Audio by Max & Sophie, who have travelled to South Sudan and published a travel guide about South Sudan’s River Nile and Boma National Park, the best national park in Africa, with over one million Antelopes, countless number of gazelles, zebras, giraffes, crocodiles, hippos, leopards, lions, birds galore, any many more wildlife.
It’s a question that the two 52 Places Travelers have fielded from readers and colleagues alike: How do you stay healthy when crisscrossing the world for nearly 365 days? And what do you pack in case you get sick? Each location has its own set of challenges, recommended vaccines and access to pharmacies.
There’s a thin line between being over- and underprepared, said Rebecca Acosta, the co-founder and executive director of Traveler’s Medical Service. The average globe-trotting traveler does not need I.V. bags and syringes, she said, though the items are suggested for those trekking in rural areas.
Jada Yuan began her year as the inaugural 52 Places Traveler in 2018 with a first aid kit that was built with the help of foreign correspondents. Ms. Yuan’s kit was so extensive that a Moroccan customs officer accused her of being a drug dealer.
Twelve months and some 74,900 miles later, Ms. Yuan returned to New York City with “basically the same amount of medicine,” she said.
This year’s 52 Places Traveler, Sebastian Modak, is having a similar experience. Five months in, his first aid kit has been almost untouched. But it offers enough peace of mind that it’s worth all the space it takes up, he says.
(His top recommendation for staying healthy? Drink clean, filtered water. Lots of it.)
Here’s how to pack a first aid kit, whether you are going around the world for a year or a remote adventure for a week.
Start With a Vaccine Checklist
The Centers for Disease Control has a list of vaccines, health notices and packing lists for those traveling around the world. That means accounting for location: Ms. Yuan and Mr. Modak had to plan for places as diverse as Liuwa Plain National Park in Zambia and Japan’s Setouchi Islands.
Make sure to look up vaccine requirements far in advance of your travels, as some vaccines may require treatments or doses. Additionally, some nations may require proof of vaccination upon entering customs. The World Health Organization keeps an updated list of nations requiring yellow fever vaccines here.
Don’t forget travel insurance
If you are traveling with a group or on business, you may already have traveler’s insurance that covers medical evacuation. If not, consider buying insurance that includes medevac services, which are recommended when traveling to more rural destinations.
In addition to health coverage, travel insurance covers things like lost baggage and flight cancellations. So even if you stay healthy, it can come in handy when you’re on road.
A good travel insurance package will also include a support number to call if you need help identifying the severity of your illness, and where to turn for help.
If your health care provider in the United States offers virtual doctor visits, you may be able to turn to your regular doctor’s office while abroad, too.
Management vs. prevention
If you have prescriptions, make sure they are filled for the entirety of your travels. That may take some coordinating between a primary care physician and insurance companies if medicines need to be resupplied on the road. Ms. Acosta recommends working with a doctor to compile a list of all prescribed medications, in generic form, in case prescriptions are misplaced.
When it comes to prevention, Ms. Acosta said, travelers should think of their medicine cabinet. “What are the type of things that you may grab from your medical kit at home? If it’s one in the morning and you have an upset stomach or a headache, what do you go for?”
Pack those items first.
For Mr. Modak that included vitamins. “I don’t know if you can overdose on vitamins but if so, I’m doing it,” he said from Bulgaria. “I take a multivitamin every morning and chew an Airborne vitamin C tablet, too, on top of that.”
Make a checklist
Travelers should create a first aid kit for simple wounds and basic medications to treat stomach issues, colds and allergies. Some products that Traveler’s Medical Service recommends include:
First aid items
Alcohol swabs and liquid disinfectant solution
Bandages: Adhesive bandages, gauze, tape, blister pads and bandage rolls
Topical creams: Antibiotic ointment, antifungal ointments, hydrocortisone cream
Oral rehydration solution for diarrhea or dehydration
Lubricating eye drops
Antihistamines for allergic reactions and seasonal allergies
Bismuth subsalicylate for nausea, gas and bloating
Anti-motility medication for severe diarrhea
Cough and cold remedies and lozenges
Pain relievers/fever reducers
Motion sickness medication
Similarly, note any preventive medicines in generic form should you need to restock while traveling.
Nairobi — Standing in the pop-out of a Land Rover just a few yards from Fatu and Najin, the last two northern white rhinos in the world, at Ol Pejeta in central Kenya, was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had.
The last two massive members of this subspecies live under armed guard 24 hours a day in a 700-acre enclosure here. Ol Pejeta is the largest rhino sanctuary in East Africa.
In an era when purpose-driven, transformative experiences are the ultimate travel luxury, a visit to Africa should be at the top of any traveler’s list.
Americans are often inspired by African wildlife: there was outrage two years ago when Cecil the lion was shot by a hunter in Zimbabwe; the Trump administration took heat last year when it said it would overturn a ban on the sale of elephant trophy imports from Africa; and in March, when the last male northern white rhino, Sudan, died here at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the severity of rhino poaching got international attention.
For those who really want to help save African wildlife, I offer the same advice that Elodie Sampere, Ol Pejeta’s head of conservation marketing, gave to the group of journalists I was traveling with: “The best way to help is to visit, not donate.”
One of the most exciting parts of being here is seeing what the locals are doing to help conserve and protect the continent’s iconic species. Donating to causes from afar helps, but spending money in person shows the local communities that the animals are more valuable alive than dead. And in a selfie-driven era, visitors spread the word far more effectively about the importance of saving these delicate ecosystems.
Beyond that, experiences here can be life-changing, as mine were at Ol Pejeta. More than 85,000 visitors come here annually, taking game drives through Ol Pejeta’s plains, where I encountered elephants, lions and chimpanzees. The high amount of rainfall in this region compared with other parts of Africa means more vegetation, and Kenya’s highest density of wildlife outside of the Maasai Mara. The reserve uses advanced fencing techniques to facilitate the movement of wildlife while, as much as possible, keeping poachers out.
Visitors can either stay at a number of lodges on the conservancy or nearby, as we did, at the Fairmont Mount Kenya. Tour operators like Intrepid Travel offer trips that focus on visiting the last two northern white rhinos and donate part of their profits to protecting them.
Guests at the Fairmont Mount Kenya don’t even have to leave the property to get a taste of animal conservancy. The resort’s founder, 1950s film star William Holden, was a hunter turned conservationist who also founded the onsite Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, which raises and rehabilitates orphaned and injured wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into the wild.
You can get far more up close and personal with cheetahs at the conservancy’s orphanage than you would in the wild. And cyclists setting off from the resort through the conservancy can see the rare white zebras, which are being bred and hopefully released back to the wild, as well as the mountain bongo, one of the most endangered animals in the world.
By Johanna Jainchill
For millions of people, summer means an opportunity to hop on a plane and experience new and exciting sights, cultures, and food. It also means getting packed into a giant commercial aircraft and then wondering if you can make it to your next layover without submitting to the anxiety of using the onboard bathroom.
Roughly the size of an apartment pantry, these narrow facilities barely accommodate your outstretched knees; turbulence can make expelling waste a harrowing nightmare. Once you’ve successfully managed to complete the task and flush, what happens next?
Unlike our home toilets, planes can’t rely on water tanks to create passive suction to draw waste from the bowl. In addition to the expense of hauling hundreds of gallons of water, it’s impractical to leave standing water in an environment that shakes its contents like a snow globe. Originally, planes used an electronic pump system that moved waste along with a deodorizing liquid called Anotec. That method worked, but carrying the Anotec was undesirable for the same reasons as storing water: It raised fuel costs and added weight to the aircraft that could have been allocated for passengers. (Not surprisingly, airlines prefer to transport paying customers over blobs of poop.)
Beginning in the 1980s, planes used a pneumatic vacuum to suck liquids and solids down and away from the fixture. Once you hit the flush button, a valve at the bottom of the toilet opens, allowing the vacuum to siphon the contents out. (A nonstick coating similar to Teflon reduces the odds of any residue.) It travels to a storage tank near the back of the plane at high speeds, ready for ground crews to drain it once the airplane lands. The tank is then flushed out using a disinfectant.
If you’re also curious about timing your bathroom visit to avoid people waiting in line while you void, flight attendants say the best time to go is right after the captain turns off the seat belt sign and before drink service begins.
Part of the wild and adventurous appeal of going on a safari in Africa, involves the possibility of having up close encounters with wildlife.
Game drives, bush walks and boat rides are all great methods of searching for animals in the wild. However, what if you didn’t need to leave camp in order to experience an intimate wildlife sighting? What if the animals came to your doorstep?
Imagine waking up to see a pride of lions outside your window, or having your breakfast interrupted by a herd of elephants. While this may sound too good to be true, this is in fact the reality of many lodges in Africa where they have chosen to forego the fences and allow the wildlife to roam freely throughout the camp. Although just because a lodge doesn’t have a fence, doesn’t necessarily guarantee any wildlife visitors. By nature, animals are wary of humans and will avoid unfamiliar structures. However, there are a few places that are lucky enough to experience regular visits from their wild guests.
These are some of our favourite lodges where the wildlife roams free and animals are known to visit on a regular basis:
Situated in the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia, Mfuwe Lodge plays host to a very special wildlife spectacle. Each year between late October and mid-December, staff and visitors at Mfuwe look forward to a special visit from elephant families that have been regular guests at the lodge for three generations. The elephants walk directly through the lodge’s reception lobby, to feast on the fallen fruits from the large Wild Mango (Cordyla Africana) tree in the lodge grounds.
Renowned for the ‘Armchair Safari’, Kanga Camp is located in the most remote part of Mana Pools National Park – Kanga Pan. This pan is the only known water source in the area available throughout the year, making it a hub for wildlife and Kanga Camp is perfectly placed to offer you a front row seat to the wildlife action. From the comfort of the deck chairs, guests might be lucky enough to see elephant, lion, wild dog, buffalo and even leopard drinking in front of the lodge.
Royal Malewane Private Game Lodge:
Royal Malewane is located in Thornybush Private Game Reserve within the greater Kruger region, South Africa. One of the best amenities at the Royal Malewane Private Game Lodge is their private plunge pools that come with each room. It is not that uncommon for an elephant or two to drop by for a drink of water while you’re taking a dip and soaking up the sunshine.
Staying in an unfenced camp is an exhilarating and authentic bush experience, however, due to the obvious safety concerns, these lodges generally have very strict child policies. Guests also need to be accompanied by a member of staff when walking from one area of the lodge to another, especially at night.
Fancy sleeping somewhere gorgeously adventurous and unusual? Airbnb is not the only place to shop for the most unique, quirky and out-of-this-world holiday rentals and accommodation options. In recent years, Africa has set the standard for award-winning and innovative accommodation and this is reason enough to save up and go on safari this year.
Heck, afterwards you may just have the urge to seek out and embrace the masterminds who’ve thought beyond the four-bedroom wall to present us with these magnificent places to slumber.
Here’s our list of the top 5 places to sleep in Africa that will totally blow your mind:
1. Sleep with fish in an underwater hotel room in Zanzibar
In the north of the pristine island of Pemba in Tanzania lies The Manta Resort’s astonishingly impressive underwater room. The floating structure consists of three levels each offering guests a unique experience above and below the water. However, the most magical of them all is arguably the bedroom beneath the waves which affords 360 degree views of the underwater world. Sun worshippers can spend time on the upper landing deck by day and climb down the long ladder into the turquoise bubble by night. By turning on the spotlights, you can watch the shoals of reef fish carry about their nautical lives as you drift into a deep sleep.
2. Sleep on your own eco-friendly private island in Zambia
On a faraway private isle in the middle of the Zambezi River is where you’ll find Sindabezi Island. In fact, it’s the only luxury bush camp from where the Victoria Falls can be comfortably explored. Compromised of just 5 open-sided chalets, guests get to proclaim Sindabezi as their own personal retreat while staying at one of the most environmentally friendly properties in Africa. We don’t know what’s better – their commitment to sustainable tourism or the intimate, barefoot in the bush, island feel.
3. Sleep on a rooftop in an airstream trailer in South Africa
Situated at the heart of the bustling Long Street in Cape Town, the Grand Daddy Boutique Hotel is a quirky and convenient place to explore South Africa’s Mother City. The boutique hotel features a top-class eatery, luxury rooms and family suites, and better yet, South Africa’s only rooftop Airstream Trailer Park. A new world awaits on the rooftop. Among the seven uniquely designed trailers where guests can choose to spend the night, there’s an open-air cinema with weekly movie screenings and a sky bar perfect for sundowners on a summer night.
4. Sleep on an open-air deck in the bush in Kenya
The 56,000-acre Loisaba Conservancy in Northern Laikipai, Kenya is one of the most beautiful places in Africa to sleep under the stars. It lies just off the equator overlooking the Kiboko waterhole, making it the ideal destination for stargazing and wildlife viewing all year round. The Loisaba Starbeds are handcrafted four-poster beds which sit on wheels and are rolled out onto a raised wooden platform so guests to sleep under the African stars. It’s the biggest bedroom in the world, where the night sky is your ceiling and the hills in the distance are you walls. Talk about sweet dreams!
5. Sleep in a luxury houseboat on the river in Botswana
Moving along the banks of the Chobe River, the Zambezi Queen is a unique floating boutique hotel in a class of her own. She is a 5-star, 42-metre long luxury houseboat offering unparalleled sophistication in one of the most remote locations on the planet. As a guest on the vessel, you can enjoy an adventurous river safari holiday, while still being surrounded by complete comfort and luxury. Wake up to the sight of an elephant drinking from the river or watch a fish eagle take flight – all from the comfort of your bed.