WiFi among the wildebeest? Or not?

March 31st 2017  |   Wildlife Safaris, Unique Experiences, Experiences, Miscellaneous  |  by   Richard Smith

Getting your family away from constantly looking at screens might be part of your raison d’etre for a safari holiday. So what happens when you arrive in your luxury safari camp to find there’s Wi-Fi in the lounge and in every tent?

Or are you someone who believes that “If it’s not on Instagram it didn’t happen?” How devastated would you be to find out the operator of your circuit of luxury lodges doesn’t think Wi-Fi has any place on safari? You’re going to be offline, and therefore ‘don’t exist’, for the next nine days – aaaargh!

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Surprised, pleased or saddened by the result?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below. We’re keen to find out people’s thinking on this.

Want a luxury lodge with Wi-Fi, or a tented camp without?

We would be delighted to help you plan a safari holiday – connected or cut off from the outside world. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa and we keep factsheets on the connectivity – phone and Wi-Fi – for the safari lodges and camps and beach properties we recommend. If you would like to talk to someone with the knowledge at their fingertips, or a few clicks away, please just send us an email or give us a call.

What do the camp operators currently think?

We asked the operators of some of Africa’s finest properties for their thoughts:

“This has been our first season with Wi-Fi. By and large we have escaped unscathed partly due to tight controls from managers to pre-empt inappropriate use. Kids are usually the worst offenders, however a number of parents would rather their kids are shielded from it most likely to ensure they soak in the safari experience.

The logistical problem with only having WiFi in guest tents is that we would need multiple satellite accounts. The tents must be within 30-40 metres of the dish and it becomes prohibitively expensive.”

Greg Monson – Kicheche who run camps in Kenya’s Masai Mara and Ol Pejeta reserves. It’s his Mara Bush Camp team hamming it up in the photos accompanying this article, for which we are very grateful.

“There’s an expectation that Wi-Fi will be readily available somewhere in the lodge, so clients don’t even ask. Travellers are often more relaxed if they have the chance to bounce into emails once or twice a day.” Craig Smith – New Frontiers

“We have Wi-Fi at all of our lodges and guest rooms – but sometimes we feel this is a shame. Ideally you would want the guests to completely switch off and be immersed into nature. However guests do have a desire to be connected and the fear of not being connected can be very stressful.” Tom Rutherford – Singita

“At most of our properties we offer Wi-Fi in the rooms only, to try and ensure that the social areas remain social.“ Renette Hartridge – Sanctuary Retreats

“Bearing in mind that our lodges are generally situated in very remote destinations, we do our best to offer a Wi-Fi connection. However, we do ask our guests to immerse themselves in the experience while on game drives or other activities.” Fiona Paul – AndBeyond

“Feedback from guests tells us that often ‘stepping off the grid’ gives them a chance to take a real break from the outside world. Without the constant interruption, they are able to look upwards and outwards, to use all their senses and to feel and see things in a different way.” Roz Balen – Nomad Safaris

Serian Wifi-600

‘Wifi’ the dog, the only Wi-Fi at Serian Camps

“Wi-Fi is a distraction, it is about disconnecting with your world, detoxing. We live in the wild, the news we seek is there, the lion roar, the jackal call, the flowering acacia, the cloud patterns.” Alex Walker – Serian Camps

“We have Wi-Fi in limited main areas, not in the villas. Constantly being on your phone or laptop checking emails defeats the purpose of relaxing while on holiday.” Salome Kgoale – Azura, Nyerere National Park (formerly Selous Game Reserve)

“Slowly seeing a trend away from impact of Wi-Fi on other guests and individuals. People now have their out of offices as ‘I am currently out of the office with no access to internet of phone signal. In emergencies please contact…..'” Katie Dalrymple-Hamilton – Classic Portfolio

“I once went to a lodge and the mess area had 10 people all looking down at their various devices, one watching a live American football game, and other Skype calling. Yet there were elephants in front of the lodge and it begged the question, why bother being there?” Alex Walters – Great Plains Conservation

Any questions?

If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have that we should have included, please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris.  If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.

Photo Credits

Clients are Alan and Julie Walker who went to Kicheche Laikipia, Kicheche Mara Camp and finally Kicheche Bush camp

Artistic director: Darren Geary

Cinematographer: Emma Geary

Camera (iphone) man: Darren Geary

Costume designer: Emma Geary

With thanks to Kicheche Bush Camp for staging the photo shoot.

6 responses to “WiFi among the wildebeest? Or not?”

  1. Matita Glassborow says:

    I can imagine that people who want WiFi on a safari are exactly the sort of people I would hate to share a safari/camp/lodge with. They would be annoying me with their calls, pinging, tweeting etc and ruin my expensive holiday. No!! If they can’t bear to be without it, don’t go on safari. I am contemplating booking a safari this year, but if Aardvark go the WiFi route, I will vote with my feet!

    • Renate says:

      Our safaris are completely tailored to you – you can choose a camp with WiFi or somewhere with just a satellite phone for emergencies.

  2. Sharon Earp says:

    Absolutely agree with Alex Walker, Serian Camps, to be immersed in such a priviledged location in what may be a once in a lifetime opportunity, it seems rather trite & shallow to be accessing email to see what the office want! In reality what is that important that you can’t just switch off, enjoy nature and the African skies. In my experience on safari, I’ve found it’s often the guests own self-importance that demands wifi. It spoils the experience and would deter me from booking a camp with wifi. A few years ago I stayed at Elsa’s Kopje which was beautiful in stunning Meru….however the experience was marred by a group of Australians who were constantly receiving and making calls (very loudly).

    Really, relax & enjoy Africa you may not be on this earth long, and who will answer emails when you are not here.

  3. Emma Noon says:

    Safaris generally have become a popular bucket list addition in recent years. I do truly believe that those of us who are Safari afficionados and appreciate nature in its its wildest form ( not just chasing the big 5) , would hate the idea of people on phones or keeping connected. True Safari is all about being in beautiful wilderness and getting far away from 21st century living

  4. Sarosh says:

    Purists who look down on those who need to work or be in communication with associates during a safari are just being snobs. There are many who do not have the luxury of unplugging completely, and still have to discharge their responsibilities, or be on-call.
    Anyone who cannot respect others’ legitimate needs is not someone I want to share time with anyway.
    There will likely be “no internet” safaris just as there are “no smoking” hotels, and we can each self-select our preferred mode.

    • Richard Smith says:

      Thanks for your thoughts – time will tell if you are right. There certainly seem to be fewer and fewer safari camps left with no opportunity to contact the ‘outside world’.

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