I just got back from a three-week safari trip in Tanzania. Everything was awesome, except for the dreaded tsetse flies. If you’ve googled how to avoid them and ended up here, you’ve probably already found out that they’re the large biting flies in Africa that hurt and can transmit disease and DEET does nothing to dissuade them. But you probably haven’t found any information on how to avoid them.
After a lot of painful trial and error, I finally found the trick that no one else mentioned on the interwebs…
Forget PTSD, tsetse flies can leave you with TSETSE-SD
Tsetse flies didn’t care about how many layers I had on — they bit through my thickest pants and through my shirt and sweatshirt combo. They even bit through the “Maasai blanket” our guides provided as fly protection! And, if you’re like me you could also be allergic to them, so they’ll also leave large, raised, painful, itchy welts all over your body.
They’re, in my humble opinion, the most vicious animals in Africa. It got to the point where I’d start shaking and panicking when I’d just hear an insect buzz.
The one thing tsetse flies couldn’t bite through:
After noticing that the only bites I got were on my legs, I realized that the lightweight rain shell I was wearing to protect me from the wind chill was like tsetse fly battle armor! So I practically lived in this one from Marmot in this exact color (blues and blacks are also not your friend with tsetse flies)…
Then I ended up wrapping my legs in my partner’s rain shell, and that helped as well. But next time I’ll definitely invest in a pair of lightweight rain pants.
If you’re reading this after you’ve already left for your safari trip, I have one more suggestion for you: I noticed when we went on a drive where it started to rain, all of a sudden a bunch of rain jackets appeared out of nowhere! So ask your safari guide if they have any rain jackets available that you could borrow throughout your stay.
If anyone else has found a successful way to avoid being bitten by tsetse flies, I’d love to hear your tricks!