7 Important Things You Need to Know about self-drive Game Drives

By far the majority of people who come to South Africa want to see the wildlife. The most popular way of doing this is to go on a game drive. However, most visitors don’t really know what to expect.

What to pack for your safari

In a vehicle, you can approach animals much more closely, without disturbing their natural behaviour. It is important, of course, that you are quiet and do not break the silhouette of the vehicle. This ensures that the animal cannot distinguish between the vehicle and its occupants.

A game drive is a very safe way of viewing wildlife from a vehicle. The concept itself is extremely interesting. Although most animals are afraid of people and stay away from them, they do not have the same fear of vehicles. It is believed that this is because animals view a vehicle as a single object which they do not associate at all with human beings. It follows that you can safely view lions from a vehicle without worrying about being attacked.

Here are some of the things that you need to consider on a game drive, both for your own safety and to disturb the animals as little as possible:

  1. Animals are sensitive to sudden movement and noise. Approaching animals slowly, and in silence, normally stops them from moving away into deeper bush. Be as quiet as you can in the presence of animals and whisper rather than speak in a normal voice. Your mobile phone’s ring tone also needs to be switched off.
  2. Animals get scared when a vehicle’s silhouette is broken. Understand that even a long camera lens suddenly poking out of the car window may scare an animal. You can also ruin a sighting by sticking an arm out of a window or your head out of a sunroof.Don't do this!
  3. You may not leave your vehicle. Getting out of a vehicle is permitted onlyat clearly sign-posted picnic areas or viewpoints. Be aware, however, that animals do walk around these areas.Do not walk in dense vegetation.
  4. Feeding animals is not allowed. In some places you may be faced with animals that seem tame - such as baboons, monkeys or birds. This is usually the result of people feeding them. Most often, these animals end up having to be shot because they have become such a nuisance and, sometimes, a real danger. Should you come across any of these “tame” animals, keep your distance as they are still wild animals and can be dangerous.
  5. Keep your distance from animals – especially elephants and rhino. Elephants are much larger than a vehicle and very powerful. You need to treat them with respect. If the animal barely reacts to your presence and it continues with what it was doing, you can probably drive a little closer. Be aware, however, that an elephant or rhinoceros can suddenly turn on you much faster than you could imagine and can run faster that you can reverse.
  6. Elephants and children - not a good mix. If you are travelling with children, you need to be extra careful. When a young child begins to cry, an animal’s hunting instinct is activated and it gets very curious. Elephants often become aggressive when they hear a baby cry. You need to keep your children quiet whenever near an elephant or predator. Keep windows closed for safety.
  7. Watch out for small animals crossing the road. Especially in summer, you may see tortoises, chameleons, snakes and dung beetles walking on the road. Be careful not to run them over – they are all part of the animal kingdom.

Hopefully, these tips will help enjoy your self-drive safari much more. If you need more information or want to go ahead and embark on a safari adventure, contact us