As well as ensuring that you have a medical check-up (see above) before booking your Kilimanjaro trip, you should check that your vaccinations are up to date before you visit Tanzania. A visit to your health centre or vaccination clinic around six weeks before you depart is advisable. Below are the vaccinations you are recommended to have, subject of course to what the health centre of vaccination clinic advises:
You are also recommended to have a yellow fever vaccination and you must have a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate if you are coming from an infected area (for example, if arriving from Kenya). A full list of relevant countries is shown here.
East Africa is a high-risk area for malaria, both in the cities and remote areas. The good news is that Kilimanjaro is too cold at altitude for the mosquito which carries malaria, and it rarely ventures above 1200 metres. Of course, during your time in Tanzania, you will spend time at lower altitudes while on your way to and from your climb. You may even be combining the climb with a safari or some downtime in Zanzibar.
Those are the times when you are at risk. There is no vaccination against malaria, and the best way to protect yourself is to not get bitten in the first place. Wear long-sleeved shirts, long trousers and hats, use mosquito nets when sleeping and use insect repellent with 30% DEET, especially in the evenings when the malaria-carrying mosquito is active.
Your doctor will be able to advise on a suitable course of anti-malarial drugs courses, which must be started well before you travel – so consult in good time! The course involves taking tablets regularly, it must be completed and will continue for some time after you return home. Common drugs that may be prescribed include atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine or primaquine.
Despite the range of ‘exotic’ diseases in Africa, most health problems experienced by travellers are actually preventable by engaging in good practices. Many of these relate to food and water consumption, so here are our tips:
Ebola has hit the headlines in recent years after a large number of cases in West Africa. However, remember that Tanzania is in East Africa and many hundreds of miles away from the countries which have experienced significant outbreaks. There has been no evidence of ongoing active transmission of Ebola in Tanzania.