Game Drives

What is a game drive safari?

A game drive is the quintessential safari adventure. Unless you are opting for a bush walk, walking safari, or another activity, you will likely go on two game drives each day.

How long is a game drive?

Game drives depart in the early morning (~6 a.m.) and return to camp for breakfast (~10 a.m.). Some days, you might be presented with a full bush breakfast in a surprise location toward the end of your morning game drive.

You’ll leave again in the late afternoon (3 p.m. or 4 p.m.) on a game drive that lasts until sundown. You might return to camp just after nightfall.

Game drives coincide with wildlife’s most active hours of the day. During the heat of the afternoon, animals are resting, so you won’t be missing anything by relaxing in your camp or lodge.

What does a day on safari look like?

On a typical safari day, you can expect to wake up around 5:30 a.m., 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’ll return to camp between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. for brunch. In the afternoon (between ~11 a.m. and 3 p.m.) you can take a nap, read a book, charge your devices, and enjoy your luxury lodge or tented safari camp.

Around 3:30 p.m., you will meet for tea and then head out for your second game drive. As the afternoon heat relents, wildlife becomes increasingly active. Elephants head down to the river to drink and wild dogs hunt in packs.

As the sun sets, you might stop for a sundowner—a safari tradition 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).

How many people share a game drive vehicle?

The number of people allowed in a safari vehicle varies from camp to camp, and it can impact your game-viewing experience. We recommend using properties that limit the number of passengers to a maximum of six. (It’s not uncommon to see nine-seaters in Greater Kruger.) More than six people can hinder your ability to see and photograph animals.

It’s possible to upgrade to a private-use vehicle, typically at a rate of $500 or more per day. If you are going on a luxury family safari, especially with young children, many camps will require you to secure a private vehicle.

During secret season or when camps aren’t at full capacity, you might enjoy private use of a Land Cruiser at no extra cost.

Can game drive safaris go off-road?

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—like Tanzania‘s Serengeti or Kenya‘s Maasai Mara National Reserve—while private concessions have more flexibility. These rules also apply to night drives and bush walks as well.

What is a night game drive safari?

Night drives take place just after the sun sets so you are still back at camp for a late dinner—perhaps served around 8 p.m. Where night drives are permitted, they are a great way to spot nocturnal animals that are not commonly seen during the day, including genets, aardvarks, and owls, among many others.

Important information about game drive safaris:

  • 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 fluctuate quite a bit during a game drive. Most properties provide blankets and rain ponchos but wearing layers will ensure your comfort. Also, bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Consult our Ultimate Safari Packing List.
  • Although game drives travel along “roads,” we’re talking dirt roads with rocks, bumps, and vehicle wear. Off-road, you’ll find your 4×4 climbing over rocks and navigating river banks. Please advise your Extraordinary Journeys safari specialist if you have a bad back; there are parts of Africa that offer less bumping and jerking than others.
  • Fun fact: Electric 4×4 vehicles are now an option, and you benefit from silent engines. Cheetah Plains in Sabi Sands (Greater Kruger) has a small fleet of solar-charged electric Land Cruisers.

Where to go on a luxury game drive

We love game drives in:

Are game drive safaris only in Africa?

Don’t forget that a game drive safari is also found out of Africa, too. Head to Central India’s National Parks for a chance to see tigers and other endemic creatures.

Plan your Trip

Ready to start planning your own incredible adventure? We make the process stress-free and enjoyable.

Contact Us