A safari after dark – Night game drives at Lalibela
A night game drive is a whole experience on its own and completely different to a morning or afternoon game drive. Your stay at Lalibela includes two game drives per night stayed. Each game drive is unique on its own. The morning game drive departs in the early morning, usually just before sunrise, while the afternoon game drive departs late in the afternoon. Guests can watch a beautiful African sunrise on their morning game drive while they can look forward to enjoying a refreshing sundowner and some snacks while watching the sunset over the African bush in the afternoon. The afternoon game drive will return to the lodge during twilight when some of the nocturnal animals are starting to get active. You may be lucky enough to enjoy a sighting of a nocturnal animal as you make your way back to the lodge in time for dinner.
At Lalibela, you have the option of booking a night drive at an additional cost with your guide. Night drives will generally leave the lodge after you have had dinner so be prepared for a fairly late night. Night game drives are an experience of their own as you will get the opportunity to see some of the nocturnal animals that you wouldn’t get to see in the day time. Sightings of some of these nocturnal animals are rare on their own, so this would be an experience to remember. Night drives lead to so much excitement as the unknown nocturnal world awaits you. They are a sensory experience, as the world takes on a different sound, scent and shape at night. Sounds are a lot louder and different, which can get your heart pumping. The whole atmosphere is completely different at night. Strangely enough during a night drive, the roles are reversed. During the day, we observe various species of wildlife but when it comes to game viewing at night, it is the wildlife that has the upper hand as they spy on us without us knowing.
Once you leave the lodge, your guide will explain to you what animals you can expect to see while out on your night drive. Your guide will use a spotlight to shine a light as you drive through the reserve. A special, animal-friendly red filter light is attached to the spotlight which your guide will use to shine into the bushes as he drives, hoping to spot the glistening eyes of shy wildlife that are hiding in the dark. This special filter is used on the spotlight as it will not damage the eyes of the nocturnal animal when your guide shines the light towards them. Guides will not shine the spotlight towards herbivores (grazers and browsers such as antelope, zebras and giraffe) to avoid putting them at a disadvantage to predators. Your knowledgeable guide will even be able to tell you if the glistening eyes they have spotted belong to a predator or prey, just by looking at the colour of their eyes.
As with your day drives, you may be driving for some time before you spot a nocturnal animal but when you do, this will be a moment to remember! Guests can look forward to the opportunity of seeing various unusual and unique nocturnal species.
Sightings can include that of:
Predators such as lion and leopard
Bird enthusiasts can look forward to sightings of typical nocturnal bird species such as:
African scops owl
If you don’t happen to see any nocturnal animals, do not be disheartened. Sometimes the most magical moments on night game drives are simply switching off the vehicle’s engine and listening to the sounds of the night. Sounds vary from that of birds, frogs, chirping crickets or the rustling of trees and shrubs, which is sure to bring on a thrilling feeling. If you look up to the sky, a whole universe awaits! On a clear evening, you can enjoy incredible sights of the uninterrupted starlit sky above you. This is your moment to switch off from the world around you and truly admire Mother Earth and all her beauty. It’s not every day that we can look up into the night sky and see millions of stars, as we don’t get these opportunities back in the city as a result of light pollution. Stargazers may have the added bonus of seeing the Milky Way or a shooting star or two.
There is something spectacular about a night game drive. This is something you can only understand once you have experienced this first hand. Whether it be the excitement of the darkness, the glistening eyes in the darkness, the slight breeze and cool air or the unfamiliar noises and sounds. This is something one has to experience at least once in your lifetime. You will realize that Africa is so much more than what you see and that a night game drive is a vital part of your overall safari experience.
In search of more reading? Here’s how to prepare for the evening game drives!
Lalibela Game Reserve is located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, close to Port Elizabeth and Addo, which means it is not only malaria free, but spans 5 ecosystems, resulting in a breath-taking diversity of flora and fauna.