CPAP and Safari – Have Battery, Will Travel

Apr 18th, 2008, 04:23 PM
  #1  
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CPAP and Safari – Have Battery, Will Travel

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.
doohickey is offline  
Apr 18th, 2008, 08:11 PM
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i just priced a bettery to go with my bi-pap and was quoted $350...
rhkkmk is offline  
Apr 19th, 2008, 03:29 AM
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The AEIOmed Everest machine is an especially good solution for safari. It's got a rechargeable battery, so I let the CPAP battery charge during the day and it runs for a full 8-9 hours at night. (I use an 8 setting; YMMV.)
DonTopaz is offline  
Apr 19th, 2008, 05:25 AM
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I have to give another nod to the AEIOMed Everest2 model. My first safari will be in May but I have been using the Everest at home and I am very satisfied with it's performance. I use a setting of 10 with the humidefier set to 3 and it lasts over 8 hours.
jerrytufts is offline  
Apr 19th, 2008, 10:25 AM
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That AEIOmed Everest sounds like a great machine! And if I ever have to get a new CPAP I'll try to get that one.

I just wasn't willing to go through the hassle of getting a new machine and (finding a new doc, getting a new sleep study, etc.) What I have works wonderfully for me right now and as long as there's a car battery available for this kind of trip, I'm GTG.

-doo
doohickey is offline  
Jun 16th, 2008, 05:57 PM
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Thanks so much doohickey and all other posters on this thread - you can't imagine how relieved we are to read this info! For weeks now we've been trying to find an inexpensive way to safari in Africa with a CPAP. The only lodges with electricity throughout the night are expensive luxury lodges (as I'm sure you're aware); that's not what we have in mind for a family trip.

doohickey, you mentioned the inverter you bought has a loud fan. Is it so loud as to disturb other people during their sleep?

I'm wondering if we were to go on a camping safari, whether the guides would be prepared to bring along some car batteries for us to use. Has anyone tried travelling this way?

To those with the battery-rechargeable CPAP, did you have trouble finding an electric point during the day to charge up? What sort of accommodation did you have that would enable electricity during the day?

Thanks again
Chrissie (New Zealand)
WellingtonTravellers is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 01:16 AM
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Chrissie, I'm one of those with a rechargeable battery. All of the camps that I've stayed in have had power available during the day (usually from on-site generators) -- pretty much everyone has batteries (for cameras, camcorders, etc) that need to be recharged. Obviously, you should verify whether or not the camps you choose do have this type of ability.


DonTopaz is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 03:13 AM
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Thanks again Rizzuto, this is good to hear. Do you mind if I ask who you went with, and what safari you did? Now that I know we can camp, I'm looking for ideas ...
Cheers
Chrissie
WellingtonTravellers is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 08:35 AM
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Chrissie, while I've stayed at only 6 or 8 camps, every one that I've inquired about has offered battery recharging facilities during the day.
DonTopaz is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 09:27 AM
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Chrissie,
Are you looking at staying at tented camps or actually camping (two different things)? If the latter, private campsites have only what your tour operator brings/sets up. I don't know what's available at public campsites
Patty is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 01:23 PM
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Chrissie,

My inverter had a fan that was loud enough to keep me awake had it not been for the fact that I sleep with earplugs all the time

However, my husband does not sleep with earplugs and it did not keep him awake. The occasional lion sounds woke him up though

Cheers!

-doo
doohickey is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 01:36 PM
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"To those with the battery-rechargeable CPAP, did you have trouble finding an electric point during the day to charge up?"

We stayed at Arumeru River Lodge, Kirawira Tented Lodge, Serengeti Serena Lodge, Ndutu Lodge, and Ngorongoro Serena Lodge. Everywhere except Ndutu had outlets in the room for charging your battery. Ndutu did not have any outlets in the room. You had to leave your battery and charger in a public area durring the day. Ndutu did supply an automobile battery and inverter for my use as I didn't want to leave my battery and charger in a public area.
jerrytufts is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 04:56 PM
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Thanks again so much for all this helpful info. We're planning on camping at private campsites, e.g. with an overland tour or similar. I'm hoping they will have some sort of battery-recharge facility available.
Cheers
WellingtonTravellers is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 11:31 PM
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I have not seen overland companies at private camp sites in Tanzania. They use public camp sites. Things always look a bit rough around the edges when I see the overland set ups and I would not trust them with such a serious issue.

Neither private nor public sites are ideal for 24h power needs.

It is best to arrange a private safari/vehicle and ask for an extra battery. But beware of "starter" batteries. You need a battery with better Amp-Hour ratings.

Some 6V golf carts arranged in series give very good amp hours and are small and light-weight.
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Jun 18th, 2008, 07:05 AM
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I wouldn't trust an overland tour to provide for your specific needs either. They're catering for so many passengers on each trip and from reading some of the reports (there are a few on Tripadvisor, otherwise try Lonely Planet), you'd be lucky if the trip simply runs smoothly as advertised.
Patty is offline  
Jun 18th, 2008, 09:21 AM
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Another thing to consider with the overland tours is that they cover a lot of territory in the amount of time given and you may be spending long days on the road only getting to your destination late in the day to set up camp for the evening. I don't know when you'd have the opportunity to recharge even if there were facilities available. Sorry to sound discouraging, but I just think overlanding isn't a good idea for you.
Patty is offline  
Jun 18th, 2008, 10:43 PM
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Thanks ClimbHigh, and thanks again to you Patty. What you say re overlanding makes sense. We'll take a look at other options (hopefully not too expensive!).
Cheers
WellingtonTravellers is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2008, 07:31 PM
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Thank you to everyone for all the information on this subject. I'm a CPAP user from Brisbane Australia and I don't think we can ever know about TOO MANY options where the CPAP machine is involved.

I went on a camping tour in the Northern Territory (Alice Springs, Uluru/Ayers Rock) and although the tour bus did not carry anything for me they were happy to guarantee me a power point every night as long as I brought my own extension lead. It made my suitcase heavy but it was worth it! Camping on the red dirt near The Rock was fantastic. I could not have afforded the accommodation where I had my own power point in the a room.

The most important thing is to make sure about access to power BEFORE you book anything. Most places are only too happy to help out but I found myself doing a lot of explaining on the phone before we reached that point.

Good luck and good holidays to you all.
Jayellen is offline  

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