Arachnaphobia and Safaris

Mar 29th, 2005, 08:42 PM
Original Poster
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Arachnaphobia and Safaris

Hi. I'm really interested in doing a safari someday but I have a *paralysing* fear of spiders. Like, panic and pass out fear. Do you think there's any chance I'd survive this kind of adventure?

I may need to spend the trip money on therapy
Oma is offline  
Mar 29th, 2005, 09:17 PM
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seriously? forget the safari.
kerikeri is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 12:38 AM
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I agree with kerikeri.

I did have a long response that I will not post since I do believe this may be a troll.

Stay home...more Africa for the rest of us!
Roccco is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 03:46 AM
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Unless you know something I'm missing (I haven't read any of this other user's posts) I don't understand why you would jump to the conclusion that this is a troll posting.

Perhaps those without true phobias don't really believe they can be as debilitating as they sometimes are.

Oma I'm also an arachnaphobe but not as badly affected as some. I safari and love it though I do have some bad spider moments, yes.

I'll write more tomorrow when I've more time online.
Kavey is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 04:24 AM
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I can honestly say that spiders don't figure much in my memories of visits to "Africa" except in Zaire. If you are not camping out in the jungle you are more likely to see them in a room than a tent.

It's hard to overcome such a phobia - do you really come close to passing out? - can't understand that - you just have to remember that you are bigger than they are. And hey - the African ones can't kill you - no redbacks or funnel webs there!

So if you want to go badly enough you can use your intelligence to think yourself through it.

Up to you.
alice13 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 04:39 AM
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Hi. I donít know if youíre a troll, but there are lots of people that suffer from arachnophobia. If youíre not living in the Antarctic youíve got a serious problem. And if youíre not rich you shouldnít spend your money on therapy, though therapists, as everyone else, need to go to Africa.

Get some plastic spiders and try to get used to handle them. Then ask a friend whoís not afraid of spiders to find you a nice little spider and put it in a jar. When youíre able to handle the jar calmly you could start holding the spider in your hands. I feel uneasy about this advice because a spider could get hurt being handled by a hysterical person. Make sure nothing is going to happen to the spider. Then, handle bigger and bigger spiders until youíre able to hold and caress a big hairy pet spider. (Iíve seen this kind of therapy on television)

One of my greatest fears is to get my safari ruined by a hysterical person. Thatís one of the reasons I avoid group safaris. But, if you donít go to Africa your life will be completely wasted.

Good luck

Nyamera is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 06:03 AM
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I was probably unfair to suggest that Oma was a troll.

But, I am reminded of when I was 15 years old, taking driving lessons from my father. I confessed that I would be worried about another car coming over the dividing lines and smashing into me head on. His answer was for me, then, for me not to drive, and he would gladly drive the new sports car he had just bought me, instead. Short and to the point...I got the message and didn't ask anymore stupid questions.

Just one month later, however, I did have that head on collision, totalling my new car, but fortunately everybody walked away without a scratch.

So, back to the topic at hand. There were absolutely HUGE spiders in our room at Chichele Presidential Lodge. Now this is the last place you would expect them, because they are nothing more than individually built hotel suites, rather than a reed & thatch chalet.

The spiders were harmless, but with their ample wingspans, they were a bit unnerving. We killed the first couple we saw until management assured us that they were harmless. From then on, we made a deal with the spiders that they obediently agreed to...the spiders keep their distance from us, and, in return, we would allow them to live.

Still, my advice remains to any person who suffers from arachnophobia...stay home (although the spiders you will see at home or the places you frequent, will be no worse than the spiders you see in Africa).
Roccco is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 11:23 AM
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Well.... haha, it's nice to ask a dumb enough questions that I'm thought to be a troll! No hard feelings.

I just really didn't know. But given how sick I felt reading the responses, I guess I'm safariing in the Arctic

Thanks everyone.
Oma is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 05:45 PM
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I have a similar phobia of snakes (and saw the thread about it). I'm going to South Africa/Botswana with my master's degree program. And I'm nervous. Alice13's comments reveal that she has no idea what it's like to have a phobia. It is NOT something you can intellectually think your way through. The fear is overwhelming and truly involuntary and runs through your entire body. I realize full-well that garter snakes are totally harmless, but I am unable to control the absolute dread, revulsion, and panic I feel at seeing one. It's like telling someone who has a mental illness to just get over it - to think their way through it. Such a comment is both insulting and insensitive. People with true phobias are not just scaredy-cats. Believe me, it is not that simple. I am going on the trip, but the thought of seeing a snake is causing me considerable anxiety - and nothing anyone can say about them being more scared them me or whatever will help at all. It's not something you can intellectualize! (I'm not a troll, either - and in most other ways, I'm a normal, emotionally healthy human being!)
althom1122 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 07:21 PM
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I just returned from a two week safari in East Africa. We were right there in the midst of the animals. Never saw a spider, never saw a snake. Not once have I seen a spider in East Africa. Only in South Africa. They have these big flat spiders that are harmless, but never in East Africa. Liz
Liz_Frazier is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 01:58 AM
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Althom I'm glad you responded because my reaction was exactly the same. Phobias are not rational fears of things that we think can seriously harm us (those are simply normal human instincts for self-preservation) but are irrational and uncontrollable fears, often of things that we absolutely know, on an intellectual basis, that are unlikely to harm us.

Many, many people around the world have phobias so severe that if they encounter the object of that fear they will indeed react so strongly that they may pass out. It's an exaggerated physical response to fear that the sufferer has no control over.

In the UK we don't have any spiders that are poisonous or that can even deliver painful bites or rashes and yet we certainly have our share of arachnaphobes. I have read research that suggests that many phobias are founded in deep-rooted instinctual responses that have mutated into stronger and irrational responses in some people.

Vertigo is another one and the other one from which I suffer. Whilst it makes perfect sense for humans to experience strong fear when standing right at the edge of a really high cliff, because they WOULD die if they fell, for many of us that response occurs whether we're standing at the edge of that cliff or on a 1 foot high stool. Some unconscious part of my brain reacts and floods my body with chemicals that make me dizzy, sweaty etc.

Secondly, whilst there are indeed therapists who treat phobias using the therapy of gradually increasing exposure it's easy to assume this is easy and straightforward and that the therapist isn't really needed. I would suggest that if done badly this could actually worsen the phobia and should not be taken so lightly. Therapists offering this service have trained for years and are able to accurately understand and manipulate the reactions of the patient and know just how fast they can safely proceed.

Anyway, Oma, your arachnaphobia seems stronger than mine so I don't know if you'll be able to go to Africa BUT I would say that spider sightings are not that frequent. I would sometimes come across one in our tent and it would set me off hyperventilating but I would be able to move away from it and control myself whilst my husband or a member of staff removed the offending critter.

Think about how you deal with the little critters at home and in your normal life and then consider whether you can deal with them in the same way on a trip.
Kavey is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 04:12 AM
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Thanks, Kavey. To give others a sense of the irrationality of it, I feel that sudden flash of panic if I see a snake on TV or a picture in a magazine - it is some kind of chemical reaction - the adrenalin rush is unbelievable. It sounds totally silly (obviously I know a snake in a magazine isn't going to jump out at me!). It IS irrational. But the feeling is also uncontrollable. I feel certain I'd literally have a heart attack if someone threw a snake at me - even just a garter snake. It makes no difference what KIND of snake it is or whether it's poisonous or not (again, because it's IRRATIONAL). But I'm going on my trip regardless. I'm figuring the odds of seeing one in May are not that great (we'll only have one day on safari), am hoping I won't see one, and assuming if I do that it will likely be at a distance and I can look away. I'd love to go to Morocco someday... but with snake charmers right there on the street, not sure I'll be able to convince myself to do it. Good luck, Oma!
althom1122 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 05:52 AM
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Both our Botswana, Namibia, South Africa trips (one 2.5 week one and one 9 week one) have been in May/ June. Snakes sightings have been really few and far between. Not a single snake on that first trip and about 4 on the second trip. 2 were seen from the safety of the game drive vehicle which gave us a decent height distance from them and they were both slow moving and sluggish. We stopped to look but if you ensure your guides really know about your phobia they can ensure they do not subject you to that. We also spotted two small grass snakes in the grounds of Tubu Tree camp but were able to maintain a distance from them. You can ask your operator to ensure that all camps understand the importance of having your accommodations checked thoroughly for snakes before you enter them each time. They won't bat an eyelid, they are very service oriented, or least this was the case at all the camps we visited.
Kavey is offline  
Apr 1st, 2005, 06:24 AM
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Oma - The likelihood of seeing spiders is dependent on which part of Africa you're thinking of visiting and in what season (many more spiders in rainy season than dry, for instance). You can absolutely go to Africa if you select the right trip. You can certainly choose an itinerary and time that will minimize your exposure. If you do go, just make sure to alert the staff at the camps you will visit in advance -- let them know that you have a spider phobia. They can then be sure that the staff check out your tent when cleaning it in the morning and when doing turn-down at night -- if there are any spiders, the staff would thus see them before you do. This is a request that they get more than you think -- many, many people have spider phobias (so do not feel bad).
WinterTravel is offline  

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