Safari: The Extraordinary Rules

Rule One: Sleep with the curtains open. Nothing beats an African sunrise, and the best way to experience it is from the comfort of your own bed, opening your eyes to a magnificent vista glowing in the morning light. Many safari lodges are designed specifically to make the most of the rising or setting sun, and even when there aren’t magnificent landscapes to admire, you never quite know what you might see taking an early morning stroll past your room.

Doro Nawas, Namibia
Doro Nawas, Namibia

Rule Two: Leave the pith helmet at home. Even though will provide endless amusement for your fellow safari goers (and ample opportunities for them to practice covert portrait photography), the days of the mighty pith helmet are past. A bush hat or any wide-brimmed hat will do nicely.

Rule Three: Cameras should be seen, but not heard. Nothing ruins the magic of a moment in the bush listening to an elephant’s rumble than the irritating snap and whirr of a camera. In these days of digital photography, the sound effects are rarely necessary and can really detract from the experience. Which leads us to…

Rule Four: Sometimes, cameras shouldn’t be seen either. Provided you’re spending more than a couple of days on safari (we usually recommend three as an absolute minimum) try at least one game drive without a camera in your hand. Even better, try a walking safari. You notice so much more of the sights, sounds and smells of the bush when you’re not seeing the whole thing through a camera screen. After all, if you wanted to see the bush through a screen, you can do it from your own arm chair with considerably less hassle and have David Attenborough for company.

Safari in the Masai Mara
Fighting lions near Karen Blixen Camp, Masai Mara

Rule Five: Don’t send Mother Nature a shopping list. If you come on safari with a shopping list of animals to tick off, you’re likely to be disappointed. We know one very unlucky girl who spent five days in the Masai Mara and didn’t see a single lion- stupendously unlucky, but it can happen. Instead, be open to whatever the bush may bring, and prepare to be delighted-whether it’s a sighting of a civet, battling giraffes, or ball-pushing dung beetles.  It’s invariably these travellers who end up watching lions battle for supremacy, or catching a river crossing of the Great Migration all to themselves.

Last, but not least, Rule Six: all rules are made to be broken…