If you are a safari newbie, welcome to the magical world of the African bush! It is an enticing, relaxing, exhilarating and sometimes overwhelming experience. All your senses will be awakened by the sights, sounds and experiences you will have when going on a safari getaway.
The African bush is a new and exciting world filled with magnificent and wild African animals and an abundance of fresh experiences for all the senses. As in the environment of city life, there are rules and suggestions that are there to help you have the best experience and to ensure that you do not disturb the people around you.
Safety comes first
While on safari it is easy to forget that the magnificent Elephant or Kudu standing a few metres away from you quietly eating or drinking some water is in fact a wild animal. There is a sense of closeness and acceptance in the bush that can occasionally lull one into a false sense of impenetrableness. Do not be fooled. The animals you are viewing are all wild and if they feel threatened or sense danger they will not hesitate to react and while this reaction may not necessarily be aggressive, a nudge out of the way from an Elephant will certainly cause you some damage.
Never, ever get out of the game viewing vehicle unless told to do so by the game ranger escorting you. You should also try not to stick any limbs or camera equipment out of a window as this breaks the line of the vehicle and the animals may begin to feel threatened. Even if you are not endangering yourself or your fellow safari goers, you may be disturbing the animals and this in turn alters their behaviour and prevents you from having an authentic experience.
Keep your distance
It is recommended that you never get too close to any wild animals especially Elephants and never ever try to drive through a herd of animals or even a small group of them. Elephants and Rhino are particularly dangerous to vehicles and have been known to charge if they feel their young or themselves are being threatened.
You will notice that game rangers will always make sure they have a clear exit point should an animal react aggressively to a vehicle and you should also always try to plan a way out – expect the unexpected and always be vigilant of what is around you.
Be aware of the people around you
In a moment of excitement when first sighting an animal, your initial reaction may be to call out or to point the animal out to your friend. Try to be as quiet as possible both when in your vehicle while out on a game drive and also when at the base camp or safari lodge. Loud noises can scare the animals which could cause them to run away or leave the area, ruining the sighting and the experience for yourself and those around you.
The African bush is usually as fairly quiet place and noise can travel for long distances. The African bush is also no place for cell phones, telephone conversations and music playing over iphones or ipods. Remember you are in a new environment where all these forms of technology are new and unwelcomed.
If you embrace the serenity and silence of your surroundings you are guaranteed to have a much more rewarding safari experience.
Try to be as still as possible in the game viewing vehicles as any large movements may rock the vehicle and prevent a fellow guest from taking the photograph they have been setting up.
Leave no trace
The African bush is a delicate ecosystem which can easily be damaged. Never leave the roadways and drive into the bush as you never know what you are driving over or what is beneath you. You should also aim to take all of your waste with you when you leave and never drop a packet or piece of plastic on the ground; an animal may eat it and choke.
Always listen to your guide
Your guide is there to ensure that you and the people around you have the best experience possible and to keep you safe. If the guide starts to move off from a sighting to make way for another vehicle, do not argue with them or demand they remain where they are. It is their job to be courteous to all visitors to the bush.
Never ask your guide to go off the pathway, they know the routes they are allowed to access and will always try to get the best sighting for you. Your guide may be from the local community and it is important that you respect their culture and beliefs. Be aware of derogatory statements and do not act condescendingly towards your guide, they are highly trained and very passionate and are there to share their love for the bush with you.