Bush Etiquette


Should you have a special interest in any aspect of the local fauna, flora or abiotic environment, please let your ranger know. This way he can ensure that your stay is especially memorable.

Medical conditions

If you have any medical conditions that the ranger needs to be aware of, please advise him. It is especially important that he has advance knowledge of allergies such as bee stings, in order to check that you have your EpiPen on hand in the event that a bee stings you when you are far from camp. The Land Rover is equipped with a small medical aid bag, with provisions to assist with minor injuries. Guests must ensure that they bring along any necessary medication to cover their specific medical needs.

Mobile phones, iPads/tablets and electronic devices

  • During game drives, mobile phones, iPads/tablets and other similar devices may be used for photographic purposes only. These devices must be switched to silent so as not to disturb other guests, the rangers or wildlife.
  • No telephone calls may be made or received while guests are on game drives.
  • Mobile phone coverage (MTN) and wireless internet connectivity are available at the MalaMala Game Reserve camps. However, please note that the use of laptops and cellphones is restricted to individual bedrooms out of respect for other guests.
  • Should you have any queries regarding the use of electronic devices and mobile phones, please discuss these with the camp manager.

Rifle safety

The ranger carries a high-powered rifle on the Land Rover, which is there for your protection. He is trained and efficient in the handling of the rifle. Do not touch or handle the rifle in any way.

Smoking, cigarette butts and litter

  • Smoking and cigarette butts: no smoking is permitted while on the Land Rover. During a drinks break it is possible to have a cigarette, but please ensure that you have a receptacle to ash into, and properly dispose of your cigarette butt when you are finished.
  • Litter: it is important that the game reserve remains litter-free – do not throw anything overboard while on the Land Rover! This includes decomposable items like fruit skins. Please discard these items inside the vehicle.

What to take

  • Sunscreen and insect repellent are provided on the Land Rovers, but if you have specific sunscreen or insect-repellent needs, it is advised that you bring the necessary products along with you.
  • If you bring a camera on the game drive, make sure that you have spare batteries or memory cards/film. There is nothing more frustrating than missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime photographic opportunity because you are unprepared.
  • Binoculars are a handy tool for game viewing. If you do not bring a pair, your ranger will have his pair with him during the safari.

Your ranger

  • Commands: these could include keeping still when a predator or other animal is in close proximity to the Land Rover (even small movements may agitate an animal and make it feel uncomfortable).
  • Radio: every Land Rover is equipped with a radio that the ranger uses to communicate with other rangers. The ranger will wear a headset so that you don’t have to hear the radio during the safari. Please be patient while he is talking on the radio, as he is more than likely listening to information that may benefit your experience.
  • Ask questions: no matter how trivial you consider your question, please ask. By asking questions you help your ranger to ensure that you enjoy your stay and leave well informed about the environment. The only useless question is the one not asked!
  • Speak quietly at sightings: it is not necessary to whisper at sightings unless indicated to do so. Talking at a level so that everyone on the Land Rover can hear is acceptable. Please take the other Land Rovers at the sighting into consideration.

What to wear on game drives

  • While on the open Land Rover there is no need to wear neutral bush-coloured safari gear, but it is best to avoid very bright or iridescent colours.
  • During the summer months it is advisable that you wear lightweight clothing, as well as sunscreen and a hat.
  • Bring something warm to wear should it get cool during the evening drive.
  • Winter drives – especially early morning and evening – are cold, so it is essential to bring clothing suited for these conditions.
  • Midday in winter can be warm, so you may want to dress in layers so that you can shed clothes as the day warms up.

The vehicle

The Land Rover in which you will travel is open – there is no roof, doors or windows. There will be times that the ranger will take the vehicle off-road in order to follow animals and tracks to afford you the best possible view of the animal. Please be aware that these are wild animals that you will be seeing and even though they may seem relaxed, it is important that they are treated with respect with regard to how close the vehicle is to them. The ranger will allow the animal to dictate where he will move and park.

During the drive

  • Watch out for branches and don’t touch them: many trees on the reserve have sharp thorns. When driving off-road, be on the lookout for branches which may be in the way – your ranger will do everything to alert you to these. Be aware of branches when the Land Rover is reversing.
  • Hold on to the bars when off-road: when traversing rough terrain, hold on to the bar in front of you to stabilise your body, making the ride more comfortable.
  • Don’t stand up while driving or at any sighting: the cats are especially habituated to the shape of the Land Rover that is presented to them; by standing up, you are altering the shape that they are used to, which may cause them to become agitated and uncomfortable. If you feel that you need to stretch your legs, do not hesitate to tell your ranger and he will stop for a break. Never stand when the vehicle is moving.
  • Communicate if you’re uncomfortable with a situation: most animals are habituated to the presence of the Land Rovers, but if you feel uncomfortable at being too close, or that a sighting is too gruesome – such as a kill – tell the ranger so that he can place a greater distance between you and the animal, or leave the sighting altogether. At times you may go off-road driving – if you feel uncomfortable with this activity, please say so.
  • Stay on the vehicle unless instructed or permitted to do otherwise: if you wish for a comfort break while out on the reserve, please inform your ranger and he will happily oblige.
  • Secure your belongings: when not using your equipment, please ensure that it is safe and secure, and not in danger of sliding off the Land Rover. There are sealed Velcro pouches on the back of the seat in front of you. These pouches are there to store your belongings.

Bush walks

Two guides accompany you on bush walks – the lead guide on foot, and the back-up guide follows in the Land Rover in case of any potentially dangerous encounters with animals. The Land Rover is also at your disposal should you wish to take a break, but do not want to stop the walk altogether.

The aim of the walk is not to encounter large and dangerous wildlife but instead to look at things you do not usually experience on game drives. These include tracks, birds, vegetation, as well as the other smaller, yet interesting, animals. The walk will be conducted on a road through an area that is relatively free of dense vegetation.

What to wear on bush walks

As the aim of the walk is not to get close to animals, the colour of your clothing is not crucial, as long as it is comfortable. Bear in mind that your body temperature will rise during the walk, so any unnecessary garments should be left on the Land Rover. The most important aspect is that you have closed, comfortable walking shoes, a hat and sunscreen. There is water on the Land Rover and it is advisable to take a bottle with you during the walk. Small cameras and binoculars will also add value to your experience.

Listen to your guide:

Identify potential hazards: this includes everything living and not living. Any creature has the potential to be a threat and should be treated with caution and respect. Other threats include sunburn or tripping on an inanimate object like a rock.

Golden rules:

  1. Stay behind the lead guide
  2. Listen to his commands
  3. Do not run!

In the event of a potential threat, the Land Rover will move close enough to the group to allow it to be used as security either by moving between the threat and the group, or allowing the walkers to climb into the vehicle. The guide will give you instructions to stop, not run and stay behind him. Follow these instructions because your guide will always put himself between you and danger.

Travelling to MalaMala