When you think of a safari, the very first thing that’ll come to mind is wild animals. The next thing that will come to mind, if you’re any bit the ‘Paranoid Patty’, is the fact that you’re in an ‘open’ van, with nothing much protecting you from those deadly beasts. Now, let’s not get started on the walking safari’s or the canoeing trails that are on offer. You’re probably shaking in your boots at this point! But, there’s no need to be nervous about this adventure of a lifetime- at the end of the day, you want to experience everything you possibly can, while out in the bush, without having butterflies take over your central nervous system.One thing is for sure, the animals that roam free in the wild are indeed dangerous, and of course, there are precautions to be adhered to, to ensure you don’t get munched. Luckily, though, most of the precautionary measures will be in the hands of our highly experienced safari guide, but it’s always a great idea to educate yourself on the animals and their behaviour. This way, you will know what’s safe, what isn’t and when it’s time to make yourself camouflage! But seriously, we just want to make you feel at ease.We have come up with informative points surrounding the most likely wildlife you’ll spot, how close is too close and what you should and shouldn’t do while exploring their territory. Sounds overwhelming, but we assure you that there’s nothing to be stressed about-remember you’re reading this for peace of mind, and not because there’s a high chance of danger.
How Close is Too Close?
If you thought Lions were your biggest concern in terms of danger- surprisingly they are the least aggressive when they come into contact with a safari vehicle. So much so, that a van can get as close as half a metre away from a pride of lions, without them even getting up from their shady spot. Crazy, right? What’s more; they don’t mind vehicles coming close to them while feasting on a kill! This means epic photos and up close and personal visits- from the car, only!
Elephants, believe it or not, are one of the most territorial animals in the wild. They usually live within a herd, and there is always a leader of the pack, that keeps a close eye on any visitor’s. Luckily, though, they don’t mind you paying a visit, as long as you respect their space and give them enough room to get away, should they feel threatened. They are beautiful, gentle creatures, but respect is key if you want to stay in their good books!
The same goes for Buffalo’s- give them space, and you’ll be on the safe side. Buffalo’s are beautiful animals but should not be underestimated. They too, live in a herd and are very protective of each other. If they feel threatened, they may just decide to sort you out. But, remember, your guide knows all the ins and outs when it comes to these big guys, and you’ll be in safe hands, all the way!
Leopards, like lions, are not in the least bit phased with their human friends. Of course, you cannot step outside of the vehicle, because that would make you minced meat, but they have no issues with Safari vans coming past, with eager tourists and photo-snapping fundi. Believe it or not, they’re quite the posers, especially because they’re so visually striking when they’re hanging over a branch and glaring at you with those charismatic eyes.
Rhinos will never go out of their way to cause harm unless they feel that they are in a dangerous situation, themselves. It’s more than safe to peer over at them from a safe distance. They usually graze in large open fields and are pretty easy to spot. So, don’t worry about coming into unexpected contact with one of these big boys.
Hippo’s are one of the most dangerous, of all the wildlife species. Hippo’s feel safer in the water and for this reason feels extra threatened when approached on land. Luckily though, these massive creatures spend most of their days in the water and only come out to graze once the sun goes down. One tip for those that decide to canoe alongside the hippos- stay in shallow water and give them the deep water, all will be peaceful and happy if you allow them to enjoy their afternoon swim, without distractions!
This goes for wherever you are, but more so on a walking safari. It’s important that you are an extra pair of eyes and ears and don’t rely solely on the guide. Guides are often armed, so there's little to worry about- but it'll help a great deal if you stay alert to what could potentially be a danger. This will give your guide enough time to make a move, should he need to do so.
Trust Your Guide
Safari guides are highly trained and more often than not, have years of experience guiding as well as having an in-depth understanding of the behavior of the animals. You can trust them wholeheartedly because they have your best interests at heart and their main aim is to keep you safe (and see you have an epic time, of course!) It’s important to listen to what your guide has to say and act upon his/her commands.I hope those butterflies have rested and that you are more excited than nervous to witness these majestic creatures, in their natural habitat. After all, they too just want to be friends!