Game drives are the quintessential safari activity. Unless you are doing a bush walk or another activity, you will likely go on two game drives per day while on safari. Game drives occur in the early morning (6-10am) and the late afternoon (3-7pm), as this is when the animals are most active. On a typical safari day you get up around 5:30, have some tea or coffee and a small snack, and then set off on your drive. After spotting lions on a fresh kill or hyenas on the hunt, you return to camp between 10 and 11 for brunch. Between 11 and 3 you can take a nap, read a book, and enjoy your beautiful camp or lodge (this is vacation!). In the heat of the day, the animals are resting as well so you won't be missing anything by relaxing in your camp or lodge. Around 3:30, you will meet for tea and then head out for your second game drive. As the afternoon gets cooler the animals become more active, with elephants heading down to the river to drink and wild dogs hunting in packs. As the sun sets you will stop for a sundowner, a classic part of the safari routine that is easy to get used to! Sip a gin and tonic and watch the sunset before heading back to camp for dinner (possibly via a short night drive with a spotlight).

A few important things to consider about game drives:

  • Whether or not a vehicle can drive off-road to follow or find an animal usually depends on whether you are inside a national park or in a private concession. Off-road driving is not allowed inside some national parks while private concessions have more flexibility. These same rules apply to night drives and bush walks as well.
  • Where night drives are allowed they are a great way to see nocturnal animals that are not seen during the day including genets, aardvarks and owls among many others.
  • The amount of people allowed in a safari vehicle at a time varies from camp to camp and it can impact your game-viewing experience. We recommend using properties that limit the number of people in a vehicle to a maximum of 6. More than 6 people can hinder your ability to see and photograph animals.
  • Many properties provide sandbags to steady a camera, but serious photographers should bring their own. 
  • Wear layers! You are out as the sun is rising and setting so temperatures can drop quite a bit during a game drive. Most properties provide blankets but wearing layers will ensure your comfort.

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John Moody