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What a Day Is Like on a Safari

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Herd of elephants at sunset in Chobe National Park, Botswana

Herd of elephants at sunset in Chobe National Park, Botswana

A day spent on safari is unlike any other vacation in the world.

There is no other experience that can bring heart-pounding intensity one moment, and then long stretches of searching the silent landscape for signs of wildlife. An African safari is undeniably unpredictable with experiences that can offer panoramic views of uninterrupted plains or rampaging herds, often in the same 30 seconds.

The following guide covers what a day on safari looks like and illustrates how every day is based on what you would like to do most.


  1. Early Morning
  2. Late Morning
  3. Afternoon
  4. Evening
  5. Night
  6. More Travel Information & Tips

Early Morning

Hippos at sunrise, Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

Hippos at sunrise, Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

Your typical safari day begins early, usually before sunrise. A quick and easy breakfast often includes tea, coffee, and cookies before you head out for an early game drive to spot active wildlife. The cool temperatures invite animals to return from their nocturnal hunting spots for opportunities to see them as the sun comes up. Wildlife like elephants and giraffe start moving to waterholes amid the soft morning light, and wild dogs may chase down prey. There is nothing like hot coffee or tea enjoyed with a view of the savanna at sunrise or the woodlands as light peeks through the trees.

Late Morning

Herd of zebras in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Herd of zebras in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

The animal activity begins to wane as the day heats up. As you explore, you will notice that the wildlife shifts from active predators and elephant bulls to herds of zebra and gazelle filling your view. After a few hours of safari, you will most likely return to your accommodations for a hearty breakfast, or you might stay in the wilderness for a luxurious breakfast in the plains. A “bush breakfast” blends luxury and scenery with a hospitality team setting up tables, chairs, and a campfire before your arrival. The landscape embellishes the experience giving you delicious with possible views of the famous Big Five.


King's Pool Camp, Linyanti Wildlife Reserve in Botswana

King's Pool Camp, Linyanti Wildlife Reserve in Botswana

Because wildlife is less active during the afternoon, you will most often have the time for a leisurely lunch, relaxing with the amenities, or participating in a different type of guided activity. Available activities may depend on the type of accommodations you have with some offering private verandahs, communal areas around a campfire, a traditional boma, or a pool with a panoramic vista. Your accommodations may also have a luxurious spa, offer guided nature walks to whistling acacia trees and towering termite mounds, or provide the perfect tranquil atmosphere for you to read and relax before your evening safari starts.


Lion in the Kalahari, South Africa

Lion in the Kalahari, South Africa

The animals are once more active in the evening as the weather cools down. Predators like leopards, lions, and hyenas are especially lively as they stir from an afternoon of sleeping. Sundowners are an afternoon game drive tradition offering a refreshing drink at a scenic lookout over the landscape. You could experience an afternoon safari on horseback, boat, mountain bike, or by air as nocturnal animals stir for possible sightings of the likes of aardwolf and pangolins. Groups often return before or after the full dark with the remainder of the evening offering cozy campfires, tasty dinners, and exceptional ambiance.


Leopard in a tree during a night game safari

Leopard in a tree during a night game safari

Depending on where your safari takes place, you may have a night safari with a vehicle equipped with a powerful spotlight and a spotter looking for the glint in the eyes of a passing predator or prey. Expert night trackers generally spot wildlife in the trees, bush, and dark much faster than you. A night safari gives you a completely different perspective of animal activity. When at your accommodations, you can relax in a cozy ambiance beneath a blanket of stars with homemade hot chocolate, fresh-baked cookies, or the possible spine-tingling trumpet of an elephant silhouetted in the dark.

More Travel Information & Tips

A day on safari will unveil countless wonders and beguile the imagination. As you look to plan the most immersive safari experience, discover what the top things to do and the best times to visit are to make the best of your safari days. Visit our African Safari Travel Guide to get a wealth of information that will get you prepared. When you are feeling inspired to begin the planning process, contact our Traveler Care Team at 1-888-265-9707 or submit a Trip Request. A top expert will then be connected to you.

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