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Saturday, July 12, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 1/8/2013

Packing for safari challenges seasoned traveler

Three shots on the right, two shots on the left, and the arms only tingled for a couple of days.

Preparing for a trip to Africa is not like planning and packing for Disney World, and shots to prevent infectious diseases are at the top of the list of musts.

Kenya in eastern Africa is my destination. My packing checklist is completed. Well, almost. It's about the 22-inch duffle bag, a major challenge to a traveler who more than once has paid an additional $50, and more, for exceeding weight limits.

I'm not pushing my luck this time. With tape measure in hand, I shopped until I found a rather handsome 22-inch duffle. I chose one with pockets because it's always fun to search through as many pockets as possible when you travel looking for your camera, medicine, makeup, notebook, stationery, umbrella, book, and all the other things that are shoved somewhere because they will be easy to find.

On this trip, clothing has not been the prime packing focus by any means. I never leave home for even two days without vitamins and benadryl, but this time duffle space had to be allotted for the products that either discourage bugs or relieve the pain of those that aren't discouraged.

My arsenal against mosquitoes and ticks includes a can of Deet, treated arm and wrist bands, a can of a substance to treat clothing, and a water purification kit, complete with a one-liter collapsible plastic water bottle. The products were mail-ordered through a specialty company, which wasn't nearly as exciting as picking from fashion catalogs, but, as they say, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Mosquitoes carry malaria, which will be further prevented by some capsules, prescribed by Dr. Good, which I will begin taking Wednesday and continue to take daily for two weeks after I return home.

Five vaccines to combat the common diseases in Africa were administered by Carol Schnapp, a registered nurse at the Western Lucas County Clinic of the county health department. Ms. Schnapp said she makes appointments for similar treatment weekly with eight to 10 people who are traveling not just to Africa but to Asia and Central America. The United States and western Europe are the only countries where vaccines are not required.

My vaccines were for yellow fever, hepatitis A, a polio booster, diphtheria-tetanus, and typhoid. The accounts clerk at the clinic wasn't kidding when she said the shots wouldn't be the most painful part of the experience. The bill was $212. Of that, only $40 was for the office call.

I have obeyed to the letter recommendations for wardrobe essentials sent by the touring company well, almost. I have rolled up and placed in ever-so-neat order in the duffle bag three pairs of slacks, two pairs of shorts, five tops, a rain jacket, and three pairs of shoes.

To that add a denim travel suit to be worn en route to London, where I will change into fresh slacks for the nine-hour flight to Nairobi. I did add one T-shirt dress and a dressy black top in the event that safari evenings are not as casual as the daytime game drives. Outdoor candlelight dinners at a tent camp with the noise of the wild in the background sounds good to me.

I still haven't decided on sleepwear because the night we will stay at the Ark Lodge, a tree hotel, there will be an option of asking the guide to wake me up if a specific animal I have always wanted to see comes to the lighted watering hole beneath the hotel. Certainly such middle-of-the-night activity calls for jammies and nighties unlike the usual stuff taken for a hotel stay.

As I said, this is unlike any other traveling I have done. Animal lover that I am, I'm wild over the prospect of seeing zebras, cats, lions, leopards, rhinos, and elephants in their own habitat. I may tell the guide I'll just stay up all night so I won't miss anything.

Mary Alice Powell is a former Blade food editor.



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