EP79 | “Dr. Jon” Solberg, MD, on Medical Preparation for Overland Travel in Africa

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Episode Description

Is traveling to Africa a bucket list item on your overlanding to-do list? If so, Dr. Jon is the go-to guy to get you, your partner/s, family, or team medically prepared for this adventure of a lifetime. 

Serving as Team Doctor of the XOVERLAND crew for the Season 4:  Return to Alaska Series, Dr. Jon was cherry-picked by XOVERLAND’S Clay Croft, to reprise his role on their first-ever adventure to Africa during the summer of 2024.

To prepare for their tour through South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia, Dr. Jon did extensive research to ensure that he and the team were as prepared as possible for whatever medical emergencies might befall the XOVERLAND crew while traveling through the southern region of “The Dark Continent.”

Learn about needed vaccinations, malaria prevention, and recommended medical gear and approaches to wilderness medicine to prepare you for overland travel in Africa.


The XOVERLAND Team explored Southern Africa for two months last summer (2024) while filming Season 6:  Africa. Dr. Jon supported the team during the first phase of the expedition. This conversation was recorded immediately upon his return to the U.S. to capture his experience and insight while still fresh and front of mind.


Part 1 (0:40-5:20) Welcome back to the Podcast Dr. Jon and Jon’s first thoughts on his African experience with Expedition Overland:  Dr. Jon served as team doctor for XOVERLAND’S Alaskan overland adventure. (See this entire series HERE.) Tapped by Clay and Rachelle Croft to serve in this role a second time for the team’s first adventure to Africa, Jon shares his medical concerns unique to this environment, looking at medical facilities, endemic diseases, and potential evacuations. 

Part 2 (5:21-9:57) Choosing the Best Time of Year to Travel to Africa:  Medically speaking, Dr. Jon explains why it makes a lot of sense to travel to Southern Africa during the winter months (Southern Hemisphere winter) to reduce the risk of Malaria and other mosquito-borne endemic diseases. Dr. Jon shares his surprise at how cold it was during his visit–even as a native North Dakotan! Jon describes the unique environment of Southern Africa, making comparisons to regions within the U.S. to help travelers prepare for this environment.

Part 3 (9:58-15:15) How to Medically Prepare for Adventure in Africa BEFORE You Leave Your Home Country:  Vaccines, medical training, acquiring the right medical gear–Dr. Jon explains best practices for preparing yourself medically for travel in Africa.

Part 4 (15:16-20:44) How to Prevent and Manage Malaria When Traveling in Africa:  Malaria is a well-known threat when it comes to traveling in Africa and other equatorial regions of the world. Dr. Jon explains how to best prevent catching Malaria in the first place and how to manage threats to Malaria when exposed to it.

Part 5 (20:45-27:38) Best Practices for Finding Clean Drinking Water in Africa:  Dr. Jon explains the situation with finding potable water while traveling through remote regions of Southern Africa. Local drinking water sources as well as advanced purification methods are discussed.

Part 6 (28:12-36:47) Preparing a Medical Kit for Overland Travel in Africa:  Getting a well-supplied medical kit together for a big overland adventure throughout Southern Africa can be a challenge. Dr. Jon explains how to manage everything from equipping yourself with needed prescription medications to what you need to address cuts and traumatic musculoskeletal injuries.

  • Duration Health for Acquiring Prescriptions, Antibiotics, etc. prior to traveling. 

Part 7 (36:48-40:48) Managing the Threat of Food-Borne Illnesses When Traveling to Africa and Other Less-Developed Countries:  Dr. Jon discusses commonplace health threats from food-borne illnesses, how to avoid them, and what to do if you get sick with this type of illness. 

Part 8 (40:49-47:24) Managing the Threat of Poisonous Snakes and Insects in Africa: Black Mambas, Puff Adders, and other poisonous snakes found in Africa–Dr. Jon explains the threats of these reptiles, best practices for avoiding them, and what to do if bitten while taking a look at additional medical threats posed by other African animals.

Part 9 (47:25-End) Final Thoughts from Dr. Jon on Medical Preparations for Traveling in Africa:  Dr. Jon ends the podcast by taking an extensive look at preparing yourself medically for traveling to Africa and other less-developed countries when it comes to doing the proper research, providing timelines and helpful suggestions for useful resources to assist in preparation. Additionally, Jon looks at how to manage legal issues involving accidents, etc. while traveling abroad as well as personal medical insurance policies and their limitations while traveling in places like Southern Africa. Finally, Jon addresses what typical medical emergencies require an evacuation when traveling in less-developed countries and the value of Telemedicine when combined with a Starlink system or a cellular phone when you experience a medical emergency in a remote area.

Access information about Dr. Jon’s Wilderness First-Aid Training HERE.

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