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HEALTH & SAFETY IN SOUTHERN AFRICA

HEALTH 
A large network of hospitals offer excellent service in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia, but make sure you have adequate health insurance, including cover for medical evacuation, as health care in Botswana and Namibia can be good in the major towns but medical facilities and communications are limited in rural areas. There are good medical facilities in Windhoek (Namibia) but evacuation from remote areas can take time. For serious medical treatment, medical evacuation to the UK or South Africa may be necessary.
 
It is generally advised that you should not swim in rivers in the eastern and northern regions, as the bilharzia parasite is found in these areas. Malaria is endemic in the Lowveld areas of South Africa (parts of Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal). Prevention is the key and the most crucial elements of this are covering up and using insect repellent. Pack light clothes with long sleeves and long legs and once on the tour use any window and door screens with which your motorhome is equipped (but these may not be standard equipment, and doorways in particular will not have screens), or sleep under a mosquito net. A piece of net curtain weighs little in your luggage and can then be used to cover your motorhome’s doorway, if you wish to leave it open. When using insect repellent, be careful to re-apply it as directed by the medical notes accompanying the treatment you choose.
 
Do not leave your motorhome’s outside light on for long periods, as this will attract insects. Burning citronella candles can help to keep them away. Mosquitoes appear mainly in the evening.
 
You may also wish to take prophylactic drugs as a precaution against malaria. If so, consult your doctor well in advance, as you may need to begin any such medication some time before departure. Be sure to ask your doctor about any possible side effects. Seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.
 
Further advice on any vaccination requirements and general health information for Southern Africa are available on the NHS website.
 
WATER
South Africa's tap water is potable, safe and clean. In some areas, the water is mineral-rich, and you may experience a little gastric distress for a day or two until you get used to it. Bottled mineral water, both sparkling and still, is readily available in most places. In Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe we highly recommend that you drink only bottled water - and before you use it, check that the cap seal has not already been broken. Water quality and piping, and the reliability of supplies, can all be problematic. You should familiarise yourself with the basic precautions to take in order to avoid cholera, in particular drinking and preparing food in only boiled or bottled water, avoiding ice in drinks and being careful not to swallow shower or washing water. Rigorous food and hygiene measures should be observed and you should take particular care with any foods bought at the roadside or in markets. If you suffer from diarrhoea or vomiting during or immediately following a visit to Botswana, Zimbabwe or Namibia you should seek immediate medical attention. More guidance on preventing cholera is at: www.nathnac.org/travel/factsheets/cholera.htm.
 
Worldwide Motorhoming Holidays offer fully comprehensive medical and personal holiday insurance for peace of mind while you’re away. 
 
 
SAFETY
Most parts of Southern Africa can be visited safely providing you take basic precautions, such as not walking alone in deserted areas at night, not exhibiting photographic equipment or jewellery or large amounts of cash and, in traffic, maintaining a safe following distance. In large towns, lock your car doors when driving and ensure that your windows are up as some petty crime does take place at traffic lights.
 
Do not leave personal items and baggage on the seats. Do plan your route in advance, use maps and park in well-lit areas. Picking up of hitchhikers is not recommended. As in the rest of the world, Southern Africa has its share of criminals, so take the basic common-sense precautions.
 
If you are in doubt as to the safety of a particular area or attraction in South Africa, contact the National Tourism Information and Safety Line on 083 123 2345.
 
We recommend that you check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice for all countries visited both well before and just prior to travel, as for any other trip abroad.

Botswana: Botswana remains a relatively safe place to visit or live. Take the normal precautions you would take anywhere else: always lock car doors; don’t leave valuables in vehicles; do take care with your bags in shopping centres and other crowded places, and after coming out of banks or ATM kiosks; avoid walking alone at night.

Zimbabwe: Zimbabweans are known for their hospitality and friendliness towards each other and visitors alike. Although nearly all Zimbabweans are very helpful it is always advisable to be cautious when dealing with strangers. If you need help you should also be on the lookout for people wearing a ZIMHOST badge, as they are usually the best people to ask. Police officers can also be very helpful. As is the case anywhere else in the world, valuables should be safeguarded, and kept in a safe box if available. While the FCO does give warnings about some problem areas in Zimbabwe, these are far away from the popular tourist area of Victoria Falls. Here, the most common problem tourists might encounter is petty theft, which unfortunately can be expected in tourist destinations the world over. Street sellers are particularly prevalent in the main town, the markets and on the Victoria Falls bridge, and may be very persistent. If you do not want to buy anything, then you may need to be persistent, but polite, in return. The best place from which to view the falls is the Victoria Falls National Park, where access is carefully controlled so as to exclude any hawkers or others who might detract from the experience. It is an offence to be in any way insulting towards the President or the President’s office; and an open hand is the symbol of the MDC political party, so a friendly wave could be misinterpreted. It is also an offence for civilians to wear any form of clothing with a camouflage design. Always ask permission before taking photographs of people. Do not photograph public or military buildings or personnel in Zimbabwe; or military buildings or personnel anywhere on the tour.

Namibia: Please note that the Namibian authorities are clearing unexploded ordnance from areas that are barred to public access. You simply need to ensure that, on the Trans-Caprivi Highway between Rundu and Katima Mulilo, or in other remote areas of northern Namibia, you travel during daylight hours and stick to the well-travelled routes. Theft from vehicles, particularly at service stations, is not uncommon, so keep your vehicle locked and keep valuable possessions out of sight.