One of the hardest lessons to learn when you go to a place like Africa is just how wild the wild can be. Here are the 7 rules you need to follow in the bush if you want to stay safe from both human and animal threats:
Never walk on the roads.
Walking on the roads gives other people (i.e., poachers) a heads up that you’re in the area. And if you’re set up nearby, it gives them a convenient trail to follow right to your campsite.
Never assume you’re safe.
In other words, never—NEVER—let your guard down. You may think you’re alone and it’s time for a dance party, but that rhino hiding in the bushes 30 feet away disagrees.
Never sleep in the same place for more than 3 days in a row.
The more time you spend in one place, the more time threats have to find you. If you’re leaving your scent all over the place, you’re making it easy for predators to track you down. And if you’re being watched by humans and establish a pattern, it increases the chances that they’ll be able to successfully ambush you.
Never sleep where you cook.
Fire is basically a giant beacon that screams “I’m here!” to everyone and everything in the bush. Smoke is like a smelly, dirty rainbow, and you’re the pot of gold. Some very large animals panic or become defensive if they smell smoke or see fire. Others, like hyenas, are attracted to it. Either way, you want to cook fast and keep moving.
Always sleep with a loaded weapon within arm’s reach.
You never know who or what will come visit you in the night. Don’t believe us? Read on.
Always sleep with your sleeping bag unzipped.
It gets cold at night. It’s tempting to zip up your bag to keep all that extra warmth in and stay nice and toasty. But if an elephant reaches into your tent and grabs your bag with you in it, you’ll be going for a nightmare of a ride. Lions will pull sleeping bags out of tents, too. If your bag is unzipped, you’ll most likely slide out and can reach for that weapon from rule #5.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, scorpions and venomous snakes really, really like warm, dark places. You don’t want to wake up with a black mamba curled up on your chest.
Always sleep with your boots on.
You never know when you’ll need to run. Plus, filling your boots with your feet has the added benefit of keeping the creepy-crawlies out of them.
Remember, every rule exists for a reason. Somebody had to find out the hard way. Don’t be the guy (or girl) that makes everybody else glad they listened.