What Awaits On A Safari Game Drive

Leopard, lion, buffalo, elephant, rhino, hippo, giraffe… Sabi Sand Game Reserve is rich in wildlife, and as a visitor to the reserve you’ll have a rare opportunity of seeing these magnificent animals in their natural habitat. (Aardvark, baboon, warthog, zebra… the list goes on and on.) While you may spot some animals at your safari game lodge – usually around the waterhole – your best chance of a wildlife encounter is out in the bush, on a guided safari game drive.

Length and distance will vary, but safari game drives in Sabi Sand Game Reserve usually last about 3 to 4 hours, with a break roughly midway through. Morning drives typically start around 6am, as the sun starts to rise. It can be cold in the morning, and you’ll be driving in an open vehicle, so remember to wear layered clothes that you can take off as the day warms up. Afternoon safari game drives typically start between 3pm and 4pm, with sunset’s “golden hour” being a special highlight.

Some safari lodges in Sabi Sand Game Reserve offer guided night drives. This is a rare treat, as you’ll have the chance to see Africa’s nocturnal beasts, like porcupines, genets, aardvarks, and bush babies. Bigger animals, like leopards, hippos, and lions, are also active after sunset. Your field guide will use red (UV) light that won’t hurt the animals’ eyes, but will allow you to observe them in the dark.

Every safari game drive is different, but there are a few general rules of the road. Typically, you’ll head out in the early morning or late afternoon, at the coolest times of the day when most animals are most active. Your driver will be an expert field guide (game ranger) with a wealth of knowledge about the bush in general and Sabi Sand Game Reserve in particular. If you have an interest in photography, let them know, and they’ll take extra care to position the vehicle just right for the best light.

On some safari game drives the field guide will be accompanied by a tracker, who’ll sit on a seat mounted on the hood of the vehicle. Their job is to help spot animals and their spoor (tracks). They’re also connected to a radio station, where guides, rangers, and trackers share information about spectacular sightings.

While wildlife is the biggest drawcard for most visitors, guide and tracker teams are also equipped with a wealth of knowledge about the reserve and its surrounding area. Many are locals, who’ll share interesting information about the area’s culture, traditions, and folklore.

Trust their judgment, follow their advice, and be sure to ask them questions!


All Sabi Sand Game Reserve safari lodges offer guided safari game drives as part of their guest experience. Safari lodges that use both a field guide and tracker are:

Arathusa Safari Lodge

Cheetah Plains

Chitwa Chitwa Game Lodge

Dulini Leadwood Lodge

Dulini Moya Lodge

Dulini River Lodge

Elephant Plains

Idube Game Lodge

Inyati Game Lodge

Jaci’s Sabi House

AndBeyond Kirkman’s Kamp 

AndBeyond Tengile River Lodge 

Leopard Hills

Lion Sands River Lodge 

Lion Sands Ivory Lodge 

Londolozi Founders Camp 

Londolozi Pioneer Camp & Private Villas 

Londolozi Tree Camp

Londolozi Varty Camp

Londolozi Private Granite Suites

Nkorho Bush Lodge

Nottens Bush Camp

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge

Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge

Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp 

Sabi Sabi Selati Camp

Savanna Lodge

Silvan Safari

Simbambili Game Lodge

Singita Boulders Lodge

Singita Castleton

Singita Ebony Lodge & Villa 

Ulusaba Cliff Lodge

Ulusaba Rock Lodge

Ulusaba Safari Lodge 

Umkumbe Bush Lodge

Umkumbe Safari Lodge

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