Safari Food

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Dec 22nd, 2005, 10:02 AM
  #1
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Safari Food

When we had our shots for Kenya our doctor gave us a lecture about what not to eat. Fruit, salads etc. On the safari circuit it didn't occur to me that this would be a problem as the lodges are catering constantly to tourists and I'm sure they don't want everyone ending up sick. Other than tap water, ice cubes etc what are the general rules, experiences with the food in safari lodges?? Thanks!
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Dec 22nd, 2005, 10:46 AM
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Food was AWESOME at all the Serenas and Sopas in Kenya & Tanzania, incredible buffets. My family and I ate salad and fruit in all the hotels. We just hoped for the best. But I am sure they didn't use bottled water to wash their lettuce. None of us ever got truly sick from any food, but I know my stomach was acting a little different. I have done the same in India, Cambodia, Thailand & Peru and been OK. They usually only provide bottled water at dinner.

Remember to use bottled water to brush your teeth.

Nothing from any street vendors. Except unpeeled fruit. We bought bananas in Tanzania and Rwanda and we were fine.


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Dec 22nd, 2005, 11:08 AM
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Except perhaps for food prepared in the "bush" and drinking unbottled water, I would be more concerned about washing my hands before eating than the actual food items. We either used soap/water or the little "handy wipes" to minimize problems. Not once during three trips to East Africa did we have a problem. And, I concur with Wayne we had great eats at lodges and camps.
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Dec 22nd, 2005, 12:21 PM
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Thanks! I thought the doctor was being a little cautious. We have eaten at a few 'dodgy' places while traveling in Asia. I was sure the lodges had to be better than some of the places we've eaten without problem. Just wanted to hear it from someone who'd eaten and lived to tell!!!
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Dec 22nd, 2005, 01:32 PM
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I must have an iron stomach, but have never had tummy problems anywhere. Oh, maybe I shouldn't say that... next time, who knows. As mentioned, the camps and lodges take every precaution to assure that visitors will return.

However, stick with bottled water when out on safari, wash your hands, keep dirty hands away from your face (eyes, nose)... you know the routine; you should be fine.

Do not forget meds in case of tummy upset... this can happen, if for no other reason than you're in a different environment - pepto tabs, imodium, and the likes; even a script for Cipro (for bacterial stomach upset). But this holds true for travel anywhere.

In city hotels (Nairobi), many have purification systems so tap water is fine to drink. This will be evident if bottled water is not provided in your room... but always ask to be sure.

... and leave room for deserts (they're great); or eat desert first!

Happy travels.
 
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Dec 22nd, 2005, 01:59 PM
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The problem that you can run into in Africa is that foods high in water content such as lettuce and/or foods that you don't peel can still contain nasties that your stomach is not used to.
Another thing to keep in mind is that dairy foods are not pasturized, when we were on Safari, for some reason we ended taking the milk wagon from the dairy farm to the lodge.. yep right from the cow to the person.
Also, it is worth noting that the only time my best friend got horribly sick whilst travelling is when she ate salad at a resort restaurant.. DO not assume that because you are in a fancy/expensive place your food will not contain the same local bacteria as food purchased from a street vendors stall.
Remember if you don't peel it, don't eat it, stay away from dairy, only drink bottled water (be sure caps are properly seeled) and brush teeth with same.
Also, remember that sometimes taking medicine for TD can actually make your condition worse, because the TD is trying to rid your body of a bacteria and by using Imodium or something you actually block up the bug inside of your body where it can multiply and really get out of hand.

NOTHING is worse then having a GI problem in the middle of an expensive vacation. I once lost 4 days of my life in Vienna after eating tainted mayonaise.. NEVER AGAIN!
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Dec 22nd, 2005, 02:02 PM
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I sadly do not have an iron stomach so I have to take reasonable precautions when travelling. Much as I'd love to be able to eat food from street vendors and not worry about salad and unpeeled fruit, I do suffer the consequences if I do!

My behaviour a lot depends on where we're staying - at Wilderness Safaris camps, for example, and at Governor's Camp in Kenya I didn't worry about salad or fruit. I did stick to bottled water or sodas.
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Dec 22nd, 2005, 03:16 PM
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and when taking a shower and an elephant peeks over the fence, don't swallow the water when you try to scream! yes, it happened to me!
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 03:27 AM
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I have gotten the "dont eat this and that and that" speech from the doctor too, and promptly ignored it.

We have the Hep A/B, and take dukoral for TD. Back that up with Pepto-Bismol and if that fails we take cipro. Never had to go further than pepto though.

As long as the stuff looks to be properly stored, and the preparation is clean, eat it. You will be amazed some of the resturants in your city that probably feed you more harmful stuff to you than a street vendor.

Eat salad, eat veggies - heck are you supposed to survive on banannas and mangos for weeks? Heck if it is improperly cared for, any food is dangerous.
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 03:30 AM
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Taking basic precautions we've not often got ill either and seldom anything that a single dose of immodium can't sort out.

We did both get horrendous stomach upsets in Windhoek, our mistake for believing assurances that the tap water was OK there. That time we did have to resort to Cipro which sorted us out quick sharp.

A good medical kit is essential and whilst it does weigh a bit and isn't, touch wood, called upon often, it's worth it's weight in gold when we do need it!
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 03:36 AM
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sandi
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... sorry about the "deserts"

it should be desserts! Yummy! Yummy!
 
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 05:04 AM
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Funny thing - while in Thailand I got a touch of something - one pepto and some McDonalds and I was raring to go the next day. I think I just needed some "westernized" food in me
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 06:39 AM
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I got sick from a wonderful tasting rice dish in Cairo - I was so sick that I had to see the hotel doctor who prescribed something to settle my stomach. I was out like a zombie for about 24 hours, and then pretty groggy for another day or so! A friend who speaks arabic read the Arabic label and it was thorazine! Note to self, don't take medication when you can't read the label. Duh!

For E. Africa (we leave in 6 hours!) the travel clinic gave us Cipro and told us to take it at the first sign of...stomach unrest. They said that Immodium only treats the symptom, not the cause. Fingers crossed that we don't need to us it though
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 09:48 AM
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For those of you that have never had a problem - congratulations!

My dad owns Safari camps in Tanzania and insists on bottled water for everyone - including his guides and trackers. He has actually lost a few native employees to waterborne diseases over the years. His theory is that the change in climate can also "upset" tummies a little, and suggests a day of hotel rest before heading out on safari.

No salads at his lodge, but the food is gourmet.
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 10:38 AM
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the guides at Chongwe River Camp in Zambia drank right out of the Zambezi River!
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 11:54 AM
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I’ve never had any problems and I’ve been to Kenya three times eating everything, including street food like vegetable samosas, roast cassava and peeled pineapple, and I’ve never had any problems. The only precaution I take is sticking to bottled water most of the time, but I do NOT use it to brush my teeth. I hate all those plastic bottles. It’s so wasteful. I think the lodges, at least the ones that call themselves “eco”, should have purified water to fill up your little bottle with.

Of course, if you have a history of stomach problems while travelling I understand exaggerated precautions like the ones I’d probably start taking if I ever had a serious problem. I’d say most people eat salads and peeled fruits in lodges.
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 01:37 PM
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Nyamera, I'm such a foodie that I'd LOVE to be able to do as you do and eat from foodstalls and so on. I'm very envious!
Unfortunately I have IBS and a rather fragile digestive system (sorry if that's TMI) and so I have learned to play it safe in order to stay healthy and enjoy the whole trip!
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 02:34 PM
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For those of you who have had stomach problems, how do you pinpoint what caused it?

I did have stomach problems and felt pretty bad for a day and a half on this recent trip to Kenya, but I have to say that I have absolutely NO IDEA what caused it. I drank only bottled water (including teeth brushing) but didn't avoid any foods.

Actually I think I know what caused it - by posting on this board shortly before we left that I'd not had any stomach problems last time, I jinxed myself!
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Dec 23rd, 2005, 02:43 PM
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Often it's impossible but...

In the case of the Windhoek water when it came on it was pretty sudden and we both got it after a meal at the same restaurant BUT we hadn't eaten a thing in common and hadn't really tasted each others' meals worth a darn.

The ONLY thing we'd had in common was the water but we didn't realise then. We were back in the B&B when it hit us and Pete drank a lot of water to try and calm his stomach, I didn't. His got much, much worse and that's when we realised.

We spoke to a number of folk not long after and they all said that it's extremely common for non-locals to get ill from the water in Windhoek - something to do with the way they treat it.

Other times I'll sometimes know just because I'm tuned to how long it takes my system to react to something it doesn't like and the way it reacts depending on what it is and that helps me narrow it down.

Often I ain't got a clue!
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Dec 24th, 2005, 11:12 AM
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Kavey, I found IBS on Google. Does TMI mean “too much information”? I don’t think it is – I hear a lot more graphic descriptions all the time.

I did get a fever and a bad headache on my last day in Kenya and for a week after returning home, but it never occurred to me to suspect anything I had eaten. First I thought it was psychological and then I suspected some infected sand fly bites.
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