Africa is a unique continent in many ways. From some of the least touched natural habitats in the world to the bustling cities dotted all over the continent, there is much to see and do that it is impossible to find anywhere else in the world. However, Africa presents problems that every Australian needs to be aware of before they step on the plane to their destination. Some of these are just minor differences, while others could literally save your life. The last thing you want to do is have your trip of a lifetime spoilt due to a preventable issue, so make sure to prepare appropriately for the following points.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Getting your yellow fever vaccination before travelling to Africa (and much of South America) is highly recommended. While many Australians have vaccinations against other diseases you might find in Africa (like rabies), having a yellow fever vaccination in Australia is very rare. Yellow fever has a very high fatality rate and every year, tens of thousands of people die from it, yet it is very rarely discussed outside of the countries it affects. A yellow fever vaccination is quite specialised, and you need to find a clinic or doctor that has proper accreditation to administer it as not every doctor has had training in it.
Never Drink Tap Water
Australia is lucky in that in almost all places around the country you can safely drink from the tap. In fact, tap water is prepared explicitly for drinking with additives like fluoride present, which help your overall oral health. In most countries in Africa, this is not the case, and you can easily contract a stomach bug (or something more severe) if you drink straight from the tap. To combat this, you should either boil the water before you drink it or purchase bottled water. If you are in a bind, you can also use iodine tablets to make water drinkable, but this will have quite a strong taste.
Bartering Is More Encouraged In Markets
One of the great features of Africa is the many open-air markets that offer everything from tribal artwork to ice-cream. Unlike Australia, where almost all purchases are made through major retailers with set prices, these market vendors expect you to bargain with them. While you might feel bad about trying to lower the price, you need to remember a few things:
- The vendor has likely upped their price specifically for you (tourists stick out like a sore thumb). Even if you get them down to half price, it will likely still be higher than what they sell it to other people for.
- They will never sell anything to you at a loss. If they start to get more firm in their bargaining, that means you are close to their cost-price and you should ease off.
- Bartering is part of the fun of markets! Not everyone enjoys it, and if you don't feel comfortable doing, it that is totally fine.