Game Viewers – what actually goes on that vehicle for a game drive?

It is surprising to know the level of thought and organisation that goes into making a game drive a comfortable, exciting and an enjoyable experience.  For the guest, they simply get on the vehicle, full of great expectations and wait to be thrilled.  For the Lodge and the Game Ranger, there is so much that needs to happen beforehand that will influence what the experience will be for the guest.  We thrive to ensure our guests always have a happy and memorable experience.

For now, let us just focus on what is involved in getting that amazing vehicle called ’the game viewer’ ready.
NE Game Viewer.png
Mechanical fitness:
Regular maintenance and servicing can never be underestimated.  It is the difference between a comfortable or uncomfortable drive.  Nothing worse than a noisy vehicle in poor condition.  We have to make sure the tyres are good to reduce the likelihood of punctures whilst on game drive. The vehicle has to be fully equipped for breakdowns or getting stuck on soft ground (a common occurrence).  Things like a spare tyre, shovel, chains, tow ropes, short wood planks, jacks, etc. are a necessity.  Then there is the fuel, seems obvious, I know, yet these things have been known to happen on game drive.  The vehicle gets a good clean inside and out and the lights checked.
 
Equipment:
The vehicle has to be able to carry (some lodges supply) things like Binoculars and sun hats; and pre-requisites like spotlights, torches and ranger radios are all essential items.
Comfort and protection:
Whether taking an early morning or late night drive, warm blankets, hot water bottles, beanies, hand and foot warmers all go a long way to making the guest comfortable.  People just do not realise just how cool the bush can be early or late in any day.  Anoraks and/or Ponchos are really important as you will get wet on these vehicles should it rain. Some Lodges provide large umbrellas as most game viewers have no roof or drop down sides. The average game drive takes up to 3 hours, so that act of nature called the ’toilet break’ becomes an urgent necessity.  Small torches, wet wipes and zip bags for that urgent toilet need, with the equivalent of ‘doggy bags’ to make sure all waste items like toilet rolls and wipes come back and get disposed of properly and not left lying around in the bush. All these things need to be prepared, packed and available on that vehicle.
Sustenance:
Fresh and cool water, hot drinks, general refreshments and snacks are needed to be packed away in hot or cold storage on the vehicle.  Flasks, cooler boxes, portable fridges are part of a checklist of necessity for the guest provision.  Let us also remember the bush picnic and the essential sundowner with Gin & Tonics!
Oh, last but one of the most important is the provision of a knowledgeable and experienced Game Ranger.  No point getting on a well-prepared vehicle if the Ranger has no game knowledge, does not know the land or the game flow patterns on that land, is there!
Now, with all those things considered, in place and on that vehicle, time to enjoy what is 9 times out of 10, an amazing game drive with experiences that will stay with you forever.
Maxine Smith
Nyumbani Estate

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