Each country requires evidence of yellow fever vaccination. Other immunizations are strongly recommended but not absolutely required, such as hepatitis A and B, tetanus, polio, typhoid, and meningitis (at certain times of year). Since there is no effective vaccine against malaria you will also need an antimalarial drug such as mefloquine (Lariam), malarone, or doxycycline, which you should start a week before you travel.
Hotels and campements provide mosquito nets. Use them. The mosquito that carries malaria comes out a couple of hours after sunset.
Right and left hands
Shake hands with the right hand. Eat with the right hand. The left hand is for the other end of your digestive tract.
When you hold hands with the children swarming around you, remember that some are left hands. (The unwiped noses may remind you.) Always carry a bottle of hand sanitizer, and use it.
Other health concerns
- Your guide should have a medical kit, but to be safe, take your own.
- Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, etc. -- your standard outdoor first-aid kit
- Foot cream if you will be wearing sandals, since your feet will get very dry and cracked
- Spare pair of eyeglasses. If you wear contacts, consider glasses instead during your stay, because it is constantly dusty and the contacts will not be comfortable.
- Any medications you use regularly (such as insulin)-- and keep a copy of the prescription handy to satisfy customs agents.
- Use mosquito nets.
- Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it. But if your guide says "yes, the salad here is safe", believe him.
- Stay hydrated.
Drink before you're thirsty. Then drink some more.
- Bottled water is safe. Ask for "un bidon de Laafi." Water is also sold in sealed plastic bags containing about 250cc. If there is printing on the plastic, the water is probably okay; otherwise you don't know. Bite off the corner of the bag to open it. Lodgings in the park have bottled water.
- If you carry a small packet of rehydration powder (Gatorade, Crystal Light, etc.) you can add some to your bottle. When you find yourself craving salt, Pringles chips (crisps) are widely available.
- Beer is also safe. Cheap brands include So-B-Bra, Beninoise, and Nigerien; Castel and Flag are pricier.
- Last, but not least, use lots of sunscreen!
For more travel health information: