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Africa Safari Vehicles: What To Expect On Your Trip

Once you've arrived in your African destination, you'll switch from aeroplanes to safari vehicles, whether it's for a road transfer or game drive. The design of these vehicles is specifically to enhance your game viewing experience so you'll see features like extra large windows and pop-up roofs, and on specialist photographic safaris, padded bars or sandbags to rest your camera on. The vehicles vary depending on the type of safari you're on and the country you're in - some vehicles are completely open to the elements and others can close up to make longer distance road transfers more comfortable.

If you are in any doubt which vehicle a specific tour uses, simply contact your Go2Africa Safari Expert and she will be able to give you all the information you need.

Safari Vehicles - flying into a reserve means you go straight from plane into safari vehicle
Flying into a reserve usually means you go straight from the plane onto a game drive.
Safari Vehicles - many vehicles are completely open to allow for unobstructed game viewing
This open-sided safari vehicle ensures you see all the action.
Safari Vehicles - 4x4 vehicles need to be ready for all types of terrain
This version protects from the sun without obscuring the view.

SAFARI MINIBUSES

Airport transfers, scheduled safaris and day tours in Namibia and South Africa usually use standard minibuses or SUVs while our scheduled Kenya tours are conducted in modified safari minibuses, with a driver-guide.

Although equipped with nine seats, these safari vehicles only accommodate seven people to ensure that everybody's gets a window seat. A large pop-up roof is generally standard to ensure uninterrupted views and great photographic opportunities.

MOBILE SAFARI VEHICLES

Safaris in destinations, such as TanzaniaUgandaBotswanaZambia and Zimbabwe require all-terrain 4X4 vehicles. These either have pop-up roofs or open sides, and often feature raised suspension and engine snorkels for river crossings, with convenient pouches or shelves for your on-safari necessities, like camera and sunblock.

Our mobile expeditions and camping safaris make use of these vehicles, seating up to eight or nine people, they have space for luggage - either on the roof or in a trailer - and their ruggedness means you can access wild and off-the-beaten-path destinations with relative ease.

Safari Vehicles - mobile safari vehicles have plenty of space for luggage
Mobile safari vehicles have plenty of storage space on the roof or in a trailer.
Safari Vehicles - scheduled Kenya tours often use minibusses with pop-up roofs
The pop-up roof of safari minivan...
Safari Vehicles - overland trucks can seat up to 24 passengers at a time
and spacious scale of an overland truck.

GAME DRIVE VEHICLES

On fly-in or self-drive safaris to lodges or camps, you'll enjoy game drives in specially-adapted vehicles. Rugged and tough, these 4X4s are usually open-roofed and sided and seating eight guests on tiered bench seats to give everyone a great view. A word to the wise: the back row bench is the bumpiest ride! Game drive vehicles in South Africa may have a bucket seat mounted on the front of the car for the tracker (don't make the mistake of settling into his chair!), allowing this expert to watch the road for tracks and spoor, which he communicates to your driver-guide. 

Vehicles in Southern Africa are generally more open to the elements than in East Africa. This is mostly because in East Africa, open vehicles are not permitted in certain areas, such as on the roads between the National Parks and some areas of the parks (including the Ngorongoro Crater). This is all about safety – an open-sided game viewing vehicle is not suitable for normal roads, and in the parks where cheetah populations are thriving, these clever hunters like to hop onto a safari vehicle to scan the horizon for prey. It’s a thrilling encounter best enjoyed behind an actual car door… In private wilderness areas, where the vehicles are used exclusively off-road, the more open vehicles are again common, often sporting a canvas roof and flaps that can be rolled down to cover windows. In Southern Africa, vehicles tend to be more open unless they are used for road transfers as well as off-road game viewing.

OVERLAND TRUCKS

Packing half a dozen countries and thousands of kilometres into several weeks on the road means overland safari trucks need to be big, solid and roomy. Seating up to 24 passengers, you'll get an individual seat and great views out of the large sliding windowsor pop-up roof hatches, while lockers and built-in safes provide security for your belongings.

Overlanding in Africa usually means camping so these African safari trucks feature built-in kitchens with fridges and even freezers, water tanks and big storage compartments full of tents, chairs and tables.

Written by Dominic Chadbon. Connect with him on Google+.

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