A safari is even more thrilling when experienced at night. Around the world, a growing number of lodges now offer night safari’s for heightened adventure. Check out 10 of the top night safari’s on offer – from Africa to the Amazon.
Stanley’s Camp – Okavango Delta, Botswana
See the Okavango Delta after dusk
Botswana’s vast Okavango Delta is home to hundreds of diverse species, including many after-dark revellers: hyenas, lions, leopards, bush babies, and pangolins, to name a few. Night safaris aren’t allowed everywhere in the delta, but you can enjoy one with a stay at Sanctuary Retreats’ Stanley’s Camp. The luxe tented camp flings you into the wild, with porches and a plunge pool overlooking a watering hole, plus inventive local and international cuisine made even more enjoyable by the soundtrack of nearby hippo grunts. The property’s private concession surrounds provide guests the opportunities for unique Okavango Delta experiences, from night drives to walking safaris.
Usangu Expedition Camp – Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
Watch wildlife via thermal monocular technology
The new Usangu Expedition Camp in southern Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park centres on citizen science, from big-cat collaring by day to watching and photographing wildlife with cutting-edge thermal monocular night vision technology after dark. These night safaris let you admire the animals without the disruptive beams of a flashlight, meaning creatures like leopards are undisturbed – and therefore more likely to attempt a hunt.
Sacha Lodge – Yasuní National Park, Ecuadorian Amazon
Sunset sparks a frenzy of activity in the Amazon. You can see and hear the rainforest’s twilight festivities for yourself with a stay at Sacha Lodge, an upscale escape nestled along Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park – one of the Amazon’s most biodiverse pockets. During the day, snag a bird’s eye view via Sacha’s 940-foot-long Canopy Walk bridge, then admire the world’s largest rainforest by night with an after-dark jungle hike or a starlit canoe trip to spot the caiman (a relative of the alligator), one of the Amazon’s largest known predators.
Bori Safari Lodge – Satpura National Park, India
Few of India’s National Parks allow safaris at night – arguably the best time to see the elusive tigers – but, luckily, Satpura Tiger Reserve is one of them. Satpura night drives run through the park’s buffer zones, and offer the chance to witness a host of creatures: leopards, sloths, wild dogs, and, of course, tigers.
Rincón Del Socorro – Iberá Natural Reserve, Argentina
See nocturnal species and stars in a biodiverse freshwater reserve
More than 4,000 plant and animal species reside in Argentina’s 1.3 million-acre Iberá Natural Reserve. Wildlife across the protected area’s streams, lagoons, swamps, and marshes have bounced back after decades of commercial hunting and illegal animal trading. Now, you can admire the biodiversity in one of the most mesmerising ways: a night safari, with on-foot or 4×4 vehicle excursions to see viscachas, grey foxes, and crab-eating raccoons.
Mahali Mzuri – Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Kenya
Most wildlife travellers dream about visiting Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, but there’s a lesser-known and significantly less crowded safari escape just northwest of it: the 35,000-acre Olare Motorogi Conservancy. The getaway, known for its action-packed lion viewing, protects the ecosystem’s animals and supports the local Masai people via community-based tourism. Unlike the Masai Mara National Reserve, night drives are allowed in Olare Motorogi Conservancy; they’re available via Mahali Mzuri – Richard Branson’s posh 12-tent safari camp. You may see big cats like leopards or lions, or rarer aardwolves, porcupines, honey badgers, and bush babies.
Skinnskatteberg – Sweden
Listen for howls on a wolf safari
Sweden’s elusive wolf is easier seen than heard – and your best bet at either is after dark. On an overnight wolf safari with Amazing Nature Scandinavia, expert guides take you out on foot, and in a van, through central Sweden’s liveliest wolf spots. Actually spotting the elusive wolves can be tricky, but there’s an 80 to 90 per cent chance you’ll hear their howls. This seasonal summer adventure pairs with camping in a wolf-pack area; bookend the trip with a stay at a unique central Sweden getaway like Nasets Marcusgard. The forested property features quirky overnight stays – think: a cylindrical pine-flanked pod with potential deer and fox sightings from bed – with a central gathering place for meals, a heated pool and sauna, and a collection of onsite and nearby hiking trails.
Nam Et-Phou Louey – National Protected Area, Laos
A late-night boat adventure through Laos’ remote Nam Et-Phou Louey National Park provides a first-hand glimpse at the country’s budding conservation success story. The trip starts with an evening boat ride, followed by a hike and dinner by a campfire, then the ultimate twilight treat: floating down the river beneath a blanket of darkness – with only one torchlight per boat to illuminate the potential leopards, porcupines, and gibbons en route. The journey concludes with a night in the park ecolodge’s traditional Lao bungalows.
Local guides run the tour with support from partners like the Wildlife Conservation Society; this tourism model encourages park-adjacent communities to protect the region’s endangered species.
Warrigal Highland Rainforest Reserve – Australia
Take a moonlit walk among Australian wildlife
Admire the flying fox, tree kangaroo, ringtail possum, and a host of other tough-to-see Australian critters with a Wild Watch night safari hosted by longtime birding and wildlife photography guide Jonathan Munro. The outing takes place in the largest single tract of tropical rainforest remaining in Australia, in the Misty Mountains southwest of Cairns (the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef). When the weather is crisp and clear, it’s typical for those exploring to see 30 to 40 animals in a two-hour evening tour. Wild Watch also offers tours that display the area’s orchids, butterflies, dragonflies, birds, reptiles, and more.
Everglades National Park Canoe – Florida
See (and hear) the Everglades by night
Most visit the biodiverse Everglades National Park by day, but half the fun is after dark – particularly on an expert-led paddling tour. Possible night time wildlife sightings run the gamut: horned owls, bobcats, frogs, and even panthers. The soundtrack for the evening? A cacophony of lubber grasshoppers and frogs, who keep the entertainment going well into the morning. The tour runs for half the year, from December through March.
Credit: CN traveller