Night Safaris

Join Amazing Night Game Drives in the Masai Mara & Beyond!

Night game drive at Masai Mara National Reserve - Africa Kenya Safaris

Do you imagine all the wildlife safari action occurs only during the day? Not really. There is a nightly shift in the fields and forests you might not know about.

When the sun begins to fade and the familiar characteristics of the savanna and bush transform into a different sort of world, the air cools, the big cats come alive and new species emerge from their daytime hiding spots.

This is the domain of the African wilds at night, where up to 70 percent of the animals become active throughout the darkening landscapes prowling, hunting, and scavenging until the first light of dawn.

It is the time of the night safari – when the heat of the day dissipates and is replaced by gentle breezes, starlight, and the moon casting its cool shadows upon the land. With your safari guide in your 4 x 4 Jeep, you can move purposefully on the savannah or through the bush, until the lit eyes of a lion, leopard, or other night-prowling creature stare back at you through the inky dark.

Bundled up with your blanket and thermos, a night game drive can take on a feeling of tingling anticipation as the sounds of a big cat, a hippo, or the scurrying nearby of some unseen creature remind you to move quietly as you have entered their nocturnal realm.

Prepping for Your Night Game Drive

Night game drive - Africa Kenya Safaris
Big cat seen on a night safari

Your night safari can be a continuation of your daytime game drives. It can also occur after you’ve had a relaxing dinner or a sundowner – a traditional evening cocktail out in the field. As the sun’s final orange glow starts to fade you get ready for a different sort of after-dark experience.

Most night game drives begin between 7 and 9 pm and last about two hours.

We’ve already mentioned bringing a blanket and thermos to stay warm – even in equatorial Africa, the evening temperature can dip quite rapidly. By all means, bring insect repellent as these tiny pests also make their presence felt at night. And don’t forget your camera; you can successfully take photos on a night game drive and we’ll give you some tips below.

Another way to prepare is to be aware of the kinds of wildlife you’re most likely to encounter, so you’ll know where to look and how to identify them. Bright glowing eyes reflecting back at you are obvious but also look for moving shadows nearby, a clear sign of wildlife.

What Nighttime Wildlife You May See

As the last of the daylight disappears, you may hear an increase in the type and number of bird calls and the sounds of the wildlife stirring all about.

Many of the animals that wake with the moon differ from those you’ll see on a daylight game drive. Or, their behavior can be markedly different. Those lions or leopards seen napping during the hot daylight hours come alive in the cool air of the night.

The big cats are their most active during these hours and it’s exciting to see a pride of lions moving ahead in formation on a nighttime hunt. 

Your guide knows the best spots to find the wildlife during these after-hours and you may spot rhinos and elephants moving quietly and mysteriously through the moonlight.

Besides the larger nocturnal animals there is another world of smaller wildlife that comes alive during the hours from dusk to dawn. You might see little bushbabies leaping about, and unusual species like the aardvark, honey badger, porcupine, chameleons, tiny elephant shrews, and civets and genets – small, cat-like mammals.

Herd of elephants seen on a night safari drive
Buffalo seen on a night safari in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Night game drive - Mara Naboisho Conservancy - Africa Kenya Safaris

Where Can I Go On Night Safaris?

You’ll need to do some advance prep to learn where night safaris are offered as most national parks don’t allow for game drives after dark. But we can help! Africa Kenya Safaris will create a night safari for you on many private reserves throughout the country.

Not far from Nairobi, you’ll find the versatile private park of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, home to all of Africa’s “Big Five” as well as the African wild dog and sanctuaries for rhinos and chimpanzees. The Conservancy is an excellent location for night game drives as it offers glimpses into its many prides of lions and leopards.

If you are staying at one of Kenya’s coastal resorts, you may want to visit Taita Hills Wildlife Conservancy for both day and nighttime safaris. The salt licks here are excellent spots to see nighttime wildlife and the nearby watering holes are softly lit to enhance your viewing.

A select group of private conservancies surrounding the Masa Mara National Reserve also offer excellent opportunities for night game drives. If you’re visiting the national reserve for daytime game viewing, we can extend your safari into the evening with a night game drive at the Mara North, Mara Naboisho, Mara Siana, Mara Triangle, or Olare Motorogi Conservancies.

Tips For Nighttime Photography

Night game drive at Masai Mara National Reserve - Africa Kenya Safaris

Although nighttime photography on the savannah and in the bush has its challenges, it’s not impossible, especially now with sensitive digital cameras and computer imaging software.

The only ambient light available on your night safari is what nature provided – from the stars and the moon. The animals aren’t used to bright lights which can frighten, confuse, and scare them off. Often your guide will use a spotlight to see the animals – fitted with a red filter which is softer and doesn’t have an adverse effect. The same goes for your photography – never use a flash when photographing wildlife at night.

So what are the workarounds to ensure you can get a decent image of that leopard overhead or a nearby grunting hippo?

Your camera has settings that will help gather the available light:

  • Adjust the sensitivity of your camera to an ISO of 1600 or more if possible.
  • Open the lens’ aperture as wide as it will allow, somewhere between 4.0 and 2.8.
  • Slow the shutter speed to 1/40 of a second.
  • Remember to turn off your flash.
  • And finally, you can push the visibility of the image and remove any red-eye with a photo editing program on your computer.

Using the above tips you should be able to create lasting photos of your nighttime game drive and proof that you were there, witnessing the mystery, the drama, and the incredible struggle for survival filling these darkened fields that only ends at the coming of the dawn.

Our Wildlife Conservancies

Browse our comprehensive list of wildlife conservancies in Kenya that offer the exhilarating experience of night game drives and safaris. While daytime safaris are a fantastic way to witness Africa’s incredible wildlife, venturing out after dark opens a whole new world of nocturnal wonders. Kenya’s conservancies provide a unique opportunity to observe elusive creatures, from the mysterious leopard to the enigmatic aardvark, under the African night sky. Join us as we explore the magic of night safaris in Kenya’s wildlife conservancies, where the wilderness truly comes alive after sunset.

Tourists in an Africa Kenya Safaris safari jeep watch a rhino grazing close by in Ol Pejeta Conservancy


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Night Safari FAQs

Welcome to our Night Safari FAQs, your gateway to an enthralling world of nocturnal adventures in the heart of Africa. Africa Kenya Safaris is delighted to provide you with essential information and insights into the captivating experience of night safaris. Whether you’re curious about the wildlife you’ll encounter after dark, the equipment needed, or the best conservancies for night safaris, our FAQs are here to answer your questions and enhance your understanding of this remarkable aspect of safari life.

Night safaris are undoubtedly worth experiencing on your African adventure. These unique nocturnal excursions unveil a hidden world of wildlife, providing a deeper and more intimate connection with the African wilderness. Here’s why night safaris are a must for your safari itinerary.

Unveiling Nocturnal Mysteries

Night safaris offer a distinct perspective on the animal kingdom. As the sun sets over the African plains, elusive nocturnal creatures emerge from the shadows. Your night safari with Africa Kenya Safaris may reveal the mesmerizing eyes of a leopard gleaming in the darkness or the stealthy movements of aardvarks and hyenas. These encounters grant you the opportunity to observe wildlife behaviour that is not typically seen during daytime safaris. The thrill of witnessing the vibrant night ecosystem is an experience that will leave you with treasured memories of your safari.

Enhanced Safari Adventure

Taking a night safari with Africa Kenya Safaris enhances your overall safari adventure. It allows you to make the most of your time in the wilderness, extending your exploration into the hours when many animals are most active. Our experienced safari guides use spotlights to illuminate the path and spot wildlife, ensuring you won’t miss a moment of the nocturnal action. Whether you’re tracking elusive predators or simply enjoying the symphony of night sounds, a night safari adds a layer of adventure and intrigue to your African safari that is absolutely worth every moment.

On our night game drives in Kenya, you’ll have the extraordinary opportunity to witness a world that comes alive under the African moon. The nocturnal wildlife in Kenya is a captivating array of creatures that emerge from the shadows, making these night safaris an unforgettable adventure.

Elusive Predators

One of the main highlights of our night game drives is the chance to encounter Kenya’s elusive predators in action. The stealthy and majestic leopard, often difficult to spot during the day, becomes more active and easier to observe at night. In addition, you may witness hyenas on the prowl, their eerie calls filling the night air. Lions are also more active during the cooler hours, making night safaris an excellent opportunity to witness their hunts and social interactions.

Nocturnal Wonders

Kenya’s night game drives with Africa Kenya Safaris also offer glimpses of the unique and enigmatic nocturnal creatures of the African wilderness. These include the elusive aardvark, with its peculiar appearance and fascinating burrowing behaviour. You may also encounter bushbabies, genets, and bat-eared foxes, all thriving under the cover of darkness. The night soundscape, filled with the calls of nightjars and owls, adds to the enchantment of these safaris, creating an immersive experience that reveals the hidden magic of Kenya’s nocturnal world.

When it comes to night drives on safari, some parks in Kenya offer the most thrilling and immersive experiences. Here are the best safari parks for night drives with Africa Kenya Safaris:

1. Maasai Mara National Reserve

The Maasai Mara, a world-renowned safari destination, is one of the best places for night drives in Kenya. On our night drives in the Maasai Mara, you can witness the nocturnal activities of iconic wildlife like lions, leopards, and hyenas. The open savannah and diverse habitats make it an ideal location for thrilling encounters with Kenya’s elusive predators.

2. Ol Pejeta Conservancy

For an exclusive and off-the-beaten-path night drive experience, Ol Pejeta Conservancy in the Laikipia region is a top choice. With Africa Kenya Safaris, you can explore the hidden world of nocturnal wildlife in this conservancy, including aardvarks, bat-eared foxes, and more. The conservancy’s commitment to conservation and responsible tourism ensures a unique and sustainable night drive adventure.

3. Olare Motorogi Conservancy

In the Maasai Mara, the Olare Motorogi Conservancy is another exceptional destination for night drives with Africa Kenya Safaris. Here, you can observe the activities of elusive predators, especially leopards, in a private and pristine setting. With dedicated guides and open-sided vehicles, this conservancy provides a remarkable opportunity to explore the mysteries of the night in one of Kenya’s most renowned wildlife areas.

Preparing for a night safari with Africa Kenya Safaris involves ensuring you have the right equipment to fully enjoy and make the most of your nocturnal adventure. Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Layered Clothing and Comfortable Footwear

Kenyan nights can get quite chilly, so it’s essential to layer your clothing. Start with a base layer, add a warm insulating layer, and top it off with a waterproof jacket if there’s a chance of rain. Don’t forget a good pair of closed-toe, comfortable, and sturdy walking shoes for your night safari. Layers and comfortable footwear will keep you warm and cozy during your nighttime wildlife encounters.

2. Red Filtered Flashlights and Binoculars

Red-filtered flashlights are vital for maintaining night vision. When you’re on a night safari with Africa Kenya Safaris, our guides use these specialized flashlights to spot wildlife without disturbing their behaviour. Additionally, a good pair of binoculars can make a significant difference in spotting those elusive nocturnal creatures like leopards, aardvarks, and more. They bring the wildlife closer and add a layer of excitement to your night safari experience.

3. Camera Gear and Tripods

If you’re an avid photographer, bring along your camera gear and a tripod to capture the magic of the night. Night photography can be challenging but incredibly rewarding when you capture those nocturnal moments. Be sure to have the right lenses for low-light conditions and a stable tripod to avoid camera shake. With the right equipment, you can create lasting memories of your night safari in Kenya that you’ll treasure for years to come.

When it comes to night game drives, selecting the right safari transport is crucial for an optimal experience, and a specially converted safari jeep is by far the best option. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Open-Sided Safari Vehicles

Our open-sided safari vehicles are the preferred choice for night game drives. These vehicles offer unobstructed views of the African wilderness, allowing you to witness the captivating night activities of wildlife in their natural habitat. With tiered seating, everyone gets an excellent vantage point. The open design also enhances the feeling of immersion in the wilderness, as you can hear the night sounds and feel the cool breeze while observing the nocturnal wonders of Kenya.

2. Spotlights and Equipment

Our open-sided vehicles are equipped with powerful spotlights, a crucial tool for night game drives. These spotlights enable our expert guides to illuminate the surroundings and spot wildlife, ensuring you won’t miss any thrilling encounters. Each guest will have access to a spotlight, so you can also participate in the excitement of spotting animals in the dark. These well-equipped vehicles and spotlights enhance your night safari adventure, making it a unique and unforgettable experience.

3. Knowledgeable Guides

Your night game drive with Africa Kenya Safaris wouldn’t be complete without our knowledgeable guides. They are skilled at using the spotlights to locate and identify wildlife while providing fascinating insights into their behaviour and the ecosystem. Our experienced guides play a vital role in ensuring a safe and informative night safari, making it an extraordinary way to discover the wonders of the African night.

Rest assured night safaris are safe for you and your family provided you use a reputable safari company with experienced guides and the latest safari equipment. Safety is a top priority on night safaris with Africa Kenya Safaris. Here’s what you need to know:


1. Experienced Guides and Professional Staff

Our night safaris are led by highly experienced guides who are well-versed in the behaviour of wildlife after dark. They receive extensive training in conducting night game drives, ensuring your safety and the safety of the wildlife. With their expertise, they can navigate the terrain and respond appropriately to any situation, making your night safari a secure and enjoyable experience.

2. Robust Safety Measures

Africa Kenya Safaris places great emphasis on safety. Our open-sided safari vehicles are equipped with spotlights to safely spot wildlife without causing distress to the animals. We strictly adhere to conservation and wildlife protection guidelines to ensure the well-being of the creatures we encounter. Additionally, our guides maintain a respectful distance from the wildlife, using their knowledge to create minimal impact. This commitment to safety extends to all aspects of your night safari, providing you with peace of mind as you explore the mysteries of the African night.

3. Family-Friendly Safaris

Families are welcome on our night safaris, and we take additional precautions to ensure their safety and comfort. Our guides are accustomed to accommodating families, and they prioritize the well-being of young adventurers. When embarking on a night safari with Africa Kenya Safaris, you can trust that you’ll have a safe, educational, and unforgettable experience with your loved ones.

Just call, WhatsApp, email us or fill online enquiry form  and one of our friendly travel advisors will have you on the road to adventure – your own personalized safari.

Safari jeep interior with open top

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