Malaria and travelling to Southern Africa

Tips for preventing mosquito bites when you visit Southern Africa

Mosquitoes can be a real nuisance at the best of times, but if you travel to countries in Southern Africa, then you have to be doubly vigilant in protecting you and your loved ones from them. This is because the insects in this region of the world are carriers of some of the world’s most dangerous diseases, including malaria, West Nile virus, dengue fever, and the zika virus. To avoid acquiring one of these life-threatening maladies, here are some tips for preventing mosquito bites when you travel to Southern Africa.

Read more about our malaria-free safaris over here.

Use a good repellent

Sometimes the most obvious solution is, indeed, the best one and in the case of mosquitoes, by far your best protection against them is the application of a good insect repellent to all areas of exposed skin before you go outdoors. The strongest and most potent repellents contain DEET as their active ingredient, so for maximal protection against mozzies you should look for a formula that contains this substance. On the other hand, one potential downside of DEET is that it is suspected by some to be toxic to humans – and the environment – so if this worries you, then choose from among the many alternative, ‘natural’ repellents now available on the market, containing such active ingredients as citronella, eucalyptus oil, rosemary essential oil, picaridins and more. And if you are worried about odors and greasy repellent residues, then select a product that is advertised as odor and mess free.

Wear proper clothing

Form a natural, chemical-free barrier between yourself and mosquitoes by wearing the right clothing. When heading outside during mosquito ‘peak hour’, don thick, long sleeved shirts and pants, thick socks, and sturdy shoes. Tuck your shirt into your pants, and your pants into your socks. When dressing up on your Southern African holiday, be sure to  leave as few areas of exposed skin as possible. You can also purchase special clothing – as well as mosquito netting and other camping equipment – that has been pre-treated with insect repellent – although more expensive, you may want to give it a try.

Avoid perfumes

Mosquitoes are attracted to the sweet smelling fragrance of perfumes, deodorants, after-shaves and the like, so avoid wearing too many of these products when you head out during your Southern African vacation.

Maintain a healthy diet!

Mosquitoes are also drawn to the smell of the chemicals your body gives off when you eat a lot of sweet, sugary foods. So another tip for protecting yourself from mosquitoes when holidaying in Southern Africa is to cut down on the sugary snacks and treats.

Use mosquito netting

This is a no-brainer if you are sleeping in a tent or hammock when out camping or on safari. But it may be a useful precautionary measure even if your group is staying in a hotel – where human inhabitants are present, mosquitoes have a way of finding their way inside buildings! For good measure, you can even spray your mosquito net canopy with repellent.