Your Guide to Safari Vehicles
Guests often have high but confused expectations about which vehicles they will be traveling in on their safari or tour in Africa. They expect a jeep but don’t always get one, or they expect an open jeep vehicle when the nature of their trip demands a closed one. No need to worry, we are here to explain the differences and which car or vehicle you can look forward to.
Open Jeep Vehicle
Open jeeps offer an unforgettable nature experience because you are outdoors on your safari and you are in touch with nature. Open game drive vehicles are suitable for game drives in private game reserves or drives that do not go far away from the lodge or tented camp. They are very uncomfortable and dangerous for long distance travel. Special licenses are needed for these and they are not allowed everywhere. Usually you enjoy the game drive in a group if you use an open vehicle – simply because there are not enough of them and most of them. These types of game drives are operated either by luxury lodges and camps or as schedule departure big group tours. These vehicles are usually Land Cruisers or Land Rovers.
Closed Jeep Vehicle
Most safaris are conducted in closed jeeps, except for Kenya where mini busses are standard. Closed vehicles have often been converted specifically for game drives, with pop up roofs and big windows, some are stretched to fit 7 people comfortably. Typically your car will be a Land Cruiser or Land Rover. These vehicles can go off-road and on rough roads and are rather comfortable, you can close the windows and roof if weather is rough.
In Kenya, mini busses are your standard safari vehicle although you do see them across Africa. Usually they have a pop-up roof and WiFi on board so that you can Instagram your wildlife sightings immediately. Mini bus safaris are often cheaper than the special jeep vehicles. If you favor the classical African experience be sure to specifically request a jeep, especially if you are traveling to Kenya. Be prepared to pay more for the jeep in Kenya. If your safari is in a mini bus, you will probably share the trip with other travelers, be sure to ask for a private tour if this is the type of flexibility you want.
Overland trucks are specially converted trucks or busses that can master difficult terrain. They are designed to take you across Africa in a group. They come with big windows and other features that make game viewing a true pleasure. Overland trucks usually fit between 14 and 30 passengers.
If you go on a group tour in South Africa, then you will probably tour the country in a normal bus – pretty much like you would conduct a tour in the West. Some parks also accept busses while in other parks you would change to safari vehicles for the game drives.
Our friends from Psicotecnico Leon, specialists in driver psychophysic tests tried their safari in an open Jeep vehicle and they were delighted by the experience. However, it depends your preferences, group size and possibilities.