How to stay safe on safari
Big game awaits you: herds of wildebeest, prides of lions, towering giraffes and lethal hippos, Africa’s most deadly and dangerous animal. You want to stay safe.
You might be on a carefully-arranged tourist safari with every aspect of health and safety considered, but these are wild creatures and they don’t obey human rules. Then there’s the super-hot climate, the insects and various horrid insect-borne diseases to be aware of. Here’s some sensible safari travel advice.
Safari travel vaccinations
You’ll be out in the wilderness, even if it’s a National Park or Game Reserve. Africa, in particular, comes with a host of nasty insect-borne diseases and other conditions you can catch from the water, food and animals.
Your very first stop, before you do anything else, is to find out exactly which travel vaccines you need and get them in good time, with the recommended amount of notice. We’ll help with every aspect of that. But there’s more to safari safety than travel vaccinations.
Viewing wildlife and game in safety
Any half-way decent safari guide will give you a detailed and serious talk about the risks inherent in being around large wild animals.
Whether you’ll be viewing creatures from a car or on foot, common sense safety measures are paramount. These animals can and do kill. At the very least you could end up with a life-changing injury.
As long as you follow your guide’s advice to the letter, you should be safe. Safari wildlife can be safer than really wild animals who never see humans, simply because they get used to being stared at and know we’re not dangerous.
The worst thing you can do is either tease or corner a wild creature, a guaranteed way to make it feel aggressive and threatened. You’d probably feel the same!
Insects and other creepy crawlies
Snakes tend to do their level best to avoid humans. Potentially dangerous species of scorpions, spiders and other insects are more likely to hide from you than attack. But it’s your job to stay safe from insect bites, especially mosquitoes which can pass on malaria amongst other diseases.
Safari camps and lodges are usually pretty well-equipped from an insect repellent perspective, with good mosquito netting and insect proofing. But if you spend time outdoors, wear enclosed walking shoes, socks and long trousers. See our insects and bugs page for more advice. There’s also a special page about insect repellent to check out.
The best clothes to wear on safari
White and brightly-coloured clothes are a bad idea. It’s much better to be animal-friendly and blend into the background. Apparently black and blue clothes can attract tsetse flies. And camouflage clothing, because it looks military, isn’t wise in troubled countries.
Lightweight cottons are best for protecting your skin against insect bites and help stop you getting scratched by thorns. A hat is a good idea for keeping the sun off your head and out of your eyes. See our special advice page about heatstroke and sunburn for the latest advice about staying safe in the sun.
It might be boiling hot during the day but at night it can get very cold. If you go on a dawn safari trip, you’ll need a jumper, jacket and maybe even gloves.
8 common sense safari safety tips
1. Your safari guide knows best – take note of their advice at all times
2. If you’re camping, sleep with your tent zipped up
3. Don’t keep food in your tent in case a large and scary animal decides they like the smell of it
4. Bear in mind animals don’t like sudden loud noises or unexpected movements
5. Never leave the vehicle unless your guide says it’s safe
6. Don’t wander about the camp at night on your own
7. Don’t run. Predatory animals will think you’re food
8. Take particular care around baboons which, like hippo, can be particularly aggressive and dangerous
The right clothing, common sense safety measures and the vaccinations you need will help you enjoy your safari to the max. Add a good working knowledge of travellers diarrhoea and you’re ready to go.