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When I made my first trip to Africa I brought 60 rolls of film in a lead lined bag, a blackberry that did not work anywhere and lots of spare AAA and AA batteries. The only way I could even see what emails were sent was when I was in Zanzibar and could get to an internet café. And during my next visit when I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro I carried with me a satellite phone. Here are some ways to Stay Connected and Charged in Africa.
I know that makes me sound really old. In some ways I miss the “good old days” when I could travel not having to worry about emails, Facebook posts, tweets, texts and other forms of communication. Instead I could just enjoy the beauty and wild that was around me.
But, in this modern age we all worry about being disconnected. Today after “is it safe?” (yes it is see “Will I Surely Die on an African Safari Tour?“) the next most popular question I get is will my cell phone work and is there Wi-Fi? The general answer is that in most places and certainly in the cities there is Wi-Fi and more and more lodges and camps are trying to provide it. The quality varies and you will need to be prepared that for a few days there may not be Wi-Fi. If you are out in the bush, there is very little Wi-Fi and it is slow and spotty.
Mobile phones are another story. Everyone has one. In fact I have Maasai friends who live in a tiny village in Kenya with no electricity or running water. Yet, I can take out my phone right now and text him or use a popular app there called “What’s App.). But if you want to use your cell phone be aware that it can however be very expensive and you may receive quite a shock when you return home and get your bill. Sending those Facebook posts of you and a lion eat up a lot of data. Unless you are connected to Wi-Fi your carrier is going to charge you for that. Check with your cell phone carrier to see what plans they have. Not every carrier has an arrangement with African cell phone carriers so that can make it even more expensive and spotty with respect to service.
I always turn off my cellular data on my phone when I am in Africa as I hate being charged for all the junk emails that we all get. Your local wizard at a cell phone store can show you how to do that. Then when I get to Wi-Fi I go through and delete them so when I do turn the cellular data on for some reason they will not download.
So how do you charge all this gear? At most lodges and camps there is no electricity in the rooms but there is in the main buildings. In the bush most have charging stations that allow people to charge their camera batteries, cell phones, Ipads, kindles, nooks and any other device that lights up and has a battery. Another option with some of the new vehicles are inverters that allow you to charge in the vehicles. Just make sure you have an adapter for the plug, (with your name on it as they all look alike) and every kind of cord you need.
With all that said I believe that unless you really need to check that email, send that Facebook post or tweet, turn your devices off and leave them off. This is one time you’ll probably be happier with a paperback book than a tablet. Even put your camera down once in a while (whether you have 500 or 600 Zebra photographs will not make that much of a difference). You are out in the wild, in some of the most beautiful stunning places in the world. Seeing things you can’t see anywhere else in the world. Enjoy it. Appreciate it. It is a great way to get back into the rhythm of life that is so predominate in Africa. The world will probably not end if you leave your device in the off position. And if it does you won’t even know it.
Alan Feldstein, Infinite Safari Adventures | August 31, 2016
Infinite Safari Adventures creates custom wildlife and adventure safaris for its clients. Come on safari with us and experience the ultimate in attention to detail, responsiveness and care. Our philosophy is simple – we were once safari clients like you and we will treat you with the same high standards as we would expect ourselves.