Solo Travel Safety Tips-Wildlife Tours

Solo Travel Safety Tips-Wildlife Tours: As travel resumes, many tourists will visit national parks and view wildlife in their natural habitat at home and abroad. In May-June 2022, two tourists were gored by bison at Yellowstone. Although in the most recent attack, the tourist was on the boardwalk, he was believed to have been within the minimum of more than 25 yards’ distance deemed too close by the Park. In the episode in May 2022, a woman was within 10 yards when attacked.

Unfortunately, interactions with animals can present dangers for animals as well as tourists. In the past week, reports disclosed more on this issue. Concerned tourists mistakenly thought a baby bison needed to be rescued from the cold. After they transported it in their vehicle to park staff, the calf had to be euthanized.  The reason? Its mother had subsequently rejected it. This demonstrates the harm that can come from such intervention even when well-intended.

This harm works both ways. A past press report recounted the death of a US woman mauled by a lion in a Johannesburg wildlife park. She had been traveling by car. As she was photographing the lion through an open window, the lion attacked. I immediately was reminded of my safari in Sabi Sabi/Kruger Park. I traveled with a guide in an open jeep. We parked near a pride of lions sunning themselves. I never considered that there was any danger. I had dismissed as melodrama the guide’s initial instructions as to how to use the rifle “if anything happened”.  My only prior firearms experience? It was skeet shooting at a high-end US resort.  My chief concern then? Remembering not to turn my body (and inadvertently the shotgun with it!) when anyone spoke to me. Otherwise, it could result in the shotgun’s unknowingly pointing right at the person next to me!

Although animal attacks are somewhat rare, one of my neighbors had a family member killed by a lion as well. As a result, it is important that we not overlook the speed and strength of wildlife we are viewing.

In addition to my multiple South African trips, I searched for wildlife in their natural habitats in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Australia, upriver in the Amazon and Southeast Asia.  There were no problems, but it became clear that human/animal interaction also presents some dangers for the latter as well.  As a result, it is important as animal lovers to understand how we can endanger the very animals we so admire!

Single traveler tips are more important than group travelers since those traveling alone in Africa or Asia lack the inherent protection of a ready-made group. When traveling the world alone, there is a two-fold challenge: preventing crises from occurring and if injured, obtaining immediate assistance.

Solo Travel Safety Tips-Wildlife Tours:

Tip 1:

Be alert and follow the rules while adding some Plan B thoughts of your own! In informal, remote settings circumstances in the wild can change quickly. Although it is tempting to view wildlife strictly via your camera/minipad, you may discover that you are well positioned not just for photos but to be lunch for a roaming carnivore! While you are sizing them up, they are doing the same. Remember the dangers work both ways. On a trip to Brazil, I was thrilled to be allowed a special, private visit to photograph capybaras when they were being fed. As I focused up close and personal with loveable 150 pound capybaras reaching for the shot of a lifetime, I realized I had left the gate open.  I may have missed my shot dashing to close the gate but avoided sending 5 beautiful lumbering capybaras down the sidewalks in a major city. (Apparently, in the US West, there was such a foray by escaping capybaras which with their active breeding were then wreaking havoc with the local ecosystem.

Solo Travel Safety Tips-Wildlife Tours: It Works Both Ways:

Tip 2:

Don’t touch the animals without asking first. Again this works for mutual protection. As a friend seated in a Mideast café found out , a scratch from a stray animal (a cat) results in spending part of your trip taking rabies shots! In contrast, in Australia’s Victoria region, tourists could not pet koalas (don’t say “bears”) because humans could endanger them by transmitting diseases.

Tip 3:

Don’t feed the animals. “People food” can be a danger to many species. There is a danger to even household pets from some simple foods. That includes grapes, onions or sugarless gum can have life-threatening consequences. In tourist areas, animals may be overfed even if the snacks offered are not harmful.

Solo Travel Safety Tips-Wildlife Tours: Night Time:

Tip 4:

Recognize dangers presented after dark. We humans find seeing in the dark challenging. However, even pet dogs have almost the same acute sight at night as in daylight. As a result, we are less likely to recognize a problem early on. The second important factor is that many animals feed at night and prowl in packs. I unwisely dismissed the message on a sign at the Victoria Falls Hotel. It cautioned against going in to the village after 8 PM as “lions and other wild animals” had been seen there after dark. Despite all those romantic films featuring moonlight swims, in Hawaii I was warned that at night “the large predators” come in for some fine dining!

Look to Locals for Advice:

Tip 5:

Ask locals for their advice. I was surprised to learn in Brazil that swimming near the shore in shallow water was a favorite venue of piranha! In contrast, having read of the perils of swimming in fresh water in Africa, my Botswana guides successfully directed me to a disease-free small pool. However, I didn’t know that this involved diving off the back of a large elephant! When in Rome.

What is the greatest problem you will likely find in wildlife adventure tours? The difficulty of finding and photographing animals in their natural habitat. The reason? They disappear in dense foliage. In addition, their keen sense of hearing alerts them to human “intrusions”. Most animals successfully play hide and seek when tourists arrive. If your heart is set on studying animals when traveling, I recommend this solution  I found in Amazonas, Brazil.  I met with a biologist at a rescue facility where I could observe both endangered and other local animals. On return from going Upriver, I spent hours at the local science center. That strategy provided the best of both worlds for animal lovers!  Dust off your hiking boots, and go trekking this summer while the dollar is still strong!

Check out our personal tips on “How to Find the Right Safari“.  See also “Why a Solo Safari Can Be Your Best Vacation Ever“. Take a look at TrafalgarTours for safaris. Remember that wildlife tours are available not only in Africa but Latin America and Asia. For rare polar bear sightings, there is always the North Pole!

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