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Sustain Safaris - Marutswa Forest birding walk
Sustain Safaris - Tembe Game Drive
Group2 signed.jpg
Sustain Safaris - Sani Pass snow birding
Sustain Safaris - Manyoni game drive
Sustain Safaris - Sani Pass wetland

Expectations and Rules for Group Tours

Thank you for joining one of our small group tours. We trust you will have a wonderful experience with us and you enjoy the group dynamics throughout. If you are on a group birding and/or wildlife tour with more than 2 or 3 participants, then kindly take heed of a few simple rules we follow in order keep everyone in the group happy, to ensure fairness, and ultimately to maximize enjoyment for everyone in the group:

  1. Safety always comes first, so if, for example, stopping along a road is deemed to be unsafe by the driver/guide, we will generally need to unfortunately pass on the opportunity to see a bird or mammal.

  2. If you have any concerns or problems, please speak to the tour leader so we can solve the problem. If you do not verbalize your issue to us we are unable to assist, and the longer you leave it, the more difficult it often becomes to solve.

  3. Once a day we swap seats in the vehicle. Guests should rotate seats every day in a clockwise direction. Those at the front one day rotate towards the back the next day and then move forwards again until the process is repeated. Usually tour members should be able to sort this out automatically, but the tour leader will help if necessary.

  4. When walking on trails kindly swap your position every 15 minutes. If you are walking at the front, please drop to the back every 15 minutes, allowing the next person time near the tour leader. Both the local guide and the tour leader are often at the front, especially when communication between the two is necessary – one of these leaders may also sometimes be at the back of the group at times to help birders not near the leading guide at the time.

  5. Please be very quiet whenever birding and when game viewing on open safari vehicles. If you need to talk, please whisper. When we use playback for birds, kindly keep absolutely quiet and motionless, and focus on trying to see the bird approaching. Any movement and fidgeting tends to rustle clothing, backpacks or gravel on the floor, making it very difficult for the tour leader or local guide to pinpoint where a bird or mammal may be located. We discourage talking on the trails, especially on forest trails, but whispering to the person next to you can be acceptable if done discreetly. The tour leader will sometimes say when it is even more necessary than usual to be quiet, or occasionally when it is okay to talk freely. The guide may occasionally talk louder if he or she wants to get the group rapidly onto an animal that is disappearing, please do not take this as a cue to become noisy! The guide uses his/her discretion and aims to get everyone onto all the sightings – but this usually means the group needs to stay very quiet.

  6. On forest trails, only the front two or three people usually hear what the tour leader or local guide is saying. We therefore ask that you whisper what is being seen or what the guide is saying, from the front to the back, so that the people at the back can be kept informed of what is being said and what the guide has found. Otherwise, it can get very frustrating for the people at the back.

  7. Please communicate. If anyone has missed a sighting, it is very important that this is communicated to the tour leader, who then needs to make sure you get onto the bird or mammal at some stage. In addition, the guide sometimes ignores birds or mammals that the whole group has seen well – so please say if you want to see something again. For those who want to spend extra time photographing or studying fewer species, we recommend a photography or special trip – in some cases a private trip. For those who need a bathroom stop, please communicate as far in advance as possible, particularly when the vehicle.

  8. Using scopes – we ask that all participants have a quick look (10 seconds) in the scope. Once everyone in the group has had a quick look, further saturating views can then be obtained by those who would like to. Do not spend long at the scope when others in the group have not yet seen the bird or mammal through it.

  9. Please be aware at all times of where you are standing or sitting relative to other people. Taller people should generally allow shorter people to stand in front of them, or at very least ensure they are not in anyone else’s way.

  10. It is always best to wear neutral color clothing and to try and avoid fabrics that make a lot of noise when moving.

  11. The guide will generally use a laser pointer when picking up a difficult to see bird. However, he/she will generally shine the laser briefly a little below the bird, as in low light birds and mammals do notice and become startled by the laser movement. Please pay careful attention to the laser and the guide’s directions at all times to ensure you are able to locate the bird or mammal quickly. Please also leave all laser pointing to the guide, unless he/she needs you to point out the bird yourself.

  12. Opinion varies as to whether finger pointing chases a bird away – the guide will advise on this. Sometimes you might be advised not to point directly at a bird. Importantly, control your excitement and do not shout out when you see a bird!

  13. During any trip there will be activities that are optional and participants are welcome to sit out on these for various reasons – ill health, tiredness, difficulty of the activity etc. Please do not feel obliged to partake in every activity. On some trips and on some days, there might not be opportunities to opt out though – please try and speak to us in advance if you plan to opt out.

  14. When on a group tour, remember that the guide makes decisions in favor of the majority of the group, this might not always suit every individual, but it is important to keep in mind that the group’s needs take precedence over individual needs.

  15. At certain stops there are occasionally curios for sale, and we will try provide a few opportunities. Should you want to buy something, please ask the guide if it is possible to shop, as they need to consider the other group members and ensure we keep to our schedule. When you do shop, please try to keep it brief, unless otherwise indicated by the guide.

  16. We use playback with great care. If we are going to use playback (ideally only once we have failed to see the bird without this tool), please gather around. To protect the bird’s interest, we prefer to only call it in once.

  17. Group dynamics on a birding tour can sometimes be tough because of personality clashes. We recommend keeping spirits up to make the most of a trip, and to compromise as much as possible to maximize enjoyment for everyone on the trip.

  18. Get excited about the birds and mammals – it keeps the guides motivated – just do not get noisy though, as it may chase them away!

  19. For specific destinations, we like to warn guests about what to expect. For example, some countries are strenuous and experience extreme temperatures and weather, in certain areas we may be restricted to the vehicle (e.g. some parks in South Africa); some have sub-standard accommodation in parts, etc. We suggest that you to ask as many questions as you can before the tour, to avoid any nasty surprises!

  20. If you have never joined a birding or wildlife tour, we highly recommend speaking to us in detail first to find out which trips we recommend you start with (e.g. South Africa and Namibia are generally easier destinations), what to expect, etc.

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