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6 Tips for Navigating Through the African Savannah without a Compass

Scenario: You’ve been lost for two days in the African savannah with nothing but the clothes on your back. You know survival skills but you’re not sure how to find civilization. The key is to stay optimistic and continue to implement your survival skills (view our post on survival skills in the African savannah here). It could take days, weeks, or even months to be found, so don’t get discouraged.

Although there’s no definite way to find your way back to civilization, there are strategies you can implement to increase your chances of finding people.   

6 tips to finding your way back to civilization without a compass or a map:

  1. Be confident: Have the confidence that you will find your way back. Don’t give up and don’t think negatively. When you think this way you become discouraged and less likely to be motivated to continue on. Keep going and don’t give up.
  2. Choose your direction and stick to that route: You don’t want to end up going in circles. When choosing the direction you want to go in, look for higher ground. This is where you’ll want to head.
  3. Climb to the highest ground: Implement your survival skills when traveling to the top and your chances of survival will be very strong.
  4. Observe from the top: Once you reach the top, make sure you have a panoramic view of the lower ground. Look for huts, smoke, villages, and streams.
  5. 5. Follow the streams: If you do not see any signs of civilization from the highest ground than look for streams—these are the best places to find civilization. Also, streams are interconnected and lead to larger streams, which will be more likely to be a large water source for villages.
  6. Use the sun and your watch: Point the hour hand of your watch directly at the sun. Look for the halfway point between the hour hand and twelve o’clock. This is north (if you’re in the northern hemisphere this would be south but since you are in southern Africa, you are in the southern hemisphere). Also, during midday in the southern hemisphere, the sun will be in the north.

You don’t want to have to use these navigation or survival skills, so always remember to stay with your vehicle and guide. Many African safari tours are comprised of a small group of tourists and a highly knowledgeable and certified safari guide, so the likelihood of getting lost is nearly impossible—unless you are intentionally trying to get lost!

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