Is an African safari safe?
This is a question at the forefront of many travelers minds before deciding to book an African safari - and rightly so - after all you may have never visited Africa before...
I’ll answer this in two parts, because yes, an African safari is safe if you're not Mr or Mrs Numpty.
And no, an African safari is not safe if you’re going to go out of your way to explore.
1 - When is an African safari safe?
An African safari is safe when you stick to the reserves and tourist zones in the various cities.
For example, if we’re speaking strictly in regards to the wildlife reserves where you’ll stay while on safari, then you have nothing to worry about if you pay attention to the rules of the lodge or the reserve you are in.
Don’t get up early in the morning and go for your customary jog for example.
You laugh but I’ve seen this happen...
We woke up one morning and the lodge staff was in a bit of a panic as one of the guests was missing from the breakfast table and they could not locate him in his room or common areas.
After a little hustle and bustle what do we see?
Mr tourist comes running down the sand road and into the lodge wearing his bright orange running shorts over his brighter than white legs - in full stride!
I guess he thought he was in a zoo or some sort of tame animal enclosure.
Lucky for Mr Numpty, no lions were roaming and looking for a morning snack, because a slow old guy would have made for an easy target.
Not that human is typically on the menu for lion, but why risk it?
Needless to say our ignorant friend got a nice sit down and talking to from the guide.
I’ve also seen a traveler wander into the bush to relieve himself during sundowners in the bush.
Not the brightest idea when you’re not very high on the food chain in the wild.
Again, they received the talking to and mild scolding from the guide whose job it is to keep you safe and not feed you to the predators.
Local wildlife aside...are the safari lodges safe from thieves and the like?
Yes they are.
The wildlife reserves are vast open areas with controlled access points and roaming rangers who happen to be armed.
This is not a soft target for a thief as there is no way to escape quickly.
Consider the Kruger Park for example, it gets around 2 million visitors yearly and their safety record is impeccable.
If you’re in the bigger tourist cities like Cape Town, stick to the designated tourist areas and you’ll be fine.
2 - When is an African safari not safe?
As discussed above, if you’re going for solitary jogs in the wild your odds of safety decrease exponentially, but I know that’s not what you’re referring to.
An African safari is not safe if you’re going exploring in the big cities.
If you’re going to try and find out how the poorer communities live without a guide, you’re going to put yourself at risk.
You wouldn’t walk down an alleyway in Compton, California for example with your big shiny camera and iPhone trying to take pictures of the local gangsters, would you?
The same applies in Africa.
Stay away from the rougher areas of the big cities because all big cities anywhere in the world attract their fair share of bad elements.
If you’re not sure where you’re going, rule of thumb is not to go.
If some poor street person needs a fix or a meal and Joe-tourist comes walking along with $2,000 of digital equipment on show, it makes for a really soft target.
Kind of like Mr Numpty I mentioned earlier running through the reserve.
In the big cities, chances are you’re not the lion, you’re the antelope.
Same rules apply, stick to the designated areas and you’ll be fine.
If you need any more information about safety in specific areas, drop us a call or email.
We have over 20 years experience planning African safaris in South & East Africa, we’d be happy to point you in the right direction.