"Overnight" Gamedrives

Old Apr 28th, 2006, 08:12 AM
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"Overnight" Gamedrives

During November 2006, I will be spending 3 weeks in Botswana. Whilst staying at the Kwando properties, I am planning to do some "overnight" gamedrives.

The plan will be to go out after dinner, stay out all night and then return in the early morning. I will do this for 4 nights (2 at Lebala + 2 at Kwara) with a private vehicle. Kwando have given me the all-clear to do this.

I know this is not normal so I was wondering if any Fodorites have done this before.

I know it is a bit risky to spend the whole night in an open vehicle, when the predators are most active, but it is something I've always wanted to do.

I am planning to take some infrared camera equipment with me to film some of the more elusive nocturnal animals. The big cats would be great but I am hoping to capture animals like the honey badger and the smaller cats (I respect the honey badger more than any other animal in Africa). Also overnight in November should not be too cold - are there any Fodorites that want to join me?
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 08:34 AM
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That's a great idea.

I have been very disappointed with the night drives I have done at Wilderness camps in Botswana and in the Sabi Sand, not for the game viewing, which was great, but because they are so short -- we were typically back in camp by 8:30 or 9:00 in time for a late dinner. I thought we would do another game drive after dinner into the wee hours, but those late drives would need to be specially arranged, as you have done.

I'm sure its safe.
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 08:40 AM
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I've done this several times -

Most recently during a June visit along the Sav. Channel at a buff kill with the Savuti pride all around and feeding throughout most of the night.

Our intent was to wait for hyenas to pitch up and witness the interactions. Unfortunately, nothing much happened in that regard (too many lions and one of the big males showed up).

However, elephants passed by quite closely several times and charged the lions - we were all of 10-12 meters away and parked into thick bush - nowhere to go and DARK. Quite a rush to say the least.

Relieving oneself off the edge of the vehicle whilst looking around carefully was interesting as I recall. That and the SMELL are memories not soon forgotten.

You should enjoy it - be prepared to get a little sleep or the next day will be tough.

Have fun!
James
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 11:51 AM
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thit cho...I totally agree, I hate it when you get 1-2 hours to try and find the nocturnal animals and the driver's main priority is your dinner time.

James....that sounds great! What time was you out until and which camp did you stay at? Also was it a private vehicle?

Thanks
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 12:30 PM
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Sounds like a great idea. When I was Lufupa (Kafue) we did the following: in the afternoon we did a boat ride along the Lufupa for +/- 3 hours. Than we had dinner and went on game drive again. At one stage, we stayed out quite late (after midnight) to follow a leopard hunting puku.

When I was at Lebala in December 2005 the latest we stayed out on a night drive was +/- 10 'o clock.

What I did at several camps is leaving very early (+/- 1 to 2 hours before sunset) and it proofed to be very worthwile (you know the saying: the earliest bird catches the fattest worm).

It may sound a bit strange but one of the best night drives I did was at Lower Sabie (Kruger) in an old truck.

When at Lebala in September I would do maybe the same you are planning to do but just in case of a special event like the one James mentioned.

Anyhow it would be nice to hear from you after your safari in November.

Greetings,

Johan
 
Old Apr 28th, 2006, 01:24 PM
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We were staying at Kings Pool and we stayed out ALL night (ie, we drove back to camp around 0500 but made it a game drive).

I was a bit stiff from sleeping on the seat and it did get a bit chilly (I'm a life-long Chicagoan, so not too bothered by cold).

PV - Yes. Actually spent that night and 2+ weeks driving around Bots with Ian Michler.

James
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 01:31 PM
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Hi Johan

The "early bird" safari does sound like a great idea. Did you use a spotlight for the first 1-2 hours?

I have always been fascinated by night-time wildlife filming. It puts a completely different perspective on animal behaviour and allows you to view many animals that are at the peak of their senses. It is also a bit more adventurous, exciting and mysterious!!!
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 01:46 PM
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Thanks James. That sounds great - I would be willing to "rough" it on a car seat and take some blankets too (although I do live in London, so the cold shouldn't be too bad).

But then again - October and November are good months to sleep out in Botswana because the nights are warm (as long as it does not rain during the nights in November!!!)
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 03:52 PM
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Africa: that should be a fascinating experience. I have done lots of nocturnal work and it does open a whole new world. Be prepared that typically there is good activity the first 3 hours of night and the 2 to 3 hours before sunrise. Often times there is a long dead spot in the middle of the night when there just isn't much going on which can be tough when its 2 or 3 am and you are tired. Once you clear that time it all kicks up again. Of course if you are lucky you find a kill and maybe the 'dead' spot is the highlight. If you are prepared for some big lulls but also some unique sights seen by very few you should have a tremendous experience.
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 03:59 PM
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What a great idea! Hope you have some lucky nights. Please report back.
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 08:25 PM
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santharamhari
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Africa,

Sounds awesome........is it something you need special permission for at Kwando? I am going on a trip in August and have booked a private vehicle for the duration of my trip (10 nights at Kwando camps).

My plan is to usually rush thru a quick lunch and ensure that i'm out early and stay out late if we find something interesting.......

When you say go out after dinner....would you go on the evening drive and return home for dinner and then head out again? Most times, you realize something special is on the horizon prior to dinner even......sounds fun.....my only concern would be to give the guides enough rest. I also enjoy the crisp early morning drives with the fresh air and energy. But yes, most times, i only end up seeing the lions with full bellies and sleeping after feasting thru the night.

Sounds like a great trip

Hari
 
Old Apr 28th, 2006, 09:09 PM
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Africa,

Yes we did use a spotlight before sunrise.

Greetings,

Johan
 
Old Apr 28th, 2006, 11:12 PM
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PB....I've been told exactly the same thing by some guides regarding this lull during the night. Very interesting.

Hari....I contacted Karin at Kwando and she said it would be fine. You may need to give them some advanced warning of your intentions. I would go out for a afternoon/evening drive to scan the local areas and then mark & target certain areas for the drive after dinner. If I did do an overnight - I would sacrafice the gamedrive on the following morning to get some rest and then wake up for lunch.

Johan...thanks
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Old Apr 29th, 2006, 03:44 AM
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What a fantastic idea - will have to remember that for my next safari. Was hoping to return to Africa this year but if my cousin in India does get married we'll be doing an Indian safari instead.

Maybe next year...
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Old Apr 29th, 2006, 07:38 PM
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Kavey,......these weddings here are a royal pain!!!! Thankfully my cousin is getting married June 29-July 2 and was waiting until early Feb for the dates to be set prior to making my safari dates for this year....

Hari
 
Old Apr 30th, 2006, 01:38 AM
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Well, we thought dates were all set for end October but apparently bride's family are now talking about the planned dates not being auspicious! Sigh... what happened to the dates simply being convenient to all concerned? Oh well... I'll have to wait and see...
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Old Apr 30th, 2006, 01:45 AM
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Jeez! yes, the astrologer thing, with the dates and it's appropriateness......gosh, that's a whole forum on it's own.......

Hang in there.....
 
Old Apr 30th, 2006, 04:03 AM
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So, I take you guys would not be crazy about what I had to do in North Luangwa NP one Night.

I had spotted a kill( 5 lion) about 5 kms from Buffalo Camp in the early evening on the way back to camp. Told the guests in camp about it over dinner, and they all wanted to check it out. So, I took one of the staff out with me right after dinner to see if we could find it again. No problem there. But on the way back, the landcruiser died. Having realized we didn't bring a charged radio or flashlite,and we were off the main track, we walked back under the stars. Man was it black and ever busy. Nothing happened outlandish. But, knowing of a few prides in the vicinity, it was a very quick hike.

Food for thought when you think about staying out all nite.
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Old Apr 30th, 2006, 10:52 AM
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Hi guys
What a wonerful thread, I could not help myself putting in a bit.
Spending a night out in the wilds of Africa is the ultimate but as a few have said there is a lull as I personally have on many, and I mean many occasions have experienced. I have done the minus 5 degrees in Savuti following the Savuti pride whilst also watching I beleive Hailiebop commet (spelling)to tracking lions in Kruger and the Sabi Sands. The reason I am posting is because I have a story to tell that only Murphy (Law) will be able to explain.
I was in the SS and had all the gear one can imagine in the form of food, drinks, camera equipment, tracker, lights to mention a few. I will refrain from mentioning which lodge we were at but it was in the western sector of the sabi sands.
We left camp at around 17h15 and proceeded to finf the pride of lion we had seen earlier and our aim was to spend the entire night with them to film a kill as we correctly deducted that they were in desperate need of food. So off we go loaded with enthusiam for the nights adventures. We met up with the pride about an hour later and sat with them and followed them which took up almost the entire night. They slept, they made a few chases and missed and slept and slept and I slept and the ranger slept and at around 05h00 we decided it was time to go back to camp. It was to say the least a very boring but yet an exciting night. Low and behold we get back to camp (the lodge where I was staying) and we hit the beds doggone tired and not 15 minutes later Tom radioes us to say the lions have killed. I do not think there is enough swear words in the dictionary to descripe my frustration so I will leave it up to your immagination.

But then there is always the upside when I took 2 USA guests up to Thornybush and we had located one of the 2 main prides in the area which had come into close contact with each other and one could see that there was going to be some action. We hightailed it back to the lodge to get grub down our throats and I personally phoned my guests to tell them we are going out so get ready. We left the camp at around 10h00 and picked up the prides and what we saw and filmed was unreal. This was about 02h00. Two prides fighting or rather should I say negotiating over territory but the fascinating thing watching a pride male guarding a youngster from the jaws of the opposing gangs lioness.
AWESOME!
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Old Apr 30th, 2006, 11:32 AM
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there was a good show on wild kingdom a few weeks ago about caracals at night filmed with infra-red cameras. Very interesting, would love to do an overnighter!
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