1. Arguing with customs officials, money changers, mosquitoes, and birders (twitchers)!
2. Becoming dehydrated. Drink filtered/bottled water whenever and wherever possible.
3. Photographing anything relating to the government or military, including personnel (soldiers and police) and buildings (post offices, banks, airports, border posts, railway stations and bridges). Most African countries have disproportionate security paranoia.
4. Missing a single game-drive, walk or excursion into the bush – the day you decide to sleep in will be the day that your group finds that elusive leopard that you have been dying to see. Remember, like everything else in life, the more you put in – the more you are likely to get out. That means early mornings, long drives, sitting in a hide, walking with your guide, taking that evening game drive and keeping your binoculars and camera at the ready at all times – even when in camp. You can rest when you get home!
5. Stepping out of your tent, chalet or lodge at night without either a good torch (flashlight), an escort or at the very least - good walkway lighting. If you do ‘bump’ into something – don’t panic! Try to remember that whatever is there is likely to be more scared of you than you are of it (well perhaps!). If it hasn’t seen you, back off slowly and return to your room. Don’t throw something at it to get it to move, and don’t do anything to startle it – like scream!? If it has seen you, and hasn’t already bolted into the bushes, do not scream, bolt for the bar or run in any direction – stand still and begin to move back very slowly until you can put some distance between you – then bolt for your room! This is going to be fun…yes?
6. Rushing about from one sighting to the next. Take the time to savour each animal interaction, unfolding scene or wildlife sighting. I guarantee that if you spend just that little extra time at a sighting (after you’re ready to move on) that something will happen to make you glad that you stuck it out. Trust me on this.
7. Picking up or attempting to ‘collect’ anything you might come across on safari including skulls, ivory, horns, bird’s eggs and the like. This is strictly against National Parks rules and is extremely frowned upon. If in doubt, check with your guide. Remember, your guide is responsible for your actions and can get into hot water with the authorities if you are found with anything untoward.
8. The temptation to feed the animals. Do not EVER feed ANY animal or bird on safari. I don’t mean the elephants and lions – I think most people understand that this would be foolish. I’m talking about the monkeys or baboons that you may come across at various designated picnic spots or camp sites, or even the birds that appear when you take out your sandwiches. Over time this dependence on people for food will invariably result in an unprovoked attack from an animal that does not understand why the next visitor hasn’t got something edible at the ready.
9. Boldly taking endless photographs of the locals. Not all African cultures are accepting of cameras or having their photograph taken. Many rural Africans will shy away from having their picture taken. Please be sensitive. However, many may merely want a fee for having their photograph taken, while others will gladly pose for you if you ask courteously. It is always advisable to strike up a conversation, exchange greetings and ask about their lives and families before you start to snap off pictures – and if you have a digital camera they will always enjoy seeing their image on the small screen.
10. Purchasing goods made from endangered resources, including ivory, coral, or skins.
NOTE: The above travel advice is copyright protected and should not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission of the author!
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