Many people who pack for vacation or a short break away think mainly of the pretty things to pack. They pack the outfits that will look good on photos and social media, the hat they’ve been wanting to wear for a while and other things that, at the end of the day, aren’t always practical.
If your holiday includes a game drive, however, there are a number of things that you should pack for practical reasons. We asked Sarah Watson, Guest Relations Manager of Kruger Gate Hotel at the Kruger National Park for her advice on what guests need to remember. Here’s what she suggested.
Warm and comfortable clothing
“Guests often arrive thinking that it’s always hot in the Kruger National Park,” notes Watson. “And while that is the case at certain times of the year, it’s not true for early mornings and after sunset – and these are the best times to do game drives!”
Watson recommends that at the very least, anyone going on a guided game drive has a warm jacket easily at hand and that they wear comfortable clothing. Yes, your cute outfit might look great on Instagram, but it often doesn’t work when you’re trying to climb into a safari vehicle.
Watson says: “It’s not often that animals get close to safari vehicles. This does happen from time-to-time, but more often than not, animals are seen in the distance. This is where binoculars come in handy. You might be able to use them to spot a leopard up a tree or a giraffe at a far-off watering hole.”
Cameras are also important on these drives. Not only do they capture your adventures so that you can relive it through images down the line, but many good cameras and top-of-the-range phones have excellent zoom quality. You could use this to get a better look at animals that aren’t close by.
Protection from the elements
“The game drive vehicles are often open air so guests are exposed to the elements and nature while out on a game drive,” Watson says. “Protection against insects and the sun is highly recommended.”
A good idea is to have a small bag with you where you can keep a small bottle of sunscreen, insect repellent, your sunglasses, and other valuables.
An enthusiastic attitude
“We’ve been on a few game drives where those on the vehicle don’t seem interested in what’s happening at all. This can put a damper on the spirit of the rest of the group and it’s difficult for us as game rangers to keep our energy up if those on the drive with us are less than enthusiastic about what we’re seeing,” Watson confesses.
You’re not expected to have a celebration every time you see an animal or something interesting, but an enthusiastic attitude will go a long way in ensuring that your game drive is fun and memorable. To add to the fun, look into getting a field guide book or create a checklist ahead of time of everything you hope to see. That way, you’re always looking out for something and you are likely to ask more questions and be more engaged.
If you simply pack these simple items along for your game drive, it will make all the difference to your overall experience, and will make the adventure all the more exciting.
It’s important to ensure that you take water with you when you head out on a game drive. “The average game drive can be between three and four hours,” says Watson. “If you’re doing a morning game drive it can get hot as the sun rises, and an afternoon game drive will have you outdoors during the last hours of the day’s heat – so you want to ensure that you have water with you to stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, fatigue and confusion – so make sure to pack that water!”
A field guide
A field guide is very valuable when you’re out on a safari, so you can look up birds or animals that you may come across on your drive.
“Some tour guides may have a book or two in the vehicle that can be passed around amongst the guests on a drive, but it’s great to have your own so you can immediately look up interesting animals or birds that you come across,” suggests Watson. “Some books even have a space where you can write down the animals you’ve seen, which is great fun for the kids!”