Top 5 Safari Dos-and-Don’ts

Welcome drinks served by friendly faces
Welcome drinks served by friendly faces

We could wax lyrical about the many do’s and don’ts of going on safari but today we’ll just stick to five points. The most important thing to remember while you’re traversing wild Africa is to relax and have fun. This is your time to forget the daily stresses of life and to immerse yourself in the sheer beauty of a continent boasting many splendours.

You might be anxious about a few things before jetting off on the safari of a lifetime. So, with that in mind, we’ve constructed a short list of the top 5 safari dos-and-don’ts.

1. DO ask questions. 

You’ve come on safari to indulge in the spoils of Africa. Whether it’s the stark beauty of the landscape, the spa at your luxurious lodge or the incredible game viewing; it’s all yours. Ask as many questions as you can  – you’re here to learn. When you’re bumbling around in an open-topped game viewer your ranger will often tell you about the medicinal uses of plants, how nature works in harmony with us and how various animals survive in the wild.

There is no such thing as a stupid question.  You’ll be amazed at how much you learn on safari! A good time to ask questions is when you’re sitting around the campfire in the evening with your ranger. They love to chat about the day’s sightings. Also, if you’re driving along be sure to point out something your ranger hasn’t spotted. It’s about teamwork out there and a ready exchange of information.

Greg the Ranger
Greg the Ranger

2. DON’T be an armchair conservationist.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion and living in a media focussed society means we have access to plenty of false information, misinformed opinions and sensationalist articles about wildlife. Unless you have insight into the ecology and biology of an area, or you have an in-depth knowledge of the reserve you’re in; rather ask questions and “why” if something doesn’t sit well with you.

For example, if a lion cub is injured during a buffalo kill and you see it struggling in the wild, don’t scream and shout that the lion cub should be saved. It’s a heartbreaking thing to see and never easy. But consider this for a second – many reserves have a zero interference policy, which means they let nature take its course. If an animal is injured via a man-made issue (i.e poaching) there would be intervention.

Also, each species has internal pride/herd dynamics. If you removed a lion cub to “fix it”, it would negatively affect the rest of the pride and have disastrous effects on the dynamics of a cohesive pride.

Get the facts from those on the ground and understand how one small thing can cause a chain of events. Once again, ask questions!

Elephants Drinking
Elephants Drinking from Pool at Africa on Foot

3. DO tip your ranger and the lodge staff.

It is not obligatory to tip your ranger and tracker, but it is a gesture, and a good one at that. Don’t feel embarrassed to tip – in the service industry in Africa it is the norm to tip. Depending on the country you’re in, you can tip in local currency, US Dollars and South African Rands. Anything between R200 – R300 per room per day for your ranger should suffice (roughly US$10). Plenty goes on behind the scenes which requires hard work.

There is often a communal box for lodge staff and housekeeping. The average here is about US$5 per day per room.

If you have formed a bond with your tracker and lodge staff, and want to leave them a huge tip, then it would be highly appreciated. Put this in an envelope and hand it directly to the person/s you want to tip.

Rangers in Klaserie
Rangers in Klaserie
Staff and Housekeeping
Staff and Housekeeping

4. DON’T stress about work.

We’ve visited camps where the elephants have drunk the pool water, dug up internet cables and basically caused mild havoc. In the city, we can control a lot more than we can in the wild. Your first day will feel a bit strange – you have so much free time and the only noise is that of the birds and surrounding wildlife.

Go with the flow and get into the safari swing of things. Life in the bush is slow. The WiFi is slow too, so if you want to work, then be relaxed about it. But, we guarantee by day 2 you’ll forget your daily stresses…You’ll be asking your ranger what day it is!

Botswana Night Sky
Night sky and Milky Way in Botswana
Africa on Foot Night
Africa on Foot by Night
Sunset in Botswana
Sunset in Botswana

5. DO Understand that the wild is unpredictable

Wherever you stay, whether it’s a five star safari lodge or a three star safari lodge, one thing is constant. You cannot predict what the wild will do! Throw your expectations out the window and enjoy ALL wildlife sightings, big and small. In one day you might see the big five and over three days you might only see antelope and small game.

If you go out of season, when its wet, it’s more tricky to spot game. This is because the vegetation is thick and lush – plenty of places for wildlife to hide. Also, do bear in mind that this is not a zoo. Sightings cannot be controlled and guaranteed. Part of the fun of being in the wild is tracking and trying to find wildlife.

We hope his has helped you – we’re here to answer any other safari dos and don’ts questions you might have before embarking on a journey of a lifetime! Embrace it all.

White Dam Leopard Cub
Leopard Cub at Umkumbe Safari Lodge