What Is A Game Drive On African Safaris?

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What Is A Game Drive On African Kenya Safaris? Understand what a game drive is, and what it entails.

After watching National Geographic, Discovery, and maybe BBC Wild, you might have had the crew going for a game drive to capture the day’s wildlife activities. You must be wondering what is a game drive on an African Safari.

Well, a Game Drive on African Safaris is an activity commonly done while in the African wild, to go and look for wildlife in a National Park, National Reserve, or maybe a conservancy.  It is mostly a guided excursion by a professional safari guide and a spotter.

Let’s define the two words, Game and Drive. Game, in this case, refers to animals in a protected wild area, and drive, means, driving across the terrains of this protected area. Hence a Game drive would simply mean driving in a protected area in search of wildlife.

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Who is involved in an African Safari Game drive?

A game drive involves several people, including you as a guest. There is a safari guide, who is an expert in locating wildlife, knows wildlife, flora, and fauna, and can explain things in detail in case you need explanations.

The other person involved in a game drive on African Safari is a spotter, in most cases, not in Kenya, but in some southern African countries, they sit at the front of the vehicle and their work is to spot sightings and wildlife where they are.

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What time of day do game drives occur?

An African safari game drive can be scheduled in two different ways, one is doing two game drives in a day, that is morning and evening, or doing game drives for a full day.

In case you are on a full-day game drive, and also if you booked an all inclusive safari, there is a possibility you might have your breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the wild and not in the camp. This is to entice and make your safari holiday an out-of-this-world experience.

A game drive scheduled times are:-

  • The morning game drive starts at 0600hrs in the morning and ends at around 1000hrs in the morning and returns for lunch and rest.
  • The evening game drives mostly start at 1600 hrs in the evening and end at 1800hrs in late evening and drive to the camp for overnight and rest
  • The other common one is a full-day game drive that starts from 0600 in the morning with packed breakfast and lunch and returns later in the evening around 1600hrs to the camp
  • One more that’s not popular, starts at 0600hrs in the morning and ends during mid-day at 1200hrs, and not returning for a game drive.

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What types of vehicles are used in game drives?

While on game drives, we use a 4×4 land cruiser jeep that is either closed with wide-opening windows or jeeps that are open-sided with no windows but just wide open. The closed jeep is fitted with a pop-up roof that opens up while on game drives.

The most commonly used vehicle while on a luxury safari in Africa is the open-sided. These are mostly used at the camp if you are on a group safari package, but the closed jeeps as well are common to guests who love road safaris and transfers.

What can I see on a game drive?

There is so much you can see while on a Kenya Safari game drive. All our protected areas, national parks and reserves have different wildlife and bird species you can enjoy watching in the comfort of your safari jeep.

Among the many wildlife species you could see on a game drive are lions, cheetahs, leopards, zebras, giraffes, topis, ostriches, buffaloes, rhinos, elephants and many others.

These wildlife species have different locations since they are different species. Do you know we have special wildlife species? These are commonly found in the northern parts of Kenya.

These include areas like Samburu, Lewa Conservancy, Meru Park, and even areas in the Laikipia Region. These Special Five species include the Grevy Zebras, Reticulated Giraffes, Somali Ostrich, Beisa Oryx, and the Gerenuk of the Giraffe Antelop.

What are the basic types of game drives on an African safari?

1. Guided Game Drives: Led by experienced safari guides, these guided and shared game drives offer invaluable expertise and insight into the park’s wildlife and ecosystems.

The safari guests participate in the travel in specially equipped safari vehicles, maximizing wildlife sightings and ensuring a safe and enriching experience. Safari lodges typically offer these.

2. Private Vehicle Hire: To fully control your game drive experience, you can opt to hire a “private vehicle.” This grants you exclusive access to a dedicated vehicle and safari guide, ensuring personalized attention tailored to your specific interests and preferences. Safari lodges may offer this option at an extra cost.

3. Self-Drive: Self-drive allows visitors with their own 4×4 vehicles to explore the park independently when allowed. However, self-drive visitors will lack the expertise of a trained safari guide, potentially impacting their wildlife viewing opportunities and overall safety.

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What should I bring on a game drive?

  • Binoculars: Enhance your wildlife viewing experience by bringing a pair of high-quality binoculars to spot animals from afar.
  • Camera and Zoom Lens: Capture stunning photographs of wildlife encounters with a DSLR or mirrorless camera equipped with a telephoto zoom lens.
  • Sun Protection: Shield yourself from the sun’s harsh rays by wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and lightweight, long-sleeved clothing.
  • Water: Stay hydrated by bringing plenty of water. Add some snacks if these are not included in the activity.
  • Insect Repellent: Keep pesky insects at bay by applying insect repellent to exposed skin areas.
  • Field Guide and Notebook: Brush up on your wildlife knowledge with a field guide and jot down observations or interesting facts in a notebook. Some safari lodges may offer particularly handy wildlife checklists.
  • Light jacket or Fleece: Even in warmer climates, temperatures can drop significantly during early morning or evening game drives, so it’s wise to pack a light jacket or sweater. And if it is the rainy season, make sure to grab a poncho too!
  • Sturdy Shoes: While you may not do much walking during the drive itself, sturdy shoes are more comfortable for getting in and out of the vehicles, and can be useful for short nature (loo) breaks.
  • Headlamp: When participating in night drives, it’s advisable to bring a small torch or headlamp. These handy tools are helpful at the end of the activity when gathering your belongings.

What are the Rules to Observe While on a Game Drive?

  • Respect the privacy of the wildlife, this is their habitat.
  • Beware of the animals, they are wild and can be unpredictable.
  • Don’t crowd the animals or make sudden noises or movements.
  • Don’t feed the animals, it upsets their diet and leads to human dependence.
  • Keep quiet, noise disturbs the wildlife and may antagonize your fellow visitors.
  • Stay in your vehicle at all times, except at designated picnic or walking areas.
  • Keep below the maximum speed limit (40 kph/25 mph).
  • Never drive off-road, this severely damages the habitat.
  • When viewing wildlife keep to a minimum distance of 20 meters and pull to the side of
  • Leave no litter and never leave fires unattended or discard burning objects.
  • Respect the cultural heritage of Kenya, never take pictures of the local people or their habitat without asking their permission, respect the cultural traditions of Kenya, and always dress with decorum.
  • Stay over or leave before dusk, visitors must vacate the Park between 6.00 p.m. – 6.00 a.m. unless they are camping overnight. Night game driving is not allowed.
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Cheetah Safaris is a serious advocate of sustainable safari practices in Africa. As part of our efforts and initiative, we engage and support schools and children who need knowledge to better their lives. The best gift a child can be given is education, skills, and creativity. 

In this case, we request our guests booking with us, to bring an extra back of supplies. This can be in terms of books, sports materials, and any other items that would change the lives of these kids. 

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