Did you know that more than 30 million tourists visit Africa annually? Many come to see spectacular wildlife and enjoy gorgeous natural landscapes. In fact, a safari in Africa tops many travelers’ bucket lists.
But do you know the dos and don’ts when it comes to an African safari? Whether it’s your first time on safari or your hundredth, here are the top ten things you need to avoid.
1. Don’t Call Animals
When a picture-perfect view of animals on the African savannah comes into full view, don’t try to call to them or get their attention. That means no whistling at them or banging on the side of the expeditionary vehicle.
A couple of things could happen. First of all, loud noises could spook away the very animals you’re attempting to bring closer. Second, in the case of big animals such as elephants, you may actually trigger a charge.
Are you really prepared to risk scaring away the animals? Or, endangering the lives of your guide and fellow travelers?
Either way, we guarantee you won’t get the outcome you intended. Avoid putting fellow safari-goers and your guide in trouble by remaining quiet. Otherwise, you stand to become the least popular guest on the trip.
2. Don’t Act Obnoxious
People pay thousands of dollars to go on safari in Africa. For some, it represents a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Don’t be the obnoxious know-it-all providing constant commentary from your seat.
People have paid to hear a guide. Not you.
Stop it with the Chatty Cathy behavior and start paying attention. That way, you won’t distract your tour guide or other passengers. What’s more, you’ll guarantee that you see every spectacular moment of your expedition.
Besides talking too much or too loudly, avoid cell phone usage. Don’t hog the view when wildlife appears. And don’t obscure the view by incessantly holding up your phone to take videos.
Finally, avoid providing your commentary about wildlife and Africa. Nobody likes a know-it-all. Leave the facts and figures to the paid staff.
3. Don’t Act Rude to Locals
When you meet locals, greet them in their language. This doesn’t have to go much beyond, “Hello, how are you?” But making the effort represents an important step in acknowledging local cultures.
That said, you don’t need to go overboard, either. For example, don’t give gifts of money or candy to children. Remain sensitive to local customs and cultures.
Finally, avoid infringing on the privacy of others. That means always asking your guide if it’s okay before you take photos of the people that you meet. Don’t act like the paparazzi.
That also means using your manners. Avoid launching into a hundred questions or requests, especially before properly greeting those that you meet. Act authentic and aim to build connections with locals rather than walls.
4. Don’t Live on Your Cell Phone
On an African safari, avoid living on your phone. Wean yourself off Instagram, Twitter, and text messaging. Otherwise, you’ll miss important moments.
Besides distracting you from the safari, they could distract others. Cell phones can appear rude to others, too. Commit to unplug so that you can enjoy your African vacation by living in the moment.
Save downtime from the safari for checking in online. After all, the whole point of a safari involves immersing yourself in the natural world. How can you do that while buried nose deep in your iPhone?
5. Don’t Disregard Your Guides
Your guide has a job to do. Don’t get in the way by ignoring their recommendations and safety protocol. Remember, part of your guide’s job involves keeping you and your fellow travelers safe and alive. Don’t make their job harder.
If they tell you not to walk outside alone at night, follow their recommendations. Animals lurking in the African bush have much more finely tuned night vision than you. Don’t tempt them into making you their midnight snack.
During safari tours, don’t stand up. And don’t stick anything out of the vehicle. You may be observing animals who have encountered poachers in the past, so anything that looks like a gun or hunting action could lead to violent confrontation.
When your guide tells you to stay in the vehicle, do it. Otherwise, you could end up on the safari lunch menu. Don’t feed animals, either.
If your guide tells you to get your hands back in the vehicle, listen to them. You’re not visiting a petting zoo, so don’t even think about touching wildlife–no matter how cute they look!
Stupidity could endanger the life of your guide or others. On an African safari, always defer to your guide when it comes to how to act and remain safe.
6. Don’t Get Malaria
Did you know that according to the World Health Organization, 445,000 people died of malaria in 2016? Of those cases, 91 percent occurred in Africa. A parasitic disease, malaria attacks red blood cells. But with the right precautions, you can reduce or even eliminate your risk of contracting the disease.
First, do a little research. Not all parts of the African continent pose the risk of malaria. Study up on your destination and ascertain whether or not malaria presents a concern.
If the area you’re visiting does pose a malaria threat, visit your doctor to discuss anti-malaria medication. Anti-malaria medications are prophylactics that comes in pill form rather than as a vaccination. But plan on seeing your doctor well in advance of your trip as your healthcare provider may need to special order them.
Many insurance companies refuse to cover prescriptions for prophylactics. Ask your doctor about generic versions that won’t put a huge dent in your pocketbook. Each prophylactic has its unique pros and cons, so go over them with your healthcare provider.
7. Don’t Overpack
Most flights into and out of safari camps come with rigorous weight limits. That means you need to use discernment when packing. Besides packing lightly, soft duffel bags work better than hardshell luggage.
Pack casual, neutral-colored clothing that won’t wrinkle. Because temperatures can fluctuate, opt for a mix and match wardrobe that can be layered. Safari clothing for women and men should fit loosely and include both long and short sleeved shirts as well as shorts and pants.
With the right safari packing list and luggage, you’ll show up well-prepared for whatever conditions Africa may throw your way. Consider using vacuum sacks to maximize the space in your luggage. They’ll also help you stay organized.
8. Don’t Forget to Tip
Tipping local staff and your guide represent a crucial part of your safari experience. Whether you’re on a safari in Tanzania or South Africa, find out what the expected tip rate is and give it. Tips may prove crucial to your guide’s basic income, so avoid stinginess.
Not sure what to tip? Rates vary depending on location and company. Just be sure to avoid asking those you need to tip about the appropriate rate.
Instead, consult your tour operator, a camp manager, or another employee who doesn’t receive tips. Keep a supply of small bills on hand as you can’t count on ATMs or banks while in the African bush.
9. Don’t Disrespect Nature
An African safari takes into the heart of the remote wilderness. The experience of nature up close and personal means different things to different people. For some, including your guides, it can represent a deeply spiritual experience.
Don’t tread on the sacredness of the moment by littering or otherwise defacing nature. Follow the same rules you would in a national park in the United States. Don’t litter or act carelessly towards the environment.
After all, your tour guide isn’t a paid janitor or trash collector. Act with respect towards the natural environment. You are a guest of Africa so remain courteous and respectful.
10. Don’t Ask Ignorant Questions
Stupid questions say far more about the asker than the receiver. Before heading overseas, leave behind any stereotypes you may have about Africa. Do some research to avoid asking silly or irrelevant questions.
Africa represents a diverse continent boasting 54 distinct nations. An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 African languages exist. Among the most educated and successful people in the world hail from Africa.
Yet, locals continue to get peppered with questions such as:
- What’s Africa like?
- Is your home a mud hut?
- Do you know Swahili?
- Do you walk around topless or naked?
- Do you have internet?
- How did you learn English?
- Do you speak African?
These questions belie the ignorance of the person asking. Avoid them as well as anything else that could come across as patronizing. You are a guest in Africa, so treat your hosts–all of them–with the utmost respect.
Safari in Africa
Just like anything else in life, an African safari comes with certain expectations. Now that you understand the dos and don’ts, you’ll be well-prepared for a breathtaking adventure.
Basic courtesy and a little cultural sensitivity go a long way to making a safari in Africa more enjoyable for everyone. The tips above will help you maximize the experience so that your memories prove unforgettable rather than something you’ll never live down.
Travel to Africa represents one of the most exhilarating, rewarding experiences that you will ever have. Interested in learning more about a safari adventure? Contact us today to start planning your perfect getaway.