Is that a lion in my tent? The odds are probably no, but safaris have been known to become slightly more exciting than you bargained for. Avoiding some simple mistakes can make sure your safari features just the right level of adventure. Of course, that actually could be a lion…
1. Leaving Food Unattended
Nobody wants an animal to enter the camp. It’s certainly a safety issue, so remember to put those scraps away. Guides can help you properly dispose of meals and uneaten food should always be protected in approved containers.
2. Ignoring Instructions From The Guide
Your guide is there to make sure the safari goes perfectly. Their instructions are meant to help you and the group stay safe. If you did not hear or understand something, just ask. They will be happy to help.
3. Trying To Approach Animals
Wild animals in their element are beautiful. Take time to watch them from a safe distance. They do not like to be approached and could react negatively due to a variety of issues including fright. Remember, if you are close enough to see them, chances are they are close enough to see you.
4. Making Loud Noises
Any loud noises can attract the attention of animals and are probably a nuisance for your group. Watch the volume of your voice and keep any electronic sounds at an extremely low level. This includes cameras, which may make loud sounds when in use.
5. Focusing On Electronics
Speaking of electronics, that smartphone is not really a necessary part of a safari — so put it away. Some camps may have the capability for TV, DVD and computer use, but they should only occur at the site. Never bring those items while surveying area wildlife.
6. Confusing Seasons
Visitors often forget the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere. If it’s winter where you are in the northern hemisphere, it will be summer in Africa and vice versa. Knowing this detail can help you pack accordingly — so ask your travel agent or planner at the time of booking. Also, safaris tend to be more comfortable in the cooler winter season, but not all parks and countries offer prime animal viewing during this time.
7. Getting Out Of Vehicles
This should be easy to understand, yet so many visitors try anyway. Stay inside the vehicle. Its safer for you, your guide, the group, and all the animals that call this area home. If you need to leave for an emergency or bathroom break, just talk to your guide.
8. Packing Too Much
You know the trip will be long, but try to avoid the temptation to pack everything you own. Its not necessary, and you will be left with an unwanted hassle that could have been easily avoided. Make sure to pack only what you plan to wear each day.
9. Forgetting Medications
Vaccines should be up to date, but remember all of your prescription medications. Pharmacies are not on this journey, so plan for the entire trip with additional supplies that include malaria prophylaxis.
10. Ignoring Local Customs And Traditions
You are a guest, so treat everyone during the encounter with respect. The African continent is full of fascinating and wonderful traditions. Understand that these customs or traditions may be different than your own, while others may be very familiar. It is recommended that travelers read up on the culture of their specific destination before they visit. This is a great starting point in creating a rapport with residents.
11. Not Drinking Enough Water
Dehydration can cause a myriad of problems. Passing out and spending time in a local hospital is not what you had in mind, so keep that water on hand at all times. Make sure water has been filtered or comes from prepacked bottles distributed by a reputable source.
12. Being Rude If You Do Not See Animals
Your guide wants you to view the best wildlife in Africa, but sometimes it’s just not possible. There is always another chance to see these beautiful creatures, so avoid being rude to your guide. It’s bad manners and shows a disrespect for everyone in the group.
13. Wearing Uncomfortable Clothing
Leave those high heels at home. Rely on comfortable walking shoes and clothing that is breathable. Look for pants and shirts that are easy to clean with fabric that resists stains. Colors should be basic with no bright or neon patterns.
It goes without saying, but don’t litter. Trash should be disposed of in designated bins or similar containers. Guides can also help you dispose of anything.
15. Trying To Save Money By Cutting Corners
Resist the temptation to book an extremely cheap African safari. Most reputable travel agents will also steer you away from these deals. The reason is, most don’t include everything you need, including airfare. You should also not forget to tip your guide and tracker, as they rely heavily on gratuities to make ends meet.
This article was originally published on December 5, 2014.