How to make the most of your self-drive Safari: You are ready to explore Africa and looking for a cheaper option. You have heard you can do self -drives in the Kruger National park and thought why not, can’t be that difficult? Right? Well, it is a great way to do it, as self-drives allows you freedom to plan and move at your own pace in the Park, if you allow it? Plus you’re not driving in the city, so it is pretty safe if you stick to the rules and think of other tourists in the Park as well.
So before you do, here are some vital points to take note of. Don’t make these mistakes!
Adhere to all the rules – yes it’s on the notice boards and your mind knows that, but your heart is in Africa! And your heart sometimes does not want to do what your mind knows is the right thing to do.
Don’t get out of the car! We know you want those close-up shots to brag about and show off when you get back home, but don’t get out of the car! Unless you in a camp or demarcated area that you can get out for public toilets – not the toilets behind the next bush! Animals have firstly a very good sense of smell. Secondly you ARE in THEIR territory and thirdly they are so well camouflaged you would not know what is hiding. It is for you and your family’s safety!
Keep to the speed limits! They do have speed checks on the roads, and they will fine you.
Plus if you speeding and wildlife runs in front of you from the bushes you will not be able to stop; and there is a chance you will kill the animal! Or the animal will damage your car! If a family is in the bushes and they have a baby with, they can become aggressive, especially elephants and you will need to stop and maybe even back away for your protection. Animals with young ones can get extremely aggressive if you in their way or if the noise of the car engine makes a noise. It is also the only way to sometimes spot an animal if you are driving slowly.
If you see a lonely male elephant, do be careful! Do not go to near to him as he could be in must and will be very aggressive. Give him lots of way!
Do not litter or feed the animals. This is a National park and not the zoo. They learn to survive in real life. If you feed animal/baboon/birds they will become reliant on humans feeding them, and when they don’t get given food from humans they become aggressive or a pest/not a pet!
If a car has stopped ahead of you, don’t go racing there to see what animal has been sighted. Firstly it could be a birder looking at a bird and you will chase the bird away. Or it could be a leopard in the grass and the sound of your engine could get it to get up and walk away. In that case you might get a glimpse of it, but not long enough to take a photo or enjoy watching the animal.
Don’t stop to view animals with your windows down! Don’t drive with your arms hanging out the windows! I mean do I really even have to mention this? And give reasons?
Don’t play loud music, if you not happy to listen to the wild, other people are. Don’t spoil it for other people! Maybe if you take time to smell the air, listen to the birds, you might find you enjoy it and that it relaxes you.
When there is a sighting, please don’t race to the front and block other people’s views. Everyone wants to see the sighting! Drive slowly to not disturb the kill or activity and wait your turn. Once you have seen enough, take your photos, move on and let others get a chance. You don’t own the land. Sharing is caring. You would want the same courtesy, if you were not the first at the sighting.
Keep to the left of the road. If you must overtake, overtake on the right.
Do not hoot! Not to the person in the front or to the animals to make them lift their heads! This is not a taxi rank.
Don’t use selfies outside the windows. Do not lean out the windows either to take a photo.
Do not drive where you are not allowed to, stay on the roads!
If you have a flat tyre, do not change your wheels. Wait till you see a Game Ranger and notify them. Wait for Roadside assistance – the number is: toll free number 0800 030 666 (Vuswa)
Most of these “don’ts” look ridiculous to even mention, I mean it is common sense. But you will be surprised how many visitors did not keep these simple guidelines on my trip! Self- drive Safaris is not a game of Pacman to see how quickly you can spot animals and tick it off.
If you don’t have the time to enjoy the bush or drive slowly to appreciate nature, then rather book a Safari with the Park or stay at one of the Lodges, where you are 90% guaranteed of seeing the Big 5! And leave the self-drive option for the real nature and wildlife lover. Have fun and enjoy!