We just returned from gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda. For those of you interested in doing a gorilla trek, you’ll likely need to get many shots and begin taking many pills.
In performing research for our trip, there was a lot of information online (some of it was current, and some of it was accurate). Since we travelers are in this together, I thought I’d put together something current and specific to gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda.
We had the following shots administered and pills prescribed in the three months leading up to our gorilla treks:
- Yellow Fever Vaccine (it’s currently unavailable in the USA until mid-2018, so the manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, has worked with the CDC and the FDA to make Stamaril, an alternative yellow fever vaccine. We had ours administered by Passport Health. You can find organizations like Passport Health on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website). Expect to pay $300-400 per vaccine.
- Mefloquine or Doxycycline (these pills help protect you from Malaria. Mefloquine is taken once a week for six weeks. Doxycycline is taken once a day for forty days. Mefloquine makes me nauseous, so I opted for Doxycycline.)
- Polio Adult Booster (as per the CDC website, adults who completed the polio vaccine series as children and are traveling to areas with increased risk of polio should receive a one-time booster dose).
- Typhoid Vaccine (we did four doses of the oral vaccine, taken every other day for a week).
- Tdap Vaccine (this is administered as a shot, and it protects against Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis).
- Hepatitis A Vaccine and Hepatitis B Vaccine (if you need these, a combo Hep A and Hep B Vaccine can be administered).
Aside from the Yellow Fever Vaccine, we were able to have all of the other vaccines administered and/or prescribed by Costco via their Full Service Travel Medicine Consultation Program.
Of course, consult your physician. But you’ll likely find that your primary-care physician is not an expert on precautionary measures for travel to Rwanda and Uganda. In that case, if you’re in the USA (specifically, Southern California, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon), you might consider Costco. They’ve partnered with SafeGard, and one of their online doctors will ask for a detailed itinerary, along with your medical history (including your vaccination history). In a few days, they’ll email you a 66-page document specific to your itinerary and medical needs. The appropriate prescriptions will be sent by SafeGard to your local Costco. A Costco pharmacist will contact you, apply your medical insurance to the applicable prescriptions, and then help you determine your vaccine schedule. You can, then, go to Costco to collect your medications and to have your vaccines administered.
If you’re thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot of work just to see some gorillas,” you’re right. It is a lot of work. And they’re just gorillas. But there are only about 800 left in the wild, and they are in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over the next week, I’ll attempt to provide more perspective on gorilla trekking so that, should you find yourself on the fence, you might be able to make a more informed decision.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.