Whether you’re a first-timer to South Africa’s wild places or a regular visitor, there’s always something special and exhilarating about a guided night drive. What the night will bring, no one knows. By Arnold Ras
Hopping onto a safari vehicle – after sunset – with a knowledgeable guide at your service, almost always results in tales shared around dinner tables. If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience the wilderness after dark, now is the time to add a guided night drive to your #wildadventuregoals.
#1: Mokala National Park
Jump onto a safari vehicle and head into Mokala’s wilderness where rare antelope like tsessebe, roan and black springbok roam. Keep your eyes peeled for nocturnal creatures such as owls, springhare and Cape fox. If you’re very lucky, you might even get to see an aardvark!
Good to know: Guided night drives depart from the park’s main rest camp, Mosu Lodge, at 19:00 and return by 22:00. Take note that children under the age of six are not allowed. Make sure to book well in advance as guides are not always available.
Cost: R160 per person
More info: +27 (0)53 204 8000
#2: Addo Elephant National Park
With one of the world’s densest elephant populations, Addo is a magnet for big game lovers and a night drive promises wildlife experiences aplenty. It’s a park full of surprises, and with several predators hunting at night, you never know what awaits around the next bushy corner.
Good to know: A minimum of two guests per night drive. Guided night drives last approximately two hours and children under the age of six are not allowed. Drives depart from Addo Rest Camp – check departure times (normally at 19:00) with the game drives office. Booking in advance is essential.
Cost: R370 per person
More info: +27 (0)42 233 8657, [email protected]
#3: Mpila: iMfolozi Game Reserve
A few hours from Durban, 96,000 hectares of wilderness and the oldest game reserve in Africa await. From elephant and giraffe to blue wildebeest and cheetah, this wild Zulu kingdom comes alive after dark.
Good to know: During summer, night drives take place 18:00–20:30 (Mondays to Saturdays) and 17:00–19:30 (Sundays). Guests should meet in front of the reserve’s reception 10 minutes prior to departure. No children under the age of four. Booking in advance is advised.
Cost: R330 per person
More info: +27 (0)35 550 8476
#4: Kruger National Park
In Kruger country, an impressive two million hectares in total, several rest camps spoil guests with night drives led by expert guides. And as South Africa’s most popular national park is known for its incredible wildlife action, make sure you know how to operate your camera in the dark. Missing that once-in-a-lifetime moment is not an option!
Good to know: For exact departure times, drive duration and other important information, it’s best to enquire at the camp you will be staying at.
Cost: R230 per person (Letaba, Lower Sabie, Mopani, Olifants, Satara, Shingwedzi and Skukuza), or R320 per person (Bateleur, Crocodile Bridge, Punda Maria, Shimuwini, Sirheni and Talamati). Children under 12 half price.
More info: +27 (0)13 735 4000
#5: Augrabies Falls National Park
Here the sun might set, but the thundering waters of Augrabies Falls never rest. The mighty Orange River is not the park’s only star. Nocturnal wildlife encounters include sightings of leopard, giraffe, African wild cat, bat-eared fox, aardwolf, and many antelope species.
Good to know: At least two guests are required and bookings should be made directly with the park. Night drives depart from the reception area of the park’s main rest camp and last approximately two hours.
Cost: R192 per person
More info: +27 (0)54 452 9200, [email protected]