The most popular times for game drives are early morning and late afternoon—two times of day that animals are most active. Particularly in hotter seasons, wildlife tends to rest in the middle of the day.
Early morning game drives start just as the sun is coming up and go for 2–4 hours. You might see lions returning from the hunt, a leopard climbing a tree to sleep away the day in its branches, or a pack of African wild dogs waking up.
The afternoon is a great time to see elephants and other large herbivores cool down along rivers or at watering holes. As the sun lowers and the air gets cooler, large predators start to stir. The leopard you saw in the morning may now descend and go on the prowl for antelope.
In private reserves, nighttime game drives may also be an option. (Most national parks are closed to visitors at night.) These generally start at dusk and last 1–2 hours. Watch a lion pack wake from its daytime slumber and prepare for a nighttime hunt. See hippos emerge from the water for a supper of tall, green grass. As the night sky turns black, elusive safari creatures like caracals and honey badgers emerge. If the moonlight isn’t bright enough for a clear view, your guide may highlight wildlife using special infrared lamps that do not interfere with animals’ night vision.