What is a Game Drive

When visiting Kenya for a safari, one of the most popular activities arranged by your tour operator is a game drive. This incredible experience allows you to immerse yourself in the wonders of African wildlife and witness the breathtaking presence of majestic animals up close. Knowledgeable guides accompany you, offering valuable insights into the local flora and fauna, enriching your understanding of the surrounding environment throughout the game drive.

What is a Game Drive?

A game drive is an exhilarating adventure that allows you to witness magnificent wildlife while enjoying the comfort of a 4WD vehicle, such as a van or Land Cruiser. With the option of closed or open sides, these vehicles can accommodate 2 to 6 people, providing an authentic safari experience. Safari game drives are renowned as one of the most popular and captivating ways to observe the diverse wildlife in the breathtaking Parks and Reserves in Kenya such as Masai Mara.

The meaning of game drive is the same as ‘game viewing’. It is a way of exploring the African wilderness while enjoying the comfort and safety of your vehicle. During the game drive, you can expect to see all sorts of wildlife like elephants, zebras, giraffes and many more.

Game Drive vs Safari:

Game drives and safaris are both exciting activities that involve exploring the wilderness, but they have some subtle differences. Game drives take place in game parks or reserves, where you can observe animals from the safety of your vehicle. A safari is a more immersive experience as it involves walking out into the bush and venturing further beyond the traditional areas accessible by vehicles. Safaris involve more interaction with the local community and may include activities such as bush walks, campfire dinners or cultural visits.

And how are game drives done?

Game drives usually take place early in the morning or late afternoon, when animals are most active. During a game drive, you will be able to observe the various animals from up close and learn about their habits and behavior. Make sure to bring powerful binoculars and a camera with enough memory space to capture these wildlife moments!

Most game drives last around 3-4 hours, with occasional stops for snacks and refreshments. It is important to wear sun protection and comfortable clothing as you will be spending a lot of time in the vehicle.

In addition to game drives, you may also experience additional activities such as bird watching, night drives or even bushwalks (if done on a private safari). These activities can be tailored to your individual needs and preferences, so make sure to bring along the right gear.

In Masai Mara, you’ll be driven through tarmacked roads that will make you appreciate the 4WD capabilities of your safari vehicle. In other destinations such as Serengeti in Tanzania, the roads are much worse and is impossible to do a game drive with a 2WD vehicle.

Kambu Campers Game Drives:

Kambu offers game drives during the serene early mornings, late afternoons, and evenings when the temperature is cooler and wildlife is at its most active. Accompanied by our experienced Maasai guides, you will be introduced to the captivating life of the savanna and immersed in their vast knowledge of African wildlife.

You can choose to use a safari van or a Land Cruiser, and they’ll take you through the Mara Plains, where you will enjoy some of the best game-viewing opportunities in Africa. At sunrise or sunset, be sure to have your camera ready and get that perfect photo!

Kambu also provides night drives to experience nocturnal animals such as bushbabies, civets and aardwolves. Together with your guide, you will be able to encounter some of the most fascinating creatures and sounds Africa has to offer. All game drives are done with a permit and can only last until 7 pm due to security reasons.

Tips for a Successful Game Drive:

  1. Listen to your guide – Your guide will be able to tell you when animals are nearby and will point out the interesting sights along the way.
  2. Dress appropriately – It can get chilly during the night, so it’s important to wear warm layers and closed shoes.
  3. Bring your camera – You won’t want to miss out on any of the amazing wildlife or scenery along the way!
  4. Make sure you bring enough snacks and water – A game drive can last for several hours, so it’s best to be prepared.
  5. Be respectful – Animals can be easily disturbed, so make sure to stay quiet and follow your guide’s instructions at all times.
  6. Don’t forget sunscreen! You might not realize it but the sun’s rays can still be intense in the early morning or late afternoon. Make sure to apply sunscreen and wear sunglasses for protection against UV rays.

How long are game drives?

You have the option to embark on short 2 to 4-hour game drives, giving you the flexibility to return to Mara Camp for lunch or take a nap. Alternatively, you can choose a full-day safari, where you’ll explore the Mara Reserve all day long, accompanied by a packed lunch. The choice is yours to make, ensuring a memorable and immersive experience in the wild.

The location within the Mara Reserve that you wish to explore and the distance you plan to cover will determine the duration of your wildlife viewing expedition. For instance, if your destination is the Mara Triangle and you are staying at our Mara Kambu Camp, situated in the southern part of the Mara, you can anticipate a minimum of 2 hours driving time to reach the Mara Triangle. On the other hand, if you desire to visit Mara North Conservancy to catch a glimpse of the renowned Lion Prides, you should allocate at least 4 hours or more for the drive from Sekenani Gate to Mara North.

What is the cost of a game drive?

A game drive typically incurs the expense of renting a safari vehicle, such as a Land Cruiser or a van. Land Cruisers are generally pricier, with daily rental costs reaching up to $250 per day, while safari vans range from $150 to $200 per day. The rental price encompasses both the driver and fuel expenses. In addition to the rental fee, make plans for your lunch and sundries, which can cost anywhere from $30 to $60.

When you choose to book your safari with Kambu, we ensure that you are well provided with refreshing beverages and a delightful picnic lunch.

Read our full guide on the cost of safari in Kenya

What should I bring?

When embarking on a game drive, make sure you have the necessary gear and supplies: insect repellent, sun protection lotion, water bottle, sunglasses, binoculars and camera with extra battery power. Additionally, bring along warm clothing in case the temperature dips at night and a hat or cap to protect your head from the fierce African sun.

With your preparedness sorted, get ready for an unforgettable experience of wild game viewing in Kenya!

What is the best time to go on a game drive?

Most people prefer to visit East Africa during the dry season (June to October) for wildlife viewing as the animals tend to congregate around waterholes and rivers. However, if you’re travelling during the wet season (November to March), there’s still plenty of wildlife activity that you can witness!

In addition, game drives are generally best taken in the early mornings and late afternoons so that one has ample time to spot the animals before the heat of the day sets in.

What kind of animals can I expect to see?

When on game drives in Kenya, you’ll get a chance to witness some of Africa’s remarkable wildlife, including lions, elephants, zebras, giraffes and wildebeest. In addition, depending on the region you are visiting you might see some rarer animals such as leopards, cheetahs, rhinos and hippos.

Whatever animals you encounter during your game drive, it’s sure to be a unique experience that will stay with you for years to come!

See all the wildlife in Masai Mara here and check out all the bird species in the Mara here.