Africa is a popular destination for travellers since always. You hear everywhere about safari trips into the savanna, jungle, climbing Kilimanjaro seems to be trendy even among bloggers. But there are also people who go to Africa to spend some time at the beach, exploring only closest neighbourhood of the hotel, getting to know the locals, without getting into the deep wild. No matter what kind of vacation you choose, you must prepare yourself accordingly. And here is what I did to prepare myself for the trip to Gambia.
First of all it’s better to start the preparation in advance. If it’s last minute holidays it could get complicated or even difficult. I didn’t have much time, but 3 weeks was enough for me.
Going to Africa usually, if not always, means vaccine shots. It’s good to check on official websites of Tropical Medicine Institute of your country (website in Belgium: http://www.itg.be). You will find there all needed information about shots you must take, advices, information about different diseases that could affect you. For example in Gambia highly advised is to have vaccine for yellow fever, which you can only get in official tropical vaccination centers. Other vaccines that I personally needed I got at my first contact doctor. There were shots against polio, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, hepatitis a and b. I got them all and I feel way safer now 😉 You’ll need more vaccines for safari/adventurous kind of vacation, than to beach/relaxing holidays. I’m going for the latter.
As I mentioned, to get yellow fever vaccine, it is needed to go to official certified tropical vaccine centers. And you have to manage to do it two weeks before the trip. Besides getting a shot, you’ll most probably going to get lots of useful info about other bad lucks that could happen in Africa, like diarrhea or vomiting, that happen most of the times simply because of change of climate, food and obviously water. You’ll also get a list of things to take with you on a trip, like mosquito repellent, disinfection gel for hands, thermometer, etc.
Besides that I also got prescription for pills against malaria. There is no vaccine, the only way to protect yourself is to use mosquito repellent and take pills. There are lots of side effects that may occur but it’s important to know that they don’t happen always and in fact a little percentage of people have side effects. While malaria is still highly present in the world (over 200 mln people get infected yearly) and still kills hundreds of thousands people per year , I think it’s in your best interest to take the pills. But again, the choice is yours…
Before you go to a country that you don’t know much about, it’s also useful to check on Ministry of The Foreign Affairs website all needed information about safety in the chosen destination. Unfortunately we are living in times of terrorism, we better avoid dangerous lands. Or at least know, that there is danger, so we don’t get completely surprised.
As part of my preparation I read blogs and articles about Gambia, about locals, food, places to visit, things to avoid, souvenirs to buy. All of it makes my appetite for the trip grow, and I literally cannot wait to go there and check all of that by myself.
As for packing, it is my least favourite thing to do before any trip, but it has to be done, so… even though it is quite obvious, never ever forget those things:
– passport and all the needed documents (vaccine book, flights tickets, conformation of hotel booking)
– sunscreen and after sun lotion
– phone and charger + socket changer
– money in few different places
– medicine (the ones that you always use and those specially for the trip)
– and then clothes and other things
And remember to avoid drinking water from the faucets. It may not be perfectly clean, our bellies may not be prepared for that, always use water from bottles (make sure that the bottles are sealed when you buy them) brush your teeth also using the bottled water and avoid drinks with ice.
I think that’s it, you can always let me know if I forgot something essential 🙂 meanwhile, I go to catch my flight to The Gambia!