If you search for “game viewing in Namibia” on the internet, you will find a bunch of blogposts, listing the ideal destinations to see the most interesting animals. But what makes this specific activity so special, so magical, that you would one hundred percent recommend it to your friends?
Of course, every game drive is different, and it is difficult to compare them, as different factors play a huge role in making it a success every time. Here are a few things that make a game drive absolutely magical, and worth keeping in mind before booking one the next time:
The right season and time of the day is crucial
Some lodges in Namibia offer game drives twice a day, once in the morning just before sunrise, and once in the afternoon when the temperature has cooled down after the midday heat. Personal preference matters and determines whether you would rather like to sleep in and indulge in a hearty breakfast or if you are a morning bird and prefer to relax by the pool after lunch. But keep in mind that the time of day has a lot of influence on the amount and type of game you might see. The different seasons also determine the number of animals you are more likely to spot during a game drive. Summers in Namibia can become very hot, while winters are very dry and lure animals to feed in other locations, where more grass is available.
Accessories that make a difference
There are accessories that are important to take along on a game drive, like binoculars, a good camera, a jacket, tissues, and water. And then there are things you should rather leave in your room. Make wise choices when you pack your backpack the night before, and try to travel light. Having a heavy bag to balance on your legs while you try to look for predators will most definitely only be an unnecessary hassle for you and will also block the view for your seating partner beside you. The less baggage, the more opportunity to enjoy the moment and take in the magic of being in the Namibian wilderness.
Have a conversation with the guide
Try to have a conversation with the guide before and after the game drive, as well as during coffee/tea breaks. Your guide has an immense knowledge about the environment, animals, plants, and Namibia in general, and will be able to share valuable knowledge and insights into the wonderful world of locating animals on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes the guides have funny or interesting stories to share about previous game drives or about their experiences in the bush. You won’t get to read that in a book about mammals or birds.
Create memories to share them
That specific road, where you had to lie down to escape a low-hanging branch, or that glimpse of a super rare bat-eared fox that ran across the road right in front of you. These are moments you will not forget. So, laugh with the other guests on the game drive vehicle, create insight jokes, soak in the magic of breathing in fresh Namibian air, listen to wonderful birds chirping, and let strangers take photos of you with your camera without hesitation. These are the moments you will remember for a lifetime and will leave you longing to come back to Namibia over and over again.
Choose a destination that matches your list of animals you want to see
Be realistic about your expectations. You can’t aim to photograph hippos with a passion, but then choose the Etosha National Park for your game drive. Do proper research before you book your destination within Namibia, and try to pick you accommodation according to the proximity to a specific nature park, resort, or similar environment where a lot of animals can be spotted all year long. Don’t be shy to ask the local people for advice, they will know best and will gladly offer assistance.
Step out of your comfort zone
Don’t skip the bumpy ride, and definitely don’t skip assisting in changing the flat tire. If the unexpected rain ruins your hairstyle, let it. Try local food and learn a few local words, even if it will sound funny. Comfort zones are meant to keep you safe, yes, but they don’t help you grow. This is your encouragement to be brave and try something totally out of your line. You will forever associate that experience with Namibia, travelling, and maybe even a little bit of Fernweh. (Roughly translated as “distance sickening” or “far woe” – A longing to see far-flung places beyond our doorstep.)
Do you feel the magic yet?
These points are bare examples of ways to make your game viewing experience more special. As said before, no one can promise you that you will see all the animals on your list, because that is just how nature works, especially in Africa. But regardless of that, you should head into your adventure with openness and a willingness to accept whatever comes your way, and most importantly with the eagerness to make your game drive as magical as possible. And after that, go home and tell your loved ones about what you experienced in the Namibian bush, which friends you made, and which local words your guide taught you.
Have you ever been on a game drive in Namibia?
Tell us about your experience and funny stories in the comment section below.
Author – Hi! I am Elke, a born and raised German-Namibian. I love to travel around and explore different cultures and places, but my home country always magically draws me back home again. Oh, and if it involves food, count me in on the adventure.