Safari etiquette is important, not only because you should respect nature, but also for your own safety. The wilderness can be a hostile place, densely vegetated and removed from the urban environment. It can also camouflage a lot of dangers in the form of insects, wildlife and poisonous plant life. How you behave while on safari is just as vital as the khaki dress code or turning your cell phone off. There are various do's and don'ts for you to follow. Here we explore some of the most important ones.
The elusive leopard waits for a well-trained eye to spot it
Respecting other passengers
Wildlife spotting and photography is an important part of any safari, and often requires the Jeep to come to a halt. If you're on a shared game drive, always be considerate of the other passengers wishes as well as your own. Respect their requests to stop and allow them ample time to gather a good eyeful. Equally important, refrain from forcing the driver to break for every zebra. Relax, and enjoy everything the wild has to offer.
Don't leave the vehicle or explore on your own
Leaving the vehicle to enjoy a lunch out in nature or to get a better picture, should only be done after asking or arranging it with your guide. Even if all you see are peaceful herbivores grazing quietly nearby, you never know when a predator may be crouching in the bush. When driving in the wild, treat your guide as a parent, as well as an educator. Respect their judgement at all times.
When night falls, don’t venture out unescorted. The dinner tent, for example, may seem just a quick walk, but keep in mind that your night vision is not as good as those of nocturnal wildlife.
Mute electronic noise
Impala are easily scared by noise
There are many ways for safari-goers to disturb the peace. The digital sounds of editing or deleting photographs, the crying of bored children or even just talking can ruin the sounds of nature. Remember to mute the camera, leave the phone at home and save the chatting for dinner time. If you have young kids, it's better to go on a private drive to avoid disgruntled passengers.
Smoking and nature do not go hand in hand. When on safari in a vehicle with other passengers or in a communal lodging, try to smoke outside or at your own section of the camp site and remember, butts should be carefully disposed of.
Respect wild animals
Wildlife should at no point be approached, cornered or teased, whether on the drive or back at your lodgings (even if they seem accustomed to humans). Where this is concerned, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Provoking even the sweetest of animals can lead to aggression and conflict. Don't clap, imitate any animal noises, throw objects or bang on the vehicle.
Feeding can be just as harmful. Remember that this is nature, where animals must continuously fend for themselves. Giving them food could disrupt their natural way of living.
Remember to tip your guide the right amount at the end of a drive. This money is a large percentage of their total earnings. While the amount you settle on is your choice, most guides are experienced, friendly and deserving of a little something extra.