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African Safari 2007: Impressions from a different perspective
by Tom Lindner

 Now that the Leverguns.com safari for this year is completed, all the stories will be told and listeners regaled with the many exploits of game stalked and killed.  For me personally, the safari was a great adventure and successful vacation.  I thought I would write about the trip from a slightly different perspective, since by education I am a clinical and public health microbiologist (retired).  Anyone travelling to a third world or remote location should consider the impact of infectious disease in their travel plans.  My wife Emilie, who went with me, and I were naturally concerned about levels of cleanliness, insect vectors, disease transmission via food and water, water sources, rodent infestation Ė all the unusual things you think of when going on  trip.  Iím not a clean freak, but my training causes me to notice these things.

First let me state that our safari was in June, which is the dead of winter in South Africa.  This meant that temperatures were moderate, snakes were in their dens (mostly), and the dry season prevailed.  Morning temps were in the upper 30ís, by 10am we were removing sweater or coats, and afternoons were in the upper 60ís to low 70ís.  Darkness fell swiftly at 6:30 and the air cooled off immediately.

Water quality:  I had expected to strictly drink bottled water or juices, and to avoid ice.  Each hunting truck had a cooler which was stocked each day with bottled water, canned ice tea and fruit juices, and beer.  I doubt if any beer was consumed while hunting, since we all adhere to the rule of no alcohol while handling guns.  Back at the lodges and at all our accommodations; water was supplied from deep wells with secure underground piping.  The systems were very similar to my well and water system at home (Missouri).  After finding out their wells were in excess of 500 ft deep with a deep overburden of sandy soil, and observing their holding tank and closed system, and asking some questions with the owners, I felt safe drinking the tap water.  So far, no problems Ė Iíll withdraw these statements if we come down with Zuluís disease (the African counterpart to Montezumaís revenge).

Insects, ticks, and crawly things:  In a word, there were none.  Remember I said it was winter for them.  One of the PHís told me they had a hard frost just before we arrived, so not to expect any ticks.  I was somewhat disappointed, since I really enjoy killing the little buggers, but Emilie was very pleased to hear this.  Sheís very sweet and attracts flying and crawling bugs.  We didnít see any mosquitoes, ticks, or biting insects the whole trip.  Even sitting out in a hide watching a water hole for warthogs, no insects bothered anyone.  I saw a few house fly types and the ubiquitous ants, but no other pests.

Rodents:  Ever check into a hotel and find mouse droppings in your room?  To a microbiologist, mouse droppings mean the possibility of disease transmission via feces and urine; general uncleanliness.  Well, I didnít find any rodent sign in any building, particularly our elegant quarters.  You may ask whyís a guy on a hunting trip doing a mouse turd inspection, but after forty years in the microbiology I just notice the small things.

Food preparation:  A quick look at the kitchens showed them to be just like kitchens at home, with adequate utensils, stoves, refrigerators, sinks, etc.  The hot food was served hot and the cold food was served cold.  The chefs appeared clean and well-groomed.  By the way, the meals were excellent.  Much like US cooking, with a few new items introduced to us.  Menus were heavy on meat dishes, with the game we shot taking center stage.  Food was plentiful and delicious.  I saw no reason to become alarmed about food-borne illnesses.

Hopefully Iíve dispelled some anxiety you might have about these topics and Leverguns.com safaris to Africa.  It was a great opportunity to meet some new and interesting people and to experience hunting in Africa at its best.

 

 

 

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