The Wildlife Code 

  • Respect the privacy of the wildlife, this is their habitat.
  • Beware of the animals - they are wild and can be unpredictable.
  • Don’t crowd the animals or make sudden noises or movements.
  • Don’t feed the animals – it upsets their diet and leads to human dependence.
  • Keep quiet - noise disturbs the wildlife and may antagonize your fellow visitors.
  • Stay in your vehicle at all times, except at designated picnic or walking areas.
  • Keep below the maximum speed limit (40 kph/25mph). 
  • Never drive off-road –this severely damages the habitat.
  • When viewing wildlife keep at least 20m away and pull to the side of the road so as to allow others to pass.  
  • Leave no litter and never light fires or discard burning objects.
  • Respect the cultural heritage of East Africa - never take pictures of the local people or their habitat without asking their permission, respect the cultural traditions and always dress with decorum. 
  • Observe the rules: leave the park by dusk; never drive at night in a national park.

Safari Etiquette

The word ‘Safari’ actually means ‘to travel’ and can refer to any journey or trip; but in tourist industry terms it has become synonymous with khaki outfits, cameras, pop-up-top mini buses and tours East African national parks and reserves. Note: the difference between a park and a reserve is that a park allows no human habitation or grazing of domestic livestock, whereas a reserve does. Reserves are also usually owned and run by a county council, whereas a park is usually owned by the state. When in either a park or reserve visitors should observe the following code:
In addition to the above the observance of a few other rules set the safari aficionado apart from the tourist: If your driver is driving too fast or too dangerously ask him/her to slow down.

View responsibly
; tourist buses chase after wildlife, and it is not uncommon to see twenty of them surrounding one bemused lion. This is irresponsible and can seriously affect the animal’s eating patterns. If more than two vehicles are at a sighting, don’t join them. Wait until they have gone. An informed safari is an enhanced safari; carry guidebooks (about the park, wildlife, birds and flora) and binoculars. 

Always travel with plenty of water, wear sensible shoes in case you have to walk, carry a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. It makes sense to wear khaki or green clothing; but multiple pockets and hunters hats can look contrived. Strong scents scare animals; so strong-smelling toiletries are not a good idea. It gets chilly in the evenings so take a light fleece.

On a walking safari never walk in front of the gun and pay rapt attention to the instructions of your guide. In the face of danger from wildlife keep still; don’t run. Watch where you are putting your feet, though most of Kenya’s 126 species of snakes, for example, are not venomous – some are.

Do not walk in the long grass; never walk without shoes

Watch out for ticks, which can transmit tick typhus to humans. Wear socks and shoes and tuck trousers into socks and in areas of ‘pepper ticks’ (very small ticks) spray clothing with insect repellent before walking in the bush. When in tented camps, bear in mind that the walls are made of canvas; and that all sound carries.  When tipping the guide (which is optional) bear in mind that many people in East Africa live on less than a dollar a day, so err on the generous side. Do not remove anything from a national park or reserve (this also applies to the marine parks).

Know the difference between a black and a white rhino
: contrary to popular imagination, rhino are neither black nor white; both are a similar shade of grey. The name ‘white’ originates from the Afrikaans word ‘weit’, which means ‘wide’, and refers to the width of the white rhino’s mouth, which is specially adapted to grazing. To tell the difference between black and white – look at the mouth of the animal, the white rhino is a grazer and has a wide mouth; the black rhino is a browser and has a pointed prehensile (capable of grasping) lip. Note: black rhinos are more dangerous than white rhinos.

Never get between a hippo and the water
; stay well away from lakeshores or riverbanks at night: hippos are VERY dangerous; more people are killed by hippos in Kenya for instance than by any other animal. Be wary of baboons; they can and do attack tourists (usually for food); they can also open tents and climb in through car windows.  Most fresh water lakes are infected with Bilharzia (tiny snail-like creatures that thrive in still water and live as parasites in the body and can seriously affect the immune system) so don’t swim in lakes. The best time to view wildlife is very early (dawn) and from 4pm to dusk. Avoid altitude sickness: before climbing or trekking above 3,000 m spend a couple of days at that altitude or below and have a full rest day for each 1,000 m ascended.