Stay safe on a safari tour by being sensible. Listen to your safari guide and don’t do anything that puts you or your family at risk. There are things with big teeth and fierce tempers out there who will eat you for lunch!
Stay inside the vehicle
Wild animals in game reserves like the Kruger National Park have got used to vehicles and will generally ignore you when you stop next to them to watch and take photos. But, get out of your vehicle and you’re fresh meat!
Don’t hang your arms out of a safari vehicle, sit on windows or stick your head out of a sun roof… or step out of the vehicle. Never, every walk up to a wild animal to get a better photo.
If you’re on a safari tour with a professional guide and you stop for a “loo” break, stay close to the vehicle and make sure your guide is watching out for you. Don’t head off into the bush for a little privacy!
Keep your windows closed
If you are on a self-drive tour of Kruger National Park (in a rented car, not on a safari vehicle) – close your windows when you stop to look at a wildlife sighting. You can open them while you are driving to get fresh air but keep them closed when a wild animal is around.
If you have children in the car, put the window lock on and lock the car doors. A little mistake like opening the door could end as a massive tragedy!
Keep voices down
If you come across game, particularly elephant, leopard and lion; don’t shout or startle them. Loud noise on a game drive annoys animals and other people on a safari tour. Make sure your children behave or your guide might not allow them on the safari vehicle for the next game drive.
Don’t use a flash on your camera at night.
Listen to your safari guide
Don’t be arrogant and don’t irritate your safari guide. He is there to keep you safe – listen to him, follow his rules and you’ll be fine. He’s not telling you what to do because he thinks he’s a “big cheese” – he is paid to keep you safe and secure in the wild bush.
On a safari vehicle, keep quite when your guide asks you to drop your voice, or keep still. They know wild animals intimately and can tell if they’re agitated and pose a threat. Safari guides carry a rifle but they do not want to use it. Don’t do something stupid that forces them to fire a shot at an animal and – worse – kill it!
No running in the bush
If you run, you look like prey. When you are in the bush and stopped for a bush break and drinks, walk slowly and quietly around the safari vehicle. No jumping around or running.
Never get separated from your “herd”. Stay close to your safari vehicle, find the closest bush and make it quick. Remember predators like lions pick off the smallest, weakest and isolated.
You cannot go for an early morning run! If exercise is important to you, book a place that has an in-house exercise centre like a gym.
This includes protection from the sun and insects. Buy a high factor sunscreen lotion and an effect mosquito repellent. Don’t underestimate the sun – always wear a good hat, even on an overcast day.
And take malaria seriously.
Make sure you and your family on taking a course of anti-malaria tablets. Don’t forget to take them and keep taking your tablets after you get home for the prescribed period.
It’s a good idea to spray your boots and socks with an insect repellent to prevent ticks climbing onto you if you’re walking through long grass. Always check yourself for ticks when you get back to your room.
As the sun is setting, put on long pants, socks and closed shoes. This is to guard against mosquito bites and other nasty critters that come out at night.
Stay out of rivers and lakes
Never, never swim in a river or lake in the bushveld. You won’t see a crocodile until it’s too late! Hippos are one of Africa’s most dangerous mammals and very territorial. Stay away from them!
Don’t do something stupid like get drunk and dare someone to jump into a river.
When you stop for drinks at a water hole or river, don’t stand too close to the edge of the water. Crocs are opportunist hunters and will grab you.
Always keep an eye on your kids – never let them out of your sight when wild animals are in the area.
Don’t walk in the bush without a guide
Never wander off on your own in the bush, even if it’s to take a casual stroll outside the fence of your safari lodge or campsite or to look for a private place to pee when you stop on your game drive.
If you’re on a walking safari tour, follow in a neat line behind your guide and don’t fall behind. You’re easy picking for a predator if you fall far behind your group. If you need to stop to tie your shoelace or have a pee, shout for your guide to stop so you can do your business.
Don’t cause a fire
If you’re camping in the Kruger National Park or elsewhere in the bush, be very careful with your camp fire. The bush is dry, and a small fire can very quickly become a run-away fire that wreaks death and destruction.
Put your fire out with water before you go to sleep.
If you use matches, make sure you have blown it out properly before flicking it away.
If you smoke, never throw a lit end into the bush. Always step on your cigarette to put it out.
Do not feed animals
Your guide will throw you off the safari vehicle if you throw an apple or orange at a wild animal. Don’t even think about!
And don’t feed monkeys or baboons in the rest camps. They turn into nasty scavengers, become too used to people at the rest camps and become a dangerous nuisance. They can bite a kid or badly hurt someone.
If you feed them, they become pests and then must be shot. Don’t be the cause of that!
You are not Steve Irwin!
Documentaries that show wild characters tackling and handling wild animals – don’t be fooled. It is not easy to jump on the back of a crocodile or grab a venomous snake at the back of its neck. Those men have developed those skills and have a world of experience handling dangerous animals.
Don’t end up on the front page of the newspaper because you think you’re the next best Steve Irwin!