Luxurious safaris in Africa seem to make it on many bucket lists, and for good reason. There is nothing more thrilling than watching a lion chase a zebra in their natural habitat, or witnessing the seasonal wildebeest migration across the river. That being said, safari etiquettes are expected, even in the African wild.
- How to pack
Pack light when preparing for a safari, as the limit is usually between 10 and 15 kg (20 – 33 pounds). If you’re going to other hotels before and after the safari, you may be able to leave your heavier luggage there, and only bring a duffel bag with you to your safari camp. Pack for different climates, as it can get quite chilly in the early morning and late evening, and scorching hot during the day. Make sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, binoculars, and neutral coloured-clothes. Do not pack expensive or flashy jewellery.
- How to dress
Wear loose and comfortable clothes, preferably khakis, especially during the day. Dinner in the evenings tend to be casual, so there’s no need to dress up. Dress in layers, avoid wearing white, and avoid jeans and flannel as they tend to attract tsetse flies. Do not wear cologne or perfume. The roads can get bumpy, so it is advisable for women to wear sturdy undergarments such as sport bras.
- Understanding the wild
The wild can be unpredictable and it is important to be adaptable. You might not see all the animals that you expect to see, or certain animals might be engaging in some hunting and feeding, or even sexual behaviour in front of you. Do not ever try to feed the animals or try to control certain events, and do not step out of your game safari vehicle.
- Don’t litter and do not remove anything
It goes without saying, but do not litter, not even biodegradable items like banana peels or an apple core, and take your trash back to your campsite accommodation to dispose of them. Do not take plants, flowers, rocks, or anything that’s not legally yours.
- Tipping policies
Tipping is not included in the price, and while it is not obligatory to tip, it is a good gesture. The guides, rangers, and staff work really hard, especially behind the scenes, and a tip is always greatly appreciated.
Get a good camera with a good zoom and lenses. Do not try to pose for a photo with a wild animal, and upon meeting local tribes and people, please ask for permission before taking their photos.
- Feel free to ask your ranger and guide questions
Your accompanying ranger or guide is very knowledgeable about the surroundings, the wildlife, and the culture. They are happy to share their knowledge and answer any questions. Listen to their advice and do not challenge their directions.
- Health concerns
Not many safari locations are malaria-free, so stock up on malaria medication and mosquito repellent. Stay hydrated especially during the day, and inquire about the tap water at your campsite and whether it’s safe to drink.
- Remain as quiet as possible
During your safari, it is important to remain as inconspicuous as possible. Turn off cell phone or keep it on silent mode, and mute your camera shutter as much as possible. Do not shout excitedly or raise your voice for any reason, and keep a low pitch.
- Be culturally aware and respectful
Some safaris include a trip to the local community, or interactions with staff members from the local tribe. Always be courteous and respectful. In countries like Tanzania where the majority of the population is Muslim, is it important to be mindful of the culture, for instance, dress appropriately and avoid overly affectionate displays.
- Bring cash
Most, if not all, campsites and tents do not have an ATM machine, so plan ahead and bring cash.
- Accommodation safety and regulations
Do not leave your camp or tent unaccompanied, even when walking over to the main area a distance away. Bear in mind that some places might not have reliable, or any wifi, and some offer a complete eco-friendly experience with a real “African bush adventure” and do not have electricity.
- Group safaris
In group safaris, you will most likely be around people from diverse cultures and backgrounds, with experiences completely different from yours. Be humble and keep an open mind.
If you are self-driving, which is only allowed in specific locations, please respect the speed limit. Do not crowd the animals, and do not block their way. Do not venture off designated roads, and keep the noise to a minimum (do not honk or blast music). Never step out of the car during a safari drive, even if it’s just to stick an arm out of the window.