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Info: Sunset/Night drives taken from camps.

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petert
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Info: Sunset/Night drives taken from camps.

Unread postby petert » Sun Dec 05, 2004 6:56 am

Does one have much success with game viewing on the night drives these days. I haven't seen much on a night drive for a while and I am wondering whether or not to go on one during my forthcoming visit to Kruger this month.

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wildtuinman
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Night drives

Unread postby wildtuinman » Mon Dec 06, 2004 7:04 am

If I knew I would only saw a nightjar, springhare or any other nocturnal animal that I would not have the chance to see at daytime, I would have gone on a night drive. Must say that I have been very fortunate with sightings of all of the big 5 during such drives. But some of the most memorable sightings were those of an African wildcat and Spotted eagle owl.

Night drives very often produce a sighting of the big 5, but it is rather the sighting of the smaller nocturnal animal that should make an activity like the night drive worth its money, and they are always there to complete the experience.

Don't let the chance of experiencing something phenomenal go past because you only want to see the big 5 as what happened to a group of people being so fortunate, and ironically uninterested, to have seen a Pel's feeding on fish and passed the chance because the big and hairy was their cup of tea. I think that night drives are great!!
Last edited by wildtuinman on Wed May 11, 2005 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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night drive lights

Unread postby wildtuinman » Thu Jan 06, 2005 6:46 am

Seems that it could depend on what vehicle you get do the night drive in. I would vote for less lighting and more effective usage of it. In actual fact reckless handling of spotlights can be harmful to nocturnal creatures when shown into their eyes. I have witnessed on numerous occasions how certain members on a drive "stuff" around with the lights. Lights should not be shown directly onto the animal but should rather be "bounced off" the ground just infront of them.

The 2 fixed lights, although not as bright, helps often to spot something at close quaters such as chameleons, bushbabies, snakes in shrubs and owls as they keep focusing in the same direction. Normally the driver on such a drive has such keen sighting that he'll make observations before the visitors with the help of the 2 fixed lights.

The reason for the 2 fixed lights not being as bright as the handheld ones could possibly be not to disturb/hurt the animals spotted at a closer range to much, but still to give enough light to see them.

My opinion is that it is better to have 2 people responsible enough with good sight and a bit of experience operate the lights than 4 with some of them not helping the cause in anyway.

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Night Drive Spotlights

Unread postby bwana » Wed Feb 16, 2005 4:32 pm

Why dont they use a red bulb or red filter on the spotlights for the night drives? I've seen it used in documentaries and the light doesn't blind the animals so it is possible to follow the action without getting all sensitive about disrupting the natural course of events. Inevitably once the ranger has warned the guests operating the spotlights not to shine here there everywhere they tend to shine too far back or in front of the animal.
Your thoughts?

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Unread postby Herman » Wed Feb 16, 2005 8:04 pm

What I've seen in Phinda and Londolozi is that they use the spotlight the way we use it in the Kruger, but once you've spotted an eye, they slide a red filter in position and then keep the light on the animal without blinding it. Don't know why Kruger can't do it ?

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Unread postby Tabs » Wed Feb 16, 2005 10:47 pm

I have used the spotlight in two different circumstances.

The first was while doing my Field Guide training, in the Sabi Sands and in the Timbavati.
In both places we were taught that, should you happen to shine the light on any diurnal animal - mostly herbivores including antelope, elephants, rhino, buffalo, giraffe etc. - you immediately take the light off them or at the very least shine it briefly on their butt so that the other guests can see them as:
1. The spotlight temporarily blinds diurnals, making them more susceptible to any predator in the area or to injury if the flee and hit a tree or whatever.
2. It can enrage them - thinking about elephants, rhino and buffalo here in particular
3. In any case it is likely to disturb their natural behaviour

Whatever the reason, we should never interfere with the natural proccess of nature.

The other instance was on a night drive from Orpen and I had control of one of the 'passenger' spotlights.

Shortly after we left the camp, my light shone on a breeding herd of elephants.
I immediately placed the beam on the backside of one of the adult ellies and told the other guests to take their pics quickly as I was would not shine the light on them for long.

After a short time I moved the light elsewhere, only to be told by the Ranger to put the light back fully onto the elephants so that people could take good pictures! I shone the light back on the rump of the ellies but refused to put them in the full glare.

Shortly afterwards we came across an impala herd. I immediately put the light down to the road only to be told, once again, to shine it on the impalas so that pictures could be taken - I ignored his request!

It is also the case that, should you be using a spotlight and come across a predator - such as lions (or even nocturnal birds) - you should never, ever shine the light on their heads/in their faces.
Although the light is reflected back from their eyes and does not affect their sight, lions can become quite aggressive if they have strong light in their face - as anyone would!

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Research protocol

Unread postby wildjohn » Tue Mar 15, 2005 11:02 pm

Research protocol is to switch lights off when the predator (lions normally) are attempting to hunt. The light is only switched on when there is audio of something - successful kill or failed hunt. For that purpose it is only unbiased way to obtain info on hunting success. Tourism creates the pressure to have to see the hunt, so thats where those red filters are handy...

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Unread postby Herman » Sun Apr 03, 2005 10:59 am

I'd rather do my own morning drive.
The sunset drive is often nice, because you're out in the bush when the predators start coming out.
We once had a magic sunset near Croc Bridge with a pair of jackals calling one another - beautiful, almost sad calls in the last light of the setting sun.
I'd say the night drives are more rewarding for nocturnal animal sightings, because they start later when they're already on the move, unlike on the sunset drives when some might still be inactive.
The golden rule however remains - It depends on your luck ! The day walks start at about 7 ( depending on the season) and last about two hours.
The guides are well trained and it's not dangerous, but remember you're out in the animal's territory and not the other way round.
Friends of ours had two close encounters on the same walk with a rhino and a lioness !
The lioness was already crouching, ready to jump, when the ranger fired a shot to scare her and the rhino charged them and fortunately missed my friend by about a metre !

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Unread postby wildtuinman » Mon May 30, 2005 10:13 am

Hi HS, I will move this post to the activities forum, OK?

I would seriously recommend any drive. You never know what to expect on any of them. :wink:

A bit structured would look like this:

Croc bridge - Good overall, with possible lions and wild dogs.

Lower Sabie and Satara for big 5 members. We saw 4 of the big five on each of these 2. Lower Sabie will have some nice water habitated bound animals.

Berg-en-dal is good for rhino and wild dogs. But the dogs keep moving so it would be a shot in the dark literaly.

P-kop is great for buffalo. Spotted eagle owls are abundand as is barn owls.

Skukuza - I have not had the chance to attend as I always have some other important business to attend to.

Olifants - I've never overnight there, but have heard of good leopard sightings.

Letaba, Mopani, Shingwedzi - Ele's, buff and good sightings of the bigger owl species. Especially over those big bridges.

Punda - Oi, cannot wait to do one there in three weeks' time. Good night birding I reckon.

In summer there will be zillions of nightjars around. Good luck in distinguishing them. The common ones would be mozambican, fierynecked and eurasian.
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Unread postby wildtuinman » Mon May 30, 2005 10:18 am

Always remember that a nightdrive is there to try and get the chance of seeing the more elusive nocturnal animals. Don't expect to go out and find the big 5, then u might come back dissapointed.

Remeber to take precaution for the mozzies and don't have to much beer on the drive. I have seen many people to scared to do the nature call and they end up wishing the drive would finish.
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Unread postby Krokodile » Fri Jun 03, 2005 9:26 pm

In my experience, the quality of the night drive is governed largely by the experience and knowledge of the guide. We've had excellent night drives on which we have seen almost nothing new, but the information imparted by the guide has made it a memorable event.

We recently had a fantastic night drive from Letaba led by Johann, where everyone on the vehicle was considered in their wish-list of sightings and no sighting was considered too small or insignificant for him to stop and share some of his extensive knowledge of the bush.

In contrast, the next nights drive from Olifants was decidedly lack-lustre, and although the sightings were interesting, there was little explanation about what we were observing, we couldn't hear the guide when he was speaking and I found myself dropping off to sleep on the way back to camp at the end :oops: .

Incidentally, WTM, Have had night drives from Punda which have been full of sightings and others on which practically nothing was seen - not even birds! Up there, more than almost anywhere, the thickness of the bush really does affect sightings.

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Unread postby wildtuinman » Tue Jun 14, 2005 10:36 am

hornbill wrote:Do you think it's better to go for the sunset drive from 4.30 p.m. for about 3 hours or for the night drive which is from 8.00 p.m. for about 2 hours?

We'll be at Satara this weekend and I can't decide which to do :?


Hi hornbill. I have to be honest here and say that I have not been on a nightdrive for a looong time. I was on several recent sunset drives. I was actually under the impression that nightdrives were replaced by sunset ones untill recently finding out that it depends from what camp you attend.

I really enjoy the sunset alot more. You get to drive that magic hour and then it spills over into the night. Honestly, the more time you can spend in the bush on a drive the better it is. Sunset for me!!

Another 3 plusses is that it will give you enough time for a braai afterwards. Many animals become active just as the sun sets. and the sunset from a special place in the PArk other than the camps are always special.
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Re: Night Drives

Unread postby wildtuinman » Tue Jul 12, 2005 6:40 am

One thing that seems to confuse many people is where the best location for a night or sunset drive will be.
I understand this as it costs R120 - R140 pp to do this activity and everyone would like to get their money's worth.

The fact still remains the same as with any other drive in Kruger.
At the right place at the right time.
That is the only thing that will ensure your sightings.
And unfortunately being at the right place at the right time is pure luck and cannot be guaranteed and can be anywhere in any case.

All camps' drives provide a different environment.
Subsequently that will also provide different sightings. Night or Sunset drives should not, I repeat not be confused as an opportunity to see awesome sightings of the big 5 etc.
It should merely be undertaken if you want to experience a whole different dimension of experiencing the African bush with the possibility to view nocturnal animals which are not present during daytime driving.

Therefore, no matter where you join a night or sunset drive you will experience this.

To come back to the original question: Olifants or Lower Sabie. Both are situated next to perrential rivers. Thus both will provide more or less the same sightings. Hippos, Elephants should be present. White-tailed mongoose and genets are also to be found. The chances of spotting the big 5 is equally good and in general just as good as from any other camp in the Park.

Again, if you are only able to do one drive, decide rather on the weather forecast and availability than locality. Yes some camps have a better success rate, but those camps have more visitors going on drives thus providing more sightings. I have gone on drives, more recently from P-kop and was only joined by 2 late-commers. We saw 4 of the big 5 that evening including mating lions right in the road.

Hope this helps?

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Re: Night Drives

Unread postby Jakkalsbessie » Tue Jul 12, 2005 8:03 am

Hi hornbill,

As you would have noticed a sunset / nightdrive has a special feeling to it... usually more excitement of seeing something great :lol:
But being out in the african bush at night is an amzing thing for me and i therefor feel if you can go at both Olifants and Lower Sabie. I've been on numberous drives at both these camps and you really can NOT choose.
It depends on so many factors like weather, the guide, THE ROUTE they choose, people with you (yes they do make a difference :lol: ) as well as your attitude.
For me everything is great from a genet to a bushbaby or cameleon.
But general game wise there really is nothing to choose between the 2.
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Unread postby Dewald Hattingh » Wed Sep 07, 2005 9:38 am

I don't think that it should harm the eyes of the animals.
On all the game drives I've been on the guide always said that the spot should be aimed at the body of the animals and not the eyes.
So if the spot is not that bright one is unable to spot animals and identify them beyond a couple of meters.
I think the point of a night drive is to be able to spot animals small or big with the spot to identify them and learn more about their activities at night.


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