A Typical Day on Safari
Sitting on the edge of your seat, binoculars heavy around your neck, camera in hand, you watch breathlessly as a perfectly camouflaged leopard creeps through the tall grass toward a nervous herd of impala. Your heart races as you witness this incredible wildlife encounter. The thrill of the sighting is relived as you sit around the fire that evening, with a drink in hand, at the end of another magical day on safari.
This post aims to shed some light on a typical day on safari at a lodge or luxury tented camp in Africa. While there is no set schedule and there may be some differences depending on seasonality or the location of your lodge, there is a typical rhythm to a day on safari. Our local partners and favorite lodges provide a balance of exciting game drives and restful downtime that makes for the perfect vacation.
This is your wake up call: 5:30-5:45 AM
On a schedule tailored to the time of year and the timing of sunrise, you will be woken with a gentle knock on the door of your tent or suite. Left just outside is a tray of tea, coffee, or juice, with a few cookies or early morning snacks to get you ready for the morning ahead (preferences are always taken the night before).
The sun has yet to greet the day with its warmth, so layers are your best option to dress for these early mornings, although blankets are always waiting aboard your safari vehicle just in case.
Out on Safari: Morning Game Drive 6:00 am to 9:00 AM (ish)
With a faint glow on the horizon, you head out into the park or reserve to see what the morning will bring. These magical morning hours are when many creatures are most active, whether they’re headed home after an active night of hunting or just stirring for the day ahead, making their way to waterholes or off in search of fresh grazing. The soft morning light produces some of the best photographs, snapped as you listen to a chorus of birdsong and watch the sun come up over Africa.
Depending on the location, you will stop for refreshments along the way: tea, coffee, and snacks are set up and you have a chance to stretch your legs and enjoy being out in nature.
Breakfast: 9:30 – 11:00 am (ish)
Head back to your lodge as the sun moves overhead and most creatures retreat to a shady spot to rest during the heat of the day. A sumptuous breakfast or brunch is laid out, and you have time to freshen up before sitting down to eat.
Relax and enjoy the lodge: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Post breakfast (or lunch) the day stretches ahead of you to do with as you please. Relax by the pool with a good book and a pair of binoculars or, depending on the lodge, take a dip in your private plunge pool as you lounge on the deck.
Indulge in a spa treatment or use the gym facilities (both lodge dependent), head out for a guided nature walk with an expert guide to learn about the smaller elements of the ecosystem, browse through the well-appointed shop, make use of the viewing decks and main areas, or take a nap after an early morning.
Enjoying your lodge’s amenities is a huge part of the safari experience. The unique location of many safari lodges means that the wildlife is often directly in front of, around, and even in camp, so keep your eyes peeled as you relax!
High tea: 3:30 pm
What happened to lunch, you ask? Many safari lodges are forgoing a formal lunch and replacing it with a high tea – with just as much food, of course. You will never go hungry on safari, and if you get peckish a bit earlier, your lodge is happy to oblige, but the timing of a high tea often fits seamlessly between game drives and a later dinner.
Around 3 o’clock the excitement starts to build for the next game drive. It is time to change out of your swimsuit, grab your camera and an extra layer, and head to the main area of the lodge for a pre-game drive high tea.
Anything from lemon cake to sandwiches to spring rolls could be on offer, all served with the drinks of your choice. Your guide will often come down for a chat, and other guests at the lodge gather to swap stories before heading out onto the reserve again.
Afternoon Game Drive: 4:00-7:00 pm (ish)
The heat of the day is waning and wildlife is once again on the move, emerging from a day in the shade to quench their thirst at a water hole, or getting ready for an evening of hunting. The adventure is being able to witness such an abundance of creatures in their natural habitat and never knowing what you may find around the next corner.
Stop at a scenic spot as the sun makes its way back toward the horizon, and enjoy the great safari tradition of ‘sundowners’ – refreshments and snacks enjoyed out in the bush. There is nothing more peaceful than enjoying a drink while watching the sunset over Africa.
If your lodge is in a private concession or reserve, take a leisurely route back to your lodge after the darkness has set in, using a specialized spotlight to highlight any nocturnal creatures you come across who are just beginning their day.
Dinner: 7:30/8:00 pm
The fire is lit and the table is laid as you roll back into camp for the evening, armed with new sightings and stories. Over a three-night stay, you will most likely dine in a different location each night, on the deck under the stars, around a fire at the boma, in the dining area, or out in the bush itself. Mealtimes on safari are always a surprise and a delight.
There may be song and dance to accompany the many courses, along with a drink or two as you close out another amazing day on safari.
Off to bed: 9-9:30 pm
Early rising in many cases also means early to bed, and many people head off to their suite not long after dinner.
Enjoy a hot bath, gaze at the stars from your private deck, or settle into your luxurious bed and nod right off to sleep.
The best part of a day on safari is sinking into the rhythm of the day and disconnecting from the pressures of everyday life. Stunning sunrises and sunsets, unparalleled wildlife sightings, incredible food and amenities – there is nowhere better to spend time than on safari in Africa.