This weekend we visited an established game farm, in the Western Cape, and Hamish experienced his first game drive.
A bad experience
I would love to tell you it was enjoyable but sadly it was not up to standard with other drives I have been on.
Whilst the guide was knowledgable, he spoke over Hamish’s questions, ignoring him to make rugby jokes with a rather rude visitor who seemed intent on spoiling everyone’s experience.
The “rude visitor” was allowed to enter the vehicle clearly drunk and carrying a beer, which to me having Hamish there and another mom her son , I felt was both irresponsible of the game farm and inappropriate for a game drive.
This man made stupid comments through out the drive, often interrupted the guide and then climbed out the vechil to relieve himself whilst we were stopped to view the giraffe.
The vehicle, which can seat 3 people per seat was crammed and myself and another mother were left holding our children for over an hour as their spaces to sit were taken so that we could squash in another two people instead if taking a larger vehicle or simply dividing the group into 2 vehicles.
This to me was not safe and was certainly not comfortable for either us the moms or the two little boys . Who on our laps kept knocking on the sides of the vehicle as the road is bumpy.
The vehicle at one point looked like we were not going to be able to navigate through the soft sandy path and smelt like something was burning. I imagined trying to walk back with a 15kg 3 year old to carry.
Needless to say the atmosphere on the vehicle was cramped and not pleasant with this unruly visitor.
But worst of all was that we hardly got close to most of the animals that the farm boasts.
We got up close to the zebra and springbok to get decent photos and came semi close to the giraffe and the poor lonley looking camel but all the others were so far into the distance that Hamish was often just looking at trees and those he could make out just looked like ordinary bucks.
It’s hard to explain the different physical features on an animal you can’t see.
I was bitterly dissapointed and actually packed my phone away, after we had seen the giraffe as prior to this we had sped past the emu and I was trying to keep Hamish comfortable on my lap and prevent us both from falling off the seat and bumping onto the railings.
The last 25 minutes of our drive I was willing it to come to an end now.
I was really dissapointed that this was Hamish’s first experience at something that should be magical in the eyes of a child.
It has however prompted us to ask few questions before booking any further game drives anywhere with a child.
Questions you should ask before taking your child on a game drive
- Does the child have their own seat
- How long is the drive ( this matters, especially if the child does not have a seat)
- Are kids given a treasure hunt of animals to find or a spot sheet to tick off
- Is their information avaliable for children on the animals before or after the drive?
- What time is the drive? ( this also matters for naps, feeding of children, ect)
- How many animal species approximately are seen at each time.
- What is the best time for maximum exposurea to the animals
- How close do you get to the animals
- How many people per vehicle
- Is alcohol permitted on a drive
- If yes, can I request a family friendly game drive without alcohol being allowed and does this cost extra?
- How are rude/unruly guests dealt with on a drive
- Will mine and my child’s questions be answered along the drive
- Is the drive child friendly
- Can a car seat be inserted
- What can I take along on the drive
- Who do I complain to should the game drive not meet standards
Whilst bitterly dissapointed at our first game drive with Hamish, I’ll certainly do more research before booking a weekend away and wont just jumping on a game drive without asking enough questions for usto ensure he is safe and enjoying his adventure.