Safari health advice
Taking care of your health on safari in Okavango
For a carefree safari to the Okavango Delta it is important to be aware of some of the possible health risks. We advice you to read the health precautions in advance so that you don't get surprised when travelling. On this page we provide an overview of the most important things you should know.
VisitOkavango.com has devoted itself to provide you with the most accurate information on healthcare in Botswana as possible. We strongly encourage you to get in contact with proper health authorities for the most recent medical information related to Botswana. Botswana generally is a very hygienic country: compared to other African countries the chances of getting sick are vert limited. However, you are at greater risk than back home as you might encounter different bacteria.
Health precautions prior to departure
When you use medication and need to bring it on your holiday, make sure to bring a health card that states you need the medication and keep it with your other important travel documents. This to prevent your medication being mistaken for illegal drugs.
Make sure to contact your local medical authorities prior to departure, such as a hospital or other health services. A last minute trip to Botswana shouldn't be a problem for a person in normal health. If your trip is really last minute, you could even choose to visit the travel clinic at the airport before departure. Be sure to always bring your vaccination documents, if you have these. Of course, it's best to arrange vaccinations well in advance if at all possible.
Malaria does occur in Botswana, particularly in the Kruger and Swaziland regions. For advice on the use of any malaria prophylaxis, we refer you to one of the health authorities or local travel clinic. In addition to any prophylactics we recommend the following mitigation measures: cover your arms, legs and feet in the evenings, apply a mosquito repellent containing DEET and use mosquito net. The mosquito net should ideally be impregnated with insect repellent. If -despite these precautions- you feel feverish during or after your your stay in a malaria-area, always contact a physician.
Vaccinations against DTP (diphteria, tetanus en polio) and Hepatitis A are reommended. Most people received DTP vaccinations as a child. After a new shot you don't need another one for another ten years or so. De normal Hepatitis A vaccination is only effective for a limited amount of time. When you travel frequently to Heaptitis A countries it is advised getting a longer lasting vaccination (such as Havrix). Typhoid vaccination is recommended if you intend to stay more than thee months in Botswana. Vaccinations against yellow fever is recommended only when you are travelling from an infection zone (risk countries such as Tanzania and DR Congo) to Botswana.
Healthcare on location
Aside from getting the proper vaccinations and making sure you are in good health before departure, it is also important to prevent illness while you are in Botswana. Remaining alert of possible threats and contacting a doctor in case of concern are two basic practices that can help ward off disease.
Change in your daily routine, climate and food can upset your digestive system. Normally you should be back onyour feet after a short while of taking it a bit easier and making sure you drink enough. You might also take some ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts) tablets dissolved in water to ensure that you do not dry out, this is especially important for children and older travellers. If diarrhea persists for more than two days, or when you are also experiencing other discomforts, please contact a phycisian. Medical facilities in Botswana are of a very high standard.
Avoid infection by tiny worms by not swimming in still standing water.
Treat small wounds seriously: keep an eye on them and disinfect when necessary. Do not scratch any mosquito bites as they might get infected. Always apply sunscreen, also in winter. Do not wear bright colours and strong perfumes as these attract insects.
The African sun can be ferociously strong. Avoid sunstroke by covering your head with a hat or cap and by wearing sun glasses. Always have a bottle of water with you, especially when hiking or during an activity. If you believe that you may have a sunstroke (lightheadedness or headaches may indicate this), have a drink, sit in the shade and stay there for a while if possible.
Healthcare after your return home
If you are feverish, bowel problems or other physical discomforts after your return home (up to several months after your flight back), please contact your doctor as soons as possible and indicate that you have been travelling. If you've spent a lot of time with the local population, you may need a Mantoux or TB test.