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Health and Travel Advice
The below health and travel advice is intended to give you a rough idea on what issues to consider when travelling to Africa. When you know your specific travel destination, please check our more detailed destination specific Health and Travel Advice pages.
The following information is taken from various reliable sources, amongst others a Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad (MASTA) Health Briefs (regularly updated). Please be aware that regulations and health recommendations change frequently. You must therefore always contact your GP or travel clinic for further health advice and check with embassies for the most up-to-date visa information prior to your departure.
Yellow Fever - A Yellow Fever Certificate is required for most countries if travelling from a Yellow Fever infected area. This includes passengers transiting through an airport in an infected area.
Prevention against Malaria is recommended if you are visiting a malaria area (most of southern and eastern Africa). Please refer to our specific destination pages for more information and consult your GP or travel clinic for advice.
General Health Advice
Water is a frequent source of infection. Most cities and towns have piped water systems, however tap water is not recommended for the use of drinking water. Always use bottled mineral water or filtered water, which is widely available.
Use common sense when it comes to food and beverages. If you are unsure of their origin, donnot touch them.
Overexposure to the sun can cause sunburn, leading to premature skin ageing and an increased risk of skin cancer. Take care not to burn and use a high protection factor sunscreen (at least SPF 30).
It is recommended to carry a small first aid kit with headache and diarrhoea remedies, malaria prophylaxis, anti-histamine cream (insect bites), re-hydration salts, insect repellent (DEET or eucalyptus based), iodine, some plasters and bandages, some sterile needles, high factor sunscreen.
There have been nearly 1,300,000 HIV/AIDS cases reported (World Health Organisation estimates 2,000,000 have HIV/AIDS). Aids is rife throughout Africa, so if you are planning to have intimate contact with the locals always use condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Many people now believe that there is an association between long distance travel and the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Try to drink plenty of water during the flights, avoid alcoholic drinks and have the occasional stroll to keep your circulation going. For further information visit the MASTA website.
For further health information see Isabelle Young (2008) Africa - Healthy Travel Guide. Lonely Planet Publications, Melbourne. (ISBN: 9781740591430)
For most destinations your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months at the time of travel and have at least 1 blank page. Please note that some countries require up to 3 blank pages.
Visas may be required for entry into the destination of your choice. Please check our specific destination health and travel pages for further advice. Always check with the local embassy on your specific visa requirements, as conditions vary depending on your nationality and travel destination.
Internet and email facilities are available in most major towns and cities in Africa.
Mobile phone networks are well established in Africa, as the vast majority of people rely on mobile phones for communication. Landlines are often of an inferior quality, but telephones as well as faxes, normally with direct international dialling, are available at most hotels in and around the major centres and at major post offices.
Get a local perspective, ask someone where you are staying to give you a run-down on any unsafe areas and codes of dress and behaviour.
As with anywhere in the world, donnot openly carry valuables. If you do have to carry your passport and money, keep them in a buttoned-down pocket or well concealed on your body.
Avoid deserted areas, particularly at night. Avoid hitchhiking, as it is always potentially dangerous.
The best advice to stay safe when travelling: stay aware of what is going on around you and you will enjoy a problem-free holiday.
Driving in Africa can often be a pretty adventurous undertaking. Use your seatbelts and avoid travelling at night.
It is worth pointing out that considerable cultural differences in attitudes to tipping exist. In Africa average wages are far removed from any Western equivalents and so tipping is very much appreciated - it is often not the amount but the action of doing so that is valued!
Tipping is at your discretion and should reflect your satisfaction at the level of service that you have received. All gratuities should be given at the completion of services rendered and not on a daily basis.
Wherever possible, gratuities should be given directly to the intended recipient. However, please do not forget about the people behind the scenes in e.g. lodges. In these cases it is best to put you tip in a tipping box, which is generally shared amongst ALL employees.
Detailed destination specific health and travel advice is provided in our information pre-departure packs, which you will receive prior to departing on your holiday.