Anxious about getting Travellers’ Diarrhoea while on Safari? Worried about what the bathroom facilities will be like? Lucy Hedges, Lead Nurse at Nomad Bristol describes her experiences from her recent trip to Kenya and Tanzania.
When I booked to go on safari I was looking forward to seeing all the fantastic animals Africa had to offer but wondered if I would be able to manage using the different bathroom facilities available and how I’d cope with an upset stomach while I was away. I had chosen to go on a camping safari which in the literature stated that basic facilities would be present at the campsites and our food would be prepared for us.
I guessed the toilets would probably involve hole in the ground style rather than the ‘western style’ sit down flushing toilets. I had been to music festivals with long drop toilets so knew the essential items to pack – toilet roll, alcohol hand gel and a head torch. I actually found that in a large majority of campsites a choice of facilities was available with squat/hole in the ground, long drop and ‘western style’ toilets provided. The Serengeti National Park visitors centre and Ngorongoro Crater public campsite had the best facilities while the petrol station facilities were the worst. In hindsight it was a surprise to find that only squat toilets were available in the airport at Nairobi. I adapted quickly to using the squat toilets but some of my fellow travellers had difficulties using them.
Another traveller had gone to use the squat toilet when we heard a commotion. She appeared from the bathroom in shock saying she lost something down the squat toilet. It turned out to be her phone which she had used to call home and forgotten to take out of her pocket!
One traveller found it difficult to squat due to her bad knees. If this is something that could be a concern you could consider using a Shewee, a plastic device that enables women to wee while standing up. Another traveller had gone to use the squat toilet when we heard a commotion. She appeared from the bathroom in shock saying she lost something down the squat toilet. It turned out to be her phone which she had used to call home and forgotten to take out of her pocket! She had been calling home everyday to check her husband was managing without her. Unfortunately we were unable to rescue her phone. We shared a few laughs about it towards the end of the holiday but it was very distressing at the time. Always check your pockets before using the bathroom to avoid making the same mistake!
One of my main concerns apart from the risk of Malaria was experiencing Travellers’ Diarrhoea when we would be at times be relatively far from medical facilities and in a country with less resources. Travellers’ Diarrhoea is one of the commonest health problems on holiday and is caused mainly by bacteria present in contaminated food. Good hand hygiene and making sensible choices about what food to eat should reduce the risk of its occurrence. Taking away rehydration sachets and tablets to stop the symptoms (Imodium) should be in everyone’s basic first kit. In addition to these I packed some Ciprofloxacin tablets, an antibiotic used to treat Travellers’ Diarrhoea. These are a prescription medication which should only be used in more severe cases but are invaluable to have just in case this situation arises.
If you want to be prepared, discuss the Diarrhoea Self Treatment kit with your local Nomad Travel clinic nurse.