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What to expect from a Night Drive

Most camps offer a form of night drive, be it a short drive back in the dark to camp or an hours drive after dinner.  We often get asked what you are likely to see on these drives and what to expect.

These drives after the sun goes down are conducted usually with a red filtered spotlight which the guide or tracker will use to spot the iridescent eyes of the night creatures.  The filter over the spotlight helps protect the night vision of the animal and not leave it with the momentary night blindness you get after looking at a bright light.  In some areas, predators had been known to use this momentary blindness to their advantage and ensure their hunting was more successful.

It is recommended that you have a pair of binoculars with you on these drives to enable you to study the owner of the iridescent eyes a lot more easily.  Depending on the season, a blanket or jersey is a good idea too as it can get very chilly once the sun goes down.

The night drives offer a whole new view of the bush, instead of searching the surrounding landscape you are looking for the twin glow of eyes caught in the light, the inky darkness seemingly as thick as soup with no surrounding light pollution at all.  The night sounds of owls screeching as they swoop low and are suddenly illuminated in the headlights or the flurry of the nightjars as they fly off the road to avoid the truck.

The night critters are elusive and shy, but are such a treat once spotted.  The Large Spotted Genet with its slender build, its black and white spotted coat, and ringed tail, dashing after a mouse.  The Bushbabys with huge eyes and ears, gripping tightly to the branches of a tree, studying us as we study them.  The African Civet, its solid form of black and white body, with the black zorro mask across its face.  Leopards are generally more active at night too, tending to search for food after night fall. The Caracal is also a night time character, Africas version of a Lynx, this cat is the larger of the small cats, with a beautiful caramel coloured coat and tufts of fur on the tips of its ears.

These are just a few of the very different creatures that you can spot after the sun goes down.  We recommend doing a night drive at least once on your trip to experience the thrill of what lies behind those glowing eyes!

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