A game drive is the highlight of any safari, giving you the chance to see wildlife in their natural habitat and experience Africa’s natural beauty. Every game drive is different, which keeps things interesting, but the format of a game drive is more or less likely to follow the guidelines below:
- The game drive will typically take place early in the mornings, late afternoons, or at night – the coolest times of day when most animals are most active.
- Most game drives are likely to last between 3 to 4 hours, however, this will depend on the length and distance
- You should have plenty of opportunities to ask your guide questions about the animals you see, as well as lots of other related information about the habitat, plants, birds, animal tracking, and, if you’re lucky, an amazing animal story or two.
- On morning drives, are likely to have a hot drink, and on afternoon drives, the break is timed to allow you to enjoy the sunset with a refreshing sundowner.
- While on a game drive in a Private Conservancy, you may never see another vehicle, but in crowded national parks, there may be a dozen or more vehicles vying for the best spot at a sighting.
What kind of vehicle will be used?
In East Africa, game drives are typically conducted in 4WD Land Cruisers or vans with a roof that can be raised to provide an unobstructed view of the animal. This puts you at a good height for game viewing and provides some stability for photography from the jeep’s roof.
National park vs Game Reserve
While the animals are the same whether you visit a private conservancy or a national park, there are more rules to follow in a national park, which can affect the quality of your wildlife viewing. The two most significant are:
- National parks require visitors to stay on established roads or tracks, whereas game reserves allow visitors to go off-road in order to follow a major sighting.
- With a few notable exceptions, game drives in national parks are usually limited to the hours of sunrise and sunset. At a game reserve, you can go on game drives after dark (a night safari), during which the guide will often use a red light to avoid disturbing the animals’ night vision or causing them distress.
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