Stay safe in Africa
Use a reputable and recognised tour operator
Find the specialist of the country you want to visit, they are the people with the knowledge and can create an itinerary to suit you. They will also have good back up for you and will have experienced that country first hand many times. They know what they are talking about, take their advice and guidance and explore that country knowing you are in safe hands.
Do not to travel at night in country
If you can help it, do not travel at night. Most of the roads are not fenced in Africa and often cattle and wild animals wander over the roads and they are extremely difficult to see in the dark. Collisions with animals are often serious and can be pretty traumatic. If you do need to travel at night make sure you reduce your speed and make sure everyone keeps a lookout.
Also be aware of other drivers as they can also be a liability, especially late at night when coming back from work or from the local bar! Be sensible.
A self drive it is an ideal way to get away from the crowds. You have your own independence and can stop when you want to ensuring that you don’t miss anything on your journey. Quite often people are concerned about driving in Africa however in many countries, such as Swaziland and Namibia, a self drive safari is the best way to explore the country and is positively encouraged.
The setup for driving in these countries is brilliant, if it wasn’t safe thousands of overseas travellers would not have done it in the past and rave about how brilliant it is.
Again, follow the advice of the professionals. They will give you a suggested route from one lodge to the next with directions and timings and also little detours to see lesser known highlights that you may miss if travelling by in a group. Have your own mini adventure in the wide open spaces of Africa, sublime.
Local police and army
The local police are normally really friendly despite armed with guns! Remember that in the UK guns are not part of our every day life whereas in Africa you can see them on a regular basis in police officers and armed guards.
Quite often you will see police on the roads at checkpoints and they are simply ensuring that your vehicle is roadworthy and that you have the correct documents. Be polite, courteous and smile and you may find that you are engaged in a rather long conversation about what you are doing and where you are going! The police are simply curious as well as doing their job and will often wish you a safe journey as you depart. Remember, they are there for your safety as well.
In Swaziland the army is often out in force at checkpoints as well. More often than not they are looking for stolen vehicles that are being smuggled between Mozambique and South Africa, using Swaziland as a sneaky way through less strict borders. Again, do not worry and they will know that you are tourists and again will ask where you are going.
Stay in a community
Staying in the local community really is the way to get away from the crowds and there are some fantastic community initiatives where you get the chance to immerse yourself into the local way life. It is a safe and genuine way of truly getting to know the local people and enriching your stay in Africa.
This unique opportunity enables the community to benefit financially and educationally from you being there and you may find this to be your most memorable part of your holiday.
In taking a holiday anywhere overseas, there is an element of risk. Without risk life would be boring! In Africa wild animals can present threats to your safety and health, despite possessing buckets of common sense. Please follow the advice of your guide. Here are few things to consider:
- Do not try to get too close, let the animals come to you – please do not ask your guide to get any closer than they are
- Check your shoes for creepy crawlies before putting them on
- Do not position yourself between mother and offspring
- Do not rev your engine, beep your horn or shout to get the attention of wildlife, it might prove to be too much for you and them!
- Use a mosquito net
- Walk on paths and try not to bush bash
- Do not feed or try to pet the wildlife (you will be surprised!)
In camps where animals wander freely, quite often this is the case in Botswana, make sure that you are escorted when you walk from your room to the communal areas, however short the distance maybe. And if you are on a self drive and driving across Etosha National Park, stay in the car and only get out in the designated safe areas.
The last thought
Remember, Africa is unpredictable and probably everything won’t go according to plan, but this is the beauty of Africa in that it is not rigidly organised, it is not confined to boxes and the day is not set in stone, because if it was, you would probably miss some amazing wildlife sightings.
Leave your worries and structure behind and let Africa weave her magic over you.