10 Safari Do’s and Dont’s
Two safari vehicles bounce along a dirt road in the Serengeti National Park. Surrounding them are 5,000 square miles of savannah roaring with wildlife, a protected tract of land larger than New York State.
Both vehicles are full of travelers like you, and both are out for their morning game drive. But there’s one major difference between them.
You see the vehicle in front? That one is full of people who exude proper safari etiquette. They are responsible wildlife lovers whose actions represent a favorable approach to safari. The second Land Cruiser? Well, that one is full of folks whose behaviors prove less appropriate for safari.
Look: the road forks ahead and each vehicle chooses a road. Let’s follow them separately to better understand what to do and what not to do on safari, shall we?
Vehicle #1: Good Safari Etiquette
1. DO Be Courteous of Volume
A man in the backseat asks the driver: “Are acacia trees negatively affected when giraffes graze their upper canopy?” (Answer: acacias actually depend on large grazing herbivores . He doesn’t yell or take up all the driver’s attention. Instead, he lets others have the opportunity to ask questions. Being patient and punctual is important on safari, as time and space is both shared and limited.
2. DO Wear Natural Colors
Approaching the first vehicle we notice that everyone is wearing natural colored clothing—khaki, olive, brown. Wild animals can respond adversely to bright colors like reds and blacks, while bugs love blue. Also, having a scarf or jacket nearby is highly recommended, as all-day game drives can run the gamut of weather.
3. DO Learn Swahili Greetings
A woman in the Land Cruiser spots movement in the bush, and she politely asks the driver to slow down, thanking him in Swahili, “Asanti sana.” Tanzanians appreciate when you try their language out. A little bit goes a long way.
4. DO Pack Light
As the first vehicle stops to watch four cheetahs perch on a rock outcropping, peer in the back of the vehicle. Note that everyone’s luggage is compact and durable. Packing only the essentials for your safari, in durable bags, helps getting in and out of the vehicle, while making room for others. Check out our 10 Essential Items to Pack Post
5. DO Tip your Guides
In each bag, you’ll find some US dollars, meant to tip each guide after the safari is over. This is an industry-wide expectation. Our professional drivers will be with you nonstop throughout the journey, answering questions, giving cultural context, and providing one of the most memorable trips of your life. So tips are encouraged.
#2: Not-So-Good Safari Etiquette
Now that we’ve seen what some good safari etiquette looks like, let’s check in on the second Land Cruiser and see what we might avoid while searching for that pride of lions.
6. DON’T Get Out of the Vehicle
As we pull up, someone is outside the second Land Cruiser, taking photos of an elephant in the distance. This is major safety concern and is not advisable until your experienced driver can find a safe place to do so. Our guides have decades of experience and will ensure that each passenger is safe and secure at all times.
7. DON’T Be Obnoxious
Inside the second vehicle, everyone talks loudly over each other. Be aware of others in your safari group. Make sure that your voice is considerate and not overbearing for you or the wildlife. (Note: many animals are extremely sensitive to sound. Did you know that elephants can hear storms from as far as 150 miles away? They can even hear through their feet!
8. DON’T Be on your iPhone
A young man sits in the front of the vehicle and flips through text messages, just as a Bateleur eagle flies overhead with its six-foot wingspan. Missed opportunity! Each safari offers but three to four days of game drives, and, believe me: they will go fast. So turn off your devices and turn on your focus towards wildlife.
9. DON’T Stop for Everything that Moves
This Land Cruiser starts and stops every mile because each traveler asks the driver to stop whenever they see a gazelle. Gazelles, though majestic, are everywhere, and your driver wants to show you all of what Tanzania has to offer.
Our guides know all the nooks and crannies of Tanzania and they are excited to show you them off. And this takes time.
10. DON’T Choose Inexperienced Safari Operators
Be sure and choose a safari provider that knows what they’re doing. Locally-owned and operated, with state-of-the-art, customized Land Cruisers and over 25 years of safari experience, We know the most exciting regions of each park and reserve in the country. So choose wisely, travel responsibly, and be ready for a life-changing experience.
Safari is all about celebrating the wild places. It’s about honoring the wonderful creatures that live there. So tread lightly, express genuine interest in Tanzanian culture, and choose an outfitter that’s both experienced and responsible. With these in mind, you’re bound to have a life-changing experience.