Travel insurance to cover theft and illness is essential. Although having your camera stolen by monkeys or your music player eaten by a goat can be a problem, the medical cover is by far the most important aspect because hospitals in Africa are not free, and the good ones aren’t cheap. Simply getting to a hospital can be expensive, so ensure you’re covered for ambulances (land and air) and flights home.
Some insurance policies forbid unscheduled boat or plane rides, or exclude dangerous activities such as white-water rafting, canoeing, or even hiking. Others also don’t cover people in countries subject to foreign office warnings. Others are more sensible and understand the realities of travel in Africa. Ask your travel agent or search on the web, but shop around and read the small print to make sure you’re fully covered.