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Staying in Touch While on Safari


One of the best things about going on safari is leaving all the hubbub of your daily work and life behind, and truly immersing yourself in nature. The vibrations you sense should come from the rumbling stomach of an elephant, not the phone in your back pocket. But while we love the “tech-free” aspect of a safari, we understand that teenagers may break out in hives at the thought of no Facebook for a week. And life at home does continue while you’re away having fun. A working cell phone can be a “nice to have” on safari.

Will My Cell Phone Work in Africa?
The best way to make sure you can be reached while on safari is to check in with your cell phone provider. Most larger companies like AT&T, Sprint and Verizon have special international plans. Sign up for a plan in advance to make sure you don’t end up paying an arm and a leg for a basic call or text. Specify the countries you are traveling to. Ask for details on rates and find out if it will cost extra for your friends and family to call you too. Ask how much they charge for basic roaming fees. You don’t want to rack up hundreds of dollars worth of bills because you’re playing Scramble with your sister back home in between game drives.

Going Local
If you’re only planning to use your phone for emergencies or a quick call or two, then there probably isn’t a need for you to rent a local phone, buy a local sim card (you need an unlocked phone), or a pre-paid phone card. But if you know you’ll be making daily calls, or you’d like to have internet access while on safari, it’s worth looking at some of those options. If you need to make some quick local calls and don’t want to be charged international rates, use a local pay phone or borrow someone’s cell phone (everyone has them, even in the bush).

Scope out Skype
Using Skype is a cheap and easy way to stay in touch with friends and family but you do need an internet connection. Most hotels and safari lodges will have wifi access, but the fees can be quite steep and it’s generally only available in larger towns and cities. You can also use Skype to call someone’s cell phone or land line, which is very useful because you don’t have to wait for your receiving party to get online. The reception is very clear and it’s certainly cheaper than any international phone plan out there.

More Tips on Staying Connected

  • Leave your phone behind while on game drives or other safari based activities. Nothing will disturb the tranquility of the African bush more so than a call with auntie Madge in New Jersey at full volume.
  • Keep all your electronic gadgets on airplane mode and/or no-roaming to avoid extra costs and draining your battery. Practice how to do this before you leave. If you don’t know how to, ask any 13 year old and they will figure it out in seconds.
  • Bring the right adapters to recharge your phone/tablet
  • Internet connections are generally slower in many African countries than what you are used to at home. Uploading a bunch of photos while on your trip can waste precious time and get expensive.
  • If your cell phone does not work despite your best efforts, don’t panic. Every safari camp or lodge no matter how remote will have a cell phone at their base that works in emergencies. Leave a detailed itinerary of your trip with someone at home, along with contact numbers (including the international dialing code) and they will be able to reach you.

Contact us for more handy tips and to help plan an enjoyable and stress-free safari in Africa.

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