The African bush. Whether you visit it from South Africa or Botswana, you will find that the format on our safari trips is similar. Of course each day is unpredictable depending on the weather, time of year and herd behaviour, but as a general rule of thumb there are game drives in the early morning and late afternoon (this is essential to see the animals at their most active), with plenty of time to relax in-between. This blog helps you to make the most of your safari by knowing what to expect on a typical day.
Whilst on safari, the mornings start early (around 5-6am, depending on the time of year), as this is when the best wildlife viewing opportunities are. Enjoy a light snack and tea or coffee with the rest of your group then set off on a morning game drive in the hopes of spotting numerous species of animals and birds.
Morning game drives
After a light breakfast, head out into the bush in a 4x4 vehicle with your guide and the rest of your group, keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife. Game drives are in open vehicles, so it can be chilly in the early mornings and evenings. The cool temperatures mean that animals are still active, including the big cats, returning from a night of hunting. Blankets are usually provided but layered clothing, sun and rain wear is advised. Your guide will observe the tracks, sounds and sights to find out where the animals are congregating. As well as looking for big game, your guide will also point out smaller animals, birds and plants. Depending on the game viewing, the morning’s activity usually lasts about three or four hours.
Time to relax
After being out on safari for a few hours in the early morning, you return to your camp or lodge in time for a hearty breakfast. You will be surprised about what chefs can rustle up in the smallest kitchens in the middle of the bush. During the warmest part of the day, you have lunch and time to relax, take a shower, read a book and have a siesta before the next game drive. In Botswana, your camp in the Okavango Delta will be in total wilderness, giving you more of a ‘bush life’ feel with bucket showers and no internet connection so you can completely connect with the incredible nature that surrounds you. In South Africa, the Kruger lodges are of an excellent standard, with facilities often including a swimming pool and spa.
Afternoon game drives
Once the day starts to cool down, around 3-4pm, you’ll have tea and snacks before heading out again. You will certainly not go hungry whilst on safari. The afternoon game drive follows the same format as the morning one, and your guide will be in constant radio contact with other vehicles about locations of sightings, ensuring you see as much as possible. Like in the early morning, this is the best time to see wildlife, as predatory animals begin to wake up after seeking shade to rest in during the hottest part of the day. Depending on where you are staying, the game drive sometimes stretches into the early evening, when you can enjoy a scenic sundowner whilst out as the sun sets and the bush comes alive. A powerful spotlight is often used to look for more elusive nocturnal animals, and hunting animals such as leopards and lions.
After sunset, you return to the lodge or camp for drinks and dinner. Depending on where you are staying, dinner is often followed by traditional dancing, singing and stories around the campfire under a starry sky, surrounded by the sounds of the bush. You’ll get into a rhythm of early nights and early starts, to ensure the best wildlife viewing opportunities.
South Africa or Botswana?
South Africa is a favoured destination among safari lovers, thanks to its varied options and the excellent accessibility of its reserves and lodges. The Kruger National Park is the country’s iconic safari destination, and there are excellent game reserves bordering the Kruger itself, as well as some private fenced reserves nearby. The Western Cape also offers some excellent game-viewing opportunities in a Big Five reserve on the Garden Route. You can view all our South Africa safari holidays here.
If a true African safari experience is what you are after, Botswana will deliver. Sparsely populated and full of vast nature reserves, it is blessed with some of the greatest wildlife viewing in the world. Those who are up for an adventure will be rewarded with the simplicity and serenity of the mobile camping in the Okavango Delta - early mornings, abundant wildlife, relaxation around the campfire, starry night skies and a bedtime soundtrack of the bush. You can view all our Botswana safari holidays here.
Although different from the classic experience, Namibia also offers some great safari opportunities. Named after the Etosha Salt Pan, so large it can be seen from space, the Etosha National Park is home to four of the Big Five (there are no buffalo) and numerous other species of game. The arid nature of the desert provides a striking backdrop for a safari, and the limited water sources mean that animals congregate around waterholes, making good sightings almost a given. You can view all our Namibia safari holidays here.
Whichever option you choose, all the safaris are planned very carefully to coincide with when you are most likely to see wildlife. Call us now to speak to an African expert.