Not all countries permit all possible activities to be carried out. For example, although walking safaris, off-road game drives and night drives are standard fare in Zambia, other countries, such as Kenya or Tanzania tend not to allow these - at least not in their National Parks.
If we can attempt to generalise, then the archetypal safari day starts with a wake up call at around 5.00 a.m. (dawn). Although this may seem horrendously early, it is essential to head out early on your game drive, before it gets too hot and the animals retreat into the shade. However before you leave there is always time for tea and toast around the camp fire.
The day’s activities are normally decided upon over dinner the previous evening. As the sun rises you will head out into the bush with your guide on a game drive or walk. A game drive normally lasts for around 3 to 4 hours. The time depends on what is encountered along the way.
Around halfway through, you will stop, normally in a scenic location, for a cup of tea under the shade of a tree. Sometimes breakfast can be skipped, in favour of a delicious ‘brunch in the bush’ halfway through your morning activity. Late morning, as the bush begins to heat up, and wildlife activity begins to slow, you will return to camp for lunch.
After lunch, the afternoon is spent resting, simply because, due to the heat, wildlife activity is very limited. It's like the Spanish 'siesta'. You may enjoy reading, take a nap, or take a cooler of drinks and view the wildlife from a nearby hide (available at many lodges and camps).
At around 3:30 p.m. the evening’s activities start. Afternoon tea is served, usually with a light snack to keep you going until the evening meal. The game drives start before sunset providing you with another opportunity to see more game in the daylight.
As the sun begins to set, you will stop for many people’s favourite safari activity ‘The Sun Downer’. This is when the game drives pause while you get out and have a drink while watching the always spectacular African sunset. Favourite drinks include a stiff gin and tonic or a Mosi Beer. (Or two!).
Once the sun has gone down and the stars have made their appearance, the game drive turns into a night drive (where permitted). The scout who looks out for the animals, has an assistant who shines a powerful light from left to right looking for the reflection of the animal’s eyes in the torch’s light. The night drive brings the opportunity to see animals which are harder to spot in the daytime, in particular the elusive leopard.
The evening meal after the night’s game drive is normally a hive of activity, as guests excitedly compare the day’s game sightings. It is then time for bed at what would seem a ridiculously early hour, were it not for the fact that you will be up at 5.00 again the following morning to start another magical day in Africa.
However the following pages will demonstrate just how exciting and varied your day may turn out to be in practice. You can Start Here!