When tourists visit South Africa, often the first thing on their to-do-list is an African safari. However, as exciting as these trips may sound, they simply cannot be equated to a trip to a theme park. These are wild animals (and protected ones at that) and so your visit should be met with caution, respect, and more than a little excitement.

Safri by NH53 (Flickr)

  • Don’t get out of the vehicle

You risk the chance of ending up as an unexpected lunch if you dare to step out of your vehicle without your guide declaring it’s safe to do so. These are wild, unpredictable animals. No matter how tempting that close up photograph may be, it’s really not worth losing a leg (or worse) over.

  • Don’t talk incessantly

Having constant chit chatter will ruin the experience of a safari. After all, you’re there to listen to the sounds of the bush and blend into nature. In addition, other guests may want to film the experience and having you talk through the entire video is probably not what they want.

Safari by david berkowitz (Flickr)

  • Don’t expect to see all of the Big Five

Once again, wild animals are unpredictable so there is no way your guide can guarantee you will see all or even one of the Big Five while you’re on safari. The beauty of the bush is that you never know what’s going to happen next.

  • Don’t be the know-it-all

There is nothing more annoying than someone who thinks they know better than the person who is actually employed as the guide. Despite what you may believe, it’s not helpful, just annoying – the others guests came here for the experience, not to hear you talking. When your guide is speaking, listen.

Masodini Private Game Lodge (TG)

  • Don’t walk around at night on your own

If you’re staying in an unfenced safari accommodation, ensure you don’t walk around at night on your own. Wild animals hunt at night and they have excellent night vision, so they’re likely to spot you long before you spot them.

  • Don’t be distracted by your cell phone

This can easily be avoided if you simply don’t bring your cell phone along on a game drive. You’re unlikely to get much signal and you’ll definitely miss out on spotting the sometimes elusive animals if you’re a couple of seconds behind. Put your phone away and enjoy the experience!

Leopard Mountain (TG)

  • Don’t take your kids along on long group drives

While game drives are fun for most adults, they can certainly get a bit dull for kids – especially after spotting the hundredth buck and still not getting to see any “exciting animals” after a few hours. If you want your kids to join you, ensure it’s a shorter game drive and you have your own private vehicle so you won’t put out other guests if you need to return early.

  • Don’t be stingy with tipping

The safari staff salaries are largely made up of tips which they depend on from tourists. So make sure you tip your guides, drivers, and other staff while on safari, even if you don’t do it back home.

Safaris by Fabulous Fabs (Flickr)

  • Don’t forget to put your camera on mute

You’re likely going to be happily snapping away photos of the animals and your camera will fill up quite quickly. Make sure you turn off the sound when deleting or taking photos as the constant beeping will bother other guests.

  • Don’t  bring your whole wardrobe

You’re going on safari to get close to nature so all of your fancy items won’t be necessary. Simply ensure you have enough clean shirts, shorts, shoes, and underwear. Leave the jewellery, high heels, and other items at home. Check out our tips on what to pack for your South African safari.

Safari by Joachim Huber (Wikimedia Commons)

  • Don’t wear inappropriate clothing

You will want to be comfortable so ensure your shoes are sturdy and stick to neutral colours to avoid scaring away the animals – and please no zebra prints, unless you’re looking to get munched! Don’t forget a warm jersey!

  • Don’t forget to take malaria tablets

If you’re heading to a malaria zone, ensure you’re taking malaria prophylactics to ensure you don’t catch malaria.

Safari (TG)

  • Don’t have a time limit

While you will likely be given an estimated duration time from the safari staff, game drives are largely determined by the wildlife seen and on your personal group. Stopping to observe the animals will add on some time, so don’t plan activities too close together – always allow a little leeway.

  • Don’t leave litter or traces behind

The African bush is a beautiful setting and is meant to be left as undisturbed by humans as possible. So don’t throw out your soda cans and chip packets in the bush. Leave the area in the same condition as you found it.

Safari by Fabulous Fabs (Flickr)

  • Don’t come armed

You will not need guns and knives on you “for protection”. You will not be hunting. Most guides will carry a weapon for protection and you’ll be safe enough in their hands.

  • Don’t smoke

This should go without saying, but smoking while on safari is strictly prohibited. There is always the risk of starting veld fires so please hold yourself back until you return to camp.

If you remember the above tips, your safari experience in South Africa will go without a hitch! Have a fantastic time and let us know how it was.

Check out our other posts on safaris – what you need to knowwhat to expect and planning your trip, and these two South African safaris geared for the whole family.