The controversial issue of WiFi in safari camps.

Africa Travel Resource (ATR) - in summary • 6 September 2019

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Wild Zambezi was delighted to read an excellent Blog by the team from  Africa Travel Resource (ATR) which addresses the Pros and Cons of Wi-Fi in safari camps.

You can find a link to the whole article at the bottom of this page, but we have summarised a few of the pertinent points below:-

ATR reckons that over the last 30 years, they have witnessed a huge migration from passionate and independent owner-operated camps to collections of lodges owned by large commercial companies.

They have seen core safari areas become overrun with vehicles. Proper walking safaris and night vehicle safaris have now become rare, and in so many camps the experience has become far too soft. On more than one occasion they have found themselves being obliged by their guides to leave important sightings, such as lions in the act of hunting, in order to return back into camp ‘in time for a shower before dinner’.  They reckon that now more than 90% of all people who go on safari are being delivered a significantly watered down experience, and are being seriously short-changed. 

The good news is that there are still places where safari is delivered with the same passion, intensity and authenticity as it ever was.

But it’s not always easy facing up against the relentless commercial might of the big online travel companies and a deluge of guests whose expectations of safari are far less demanding than they should be.

The biggest issue currently threatening to water down the safari experience like no other is that since 2015 over 90% of the approximately 2850 quality safari camps in Africa have started to provide WiFi for their guests. 

This is despite the fact that, amongst experienced safari guides and travellers, there is almost universal recognition and acknowledgement of the damage this is doing to the quality of the safari experience.

But the bottom line is that when the guests all go back to their rooms and start putting their cool content on social media, it's great advertising for the camp.

The biggest mistake that early adopters of WiFi made was to provide it in the main public areas of their properties.  Immediately the uniquely intimate and sociable atmosphere found in any good safari camp was decimated. Instead of mingling, chatting, sitting quietly and soaking up the atmosphere, guests migrated off into their own private spaces to stare at their screens.

The least damaging way to deal with the Wifi issue is to provide it in the guest rooms only. This protects the atmosphere in the public areas, which is a very significant positive.

The trouble is that we are all hooked on our devices these days and if WiFi is available then most likely we'll end up using it. At first just to check for urgent emails, but before you know it we’re also reading the news, popping onto our various social media channels and even starting to play games. It’s so hard to resist.

ATR believes that in the future a complete lack of communication options, being completely off-grid, will be a true sign of a quality safari camp. 

To this end, they support those owners of more remote camps who are brave enough to stand up to the march of 'progress', to have the confidence in their convictions and to prioritise the quality and integrity of the safari experience that they offer. 

We are most grateful to Africa Travel Resource for addressing this very important issue.  

Read the full Blog at this link: Safari in Crisis


Wild Zambezi would like to hear how you feel about this subject.  Please feel free to submit your opinions in the COMMENTS section below this Blog.  


Related articles:-

Disconnecting on safari - why we do it (Wilderness Safaris - Jan 2017)

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