The classic African safari is based around the game drive – venturing out into the bush in your trusty 4WD to find the best spot for wildlife viewing or photography.
Game drives are without doubt the highlight of any safari. They can last anywhere from a couple of hours to a full day's excursion, with a memorable picnic lunch in the bush. Some reserves allow game drives after sunset.
Action-packed daytime game drives
Game drives usually take place in the early morning and late afternoon, during the coolest times of the day when animals are more active. After an early morning wake-up call and a quick bite to eat, you and your guide will set off in search of wildlife – elephants, giraffes, zebras or other herbivores browsing on bushes or grazing on the plains, or predators still dining on last night's kill. The afternoon game drive follows afternoon tea and this will culminate with one of the most enjoyable of safari traditions – the sundowner.
Fascinating night drives
Night drives are possible in private wildlife reserves or concessions. These drives offer a whole new dimension to a safari and allow guests to experience the mysteries of the bush after dark – the chance to see rare nocturnal creatures such as the porcupine and aardvark, or glimpse an elusive leopard or other predators that are on the prowl under the cover of darkness.
Will I see the 'Big Five'?
The Big Five – elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, lion and leopard – so named by the early big-game hunters because these were the most difficult and dangerous of the animals to hunt on foot. Most safaris that we arrange offer clients an excellent chance to see the Big Five, although nothing can be guaranteed when it comes to nature. But do bear in mind that there really is so much more to see and experience on a safari than just the Big Five.
Game drive vehicles
Game drives will usually be conducted in custom-designed, open-sided four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicles – usually Land Cruisers or Land Rovers. In most cases, each vehicle will carry a maximum of six guests, thereby allowing everyone to have a 'window seat' with each row staggered in height for unobstructed views. The vehicle will be driven by the guide and, in many reserves in South Africa, there will also be a tracker, who sits in a special seat perched on the front of the vehicle to better spot animal tracks on the road ahead.
Private vehicles can also be arranged in advance for a more exclusive safari experience.