‘Phones in the Bush: Dos and Don’ts

(Disclaimer: We know not everyone is on an iPhone specifically, so if we use the term iPhone we are meaning it generically – it can be both iPhone or Android)

Phones rule our lives these days.
From communication to social media to direction finding to taking photographs – you name it, they’ve got it.
But whilst these seemingly indispensable little gadgets can be exceptionally convenient in an urban environment, they have the potential to distract you from the real beauty of your safari, so we thought we’d run through a couple of Do’s and Don’ts that might help you know when or when not to pull your phone out of your pocket..

Do: Have your phone with you

We are torn when it comes to the above, since we are very much in favour of the fully disconnected bush immersion, but given that not everyone will have a mirrorless camera and big lens with them, a phone is a fantastic way of capturing images of your safari, and with camera technology improving almost daily, one can have some stunning photos to take home, but…

Don’t: Have it connected to the network

Rid yourself of messages, emails, newsfeeds or anything that might cause you to be looking needlessly at your screen, at least until you’re back at the lodge. Who knows; that split-second when you glance down to check your inbox might have been when the leopard appeared briefly in your peripheral, but you missed it. Have your phone with you, but leave the signal for after drive.

Do: Take photos

Don’t: Post them straight away

You want the record of your safari. You want to be able tho show people what you saw, what it did, how quickly the leopard climbed the tree, how close the elephants came to your safari vehicle… But there’s no need to post any of the content you capture until you’re back in your room (many safari lodges only provide wifi in the rooms, and not on deck – this encourages guests to be off their phones and present).
Posting takes time; picking the right filter, cropping, editing, maybe selecting a nice song for a reel.. all this serves to do is distract further from the magic of what’s around you. Take the photo, record the video, but once you’ve got it, put the phone away again. Save the posting for later…

Do: Use reference apps.

Don’t: Forget to ask your ranger first.

There is an untold number of apps out there providing detailed information from anything from tree longevity to frog mating calls. Most places in the world have some sot of reference for that particular area.
The Roberts’ Bird App for Southern Africa is amazingly detailed and provides a wealth of information on bird plumage, calls, distribution, mating habits and everything else that go with their life history.
Star apps can help you identify individual constellations at any time of the year. There are many wonderfully useful tools that are highly applicable in the African bush.

However, too-heavy a reliance on these apps does exactly what we’re constantly trying to discourage when out there: screen-time.

Don’t forget that your ranger (and/or tracker) are highly qualified guides into this world, and they are there for a reason. They will know the answer to most questions you might throw at them.
If the whole vehicle is stuck identifying a specific bird, by all means delve into the app, but see how fun it is trying to work it out with your guide to work it out beforehand…

Do: Keep the phone in your pocket

Don’t: Keep it on the seat next to you

We’ll end here so that we don’t end up sounding like we’re completely against the use of phones in the bush, but the best way to not be distracted by something is to limit your exposure to it. Out of sight, out of mind is very applicable in this case, and by simply keeping the phone in your seat pocket or in the pocket of your pants, you won’t be wondering who tried to call you or how many likes your latest post got. You will be left to bask in the magnificence of nature all around you, soaking in every glorious moment.

More and more phones are becoming a part of being in the bush, whether to photograph, reference or (and hopefully not) find your way home.

We’re simply saying to remember why you journeyed there in the first place; it wasn’t to look at a screen…

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