For many people who decide to drive themselves to their safari lodge (rather than arrange a transfer or fly directly to the reserve), the thrill of arriving at a game reserve for the first time is immense. However, unless their tour operator has briefed them thoroughly (something that we at Travel Butlers ALWAYS do !), some people won’t realise that once they enter the reserve gates, they then may have anything up to a 30 – 45 minute drive through the reserve in their own car to reach the lodge.
There really is nothing to worry about, however, but here are a few useful tips.
Firstly, make sure you know whether there is an entrance fee to enter the reserve. Most operators will not include this in the rate they have charged you, so just double check with them if in doubt. The entrance fee is normally payable in cash, so make sure you have enough on you.
Secondly, in 99% of the reserves, you will not need a 4WD vehicle to enable you to drive through the reserve. Although the roads won’t be tarred, the main roads that you will be following to get to the lodge will be well kept, and are easy to drive on. If the roads do require a 4WD, your tour operator should advise you accordingly.
Thirdly, don’t worry about getting lost …. The reserves generally have signposts to the individual lodges for you to follow.
Fourthly, allow enough time from leaving the gate to reaching the lodge. You obviously will need to stick to the speed limit (normally around 40 km/h), but you must also allow extra time just in case you meet some wildlife on the way – for example, you may have to wait 10 minutes while a herd of zebra cross the road in front of you ! Under NO circumstances should you drive off-road to get past any wildlife – instead, if you do encounter anything, slow down and maintain a good distance and wait until they have moved off in their own time.
And finally, and most importantly, do NOT get out of your car until you reach the lodge. The lodge will most likely have been notified that you have arrived at the gate, so they will be waiting for you. If you get into any problems, they will send someone out to search for you !