5:30 AM – This is actually a late wake up for most safari-ers. Some private lodges and organized tours will get you up at 4 AM to start viewing the animals at their most active times. Our personal self-drive safari was more realistic with a 5:30 AM alarm…and even this was pushing it, but we never had trouble seeing animals every morning!
We would always boil water first and make sure we got at least one morning cup of coffee and then we would start packing up the tent (almost always in the dark). This became such a routine we started timing ourselves and got pretty quick by the end of our trip.
6:00 AM (ok, most likely 6:15 or 6:30) – We get in our car and leave for our morning game drive. We would always have a destination picked out, usually a waterhole or other good starting point. If you are driving yourself and are nervous about not seeing animals because you don’t have a guide, DONT BE. We did 95% of our drives on our own for 3 weeks and saw hundreds of animals up close and saw just about every animal we hoped to see!
8:30 AM – Round two of coffee and some breakfast. During our drive we came across designated Stretch Points where you are supposedly safe to get out and walk around. We would use these areas for mid-morning breaks to get some extra coffee and make a quick breakfast (usually oatmeal).
We always took full advantage of photo opportunities during our stretch breaks.
10:00 – 11:00 AM – The animals are less active during the heat of the day so no use in wasting your gas, we would head back to camp around this time. Since you woke up early now is your time to take a quick nap, sleep when the animals sleep! We were pretty bad about this, and sometimes would drive until 2 in the afternoon.
12:00 PM – Eat lunch. We always kept it simple, in a few weeks we will post some of our camping recipes for you…get excited for bean, rice and noodle dishes!
2:00 PM – The showers are heated by solar power, so the middle of the day is the best time to shower. If you wait too late the hot water might run out or too early and it hasn’t reheated from the night before. This was always a great time for us to shower before leaving on our evening drive!
3:30 PM – Leave for an evening drive. Once again, waterholes are always great places to start. We would always check with the guards at the gates to find out what has been spotted and where it was. Usually if you start driving around, other guides or fellow self-drivers will point you in the right direction if there is anything exciting walking about. A couple times we were alerted to prides of lions or a leopard and raced in the direction of the predators.
6:30 PM - Depending on how far we had driven, we would sometimes have an hour drive or more to get back to camp. There aren’t any lights in the park and when the sun goes down it gets dark really fast. We figured “not driving at night” was just a recommendation, but quickly realized how dangerous it would be with all the unpredictable animals around. Plan to be back at your campsite before sunset.
7 PM – Get the fire started and begin cooking dinner. While Josh started the fire, I would open the tent and get the blankets up. Dinner was usually some type of meat we found at the grocery (if the fire was good enough), a rice or veggie side dish and a cold beer or glass of wine to end the evening.
9 PM – In winter, it gets cold fast. Once we ran out of firewood for the night we would retire to our tent to keep us warm. If going to bed at 7:30 PM isn’t your thing, you’ll want to buy a lot of firewood.
Try not to leave the tent until morning, and then start all over again!
How did your safari days look? Is this what you imagined a safari to be?