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Health & Safety tips for South Africa


Security tips

City

When travelling in South Africa, the same common sense should be applied as if you were travelling in any other unfamiliar country.

         • Keep a photocopy of the first few pages of your passport, visas and air tickets, separately from the original documents.
         • Have a plan of exactly where you're going and how you will get there.
         • Avoid unfamiliar areas at night and avoid walking alone.
         • Be aware of the danger of ATM fraud and don't accept assistance from anyone.
         • Keep an eye on your belongings at all times, avoid wearing expensive jewellery and displaying valuables and large amounts of money.
         • When driving, keep doors locked and place handbags under the seat. Don't leave items in cars and always park in well-lit designated            parking areas.

Safari

         • Your guide knows best - listen to what they say.
         • Be vigilant about your surroundings.
         • Don't feed or approach any animals, however tame they may appear to be.
         • On a self-drive safari, always remain in your vehicle - these are wild animals. There may however be sign posted picnic sites, game            hideouts and toilette facilities, allowing visitors to exit vehicles at their own risk.
         • Follow the reserve's speed limit - animals can cross the road at any time, quite often just in front of you.
         • Swimming in rivers is prohibited due to hippos and crocodiles.
         • Ensure you have sufficient petrol - if you do get stuck remain in your car and wait for help.
         • Take drinking water with you.
         • Please don't litter. It is unsightly and dangerous to the animals and environment.
         • Stick to designated roads as off-road driving destroys the sensitive bush vegetation.

General health tips

Vaccinations

While generally no vaccinations are required when visiting South Africa, there one exception and a few recommendations.

The exception is travellers entering South Africa from a yellow fever zone, who must produce a valid international yellow fever inoculation certificate upon entry. Important to note is that yellow fever inoculation certificates only become valid 10 days after inoculation and remains valid for 10 years, however it is recommended that you have the required inoculations four to six weeks before travelling to South Africa. Infants under the age of one year are exempt.

Hepatitis B inoculations are recommended for children up to the age of 12 who have not completed the series of injections as infants. Booster doses for tetanus and measles can also be administered.

Malaria areas

Thanks to its warm climate, mosquitoes are prevalent during summer months, especially from Oct to May. It's always best to check the malaria risk status of the areas you are visiting. Consult a specialist travel clinic or healthcare professional for up to date advice on the latest anti-malarials, as it changes regularly. While there are also medium and low risk areas, the following areas present the highest risk:

         • Limpopo Province

            Kruger National Park and a number of private game reserves

         • Mpumalanga Province

            Lowveld

         • Kwazulu Natal

            Maputaland coast

Repellents, such as citronella oil products including body and room sprays, creams and candles, are also useful in warding off mosquitoes. Your choice of clothing will also help. Covering your body at night with light weight trousers, a long sleeved shirt and closed shoes will also help keep mosquitoes at bay. Using a net when sleeping will help ensure a peaceful sleep.

HIV/Aids

Always take precautions when having sex. South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world.

Medical facilities

In cities and larger towns, medical facilities are world-class, but rural area clinics and hospitals only deal with primary health needs. As when travelling anywhere in the world, medical insurance is advised to ensure you receive the best possible care.

If you take prescription medication, be sure to bring a sufficient supply with you. If you are on a lengthy holiday, carry a copy of your prescription with you.

Sun protection

South Africa is renowned for its warm sunny climate, even during winter - the exception is Cape Town which is generally wet. Visitors should wear a waterproof SPF sunscreen of at least 20 for the body and 30 for the face. Children and those with fair skin should wear SPF50 and hat especially between 11am and 4pm, reapplying frequently, especially after swimming. Sunglasses are also recommended as the African sun glare is also strong.

Even on days when there is cloud cover, the same precautions should be taken, as the sun's rays are magnified through the cloud. There's no point in getting badly sunburned and then not enjoying your holiday to the fullest.

Ticks

Generally out in the early spring can be found in long grasses and trees. They may carry tickbite fever, however it is easily treated. To help protect yourself, wear long trousers tucked into white socks, making the ticks more visible, and a hat to protect against ticks falling from trees. Always check your clothing and body for ticks, especially the legs, behind the knees, groin area, as well as the scalp and behind the ears.

Tap water

Thanks to high quality water treatment, tap water is palatable and safe to drink almost everywhere in South Africa.

In some areas, particularly the Cape, the water contains humic acid making it the colour of diluted Coca-Cola. It's harmless and is fine to consume and bathe in.

Drinking water straight from rivers and streams downstream of human settlements is not advisable as it could put you at risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera. The water in mountain streams, however, is usually pure and wonderful.

Bilharzia

Avoid drinking or swimming in stagnant water that is not flowing or inhabited by fresh water snails. Natal, with its humid forests and oversized snails is one such area where care should be taken.


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