Safari Etiquette – The Do’s and Don’ts of Viewing Animals in the Wild

Over 30 million tourists visit Africa every year, looking to enjoy the spectacular wildlife and gorgeous vistas the continent is known for. In fact, many travellers would say that experiencing a safari tops their bucket list.

If you’re one of these travellers looking to get your fix of adventure, it’s important to learn and respect the following etiquette rules of a safari. Let’s dive right in:

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. Why? Well, 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 travellers? 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.

Don’t Act Obnoxious

People pay a lot of money 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. 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.

Don’t Act Rude to Locals

When you meet locals, greet them in their language if you can. 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.

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. 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? 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.

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 a violent confrontation.

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.

Don’t Overpack

Most flights into and out of safari camps come with rigorous weight limits. That means you be clever when packing. Besides packing lightly, soft duffel bags work better than hard-shell luggage. Pack casual, neutral-coloured 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.

Don’t Disrespect Nature

An African safari takes you deep 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 your home country. Don’t litter or act carelessly towards the environment.

Travel to Africa represents one of the most exhilarating, rewarding experiences that you will ever have. We hope this guide has given you a few tips on how to make the most of it. Share your views in the comments below.