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Extended trip in Africa
Old 08-14-2013, 10:36 AM   #1
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Extended trip in Africa

I was just watching this thread at reddit about a guy who spent a year
and a half travelling around Africa. It certainly changed my perception
of life on the ground there.

IamA Guy who quit his job, sold his car, moved out and bought a one-way ticket to Africa. I spent the next year and a half traveling across the entire continent, mostly overland and solo. AMA! : IAmA

It got me interested in finally doing a trip there, and not just a
"tourist safari"
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Old 08-14-2013, 11:39 AM   #2
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The guy was all over the place, couch surfing, tent camping, etc. He figures he spent twenty grand, with a disclaimer that a lot of it was on tourist stuff and on some photo and scuba stuff before he left. He says many meals were has for a buck or two and night stays for five bucks. But if his figures are right, he did Africa on $3.65 a day.
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Old 08-14-2013, 02:25 PM   #3
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We were in Peace Corps in S. Africa for two years. Following our service, we traveled for 5 weeks in southern Africa. We did it like we were still PC volunteers (meaning on the cheap) using public taxis, boats, trains and buses. We mostly stayed in youth hostels or inexpensive hotels. It can be done and you can have a great time.
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Old 08-15-2013, 12:43 PM   #4
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You can indeed. Make sure to get all vacancies and immunizations. A good friend bought into the 'well I'm not in a hot zone, no need to worry about malaria'.

That was bad advice, he got malaria, the diease is dormant now and he's waiting for the next attack so the type of malaria can be determined, then treatment.

It a beautiful place to visit and you can experience it affordability.
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Old 08-18-2013, 12:23 AM   #5
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Just about all of Sub-Saharan Africa is a malaria hot zone.
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Old 08-18-2013, 09:31 AM   #6
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Just about all of Sub-Saharan Africa is a malaria hot zone.
He was in Capetown. Which is supposed to be safe.
On the last day of his trip they stopped to buy some souvenirs at a roadside stand. He remembers a truck being unpacked(that probably came from a hot zone), he feels that was how he got bit.

His Dr. messed up too, as soon as he came home he had classic symptoms, they went ignored as maybe you got a bug. His Dr. knew he had just come back from S.A., but apparently was unaware of the proper testing for malaria. So little of it is seen in the Midwest of US.

He was actually diagnosed by a co-worker, who in a couple hours on the net matched the alarming and serious test results with the disease.

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Old 08-18-2013, 10:23 AM   #7
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Don't forget the anti-malarials have side effects. After using them when I went to Ghana, but next blood work resulted in very high liver enzyme readings. Can't be 100% certain it was the malarone, but I could not think of anything else that could have caused it. Two years later my liver readings were back to normal.
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Old 08-18-2013, 12:27 PM   #8
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I got some tropical infections as a young man. It wasn't worth it then, unless I stood to make a fortune, and IMO middle aged sight-seeing in an area where any of these awful diseases are endemic is deranged.

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Old 08-18-2013, 12:46 PM   #9
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Don't forget the anti-malarials have side effects. After using them when I went to Ghana, but next blood work resulted in very high liver enzyme readings. Can't be 100% certain it was the malarone, but I could not think of anything else that could have caused it. Two years later my liver readings were back to normal.
I have spent a bit of time (weeks, not months) in areas which are considered at risk for malaria but never took any of the anti-malarials because I thought the risk of the various side effects was worse than the risk of actually contracting malaria. My traveling companion for my initial trips came to the opposite conclusion and took his anti-malarials. Basically, we both rolled the dice and won: I did not contract malaria; he did not suffer any side effects.

At the time, I did not feel there was a right answer to this question. But, you do need to educate yourself and make an informed decision on this subject.

Personally, I am very hopeful that some of the recent research and better anti-malarials and vaccines will prove fruitful in the near future.
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Old 08-26-2013, 08:12 PM   #10
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Well, I did catch up on the list of things I should get shots for. Maybe I want to try a few shorter, safer trips first. Africa is certainly on the list though, and off the beaten path.
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Old 08-26-2013, 08:39 PM   #11
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It strikes me that outside some very planned and controlled event like a camera safari, Africa for most people is going to be a big wad to chew. A job over there might really help, otherwise it will be very hard to learn anything about what is really going on.

A Frenchman or a Dutchman or a Japanese can spend some time reading US news (especially crime news) and self direct a pretty nice and likely safe trip here. Ditto an American with language facility who wants to go to Europe or heavily touristed parts of Asia. IMO, not so Africa. I just spent some time with an old friend who retired from a diplomatic job in equatorial Africa. Though they lived very well, and very much enjoyed the people they came to know, overall It was no picnic, with plenty of unscheduled excitement from time to time. And that does not address illness, which most of us downplay unless we have been laid low or had friends die or be permanently hobbled by some exotic disease.

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Old 08-26-2013, 08:57 PM   #12
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deranged
Ha, you would be more appreciated on this site if you would quit beating around the bush and just say what you mean.
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Old 08-26-2013, 09:57 PM   #13
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Not to belabor the disease issue, there are plenty of them that there isn't a vaccine or prophylaxis for. I got dengue fever last year and wasn't much bothered by it, but an acquaintance died of dengue a couple of years ago here. All you can do to avoid dengue is to not get bit by a certain variety of daytime mosquito. No pills or shots available. There are plenty of this type of systemic or intestinal diseases to be had for your $3.65/day in the tropics....whether in Asia or Africa.
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Old 08-27-2013, 06:42 AM   #14
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Well, I did catch up on the list of things I should get shots for. Maybe I want to try a few shorter, safer trips first. Africa is certainly on the list though, and off the beaten path.
Just curious, have you traveled much in developing countries before this?
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:01 PM   #15
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DW and I have been to Africa three times, me a fourth in June. DS was in Peace Corps in 2003-4 and we visited him in Mali, where we traveled with him for three weeks basically AS PC volunteers, eating street food, sleeping in dives, on a boat from Mopti to Timbuktu for three days camping on the shore over night. Both took anti-malarials as well as about 8 other vaccines. No problems at all, we drank bottled water only. In his stint there DS had malaria twice, didn't want the side effects. Did sustain a serious bus accident injury though that he has thankfully recovered from well.

Fast forward to last five years in which he's worked in Mali, Lesotho, SA, and Tanzania. We have visited him and traveled to 5-6 countries and loved it; these trips we went as tourists though. Having him to plan and guide us made it pretty much stress free for us, we've been places we never would have been on our own. Safaris, Capetown, Zanzibar, and Vic Falls were expensive but if you ever have the chance and can, it is worth it. Seeing the animals in natural habitat will spoil ever seeing them in a zoo for you though.

Now, on my last trip I visited him at his house in Morogoro in the sorta foothills of Tanzania. No anti-malarials, no problem. We then flew to Durban, which meant an early flight and overnight in Dar Es Salaam, down on the coast. Hotel reeked of insecticide, and i remember being bit by a mosquito. About ten days later back home woke up fever, backache, and headache. I've never had flu but it was just like it. Because I rarely get ill I was alarmed, and immediately thought of malaria with my little friend in the hotel. Got to Dr. and had meds within 12 hours of onset of symptoms, and ~6 hours later it was gone. The blood smears were negative, which the infectious disease doc said is common, but given the symptoms and circumstances, he was convinced it was malaria. I may have detected it so early they hadn't gotten that numerous.

DS is back and forth to Dar, hasn't taken anti-m for years. Unless I was to be in a really hot area I think I'd forego the meds. Of course now Red Cross doesn't want my blood for three years!

When we did take the anti-m I had doxycycline with no problems. DW took Larium, which gave her incredible hallucinatory dreams. As in talking to/with the family dog who spoke excellent English, but she could not tell it was a dream.
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Old 08-29-2013, 12:33 PM   #16
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Just curious, have you traveled much in developing countries before this?
Well, no, not really. My sister had a long stay in Nigeria I think and has really been all over the world.. so I get a lot of ideas from her. Like I said, I'd certainly plan some easier trips first, but it's nice to have a long term goal.
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Old 09-01-2013, 08:40 PM   #17
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Many parts of Africa are worth the trip. I first went to Kenya and then South Africa in 1989 for 4 months and fell in love. South Africa is an excellent introduction to the continent as the scenery is diverse and spectacular and infrastructure is of high quality. I have also spent time in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Mozambique and Ethiopia. They all have interesting places and things to see and wonderful people. In most of sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa, you do have to be prepared to be flexible and adaptable.
As far as anti-malarials, the tropical medicine folks I have talked to in the past have said to forego the medicines, take all reasonable precautions (always took my own impregnated mosquito nets and concentrated DEET), and get in to be seen right away if any sign of an infection after returning. That said, an ID person who went to South Africa last month took anti-malarials for her and her family. So who knows.
It is an amazing part of the world and the younger you are when you go the better IMHO. Cheers.
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Old 10-13-2013, 05:58 PM   #18
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One of the trips on my bucket list is to buy/rent a camperized landrover in south africa and spend 6 months (or more) roadtripping through southern africa (SA, namibia, botswana, mozambique, maybe zimbabwe or zambia). This would work best with 2-4 people. Anyone on here interested?
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Old 10-22-2013, 09:36 PM   #19
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One of the trips on my bucket list is to buy/rent a camperized landrover in south africa and spend 6 months (or more) roadtripping through southern africa (SA, namibia, botswana, mozambique, maybe zimbabwe or zambia). This would work best with 2-4 people. Anyone on here interested?
Certainly doable, from past experience I believe that you would need 2 couples in two separate vehicles, approx 1-2 months and a rigged out 4X4 vehicle with a rooftop tent, a camper fridge, dual vehicle batteries, basic cooking equipment, a GPS, good maps, 2 jerry tanks for extra fuel, if possible two spare tyres and a high lift jack. There might be more but this is all that comes to mind at the moment.

I have travelled through Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa (late 1990's) and Mozambique (long time ago), you do not need a safari type vehicle for South Africa or Zimbabwe. Malaria is not really a problem in winter, I would still take prophylaxis and preventative measures, as for Malaria occurring in Cape Town and Durban - with all due respect it sounds like a Snopes story.

I would love to do Namibia again but believe that if I am not fit/strong enough to lift up a 4x4 tire and put it on the roofrack of a 4X4, I'm not good enough to go.
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Old 10-22-2013, 11:25 PM   #20
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Certainly doable, from past experience I believe that you would need 2 couples in two separate vehicles, approx 1-2 months and a rigged out 4X4 vehicle with a rooftop tent, a camper fridge, dual vehicle batteries, basic cooking equipment, a GPS, good maps, 2 jerry tanks for extra fuel, if possible two spare tyres and a high lift jack. There might be more but this is all that comes to mind at the moment.

I have travelled through Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa (late 1990's) and Mozambique (long time ago), you do not need a safari type vehicle for South Africa or Zimbabwe. Malaria is not really a problem in winter, I would still take prophylaxis and preventative measures, as for Malaria occurring in Cape Town and Durban - with all due respect it sounds like a Snopes story.

I would love to do Namibia again but believe that if I am not fit/strong enough to lift up a 4x4 tire and put it on the roofrack of a 4X4, I'm not good enough to go.
My plan is actually to take at least 4-6 months, and have a vehicle equipped the way you suggest. I have a 4wd camper van that's been everywhere from Prudhoe bay to Cabo, so I think I've got a reasonable idea about what to expect. Two vehicles traveling together would be ideal, but I think I'd be willing to do the trip as a solo vehicle, with the hope of meeting other overlanders to convoy with to some of the more out of the way destinations. I'm a 54 y.o. climber/backpacker/sailor, so I think I've got the necessay fitness and strength. I've had some reactions from the malaria prophylaxis I've taken in the past in east africa and asia, so I think I'd want to do a risk assessment before decing whether to take it again. Any interest in joining me?
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