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Adventure Travel Tip: Clean Water the Right Way

Travel pro Jim Sano on purifying your own water while abroad


“In any developing country, if you’re not confident that your water source has been boiled or chemically treated, then you should purify your own drinking water. Water filters, especially in the developing world, have not been shown to be a fool proof method because the size of the filters still allows some viruses to pass through. Be safe and purify. In areas where it is not practical to boil all drinking water, a good quality filter with a pore size of 0.2 microns will eliminate the risk of pathogens. The filtered water should then be purified as well. Iodine can be used to disinfect water, leafy vegetables and fruit. Add 5 drops of 2% iodine to 1 liter of water and let stand for 30 minutes.

It also goes without saying that one should not be tempted to swallow any water in the shower.

Lastly, as tempting as it may be on a hot day to go swimming in a river or lake in the developing world, one is strongly advised not to do so. This is one of the most common ways travelers pick up parasites in places like Africa and/or Southeast Asia.”

—Jim Sano is the vice president of the World Wildlife Fund’s Sustainable Tourism and Adventure Travel Initiative, the World Wildlife Travel Program. He’s been traveling the world as head of adventure tourism companies for more than 25 years and has logged trips in 75 countries.

Previously: Why not to buy bottled water when traveling abroad.

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