I usually do a lot of research before we book any of our trips but we booked our flights for Africa spontaneously and started planning from there. It was always on our wish list so all it took was a deal on flights on line and we were hooked. 🙂
We already had our dates booked for Kenya when I first heard of some of these:
- Yellow fever vaccination
- Mombasa express (not a bus or a train)
- Zika (of course I knew of it but didn’t know it was present in the area)
Below is a list of commonly recommended vaccinations for Kenya and it includes but is not limited to:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Typhoid, Cholera, Yellow Fever, Rabies
- MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) , Tdap ( tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis)
You should start your medical research by visiting your local travel clinic. Due to a worldwide shortage of the yellow fever vaccine ( at the time of our visit) everyone was getting a fractional dose so while setting up an appointment, the clinic had to coordinate with everyone else traveling to a destination requiring that vaccination. The clinic will also advise you on any medication you should be taking with you and providing you with those prescriptions (such as Malarone, Ciprinol). You can find more information about the required and suggested vaccination HERE.
Imodium is something I hope you don’t have to use but is important to know about. I had never heard of it before this trip. Here come the words no one wants to use when talking about vacation. 😉 I always had it in my bag but never had to use it; but this is why it was always with me. In cases of diarrhea that just feels like it won’t stop and you are on a game drive or really really want to go on one Imodium is the “magical” pill that will stop all of those processes and you will be able to go on your drive. It won’t, however, stop the pain or any discomfort you’re experiencing. Also, based on many experiences I’ve read and advice of people I know, you should remember that you basically want all of that out of your system and don’t want to be holding it prisoner inside your body. But in those extreme situations when this is a once in a lifetime trip and you’re most likely missing a lot of it due to this situation, Imodium might be something you wish to consider.
Image source: WebMd (link)
Malarone was the anti-malaria pill we were proscribed. It is supposed to be the one with the mildest side effects. You start taking it the day before you are to arrive in Africa, for the duration of your stay and a week after your arrival home. I was worried about the side effects having an impact on our whole trip, I read stories of hallucinations, extreme stomach issues, nausea etc. none of which seemed minor. Thankfully we were ok during our trip but both got sick and felt very nauseous upon our return. After talking to a few friends it seems a few of them had the same experience of getting sick once they made it home. The silver lining is we got to really enjoy our vacation and only got sick upon our return.
I cannot emphasize enough how important this was in our daily routine. No antimalarial drug is 100% protective and must be combined with the use of personal protective measures, (i.e., insect repellent, long sleeves, long pants, sleeping in a mosquito-free setting or using insecticide-treated bed nets). That sums up the importance of Deets. We used it daily, it wasn’t great but it worked.
I am commonly affected by motion sickness, always in cars when I’m not the driver, on smaller boats, I get nauseous when a plane circles before being permitted to land( go figure ). I don’t know how I never thought of motion sickness before booking our trip but the fact we would spend hours at a time in a car was completely taken over by complete excitement and never struck me as a potential problem. Luckily it seems most posts on Tripadvisor seemed to indicate that, for some reason, people with even the most extreme case of motion sickness rarely suffered any symptoms during the safari drives. This is, of course, individual and might not be the case for you but I decided to be cautiously optimistic. I bought many variations of non drowsy motion sickness pills ( the drowsy ones are fine for flights but sleeping on a safari is NOT recommended).
Despite not experiencing any symptoms I still ended up taking the natural ginger based ones a few times as a precaution or Gravol depending on what I had on hand.
After reading a lot of stories and realizing people experience all sorts of illnesses while on a safari, due to the pills they’re on, non-treated water, difference in food and spices, change of climate, jet lag, overall exhaustion etc. my husband and I decided to book a private safari. It gave us the comfort of knowing should one of us feel sick in the morning of our game drive, the group wouldn’t start without us leaving us stuck for the day. Our driver, if needed, could wait for us over a cup of coffee and depending on the health developments we would adjust the schedule to whatever the new circumstances demanded. Also if we were to find ourselves in a situation that needed attention during the game drive we could ask to go back to the hotel without ruining anyone else’s plans/day.
There was one evening and the following morning where I wasn’t feeling well and was making one too many trips to the restroom. I asked my husband to talk to the driver and ask him to have a cup of coffee and relax as I was hoping to feel better soon. We were at Sarova Mara in the Masai Mara at the time and someone at reception had overheard my husband telling our driver I wasn’t feeling well. Before I knew it, on my way out of the restroom I was approached by the nicest friendliest face of the in house doctor who wanted to make sure I was ok. He ended up giving me zinc and Ciprinol ( one pill right away and one to take that evening ). I mentioned I had an antibiotic I brought from home that is meant for this kind of thing and asked if I should get that but he assured me he had me covered and he did. Everything was great. It came at no cost to us and he truly was the nicest man.