Game Drives (at night), Kruger National Park
This is a good time to spot animals. Make sure you wear warm clothing since the vehicle they take you in has open windows. They do provide you with blankets but the forest can be quite chilly in the nights and you would do well to go well protected.
Although you can see plenty of game in Kruger during the day, a night safari gives you an entirely different perspective of the park. You can see some animals that are nocturnal, such as leopards and hyenas. Also, you get a sense for the sounds of the bush, since there are fewer vehicles out making noise in the park at night. Finally, one thing that we liked about the night safari was being able to see all of the stars in the sky - far more than you can see in an urban area, due to the lack of lights in the area.
There are a few different night safaris that you can take in Kruger and nearby Sabi Sand (a large private game reserve next door to Kruger). We booked ours, which was based in Sabi Sand, through our hotel. As part of our night safari, we stopped at a lodge in Sabi Sand for drinks and dinner.
These can be interesting. Make sure you dress warmly as the chill after the heat of the day is quite noticeable.
We did not see a trememdous amount although we did see elephant, quiet and eerie experience in the dark
Many people who visit Kruger drive around the park on their own. This is possible to do during the daylight hours, but in the evening the gates to the various camps and park entrances close. You do not want to be out alone in Kruger after dark anyway.
In order for people to see the various wildlife that comes out at night, Kruger offers night game drives, hosted by official park rangers. The number of spaces available are very limited, and therefore these night drives fill up very early. REGISTER AS SOON AS YOU CAN.
If space has filled up for your selected time in Kruger, they do also offer evening game drives. However, it should be understood that the reason these trips don't fill up as fast is that the variety of wildlife frequently isn't as good as it is in the middle of the night.
A 2 or 3 hour night drive in the Kruger Park is a wonderful experience that will live on long in the memory. Book your drives a while in advance from any of the entry gates or camps. They are a wonderful opportunity to enjoy an African sunset and then a slow drive under the night stars and all going well you'll encounter some interesting wildlife. We saw some hippo really close up (about 3 meters away), a black rhino, plenty of small cats and the most incredible viewing of a young male leopard, who proceeded to walk along next to our vehicle for about 10 minutes.... what an experience!!!
And when the Lions go hungry, so do the Hyena. Two dejected looking Hyena walk along the road looking for a fresh road kill. The lions have provided nothing of substance tonight and the Hyena switch to plan B for survival.
Even when lions are on the hunt and very hungry, their young will still want to play. the young are practicing the art of bringing down their prey....on themselves and they were to go hungry on this night as the zebra they initially set out to tackle made a hasty escape.
It is not often that you get the chance to see a lion at night and only a handfull of tours actually get this exciting experience. Lions only feed every two or three days, so when you see a pride of lions go on the prowl you should feel very special indeed!
As the sun was setting I noticed this warthog standing under a tree. This was a little strange because warthogs are day animals and spend most of their time looking for food. They mainly feed on grass and roots. While grazing, they kneel on their front legs and even move around on their knees, which, to me, gave them a comical look!
As mentioned earlier, all sorts of animals "come out" as the sun sets and baboons are a common sight.
I found these baboons fascinating to watch and photograph. They appear to be social animals and live in troops of varying sizes comprising females and their young plus one or more males.
It was entertaining watching troop behaviour and individuals inter-reacting, particularly as there were separate dominance heirarchies among males and females.
The Evening game drives depart the camp sites at 6pm and is the only way to see the animals at night because there are large fines for driving in the park after 6pm. On the early part of the drive, and during daylight, the animals head to the waterholes and often cross the road in front of your vehicle.
Children under 8 are not always allowed on night drives. If you still want to experience a night drive your Safari Ranger will of course look after your children at camp. It's not a problem at all and we provide this service all the time.
You are welcome to take snack food and cold drinks with you on your night drive. A toilet and cigarette break normally happens at the middle of a bridge crossing, approximately half way through the drive.
Anne and I were pleasently surprised by the cost of the evening safari. For 100 Rand (under US$20.00) the safari lasts for 3 hours. Our driver asked if anyone was due back for dinner in the reataurant at 9pm and when everyone said no, he took the tour for almost 4 hours!
Each evening from almost every camp in Kruger National Park the South African National Parks provide the night game drives in 20-seat open sided vehicles. A SANParks game ranger, armed with a rifle, conducts the night game drives.
The night game drive departs from camp at 6pm and last for approx three hours. Passengers are given a chance of using one of the three spotlights on the vehicle. It was our opportunity to see some nocturnal wildlife in the Kruger Park. The night game drive was a very enjoyable experience.
In the Afternoon, there is a second drive- around the park. It works like the one in the morning. (see there)
Only this time you see the sunset and it is getting dark.
Take some warmer clothes with you or you will be freezing, it gets cold quite fast.
With lamps on the Jeep they can find quite a lot of animals due to their reflecting eyes. Kinda spooky sometimes.
The picture shows three Hyenas at night.