I’m thrilled to be getting my first NON-FAMILY guest tomorrow! This trip marks John’s first to any country in Africa, and so I figured that, in celebration of his new horizons, I would address some of the misconceptions about what’s necessary to come here.
I’ll start with the ubiquitous misconception that, if you are coming to some country in Africa for a safari, you are going to be crawling through the jungles and mud and should dress like it.
I am so sorry to tell you but even if you are on a discount safari, you will not need any sort of hiking/biking/roughnecking kind of clothes whatsoever.
You’ll go to your camp, either cement-enclosed tents where the only real roughing-it-element is digesting the food, or to your fancy hotel, where the staff spends so much time making sure your room is as non-Africa as possible, evident by the inclusion of things like AIR CONDITIONING. Imagine the staff seeing line after line of safari-clad foreigners coming into their daintily-appointed rooms. Bizarro.
From your room, you’re ushered into a van, where you’ll stay for the entire day. If lucky, your tour company can plan a lunch under the trees, but there will be a blanket on the ground so you’ll still never be “roughing” it.
I’d love to know one person who found a need, mid-safari, to unzip their pants at the knee. Where do you put the bottom of your pants after that? What happens if you lose one of them?
Just dress like a normal person! I promise the lions won’t find you more delicious.
Now, not all cities in African countries are as well set-up as Nairobi, but this idea that you have to bring every kind of medicine, toiletry, and lotion with you is just plain wrong. We have several huge grocery chains here, the foremost being Nakumatt, where you can buy pretty much anything at all. Of course things that are only for Ex-Pats (like sunscreen) are a bit more expensive, but they’re still available.
The fact that my mother’s friend insinuated that there were no feminine hygiene products available made me laugh, because quite frankly, the number of expats living here would never tolerate the regular use of moss/whatever other assumed material supplants a Kotex. Which segués into…
Be culturally sensitive
Don’t pay money to your tour operator to take you to a “Masaai Village” so you can take photos of poor & dirty children.
Don’t assume because someone living in rural Kenya doesn’t have an XBOX One that they’re unable to be happy.
Don’t give small children candy/presents/money. You are teaching them that they don’t have to work and that white guilt will give them things for free. What kind of bad lesson are you teaching these children that you’d never teach your own?
Be respectful to the animals. Please stay on the paths, don’t honk at lions, don’t chase animals who are running away. You’re in a wild place, and it’s not there for your amusement. You’re a visitor.