8 Ways to Stay Safe When Going on Safari

20 July, 2014

Going on a safari? When you’re headed into unfamiliar territory, staying safe is important to both your physical and mental health. While you’re surely beaming with excitement, don’t let that cloud your judgment when it comes to safety. Remember these tips as you embark on your adventure to help keep you and your group safe.

safari-baby-cubImage via Flickr by Sharon Sipple

Don’t Wander

It’s too easy for tourists to wander away from the group to get a closer shot of an animal with their camera. This is never a good idea. If you’re in a game park, always stay in your car unless told by your guide that it’s okay to get out. If you’re on a walking tour, don’t hang back to get a picture while the rest of the group moves on. You don’t want to get lost in an unfamiliar place.

Bring Along a Two-Way Communication Device

Having a two-way communication device–whether a radio or a cell phone–is a vital tool in an emergency. At least one person in your group should have a communication device, but you should consider bringing along your own so that you’re covered if you get separated from the group.

Make sure that you have service where you’re going if you’re bringing a cell phone along. Otherwise, the device can prove quite useless. Consider an individual plan like those available from T-Mobile for quality coverage in the area you’re headed. It’s also important that you program area emergency numbers into your phone.

Follow Your Guide’s Instructions

When headed on a guided tour, be sure to follow all of your guide’s instructions. When you begin thinking that you know better than an experienced professional, your chances of getting lost or injured skyrocket. Choosing to follow simple commands like “Back away slowly” can mean the difference between a safe journey and a trip to the hospital.

Stay Downwind of Animals

Anouk Zijlma of About.com suggests staying downwind of the animals you’re viewing. This reduces the chance that they’ll not notice you since they won’t catch your scent as easily. Be aware of this when your guide tells you where to stand. Not only can it reduce the chance of an animal attack, but this tactic can help you get a closer look at the wildlife.

Don’t Go Swimming

It isn’t always easy to see what’s lurking beneath the surface of the water, and if you’re headed to Africa or South America, there are plenty of dangerous creatures in the water. Some examples of what you might run into include crocodiles, hippos, and snakes. Even if you don’t spot one of these creatures, the water may be infested with bacteria or parasites. Unless you absolutely know for sure that the water is safe for swimming, don’t think about dipping your toes in.

Wear Closed-Toe Shoes

Since you’re likely to run into a variety of creepy crawlies on your safari adventure, you want to make sure that you’re protecting yourself from the dangerous ones. That means that you should be wearing closed-toe shoes to reduce your chance of coming into contact with poisonous snakes, scorpions, spiders, and insects–especially parasitic ones. If you’re headed through tall grass, make sure you’re also wearing long pants.

Stay Calm

If you run across an animal that seems angry or is bothered by your presence, remaining calm is the best thing you can do. Walk away slowly and quietly. This way you won’t appear as a threat. As WorldNomads.com puts it, “The only thing that turns and runs in Africa is prey.” Be careful not to turn your back on an agitated animal as they may see you as an easy target.

Drink Plenty of Water

When headed on a safari, animal attacks, parasites, and snake bites aren’t your only problems. Given the high temperatures present in areas like Africa and South America, you’re also at risk of developing heat stroke on your tour. Avoid this–and dehydration–by drinking enough water, wearing heat appropriate clothing, and applying sunscreen. For the same reasons you shouldn’t go swimming, do not drink any water from ponds or rivers.

A safari can be a fantastic, incredibly memorable experience, but you don’t want to ruin that memory by getting yourself into danger. Start with these tips, and then explore more ideas for planning your safari here.

Zhiqiang & Tingyi

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