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Travel Insurance Claims - True Stories Just some of the weird and wonderful things that happen to World Nomads travellers while on the road

True Travel Tales - Careful What you Watch for

TANZANIA | Friday, 15 July 2011 | Views [3176]

Did you know that the mortality rate from the bite of a black mamba is nearly one hundred percent? Or that it only takes twenty minutes for a bitten person to die from the neurotoxins delivered in the venom? Three years ago neither did I. Yet somehow my body knew that a black mamba was bad news. My encounter with that deadly serpent is the only time in my life where my blood actually ran cold. 

A few years ago I was traveling Africa on the back of a friend's motorcycle. After nearly two months of traveling together across the wilds of East Africa, we decided to take our own little safari: the map indicated a little-used dirt road that circumnavigated Tarangire National Park. Since the park had no fences, we though it would be a free way to see some African wildlife on our own time. Little did we know just how close to the wildlife we would get.

As we set off into the bush, we were nervous about the possibility of getting stomped by angry elephants or of getting munched by hungry lions. The last thing you want to do is surprise an animal bigger than you. So as we bumped over the rough rode, I stood up on the rear foot pegs and scanned ahead for anything large and grumpy.

I was not watching the ground for things long and slithery.

Suddenly, as we came over a small sandy hill, my friend slammed on the brakes of the bike, knocking the breath out of my body as my chest hit his back. There, draped across the road in front of us laid the most sinister looking creature I had ever set eyes on. Skinny and shiny, an evil gray-brown color, and stretching off into the bushes on both sides of the road.

The beast reared up quicker than I could comprehend, and that's when the terror gripped my heart and stopped it from beating altogether. Even from my perch on the tall bike, the snake's head dashed back and forth at chest level, a good four feet off the ground. Forward snapped its head once, twice, three times in quick succession, all of its lunges aimed right at my throat--but it stopped just shy. And still quicker yet, it threw its lithe body back onto the ground and disappeared into the bushes.

The whole episode had taken just seconds. It was at least a minute before I regained the ability to speak.

"What on earth was that?" I asked in a small and shaky voice.

My companion, an African himself, responded in the flat tone of a man in shock, "That was black mamba, the deadliest snake in the world."

What was the outcome for the event?

We drove away a few minutes later with shaken nerves and a better appreciation for what the wilds of Africa have to offer. I can't convey how relieved I was to reach the main road an hour later. We never undertook something so foolish again. The image of that snake still makes me shudder to this day.

What advice would you give to other travellers to avoid or survive the situation?

Be careful what you wish for, or in this case, what you go looking for. You might just find it. Africa has a lot of hidden gems to find, most of which are the kind of gems you want to keep and cherish. But the bush can be a deadly place, and going into it on your own is asking for...well, if not trouble, then at least a terrifying story!

Safety Advice from the World Nomads

What an amazing story! You are lucky to be able to tell it...

Indeed, Africa is one of the best places in the world to have an adventure - and it sounds like you were having a rollicking good time up to that point. But what set our bells off was your phrase "we decided to take our own little safari". Quite simply, going into a national park teaming with known beasties without a guide is incredibly dangerous. Not only because of the immediate threat of sinister animals waiting for their next meal, or looking to protect their offspring - but also due to the dangers in NOT having intimate and detailed knowledge of the area.

Guides live and breathe the parks they tour - they know all of the dangers, and they know how to circumvent them. Sure, if you do it on your own, you might save a bit of cash, and you are able to return home with a great story, but you do that at a great risk to your own life.

Many World Nomads take pride in not relying on guides or helpers, and taking the path not beaten, but there is a point that cannot be stressed enough. There is no shame in enlisting the help of a guide in places like this - no matter how adventurous your spirit is. Aside from the obvious safety benefits, you'll also gain a valuable insight into the area you are visiting due to your guides immense knowledge. You'll also be giving back to the community you are visiting by providing employment to guides.

Also, one thing to keep in mind. If you have a travel insurance policy and go into a dangerous national park without a guide, then expect to kiss a claim goodbye if you get injured (or worse). Adventure is one thing, putting yourself (literally) into the lions den is another.

Important Information regarding your travel insurance

Also, one thing to keep in mind. World Nomads travel insurance policies (as with most travel insurance policies) do not provide cover where you are deemed to have exposed yourself to a needless risk, where you have not taken reasonable care and where you undertake illegal activities. When purchasing a policy please read the policy terms and conditions to make sure the product is right for you and if you have questions about coverage please contact your insurer.

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Tags: adventure, africa, danger, motorbikes, tanzania, transport, travel, true travel tales, wildlife

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