Over the past decade, internet access in safari camps has been a hot topic in many safari-company boardrooms (normally situated under the closest shady tree). While some safari camps have jumped on the bandwidth-bandwagon, installing Wi-Fi in each nook & cranny, including on game-drive vehicles, others have kept it old-school by not providing any internet facilities to guests. There was even a period not long ago when camps would install internet, purely for camp administration purposes, then go to giraffe-neck lengths to hide the fact that some part of the www could actually reach the camp. However, forget mud plastered satellite dishes and other tactics: kids of today have the ability to sniff out the internet anywhere!
When the Selous Safari Company set up its first camp in the Selous Game Reserve in 1989, none of this was even a consideration. But as time went by and the web crawled closer we decided to provide guests with a computer connected to the internet so they can catch up on world-news (a.k.a. Strictly-Come-Dancing Results) and check-in with their loved ones back home (a.k.a. post selfies). This system worked well but its flaws became apparent with the rise of apps – how can anybody survive three days in the Tanzanian wilderness without access to their apps?
Today, in 2018, we’re taking another step by creating designated wi-fi areas in our camps for guests to use during the day. While this might sound like a straightforward statement, it’s actually loaded with detail that took a lot of thought.
Here is a breakdown of our new policy:
1) Designated areas: The last thing a guest want to do is walk into a camp’s restaurant in the evening, freshly showered after a long day in the bush, only to hear another guest talk to his grannie about how hot it is in Africa. We’ve therefore decided to limit wi-fi access to certain areas of our camps; easy enough to avoid for guests who don’t necessarily see hashtags hanging from each tree, but easy enough to access for many of our guests that wants to remain connected to their families, their businesses and yes, their football teams.
2) During the day: Safety and security in the wilderness where we live is paramount and reducing any unnecessary guest movement after dark is fundamental. Our Wi-Fi is therefore available to guests by day (except in emergencies, in which case our camp manager will go out of their way to facilitate the best connection possible). Besides, we want our guests to be able to switch-off, sit-back under the star-filled sky and have dinner with their families without the temptation of quickly checking how many likes their latest #animalsofinstagram post have gathered.
3) Another step: All over the African continent, cell-phone towers are popping up. Cell-phone reception reaching our camps (all be it sporadic and patchy) means one can no longer rely on the “you’re in the bush, there is no communication available” model.
We hope this gives you a flavour of the complexities involved in devising a WiFi policy, considering the range of priorities and wishes of today's traveller. Keep an eye on our blog-posts, as we’ll soon be telling you about the top 5 apps we think will enhance your Tanzanian safari.