Exploring Africa's colourful markets

Shopping on Safari

Shopping during African safari

Insider’s Take

Throughout your journey, you’ll find traditional artefacts, fantastic jewellery, beautiful carvings, stunning beadwork, the world’s best coffee and tea, precious stones, furniture, beautiful cloth, excellent local music, wonderful modern art and so much more.

When will you have time to shop? Likely on the fly, and we suggest you buy the moment something strikes your fancy as it’s unlikely you’ll find the time to return.

Once you touch down in Africa you can choose to shop as much or as little as you like, of course. But before you go there’s also plenty of imagining you can do: What to wear on safari is not only something of a pop culture phenomenon but we’re a little obsessed with it, too, as this article shows. And if you’re so inclined to start building your safari wardrobe ahead of time, we invite you to peruse the carefully-selected apparel and gear available in our safari store.

South Africa, with its rich mix of cultures, has an abundance of artists and craftspeople producing works of high artistic quality and workmanship. Look for fine pottery, jewellery, hand-knotted carpets, painted fabrics, locally designed clothing and paintings. In rural areas, the traditional crafts abound, from Zulu beadwork to copper and bronze jewellery, baskets and woodcarvings. South Africa also has a rich antiques market of British treasures from the early 19th century, plus excellent specimens of Cape Dutch furniture.

In East Africa, among the wide variety of handicrafts available, one may find antique Maasai tribal ornaments and spears, Meerschaum pipes, hand-woven sisal baskets and bags of unique design, as well as a dazzling array of brilliantly hued batiks, delicate pottery and sleek ebony carvings. In addition, one sees a variety of darling handmade children’s clothes and toys. Elegant beaded jewelry, sparkling gems and exquisite coral are also plentiful and surprisingly affordable.

The Micato staff can provide suggestions for shopping adventures while on your luxury African safari trip, and assist in the packing and shipping of these treasures to your home at the trip’s end.

Bargaining

Bargaining is so at odds with our life in America that most of us don’t want to attempt it (or do so only halfheartedly), even when we know that it’s not only acceptable but expected. This is certainly the case in open-air markets, and often the case in shops—rarely is bargaining considered offensive. It is an art with roots deep in the African culture and regarded as an essential business skill. Opening prices are always an exaggerated gambit and considered the first step in a long process.

The real price is usually somewhere in the lower vicinity of half the initial price. How close you come to the real price is up to you. Bargaining can be a long and convoluted process, involving protracted negotiations. Westerners often find this frustrating, but it is an essential and always amicable custom. You may get a better price if you buy more than one item from the shop.

If you are in a hurry and need to move on, it is the usual practice to finalise proceedings by declaring your “absolute final price’” and asking for theirs. If you can both agree on a figure between the two then the deal is done.

Available On

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