Not Malaria

Article from the series: Staying Safe and Healthy in Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo

24mm, f/2.8, 1/125, ISO1600

Last week I shared my own malaria scare, but since I happened to be staying at a wildlife sanctuary with a full veterinary clinic it is perhaps understandable that I was able to receive help so quickly. Not everyone might be so lucky, right?

Well, perhaps not, but the truth is that regardless of what you are doing, neither the nearest rural health clinic nor various helping hands are likely to be that far away. On a hike a few years ago, one of the participants — the future Mrs Westberg, as it turned out — started experiencing symptoms of what we feared might be malaria. At that point we were nowhere near any towns, but our campsite that night happened to be the local health clinic for the simple reason that their lawn was the only flat area available in this very hilly land. In no time at all, blood was being drawn, pictured here.

The malaria test came back negative, which was actually a bit of a worry since it meant we were still looking for answers. Our next stop was Mutanda Lake Resort, and co-owner Wim Kok immediately offered to bring Jess there by car and take her to the nearby town of Kisoro for more tests. By the end of the day the verdict was in: dysentery. Two days later, she was fully recovered and all was well.

No matter the precautions we take, something can always go wrong. But help is rarely that far away, and the Gorilla Highlands is actually pretty well serviced — even when it feels as though you are in the middle of nowhere. Which you rarely are.

Don’t miss our extensive interview with Marcus and head to his website for even more.


  1. Marcus feels this image is merely “okay” so he put his writing efforts into the story behind it. I have a different take: the light on the hands makes a huge difference and gives me some old Dutch painting vibe.

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