While we’re all for disconnecting when you’re on an African safari, there are some great smartphone apps that can enhance your safari trip by helping you learn tracks, identify birds and mammals, share your sightings, and get insider info on the best places to spot animals in national parks.
Here are our best apps for an African safari.
1. iTrack Southern Africa
Become an expert tracker with this brand-new app, developed by a South African field guide and an American wildlife biologist, which has track information for 50 southern African mammals so you can work out yourself who made those pawprints outside your tent while you were sleeping.
2. Sasol eBirds of Southern Africa
With images and descriptions of nearly a thousand birds and maps of where they’re found in Southern Africa, as well as hundreds of recorded bird calls to identify those tweets you hear, this bird guide will satisfy both the avid twitcher and the beginner bird watcher. When you spot birds, use the smart search tool (putting in data like beak shape, bird size and colour and habitat) to identify the bird name.
3. ParkSpotter Africa
Currently covering Kruger National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Addo National Park, Table Mountain National Park in South Africa and Etosha National Park in Namibia, ParkSpotter Africa is a useful park app guide, with park contact details, gate opening times, accommodation options, lists of waterholes and points of interest and hiking routes. There’s also detailed information on all the flora and fauna you can find in the parks (as well as a tool to help you identify animals), and features that allow you to track your trip, save and share your wildlife sightings on social media.
This web-based app, which can also be accessed on your phone’s browser does just what its name suggests: it helps you track herds – specifically, herds of wildebeest in Tanzania and Kenya during the world-famous migration – in real time on a Google map. Each day the herds are on the move, so in order to plan your day’s safari, you need to know exactly where they are. As long as you have cell phone signal you’ll be able to follow them on the map, as well as help to update the map for other safari goers with your own sightings.
5. Latest Sightings
If you’re planning on exploring South Africa’s flagship park Kruger National Park, download this app so you can share your wildlife sightings in real time with other visitors, and find out what other people are spotting so you can also get in on the animal action.
6. Africa: Live
The winner of the best travel app in Africa competition, Africa: Live allows you share your real-time wildlife sightings on live maps so your friends can follow your trip, but it also helps you find animals, as you can see what wildlife sightings have been recorded in the past 24 hours by other safari goers and professional wildlife guides. It’s currently the only live map of Africa that shows your location and the location of recent sightings. The app also has a feel-good slant: you can contribute to conservation research by helping wildlife audits by uploading your sightings.
7. African Safari Tracker
With 200 animals, 500 photos, sounds of the Big Five, and a checklist map for all the animal sightings you have on your trip, this app is a great all-round guide to African animals for any safari trip. It also offers a checklist so you can track all your wildlife sightings, as well as handy overviews of 11 of the most visited national parks in Africa, including Chobe National Park, Etosha National Park, Kruger National Park, Masai Mara National Park, Serengeti National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. The best thing about this app is that it works offline! Just download it when you have wifi and then you can use it for the rest of the trip without an Internet connection – perfect for when you’re far from civilization in the African bush.
8. Star Walk
You’re sitting around the campfire drinking red wine out of a tin mug, gazing up at the stars and you have no idea what you’re looking at. On your next bush trip use this app to impress your campfire friends – all you need to do is point your iPhone up at the sky, and the app will map out constellations and point out stars, planets and satellites.
If you shoot your safari photos on your phone, you’re going to need a good app to develop them, to make then Facebook-worthy. Snapseed is just the ticket – the Google-designed up is easy to use, with a clean interface, and has all the features you need to make your photos look amazing.
Instead of sending your friends and family the standard cheesy postcards you buy at souvenir shops, make your own ones from the photos on your phone. Download the free Postagram app and use it to turn your photos into postcards, which are then delivered through the app by mail to anywhere in the world.