Spot leopards by night on a night safari

Spot leopards by night on a night safari

After the sun sets, night safaris take over from typical game drives. Started by the fantastic Singapore Zoo in 1994, they have become increasingly popular over the last few years. On top of the excitement of a safari experience, the advantage of night safaris is that tourists get a unique chance to see nocturnal animals when they’re at their most active. Instead of watching a big cat snooze in the sun, for example, you’ll be able to glimpse their hunting patterns and routines! You could also spot creatures that rarely appear during the day, from aardvarks to genets.

When evening falls in hot destinations, the setting sun takes away much of the overpowering heat of the day – another advantage of heading out into the bush or rainforest at night. The anticipation will start to build as darkness comes, when the calls of animals and birds increase to the backdrop of a vibrant, colorful sunset. Nothing beats sitting with a sundowner and waiting for your night safari adventure to begin! Sometimes, an afternoon game drive will be interrupted for cocktails with the sunset before visitors continue with a night drive and head back to camp for dinner.

On a night safari in Africa, you could be lucky enough to see lions preparing for their evening hunt and setting off into the bush for a kill. A leopard might be spotted on a nearby tree or bushbabies taking a leap from branch to branch through the canopy, whilst elephants trudge silently through the moonlight.

Unfortunately, only camps and lodges on private land outside the boundaries of National Parks are able to offer night safaris. But these top night drive safari destinations will be sure to offer excitement!

Top Night Safari Destinations

Abu Camp, Botswana

200-120
210-260
200-310
SY0-401
810-403
300-320
400-101
70-533
N10-006
MB2-707
200-120
210-260
200-310
SY0-401
810-403
300-320
400-101
70-533
N10-006
MB2-707
210-060
400-201
350-018
ADM-201
CISSP
1Z0-060
400-051
300-075
MB2-704
100-101
9L0-012
642-999
300-115
MB5-705
70-461
1V0-601
300-206
352-001
70-486
300-135
NS0-157
PR000041
300-101
70-346
CCA-500
70-480
810-403
200-120
CISSP
300-320
350-018
300-101
210-260
300-208
MB2-707
400-201
SY0-401
70-462
EX200
100-101
1Z0-803
9L0-012
70-480
200-310
EX300
ICBB
1Z0-808
AWS-SYSOPS
1Z0-434
300-070
CAS-002
352-001
1V0-601
CAS-002
352-001
1V0-601
220-801
N10-006
642-999
SSCP
PMP
642-997
300-115
70-410
101-400
ITILFND
642-997
300-115
70-410
101-400
ITILFND
300-075
AX0-100
400-051
2V0-621
70-486
MB5-705
102-400
101
1Z0-067
200-120
CISSP
400-101
810-403
300-320
210-060
300-070
210-260
300-075
300-101
NSE4
EX200
300-115
100-101
ADM-201
200-120
CISSP
400-101
810-403
300-320
210-060
300-070
210-260
300-075
300-101
NSE4
EX200
300-115
100-101
ADM-201
N10-006
ICBB
NSE7
70-483
810-403
200-120
400-101
CISSP
300-320
350-018
300-101
210-260
300-208
MB2-707
400-201
SY0-401
70-462
EX200
100-101
1Z0-803
9L0-012
70-480
200-310
EX300
ICBB
MB3-701
MB3-859
MB3-860
MB3-861
MB3-862
MB4-198
MB4-211
MB4-212
MB4-213
MB4-217
MB4-218
MB4-219
MB4-348
MB4-349
200-120
CISSP
400-101
810-403
300-320
210-060
300-070
210-260
300-075
300-101
NSE4
EX200

Named after a legendary elephant, Abu, this unique camp in the Okavanga Delta in Botswana offers one of the best experiences for interacting closely with elephants. Go for an afternoon elephant ride through the Delta for a unique perspective on the wildlife, followed by an exciting night drive through an area rich in game and nocturnal hunters like lions and leopards.

Leopard Hills

In the famous Sabi Sand Private Reserve near the Kruger Park, this private resort is both the perfect place for sundowners with a view and a great location for a night drive. The huge diversity of wildlife means you’ll be sure to spot some wonderful animals and the knowledgeable guides and trackers will be able to illuminate a host of nocturnal species on a night safari.

The Night Safari Zoo, Singapore

The world’s first nocturnal zoo, the vast Singapore attraction has over 1,000 species in an open-air tropical rainforest setting. Unlike traditional zoos, it offers animals the natural habitat and day-night cycle which they would use in the wild.

Highlights include rare species such as tarsiers and Indian rhinos and the atmospheric lighting (similar to moonlight) spotlights animals without disturbing their behavior  Visitors can soak up the atmosphere of the rainforest on foot via one of the walking trails or by tram; the animals are separated by natural barriers rather than typical prison-like cages for a real safari experience.

Night Safari Tips

  • Rules and regulations restrict where a night drive can take place in Africa. Be sure to check before travelling that the camp or reserve where you’re staying offers night safaris to avoid disappointment.
  • Some safari camps have floodlit waterholes where you can spend a lot of time watching the comings and goings around this central area, rather than just driving from one place to the next to spot different species.
  • Even in the middle of summer, the temperature drops fast after the sun sets so wrap up warm for a night drive. Dress in layers that can be easily taken off or added if you’re going out during both the afternoon and evening.
  • Just like on a regular game drive, keep noise and movements in the vehicle to a minimum for a better chance to spot animals and observe their actions.

Night Safari Photography Tips

Taking photos on a night drive can be challenging (see our post of safari photo tips). Many camps use red filter spotlights for illuminating animals as it’s much better for the animals and does not affect their night vision in the same way as white light. Camera flashes will also be prohibited as they can disturb the night. However, with a modern digital camera, it’s easy to brighten your ‘red’ image with the help of a computer editing program afterwards.

  • Firstly, increase the sensitivity (ISO) on your camera to 1600 or more.
  • Adjust the aperture to the maximum setting, such as 2.8 or 4.0.
  • Change the shutter speed to 1/40.
  • Turn off the flash.
  • On a computer, remove the red tint by adjusting the colour.
  • Add a sepia or black and white tone to improve the overall quality.