself with solid mesh then, all the better.

Good Luck - there are stories in Africa (in Kenya particularly) of supposedly pure bottled water actually being tap water...

Africa is an amazing place - so different often from village to village...but there are many tricksters too. Who can you trust? Mostly you need good luck - and the knowledge that most people in the world will try and help, and treat you right...but like disease bad things can happen...not often but keep your wits about you...You are going high end travel - and have done your research (do read a Lonely Planet or Rough Guide for problems you will encounter) - You will be as fine as one could be...

rdc



JBPhotog
Registered: Oct 10, 2007
Total Posts: 530
Country: Canada

I would add that as your experience in Mexico showering taught you that lesson, remember it while in East Africa, no tap water is guaranteed to be safe. Use bottled water and only if the seal isn't broken for brushing teeth and rinsing the tooth brush. Also take a small first aid kit with an antibiotic cream like Neosporin, Band-Aids etc. just in case you get a cut. You probably know this but no food from street vendors and wash fruit with bottled water, Cipro may become your friend.

You may also want to keep your money spread out and only your daily amount in your pocket, flashing a bundle of cash is never in your favour. Passport, travel documents kept close to the body under clothing while out and about is also prudent. I picked up some small threaded biner's to loop through zipper pulls so they can't be opened easily since a backpack in a crowd is harder for you to keep an eye on.

And lastly, no matter how much to try to blend in you won't, so be prepared to politely say no thank you. Remember, they are just trying to put food in their mouthes.

It'll be a trip of a lifetime, enjoy.



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

VK

I wanted to thank you again for suggesting the bean bag. I just got it, and its well made. All I need is to fill it with beans to try it here locally and see how is going to work out. I already contacted the safari operator so they can get me 5kg of rice.

What a like about this bean bag is the size, unlike the majority I've seen this one looks compact and yet can do the jobs. I couldn't see packing (even empty) taking one of the others.



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

I just got the bean Kinesis beanbag, and I'm very pleased with what I've seen, but I haven't tried it yet. But I could use additional help.

I ended up buying a netbook after debating for a long time, not wanting to carry more stuff on my carry-on, but I decided since I'm not sure whether or not I'd have enough memory. I just realized that the netbook I got ASUS the backing is sealed solid, so I'm stuck with only 1G of RAM.

I have connected a 500G HD and copied the images from the CF card. No doubt about it not fast. Now, I'm debating if I should install Lightroom in my netbook to view and copy or just rely on the default viewer. The default viewer has some limited view options; the thumbnails wouldn't show the images because they are RAW. I guess I could settle just with the details to see the size of the images. I'm concerned that if I would install LR, it might take a lot of resources from the netbook.

My second question

I shoot RAW large (no Jpeg). The average file size is about 12.50mg. I need someone to correct my math. I came up with about 880 images will fit into a 8G Sandisk 30/mg CF card is that about right. I only bought. 6 cards and have additional 8G scattered in other smaller cards.

But I'm also taking my Lumix 5, which shoots RAW, and my intentions are to use it for non-safari shots. I think I'm better equipped with SD cards about 135G.



Ramkat
Registered: Mar 06, 2012
Total Posts: 80
Country: South Africa

I think most of what needs to be said has been said regarding preparations for your trip - some personal input 40D + 28-270 is a good carry around combo however... The Tamron 28-270 in its zoom extended form is not a very robust assembly, I took a minor tumble with mine and it went very wonky and refused to focus properly so package it well. On Malaria - in 50 years of tri annual bush trips the we cover up legs and arms for the two hours of dusk and dawn, and low dose doxycycline for summer months in high rainfall tropics. Enjoy your trip.



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

I know is not the best combo, but I also very interested in my comfort level and traveling light. If I had $$$ flying first class I'd take more stuff, but I travel light. I think my tech gear weights more than my clothes.

We had a long discussion here about anti Malaria, will make a decision as I will be getting closer. Only concern is the ultra sensitivity to sunburn



Ramkat
Registered: Mar 06, 2012
Total Posts: 80
Country: South Africa

Sorry one thing that I have to mention is Tsetse fly in Tanzania - Google it if you don't know what it is, bottom line is they bite something like a horse fly - don't wear black or dark colours they tend to favour that and get a local fly swat , they sell them next to the road.



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

I am paying a lot of attention about the color of clothing. I just ordered a traveling vest in beige color since the only I own is black. I am even wearing beige tone socks because I read that mosquitoes tend to bite around the ankles.

What type of clothing do you suggest for sleeping in my tent? I just found out that the tour operator that I'm traveling doesn't provide nets. They told me that as long as I keep the tent zipped up it should do the job, they also spray every night.

I'm not taking a net, I can't take everything you know. I'm trying to carry as little as possible since most of my electronic gear is going to weight more on my carry on.



rdcny
Registered: Mar 09, 2004
Total Posts: 1042
Country: United States

Some info on the Tsetse fly:

http://www.uen.org/utahlink/activities/view_activity.cgi?activity_id=3023

They are big flies - slightly larger than the green-flies (Tabanidae) of the beach; or Deer flies or Black flies of the woods (also Tabanids I believe)...but both males and females bite - and as Ramkat mentions - they hurt when they bite...and in certain areas of Africa transmit diseases that affect humans.



JBPhotog
Registered: Oct 10, 2007
Total Posts: 530
Country: Canada

Yep the Tsetse flies in Tanagire can transmit sleeping sickness but the risk is very low. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirts and you will be fine. Smack them quick if you see them land on your skin. I wore my DEET but they still fly around you.

You won't see Tsetse flies in the Serengeti though.



Ramkat
Registered: Mar 06, 2012
Total Posts: 80
Country: South Africa

In the warmer areas we wear cotton rich tech clothes made by brand names like Columbia or Hi Tech that provide protection and wicking without the warmth, they also dry quickly so they can be washed overnight. I think every tourist who comes to Africa gets a pair of zip off long pants to wear at the departing airport with a pair of snake boots and a pith helmet , good foot wear is a good idea (Bovine land Mines abound and scorpions at night) and so is a broad rimmed hat , you get the fold-able floppy ones you can jam into a pocket if not needed. I don't think you will need a net if you have a good quality tent with working zips. Most regional airlines have a 20Kg baggage limit and allow a carry on bag of less than 8Kg (1Kg is 2.2 Pds).



VKM2F
Registered: Apr 19, 2012
Total Posts: 64
Country: Canada

redbarn wrote:
VK

I wanted to thank you again for suggesting the bean bag. I just got it, and its well made. All I need is to fill it with beans to try it here locally and see how is going to work out. I already contacted the safari operator so they can get me 5kg of rice.

What a like about this bean bag is the size, unlike the majority I've seen this one looks compact and yet can do the jobs. I couldn't see packing (even empty) taking one of the others.



Glad it worked out for you! Congrats again on your trip, it's going to be an amazing adventure.



surf monkey
Registered: May 24, 2005
Total Posts: 2599
Country: United States

redbarn wrote:
My second question

I shoot RAW large (no Jpeg). The average file size is about 12.50mg. I need someone to correct my math. I came up with about 880 images will fit into a 8G Sandisk 30/mg CF card is that about right. I only bought. 6 cards and have additional 8G scattered in other smaller cards.


12.50mg = milligrams?
If you mean 12.5 MP or 12.5 MB then you should get about 650 shots on an 8 GB card.
That's about 5000 shots on 6 cards.



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

sorry I didn't mean milligrams.... I meant MB.
This is what I found very confusing I contacted SanDisk and asked the same question they came back with a weird response like about 240 images....



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