Night Drives, Kruger National Park
All of the major rest camps offer night and early morning game drives. For R100 per person (about $15 USD), you get a 3 hour tour of the surrounding park area back roads in an open-air bus, often spotting some wildlife that you might not see during the day. Things we saw on game drives that we didn't see on our own are: rhino, hyena and jackals. We did catch a glimpse of a male lion on our own, but we got a much better look at one on a game drive.
If you are very lucky, you might also see lions on the hunt. We did see giraffes, zebra and wildebeests running a lot at night, as if they were running from something. But we didn't actually see what they might be running from.
Some of the guides are very knowledgeable and will tell you things about the wildlife you might not otherwise find out. For instance, one guide told us that studies show that the average giraffe will, at any given moment, have 1000 ticks on it. That was all the information I needed to stay out of the grass!
Night drives usually leave at 5:00 PM, but during the winter, they leave at 4:30 PM. The tours last about 3 hours.
Dress Code: Not sure how it is in the summer (Jan-Feb), but we were there in the fall (May) and the game drives were quite chilly. A hat, sweatshirt and windbreaker were essential clothing. Long pants were also very helpful.
As with the game walks, night drives are often offered at the campsites. These tend to be quite expensive and book up quickly, so make sure you get in there fast – especially if you are only staying one or two nights. I have been on night drives a few times and not really had much success in seeing animals. That said though, I have heard many stories of the great sights that await one after dark – so I guess, with everything in a game park – you could get there five minutes too early or five minutes too late!
It is an experience, so I do recommend going at least once. You all pile into the back of a truck, fitted with seats down either side. Although the truck is open at the back, there is usually canopy overhead - to keep off the rain! Whoever sits in the two front seats (left and right) is in charge of manning the spotlights that are trained into the bush on either side of the road. When the light reflects off an animal’s eyes, they glow in the dark and it is those glowing pin-pricks that can indicate game in the bush.
Dress Code: I would recommend you bring along a think blanket to cover your knees, and a jacket to keep off the night chill. As the open backed trucks start to move through the park, the wind picks up and if you are not nicely wrapped up, it could be an uncomfortable hour or two!
Having a sun downer during a game drive in a private game reserve is tradition. Enjoy a drink as the light fades away, with the sounds of the bush surrounding you. Even though the sun sets - it appears as if the bush just wakes up.
Take a drive at night. Be carefull and first ask the park officials if you can do so. If lucky, you can do it on your own. If not, you will have to hire a guide, which is quite expensive.
But some rands or greenies can do wonders!!!
Every Kruger camp offers nightdrives. Depending on the season there are different options. In april 2001 we could choose between a nightdrive from 17:00-19:30 or from 20:00-22:30. In september 2002 there were only nightdrives from 17:30-20:30. This nightdrive costed 75Rand.
It is the oppertunity to see the nightanimals. It is not allowed to drive your own car in the park after dark.
Dress Code: Take a warm wind- and waterproof jacket.
Kruger parks only form of nightlife entertainment, is to go on a night drive, organised by the staff at the park. They take you out in the night with spotlights which allows you to see nocturnal animals such as leopard, hyena, hippo and nocturnal birds.
Creates an interesting perspective and should be tried at least once.
Dress Code: Warm clothes. Especially in winter.
To view nocturnal animals, like buffalo, go on a night tour as camp gates close at about 6pm, so you are literally locked in for the night! But this is for your own safety.
When we were last there, we were VERY fortunate to see two huge herds of buffalo just before 6pm... they actually blocked our path! We just sat and patiently waited for them to move on... it was thrilling and a VERY exciting finish to an awesome day!
Dress Code: Dress for warmth and comfort. Take some water with you and a torch.
Of course the main nightlife here is the night safari. It is very nice experience and you might see some surprised animals that are very rare to see during the day, like the Genet that I saw.
Night is a great time to see many animals that are not out or active during the day. We got a chance to see a Cheetah and also a pack of hyenias on the hunt.