The faster one drives, the more luck is involved in sightings because more and more gaps in the bush are missed. We drive at 15-30 km/h, depending on the thickness of the bush, so that we can see into every gap and up every interesting tree. Even when the bushveld forms great expanses of openness, as around Satara, animals can be deceptively camouflaged if the grass is even a little too high; there again, we keep speed down. And it works for us!
As an example from our last trip, last week, to Kruger, we were driving the entrance road from the outer park gate to Orpen, when a little car zoomed past us, both passengers swivelling heads furiously. Yet, despite us being about 300m behind them at the time, we saw two cheetah standing clearly in a clearing to the left, and not more than a 100m distant. The zooming car missed them. Another example from this trip was a car that passed us at speed and missed two hyaena walking in the open about 30m to the left, and on this same entrance road.
The best spotting for us by far - emphasis on the word spotting! - was at the unnamed bridge before Phelwana (closer to Satara). Driving 20km/h and soaking up the magic of the bushveld (it's NOT all about game sightings!), Siobain, my SO, who most definitely has got eagle vision, asserted "Stop!" She had spotted a leopard stand up on a branch, with an impala kill to the right. The kill, though hidden, would be seen by those driving slowly, those with good technique, and birders. Any faster and it would definitely have been missed. As it turned out, the Orpen-Satara road was pretty vibrant that morning, but everyone around had passed the spot without stopping. This included two game drives ahead of us. One, though, was savvy enough to see us and drifted over to ask what we'd seen. Within a minute, we had a pile-up of perhaps a dozen cars jockeying for space. Sadly for them, they could see the kill, but the young leopard female - whom we saw clearly - had already climbed down the branch and was dozing peacefully behind a thick clump of red grass next to the dry stream bed.
No-one can convince me that speed ensures better sightings. Slower actually translates into more bushveld covered by roving eyes because all the extra space in the gaps deeper into the bush is opened. When we travel quickly, the bush becomes more of a blur and even elephants, rhino, and giraffe, browsing next to the road, can be missed. Anything over 35 km/h for me is too quick!
EVERYBODY'S TR!TR: A NEW DAY IS S-OWNTR: NECTAREAN NICETIES OF THE NORTHTR: PRIMEVAL PLEASURE"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." (Groucho Marx)