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CPAP and Safari – Have Battery, Will Travel

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On safari with a CPAP, March 2008 (Thomson Safaris)

This mini report is directed to folks who want to go on safari but hesitate because of their need to sleep with a CPAP. Don’t let being tethered to a CPAP keep you from enjoying such a wonderful trip :)

Outfitter: Thomson Safaris, Tanzania private tented safari, March 2008 (also Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel, Zanzibar)

Equipment: Fisher & Paykel HC220 and Aims Corp. DC to AC Power Inverter Model PWRINV 400w (this inverter has a noisy fan!)

Power for my CPAP was the big concern for our safari. If I couldn’t be assured of all night power every night we would not have been able to go on this trip. My unit did not come equipped its own battery supply. This is probably because it has an integral heated humidifier that sucks up gobs of power. Thomson agreed to provide a full size car battery for me. My only responsibility was to bring along an AC/DC power inverter. For the most part this worked out smoothly once our guide Adam got the battery size right (the first night he gave me a golf cart battery.) The battery was clean and recharged every day. It was brought to my bedside every evening and picked up from there every morning. I never had to lift it.

A couple of times the battery was inexplicably short on power and ran out in the middle of the night. The first time this happened Adam provided _two_ batteries to ensure that I’d have power throughout the night. Adam was diligent about making sure I slept well every night.

If there was an extra charge for this service I don’t know about it. It could have been buried in Thomson’s overall charges I suppose but we were not specifically billed for the battery and battery maintenance provision.

The reception staff at Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel on Zanzibar were totally stumped and confused by my request for a car battery.* One must admit, this is an odd guest request! Neither the manager nor assistant manager was on premises when I asked for one. Later, when the asst. mgr. Angie came back I related my problem to her and asked for a car battery. She, too, was very surprised at my request for a car battery and seemed hesitant to act on it. She’d heard of CPAPs before but had never had a request for this kind of power. But after Thomson’s Boston office called and explained the situation, she and the manager readily rose to the challenge. I got a huge marine battery but it set off my low battery alarm right away when I tried to turn it on at 10 at night. I went down to reception, explained the situation and got it replaced right away with a fully charged car battery. Angie personally came over to see for herself and supervise. The second night the marine battery was again supplied and worked all night. The third night it cut out at 3am. Bummer. I wasn’t about to go hunting around for a new one at that hour when I had to be up before 7am anyway.

Again, we were not charged for the provision of the battery by Ras Nungwi.

Note: We got bids for this trip from A&K, Kiliwarriors and Unique Safaris in addition to Thomson. All assured me that they could provide a car battery for me.

Bottom line is, don’t let being tethered to a CPAP keep you from enjoying such a wonderful trip :)

*I could not use the regular power outlets in the room because (I belatedly realized) the converter and adaptor kit I brought along for the hotel did not accept my CPAP’s three-pronged plug.

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