Getting around and staying healthy in Comoros

As one of the worlds poorest countries, Comoros has some serious health and transport issues.

The island of Grand Comore has no public transportation system and no buses. Hitch-hiking is the most common mode of "public" transport. Sometimes locals will expect a small payment from travellers who hitch a ride.

The European Commission has banned all Air Service Comores flights, with the exception of one aircraft (type LET 410 UVP, with the registration D6-CAM), from operating within the EU due to ongoing safety concerns. You would be wise where possible to use other available airlines or Air Service Comoros aircraft.

There are boats that run from Chindini, on the southern coast of Grand Comore, to Hoani, on the northern coast of Moheli. These boats are small fiberglass fishing in variable condition. They should be taken only on days when the sea is calm, as passengers have been forced to off-load baggage into the sea and rumor has it that some boats have been lost.

However, these boats are generally safe to take on calm days. More convenient are large ferries (two or three per week) from Moroni to Foumboni on Moheli. There is also a larger ferry boat that runs from the east coast of Grand Comore to Anjouan. You should always check for safety equipment and heed the advice of locals.

Health / Natural Hazards

Malaria, including cerebral malaria, is prevalent in the Comoros. Sleep under a permethrin-treated mosquito net and take an anti-malarial.

The East African Indian Ocean islands have seen a rise in the cases of chikungunya, a viral dengue-like ailment, and dengue itself. As with malaria, chikungunya and dengue are transmitted by mosquitoes. Make every effort to use repellents, proper clothing, and barriers that discourage/prevent mosquito bites.

Rabies vaccines should be considered for shorter stays for adventure travellers, hikers, backpackers, or rural travellers who are staying more than 24 hours away from a reliable source of vaccine for post-exposure treatment. All bat, carnivore, and other mammal bites or scratches while in Comoros should be taken seriously and post-exposure prophylaxis sought even for those already immunized.

There is a high risk of marine hazards (jellyfish, coral, and sea urchins) as well as travellers diarrhoea throughout the country.

Medical facilities are basic and limited on all three islands, and most are private. You should be aware that electricity and water supplies are subject to frequent interruptions, which can affect hospitals and other public services. Medicines and food may not have been safely stored.

You should consider the following vaccinations before arriving in Comoros:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • Malaria
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles.

Comoros is in the cyclone belt and can be affected by cyclones between January and May.

The Karthala volcano near Moroni on Grande Comore erupts periodically, most recently in January 2007. Although there are no predictions of an imminent eruption, you should check the situation locally before making plans to visit the island.

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