With the endangered status and threat of the extinction of the Rhino, there has been a huge increase in global support and funding for Rhino conservation as well as a corresponding trend in visitors to South Africa, eager to go on safari and catch a glimpse of this magnificent animal. Having never been on a Safari and actually living in South Africa, I think it is about high time I pack my bags and head off to the bush. Since this is the first time going on this type of getaway, I want to know what to expect. There are obvious rules like, keeping all appendages in the vehicle at all times while on a drive, very important. What other things should you know when going on safari?
I hope you are an early riser!
Unlike us humans, animals are most active around first light and again at dusk. So be ready to rise and shine early on the safari game drives, even before breakfast. Usually at about 05:30-06:00 and then back again at around 09:00 to enjoy your much needed breakfast. It will be worth it, I think, to see the beautiful sunrise and animals that come out at that time. Don’t forget the camera as chances to take great photos will never be this good. If you would like to whet your appetite head over to the webcam section on the Sanparks national website.
Seen one, seen them all
This is just not true. Every single game drive is different from the next one. You may see a herd of elephant crossing the road on one trip and on another you will see a pair of male lions, fighting it out. This is nature at its best; you just don’t know what will happen next. What you will see is unpredictable and you are not guaranteed to see what you want, so don’t be too disappointed if you don’t get to witness a large herd of zebras running around on your first game drive. Never fear though, the rangers are good at what they do and will know the best spots for sighting s. In many cases there will be two professionals riding with, the driver and a spotter. This increases your chances of seeing some wildlife you might miss otherwise.
Are you safe in the vehicle?
The animals in the parks have usually grown up with the cars driving around and are used to them. They see the vehicle as a large animal that doesn’t pose any threat to them. This is where being quiet and keeping all your arms and legs inside the vehicle is important. Especially if you are close to predators, they might see anything outside the vehicle as potential prey or as a threat. As the concept of Adventure Tourism has grown in South Africa, so has the infrastructure and set of guidelines that governs the industry. There are rules for a very good reason, so stay safe and obey them.
What should I wear?
There is no actual dress code on a game drive, but layering is something you should consider. It is rather cold in the mornings before the sun rises, so wearing a warm jacket is a good idea. It should get warmer as the day unfolds and having come prepared with layers, you can simply peel off the warm clothes and jackets. A hat is always good and some suntan lotion as the temperatures can get quite hot.
A world of information
A professional guide is always with you, so ask questions, the guides are very knowledgeable and can tell you a lot about the animals. Don’t be afraid to ask the driver to stop if you think you see something, or if you wish to snap another picturesque photo.
Some advantages of a guided tour
- You will be able to enjoy night game drives and maybe witness lions hunting at night. Self-drive night safaris are not allowed.
- When booking a tour you can get the full experience, including breakfast, lunch and sundowners.
- The guides have a lot more experience and know where to look for the best viewing spots. You will most probably get to see a lot more than if you go on your own drive.
Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get to see the big five, enjoy the moment and the smaller things too. Enhance your experience by noticing the bird life and other landmark features. There is so much to enjoy and see so don’t limit yourself and your expereince.