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Congo Safari: Ready, Set, Go!

Preparing well for your safari can make all the difference to your vacation. As Africa Safari Experts, we take pride in sharing practical, useful travel trips with our travel community - every single suggestion we make is based on firsthand experience on safari in Africa. All true adventure vacations require some thoughtful preparation and travelling to the Congo is no exception. There are medical requirements like inoculations and planning requirements like a personal medical kit, gear and clothing checklists - the key to comfortable travel is often as simple as bringing no more than you need without leaving behind something you'll end up wanting. Here is our guide to getting ready to trek the Congo - enjoy!

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Where to start? We always begin with any medical requirements for a journey. For Congo, the first requirement - you cannot travel without it - is a Yellow Fever inoculation, which must be done well in advance of travel - no less than 10 days but preferably 3 weeks before travel. There are other medical considerations - not requirements but strongly recommended precautionary measures - like malaria prophylactics that often need to be started from a few days to two weeks before you leave home. You may feel overwhelmed by the long list of recommended inoculations and need some time to decide what you do and don't want to do. We recommend you consult a qualified travel health professional and make sure they are registered and able to issue your official Yellow Fever Travel Certificate - a small yellow card that you should keep with your passport when you travel to and from Yellow Fever areas, like Congo and any of the countries in East Africa.

Congo blog
For his inoculations & malarial prophylactics, Terence went to Dr Brauer's Medi-Travel International Clinic.

With the medical checks behind you, it's time for the fun part of gearing up for a jungle trek. The key to being comfortable on safari is to wear layers of light, cotton clothing in colours like sand, stone, khaki, green and olive. Bright colours and patterns disturb animals and dark blues attract biting flies. Here are our tried and tested packing tips:

Tops - we wore light, long-sleeved T-shirts in natural fabrics for hikes and walks and layered cotton shirts over tank tops in the evenings. The long sleeves protected our arms from scratches and insect bites both in the jungle and after sunset. Add a fleece jacket and light, fold-up raincoat for the occasional chilly evening or fleeting tropical shower. 

Bottoms - pack comfortable cargo pants for transfers and guided hikes, with a pair of waterproof pants for water-based bai walks. We bought waterproof pants from a specialist outdoor store and were very glad we did! Instead of being weighed down and uncomfortable in soggy cargos, we stayed comfortable and only slightly damp.

Shoes - you'll need two pairs of activity shoes for your trek. For the guided hikes in the rainforest, take a pair of worn-in hiking boots with two layers of socks - moisture wicking inner socks and thick, protective outer socks. Add ankle-high gaiters to protect your feet and lower legs from stinging nettles and biting insects, and you are all set. For the water-based bai walks, take a pair of comfortable sneakers or quality river shoes - your legs will be submerged in water, sometimes up to thigh level, which means wet feet no matter what shoes you wear. We found that cotton socks worn inside comfortable canvas sneakers protected our feet from little pebbles and were the most comfortable option. 

Congo Safari: Ready, Set, Go!

Aside from meds, gear and clothes, there are a few essentials you should always bring on safari:

  1. Sunglasses, sun block and a sun hat with a light day pack for transfers and walks.
  2. All prescription drugs you take regularly along with a certified copy of your script(s).
  3. Your preferred treatment for stings and bites plus an insect repellent in both lotion and spray.
  4. Spare camera batteries, a charger and a zoom lens or converter (also called an extender or doubler).
  5. Certified copies of your passport, visa (if required) and travel insurance.
  6. Details of any medical conditions, allergies and your next-of-kin's contact details.
Congo Safari: Ready, Set, Go!
Terence got all he needed from clothing to gear at Outdoor Warehouse, our favourite adventure store.

Many travellers who come to Africa have spent months, or even years, researching and planning a dream safari. In the wait between confirming your bookings and actually leaving home it can all feel very unreal ... Right up until you have an inoculation or buy a specialist piece of gear. Suddenly the thrill of anticipation - the real sense of coming adventure - hits you! We love that moment - the keen awareness of all that lies ahead: the unknown sights and sounds, the surprise encounters and all the moments that will become lifelong memories. Happy travels!

Written by Donyale MacKrill. Connect with her on Google+

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