When is the Best Time to Ride Kilimanjaro Safaris?

In our previous post, in which we began touring Animal Kingdom with a mid-afternoon arrival, we took a pretty successful ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris. That ride was taken around 4:00 pm during the hottest time of the day.

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Today, we are going to look at a safari ride we took about an hour prior to sunset on the same day. We’ll compare this to our earlier ride and see if the timing made much of a difference. Let’s head back into the Harambe Reserve!

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As soon as we departed, we came across a herd of Bongo: an animal in which we did not see at all on our earlier trip. The Bongo is often referred to as the “ghost of the forest” with their ability to move silently and blend into their surroundings.

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With the temperature cooling, the massive black rhino was up and about.

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The hippos were also all back in their area. None of them were present during our afternoon ride.

 

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The savanna was definitely quieter this time of the day.

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The hyenas are still sleeping in the exact same place we saw them a few hours earlier.

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Just before I snapped this photo, the 2 giraffes below were “necking” with each other. This is a common behavior in which 2 male giraffe basically rub and lean their necks on each other, with the winner being the one who can hold itself more erect.  It is a way for one male to show dominance over another and was super cool to see!

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Instead of sticking to the normal route, which heads over to the elephant areas, we took a hard right just past where we saw the 2 giraffes necking. This cut a couple minutes off the ride duration.

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As I mentioned during our previous ride, the elephant enclosures were mostly covered up on this day with not much being able to be seen from the road. I’m guessing that is the reason why the path was shortened later in the day.

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We had to hold for a few minutes as some Ankole Cattle wanted to pass through.

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They made sure to take their time in doing so.

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Our rhinos who were active earlier are still going strong!

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The cheetah area was very dark this time of day with its dense forest blocking out most of the limited sunlight. Perhaps the biggest draw of a later ride is that the big cats are more likely to be active once it cools down.

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The male lion is still on his rock from earlier, but at least he is awake now.

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The females have woken up as well! And again, they look just like my house cat as they lay there. So cool!

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This guy below was the only animal we saw after the lions.

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And back to the station we go.

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Overall, we surprisingly saw less animals during this later ride than the one during the hottest part of the day. It seems to be common thought that you will have more luck either early in the morning or right before sunset but that wasn’t the case here.  That said, we did still see a bunch of really neat things including the giraffes necking and the lions actually being awake!

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The best thing about Kilimanjaro Safaris is that it offers incredible re-ride appeal as no two rides are exactly the same. I would ride anytime that fits into your plan, without worrying too much what time of the day that is. You may see a few more animals on the savanna during the mid-day, but the cooler hours have their benefits as well since the animals are a bit more active.

We’ll be back soon to wrap up our day at Animal Kingdom!

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