The answer to this varies widely depending on where you are going. South African safari lodges, more often than not, will have WiFi available as locations tend to be more accessible and less remote than in other southern and east African countries. However, wherever you are on safari, expect unreliable connections, as you will be entirely removed from towns, cities or major hubs.
Places you are least likely to have WiFi or any internet or cell phone coverage will be the Okavango Delta, Savuti, Chobe and South Luangwa wilderness areas (Botswana and Zambia). Kenya and Tanzania also tend to be hit-and-miss, especially out in the Masai Mara and Serengeti.
Speed and reliability of internet connection vary greatly depending on where you are going. Kenya, as you’ll see, has Safaricom which offers bundles with an excellent 3G network – you can buy packages when going on safari if it’s essential for you to have a good connection.
Don’t expect to get any good coverage while in the bush, going on game drives. But this is where you should really be focusing on “getting away” and enjoying your surroundings and magnificent wildlife!
In South Africa, 4-5 star lodges in Kruger, Kapama, Madikwe, Sanbona, Shamwari, Pilanesberg and most elsewhere will offer WiFi in rooms of communal lodge areas, either complimentary or for a small charge. Read on for specifics on each country.
Kruger’s leading lodges will mostly offer a reasonably good WiFi connection, which will allow you to do most things online, barring heavy streaming. More basic camps should at least have EDGE, GPRS or 3G hotspots, which will let you do some basic stuff – emailing, checking online banking, etc.
Basic bush camps will not have any WiFi or cell network coverage.
Madikwe, Pilanesberg, Kapama, Sabi Sand, Timbavati, Shamwari, and Sanbona each offering WiFi or some internet connectivity at their main lodges. Again, don’t expect lightning-fast speed or reliable connections are you are, ultimately, in the bush.
Safaricom provides an excellent 3G network in most parts of the country, even in remote areas. Most leading hotels and lodges have WiFi, if not in the rooms then definitely in the main areas, and usually this is complimentary or incurs a small charge.
If it is vital for you to have a connection, make sure to contact the lodge or hotel you’re staying at to confirm that there are facilities.
Keep in mind that the more remote you are, for example out in the Masai Mara, the slower or more intermittent your connection will likely be.
Complimentary WiFi is increasingly becoming the norm in Kenyan hotels and safari lodges, so the chances are good that you will be able to connect at major hotels and lodges.
Major hotels and lodges will have WiFi or a connection in the central areas. Where there isn’t WiFi available, some lodges offer a computer with internet for guest use, if you want to catch up on emails, let family and friends know how you are or do any brief business.
Very remote tented camps will have limited or no connection, and cell coverage will also be intermittent. If you are worried about safety factors in camps in Tanzania or Kenya, all camps and lodges have satellite phones for communication, and you are never entirely cut off.
Most lodges in the Okavango, Savute, and Chobe do not have internet access due to their remote locations. Some high-end lodges will offer WiFi in main areas or rooms, but again it’s important to check with the lodge if they provide this.
Again, satellite phones will be standard at all camps and lodges, if there are any sorts of emergencies.
Internet access varies from lodge to lodge. Around Victoria Falls and Livingstone, it’s likely you will have good access to WiFi. Many lodges in the South Luangwa do have WiFi, while more basic camps have no coverage at all.
Malawi’s coverage depends again on remoteness. Big lodges and hotels have connections that vary from very good to unreliable. Around Lake Malawi, you will find lodges that have a connection and others that don’t – check that your lodge offers WiFi if you require it during your stay.
Still worried about getting a good internet connection on safari? If it’s not crucial to your business or other crucial matters, don’t let it bother you. The point of safari is to get away from it all, enjoy nature and take a break from the many distractions of daily life.