Shenton Safaris

Safari tips: Cell phones on safari

Cell phone being used while on safari

© Simon Espley

“Perinet, Madagascar – It was early morning and the forests below were covered in a blanket of dense mist. The magnificent indris had woken up and their whale-like sirens were drifting up towards us as we savoured our coffee and biscuits. Total tranquillity. Bliss…

WHAT? WHY DID YOU NOT MAKE THAT TRADE?… I SAID WHY NOT?… HELLO?? NOT GOOD ENOUGH! JUST MAKE ANOTHER PLAN… WHAT?!?

The gentleman in the cabin next door had other ideas for the morning. Satellite phone in hand, he strutted to and fro on his deck and barked out his orders and frustration like he was back in his office in Europe.”

Communication with the outside world is possible in some form from most tourism areas in Africa, and we all need to set boundaries, resist the FOMO, and respect that others do not share your need to be always on. Some people need to check in now and then while on safari, but for most a safari is time to detox, unplug, switch off.

Here then, are a few tips for communication while on safari:

• Internet

Most lodges will have some form of Internet access, which is mostly used for their own business purposes. Many lodges will provide Wi-Fi to guests and others provide a computer with Internet access. Some, however, expressly forbid guest access to the Internet. If you do need to access the Internet while on safari, check beforehand what is available. If there is Wi-Fi in the communal areas, please go to airplane mode during meals and other social times. Better still, leave your device in your room during those times.

• Cell phones

Cell phone coverage can now be found in many previously off-the-grid areas in Africa. For example, many parts of the Kruger National Park in South Africa have good cell phone coverage, and even Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda has pockets of coverage. Please switch your cell phones to airplane mode while you are on game drives, bush walks, and in communal areas of the lodge – to avoid disturbing other guests.

• Satellite phones

Satellite phones can be used almost anywhere, but connections are often weak, and you may need to speak loudly in order to be heard. If you do need to use a satellite phone during your safari, please find a place far from other people, where barking at that device does not affect anybody else.

This is all about common sense and respect, really.

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Travel in Africa is about knowing when and where to go, and with whom. A few weeks too early / late and a few kilometres off course and you could miss the greatest show on Earth. And wouldn’t that be a pity? Contact an Africa Geographic safari consultant to plan your dream vacation.

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