The Swamps of Mozambique
You may think, “Why would anyone voluntarily go into the swamps in Mozambique with all the things that could kill you out there?”
But, if you’re asking that question, then you have not seen the buffalo that live there.
Due to incredible efforts toward anti-poaching, there is an abundance of wildlife living in the swamps of Coutada 11 in Mozambique. It’s no easy feat to get there, but once you arrive you will witness a truly untouched paradise for animals and birds.
Unfortunately, that means it is also a paradise for bugs and creepy crawlies. The stagnant water in the swamps is a perfect breeding ground for all insects you hope to avoid, including mosquitoes that carry malaria.
I love this area and the challenges it brings, but I could happily live without the bugs – with the exception of the fireflies that light up the night sky and make the ground look like a mirror to the stars. Those can stay.
I always prepare for the trip by taking malaria prophylaxis like Mefloquin or Malarone, but the best way to avoid getting malaria is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. I find a layered approach to be the most effective.
First, I make sure that the clothes I’m wearing cover most of my skin and that they fit loosely. Mosquitoes can bite through tight clothing. I always bring a buff or neck gaiter to pull up over my nose and mouth. I always have some sort of hat to protect me from the bugs and also the sun as well.
Second, I make sure that I have a good bug repellant to generously coat myself. I brought Ranger Ready Repellent with me on this most recent trip and was pleasantly surprised by its effectiveness. I used to use DEET-based products, but when you are wearing repellant every day the DEET is really hard on your skin. It also dissolves nail polish - even gel nails - and takes the finish off of binoculars.
The picaridin in Ranger Ready also does not have a corrosive effect. Getting to the swamps is no easy task, but it is made easier by the use of amphibious vehicles. They are massive old military vehicles that are customized for use in the swamps. The vehicles were recently repainted from brown to green to make them less conspicuous, and in the past you could actually see all the areas where clients held on to the handlebars in the vehicles because the bug repellents had completely stripped the new green paint. With Ranger Ready this doesn’t happen and is another reason that wearing repellent every day is an easy decision.
Finally, it’s necessary to be vigilant. I am constantly aware of what is on my body. In the past, I would to have to wipe my hands down my arms and legs to keep any bugs from sitting on me for too long. This approach obviously doesn’t work when you have a herd of buffalo watching you, but when I wear Ranger Ready, I’m able to be totally still and focus on the hunt rather than the bugs.