Game Drive Etiquette

Posted on April 30, 2024

Game drives are the primary activity on any safari vacation. At Leopard Hills, you will have 10,000 hectares of pristine South African bushveld to explore together with your assigned guide and tracker team.

Rest assured, they know this reserve like the palm of their hands and have spent years learning how to track animals across this landscape so that you can enjoy exhilarating sightings every time you set off on the vehicle.

Read over our list of game drive dos and don’ts below before joining us on safari. There is simply no substitute for preparedness when it comes to safety and getting the most out of your magical escape to the bush.


Game Drive Rules

The three most important things to remember on a game drive are observation, patience and respect.

Observe the world around you, taking note of who else is on your vehicle (should you not be on a private drive). The idea of a game drive is to connect with the wilderness, meaning there are no barriers between you and the animals of the reserve. Keep your eyes on the bush, take it all in and remember that we are the visitors here.

Practice patience. The natural world is unpredictable and not on anybody’s schedule. Your guide and tracker will point out many wonderful sightings in the bush, but some animals are notoriously elusive – it is in their nature. The chances are that you will see everything on your bucket list during your time at Leopard Hills, but you won’t tick everything off on your first drive. Be patient.

Have respect for your fellow guests and for the animals around you. This extends to how much time is spent at a sighting, behaving in a considerate manner that accommodates the interests of others and, of course, not making distracting noises or sounds to influence an animal’s behaviour.

Let’s break these down…


  • Stay seated in the open safari vehicle when at a sighting, unless given express permission to do otherwise by your guide.
  • Take plenty of pictures, but be mindful of endangered animals when posting your photographs to social media. Sadly, geo-tags can alert potential poachers to the location of protected species.
  • Ask questions, but be mindful of time and place. Quietly ask for your guide’s attention – never shout.
  • Respect your guide’s instructions and animal sense – they are professionals and know best, especially when it comes to reading animal behaviour.
  • Respect your fellow guests. This extends to sightings. Not everyone will be thrilled by the same sighting, but we must respect what others are drawn to. You may have seen cheetahs many times, whilst it might be another guest’s first encounter. Enjoy the moment together and know that your turn will come.
  • Put your cell phone on silent before departing on your safari game drive.
  • Be patient. The bush works on its own clock. You might not see the Big Five on every game drive, but you will see something extraordinary on every game drive.
  • Stay hydrated – it can get hot on the back of the vehicle!


  • Raise your voice or speak loudly to other passengers on the vehicle.
  • Climb out of the vehicle unless it’s for a coffee or sundowner stop authorised by your guide.
  • Reach out to animals or attempt to draw their attention. The idea is to fit into their environment – they are not there to perform for you. Keep your arms inside the vehicle at all times.
  • Eat or drink while the vehicle is moving.
  • Stay quiet if you feel uncomfortable. Our guides are attuned to animal behaviour and will not willingly place you in a dangerous situation. Some animal encounters are very close and it’s truly something special to be a part of, but if you’ve had bad experiences in the past or simply don’t like the way you feel in any particular situation, respectfully let them know. Even better: Discuss any potential discomforts before setting off on the game drive.
  • Use excessive flash photography at night. Your guide will help you set up your shot and assist with the use of spotlights.

Things To Remember

Now that we’ve touched on etiquette, let’s talk about personal comfort.

At Leopard Hills, you will enjoy two game drives per day – one in the early morning when animals are active, and one in the late afternoon, when the heat of the day has passed.

During the summer months, you’ll want to remember a hat, sunglasses and light layers to protect your shoulders from the sun. Lather yourself in sunscreen before setting off. The South African sun is potent and any tanning aspirations will soon turn into an uncomfortable sunburn.

We recommend wearing loose clothes in neutral tones. This is as much for your comfort as it is to blend in with the environment. Bright colours are not recommended on safari.

In winter, mornings can be very fresh. Wear closed shoes, a heavy jacket, a beanie, gloves and a scarf on your early game drive to stave off the chill. While it may seem bitter on the back of the vehicle initially, you’ll be surprised by how quickly the day warms up. You’ll be peeling those layers off in no time!

Optional extras on any and all game drives include a camera, binoculars and a bird book. Our guides do have extras, but it’s nice to have your own, especially if you’re an avid twitcher!

Stay With Us

Sabi Sands game viewing

Book your stay at Leopard Hills for an incredible luxury safari experience jam-packed with breathtaking wildlife sightings, including the Big Five.

Get in touch with our reservations desk at or click here to make use of our online booking platform. Let’s get ready for your Leopard Hills safari!

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