It’s an exhilarating feeling. You’re sitting quietly in a game vehicle watching a pride of lions preparing to hunt. The lead female is staking out a young buffalo while her sisters circle round in readiness to spring the trap.
The tension is palpable, and then... the calm of the bush is broken by the sounds of a cell phone belting out "Who let the dogs out”...
The moment is gone. Spoiled.
The young buffalo might be very thankful as he hoofs it away but the rest of the game viewers will be livid. And, if the lioness could, she’d probably make the cell phone owner her next meal.
There are certain things you just don’t do on a game drive. Whether you’re an absolute novice or seasoned game drive aficionado these tips from Flight Centre agents will serve you well on your next game drive.
Keep quiet. Don’t be noisy on the vehicle as you’re likely to see nothing. If you’re causing a commotion the animals will have moved away long before you even get the chance to spot them. But do bring sightings to the attention of the game ranger for others to enjoy.
Don’t make wild movements, such as standing up, as you break the profile of the vehicle. Predators like lions are attracted by sudden movements so you hopping up and down will draw unnecessary attention and ruin the moment.
Elvis has left the building
Only leave the game vehicle when you’re given permission by your ranger. If you get the opportunity to do a game walk with your ranger he or she will tell you when it is safe to get out of the vehicle. So no unscheduled loo breaks or stopping to pick a lovely flower.
Keep it on the inside
Always keep your arms and legs inside the game vehicle. The trails and tracks are likely to be surrounded by thorny bush and if you dangle your arms outside you are going to need medical attention for the scratches, scrapes and thorns imbedded in your flesh. Dangling arms also present a tasty treat to predators.
Never - ever - throw litter off the vehicle on your drive. Keep it with you to get rid of when you’re back in camp. The pips from your peaches, the empty juice or wine bottles and the wrapper used to keep your sandwich fresh have no place in nature. Glass bottles are a fire hazard in a region where temperatures can soar to over 40°C in summer.
Leave the technology at home
Unless you’re using your cell phone or tablet to take pictures of your experience rather leave them at home. Don’t answer phone calls, read emails or tweet on a game drive. This is an absolute insult to the ranger who would like to share their love for the bush with you.
It’s the height of rudeness to make or receive calls in the bushveld on a game drive. Your ranger will be in constant radio contact with the lodge and other rangers for updates on game spotting so there is really no reason to use your phone on a drive. Switch it to silent or- even better - leave it at the lodge.
Do snap away
A game drive through the bushveld is a wonderful opportunity to get incredible photos to share with your friends and family. Try not to focus only on the Big Five; there’s so much more to be seen and snapped. From beautiful scenery to a family of warthogs patrolling through the bush, tails erect, there are a myriad of photographic stories to be told.
Do you know the difference between a white rhino and a black rhino? Would you be able to tell a kudu from a gemsbok? Your game ranger is a font of information. They’re not only there to point out the animals: they have a vast amount of knowledge to share with you, so ask questions.
Don’t light up
Apart from the annoying cell phone ringing, smoking on a game drive is a huge no-no. By lighting a cigarette you are impinging on the other guests’ enjoyment and you could be responsible for a bush fire. The coal from a cigarette is the spark that will ignite dry bushveld – with devastating effects.
To book your next bush break, visit www.flightcentre.co.za.
Did we miss any etiquette tips? Post yours below...