Just returned from a few days of relaxing outside the park while going in twice as a day visitor and then of course doing a sunset drive from outside.....MUCH more expensive than it would have been had you I stayed in the park but I have no real issue with that. I have three questions/opinions that I want to test out on this forum though so please, air your views!!
1. Has anyone noticed that some people (mostly foreign tourists) have absolutely NO idea that they must actually search for animals as well and not just leave it for the guide, worst is when someone like that gets the spotlight(s). This is certainly the most frustrating thing ever when going on sunset/night drive. I regard myself as quite respectable when it comes to handling the spotlight and recognizing that fleeting moment when you spot eyes, sometimes you only have half a second to react (more about this later) and when you do not have the spolight it is SO difficult to follow where the other person is lighting....as such, the spotlight handler must basically be the best "spotter" in the vehicle or you will miss a lot. Some people are also so erratic when searching with the light it is just impossible to spot anything. I have no idea how to remedy this as the guides normally try to explain how to use the light and what to look for....anyway.
2. What are the forums feelings on what is worth spending time on while on the drive and what is not? If I had a choice I'd say stop no more than 5-10min at the "normal" animals like zebra, elephant, giraffe, blue wildebeest etc, the guide maybe explaining some interesting fact about the animal and then moving on and not stopping again at that animal species if under normal circumstances (fighting giraffe for example is not "normal"). It wastes an enormous amount of time stopping at all of these animals. I for one want to go on a night drive for the specials, big or small, those creatures you normaly don't see during the day and then of course the predators. I understande that some foreigners might find the other animals interesting as well but then they must go on a day gamedrive.
3. This point continues from the previous one. The sunset/night drives are allways along some circlular route with the time and distance fixed....if you stop all the time you end up wasting so much time that the halfway through the guide puts pedal to the metal and that is basically the end of your drive as it is impossible to spot anything at night in dense bush, everything just flies past....IF you spot anything and shout stop, the vehicle comes to a stop in a cloud of dust 50m past the sighting, reverse, stop....no reverse some more, little bit forward again.....no, sorry, already gone....and then the race back to camp starts again because the guide has a time deadline. I would much rather leave the "normal" daytime animals, do the drive at 25km/h instead of 40-50km/h and try and spot the small elusive things.
All of the above happened on this last sunset drive we did and it was most unpleasant although we saw lion with cubs.....just shows you that even with a sighting like that it can still be a bad experience. The guide was friendly and knowledgable but route management, sightings management and time management need to be addressed for these drives in my opinion. We paid more than R350 per person to basicaly drive for 1.5 hours and look at zebra, giraffe and elephant, another 10min at a lion sigting and then 1 hour and 20min of F1 racing back to camp while 90% of the people in the vehicle lost interest.....we were the only non-foreigners and the only peoply actually making an effort to spot anything, this with my mag-light as the spotlight guys were on a mission of their own.
Should I have been rude and just asked for a spotlight from someone?
Would love your opinions guys and gals!!!