Let’s face it – if you go home to your friends and family after going on a safari in Africa and don’t take home a few souvenirs – you are going to have a few disappointed faces! At the same time, this can be an expensive exercise, as well as time-consuming, and if you don’t buy wisely, the items can be difficult to pack and keep in one piece for your travels home.
So how do you do this?
Have a budget for souvenir shopping
Decide before you leave for your safari how much you can afford to spend, and stick to it!
Don’t be an impulse buyer
If you see something you like the minute you hit the soil in Africa, you may end up spending much more than you need to if you browse around a bit beforehand. Of course, there is the possibility that you may not see the same souvenir again, so if you feel it is being sold at a reasonable price, then go for it. If, however, you are going to blow your budget on your first purchase, think again!
Try to avoid buying from souvenir shops and airports
Rushing to the airport in the country you have just landed in to buy the first souvenir you see is not a good idea. Firstly because it is guaranteed to be three times the price of what you may find in the local town, and secondly because you don’t have a feel for the country and what it is well known for. Feel free to browse and see what they have to offer, but keep your money in your pocket until you get a better idea of what is out there.
Buy from the local markets and bargain for good prices
This can be fun and much cheaper on your wallet. Not only are you supporting the people who live in the community and not lining the pockets of some big franchise, but you are bound to find cheaper souvenirs that are unique and unusual. Think of handwoven items of clothing, beads and wooden sculptures.
How to bargain?
Look confident and start by asking for the item at half price. Have a big smile on your face and a sense of humour. Be polite and don’t insult them by asking too little. Make sure you know what the actual price is in your own currency before haggling over something that is actually quite cheap. If you are not happy to pay the price, just walk away, they will either stop you or will find a better offer elsewhere.
Should you package and post the souvenirs, or place them in your luggage?
A good idea is to pack as light as you can so that when you return you can have a whole bag of goodies to take home that are not going to be over the luggage restrictions. This way your goods will be safe with you and you will have peace of mind. If you decide to purchase a very large piece of artwork, having it insured and posting it back home may be a better idea. This of course all depends on your budget.
Purchase goods that are legal
Be aware of being coerced into buying illegal goods such as ivory, animal furs/ hides, tortoise shells, indigenous hardwoods and coral, or anything you feel may have caused an animal to suffer or that could harm the fauna and flora of the area. For more on what is illegal, visit TRAFFIC
Save the environment and purchase re-cycled goods
There are so many amazing pieces of artwork available that have been made from re-cycled material such as plastic, glass, cans etc. Radios, pens, toy cars/motorbikes, placemats, jewellery and much more can be made from re-cycled goods. They are fun and totally unique works of art made by hand. What more could you want?!