A safari is, for many, an adventure of a lifetime, a unique experience. Once you have booked your trip, it is time to plan for your safari adventure: get your visas, your vaccinations and start packing.
However, keep in mind, that like everything else in life, a safari has an Etiquette that you must adhere to, a set of rules and regulations that need to be followed to get the most out of your safari experience and most importantly, stay safe. Before leaving your home, you should get acquainted with the Safari Etiquette, and how NOT to behave while on a safari.
Most of the tips listed here are plainly just common sense, but you would be surprised to learn that for some people, this is not the case!
So, without further ado, here are some valuable tips for a safari adventure of a lifetime.
How NOT to Behave While on a Game Drive
Don’t get out of the vehicle!
This one seems quite evident, but many people ignore this rule and they get out of the vehicle or in some cases, they will have their limbs outside the car to take pictures of the wildlife! This is a very dangerous thing to do.
The animals have become accustomed to game viewing vehicles, and they do not see them as a threat. Therefore, as long as you stay in the car, you are safe. However, if you get out of the vehicle, this changes everything, and you are now perceived as a threat and in jeopardy! Unless your guide tells you that you can get out of the vehicle, please stay inside!
Don’t be the ‘know-it-all’ of the group!
You might have gone on many safaris before, and you might have seen more wildlife than most people within your safari group, and therefore, know more than your fellow travelers, but please, don’t be obnoxious! Try to share your knowledge, when appropriate, in a humble manner. Don’t interrupt the guide while he is giving information or facts about the wildlife, this could get very annoying.
Don’t make any enemies
When you go on a game viewing drive, you will share a vehicle with other fellow travelers. Usually, everyone will get a window seat, but, there are within the vehicle, some seats that are better than others (better views, cooler places, more or less windy). So, don’t try to snatch the best place all the time on all the game drives. Don’t be selfish.
Also, one thing that you might not have thought of is that if you sit in different areas of the vehicle (back, front, left or right side), you will be able to view and capture with your camera the wildlife from another angle, so be a good sport and share.
Cell phones, seriously?
You are supposed to be on vacation and away from your hectic and busy life! So what, if you do not see your Facebook’s news feed in real-time, chat or text your friends back home and giving them a full live account of your game drive adventures! Leave your cell phones at the camp, you can chat, text or tweet after the game drive.
Only bring your cell phone if your intent is to use it as a camera. Also, don’t edit and delete photos from your camera while on a game drive!
Furthermore, mute your camera and cell phone, because some of your fellow travelers might not appreciate all the noises (the notification alerts and the beeping of your camera), which could be unnerving since they are trying to watch the wildlife in peace!
Safaris offer ample opportunity to socialize with others, and this should be done during the downtime! For many people, one of the reasons for going on a safari is that they want to immerse themselves in their surroundings and connect with nature, so, please, mute your voice! Moreover, keep in mind, that if you are going to game viewing drives or bushwalk safaris, the animals will be distracted by your voices, and they will move away.
Also, if someone is trying to shoot a video, please keep quiet, so they could get footage without any interfering noises.
Don’t be rude to the locals
The English language is not spoken everywhere on the African continent. However, you do not have to yell and talk very slowly to the locals, they may not understand you, but they are not deaf! Don’t rush them by asking many questions right away, take your time. Start your conversation, by greeting people first. Try to learn how to say “hello, and how are you?” in the local dialect, and wait for their reply before asking questions. If you want to take pictures of the locals or their homes, ask for their permission first.
Don’t wear bright colors
First of all, you need to wear comfortable clothing and in layers, since the morning and also the evening can be a bit colder. Go for neutral colors like khaki, brown and olive to blend in with your surroundings, especially if you are going on bush walks. By all means, leave the bright colors at home considering that colors such as red and white, do attract the wildlife.
Furthermore, the animals have an excellent sense of smell, therefore, avoid perfumes and choose the fragrance-free insect repellent and sunscreen to avoid drawing unwanted attention.
How to Behave While on a Safari
Respect your guide
You should always listen and follow all the instructions given by your guide during your safari excursions. He knows a great deal about wildlife and how to track it. Don’t be shy to ask questions to your guide, this will enhance your safari experience tremendously!
Don’t put your guide in an uncomfortable position by asking him to do something illegal like driving off-road or chasing the animals! The primary goal of your tour guide is to keep you safe at all times.
To get the most out of your safari experience, talk with your tour guide and let him know in advance, which animals you want to see during your safari.
Before taking pictures, ask for permission to your guide, since the click of the camera might startle the animals or prompt a charge.
If you are staying in an unfenced camp, don’t walk alone around the camp. Animals have much better eyesight than you, thus, they will see you before you see them. Always be accompanied by a guide or an armed ranger.
Don’t forget to give a tip to your guide, driver, and staff of the safari lodge, since an enormous percentage of their wages, come from the gratuities. If you are unsure of how much to give them, ask your safari expert or the camp manager.
Respect the wilderness
Be mindful and respectful of the plants and wildlife around you. The wilderness is not a trash site! Everything that you bring in with you must not be left behind, which means that you do not throw your trash in the wilderness!
Use Some Common Sense!
Well, here you have it, a brief overview of the Safari Etiquette. Remember, always use some common sense and don’t be disrespectful toward the cultures and beliefs of the African people while traveling across the Dark Continent. Treat people the way you would like to be treated. Be courteous and respectful of the locals you visit, and you will learn a lot from them and also gain a new perspective on life!
If you are interested in getting more insightful information about how to plan your next safari vacation and avoid any unpleasantness, click here.
If you have any questions about the Safari Etiquette or would like to share some of your experiences, please leave a comment below. I am looking forward to hearing from you.