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Questions re: American travel advisory pertaining to Africa

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Oct 7th, 2003, 07:04 PM
  #1
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Questions re: American travel advisory pertaining to Africa

Some of the cautions in the travel advisory are somewhat unnerving.....malaria, political unrest, maulings.

Political unrest aside, what percentage of travellers to Africa who have been properly medicated contract malaria?

And how frequent are incidents of tourists being mauled by wild animals? YIKES! If this is truly a danger, why are open vehicles used? And why are some tours conducted on foot?

I haven't seen this latter problem discussed in any threads. Am I a wimp for being a little bit concerned, or is it a real but unspoken problem?
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Oct 7th, 2003, 09:03 PM
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Just got back from a two week trip to Kenya and Tanzania. Some answers to your questions:

1. Malaria
Southern Tanzania is one of the hot beds of malari and even while taking medication it is still possible to contract the parasite, however it is very rare.
None of the nine people in my group has come down with Malari since our return and very few of us were actually ever bitten by mosquitoes.

2. Maulings
I would say this would be pretty rare. The areas that allow walking safaris have low numbers of animals and you are accompanied by an armed ranger.
Most people would guess that lions or leopards are the most dangerous animals, but one of my Masai guides told me that the only animal the Masai fear is the buffalo.
I would think that your odds of getting into a car accident are at least 10 times higher than being mauled.
The open vehicles really add to the experience and are totally safe.
Our group went on a three day hike in the Ngorongoro highlands of Tanzania and it was amazing. I can't recommend hiking in Africa enough.
I also can't recommend going to Africa enough. My trip was very safe and no one ever felt in danger.
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Oct 8th, 2003, 03:47 AM
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sandi
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Elaine -

Malaria - If meds are taken and if during dusk-to-dawn (mosquito biting time) you apply repellent on exposed skin; wear long pants and long sleeve; spray your room with repellent; sleep under mosquito netting if provided - you should be fine.

Maulings - traveling with a trained guide/driver in a vehicle one is not likely to encounter a situation where one could be mauled. The animals on most of the national park lands and/or reserves are pretty much acclimated to seeing vehicles and people within. They know the vehicles will not hurt them, and people are told not to leave such vehicles or, if in open vehicles especially, not to stand up quickly which movement might spook an animal.

On walking safaris you're with a trained, armed guide who knows the area and has a sense of the winds and what, say an elephant might be able to smell. And often you're not in an area with lots of animals of danger.

In places like the Mara it is sometimes amazing to see a lone Massai walking the plains with nothing but a walking stick and "wonder what he's doing out there", but they too are relatively safe, besides it's their own backyard. We're likely to have more trouble with a pit-bull back at home than wild animals in Africa.

You should be just fine - healthwise and animalwise. Be aware, but don't spend too much time thinking about it.
 
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Oct 8th, 2003, 06:17 AM
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Elaine22, at the risk of being misinterprted, yes, you are being a wimp ... but of course we are all a bit wimpish when challenged by that catelogue of woes you list.

Take your meds for malaria, and then relax. Sandi offers excellent advice. You'll be just fine. Relax!!!

Forget about wild animal attacks. Your rangers will advise you to stay in the vehicle. If you do, and remain seated and reasonably quiet (you do not want to break the sightlines the animals are used to), you will not be attacked. Do relax, laugh, take pictures, extol the wonders of it all, and when you get back to the lodge, belly up the bar, adjuist your Stewart Granger hat (the one with the leopard hat band), and tell the barkeep to make yours a double, and hold the rocks. Then launch into your stories for the day. But don't miss the call to an excellent breakfast or evening meal. Do have the wines, SA makes some wonderful ones.

Political unrest? Just stay well clear of California, and you'll be fine. Again, Relax. Last year, I was totally uninterested in possible political violence where I was in SA - because back home people I knew were facing a sniper. It's all relative, as the man says.

So, what else can I say?

Oh, I'll tell you a little story. One morning, my SO and I were out with the ranger and tracker following lion tracks. We lost him, so they left us in the vehicle while they went out to search, taking the rifle with them.

We were parked next to a samll bush, and I heard this small cough, and then it got really quiet. Later, the ranger asked why we were so quiet, and we related what we'd heard. He drove around the bush, and here were three zebras, peaceufully feeding. You can imagine the relief.

Then the ranger suggested we look more closely at the grass - and here sat 15 lions very quietly eyeing the zebras. Guess who coughed? But we stayed in the vehicle, and were okay. And you can be sure we told some stories over breakfast. Unfortunately the bar was not yet open.

Go, and have some fun.
 
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Oct 8th, 2003, 08:19 AM
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In regards to animal attacks, I recently read (though I can't remember where, with all the articles we've poured through) that the odds are extrememly slim to be killed by wildlife in Africa. I belive it was something like 1 out of 300,000 visitors over the past decade. That includes naturalists and biologists who are living with and studying the wildlife. It also includes reporters and camera operators who insist upon getting the perfect close-up (oops). So for the average tourist, follow the rules suggested above and the odds are practically nothing.
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Oct 8th, 2003, 09:01 AM
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Travelsmiles
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Several years ago a female tourist was "taken" by a lion at Phinda in SA, when she left the lodge on her own at night (a non-no) to go back to her chalet. Later, her husband ventured out to look for her, and he was attacked, but survived. The London Times covered the incident. Animals are always there, you never can precit them. Following the rules is a yes-yes. If you do, the odds greatly favor your fun and excitement.
 
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Oct 8th, 2003, 12:58 PM
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sandi
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Travelsmiles -

Got a good chuckle from your story of the "lions in the bush" - one of those "hair stands on the back of your neck" situations - hey, after that, you deserved a drink regardless time of day - 'cause the flag was up over the yardam "somewhere"'

I too recall the story of the attacks at Phinda - terrible. But the instructions given have got to be followed. We're invading and trespassing in the animals' environment.

Recall our time in the Mara, staying at a tented camp without electricity, though parafin lamps on deck to see where what was inside (parafin indoors is terrible). After dinner escorted back to our tent by armed guide and amazed by the lovely starlit sky. About to get under the covers, my sweetie wanted to stargaze, but no sooner had he pulled the zipper, the guard was there telling him to stay inside. For each tent a guard stood till morning. So much for a bit of African romance!
 
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Oct 8th, 2003, 03:46 PM
  #8
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Thanks, folks. I definitely feel reassured, depite Travelsmiles' gruesome story. The American travel Advisory sounds like the voice of doom. It took me aback, and I'm not even American.

Travelsmiles, was the Phinda in your lion snatching story the Phinda you just recommended on another post?



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Oct 9th, 2003, 05:22 PM
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Elaine, I believe the Phinda lion story occurred at Phinda Game reserve. Unfortunately (for the lion !) any predator cat that kills a human will be put down. The unfortunate incident occurred in the mid-90's and I felt completely safe during my recent stay at Phinda. Most lodges offer a daily Ranger Walk with an armed Ranger. I highly recommend this. Seeing giraffe or elephant on foot is an amazing experience...it's all a matter of perspective, isn't it! To be honest, I felt much "safer" in South Africa than at JFK airport in NY! : ) I imagine most travelers to Africa return home feeling empowered. Your first trip does take a bit of courage. But be forewarned. Once bitten by the "Africa bug", it's a difficult thing to get out of your system. You cannot wait to return...I promise you : )
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