Travel in South Africa offers an abundance of safari experiences, from lush subtropical beach forests to the exquisite seclusion of the desert to the world famous Kruger National Park. South African safaris not only offer the beauty and cultural diversity that makes South Africa so unique, they can also be one of the safest travel adventures you can experience.
If you are considering taking a guided South African safari, your chances of encountering difficulties are minimal. Due to inaccurate media representation, people often harbor unfounded concerns about the dangers of going on safari, including an exaggerated fear of civil unrest and crime. In fact, tour operators make it their business to be intimately familiar with the areas in which they travel, thus minimizing risk for travelers. Nevertheless, it is sensible to take customary precautions on your African safari, especially when traveling through urban areas.
The following are a few guidelines to help you adequately and safely prepare for your trip:
Documents and Money
• Always have a photo copy of your passport and required visas
• Make a list of traveler’s cheque numbers (packed separately from the originals)
• Never carry large amounts of cash; credit cards are widely welcomed
• If you need cash handy for purchases at local markets – keep it in a travel wallet or a zip pocket
In all likelihood, you’ll want to take some sort of camera with you on your trip, whether it is a still camera or video camera. Use common sense and pack camera equipment in your hand-carried baggage and never leave it unattended. When walking through an urban area, keep your camera concealed in a bag.
Look But Don’t Touch, Frighten or Feed
Your safari guide will typically discuss safety and safari etiquette with you prior to your safari, whether your game viewing is to be done from a vehicle or on foot. Although all wildlife can be potentially dangerous, if you follow the instructions your guide gives you, there is little need for concern. At viewpoints, hides, camps and other more heavily populated areas, wildlife is more accustomed to people and will usually be less threatened by your presence. A general guideline is to refrain from teasing or cornering wild animals as it may cause a potentially dangerous reaction. In addition, feeding or calling animals should be avoided, as this can cause them to lose their fear of humans.
Although a multitude of potentially dangerous species like snakes, scorpions, spiders, and insects are indigenous to Africa, very few visitors are adversely affected if common sense is used. Snakes are typically shy and generally stay away from highly populated areas. Safari lodges and camps usually have insect (especially mosquito) proofing. If you go on a walk, a good rule of thumb is to always wear enclosed walking shoes, socks, and long trousers.
Although travel to South Africa generally poses no medical threat, malaria is prevalent in certain areas. Prior to your trip to South Africa, you should consult your physician or health department for the latest anti-malaria prophylactics.