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Planning an African Safari

Visas and Vaccines
Of course, you'll need a passport to travel to Africa. But for some other countries, like Kenya or Tanzania, you will need a visa too. Visit the State Department Web site for more information on visa requirements. Apply for a visa at least two months before your departure date.

mosquitoFind a doctor who specializes in travel health care and tell him or her about your African travel plans, or visit a travel clinic. You'll need to get certain immunizations before heading to Africa. Malaria is common there, but there is no vaccine for the disease. You can protect yourself from malaria by taking an anti-malaria treatment or avoiding mosquitoes; use a mosquito-repellent spray and mosquito nets. You will need a yellow fever vaccination for travel to East and Southern Africa. Other vaccinations you may need include hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid. Visit the Centers for Disease Control's Web site for destination-specific health information. Keep in mind that many vaccinations take several weeks to provide full protection, so don't put off your shots till the last minute.

Staying Safe
You may imagine that hungry crocodiles or packs of ravenous lions are the biggest dangers on safari. The truth is that humans rarely get attacked by wild animals, but they routinely fall victim to safari scams, dehydration and illness, or crime while traveling to Africa.

Scams
When selecting a package, beware of safari scams. Research your prospective safari package provider; ask them for references and if they belong to professional organizations such as the American Society of Travel Agents or the United States Tour Operator Assocation. Also, look for user reviews on sites like TripAdvisor before you book. And keep in mind that if something sounds too good to be true (like a $50-per-night safari in luxury bungalows), it's likely a scam. Finally, always be aware of your package provider's cancellation policy (or lack thereof)!

Medications for Travel

Staying Healthy
Safaris can be physically strenuous and mentally taxing. Travelers to Africa are at risk for dehydration while on safari; your body may not be accustomed to the hot sun and dry air of the bush and you may not even realize that you're becoming dehydrated. Drink lots of water! For more on staying fit and healthy on your travels, read our guide to health care abroad.

Politics and Crime
Political unrest is an unfortunate fact of life for many African nations. Crime and violence plague many African cities, so even if you're safe on a remote safari in the bush, you may run into problems on either end of your trip. When traveling to populated areas, familiarize yourself with local customs and take measures to keep your money and valuables safe. And always check State Department advisories before planning a trip to another country.

Insurance
Since you will be in a remote location and will probably be spending a significant amount of money on a safari, travel insurance is virtually a necessity on an African safari. (Many safari tour operators actually require customers to purchase travel insurance in order to reserve a package.) Be sure to look for emergency medical coverage and financial protection when booking your policy. For more information, read our guide to travel insurance.

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    --written by Caroline Costello

    Editor's Note: IndependentTraveler.com is published by The Independent Traveler, Inc., a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network.

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