Africa Bites


This is a regular story I seem to hear for so many people that decide to venture out of their comfort zones. “Everything was going so well, it was great, so much fun/best holiday/road trip/ overlanding adventure……….until I got ……(insert some kind of illness here)”

The reality is that us nice, soft, fleshy humans with our lack of hair and tough exterior armor are basically a primordial buffet table for all things that sting and bite. While some of us might have the constitution of a billy goat, the majority tends to be fairly susceptible to the parasites, bugs and insects that are out there. Even the mere though of having to encounter some of natures less appealing creations sends avid travelers diving for the nearest bottle of doom in a cold sweat.

Nevertheless we still head out of our nicely sanitized homes, armed to the teeth with every possible bug-deterring device we can come up with. From bug zappers, fly swatters, mosquito nets, citronella candles, tabard, doom and enough cans of spray chemicals to make Wouter Basson blush. Despite all this we will still be furiously batting away like a delusional lunatic at that one mosquito’s in your tent that is hell bent on dive bombing onto you but only when the light is turned off.

Travel can be a wonderful thing, although you might not think it at certain occasions. Take heart and console yourself. When the rugby ball sized swelling of a horse fly subsides, when that itchy ringworm finally fades away, when the uncontrollable itching of foru (sand flies) bites calm down. When all that is over you will have a great story.

Because that’s what travel and adventure is about. I often like to think that nature has these wonderfully nibbley creatures out there in an attempt to make adventure travel just that, an adventure. If it was so easy, everybody would be doing it, and where’s the fun in that? All that goes bump in the night (and in your stomach if you plan to go to India) is there to test us, to make sure that we don’t take the rougher, remoter and more un-spoilt places of this world for granted.

They are also there to show us our own morality and knock a few notches off any travel egos. Nature can be marvelously leveling, in an itchy ort of way. Don’t think so? just see how pretty you look when a marauding hoard of barley visible sand fly’s sweeps past you leaving you looking like you have the pox. Something so small, something that we might think as so insignificant has the ability to alter our habits, our looks, and in some cases our lives.

If nothing else at best they can give you great stories to gross your friends out at your next dinner party.

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