Game Drive Tips for Your African Safari Trip


Those looking for ways to make the most of their African safari trip should consider going on a few game drives, one of the best activities for maximizing your time.

If you want to get the best photos during your game drives and increase your chances of seeing Africa’s most famous animals, you can follow these tips that can ensure you have a good time while respecting wildlife and respecting others.

Follow the Most Important Rules: Stay Inside the Vehicle, Keep Quiet and Don’t Feed the Animals

Game drives disrupt the typical experience of wildlife in the bush, but guides and safari tour companies do their best to compromise with nature. By sticking mostly to set paths, taking steps to not stress the animals and keeping interactions to snapping photos, the natural experience can be preserved as much as possible. Most animals even get used to the site and sound of 4x4s.

Uphold your end of the bargain by staying quiet during drives. Do not call out to animals to get their attention, and try to talk softly the entire drive. Definitely do not feed animals, since this can get them sick and encourage them to associate humans with food — not a good connection!

Also, most importantly, keep within the confines of the vehicle at all times. Leaning out or, heaven forbid, exiting the vehicle can stress animals and place you in a very dangerous situation.

Dress in Layers, Wear Sunscreen and Bring Repellant

Game drives can be chilly in the morning and hot in the afternoon sun. Dress in layers so that you can prepare for these temperature changes. Also, wear a brimmed hat and cover yourself in sunscreen to prevent getting burned.

Biting insects are common in many parks, especially during open air drives, so bring along plenty of repellant to reapply during your drive.

Take Along a Guidebook

During your drive, you will probably see a ton of animals you do not recognize but that look interesting. Take along an informative guidebook with photo identification of bush animals so you can know as much as possible about the world around you.

For younger safari-goers, you can print off a checklist of animals so that they can stay engaged and focus on seeing the most interesting species.

Bring Binoculars

Binoculars help you spot far away animals and set up your photos more quickly. Being forced to share binoculars can mean watching a speck by a drinking pool while everyone else sees a lion, so bring a pair for each person to ensure no one misses out.

Wait for the Vehicle to Stop Before Taking Close-Up Photos

The powerful engines in 4x4s tend to vibrate, which leads to blurry pictures if you have your lens zoomed in. Feel free to snap wide angle shots as you drive, but for the best photos wait until the engine is cut off.

Look for More Than Just the Big Five

Everyone wants to see lions, elephants and other famous “big five” animals on their trip, but you should recognize that there are plenty of beautiful species on the African continent, both big and small. Use a guidebook to help you spot birds, tell the difference between antelope-like species and appreciate sights others might miss.

Talk With Your Ranger

Your ranger has gone on hundreds of drives and has likely spent much of their life living in the bush. Feel free to ask them questions or to get them to describe their experiences, especially if you want to know more about a specific animal.

Let Nature and Your Spotter Be Your Eyes

With the tallest necks in the bush, giraffes tend to be amazing lookouts, helping you identify big cats crouched in the grass where you cannot see. Other animals like antelope tend to focus sharply when they see possible dangers. Your spotter guide will also help keep everyone focused either by staring at their target, quietly pointing or informing your ranger.

Tip Your Guides!

Game drive guides earn some wages, but they get much of their income from tips. They also tend to get motivated to do more for groups that tip generously, so if you are particularly keen on seeing something elusive like a leopard, then be a little more giving.

Tip amounts are at your discretion, but R30 to R50 or $8 a person is considered fair. No matter how much you give, be sure to thank your guide since they are providing you a service few others are capable of rendering!

Go on Several Drives to Get a Diverse Experience During Your African Safari Trip

Morning drives are usually the most productive times of day, but afternoon and nighttime drives offer differing experiences. Regardless of when you go, recognize that each drive is a dice roll in that you never know what you will see — or if you will see anything. If you have a disappointing drive one day, do not think that means you will not see more than the average group on your next drive.

You can ensure that you go on as many different drives as possible while enjoying other amazing activities like bush walks and boat rides when you book an African safari tour package and start planning your trip today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui


Marvel at the Beautiful Man Pools National Park


Mana Pools Park sits on the south bank of the Zambezi River within the northernmost section of Zimbabwe. In the rainy season, the Lower Zambezi Valley floods, opening up a colorful and rich ecosystem as vegetation flourishes and small insects, fish and other creatures’ populations explode. Birds, foragers and top-level predators grow fat on this fodder, enabling them to give birth to their next generation of kin.

When the rainy season ends, these flood pools gradually dry up. Water sources begin to become more and more concentrated, making animals have to travel further and gather in large groups to find something to drink.

During this time, from April to November, a Mana Pools safari can deliver some of the best wildlife viewing in the world. Elephants, wild dogs, lions, zebra, impala and dozens of other majestic species can be spotted bending into the last remnants of water for a drink. Walking safaris can help you get up close and personal with this wildlife as you sit and observe some of the most interesting scenes imaginable.

Why a Mana Pools Safari Is So Unique

Over the course of thousands of years, the mighty Zambezi River has shifted course. As it did, it left behind several oxbow bends cut off from the new main flow. These bends became oxbow lakes. The four biggest ones persist all year round, leading the park to be named “Mana” pools. “Mana” means “four” in the Shona language spoken by many Zimbabwean natives.

Every rainy season, the oxbow lakes and the whole region of Mana Pools Park floods, creating sweeping marshlands and thousands of tiny pools for birds, fish and other wildlife to gather. As the rainy season wanes, these pools dry up. The area’s animals are then left with just the four main lakes to drink from, leading to some pretty remarkable sights.

Nature in Its Purest Form

Another interesting aspect about Mana Pools is how undeveloped it is. The rainy season tends to make short work of roads and trails, meaning that much of the park is inaccessible throughout the year by vehicle. Even walking into the park is extremely difficult at the height of rainy season, when mud can often swallow you up to your hips.

In the dry season, vehicles are still a rare sight. Voyaging into the interior of Mana Pools is often done on foot. Canoeing safaris are also possible along the Zambezi. These walking and canoeing safaris allow visitors an intimate look at wildlife.

Hippos bathe in the water and mud while elephants gather water in their long trunks. You can also find elephants, gazelle, impala and other animals standing on their hind legs trying to reach the last remnants of leaves upon the mahogany and ebony trees to the north.

All of these incredible sights make Mana Pools a uniquely stunning way to observe the wildlife of southern Africa.

Book a Zimbabwe Safari to Visit Mana Pools Today

You can find safaris to Mana Pools Park in many of our most popular Zimbabwe safari tour packages. Take a look at our sample itineraries, and then book your trip today!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa


Zimbabwe’s Elusive and Critical Endangered Pangolin


The shy and reclusive pangolin tries to keep a low profile while going about its business of eating ants and termites, but despite this unassuming demeanor — the pangolin is the biggest victim of poaching on earth. Tens of thousands of pangolins are illegally trafficked every year, leading to major seizures like one in China that contained over 3 tons of pangolin scales.

As the eight pangolin species are poached near extinction, advocates of the species are all that stands between them and being wiped off the face of the planet. Their champions include Zimbabwe’s Tikki Hywood Trust, which fosters orphaned and rescued pangolins, spreads awareness of their plight, fights for policies that protect threatened species, and engages in breeding programs to help restore their numbers.

Visitors on a Zimbabwe safari vacation who love animals should therefore make sure visit the Tikki Hywood Trust web page first to learn about how locals are fighting to protect the unique species that help make our planet beautiful.

Pangolins: Nature’s Insectivorous Knights in Scaled Armor

Pangolins are the sole remnants of the family Manidae, which are the only mammals to have hard scales made of keratin. While pangolin look like a cross between anteaters and armadillos, they are actually not closely related to either.

The pangolin’s natural diet consists of ants, termites and various insect larvae. They have a highly particular diet designed to give them optimal nutrition. Because of this picky eating, pangolins have to forage widely to find the species they prefer, making habitat loss another devastating contributor to their dwindling numbers.

Pangolins are also solitary and shy, foraging only and night and avoiding contact with others in their species outside of mating periods. Since they are somewhat short, blend in with the forest floor and can be quite fast, they are elusive to researchers, sometimes preventing accurate counts of their numbers in the wild.

When threatened, the pangolin curls up into tight balls as a defense mechanism. Its scales are so tough that even lions have trouble getting through them. Unfortunately, these beautiful and unique scales also make the pangolin a target of poachers. The scales are prized as fashion accessories or components of ancient Chinese medicine — although modern medical research indicates no benefits whatsoever. Pangolin meat is also considered an exotic delicacy, although personal accounts suggest that the animal is not particularly tasty by any means.

So, because of unfortunate misconceptions and the tragic desire for status symbols, the pangolin is being hunted to death based on myths and misunderstandings.

Protecting Pangolins on Your Zimbabwe Safari Tour

If your aim is to help lift the chances of pangolin survival, make sure you engage in the following activities:

  • Familiarize yourself with wildlife protection laws and policy so that you can educate yourself and others on what it takes for governments and people to take action
  • Seek vendors who partner with organizations like the Tikki Hywood Trust when going on a Zimbabwe safari tour
  • Recognize the beauty of pangolins and the bravery and compassion of those who try to protect them
  • Report any pangolin scale artifacts or serving of pangolin “bush meat” to the Zimbabwe authorities; refuse to give money to vendors who engage in these practices

You can begin to explore the world of the gorgeous and enchanting pangolin on a Zimbabwe safari tour with your family.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

image: Getty Images

How to Determine the Amount of Time to Spend on Your Safari

take dad on safari for fathers day

Africa is the perfect continent to visit when you are on holiday. Many people spend years planning the perfect safari vacation. There are multiple countries in Africa that offer tourists wonderful safari experiences. Of course, it is impossible to experience all of the diverse landscapes and biomes within Africa in a short trip — but holidays do not last long. It is important to pinpoint exactly what you want to see and do for your African safari vacation so that you can determine how much time you will need to commit to meeting those goals. Here are some questions to help you determine the amount of time to spend on your safari.

  1. Are You an Experienced Wildlife Fanatic?

While everyone is encouraged to take a trip to Africa so that they can truly appreciate everything that the wonderful nations within have to offer, a long safari is not recommended for all. The most common methods for traveling through the safari parks and countries is via a four wheel drive vehicle, walking, horseback or on foot. As you can imagine, a few days of traveling in this manner is exhausting for even the most avid outdoorsman. Of course, for some a week is not nearly enough time to embrace the African wildlife. If you are not an experienced with the outdoors, consider limiting your safari to a week or less.

  1. What is Your Method of Travel?

Some methods of travel allow you to see a lot of the landscape very quickly. One of the most popular is an air safari via plane. This is a very unique experience that requires little work on your part — except to keep your eyes open for any incredible animals. There are also water safaris that can be more relaxing than other traditional routes. If you are traveling using one of these methods, you will be able to complete your trip quicker, in just a few days. If you would like to stay in Africa longer, be our guest.

  1. What are Your Prefered Accommodations?

Most eco-friendly safari camps are quite primitive. You can expect bucket showers and a true camping experience. However, luxury safari camps offer a finer side for safari tourists. After a week in an eco-friendly camp, you will probably be ready for a nice hot shower and a warm bed. If you are in a luxury camp, you may be able to stick it out a bit longer.

  1. What Would You Like to See?

There is so much to do and see in Africa, it is simply impossible to cover it all in a week or even two. Narrow down your top priorities and calculate how much time it will take to travel between them. If you would like to go through multiple countries, you may want to consider extending your trip.

Plan Your African Safari Vacation

Are you ready to plan your African safari vacation? We can help. To learn more, visit our safari tours page or contact us to speak to a representative at Roho Ya Chui.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa


Top 5 Reasons to visit Mana Pools


Mana Pools in Zimbabwe is possibly the most magical African safari destination. The majestic Zambezi River within a stunning landscape and cathedral like forests creates a dream safari destination.

There many good reasons to visit this top rated safari destination and some of the main reasons are listed below:

  1. Mana Pools National Park is synonymous with the Zambezi River, elephants, lions, remoteness and safari wilderness. This unique park is a WORLD HERITAGE SITE, based on its wildness and beauty, together with the wide range of large mammals, over 350 bird species and aquatic wildlife. Mana Pools is one of Zimbabwe’s most popular safari parks.
  1. Mana Pools is the only game park in Zimbabwe to be granted World Heritage Status and encompasses some of Africa’s largest areas of Acacia and Mahogany woodland, combined with spectacular, full-canopy Mopane forest. Mana Pools is part of a 300 million year old rift valley supporting a large variety of mammals and over 400 bird species.
  1. Mana Pools is 2,196 square kilometres in extent, runs along 80km of the Zambezi River, but is part of the 10,500 square kilometre Parks and Wildlife Estate that runs from the Kariba Dam in the west to the Mozambique border in the east.
  1. This large protected wildlife area is without physical boundaries and the wildlife is free to move throughout the area – even northwards across the Zambezi River into Zambia, where there are also large wilderness areas set aside for wildlife conservation.
  1. This national park has been set aside to be kept as wild as possible with only non-invasive, zero-impact tourism allowed. There are no safari lodges, generators, electric fences or other structures associated with safari camps as these are banned by law. All mobile camps must be taken down the day our clients depart to ensure minimal damage to the ecosystem.

The four large pools, the Zambezi River carved out thousands of years ago, gave the area the name “Mana Pools”, meaning 4 pools, a simple name standing symbol for magnificent African safari experiences.


Ute Sonnenberg for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Source: safari destinations, image: wilderness safaris