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1. The Atmosphere

There’s just something about night drives that you can only understand once you’ve experienced it for yourself. Something about the darkness, the atmosphere, the slight breeze and chill effect, the various noises and sounds of the wild; it’s such an exhilarating feeling! 🙂

At night, it sometimes feels like the roles have been reversed. In other words, while during the day “we” are observing the animals, after dark it seems like we are “being observed”. A sort of “hide and seek” game where they have the upper edge. 😉

2. Weird-Looking Animals

Night time in the African bush is also a time for unusual and unique animals to come out. These animals have weird-looking “faces”, and their names can be somewhat unusual too. I’m referring to the “Earth pig”, or Aardvark, the bushbaby with its cute glowing eyes when you shine the spotlight, or even a lonely porcupine. Not to mention larger beasts, like the whimsical spotted hyena, or the mysterious leopard.

Are you a bird lover? Even bird enthusiasts have reasons to be thrilled. For instance, various species of nightjars can sometimes be spotted (they usually enjoy the warmth of dirt roads). NB: Take extra caution not to drive over them as they are well camouflaged.

Typical nocturnal bird species to be on the lookout for include:

  • Marsh Owl
  • African Grass-Owl
  • Barn Owl
  • Spotted Eagle-Owl
  • Freckled Nightjar
  • African Scops-Owl
  • Rufous-cheeked Nightjar
  • African Wood-Owl
  • Cape Eagle-Owl

3. Stargazing

If you ever want to enjoy a starlit sky then you MUST go on a night drive safari! African skies are usually clear after dusk, and it is such a unique spectacle to observe them from your open vehicle. As Timon puts it in the Lion King, stars are like “fire flies that got stuck on that big bluish black thing”. 🙂

Can you see Scorpius? What about Orion, or even the Southern Cross?

4. Night Sounds

This is perhaps the most special feeling about night drives. All you can hear is the chirping sound of crickets, bizarre noises coming from the thickets, or howling animals calling from afar. Freaky stuff! 🙂

Ever slept in a tent surrounded by wild creatures? Trust me: it’s something you’ll want to try. Although when it’s a lone elephant bull bashing trees right outside your window, it’s not the most reassuring of feelings.

5. The Spotlight

Night drives are only possible with one essential item: a spotlight! Typically speaking, a tracker flashes the light left and right from the front of the 4×4. Though on some occasions, you’ll be the one looking for the animals with the lamp. And that’s the most exciting part of the drive! 🙂

One piece of advice though: remember not to shine directly into the eyes of animals (especially non-nocturnal ones), as this may blind them.

Spotted Genet in the fork of a tree – Moremi