Standard game drives during the day enable you to see Africa’s most common animals – such as elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard – but night drives present the opportunity for you to see animals that you have never heard of and are more unique.
Top 10 Lodges for Night Safaris
Night safaris are an extra special way to enjoy wildlife viewing in Africa. Night drives are often overlooked by safari camps and lodges, but this activity can make a safari that much more memorable!
Nocturnal animals you might encounter on a night drive
This is an activity that is not needed on your first couple of days of safari – the Big Five and other game is enough to keep you excited, with most of your time out in the bush spent finding the animals that you associate with Africa. However, once you have been able to tick the country’s most popular animals off your list, that is when you might like to find the uncommon ones that you have only heard of through your guide… and these animals tend to come out at night time, including genet, civet, bush baby, porcupine, elephant shrew, and honey badger. This is just the start of the list and there is so much more to include, such as Africa’s hardest-to-find animals – aardvark.
The other exciting element of night drives is the chance of seeing cats at their most active. With the exception of cheetah, most cats are sleeping during the day and it is not until the sun goes down that the excitement starts and you can see them using their skills to catch prey. When a camp offers night drives, it means you have a better chance of watching a leopard stalking its prey or the tactics that a pride of lion implement to catch a buffalo. This is what everyone wants to see – and it will be the highlight of any trip!
"The one thing you need to be aware of during a night game drive is that although there is so much potential for wildlife viewing, there is also a chance that you might not see what you are hoping for. It is hard to find these sightings, but no time on night drive is wasted time. For me, one of the best things you can do during this activity, is tilt your head back and look at the stars – Africa’s night sky is like nowhere else in the world!"
Here are Yellow Zebra's top 10 lodges for night safaris
With regard to the best camps for night drives, we believe that the South Luangwa yields the best rewards and the stand-out properties are Tena Tena and Mchenja Bush Camp. You want a park that includes thick bush, as this provides protection for the smaller creature. Parks like the Serengeti, with its vast open plains, just can’t compete! Hwangwe (Zimbabwe) and parks of the Okavango Delta (Botswana) offer equally good experiences as the South Luangwa, with The Hide and Selinda Camp taking the crown respectively. Check out the full list of top ten below:
1. Kigelia Ruaha, Tanzania
Kigelia Ruaha has recently been taken over by Nomad Tanzania and offers a true experience in one of Tanzania's best parks. Giving intrepid guests an insight into the very different world of the nocturnal creatures such as porcupine, genet, and civet, and of course the much-coveted and rare pangolin.
2. Sanctuary Swala Camp, Tanzania
Located in the south-west of Tarangire National Park, Swala enjoys a remote location away from the crowds. Swala is the most luxurious lodge inside the National Park boundary.
3. Kuro Tarangire, Tanzania
Kuro is a tented nomad camp in the center of Tarangire National Park. The camp provides a great vantage point to observe the local wildlife, as it passes through the park from the hills in the west to the swamps in the east.
4. Tena Tena Camp, Zambia
Tena Tena is located in the Nsefu sector of South Luangwa National Park. It is run by Robin Pope Safaris, one of the park’s most famous operators, and a truly wild camp where big game is regularly spotted on the sandbank in front of camp.
5. Mchenja Bush Camp, Zambia
Mchenja Bush Camp is located in the northern sectors of Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. It is one of the most luxurious camps in the Valley.
6. Old Mondoro, Zambia
Old Mondoro is located within the Lower Zambezi National Park boundary. It is one of our top three camps in Africa and has won several awards. This little camp, with just four tents, is located in a wonderful area of the park.
7. The Hide Safari Camp, Zimbabwe
It is situated on the south-east border of Hwange National Park, inside a game-rich concession totaling 5 sq. km and two hours by road from Victoria Falls.
8. Chitabe Camp, Botswana
Chitabe Camp is widely regarded as one of Okavango’s finest game-viewing camps. You’ll set off after sundowners, with the guide’s spotlight illuminating species including civet, genet, porcupine, and the charming pangolin!
9. Selinda Camp, Botswana
Selinda is located within the 320,000-acre Selinda Reserve of the Linyanti region in northern Botswana. Selinda Camp was reopened in 2019 with just three suites and a two-bedroom villa.
10. Tswalu Motse, South Africa
Tswalu Motse sits at the foot of the Korannaberg mountains, looking out across the grasslands of the Kahalari. This is one of the most exclusive and luxurious lodges in South Africa.