One of the greatest experiences in South Africa is a night drive in Kruger National Park. We were lucky enough to do several during our stay in this immense protected area. Unfortunately you cannot drive yourself at night, so you have to rely on the park ranger led drives. Some are good and others leave a lot to be desired - mostly because of the staff leading the drives. By far our best night drive experience was at Satara camp where we saw a superb array of mammals and also had a driver who understood how to get everyone good views.
I had read that some drivers were even able to spot chameleons at night as the fed on the edge of branches. Given the thick scrubby vegetation this is hard to imagine as you speed along the roads! Nonetheless on our Satara night drive our ranger spotted no fewer than three WHITE LIPPED CHAMELEONS along the roadside.
Of course everyone on the drives wanted to see big cats, and that was the focus. We saw lions and leopards on several night drives (cheetahs are diurnal) but I was equally interested in the smaller cats and predators. One of the most common nocturnal cats is the AFRICAN WILD CAT, a species which is almost never seen during the day. The eyeshine on this small cat is impressive.
Another small 'cat like' mammal that is frequently seen is the GENET. This LARGE-SPOTTED GENET was actually photographed on a self drive outing at Bonamanzi Reserve when it sat right beside us marking a scent post only ten feet from the car window!
One nocturnal mammal that is frequently heard "whooping" during the night is the SPOTTED HYENA. We came across this one on a drive near Pretoriskop camp and were surprised that it came right up to the game drive van, appearing almost curious.
The night birding is often good on these drives. Both of SPOTTED EAGLE OWL and AFRICAN SCOPS OWL were seen on multiple drives.