Getting ready for a trip to Africa takes planning and preparation. Two of the most important things to consider: 1) getting your required visas, and 2) getting the necessary vaccines and malaria prevention medication.
Here’s a little video of our experience with those two. Read on for more about getting visas and vaccines for foreign travel.
We tried to have fun with the process, but give yourself time… We didn’t leave much, which meant having to pay additional fees to expedite the process. First our passports went to Washington, D.C. to the Tanzanian embassy. Luckily there is a Kenyan consulate in Los Angeles, so we were able to take care of that visa in just a couple of days.
In cities that don’t have consulates and embassies, get your visas early. Most are good for up to six months, so as soon as you have as your travel dates, get the process started. A simple google search with the country you plan to visit and “visa application” should pull up all the links you need. Sometimes it’s worth an old-fashioned phone call, however, if you have questions or concerns. Every country and its policies are different so do your research and plan ahead.
We can jump out of planes, rappel down mine shafts, and leap off high cliffs into raging seas no problem. But when it comes to shots and needles, let’s just say that’s when our wimpy side comes out. A great resource for vaccines and travel medications is Passport Health, which has locations around the country. Travel is their specialty and in places with diseases like malaria and yellow fever, you don’t want to mess around. Bring your vaccine history with you so you don’t get something you don’t need. If you’re unsure, better to err on the side of caution, although don’t overdo it and be sure to do some kind of detox or cleanse afterwards, as many vaccines contain metals and preservatives that can cause havoc on your system over time.
Note: a lot of people fear malaria meds and for good reason – some have been known to cause hallucinations. Because one of us (Lindsay) had a bad experience with one such medication when she went to the Amazon, we both chose to take doxycycline instead of malarone. The drawback is that you have to take it for an entire month after you return. While it wasn’t as bad as the first time with malaria prevention, we’re not going to lie – these meds are harsh and no matter what kind you take, you’re probably going to feel a little woozy in the first few days.
Our best advice – drink lots of water, avoid alcohol for a few days (or limit it), and just power through. So what if you lose your breakfast on safari next to a pool filled with hippos? It happens! As our fabulous safari guide Vicky said as we both struggled through day one of our safari, “malaria meds – happens to everyone; hakuna matata.”
It’s all worth it. Trust us. Visiting East Africa was one of the most incredible, epic journeys we’ve taken. Stay tuned for more on that trip in the coming weeks…