Taking a game drive can be a rewarding experience. However, travellers should make sure that they abide by all the rules. Picture: Leon Lestrade

You're better safe than sorry when you're on a self game drive and behind the wheel of your own car.

It might also sound like an obvious tip, but check the terms and conditions of your vehicle insurance covers you for any eventually when on a game drive.

Many people have clauses in their policies that explicitly state that their vehicle is only insured for work purposes or personal use.

A recent elephant attack at the Kruger National Park left a motorist’s vehicle wrecked. Recently, a lion climbed on a vehicle’s roof and casually knocked off the side mirror with its paw.

According to Ricardo Coetzee, Head of Auto & General Insurance: “While vehicle accidents in game reserves are extremely rare, we’ve had a few insurance claims for damage to vehicles caused by animal encounters.”

With this in mind, the insurer advises motorists to adhere to park rules at all times for their own safety and for the safety of the animals:

  • Be careful when passing animals or birds close to the road – they could be alarmed by your approach, and run into the road.
  • Unless you’re in a designated area, remain inside your vehicle – No part of your body may protrude from a window or sunroof. 
  • Vehicle doors, windows, sunroof and convertible tops should remain closed at all times. 

According to Sipho Mkhwanazi, Regional Communications Manager at SANParks: If you happen to encounter an elephant or a breeding herd of elephants this is what you should do:

  • Stay alert, especially when approaching elephant breeding herds with small calves. The matriarch or members from the herd can become aggressive, especially when small calves feel threatened by your presence. 
  • Take note of the elephants' behaviour and keep a safe distance in your vehicle.
  • Do not drive off the road.
  • Do not follow the elephants.
  • Respect the elephant at all times.
  • Always allow the elephants the right of way.
  • Drive off slowly if they get too close.
  • Do not cut off their path, especially when more than one vehicle is present.

Coetzee adds: “Most importantly, revving your vehicle’s engine or hooting is never a good idea. This may be seen as a challenge and your vehicle will no doubt come off second best.”